Gold Derby has assembled a ragtag group for the first predictions sweep (Movie City News’ Gurus of Gold will also post soon) of Best Picture. These are mostly spit in the wind choices, though I follow Anne Thompson’s lead by never predicting a film to win that I haven’t seen (it’s tempting, hope springs eternal).  Therefore, I currently think, all things considered, that Alexander Payne’s sentimental, moving story of an elderly man rediscovering his own life through the lens of Dementia has the best shot of taking home the prize. But then, I haven’t seen any of the “major” contenders yet. No one has.  What I know is this: Alexander Payne is one of the greatest unrecognized American directors who came close to winning with Sideways (screenplay) and then again with The Descendants (screenplay). I don’t know a more consistently good storyteller who is as reliable as Payne when it comes to delivering flawed, memorable characters.  There is something haunting and unforgettable about Nebraska, which seems to fold in so much of what revolves in the collective now.  If it isn’t the best film in Payne’s career, it is close. Therefore, given that the Coens have won with No Country, Scorsese with The Departed, there are a couple of big time directors in the mix who are also overdue, David O. Russell among them.

Still, no one has seen American Hustle so predicting that movie to win, despite everything, is like accepting a proposal to marry someone whose profile you liked on Match.com.  You only know what it looks like on the surface. Surely that’s no way to find “best.”

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In my view, it’s always better to go with what you know than what you don’t know. Of this list, only Fruitvale Station, The Butler, Nebraska, Inside Llewyn Davis have been seen. Therefore, they have the most clout right now heading into the race. The other movies are good bets, of course, because of whose involved, subject matter, publicist’s confidence.

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  • I’m not feeling any of those ten films for the win yet. That is to say, those which have been seen don’t feel like the winners at this stage, and those which haven’t don’t look like them this far out.

  • m1

    Mine would be

    1. American Hustle
    2. The Wolf of Wall Street
    3. Inside Lleywn Davis
    4. Foxcatcher
    5. Rush
    6. Fruitvale Station
    7. August: Osage County
    8. 12 Years a Slave
    9. Captain Phillips
    10. Before Midnight

  • Paddy – You don’t think Hustle and 12 Years look like winners?

  • Pete

    1. American Hustle
    2. The Wolf of Wall Street
    3. Saving Mr. Banks
    4. 12 Years a Slave
    5. Foxcatcher
    6. Captain Philips
    7. Gravity
    8. Inside Llewyn Davis
    9. The Monuments Men
    10. The Butler

    11. Rush
    12. Before Midnight
    13. August: Osage County
    14. Fruitvale Station
    15. Her
    16. Nebraska
    17. Blue Jasmine
    18. All is Lost
    19. Philomena
    20. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

  • Duke

    Here’s my top 10 at the moment:

    1. 12 Years a Slave
    2. The Wolf of Wall Street
    3. American Hustle
    4. Gravity
    5. Captain Phillips
    6. August: Osage County
    7. Inside Llewyn Davis
    8. The Monuments Men
    9. Blue Jasmine
    10. Labor Day

  • Jpns Viewer

    Thanks for the info, Sasha.

    I’m rooting for American Hustle and Blue Jasmine for kicks because I enjoyed both SLP and The Fighter, and I am Woody Allen fan, the latter for both writing and directing.

    Anyway, one thing or more I couldn’t quite get it having looked at the listing: many critics seemingly love Fruitvale Station as a film but from its current stand on the list, it doesn’t look as promising as the A-range scores having been garnered previously – for good measure, they at least some of them even place ones they have yet to see (?) over Fruitvale…. I’m appalled by the logic alone, already….

  • Bryce Forestieri

    Yeah, these don’t say anything to me –personally. Maybe because I’ve only seen 2/10 of the films in this. Plus aside from Sasha they don’t include the cream of the crop predictors. What sticks out for me is that a lot of “important” people who are given a lot of “access” have SAVING MR. BANKS much higher in their considerations, several saying it’s The One…That, of course, would be a nightmare on earth (another dreadful THE ARTIST), but that’s what the big shots are saying.

  • Christophe

    1. Saving Mr. Banks
    2. The Great Gatsby
    3. The Monuments Men
    4. The Wolf of Wall Street
    5. The Butler
    6. Blue Jasmine
    7. 12 Years a slave
    8. Great Expectations
    9. The Invisible Woman
    10. Romeo and Juliet

  • Bryce Forestieri

    They’re all buying the notion that David O. Russell is a sort of new Academy darling lol; I mean given his last two efforts I can’t blame them, though I’m sure his fans -like me- hope that AMERICAN HUSTLE is as Oscar unfriendly as Russell is capable of, but provided the trailer, cast, and source material, that prospect, unfortunately, doesn’t seem plausible.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    Unless I’m totally off base here, the sight unseen “titans” still battling it out are:


  • I’ve seen 4 of the top 10 already, which is the first time I’ve ever been that far ahead of the game. The only lock of the 4 I’ve seen is Saving Mr. Banks. I loved Nebraska, but my gut tells me that the Academy could shut it out of the Picture race if there are 7 or 8 more “conventional” contenders out there. It doesn’t help that Nebraska feels similar to About Schmidt, and that movie missed a Pic nom. It’s certainly a likely pick, and Sasha is on to something about its relevance within the zeitgeist, but because there is so much that is unseen, I can’t call it a lock. Given The Butler’s success with the public, it can’t be dismissed, but I have a hard time believing they would recognize that movie when all is said and done. Fruitvale Station is my 3rd favorite film of the year, behind Before Midnight and Blue Jasmine, but like those movies I think it will be mostly forgotten at the end of the year. Harvey has a very full plate this time, and unless some of his other horses prove to be non starters on the festival circuit, he’ll probably have turned his energy towards other things by about mid October. Sight unseen, the strongest contenders seem to me to be The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and American Hustle.

  • Filipe

    American Hustle screams SAG ensemble, but Best Picture not very much.

  • Maybe 12 Years a Slave, actually. But not American Hustle. I rarely have faith in the frontrunner this far out. And I think there may be a feeling afoot that David O Russell has been more than amply rewarded by the Academy in recent years. I wonder if they’d dare.

  • Al Robinson

    I just remember the past decade, when in the summertime I was figuring out ahead which ones were the “frontrunners”.

    Check this out:

    2002 – Gangs of New York (Lost BP to Chicago)
    2003 – The Last Samurai (No BP nomination)
    2004 – The Aviator (Lost BP to Million Dollar Baby)
    2005 – King Kong (WAY OFF….)
    2006 – The Departed (Right on the money)
    2007 – American Gangster (No BP nomination)
    2008 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Nominated the most, but no BP)
    2009 – The Lovely Bones (No BP nomination)
    2010 – True Grit (Lost BP to The King’s Speech)
    2011 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (No BP nomination)
    2012 – Zero Dark Thirty (Lost BP to Argo)

    I have a bad track record so far. But I still LOVE to predict.

    So far for 2013: Inside Llewin Davis.

  • Al Robinson

    I think for 2001, if my memory serves me right, I think I was thinking Ali, and that didn’t get nominated for Best Picture either.

    As for 2000, the only films I actually cared about getting nominated for Best Picture were Almost Famous and Cast Away. Neither did. I blame Chocolat for that. I STILL HATE Chocolat. That movie was terrible.

  • julian the emperor

    Well, Lasse Hallström has a habit of making terrible films (their inoffensiveness is utterly preposterous and what’s so offensive about them; they have the ability to activate a Tourette syndrome in the most placid person imaginable: they make you want to scream “FUCK, SHIT, PISS!”).

    I have reached a point where I find his ridiculousness quite endearing, though…I think that’s a necessary step if you don’t want to turn into a bitter old man…because, quite frankly, the Lasse Hallströms of this world are likely to never go away.

  • Al Robinson

    You couldn’t be more right! That is hilarious!!

    I was double checking his other atrocities called “movies”. Yuck!!!

    Just this year, Safe Haven got 0 out of 5 from Peter Travers.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    I STILL HATE Chocolat. That movie was terrible


    I appreciate ALI’s visuals, but that’s a given with maestro Mann, and Jon Voight’s performance was cool –having said that, I don’t think I would have nominated it in a field of 5, maybe 10? but don’t remember the year as a whole to be sure, so probably? It was the year of PLANET OF THE APES, Tim Burton’s last good film. My Best Picture winner would have come out of IN THE BEDROOM vs. GOSFORD PARK, so glad it’s so far back I don’t feel slightest need to choose from both masterpieces. THE FELOWSHIP OF THE RING was deservedly nominated for everything imaginable.

    Last and least, the mistakes: the double punch of MOULIN ROUGE! and A BEAUTIFUL MIND didn’t and still don’t belong anywhere near awards consideration. Awful choices by AMPAS and else.

  • julian the emperor

    Lasse Hallström is neck and neck with Bille August in the competition for “Most awful career in Hollywood despite the fact that he did quite all right films on his Scandinavian home turf”.

    Note: Lasse did make My Life As a Dog, after all, and August made Pelle The Conqueror and other quite excellent Danish-language titles such as Honningmåne, Zappa and Busters Verden.

  • Jordan

    Word from early screenings of 12 Years is that it’s just like McQueen’s other movies, in other words, not Academy friendly in the slightest. The marketing team did a good job of making it look Oscar-friendly, but McQueen’s not the type of filmmaker to compromise his style to win Oscars. Don’t see that one even getting nominated.

  • steve50

    Thanks God!

  • julian the emperor


  • Bball_Jake

    I wish people were talking about Prisoners more. It has huge potential. No guts no glory, Prisoners wins Best Picture,Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay & Best Supporting Actor.

  • Robert A.

    Oh oh, Al! Be prepared to be wrong again! While I think Inside Llewyn Davis stands a pretty good shot of getting a BP nomination in an expanded field, it seems too–arty? enigmatic?–to actually win the grand prize. Then again, I also have no idea what to predict as the BP frontrunner this year. A lot of the assumed early frontrunners such as The Monuments Men and The Wolf of Wall Street just don’t feel quite right, somehow. (P.S. Chocolat sucked donkey balls!)

  • CMG

    Ambivalent as I am about it but really, NO August: Osage County?

    I also think Monuments Men is going to be a Charlie Wilson’s War where it has all the bells and whistles but no real bite (only difference is Sorkin and Nichols really should’ve done a better job and Clooney has only made one good movie in his life). Forget the reported no campaigning rumors. Clooney will lead a charm offensive. Problem is he’ll have a turkey and have to concentrate on A:OC.

    Top Ten (What I think AMPAS voters will be taken by rather than a wish-list)
    1 American Hustle- Oh Columbia Pictures, you screwed up front-runner status not once but twice. Do not do this to DOR, please.
    2 The Wolf of Wall Street
    3 August: Osage County
    4 Inside Llewyn Davis
    5 The Butler
    6 Rush
    7 Saving Mr. Banks
    8 Captain Phillips
    9 Saving Mr. Banks
    10 All is Lost

    Outside Looking In: Her, Foxcatcher, 12 Years a Slave, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and Labor Day

    No guts no glory idea: Blue is the Warmest Color, even with its run-time and explicitness, sounds much more accessible than Amour or Tree of Life, both Best Picture nominees. I can see it nominated in major categories.

  • Jerry Grant

    I definitely agree with Sasha’s general principle here. I also think all this build-up to “American Hustle” will almost inevitably lead to a let-down. It will probably be a cool, quirky movie. But O. Russell’s charm comes from the combination of strangeness and sincerity, particularly within a small unassuming package. I don’t think this “built up” picture at all means it will be his best work. I also think this idea that “O. Russell is due” is B.S. Tons of people are due. Paul Greengrass is due, Alfonso Cuaron is due, Richard Linklater is due, Bennett Miller is due, African-American directors en generale are due. I am convinced by Sasha’s portrayal of “Nebraska”; Payne, yes, is due, and has fewer haters than O. Russell, but more importantly, we know it’s damn good.

  • Bryce Forestieri

    And some idiot was saying this is a weak year. We already have an amazing Jeff Nichols, a pretty good Woody, and now we’re getting another punch from McQueen? Don’t tell me we’re also getting typical Scorsese, customary Scott, staunch Cuaron, and conventional Coens…because I might die of happiness. Did I mention Korine?

    Of course I fear The Lurking Johns those are Wells and Lee Hancock D:

  • PJ

    Is it possible that D O. R won BP the minute Argo won BP? I kind of don’t want it to happen but at the same I kinda of do.

  • Jon

    I’ll agree with Sasha and say that Payne could finally be recognized with the big prize for Best Picture with NEBRASKA. He is a beloved, pretty much universally respected – and in my opinion – brilliant director whose time has come to be recognized outside of the screenplay category.

    That being said I think INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS could be a major contender since the subject matter is perfect for Oscar bait. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Greengrass and CAPTAIN PHILLIPS get some love since Greengrass is an incredible talent as well.

    The wild card for me though is FOXCATCHER. I think it could be the MILLION DOLLAR BABY of this year in that it comes at the very, very end of the year and just blows everything out of the water. Fascinating and tragic story, great director at the helm, and Carell doing the most challenging role of his career (not to mention a supporting cast that includes Ruffalo, Tatum, and Vanessa Redgrave). That to me could be the film that is the stunner.

  • Devon

    Not seeing Nebraska as a contender. Too small of a movie for the Academy. Monuments Men and Captain Phillips also seem like rental movies. Lee Daniels’ The Butler is not best picture material, I am not yet convinced that it will play out much longer.

  • Dane-Mychal

    I don’t feel like David O. Russell is as “due” for his 1st win as Scorsese and Coen Brothers are due for a 2nd one. Just think of all of the masterpieces brought to us by Scorese and the Coen Brothers collectively. Russell has given us The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook (and Three Kings) ? Good movies but not a big deal compared to the directors I’ve just mentioned. American Hustle will need to better than Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter both in order for me to give it any kind of support in the race.

  • Dane-Mychal

    Jon, I also agree on Foxcatcher. Watch out, folks, watch out. It’s gonna have a super interesting performance from Steve Carell, and Bennett Miller is starting to get acclaim as a director. I just hope it’s better than Million Dollar Baby. That movie just didn’t hold up for me on repeat viewings. It’s annoyingly depressing.

  • Ozymandias

    My prediction for best pic would be :

    1. Labor Day
    2. American Hustle
    3. Blue Jasmine
    4. Foxcatcher
    5. Fruitvale Station
    6. The Wolf of Wall Street
    7. Nebraska
    8. Inside Llewyn Davis
    9. The Monuments Men
    10. August : Osage County

    Also , for me the best pic is Before Midnight but I know that oscar will never nominate this movie for the best pic part.

    Foxcatcher, Labor Day, Nebraska, Inside Llewyn Davis and The Wolf of Wall Street could be the possible winners (based on trailers and director’s background)

  • Steven Kaye

    Blue Jasmine is in.

  • I like how split the predictions over number one films are so far; at this point they indicate a season potentially full of twists and turns.

    I loathed “Silver Linings Playbook”, but I eventually grew to view Jennifer Lawrence’s win as a bright spot last year, especially considering the parade of scenery-chewing performances that’ve dominated Best Actress the past decade. So I’m looking forward to “American Hustle”, but at this point I’m clinging to “Before Midnight” and “Stories We Tell” as the year’s best.

    P.S. I’m in the middle of your recent podcast, and their long length is always welcome. I have some great friends but few of them are film enthusiasts, so it’s great to be let in on such in depth discussions about Oscar over the years. So thanks!

    Early, admittedly uneducated predictions:

    Best Picture: American Hustle
    Best Director: Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
    Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
    Best Actor: Robert Redford, All Is Lost
    Best Supporting Actress: Oprah Winfrey, Lee Daniels’ The Butler
    Best Supporting Actor: Matthew McConaughey, Mud
    Best Original Screenplay: Eric Singer, American Hustle
    Best Adapted Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, for Before Midnight

  • Al Robinson

    What I find very interesting is that sometimes there seems to be a divide between what is considered “The People’s Favorite”, and “Best Picture”.

    For instance, the Oscars choose films that are generally more “prestigious”, but sometimes not enjoyable. The truth is, so far I have three favorite movies of 2013: Star Trek Into Darkness, Man of Steel, and World War Z. But, so far my “Best Picture” is The Place Beyond the Pines.

    I know that The Place Beyond the Pines has no chance getting nominated for BP, but it is both prestigious and enjoyable.

  • Haggar

    My Top 7, based entirely on trailers and/or reviews. I haven’t watched any of the films.

    1. 12 Years a Slave
    2. Blue Jasmine
    3. Half of a Yellow Sun
    4. The Butler
    5. The Wolf of Wall Street
    6. American Hustle
    7.Gravity (there’s gotta at least be one big-budget film)
    8. Some foreign film
    9. Something not on anyone’s radar at the moment.

    For Director, I would pick..
    1. Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
    2. Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
    3. Martin Scorsese – Wolf of Wall Street
    4. Biyi Bandele – Half of a Yellow Sun
    5. Filler – David.O.Russel, Woody Allen, Lee Daniels,The Coen Brothers

  • Everyone’s picking AMERICAN HUSTLE because a) that trailer was awesomesauce and b) SILVER LINING’S PLAYBOOK was a near miss last year. It’s like David O. Russell is coming in with a head start. And besides, the movie is Boston Strong. 🙂

  • Word is that… #WORD

  • Mirko

    I hope nomination for Saving Mr Banks. I want to say her possible nominatiom: best picture, actress in a leading role (Thompson), actor in a supporting role (Hanks), original screenplay, art direction, costume design and original score. Probable winner actor in a supporting role and original score; Thompson, even if not winner, is worthy of nomination no doubt.

  • K. Bowen

    I’m looking forward to Gravity, the McQueen, and Inside Llewelyn Davis. I don’t particularly like Russell, and really hated SLP. Don’t care for Payne at all.

  • K. Bowen

    And is it wrong to love The Conjuring?

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