Remember when Best Actress was going to be a race between Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts? Yeah, the Oscar race has been going on for that long. So to reminisce before the big night Sunday, let's take a look at how wrong (or how right) we were.
The biggest potential Oscar nominee to come out of January was perhaps one of the ones that got robbed the most. After premiering at Sundance, the very early 2013 buzz was centered around the very deserving Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler's Michael B. Jordan-starring film about the death of Oscar Grant. Writing for Hollywood.com, Matt Patches explained that "this year had its fair share of hype, but one film stands out as a work of art that lives up to the buzz." Unfortunately, by the time Oscar rolled around, Fruitvale was no where to be found.
Right after the Oscars aired last year, people started clamoring to make their early predictions as to who would be in the running the following year. The Monuments Men seemed like a sure bet at that point, only to later be pushed to early 2014. Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher also ended up leaving the 2013 fray. Meanwhile, the Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence project everyone was on about was Serena, but that never made it on the schedule.
When the Nicole Kidman-starring Grace of Monaco got a December release date, an Australian news site was quick to declare the Oscars a race between countrywomen and BFFs Kidman and Naomi Watts (set to star in Diana). Diana would end up being savaged by critics, and Grace was pushed to 2014.
Though it would start to look like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was really gunning for Oscar come July with that spectacular first trailer, in April, footage screened at CinemaCon that had people talking Oscar. The year prior, the Life of Pi had gotten that bit of buzz, only Mitty wouldn't have the same sort of success. This month, it looked like McConaughey's best shot for Oscar was Mud, which ended up getting overshadowed by his performance in Dallas Buyers Club.
May saw the debut of a lot of trailers for movies that would ultimately have some impact on the Oscar race. The Captain Phillips trailer, for instance. The Gravity trailer. But the month really belonged to the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, which got raves out of Cannes. The Nebraska train also started at Cannes, with Bruce Dern winning the best actor prize, but it just wasn't as big as the love for Llewyn.
Looking at the race at the halfway mark, Deadline's Pete Hammond argued this month that their may be a place for The Place Beyond the Pines, which had been released in March. Still, a movie that hadn't opened yet—Lone Survivor—was raising eyebrows by getting a prime Oscar-season release date. And yet, it would only end up making waves in the technical categories.
This month saw the release of Blue Jasmine, which had an honest to goodness contender in Cate Blanchett, and buzz was already growing based on the trailers for 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle. July! Basically a good month for Oscar predictions. (Just ignore that Walter Mitty trailer.)
Here's where things got busy. The Butler (or rather, Lee Daniels' The Butler) opened this month and definitely looked like it would be a player. When Telluride rolled around at the end of the month, Prisoners was on the same path. Gravity, meanwhile, was in Venice getting raves.
Though it debuted in Telluride at the very end August, the early September hype belonged to 12 Years a Slave when it premiered at Toronto. Kyle Buchanan and Vulture even argued it was a guarantee to win Best Picture. And he may yet be right! The festival circuit was not so good for some other would-be contenders. Remember Labor Day? Yeah, no.
Cue the American Hustle and Jennifer Lawrence train, because it arrived at the end of November.
And, finally, after speculation that it may be moved to 2014 earlier in the year, The Wolf of Wall Street finally has its day in the Oscar buzz spotlight.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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