Oscar Beat: 10 Films That Could End Up in the 2015 Awards Race

     March 8, 2014


With the recent 86th Academy Awards ceremony, the Oscar race has finally come to a close—for now.  We just spent the past five months here on Oscar Beat deconstructing every inch of the Oscar season, and while we still have quite a while to wait before the next race heats up, now seems like a fine opportunity to take a quick preview of what just might be on tap for next year’s ceremony.  Obviously it’s way too early to take the 2015 Oscar race seriously, but there are plenty of anticipated films slated for release this year that could turn out to be the serious contenders in the next awards race.  After the jump, I preview 10 of the films that might pop up in next year’s Oscar conversation.



Release Date: March 7th

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design, Cinematography

I know releases early in the year rarely have the stamina necessary to propel them through the glut of the fall/winter movie season, but writer/director Wes Anderson’s next feature is already drawing rave reviews and he’s coming off the stellar Oscar nominee Moonrise KingdomGrand Budapest premiered at the Berlin Film Festival to a warm reception, and early reactions ahead of its release have been wildly positive.  It has a stacked ensemble cast full of revered actors, and combined with the impressive run that Anderson seems to be on as of late, we could be seeing our first serious Oscar contender this month.



Release Date: August 1st

Possible Nominations: Director, Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay

It’s no secret that the Academy is a fan of biopics, but not only is Get on Up the life story of James Brown, but it’s also director Tate Taylor’s first project since his multiple Oscar nominee The Help.  The film sees Chadwick Boseman (42) taking on the starring role with supporting turns from The Help Oscar nominee Viola Davis and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, so it certainly has the makings of a potential contender.  Then again, Lee Daniels’ The Butler was also a true story with a star-studded cast from an Oscar-nominated director that came out in August, and it racked up a whopping zero nominations this year.  Time will tell whether Get on Up can fare better.



Release Date: October 3rd

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score, Editing

It’s strange to think of David Fincher as an Academy Awards-friendly filmmaker, but his past three films landed a combined 26 nominations and seven wins.  As such, it stands to reason that Gone Girl could rack up a few Oscar nods as well, and with a cast led by Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike that’s not too terribly hard to believe.  The adaptation of the Gillian Flynn novel is likely more of a dark thriller than an “Oscar” movie, but it’s presumptuous to try to nail down the film’s tone based on the one image we’ve seen, so we’ll have a better idea of what to expect once we see a trailer.  However, with a solid release date (the same month as Argo) and a promisingly dark premise, Gone Girl is one to keep an eye on.



Release Date: November 11th

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Original Score, Cinematography, Visual Effects

Director Christopher Nolan’s last original film, Inception, scored seven Oscar nominations—including Best Picture—and walked away with four wins, so his new sci-fi pic comes with sky-high expectations from fans and critics alike.  Moreover, the knock-out ensemble cast of Interstellar is led by this year’s Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey and last year’s Best Supporting Actress winner Anne Hathaway, not to mention Oscar nominees Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck and Academy Award winning veterans Michael Caine and Ellen Burstyn.  It’s almost certain that Interstellar will light up the box office, but with its prime awards season release date it also has serious potential to be a major Oscar player as well.



Release Date: December 12th

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Cinematography

Though Paul Thomas Anderson’s last film, The Master, wasn’t as heavy on the awards circuit as There Will Be Blood, it still managed three Oscar nominations, and his next feature looks to see the filmmaker returning to the darkly comic tone and large ensemble casts of his earlier films.  The thought of Joaquin Phoenix tackling the lead character in Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice—a pot-smoking private investigator in the 1970s—is promising enough, but the actor has a fine supporting cast that includes Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, and Benicio Del Toro, which makes Inherent Vice a possible awards contender.



Release Date: December 25th

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design

This one could go either way.  On the one hand, we have the Oscar-nominated director of Chicago adapting a stage musical with a fairy tale bent and a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, and Anna Kendrick.  On the other hand, Rob Marshall also directed Nine and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  Much of the cast of Into the Woods is filled out with Broadway veterans, which is promising, but this is a Disney film and it could simply be a spectacle-filled family feature rather than a serious Oscar contender.  Again, we’ll know more when we see a trailer, but this is one to keep in mind.



Release Date: December 25th

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography

True story?  Check.  Based on an inspiring, beloved book?  Check.  Well-respected director?  Check.  Oscar-winning screenwriters?  Check.  Unbroken has the makings of one of the biggest Oscar contenders of the year, and for good reason.  Plenty of filmmakers were vying for the opportunity to tell the true story of Olympian Louis Zamperini, who survived a plane crash in WWII only to find himself in a Japanese POW camp, but it was Angelina Jolie who landed the job.  She nabbed Joel and Ethan Coen to rewrite the screenplay and enlisted probably the best cinematographer working today, Roger Deakins, to shoot the picture, so it’s with very high expectations that we await the release of Unbroken.  The film’s Olympics-themed first trailer was incredibly promising and Zamperini’s story is one of heartbreak and triumph, so this one has the makings of a potential Oscar juggernaut.



Release Date: TBA

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay

Bennett Miller has only directed two films, Capote and Moneyball, but both of them were nominated for Best Picture, and his next film is a bit of a passion project (it also happens to be my most anticipated of the year).  Foxcatcher finds Steve Carell going deadly serious as eccentric millionaire John du Pont, and a leaked trailer late last year teased a transformative performance from the comedic actor and a haunting tone overall.  Sony Pictures Classics initially had Foxcatcher slated for a late 2013 release, but opted to push the film to 2014 when the awards race became too crowded.  An official date has yet to be set, but expect this one to kick off its awards campaign during the fall festival season.



Release Date: TBA

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Actor, Original Screenplay

Here we have another biopic, this one with a timely theme.  The Imitation Game tells the story of mathematician Alan Turing, a man who cracked the Enigma code during World War II but was convicted of “gross indecency” due to his homosexuality and sentenced to chemical castration by the British government.  The pic will be a performance showcase for Benedict Cumberbatch, and while director Morten Tyldum isn’t exactly a household name, the film will surely benefit from the backing of The Weinstein Company during Oscar season.



Release Date: TBA

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Actress, Actor, Original Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design

Tim Burton has never really been an awards favorite filmmaker, but his latest picture sees the director returning to the smaller scale drama of some of his earlier works.  Big Eyes tells the true story of the artist couple Margaret and Walter Keane and their rocky relationship, with Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz portraying the main duo.  Very early buzz has been strong on Adams’ performance and the actress has been a regular Oscar nominee in recent years, so could this be her time to shine?  There’s also two-time Oscar winner Waltz to consider, and Burton reteamed with his Ed Wood scribes Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski to pen the screenplay.

Other PossibilitiesBoyhoodA Most Violent Year, Wild, Trash, Kill the Messenger.

Closing Thoughts

Again, it is way, way too early to start making any solid predictions about next year’s Oscars and I’m admittedly ready for a long break from the awards season, but it’s interesting to take an advanced look at what films we might be talking about a year from now.  Undoubtedly there will be plenty of other films that will rise as serious contenders over the course of the year, and inevitably a few of the obvious “Oscar movies” will turn out to be duds.  For now, though, these 10 films are a nice place to start.

What about you, dear readers?  Which films do you think might be a part of next year’s awards conversation?  Could Interstellar finally be Christopher Nolan’s “Oscar movie”? Do you think this might be Angelina Jolie’s year?  Sound off with your early awards race 2015 thoughts in the comment section below.

  • TJW

    Inherent Vice
    Gone Girl
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Into the Woods
    A Most Violent Year

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  • Davis

    Into the wood no way in hell, it’s just a cheesy musical.
    Inherent Vice no way in hell, PTA is always ignored
    Interstellar no way in hell, the academy hates sci-fi

    • Carlos.

      Agree with you on the first two, but Nolan has the ‘due’ factor, and it’s a cast that’s been recognized recently by the Academy (Matthew, Hattaway and Chastain) plus the first draft of the script was supposed to be less action-driven than Inception. I think it’s going to be at least, this year’s Gravity.

      • Michael N.

        Interstellar is going to be this year’s Gravity. But what is going to make Interstellar a serious frontrunner for Best Picture is the screenplay.
        Gravity was great but it did not had a Best Picture script and I think Christopher Nolan and his brother is going to win Best Original Screenplay, which would make them a frontrunner for Best Picture.

      • Rory D.

        Interstellar looks good…except Nolan is directing. It’s going to score a fat 0 for nominations…just like Dark Knight Rises.

      • Cyberpunk14

        Remember after The Dark Knight Rises the academy expand best picture category from 5 to more than 5

      • Chris

        It was after The Dark Knight – a really great film, not The Dark Knight Rises – a pile of shit that didn’t have neither deserved any nomination!

      • Cyberpunk14

        You’re right I made a mistake when I was typing and I didn’t notice until you replied

    • Person

      They hate sci-fi but they don’t hate Nolan (at least in non-Director categories). And the fact that it’s coming out in the thick of awards season means they can’t ignore it. It’ll scoop some big nominations, but I doubt it’ll be in play for any of the acting prizes.

      • Davis

        They don’t hate nolan? He’s always ignored he’s had like 3 noms

      • Michael N.

        I could see McConaughey get a nomination. The McConaissance seems to continue and I think the Academy is going to recognize that.
        Also Leo DiCaprio gave a Academy Award worthy performance in Inception.

      • Person

        Worthy doesn’t mean nomination, and as much as I like Inception, his performance in that movie was the exact same one he gave in Shutter Island. Even the characters are more or less the same.

    • The Destroyer

      Inception got nominated for Best Picture, so unless it’s a complete and total disaster, I wouldn’t be surprised if Interstellar got a best picture nomination, along with best director and original screenplay.

  • Michael N.

    Inherent Vice
    Gone Girl
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    A Most Violent Year
    Best Picture will be between Interstellar and Inherent Vice
    Joaquin wins Best Actor
    Christopher Nolan wins Best Director

  • Bronson

    Waiting for Foxcatcher. Burt Wonderstone as Jon Du Pont.

  • João Paulo

    My choice are:

    1 – Into The Woods – It’s a ensemble cast, a interesting story and sounds like a great movie. If Rob Marshall get right this time, this will be the frontrunner of next year Oscars.

    2 – Interstellar – Nolan make a such huge sucess with Inception that put this movie in the right place to get the academy love interest.

    3 – Gone Girl – This is the chance of David Fincher get to the oscars and I hope he wins this time.

    4 – Fury – I think you guys miss this movie. David Ayer is a new promise of hollywood, everything about this movie sounds good, the cast, the story, the production, everything.

    5 – Exodus – Another movie missing from the article, Ridley Scott in the Oscars, maybe if this epic works, could be the first movie capable to catch Titanic, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Ben-Hur…………no maybe not, but hey, never say never.

    6 – Get On Up – Like The Help this could be a huge hit if Tate Taylor make a good job (like Taylor Hackford did in the biopic of Ray) with this biopic of James Brown. I hope Viola Davis get her oscar this time.

    7 – Unbroken – The first trailer was great and I think Mrs. Jolie will make a wonderful job in this one. She could be the second woman to win an best oscar for best director.

    Honorable Mention, but will not catch the best picture nomination: Inherent Vice (because is PTA, right), Guardians of the Galaxy (maybe is to early, but if this movie works like the trailer promises, I think the academy will appreciate a fresh new hit) and Noah (I think this biblical epic will surprise, but will catch a best picture nominee).

    • EAT

      lol guardians of the galaxy. really???

      • João Paulo

        And why not? Maybe not for best picture of course, but could end up get a nomination in others categories.

      • EAT

        O okay. i thought u mean best picture.

      • Aquartertoseven

        Most Oscar nominated films are either pretentious crap that normal people outright hate, or find just ‘okay’ and never watch again.

        At least mainstream films are often likeable AND rewatchable.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gerard.kennelly Gerard Kennelly

      I honestly hope shia gets best supp actor for FURY

      • João Paulo

        Shia is growning as actor, maybe is a good chance for him get a nomination.

  • Alex Hajna

    Damn, Adam, you hit the nail on the head. I didn’t even consider Interstellar, Get on Up, or Foxcatcher, but they all make so much sense! I sincerely hope we see an Oscar nom for Carell. He’s one of the best actors working today, but he’s getting to be a bit repetitive.

  • Marissa Evans

    As of now I don’t know enough about the others, but in the meantime I’m rooting for Grand Budapest Hotel. I’m kind of sick of dramas and romanticized biopics at this point.

  • Jan

    Best Picture: Transformers: Age of Extinction
    Best Director: Michael Bay
    Best Actor: Mark Wahlberg
    Best Supporting Actor: Jack Reynor
    Best Supporting Actress: Nicola Peltz
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Ehren Kruger
    Best Score: Steve Jablonsky

    You’re welcome.

    • george

      Best 2.5 hour snoozefest: Transformers: Age of Extinction
      Best Childhood Killer: Michael Bay

      • Davis

        Boo the way he remade those 30 minutes toy commercials he’s worst than a child molester.

    • Bob

      And, their’s the Razzies for next year…

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/bitenuker,53018/ Bitenuker

    Todd Haynes’ Carol though, mark my words. At the very least expect a Best Actress nomination for Blanchett.

  • Osiris

    Gone Girl will make such a better movie than book

  • WhyNot

    Argo vs Life of Pi
    12 Years a Slave vs Gravity
    Unbroken vs Interstellar

    • http://www.facebook.com/gerard.kennelly Gerard Kennelly

      penn vs murray
      bogart vs brando
      thewlis vs hanks
      penn vs rourke

  • Reina

    I always pegged the role of Amy Dunne in Gone Girl to be an Oscar role, she’s twisted and cunning and a really fascinating character so I think there’s a lot of material for Rosamund Pike to work with. I’m also really excited to see how they changed the ending! (And I’m really happy they did!)

    • http://www.facebook.com/gerard.kennelly Gerard Kennelly

      amy ryan gone baby gone
      amy dunne gone girl

  • Ed

    no early prediction for Aronofsky’s Noah?

  • tertiaryintervention

    the james brown story will probably win Oscar votes from people who didn’t even watch it because that’s what the Oscars are, a liberal self-congratulatory jerk-fest.

  • tertiaryintervention

    the james brown story will probably win Oscar votes from people who didn’t even watch it because that’s what the Oscars are, a liberal self-congratulatory jerk-fest.

  • Duane

    I really hope that Amy Adams finally wins this year. She totally deserves it. Also STEVE CARELL FTW!!!!!

  • Redjester

    Although all of these films looks fantastic, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being most excited for Interstellar and Gone Girl, followed by Inherent Vice, whatever Malick film is coming out this year, Grand Budapest, and Imitation Game.

  • Tom

    “Decoding Annie Parker” with Helen hunt, Samantha Morton and Aaron Paul is also one to watch. True story, inspiring film, wonderfully acted.

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  • Patrick Downing

    Definitely Boyhood is a contender for winning Best Picture. Grand Budapest Hotel likely nominee.

  • Johnson

    go and crawl back from the shit hole you came from