Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

Track record: Though its indie-focused sibling Searchlight has had better luck as of late (and should again this year -- see below), big Fox had a best picture nominee (and best director winner) last year with Ang Lee's "Life of Pi." Its last winner in the category was 1971's "The French Connection (though it internationally distributed best picture winners "Braveheart" and "Titanic" back in the 1990s).

2013 MVP: "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." Though reviews out of the New York Film Festival made it clear it's no "Life of Pi," Ben Stiller's ambitious adventure pic is still Fox's best shot at a best pic nom.

Other possibilities: "The Book Thief" has a shot at a few noms, while "The Croods" and "Epic" could land animated feature nominations. Overall though, this won't be Fox's best year when it comes to Oscar.

12 Years A Slave

Fox Searchlight
Track record: Little Fox has had 9 best picture nominees -- "127 Hours," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Black Swan," "The Descendants," "The Full Monty," "Juno," "Little Miss Sunshine," "Sideways" and big winner "Slumdog Millionaire." They've been pretty consistent as of late in having a major player each year ("Beasts" being last year's).

2013 MVP: "12 Years a Slave." Exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point. Steve McQueen's extraordinarily well-received take on slavery is a sure thing for a handful of major nominations and definitely not to be counted out in terms of winning the whole thing.

Other possibilities: Commercial hits "The Way Way Back" and, more likely, "Enough Said" could nab a nom, with the latter a fair bet for a posthumous acting bid for James Gandolfini.

'Blue is the Warmest Color'
'Blue is the Warmest Color'

IFC Films/Sundance Selects

Track record: Nominations have generally been rare for IFC, though "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," "Y Tu Mama Tambien," "In The Loop" all nabbed screenplay nominations (while a handful of others factored into the foreign language or doc races).

2013 MVP: "Blue is the Warmest Color." Even though it won't be getting a foreign language nom since it didn't qualify, the Palme d'Or-winning lesbian romance has outside shots at nods for best actress and best adapted screenplay, though we aren't holding our breath.

Other possibilities: Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig's script for "Frances Ha" is very worthy, but unfortunately the original screenplay category is probably a little too packed.  "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" also seemed like a potential contender at one point, but its post-Sundance buzz seems to have been drowned out.

Magnolia Pictures "Blackfish"


Track record: Magnolia won the best documentary Oscar for "Man on Wire," and has many other nominations in the category ("Enron," "No End In Sight," "Food, Inc," etc).

2013 MVP: "Blackfish." The killer whale doc is Magnolia's best bet at getting another nomination in that category.

Other possibilities: Danish submission "The Hunt" could definitely get a foreign language feature nomination, their second in a row care of Denmark (which was nominated for Magnolia release "A Royal Affair" last year.


Track record: The studio sat out last year, but had best picture nominations a few years running before that (with "Up In The Air," "True Grit" and "Hugo"). Back in the 1990s, they won the big prize three times in four years thanks to "Forrest Gump," "Braveheart" and "Titanic."

2013 MVP: "Nebraska." Alexander Payne's latest is currently the company's safest bet at a best picture nomination, alongside a few potential acting noms (Bruce Dern, June Squibb).

Other possibilities: If "The Wolf of Wall Street" comes out in time and is as good as its pedigree suggests it could be, it could replace "Nebraska" as the studio's best bet (and give it two nominees in the big category). Jason Reitman's "Labor Day," meanwhile, has very little buzz at this point. But that could change closer to its Christmas release date.

"20 Feet From Stardom"
Radius-TWC "20 Feet From Stardom"

Track record: The Weinstein Company's new division is in its first full year of release, RADiUS-TWC is heading into awards season with its first full slate of contenders.

2013 MVP: "20 Feet From Stardom." The crowdpleasing Sundance doc is a sure thing for a documentary feature (or as close as they come in that unpredictable category).

Other possibilities: RADiUS has quite a few docs that could manage noms alongside "Stardom" in "Inequality For All," "The Unknown Known" and "Cutie and the Boxer." They also have a long shot contender in Kristin Scott Thomas's monstrous turn in "Only God Forgives"