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 Kingdom. Grand 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.
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.