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First Oscar Predictions of the Year, Complete!

The April Foolish predictions for 2014 are complete! In record time* for June 1st.


BULLISH: I've predicted that Foxcatcher and Interstellar will lead the nominations with 8 nods each with Gone Girl, Mr Turner and Birdman not far behind. I also have high Oscar hunch hopes for Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game.

BEARISH: Though I will readily concede that Unbroken might be a juggernaut, I'm not yet feeling it's as as sure of a thing as many pundits are likely to given the extraordinary amount of Oscar boxes it checks off on paper.  My bearishness is largely because you can argue that Oscar has become less enamored of "traditional / inspirational" material in the past several years - even skipping inspirational Holocaust movies like The Book Thief -- and are quicker to embrace thornier auteurism than they have since the 70s. It's also because Angelina Jolie is a largely untested director whose first feature had a good measure of pre-release media attention only to be totally ignored once it arrived (and I don't mean in terms of Oscar nominations, though that was the case as well). That said if everyone agrees that Unbroken is quite good (nobody has to think it's great) it'll do very well for itself in the nominations. [more...]

HEDGING MY BETS: I'm both optimistic and pessimistic on some pictures. Indecision, hooray! I've predicted that Into the Woods will set a new record for most nominations without a corresponding best picture nomination in this new era of "up to 10" nominees. That era has only 5 years of history at the moment which is not much to go on but so far it's resulted in fewer films finding their way to nominations and nearly every nomination going to the 9 or 10 best picture nominees. Franky, I don't know if its even possible for anything to get a ton of nominations WITHOUT a Best Picture bid given the current hype circus, but that used to be such an interesting space for movies to inhabit. No film, for instance, is ever going to beat They Shoot Horses, Don't They (1969) which managed 9 nominations without Best Picture during the longstanding 5-wide Best Picture year. (Frankly, I'm fine with this. TSHDT needs a record to hold on to since too few people talk about it - it's only one of the greatest motion pictures you'll ever see). Four nominations seems to be the ceiling without playing in the Best Picture sandbox now (think Nine, Star Trek, and Anna Karenina) though two films share the record having bested that by one nod: Skyfall (2012) & The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011) each won 5 nominations and we can assume they just missed competing in the top category.

FOREIGN CHARTS: I have yet to start those massive foreign film submission charts we're known for so for now I'm using the recent Cannes sensations as the placeholder predictions. Of course we don't yet know if those countries will submit those movies. Cannes is only the beginning of that story, really. And it's not even the true beginning since eligibility doesnt run by calendar year for this category but by late fall to early fall in the country of origin. So some movies submitted will be quite old by the time Oscar views them and some are unseen, waiting to debut at the fall festivals. 

2014 vs 2015 ??? The "which year will they arrive in" problem is never solveable. IN FACT, AS I WAS WRAPPING, WORD IS THAT MACBETH IS PLANNING ON 2014. (It's too late to adjust every chart so that film will have to wait until the next chart revision on June 22nd) But these things are always fluid. Movies will keep changing their release dates until the end of the year but for now the most divisive titles in this regard seem to be Carol and Suffragette. I've predicted Carol to arrive this year and the other to wait but I wouldn't be surprised at all to be completely backwards on this.

* Hey, some records are bad! I've been calling The Film Experience's first wave of Oscar charts "April Foolish" predictions for years. It's not like I've never run late before but this year was ridiculous. Apologies. The distended reveal led to some odd occurences, like The Homesman tanking at Cannes after I'd predicted Tommy Lee Jones (oops) but before I'd finished the Best Actress chart (fwiw, I had not planned on predicting Swank). Far From the Madding Crowd was pushed back to 2015 after I'd predicted it in Supporting Actress, and so on. So I've had to make two small adjustments to the charts as I finalized this weekend. Aside from Macbeth, I feel fairly good about this first round of chart positions but then, my record is pretty good as an early bird psychic... and actually better than most. I attribute this to my lack of trust in "looks good on paper" and 'anything could happen' sensibility. It's only toward the end of the year when my natural proclivities in this regard work against me and going with the obvious is the smart move. Later in the year I sometimes trip up and overthink from those daring 'well, this could happen' leaps... but then again, this tendency has also led to some of my most enviable 'how did he see that coming?' predictions. So you win some you lose some. 

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Reader Comments (27)

Both Carol and Macbeth have been funded through Film4, on their website they list both films as 2015 releases. And Suffragette has a January release here in the UK, which makes it likely to be a 2014 release Stateside, though it could pan out like The Railway Man which was a film that had an early 2014 release for Bafta 2013 consideration. It can all go any way! But Todd Haynes takes his time on his films so I think Carol premieres at Cannes 2015...a whole year after it wrapped filming.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjohn

Chastain has the cache to be nominated for ER: Them in Best Actress. Whether the performance screamed nomination worthy or not to you.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Midnight Special has a November 2015 release date.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNikki


1. Foxcatcher: I'm conceding it, finally, but why exactly this small intimate story took more than ten months to edit (finished filming January 2013) to make it's initial debut is beyond me.
2. Birdman: The meta aspects about Keaton are probably the big hurdle, but there aren't really any big films that cover the interplay between film and stage. Oscar will LURVE that part.
3. The Imitation Game: I almost think Weinstein's Oscar domination fakery absolutely NEEDS TO STOP. It's not good business or good sport. It's insane. I seriously hope it stalls.
4. Interstellar: Could be interesting. It's flip this year is GotG and that could be an interesting media overview if they're both nominees.
5. Gone Girl: Could be really good and Fincher is a filmmaker they're on the wavelength with right now.
6. Wild: Reese Witherspoon carrying what will mostly amount to a one woman show is bizarre. The Academy isn't usually into that kind of thing, so Gravity last year was a surprise. I'm not sure that will develop into habit.
7. Mr. Turner: I've got this lower than this (yes, it was very acclaimed at Cannes), mostly due to a downturn in support for Mike Leigh pictures. (His last two only got Original Screenplay.) Because it's period and gorgeous, I'd say 2 or 3 nods, with Original Screenplay as an outside shot.
8. Unbroken: Again, got it lower than this. There's way too many screenwriters to justify even this level of confidence, the genre is fading as an Oscar hook and Jolie hasn't exactly proven her chops on a directorial level.
9. A Most Violent Year: J.C. Chandor, last year, wasted 90 minutes on a film about a character who they tried to convince you was "mysterious" but wound up a boring, though well performed, non-entity and I think the Academy might want to hold off on anointing this guy.
10. Theory of Everything: Stephen Hawking through the eyes of James Marsh. In their wheelhouse, but I don't necessarily buy that Marsh is a good enough narrative filmmaker to hold this together.
11. Big Eyes: Due to the genre and filmmaker, I think if it sparks at all it's somewhere in the top 10.
12. Into the Woods: Yes, fairly tales are over exposed dulling the unique factor, but I think you're under placing this.
13. Inherent Vice: Yes, this is a light oddity, but I liked the book. Can see the Academy gazing back with wistful eyes to the period.
14. Grand Budapest Hotel: It was the late March cresting to movies that are actually somewhat valuable to see coming out every week. It won't make it to the end of the year.
15. Carol: I think this will be 2015. Todd Haynes is someone to wait for and savour, after all. And I think the Academy, like everyone is becoming more comfortable with gay content. But Haynes might well do something explicit, unlike...
16. Love is Strange: I don't exactly understand why this isn't higher. Huge critical bait, non cliche story, not focused on the sexual or romantic aspects and a story that needs to be told. Why wouldn't the Academy be interested?
17. Suite Francaise: I don't buy critics will be into this at all. It's the Titanic style sappy cross class romance in the middle of occupied France and there's already a definitive cinematic portraiture of this time period: Army of Shadows.
18. Whiplash: Why do we need another take on the over exposed struggling artist narrative?
19. Get On Up: There's a likely better (and set to be more popular) movie coming out that same week to suck up all the air.
20. The Judge: Really? Even with the terrible director (David Dobkin) and bad writers (Nick Schenk (Gran Torino) and David Seidler (Tucker: The Man and His Dream, The King's Speech)) attached? If you say so.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

a) Nolan will get nodded for the DGA and miss out on a best director's nod again, because it would be funny.

b) Mike Leigh will get an original screenplay nomination.

That's all I got.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Don't you think Julianne Moore would be more potent as a Supporting Actress contender? I have to think her studio would feel the same way. Unless the movie plot is more "hers" than I imagine, and even then...

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W.

Love the Sarandon mention. Still think Birdman will be a dud though.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterA.J

Isn't Johnny Depp a V.O. only performance in "Into the Woods"? What about Evan Bird in "Map to the Stars" as a longshot possibility in Supporting Actor? He got excellent notices, almost as much as Julianne Moore.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

So you have ITW with 7 nods without best picture. Hmmm....

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Irvin -- oh, i hadn't heard that. i'm so used to the stage play where an actor always plays the wolf in a werewolf kind of way. And this is absolutely the first i'm hearing of Evan Bird winning standout notices for that Maps movie. (i'll admit i didn't read reviews - i don't before seeing movies -- but i never heard any random chatter about it. only Julianne Julianne Julianne)

June 1, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I don't care, I want a perfect "Carol" in December and then I want a perfect "Blackbird" in 2015, David Mamet is another genius to add to that stockpile of big guns that makes Blanchett peerless director-wise.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

I'm so relieved that the L'enfant terrible doesn't seem to be a contender for a nomination this year. A third consecutive nomination after 'Silver Linings Playbook' and 'American Hustle' would be much too much.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

I don't think Depp is only VO for Into The Woods. There hasn't been much revealed but James Corden was quoted about filming a scene with Johnny Depp, IMDB has an entry for Depp Makeup and I read that Disney's CinemaCon presentation had a photo of Depp in costume. All of this could be misinformation but I haven't seen anything about VO or even motion capture.

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVaus

I think Streep may go supporting for ITW with Blunt pushed lead. Just
my hunch .... Kendrick is pretty clear cut supporting....

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

by the way, it's worth mentioning that Maggie Smith will probably go down in records for having leading roles in her late 70s and early 80s. It's extraordinary.

Quartet (2012)
My Old Lady (2014)
The Lady in the Van (2015)

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

Nathaniel, with Putin and Mikhanov controlling at 100% the Russian Academy, we won't see Leviathan -Or any other Zvyaginstev film- selected to representate Russia at the Oscars. Zvyaginstev is very critical to current Russian situation and among the cinema elites he's an "enfant terrible".

June 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterleon

Thanks for that wonderful winter (Down Under) morning present, Nathaniel. So glad to be able to start the discussion, with all those wonderful pages (after what is I am sure weeks of hard work).

Two thoughts:

1. I have tried to avoid reviews as well, but I thought MAPS TO THE STARS might have featured more. I was thinking "maybe this is the one that finally gets Cronenberg a Best Director nomination", as it might be the thing that gets closest to Hollywood's heart (think Lynch's nomination for MULHOLLAND DRIVE). But maybe I'm wrong here and need to listen to the web chatter more.

2. Five "first time nominations" in Best Actor (with three first-timers in the second tier). I know that's it's early days and you're just throwing things around to see if they stick, but if it pans out this way.....when was the last time that happened in this category? (It would also be a nice contrast to the "five past winners" Supporting Actor category last year).

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

Something about that Meryl pic makes me think this is not going to work, and Into the Woods is going to go the way of Nine or Sweeney Todd -- works that seemed alive and combustible on a smallish stage, but jumbled and weird on the big screen.

Speaking of weird, I was just watching Polanski's Macbeth again, and can I say that is my idea of the perfect alt-Macbeth? Just so wonderfully bizarre and claustrophobic. Not sure where this new Macbeth can go, but Fassy probably is the perfect person for the role. It might work if the 9-to-5 ladies played the weird sisters.

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarsha Mason

@Travis C: To alleviate my very late night boredom and sleeplessness, I figured I'd tackle your question of when was the last time all the Best Actor contenders were first time nominees. You'd have to go all the way back to 1934 when there were only 3 nominees! In that year, William Powell (The Thin Man) and Frank Morgan (The Affairs of Cellini) lost out to Clark Gable (It Happened One Night).

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdoughyjunn

@Marsha: I'm so glad someone else feels weird about that Meryl pic. My first reaction to it was along the lines 'uh-oh, that doesn't look promising', and I'm quite surprised that it pops up so often.

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIvonne

ITW test screened and someone said Emily Blunt was a standout. Someone else said Meryl was great, but those are only two opinions :-/.

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

Is there some news about Fury that I haven't heard, other than Shia Lebouf going crazy? It would seem to be a contender from my vantage point - rising director, Brad Pitt, some respected supporting cast (Pena, Isaacs) WWII, fall release...

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

You know, I'm the only human on this planet who really ENJOYED Nine and yes, I've seen 8 1/2 before it.
And Sweeney Todd was great.
I don't think I could hate ITW. On contrary I have the feeling it will become one of my favorite movies once I've seen it.

June 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Yavor: A thousand times YES!

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

Genius doesn't start shooting until October.

Macbeth is coming in December 2014.

Madding Crowd is testing poorly so may push to 2015.

Why no mention of Stephen Frears/Lance Armstrong film? Both Ben Foster and (especially) Chris O'Dowd will be int h conversation.

June 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMr bonturcode

I have not read the novel, but is Rosamund Pike's role big enough to justify Best Actress placement?

June 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Marcos - from my understanding, yes

June 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

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