Contender Countdown: Oscar likes to party all the time

Posted by · 2:43 pm · November 14th, 2013

If you were an Academy or guild member Wednesday night, you may have had a tough time determining your social schedule. There were at least four major events you could have attended tied to this year’s awards season. Yes, the circuit is in full effect and it’s just the second week of November.

In Hollywood, AFI Fest held a screening of “Her” with a Q&A featuring director Spike Jonze and hosted the Los Angeles premiere of Ben Stiller’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” The latter found Stiller joined by co-stars Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Adam Scott and Kathryn Hahn, among other notable guests. “Mitty” is clearly not the awards season player Fox or many in the media hoped it might be, but it’s not for lack of trying.

Across town, Beverly Hills featured a special screening of “Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom” at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. The premiere was only a few days ago, but this awards season-focused event featured special guests Sidney Poitier and Zindzi Mandela, daughter of both Nelson and Winnie.

Most impressive, however, was the special “Inside Llewyn Davis” private concert in Santa Monica. HitFix’s Kris Tapley has nicely recapped the night. Any competing consultant thinking “Davis” isn’t in line for a Best Picture nomination might change their minds after counting the over 200 Academy members in attendance. And hey, it’s not every day Barbra Streisand shows up at one of these shindigs, y’know?

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks with every night featuring one event after another and a multitude of nominating committees all over town. On Saturday, things will get more intriguing at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors Ball. The evening’s most famous honoree is Angelina Jolie, but every studio with a contender is trying to make sure their top talent has a good seat to mingle with all those voters. Ironically, there may be more big stars at the Governors Awards than the Oscars this May.

Obviously, this is nothing new. The Academy’s recent rule change allowing for more AMPAS Q&As has made things a tad busier, but with so many films still in the mix it’s added a heightened sense of urgency to the season. And judging by this week’s almost all over the place Gurus of Gold results*, it’s clear a lot is at stake if you’re not “Gravity,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Captain Phillips” or “Saving Mr. Banks.” If there are going to be 10 nominees (and my gut still says nine), there is a lot at stake financially in locking down those other six slots

*Note: I did not intend to vote for “Before Midnight” in my Gurus selections. That is supposed to be “Blue Jasmine,” as noted below.

With all that in mind, take a look over this week’s Best Picture players.

Nov. 14, 2013

1. “Gravity”
It’s a marathon. You’ll see.

2. “12 Years A Slave”
Box office so far should make Searchlight, McQueen and financiers very happy.

3. “Captain Phillips”
Always knew it would be a hit, but $100 million US? That’s amazing.

4. “Saving Mr. Banks”
Feel-good player, but won’t win.

5. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”
Y’all know there are a lot of Academy members in this one who have a ton of Academy friends, right?

6. “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Never doubt the appeal of the Coens and the power of producer Scott Rudin during the season.

7. “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Scorsese is a power player. Heard the five hour cut was ridiculously good. Can an under three-hour version be just as compelling?

8. “Nebraska”
Not sure they thought it was a player before Cannes, but Paramount has run this campaign beautifully since then. Now? Needs box office.

9. “Blue Jasmine”
Is it the movie or Blanchett’s performance that Oscar will love? Sony Classics still believes it’s both.

10. “Dallas Buyers Club”
It’s a classy, indie tearjerker. Focus still believes (as they should).

What do you think about the current state of the Best Picture race? Share your thoughts below.

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