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

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 23, 2013 at 3:25PM

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.
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Chiwetel Ejiofor, far right, and Quvenzhane Wallis, center left, on set in "Twelve Years a Slave"
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"
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"
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.)

This article is related to: Festivals, Toronto International Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, Awards, Awards, Oscars, 12 Years a Slave


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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.