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.

Find more posts: Awards, Editorial



Joaquin Phoenix as Theodore in 'Her' should be in the top 5 male contenders.

Marcus on Aug 23, 2013


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!

Joey Magidson on Aug 23, 2013


Looking forward to reading it! Thanks for the response!

Marcus on Aug 23, 2013


My pleasure!

Joey Magidson on Aug 23, 2013


I think "Inside Llewyn Davis" directors and main cast will be nominated

Gdahia on Aug 23, 2013


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...

Joey Magidson on Aug 23, 2013


Yeah, that really makes sense. Although "A Serious Man" got nominated and seemed to me as an even smaller outing.

Gdahia on Aug 23, 2013


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.

Joey Magidson on Aug 23, 2013


No love for Mud?

Louis Carr on Aug 23, 2013


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...

Joey Magidson on Aug 23, 2013


Good way to find out more about the Oscars. Looking forward to future posts.

Isildur_of_Numenor on Aug 23, 2013



Joey Magidson on Aug 23, 2013


Captain Phillips WILL NOT be in the Oscar race.

whoa on Aug 23, 2013


- 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.

whoa on Aug 23, 2013


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 on Aug 23, 2013


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...

Joey Magidson on Aug 23, 2013


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?

Ricardo_PT on Aug 24, 2013


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!

Joey Magidson on Aug 24, 2013


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?

Ricardo_PT on Aug 24, 2013


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...

Joey Magidson on Aug 24, 2013


What about Michael B. Jordan in 'Fruitvale Station'?? Definitely an oscarworthy performance. Maybe the next 'Beast of the Southern Wild' for this years oscars?

Eddie Edwards on Aug 24, 2013


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.

Joey Magidson on Aug 24, 2013


Cool article, thanks!

DavideCoppola on Aug 24, 2013


You're very welcome!

Joey Magidson on Aug 24, 2013


Documentary Sound City better get nominated or else !!

Tester on Aug 24, 2013


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...

Joey Magidson on Aug 24, 2013


Inside Llewyn Davis is not on there? What're you dumb or something? It came in second at Cannes; it's gonna win everything!

Llewyn Davis on Aug 24, 2013


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).

Joey Magidson on Aug 24, 2013


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.

Llewyn Davis on Aug 24, 2013


Uhhh.... actually Argo was the best movie last year. That's why it won.

ion677 on Aug 25, 2013


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

Llewyn Davis on Aug 26, 2013


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.

ion677 on Aug 26, 2013


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

Llewyn Davis on Aug 27, 2013


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.

ion677 on Aug 27, 2013


They're both excellent films and made my top ten last year...

Joey Magidson on Nov 8, 2013


Personally, I agree, but not everyone does.

Joey Magidson on Nov 8, 2013


You're certainly entitled to that opinion, nothing wrong with that.

Joey Magidson on Nov 8, 2013


Good article. Nice disclaimer at the end. It is certainly tough to predict anything this early.

Quanah on Aug 24, 2013


Thank you, and indeed...

Joey Magidson on Aug 26, 2013


Significant absentees from this list : The Butler, Inside Llewyln Davis,Gravity and maybe......The Counsellor

Sherlon on Aug 25, 2013


Turns out no for The Counselor...

Joey Magidson on Nov 8, 2013


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?

hedd on Aug 25, 2013


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.

Joey Magidson on Aug 26, 2013


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.

truthoncinema on Aug 26, 2013


Appreciate that. I'll try to pop in from time to time in the comments on pieces I write going forward...

Joey Magidson on Aug 27, 2013


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.

Mirko Billi on Aug 27, 2013


We shall see...

Joey Magidson on Nov 8, 2013


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.

Mirko Billi on Aug 27, 2013


That film's chances get better by the day, it seems.

Joey Magidson on Nov 8, 2013


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.

Mirko Billi on Aug 27, 2013


Those don't look too unlikely at all...

Joey Magidson on Nov 8, 2013


Keep up the good work!

Kim on Nov 8, 2013


Thank you...

Joey Magidson on Nov 8, 2013

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