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Ranking the Top 15 Best Picture Oscar Contenders Before the Fall Festivals

by Anne Thompson
August 23, 2013 3:25 PM
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Chiwetel Ejiofor, far right, and Quvenzhane Wallis, center left, on set in "Twelve Years a Slave"

I was happy to give MovieCityNews webmaster David Poland my top 15 picks for the Best Picture Field. I didn't have to rank them, and while I haven't seen most of them, I could certainly take a stab at where the For Your Consideration ads are likely to go. So now he's assembled a ranking of the Top 15 based on his 15 Gurus. 

I am in perfect sync on the top six films. The first three earned 14 votes, the next five 13, :

Oprah Winfrey in "Lee Daniels' The Butler"

1. 12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight, one of several films dealing with race this season) 

2. American Hustle (Sony/Annapurna)

3. Lee Daniels' The Butler (Weinstein Co.) (My review and roundup). 

4. August: Osage County (Weinstein Co.)

5. Captain Phillips (Sony)

6. Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount)

7. Then comes Disney co-production Saving Mr. Banks, directed by John Hancock, which I left off not because I don't think it has an Oscar shot but because I feel the need to see it before I decide. I hear that Emma Thompson is a sure thing for Best Actress but that doesn't mean it's a Best Picture contender. (Here's more on the film.)

8. Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films). Here's our Cannes review

9. Gravity (Warner Bros.) earned 12 votes.

Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan in "Inside Llewyn Davis"

10. I did not include Monuments Men (Sony) directed by George Clooney, because it could go either way as a delightfully commercial movie or serious Oscar contender or both. Again I need to see the film (11 votes).

11. I passed over Alexander Payne's Nebraska (Paramount) based on the Cannes reviews. Again I need to see the film (10 votes). But it feels like a Best Actor play for Cannes winner Bruce Dern. 

12. Fruitvale Station is going all the way if Harvey Weinstein has any say in it. (Here's my Q & A with director Ryan Coogler.) (10 votes.)

13. As for Jason Reitman's Labor Day (Paramount), just because I love his films doesn't mean the Academy will (see "Young Adult"). Kate Winslet is an Oscar perennial. I'll check it out. (10 votes.)

14. Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures Classics). Bennett Miller delivered with "Capote" as well as "Moneyball." Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo? I'm in. (More details here.) (8 votes.)


  • cadavra | August 25, 2013 7:00 PMReply

    Why would MONUMENTS MEN's commerciality be a factor? If it's a good movie and deserves a BP nomination, then nothing else--especially intent--should matter.

  • Steven Kaye | August 25, 2013 1:07 AMReply

    Extraordinary that Blue Jasmine isn't on the list. Do these "experts" actually get paid for this?

  • Mirko | August 24, 2013 3:30 PMReply

    Thanks to Saving Mr Banks the people can to remind the talent of Emma Thompson. It's just moment for an new nomination; I remember her Oscar for Howards End, her double nomination in 1994 for The Remains of the Day and In the Name of the Fathe, her bouble nomination in 1996, actress and writer screenplay, for Sense & Sensibility. She is nurse maid Nanny McPhee. Her role P. L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, is an beautiful coincedence. I believe that Mary poppins and Emma Thompson are again at ceremony of Academy Awards.

  • Tania | August 25, 2013 2:04 PM

    But Marion Cotillard in The Immigrant is so much better than Emma Thompson, It's a shame that Anne Thompson doesn't see it.

  • Russ | August 23, 2013 9:38 PMReply

    I don't think you can count out "20 Feet from Stardom."

  • lola | August 23, 2013 8:17 PMReply

    The Counselor will be huge

  • Anne Thompson | August 23, 2013 6:05 PMReply

    Yup. It was a dramatic passing over that year. (When there were still five nominees.) It earned eight nominations and won two. including Jennifer Hudson.

  • Chris L. | August 23, 2013 5:16 PMReply

    "Dreamgirls" was not nominated for Best Picture. As I recall, it was considered a shocking snub that morning. They went with "Babel," "The Departed," "Letters from Iwo Jima," "Little Miss Sunshine," and "The Queen." (Only the Eastwood seems worth revisiting at this point IMHO.)

  • ag | August 23, 2013 4:16 PMReply

    it's looking like monuments men will skew commercial

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