2014 Oscar Season Preview
With summer blockbuster season coming to an end, audiences can finally look forward to the awards fodder that populates the fall and winter months leading up to the Oscars. The end of the year boasts an impressive lineup of genre-spanning fare, with work from actors and directors reaching outside their comfort zones to try something darker or even unexpected. Expect surprises to outweigh disappointments as 2014’s film race heats up. The following films are not ranked and listed by release date.
Gone Girl (October 3) David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, The Social Network) brings Gillian Flynn’s best-selling 2012 novel to life with his signature shadowy tone. The story details the disappearance of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) and subsequent investigation of her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck), in Carthage, Missouri. The script’s rewritten ending could shock both newcomers and book readers alike.
Birdman (October 17) What is widely looked forward to as Michael Keaton’s comeback performance after earning rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival, Birdman follows a retired actor (Keaton), who once played a famous superhero, as he tries to reignite his career on Broadway. The film, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful), was manipulated in post-production to look like one single shot.
Fury (October 17) David Ayer (Harsh Times, End of Watch, Sabotage) directs Brad Pitt, Shia LeBouf, and Michael Pena in this WWII film about an American tank commander (Pitt) in the 2nd Armored Division. Ayer earned the Academy’s attention for writing the 2001 cop flick Training Day and is due to impress again with this dark, gritty depiction of the battlefront.
Nightcrawler (October 31) Jake Gyllenhaal continues to blossom into one of Hollywood’s most promising talents with this thriller about a driven young video journalist in modern Los Angeles. Having lost more than 20 lbs for the role, the actor literally looks “hungry” for an Oscar nod here.
Interstellar (November 7) Acclaimed director Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight, Inception) braves the sci-fi genre once again with the mysterious Interstellar. Said to concern wormholes and time travel, the film stars the excellent Matthew McConaughey leading an ensemble cast of Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, and Casey Affleck, among others.
The Theory of Everything (November 7) James Marsh’s new biopic stars British actor Eddie Redmayne as the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, before meeting his wife (Felicity Jones) at Cambridge in the 1960s. It deals with the couple’s early romance and subsequent struggle to accept his debilitating motor neurone disease. Sure to be both moving and inspiring, Redmayne could deliver a powerhouse performance.
Foxcatcher (November 14) Steve Carell takes a serious turn in Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, based on the true story of Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and the grisly murder of his brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo), at the hands of their paranoid schizophrenic coach (Carell). Carell’s off-kilter performance is already an Oscar lock, as reviews from Cannes were appropriately glowing.
Exodus: Gods and Kings (December 12) Film veteran Ridley Scott returns to the world of epic dramas after directing the 2000 Best Picture winner Gladiator and 2005’s underrated Kingdom of Heaven. The film recreates the Old Testament’s Book of Exodus and follows Moses (Christian Bale) as he leads the Hebrews out of Egypt. Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley co-star, among others.
Inherent Vice (December 12) After polarizing audiences with 2012’s divisive character study The Master, director Paul Thomas Anderson reteams with Joaquin Phoenixfor an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s comedic novel. The story follows stoner private investigator Doc Sportello (Phoenix) as he attempts to understand a web of strange disappearances in late 1960s Los Angeles. Also starring Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, and Benicio Del Toro, Inherent Vice promises exceptional talent from both sides of the camera.
Unbroken (December 25) Angelina Jolie directs this adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 non-fiction bestseller Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. The film retells the true account of former Olympic track star Louis Zamperini and his 47 days adrift at sea after a horrific plane crash in the Pacific ocean. The awards circuit recognized Jolie for her previous, 2011 directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey.