Last week, my countdown of the films in contention at the 2014 Oscars spanned 10 of the most interesting films on the way ahead of the awards ceremony. This week, it’s the top ten, starting with Michael Fassbender getting involved with drugs and Tom Hanks playing Walt Disney.
10. Saving Mr Banks
Syrupy, cheesy and perhaps a little too sweet for awards success? That’s what Saving Mr Banks might’ve sounded like in the pitch. However, add Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson to the mix and you’re looking at a serious contender.
Hanks plays Walt Disney and Thompson portrays PL Travers, author of Mary Poppins. Disney is desperate to adapt the story, but Travers is worried that her beloved character will become a silly, whimsical cartoon.
It’s a heartfelt, dramatic movie, with considerably more than a spoonful of sugar. However, it’s witty and spiky enough to carry it up to the level of something really spectacular.
Nominations? Best Actress (Emma Thompson), Best Supporting Actor (Hanks), Best Original Screenplay
Wins? Emma Thompson’s performance is solid, but she might struggle in a crowded Best Actress field. It stands a chance at screenplay too.
UK Release Date: 29th November 2013
9. The Counsellor
Ridley Scott has had one of the most illustrious careers in the history of cinema, and Cormac McCarthy is one of the greatest novelists of recent years. So, on paper, The Counsellor is a recipe for awards success.
Michael Fassbender, long overdue a statuette, plays an unnamed lawyer who becomes embroiled in a web of coincidence that threatens his life and that of his fiancée.
It has been kicked to death by critics, which will seriously threaten its run at awards success, but it still stands a good chance in several of the big categories.
Nominations? Best Picture, Best Director (Scott), Best Actor (Fassbender), Best Supporting Actress (Diaz), Best Original Screenplay
Wins? On paper, it looks good for screenplay, but the poisonous critical reaction might weaken its cause.
UK Release Date: Out now. (review)
8. Dallas Buyers Club
Kind of like a less violent, Breaking Bad, 2014 Oscars hopeful Dallas Buyers Club features Matthew McConaughey as a man who discovers he cannot afford medication when he is given thirty days to live after an HIV diagnosis. He goes to Mexico for his medication and brings back enough to sell to a select group of people.
There hasn’t been an enormous amount of pre-release buzz around Dallas Buyers Club, but there has been plenty around McConaughey. It’s unlikely to pull off any surprises in the other categories, but the Best Actor prize could well be spending its future on McConaughey’s mantlepiece.
Nominations? Best Actor (Matthew McConaughey)
Wins? McConaughey is looking like a potential frontrunner for Best Actor. He’s battling it out with some heavy names, but the McConaissance is on track for a big win.
UK Release Date: 7th February 2014
7. Blue Jasmine
In the shape of Dallas Buyers Club, we have one of the big contenders for Best Actor. In Blue Jasmine, we have arguably the probable winner of the Best Actress prize.
Cate Blanchett’s performance in Blue Jasmine as a socialite fallen from grace and living with her working class sister (Sally Hawkins) is nothing short of astounding. Evoking Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire, she perfectly portrays the slow decline of Jasmine’s mental breakdown. And also, it’s a Woody Allen movie!
Along with the crackling wit and heart-breaking drama, his unique powers of observation echo through every character and every line of dialogue. It may not walk away with a stack of gongs from the 2014 Oscars, but it’s a great film that deserves to be rewarded.
Nominations? Best Actress (Blanchett), Best Supporting Actress (Hawkins), Best Director (Allen), Best Original Screenplay
Wins? Allen may struggle to win for either directing or writing, but it’s very likely that Cate Blanchett will walk away from the 2014 Oscars clutching an award.
UK Release Date: Out now. (review)
6. The Wolf of Wall Street
Scorsese and DiCaprio are back together. The acclaimed director and a star repeatedly snubbed by the Academy are teaming up to release The Wolf of Wall Street in time for the 2014 Oscars.
This tale of hedonism and ridiculous amounts of cash looks set to be one of the highlights of awards season and could win handfuls of prizes for its illustrious cast and crew.
Leonardo DiCaprio is due an Oscar more than perhaps any other actor currently working, and this could be his year.
Nominations? Best Picture, Best Director (Scorsese), Best Actor (DiCaprio), Best Adapted Screenplay
Wins? DiCaprio stands the best chance, but he could struggle with such a crowded field.
UK Release Date: 17th January 2014