Will These 10 Films Be Next Year’s Oscar Nominees?

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Well, after months of hype, after hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaigning, after endless precursor award ceremonies leading to the big night, the Oscars are over. So, what’s next? We joked about “the 12 or so hours we get until next year’s Oscar race begins,” but you know the producers of next year’s would-be nominees and winners are already gearing up. So we took a look at the films slated thus far for release this fall — traditionally the time when Serious Oscar Movies are unleashed — inventoried their Oscar-friendly elements, and came up with ten movies you might spend a Sunday night desecrating on Twitter, this time next year.

Rush

RELEASE DATE: September 20

OSCAR-FRIENDLY FACTORS: The last time director Ron Howard and screenwriter Peter Morgan collaborated (on Frost/Nixon), they were each nominated for Oscars. Howard won previously for A Beautiful Mind; Morgan was nominated in 2007 for The Queen.

ON THE OTHER HAND: The subject is Formula 1 racing, not exactly a go-to subject for Academy Award winners.

Prisoners

RELEASE DATE: September 20

OSCAR-FRIENDLY FACTORS: Hugh Jackman (this year’s Best Actor nominee) joins Jake Gyllenhaal (2006 Best Supporting Actor nominee) and Melissa Leo (2011 Best Supporting Actress winner) in this thriller from director Denis Villeneuve, whose Incendies was up for Best Foreign Film in 2011.

ON THE OTHER HAND: It’s a thriller, which is not a genre that the Academy reliably cottons to.

Gravity

RELEASE DATE: October 4

OSCAR-FRIENDLY FACTORS: Three-time Oscar nominee Alfonso Cuarón’s six-years-and-counting follow-up to the stunning Children of Men features previous winners George Clooney and Sandra Bullock — and no one else, if the rumors are correct (details of the film are being kept heavily under wraps, so yes, that’s why we’re using a still of Clooney in Solaris.) If it’s just the two of them, we could see the kind of intense performances that the acting branches love to reward…

ON THE OTHER HAND: …in a sci-fi film, a genre that the Oscars tend to ignore. And as amazing as Children of Men was, it got remarkably little love from the Academy (no wins and only three nominations, for Cinematography, Editing, and Adapted Screenplay).

Paranoia

RELEASE DATE: October 4

OSCAR-FRIENDLY FACTORS: Veteran actors facing off — in this case, Air Force One cast mates Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford as financial moguls.

ON THE OTHER HAND: The director is Robert Luketic, whose previous films include The Ugly Truth, Killers, and Monster-In-Law.

Malavita

RELEASE DATE: October 18

OSCAR-FRIENDLY FACTORS: Headed up by two of this year’s Best Supporting Actor nominees (and perennial Oscar favorites), Robert De Niro and Tommy Lee Jones, with three-time nominee Michelle Pfeiffer in the female lead. Martin Scorsese is executive producer.

ON THE OTHER HAND: Though his directorial efforts are slightly more highbrow, filmmaker Luc Besson is best known for writing and producing trashy product like the Transporter and Taken films.

Last Vegas

RELEASE DATE: November 1

OSCAR-FRIENDLY FACTORS: The film’s four leading men (Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, and Kevin Kline) have five acting Oscars (and nine more nominations) between them.

ON THE OTHER HAND: This is being pitched as a broad comedy, a kind of aged The Hangover, which doesn’t exactly scream Oscar Bait™. And Stand Up Guys proved you can’t get by on sentimental value alone.

The Counselor

RELEASE DATE: November 15

OSCAR-FRIENDLY FACTORS: Three-time nominee Ridley Scott directs the first original screenplay by Cormac McCarthy, whose novel No Country for Old Men won four Oscars back in 2008. That film’s Best Supporting Actor winner Javier Bardem is in on this one, as well as previous winner Penelope Cruz, three-time nominee Brad Pitt, and shoulda-been nominee Michael Fassbender.

ON THE OTHER HAND: Another thriller, which is tricky business Oscar-wise, and Scott’s last few films haven’t exactly been award-worthy.

The Fifth Estate

RELEASE DATE: November 15

OSCAR-FRIENDLY FACTORS: Oscar loves a good biopic, and this drama from director Bill Condon (one win, another nomination) takes on the juicy topic of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Up and comer Benedict Cumberbatch’s resemblance is pretty convincing, and young, exciting actors who disappear into a historical role often do well (Ben Kingsley in Gandhi, for example).

ON THE OTHER HAND: Oscar voters will remember that Condon directed Gods and Monsters and Dreamgirls. They may also remember that he directed The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.

The Monuments Men

RELEASE DATE: December 18

OSCAR-FRIENDLY FACTORS: Star/producer/director/co-writer George Clooney just picked up an Oscar for producing Argo; he also has two previous nominations for writing and one for directing. His cast for this adaptation of Robert M. Edsel’s nonfiction book includes previous winners Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin, and (for writing) Matt Damon, as well as Best Actor nominee Bill Murray.

ON THE OTHER HAND: Not seeing how this doesn’t get all the nominations. Unless, of course, it’s terrible.

Saving Mr. Banks

RELEASE DATE: December 20

OSCAR-FRIENDLY FACTORS: The last two Best Pictures have been movies about movies, so this one falls neatly into that pattern: it is the story of how Walt Disney (played by two-time Best Actor Tom Hanks) spent 14 years personally wooing Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (one-time Best Actress, one-time Best Adapted Screenplay winner Emma Thompson) into letting him turn her book into a movie. The cast also includes previous nominees Paul Giamatti and Rachel Griffiths.

ON THE OTHER HAND: Movies about movies don’t always get Oscar love, particularly when they’re dealing with Hollywood icons — ask the makers of Hitchcock.