What's on the menu for the 2014 Oscars?
05:00 AM, Mar 07, 2013
It’s been a dozen long, lonely, bone-chilling days since Oscar frenzy reached its zenith with the coronation of the winners, and that can only mean one thing: Now’s the time to begin scouting potential contenders for the 2014 awards. USA TODAY’s Brian Truitt casts a crystal ball toward the silver screen and identifies some projects and performances to keep an eye on.
* A perennial contender in years past, two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks seems to be the man of the hour again this year playing a pair of real-life folks: animation pioneer Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks (in theaters Dec. 20) and the seafaring title hero of Captain Phillips (Oct. 11).
* Steve Carell plays against comedic type in Foxcatcher (no date yet), which casts him as the complicated convicted killer of his former friend, Olympic wrestler Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo).
* John Goodman and the Coen brothers go together like chocolate and peanut butter, and the actor could nab his first Oscar nomination for Inside Llewyn Davis (no date yet), the brothers’ movie centered on the New York folk-music scene of the 1960s.
* Michael Fassbender was key to director Steve McQueen’s breakthrough drama Shame, and Twelve Years a Slave brings them together again for a period piece that casts Fassbender as a heartless cotton planter and slave owner. Also one to watch out for: Chiwetel Ejiofor, who stars as the free black man sold into slavery.
* Newcomer: Chadwick Boseman has the kind of breakthrough role that academy voters could eat up as Jackie Robinson, the first African-American in Major League Baseball, in 42 (April 12).
* Meryl Streep, she of the 17 Oscar nominations, heads up the A-list cast of an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County (Nov. 8) . Playing a drug addict with cancer here may hoist her into favorite status sooner than later. Her co-star Julia Roberts, as a daughter trying to keep her dysfunctional family on an even keel, could possibly sneak in, too.
* Cate Blanchett is his muse du jour in Woody Allen’s new film Blue Jasmine (July 26), about the life of a fashion-conscious New York housewife.
* Academy voters might just adore newly minted best-actress winner Jennifer Lawrence enough to give her two in a row if they dig her in Serena (Sept. 27), a drama based on the historical novel that teams her again with Silver Linings Playbook co-star Bradley Cooper as a troubled couple in Depression-era North Carolina.
* Jennifer Garner had to be red-carpet-ready during her husband Ben Affleck’s dream awards season, but not as a doctor turning to non-legal AIDS medications for her patient (Matthew McConaughey) in the drama Dallas Buyers Club (no date yet).
* Oscar-winning Octavia Spencer of The Help has another emotional role as the mother of a young man (Michael B. Jordan) shot to death by police in the Sundance favorite Fruitvale (Oct. 18).
* Ang Lee won best director this year for Life of Pi, which featured a visual feast of effects, nuanced acting and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. So it looks good for Alfonso Cuaron, whose upcoming sci-fi film Gravity (Oct. 4) definitely checks off the boxes for “fewer actors” and “more effects” George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are the lone thespians in the movie, playing a pair of astronauts stranded in space.
* The Jazz Age looks much jazzier through the lens of The Great Gatsby (May 10) filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, who is not known for his subtlety. He’s taking the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel and making the extravagant world of Jay Gatsby (Leonard DiCaprio) come to life in 3-D but still focusing on the core relationship of Gatsby, young Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan) and wide-eyed Midwestern lad Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire).
* Martin Scorsese could be going for director nomination No. 8 with the crime drama The Wolf of Wall Street (Nov. 15), which teams the filmmaker with star Leonardo DiCaprio for the fifth time a collaboration that has resulted in Scorsese’s only director Oscar, for The Departed.