Joe: Richard! It’s November, the air’s getting chillier, the Daylight Savings monster has come to claim its dusky victims, and Hollywood is about to knuckle down to the business of awarding its own again. Much like Christmas and Presidential elections, the Oscar creep pushes the season ever earlier, and this year especially, with the October premieres of three of 2013’s best reviewed and buzziest films – 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, and Gravity -- it’s time to take a look at The Race.
We’re actually in the middle of my favorite time in the Oscar season, when enough of the major contenders have either opened or screened at festivals/for critics that there is a general sense of what’s good, but none of the precursor events have stepped in to begin the process of winnowing down the field. The world is abundant and full of possibility! The dominant topic of Oscar chatter thus far has been Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, which ran the festival gauntlet and then opened to very good per-screen box office in limited release. The film was declared not only the frontrunner but the presumptive winner back when it screened in Toronto, which raised the hackles of those whose hackles are there for the raising. But who cares about who’s winning the Oscars when the much more fun question of what else will be nominated is still so very open? If 12 Years a Slave is a given (it is), that still leaves anywhere from four to nine other Best Picture slots available. Two of which seem likely to go to the other major October releases, Gravity and Captain Phillips, which are almost certain to turn their stellar reviews and unsinkable box-office numbers into nominations for Picture, Director (Alfonso Cuarón and Paul Greengrass, respectively), and their lead performers (Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks, respectively).