"Captain Phillips"
"Captain Phillips"

In Contention's Kris Tapley and I look at where the Oscar race is now. We check out the strengths and weaknesses of the New York Film Festival entries "Captain Phillips," Spike Jonze's tech-romance "Her," and Ben Stiller's ambitious fantasy "Secret Life of Walter Mitty." We agree that Tom Hanks reminds us of what a real performance is.

Who's the Academy now, as they add diversity to the ranks? "Her" plays younger, as a hip and edgy beautifully made movie. Critics will be high on it and it's accessible, and should do well, especially with technophiles. It may be Joaquin Phoenix's best performance. Kris is less high on its Academy chances.

We address the landscape without such 2013 dropouts such as George Clooney's "The Monuments Men." Does this benefit the other late-entry contenders "American Hustle," "Lone Survivor" and "Saving Mr. Banks?"

We look at the Gothams and the indie entries, from "Blue Jasmine" and "Short Term 12" to "Fruitvale Station." We address the actor races. Best Actor is crammed, Best Actress less so.