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First Gurus 'O Gold Pre-Festival Top Fifteen Oscar Contenders ('GONE GIRL' TRAILER)

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 26, 2014 at 2:37PM

MovieCityNews asked the Gurus 'O Gold to ranked in no order 15 contenders for the Oscar race, pre-Telluride and Toronto. Here they are--of the top seven that everybody but one picked, in past years that list yielded the eventual Oscar winner. (That doesn't mean they will all be nominated.) So why is everyone so high on "Gone Girl," which opens wide October 3 after launching the New York Film Festival? Check out the new trailer.
Gone Girl

"Are you asking me if I killed my wife?" Ben Affleck is strong casting for a man at the center of a media maelstrom following the disappearance of his wife, who may or may not have been beloved (Rosamund Pike). Fox's latest "Gone Girl" trailer, which aired during the Monday night Emmy Awards broadcast, followed the first round of voting from Gurus 'O Gold, a group of veteran Oscar watchers of which I am a member. (Trailer below.) Movie City News asked us to list in no order 15 choices for the Oscar race, pre-film festivals. The collated list is below. 

Of the top seven that everybody but one picked, in past years that list yielded the eventual Oscar winner. (That doesn't mean they will all be nominated.) So why is everyone so high on "Gone Girl," which opens wide October 3 after launching the New York Film Festival? In some ways it could be the most mainstream of the group. Adapted by Gillian Flynn from her bestseller, it boasts director David Fincher ("A Social Network" and "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") as well as Oscar-winning "Argo" star Affleck and ace British actress Pike ("An Education"). The elements are choice, in other words.

I'm not surprised at the other films on the list. Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" boasts the highest budget, on the scale of last year's "Gravity." (Ridley Scott's studio epic "Exodus" is notably farther down the list.)  Of the films folks have actually seen, "Boyhood" and "Foxcatcher" rank high and Wes Anderson's "Grand Budapest Hotel" surprisingly low. Isn't that a lock for a Best Picture nomination? So is Mike Leigh's exquisite period biopic, which earned Timothy Spall Best Actor at Cannes. This will also do very well with the Academy, I wager. 
Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in "Birdman"
Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in "Birdman"

Of note is the inclusion in the top seven of two films directed by women, straightforward hero biopics from Angelina Jolie ("Unbroken") and Ava DuVernay ("Selma"). I expect the much-anticipated Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Paul Thomas Anderson films ("Birdman" and "Inherent Vice") to be aesthetically demanding and challenging. To what degree will also factor into their ultimate playability and awards fates.

Lower down on the list are true stories, Working Title's "The Theory of Everything," starring Eddie Redmayne as ALS-stricken scientist Stephen Hawking, and Jean-Marc Vallee's "Wild," based on Cheryl Strayed's solo hike memoir, starring Reese Witherspoon. Both are small-scale films that could wind up as acting vehicles. That depends-- like all the new films---on how they play at the fall fests and beyond. Two war films, Clint Eastwood's "American Sniper," starring Bradley Cooper, and David Ayer's "Fury," an unrelenting World War II combat film about a tank unit led by Brad Pitt, need to be seen before people can tell if they are closer to "Saving Private Ryan" or "Lone Survivor."
Matthew McConaughey in 'Interstellar'
Matthew McConaughey in 'Interstellar'

As for "Into the Woods," while it's a lavishly expensive Disneyfied Stephen Sondheim musical, Rob Marshall is an inconsistent director who has delivered commercial "Pirates" movies as well as Oscar-winner "Chicago" and the disappointing "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Nine." The elements (Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp) are promising to be sure, but need to be seen. Also relatively unknown is Norwegian director Morten Tyldum, whose first English-language effort is "The Imitation Game," a behind-the-scenes code-breaking thriller starring Emmy-winner Benedict Cumberbatch and Oscar veteran Keira Knightley. That the Weinsteins are behind it is a plus. Also missing from the top 15 is Tim Burton's "Big Eyes," starring Oscar perennials Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams in a real-life dysfunctional marriage, mainly because the Weinstein marketing materials have not wowed people so far. 
Jolie directing 'Unbroken'
Jolie directing 'Unbroken'

Rank Last Chart Best Picture Contenders  Votes Total
  • Gone Girl * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 14 14
  • Birdman * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 14 14
  • Boyhood* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 14 14
  • Unbroken* * * * * * * * * * * * * * 14 14
  • Foxcatcher* * * * * * * * * * * * * 13 13
  • Selma* * * * * * * * * * * * * 13 13
  • Interstellar* * * * * * * * * * * * * 13 13
  • Wild* * * * * * * * * * * * 12 12
  • Fury* * * * * * * * * * * * 12 11
  • Inherent Vice* * * * * * * * * * * 11 11
  • The Theory of Everything* * * * * * * * * * * 11 10
  • The Imitation Game* * * * * * * * * * 10 10
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel* * * * * * * * * 9 8
  • Into the Woods* * * * * * * 7 7
  • American Sniper* * * * * * * * 8 6

This article is related to: Gone Girl, David Fincher, David Fincher, Oscars, Awards, Awards, Academy Awards, Trailers, Trailers

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.