40 Potential 2014 Oscar Contenders: Part Three - 'Lowlife' to 'Place Beyond the Pines'

The 2013 Oscars have come to a close, but that doesn't mean us dedicated followers of the almighty awards season stop looking ahead twelve months from now when a new film will be crowned king of the world amidst all the backlash and hate that swirls around the event.

Instead of focusing on the negative, let's keep positive. Let's look forward to the next ten months of 2013 and ponder what possible great

films we may have in store. While we may second guess the decisions of the Academy and consider them out-of-step with current trends in film, at the very least they give us a chance to consider what may be the best the year has to offer and what will be the most talked about films and performances come this year's awards race.

Pushing the build-up aside, my early year 2014 Oscar Preview begins today with the first ten films in a 40 movie preview. I will dedicated this space to ten new films each day and on Friday reprint the list in its entirety before opening the doors to my 2014 Oscar predictions next week.

In each preview I've included some thoughts on each film's Oscar potential and what categories they may most likely find themselves nominated. I've included the cast, director, studio, synopsis and release date where applicable. Some of these films don't even have distribution yet, how will that effect their award campaign? When will some most likely premiere? What films will we likely see at this year's film festivals?

I hope to get into all of these questions and more over the next four days and then the predicting begins earlier than ever before when I open the doors to my 2014 Oscar predictions next week.

Dallas Buyers Club
DIR. Jean-Marc Vallée / TBA 2013

Jared Leto (left) and Matthew McConaughey on the set of Dallas Buyers Club

This is really a shot in the dark and it largely sticks out because of the lengths Matthew McConaughey went to in order to embody the central character, an electrician diagnosed with AIDS in the 1980s. The film essentially dramatizes a lot of what was seen in the Oscar-nominated documentary How to Survive a Plague and I can't quite tell if that hurts or helps its chances. Right now it's without a distributor and at this point it seems like a good fit for Toronto. Who's to say if it will get picked up and rushed into theaters or picked up and released in 2014? For now I'm keeping it in the game.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Matthew McConaughey), Original Screenplay (Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack)

STUDIO: No Distributor Yet

CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Gael Garcia Bernal, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto and Steve Zahn

SYNOPSIS: A 1980s-set drama telling the story of Ron Woodroof (McConaughey), a Dallas electrician diagnosed with AIDS. Doctors gave him just a few months to live, but he managed to survive for six more years and prolong the lives of countless others by creating a smuggling operation for alternative treatments.

DIR. Bennett Miller / TBA 2013

Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo on the set of Foxcatcher

Bennett Miller has given us Capote and Moneyball and now he's got Steve Carell, one of the hottest names around in Channing Tatum and the always-reliable Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher, a based on a true story feature from screenwriters Dan Futterman (Capote) and E. Max Frye. This one has a lot of potential in several categories.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Picture, Director, Best Actor (Steve Carell), Supporting Actor (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo), Adapted Screenplay (Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye), Cinematography (Greig Fraser), Film Editing (Stuart Levy)

STUDIO: Columbia Pictures

CAST: Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Anthony Michael Hall and Vanessa Redgrave

SYNOPSIS: Based on the true story of John du Pont (Carell), the paranoid schizophrenic heir to the du Pont chemical fortune who built a wrestling training facility called Team Foxcatcher on his Pennsylvania estate. David Schultz (Ruffalo) was a longtime friend of du Pont who had repeatedly tried to help him before du Pont shot and killed him in 1996.

Police never established a motive for the crime, which was witnessed by Schultz's wife and du Pont's head of security. After the shooting, du Pont barricaded himself in his mansion for two days while he negotiated his surrender over the phone.

DIR. Ryan Coogler / October 18

Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale
Photo: The Weinstein Co.

If there's a film coming out of Sundance with a lot of heat it's Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale and with The Weinstein Co. picking it up you better believe people will be thinking Oscar for this one. Based on a true story and with high marks for up-and-comer Michael B. Jordan the sky is the limit for this one.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay (Ryan Coogler), Best Actor (Michael B. Jordan)

STUDIO: The Weinstein Co.

CAST: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O'Reilly, Chad Michael Murray, Kevin Durand and Octavia Spencer

SYNOPSIS: Oscar Grant was a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who loved his friends, was generous to strangers, and had a hard time telling the truth to the mother of his beautiful daughter. He was scared and courageous and charming and raw, and as human as the community he was part of. That community paid attention to him, shouted on his behalf, and filmed him with their cell phones when BART officers,
who were strong, intimidated, and acting in the way they thought they were supposed to behave around people like Oscar, shot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day in 2009.

The Great Gatsby
DIR. Baz Luhrmann / May 10

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby
Photo: Warner Bros.

Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! was released in June of 2011 and went on to score eight nominations at the 2002 Oscars, including Best Picture alongside A Beautiful Mind, Gosford Park, In the Bedroom and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Yes, Luhrmann hasn't given us much since. Yes, that wasn't a particularly great Best Picture line-up, and yes, The Great Gatsby has already been delayed with not-so-nice rumors swirling around its post-produciton. Nevertheles, I'm not ready to count out an adaptation of one of the greatest books of all-time featuring a cast such as this one, even if I believe Luhrmann has turned into a visual director more than anything else.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio and/or Tobey Maguire), Supporting Actress (Carey Mulligan), Original Score (Craig Armstrong), Cinematography (Simon Duggan), Costumes (Catherine Martin), Visual Effects, Adapted
Screenplay (Baz Luhrmann and Craig Pearce)

STUDIO: Warner Bros.

CAST: Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke, Isla Fisher and Gemma Ward

SYNOPSIS: The Great Gatsby follows Fitzgerald-like, would-be writer Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz and bootleg kings. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.

DIR. Peter Landesman / TBA 2013

Writer/director Peter Landesman adapted and will direct Parkland based on the book "Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy" by Vincent Bugliosi and he's got an all-star cast to help him do it. Only problem in terms of Oscar is this one doesn't have a

distributor, but production began at the end of January giving this one time to be sold at the Cannes marketplace and perhaps find itself a nice, late year release and Toronto premiere.

UPDATED: As a commenter has pointed out below, Open Road Films will distribute Parkland.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Supporting categories, Cinematography (Barry Ackroyd), Costumes

STUDIO: Open Road Films

CAST: Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver, James Badge Dale, Jackie Earle Haley, Colin Hanks and David Harbour

SYNOPSIS: Parkland recounts the chaotic events that occurred at Parkland Hospital in Dallas on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, November 22nd 1963. Part thriller, part real-time drama, Parkland is the ferocious, heart-stopping story of unexceptional people fighting for survival and reaching for heroism in an exceptional time.

The Place Beyond the Pines
DIR. Derek Cianfrance / March 29

Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines
Photo: Sierra Affinity

I don't think Derek Cianfrance's The Place Beyond the Pines has much of a shot at Best Picture, Focus' decision to release it in March more-or-less sealed that deal, but acting wise Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling may have a shot her, though I wouldn't wager too much money on either of them, especially with Cooper having Serena and possibly David O. Russell's Abscam project later this year and Gosling starring in Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives. You can read my review of the film from Toronto last year right here.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES: Best Actor (Bradley Cooper), Supporting Actor (Ryan Gosling), Supporting Actress (Eva Mendes)

STUDIO: Focus Features

CAST: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne, Dane DeHaan, Bruce Greenwood, Ben Mendelsohn and Emory Cohen

SYNOPSIS: Luke (Ryan Gosling) is a professional motorcycle rider who turns to bank robberies to support his newborn son, but when he crosses paths with a rookie police officer (Bradley Cooper) their violent confrontation spirals into a tense generational feud. The Place Beyond the Pines is a rich, dramatic thriller that traces the intersecting lives of fathers and sons, cops and robbers, heroes and villains.

Others at Source

So many good movies to look forward to, and all of my faves are here.