The Oscars are that time of year when Hollywood commends Hollywood for being so Hollywood. However, that doesn’t change that because of the Academy Awards, we actually get to see quite a few great films. So, with the January 10 announcement date getting pretty close, here are the five films that are most likely to get an Academy nod for Best Picture.
Steven Spielberg does it again. With wonderful performances by Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Field, and Tommy Lee Jones, Spielberg’s biopic is a gut-wrenching tale of one man’s struggle to keep his nation united. While it has been tremendously received and is likely to get the Oscar nod for best picture, the film will have to contend with the criticism that it is the classic “white savior” tale, something much more so in the limelight after Tarantino’s work on Django Unchained.
Ben Affleck is back with a vengeance. After successfully directing gems of the thriller genre in Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Affleck tried his hand at historical fiction in Argo. With a cast that includes Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman, the film already had the tools for success; that it also had fantastic direction was icing on the cake. The movie has been criticized for both its simplistic “Hollywood” take on international relations and its several historical inaccuracies, but that likely won’t dent Argo’s chances for a nomination.
3. Life of Pi
Who says you can’t make a movie about faith and spirituality in the 21st century? A movie that is as breathtaking to look at as it is crucial to contemplate, the 3D adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel is proof that you don’t need big names on the screen to get a great movie. Directed by the incredibly versatile Ang Lee, the incredibly modern take on religion was likely unacceptable for conservative believers, but is sure to be recognized by the Academy as a highly imaginative film.
4. Les Miserables
A latecomer to the party but it made a hell of an entrance. Bolstered by strong performances from Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, and Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables is a modern-day West Side Story because it shows us that big screen adaptations of musicals are possible. It was a story many were already aware of but clever writing and great direction meant that the movie still blew everyone away. The Oscar nod is expected, made easier by the fact that the actors in the film are easily the most “blockbuster” names in all the potential nominations
5. Moonrise Kingdom
More of a personal wish than a guaranteed nomination, Moonrise Kingdom proves once again that Wes Anderson knows his stuff. Featuring acting greats such as Edward Norton and Frances McDormand, the movie crafts itself as the adventure of a child and quickly evolves into a story that once again shows us the value of love and family. The movie isn’t as well known as some of the others on the list, a crime considering the quality on display, but maybe the Oscars will bring it some much-deserved recognition.
Of course, there are only five spots and several other films that are in the running, such as Zero Dark Thirty, The Master and Anna Karenina, so the nominations may yet pack a surprise or two. However, regardless of who gets the nomination, all of these movies are likely circling around in the Academy’s head.
The nominations will be announced on January 10.