Who will be the holiday release Oscar dark horse?
05:00 AM, Oct 31, 2013
With each Oscar race, a surprise contender emerges. In 2012, that was the foreign language film Amour, which earned five nominations, including one for best picture.
“The great thing about Oscar is that it allows for surprises,” says Dave Karger, chief awards correspondent for the movie website Fandango.com. “And they happen most every year.”
Guessing where the surprise is going to come from is never an exact science, but here are some likely candidates:
The Book Thief (Nov. 8). Brian Percival’s adaptation of the best-selling novel about a young girl caught up in Nazi Germany is fighting to find a spot among the major awards releases. A touching performance by Geoffrey Rush as the girl’s adopted father and the Holocaust theme are powerful forces. “But it’s tough competition,” says Karger.
Out of the Furnace (Dec. 6). With a cast including Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson and Casey Affleck, it’s hard to ignore the Scott Cooper dark thriller. “Very impressive cast in meaty roles,” says Karger. “The question is, will voters find it too dark?”
Her (Dec. 18, limited).Spike Jonze’s postmodern love story starring Joaquin Phoenix will continue to earn a devoted following. “Some people are going to love it,” says Karger. “Some won’t get it.”
Labor Day (opening limited Dec. 25). Jason Reitman’s film about a prisoner (Josh Brolin) hiding out with a family (headed by Kate Winslet) doesn’t fit into the typical Oscar mold. “The escaped-convict-on-the-run story is not a movie that attracts academy voters,” says Karger. “But (Labor Day) is very well done.”
Lone Survivor (Dec. 27, limited). Peter Berg’s true-life tale of four Navy SEALs on a mission to kill a notorious Taliban leader, resulting in one survivor (Mark Wahlberg), is “a total dark horse,” says Karger. “But movies like The Hurt Locker have proven a story like this can resonate with voters.”