An Early Look at This Year's Upcoming Oscar Race + An Introduction

August 23, 2013


For over 90% of the films released in a given calendar year, very little happens to them besides playing for a month or two in theaters before they get a second life on Blu-Ray/DVD. A select few, however, are able to make their mark as being "Oscar worthy" and can begin to aspire to make it through the grueling awards season. Most don't even come close, but the ones that do compete for those precious few Academy Award nominations and the acclaim that comes along with them. Why am I telling you this? Well, starting soon at FirstShowing, I'll be guiding you through the ins and outs of the awards season as part of the writing staff.

Who am I? Well, for those of you who've never heard of me before, my name is Joey Magidson (follow me @JoeyMagidson) and among other things, I'm an Oscar prognosticator. Over the past half dozen years or so I've been at The Awards Circuit as one of the Staff Writers, contributing reviews, conducting interviews, and yes, writing a lot about the Academy Awards. I've also worked with Oscar pundit Scott Feinberg during the awards season, and now I'm excited to be joining the team here at FirstShowing.

On a more personal note, I'm a lifelong New Yorker and resident of Brooklyn. I got my degree in Cinema and Cultural Studies from Stony Brook University what feels like a lifetime ago and actually begun my career at The Awards Circuit while still in school. Believe it or not, until I began making writing my full time occupation, I was actually in line to join the New York City Police Department and spent some time in the Academy. Trust me, the rough tactics that Harvey Weinstein uses in his Oscar campaigns don't compare at all to instructors for the NYPD!

What made me choose to pursue Oscar prognostication and film criticism as a career? I've always just loved movies, going back to early childhood. It didn't hurt that my grandfather was a projectionist and I got to go all the time for free, but something about the magic of the movies just got under my skin. I never especially had the urge to be a filmmaker, but I always wanted to write about movies. As I became more and more interested in film, I gravitated towards the Oscars and before I knew it, I was making my own predictions. From there, things just kind of snowballed.

If you want a sense of my cinematic tastes, my favorite film of all time is The Shawshank Redemption and I love everything Kevin Smith has ever done, but at the same time I have a real soft spot for coming of age stories and well done romantic dramedies. Other favorite films? Almost Famous, Chasing Amy, The Fountain and Leaving Las Vegas are high up there. In terms of filmmakers, Woody Allen might be my all time favorite, but directors like Darren Aronofsky, David Fincher, and Jason Reitman captivate me these days. Essentially, I love just about any good film out there, regardless of genre.

Now, the goal here is not just to talk about the Oscars and all of the other awards that come before it, but to try and put the season itself into some sort of context. I'd like to get into the situations that lead certain films and performances to succeed, but also to just discuss those films in a new light. For example, when an upcoming awards hopeful like American Hustle gets close to release, I might write about how director David O. Russell is seemingly getting closer and closer to awards season glory, as well as comparing the film itself to its cinematic cousins from last year (i.e. Argo in this particular case).

In short, I plan to talk a lot about the potential films that will be up for awards consideration between now and the end of the year. I won't always overtly mention Oscar, but my eye is certainly on those sort of flicks. In between, I'll be talking about what's happened in years prior as well as what still could come down the line. Also, expect some things specifically on certain actors/actresses/filmmakers along with some pieces on the upcoming film festivals of the year.

All that (and plenty more) will be coming your way, but for now as an introduction to Oscar prognostication, I figured I'd share my current 2013 predictions for the Academy Awards. Now, keep in mind how early it is (we're still five months from the nominations announcement on January 16th, 2014) and how much can change, but here in August, this is more or less how I see things (mostly sight unseen) shaping up in the six main categories:

1. American Hustle
2. Labor Day
3. Captain Phillips
4. The Monuments Men
5. 12 Years a Slave
6. Saving Mr. Banks
7. Foxcatcher
8. The Wolf of Wall Street
9. August: Osage County
10. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

1. David O. Russell - American Hustle
2. Jason Reitman - Labor Day
3. Paul Greengrass - Captain Phillips
4. George Clooney - The Monuments Men
5. Ben Stiller - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

1. Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club
2. Robert Redford - All is Lost
3. Bruce Dern - Nebraska
4. Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
5. Christian Bale - American Hustle

1. Amy Adams - American Hustle
2. Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
3. Kate Winslet - Labor Day
4. Judi Dench - Philomena
5. Shailene Woodley - The Spectacular Now

1. Michael Fassbender - 12 Years a Slave
2. Steve Carrell - Foxcatcher
3. Josh Brolin - Labor Day
4. Tom Hanks - Saving Mr. Banks
5. Jeremy Renner - American Hustle

1. Oprah Winfrey - Lee Daniels' The Butler
2. Meryl Streep - August: Osage County
3. Jennifer Garner - Dallas Buyers Club
4. Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine
5. Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle

Right now, don't over think these predictions (that's my job), but perhaps just make a quick note of them for comparison's sake as the year continues on. I'm excited to be joining the team here at FS and can't wait to start talking about all the year's possibilities with you all, so stay tuned! In the coming weeks I'm going to be trying to preview all of the main films hoping to contend for awards as well as the actors and actresses within them (Joaquin Phoenix from Spike Jonze's Her will be one of my first subjects). If last year is any indication, the Oscar season is going to be really exciting and unpredictable, so I'm thrilled to be your guide down the yellow brick road to Academy Award gold! Follow me at @JoeyMagidson for extra updates.

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  • Marcus
    Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore in 'Her' should be in the top 5 male contenders.
    • Joey Magidson
      Sight unseen, it's hard to say that, especially since Phoenix is not someone who is into campaigning for the nomination and a lot of veterans are in play. I'm actually planning an article on him very soon, so be on that lookout for that!
      • Marcus
        Looking forward to reading it! Thanks for the response!
        • Joey Magidson
          My pleasure!
  • Gdahia
    I think "Inside Llewyn Davis" directors and main cast will be nominated
    • Joey Magidson
      Joel and Ethan Coen are always contenders, though I think this is one of their smaller outings, and those tend to not do quite as well with the Academy. It's in the top 15 players for Best Picture and Oscar Isaac is in the top dozen or so for Best Actor. Time will tell how it winds up doing though...
      • Gdahia
        Yeah, that really makes sense. Although "A Serious Man" got nominated and seemed to me as an even smaller outing.
        • Joey Magidson
          That's a good comparison...I see it getting an Original Screenplay nomination for sure, and Best Picture could certainly happen, but that might wind up being it.
  • Louis Carr
    No love for Mud?
    • Joey Magidson
      Mud has an outside chance in Best Original Screenplay and for Best Supporting Actor, but that will partly depend on how big a Best Actor contender Matthew McConaughey is in Dallas Buyers Club, but I'll be getting more into that soon...
  • Isildur_of_Numenor
    Good way to find out more about the Oscars. Looking forward to future posts.
    • Joey Magidson
  • whoa
    Captain Phillips WILL NOT be in the Oscar race.
    • whoa
      - Carell is being campaigned as lead, so he won't be in the supporting category. - I also read Dern is being campaigned as a supporting character (but I haven't seen the film, so idk). - Wouldn't bet too much on Redford being nominated. - No chance in hell Woodley will get a Best Actress nomination. - Switch Jennifer Garner for Lupita Nyong'o.
      • Joey Magidson
        The Foxcatcher category placement hadn't been announced at the time this piece was submitted (and I actually have an article on just that coming soon), but Dern is being campaigned Lead according to Paramount. Placement is always subject to change though, especially this early. Woodley is a longer shot, yes, but she has the same chance as everyone else right now, with the added bonus of being a known entity. Nyong'o has a long road ahead of her for a nod, especially since 12 Years a Slave will be a much harder sell for the Academy than Dallas Buyers Club. We'll see about both though...
    • Joey Magidson
      That goes against all of the early word from industry screenings earlier in the year. Regardless of that, I'll see firsthand in a few weeks at the New York Film Festival...
  • Ricardo_PT
    Hi and welcome, you seem like a cool guy with good taste in movies 😉 Have you seen something about these movies besides what has been available to us? Is this based on internal buzz in the industry? Based on a director/actor reputation?
    • Joey Magidson
      Thanks for the welcome! It's a mixture, honestly. Some of the films I've already seen, some I've talked to people who've seen, some of it is just purely industry buzz, while some of it has to do with prior reputation, while the rest can just be writer's intuition, as it were. I tend to get about 70% of my predictions right when all is said and done, so it's an inexact science, but properly reading the tea leaves can do a lot. That's partly what I hope to do here, introducing how I do this job while actually doing it. Should be fun, and don't hesitate to ask questions like this!
      • Ricardo_PT
        Thanks for the answer 😉 (and I like that you're replying to everyone, keeps the conversation going ;)). I don't like that reputation and accolades count so much, but that's just the way it is. And I understand that when it comes to the Oscars stuff like that means a lot. Do you put your personal opinion into the mix?
        • Joey Magidson
          You're welcome! I try to avoid it. For example, my favorite film of the year so far is The Place Beyond the Pines, but I'm not predicting it to get nominated for anything...
  • Eddie Edwards
    What about Michael B. Jordan in 'Fruitvale Station'?? Definitely an oscarworthy performance. Maybe the next 'Beast of the Southern Wild' for this years oscars?
    • Joey Magidson
      Michael B. Jordan is likely not getting a Best Actor nomination despite his worthy performance, mainly due to how crowded that category is. Besides the five I mentioned, there's also Steve Carrell (who will be going Lead now, not Supporting), Idris Elba, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, and Leonardo DiCpario competing for a spot, among many others. Newcomers always have an uphill struggle, so I think Jordan will have to wait.
  • DavideCoppola
    Cool article, thanks!
    • Joey Magidson
      You're very welcome!
  • Tester
    Documentary Sound City better get nominated or else !!
    • Joey Magidson
      It's a long shot, actually, but the Documentary category is a hard one to predict this early on. Closer to the end of the season the Academy releases a long list of titles still in contention, and that's where things crystallize a bit...
  • Llewyn Davis
    Inside Llewyn Davis is not on there? What're you dumb or something? It came in second at Cannes; it's gonna win everything!
    • Joey Magidson
      Actually, historically Cannes is not a good barometer at all of Oscar success, even with the Coens. For example, Barton Fink won the Palme d'Or and then won nothing at the Oscars (missing out on Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay nominations in fact).
      • Llewyn Davis
        The only reason it has a chance of losing is bc the people at the oscars are pretty idiotic. Django Unchained was the best movie of last year and deserved to win best picture hands down.
        • ion677
          Uhhh.... actually Argo was the best movie last year. That's why it won.
          • Llewyn Davis
            Django was ten times better than Argo was, the reason Django lost was because it was way to violent to win an Oscar, if you look at the ratings for both, Django got the better rating. So I guess it isn't better. Sent from my iPod
          • ion677
            Do you have access to the internet? Just wondering. Because Django got 88% with an average score of 8/10, while Argo got 96% with an average rating of 8.5/10. Also, lots of violent movies have won best picture- Braveheart, Gladiator, etc.
          • Llewyn Davis
            Braveheart and gladiators violence doesn't even compare to Django's violence, and you're only looking at rotten tonatoes, and if you look at the ratings of people who watched it, Django got better ratings. Sent from my iPod
          • ion677
            Oh boy.... Rotten tomatoes doesn't review movies. Sorry you didn't know that. They're only a review aggregator that collects reviews. From EVERYONE. So, which ratings were you talking about? Ah, but I think you want more proof that your opinion is an outlier compared to mainstream opinion. Sometimes critics don't like a movie but audiences love it. True. So lets look at another respected third party- "", which is the benchmark in Hollywood for measuring a film's appeal by polling audiences. Argo got an extremely rare A+ rating. Not at all knocking Django, which got an A- score. Also, don't think the Academy doesn't like violence. They love it. But being the most violent doesn't mean its gonna win anything unless it also has something to say.
          • Joey Magidson
            They're both excellent films and made my top ten last year...
          • Joey Magidson
            Personally, I agree, but not everyone does.
        • Joey Magidson
          You're certainly entitled to that opinion, nothing wrong with that.
  • Good article. Nice disclaimer at the end. It is certainly tough to predict anything this early.
    • Joey Magidson
      Thank you, and indeed...
  • Sherlon
    Significant absentees from this list : The Butler, Inside Llewyln Davis,Gravity and maybe......The Counsellor
    • Joey Magidson
      Turns out no for The Counselor...
  • hedd
    I love this article and your follow up to the comments. I would like to know what you think about the repetitive and dormant Academy history. I mean you don't have to be a member to notice the consistency with directors and actors. It gets boring and predictable. For an Academy that is tryin to retain an audience (what with having MacFarlane as a host)... you'd think they'd try and shake things up a little bit. Thoughts?
    • Joey Magidson
      Thanks! I'm of the opinion that the Academy wants to still honor what they like, repetitive as it may be at times, but also get a larger audience. The thing is, they don't know how to do it properly yet. It's hard to get voters to suddenly vote a different way.
  • truthoncinema
    I've been a FirstShowing follower since 2008 and I hardly ever comment because rarely does Alex or Ethan follow the conversation below, but I have to applaud and commend your efforts in following up in the comments and personally responding to the commenters. That shows class! Bravo my fine friend.
    • Joey Magidson
      Appreciate that. I'll try to pop in from time to time in the comments on pieces I write going forward...
  • Mirko Billi
    Tom Hanks yes in nomination for Saving Mr Banks and Emma Thompson no. It' absurde. I you remember that Mrs Thompson is formidable actress in Howards End (Oscar best actress), The remains of the Day (nomination), In the Name of the Father (nomination) and also writer (Sense & Sensibility Oscar screenplay adaptation). She as great talent. In Saving Mr Banks She play P. L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, an particular character. This years she goes in nomination, please.
    • Joey Magidson
      We shall see...
  • Mirko Billi
    I add: Thompson and Hanks in nomination, together. I want to say possibles nomination for Saving Mr Banks: best picture, actress in a leading role (Thompson), actor in a supporting role (Hanks), originale screenplay, art direction, costume design and original score. Strong contender in original screenplay and original score, in my opinion.
    • Joey Magidson
      That film's chances get better by the day, it seems.
  • Mirko Billi
    Excuse me, I conclude with my predictions nominations in category actress role: Amy Adams, American Hustle. Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine. Judi Dench, Phlilomena. Emma Thompson, Saving Mr Banks. Kate Winslet, Labor Day.
    • Joey Magidson
      Those don't look too unlikely at all...
  • Kim
    Keep up the good work!
    • Joey Magidson
      Thank you...




Alex's Top 10 - 2016
1. La La Land
2. Paterson
3. Arrival
4. Captain Fantastic
5. 20th Cent. Women
6. Pete's Dragon
7. Jackie
8. Kubo & Two Strings
9. Everybody Wants
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