OscarWatch: What are the fall's Best Picture contenders?

Saeed Adyani

If there’s one thing I dislike the most about the Oscar prediction game, it’s having to make guesses months before the movies in question are even seen. But people have come to expect some kind of Academy Award prognosticating in our annual Fall Movie Preview issue (on stands now), so I recently compiled a list of a dozen possible Best Picture contenders from the last four months of the year. I made a similar list last year and managed to include all six of the season’s eventual Best Picture nominees: The King’s Speech, The Social Network, The Fighter, 127 Hours, Black Swan, and True Grit. (Of course I also had How Do You Know, Love and Other Drugs, and The Tempest on there, so clearly you can’t win ‘em all.) It wasn’t easy to narrow it down to 12 this time, but here’s what I went with:

The Artist The delightful black-and-white crowd-pleaser from Cannes
Carnage Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the hit play God of Carnage, starring Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster
The Descendants Alexander Payne’s first film since Sideways, this time featuring George Clooney
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock in small roles for never-not-nominated director Stephen Daldry
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo David Fincher’s much-awaited follow-up to Social Network
Hugo A family-friendly film from Martin Scorsese
The Ides of March Clooney’s riveting political-campaign drama with a dream cast headed by Ryan Gosling
The Iron Lady Meryl Streep’s take on former British PM Margaret Thatcher
J. Edgar Leonardo DiCaprio and Clint Eastwood team up for a look at FBI pioneer J. Edgar Hoover
War Horse Steven Spielberg + war movies = awards (usually)
We Bought A Zoo The return of Cameron Crowe, with Matt Damon and echoes of To Kill A Mockingbird
Young Adult Juno duo Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody explore their darker sides with Charlize Theron

As for movies that just missed making the cut, there’s the Gary Oldman thriller Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; David Cronenberg’s Freud/Jung study A Dangerous Method; Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh’s My Week With Marilyn; the surprisingly affecting Tom Hardy/Joel Edgerton mixed martial-arts drama Warrior; and Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey. We’ll see if I soon regret leaving them off the list.

Which fall movies seem like true contenders to you? And which of these predictions will leave me with egg on my face?

Dave on Twitter: @davekarger

Comments (141 total) Add your comment
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  • David

    TTSS is my most anticipated film of the year, and I think it could easily get in the conversation. That CAST!

    • Meg

      What is TTSS?

      • Maserda

        Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy I believe,

      • m1

        Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

      • KC

        What a sad year it’s been…..

      • obviously an idiot

        @KC Are u kidding? Would you call a year that saw the release of the incredible Zookeeper or probable Best Visual Effects winner The Smurfs a sad year? I know I wouldn’t- actually, I’ll go ahead and predict Best Picture and Best Actor noms with a Best Screenplay win for Zookeeper. And Best Visual Effects win plus a Best Supporting Actor nom for the lead smurf. Half the oscars are gonna go to two movies alone and you call this a sad year? Shame on you KC, shame on you.

      • ^

        Aptly named.

      • RT

        I am looking forward to TTSS as well, although I am deeply skeptical that it can come anywhere near matching the mini-series with Alec Guinness done many years ago.

      • racefan111

        @^ How is it that you can miss such obvious sarcasm?

      • nick

        the swedish version was not brilliant.

      • drew


        BEST PICTURE. It will sweep!

    • rjh

      Without a doubt!! Intelligent story and well cast!! I’m reading the book so that I’ll be prepared!

    • And the Winner is

      The Ides of March, Best Picture and Best Actor

  • The irony…

    “If there’s one thing I dislike the most about the Oscar prediction game, it’s having to make guesses months before the movies in question are even seen.” SO HERE I GO!

    • Maggie

      It’s his job.

    • DAN

      how do you say “¡Bien DICHO!” in english?

      • WhiteLady

        “Well said” I believe

      • m1

        Yes, that indeed means “well said.”

  • Bee

    Perhaps with all the controversy (the Academy loves that) The Help may be in there? Certainly a well-put-together film, if a little rosy.

    • LM

      While I agree that The Help has a good shot at a Best Pic nomination, this prediction list is specifically about fall movies that haven’t been released yet. The Help is a summer movie.

    • Pogi

      I agree, it was wonderfully put together and despite its lengthiness, I would have never of realized i’d just sat through a 2 hour and 45 minute movie if I’d never been told. If anything, I really hope it grabs some acting noms, especially for Octavia Spencer, or Viola or Bryce. Insanely acted!

      • Loni

        It wasn’t that long. It was 2 hours and 17 minutes. Half an hour makes a big difference. But yes, it was a great movie.

    • Sara

      Thanks,it’s genuinely intnerstieg post. And maybe it isn’t quite in the topic, but I want to ask you for advice. Maybe somebody know sites with quality free web design templates?

  • Disclaimer

    “If there’s one thing I dislike the most about the Oscar prediction game, it’s having to make guesses months before the movies in question are even seen.” THEN WHY DO IT ANYWAY?

    • Just A Guy

      ’cause it’s part of the job, sadly.

    • Sam J

      Am I the ONLY one that liked The Tree Of Life?
      Best Director nom
      Best Cinematography nom
      Best Editing nom

      • alan of montreal

        I liked it, too

      • Jess

        I fell asleep.

      • austin

        Um the critics praised The Tree of Life with nearly straight A’s. Yes the movie will be nominated for oscars. I loved it too.

  • Van Der Woodsen

    We brought a zoo? really?

  • This time next year

    Of course last year I also had We Brought a Zoo on there, so clearly you can’t win ‘em all.

  • Keith

    Hey Dave! Any thoughts on Drive or its cast getting nominated?

  • Anne

    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Honestly. American remakes of other country’s movies are typically lame. Watch the brilliant Swedish version instead…

    • Ana

      It’s not a remake. It’s another adaptation of the book.

    • Fred

      Usually I would agree with you but those original films were on the level of mediocre Lifetime movies; if not for the heralded source material no one would have given them the time of day.

      • Matt


      • Kwise


    • Matt

      People. The Swedish version was not brilliant. Noomi Rapace was brilliant, 100%, but the movie was notttt that great. Rather slow when there could have been some serious action.

    • soz

      Listen. People talk about this sh*t like those books were Dostoyevsky, and the Swedish films were Bergman. Neither were anything spectacular. Based on the trailer alone (otherwise known as the only thing we really have to go off of), it looks like Fincher may be the first one to do something legitimately interesting with the material. So can everyone just calm down now?

      • Cate

        Thank you.

      • Jem

        You are right. The books were FAR from Dostoevsky and films FAR from Bergman. A lot of American film geeks think foreign art = masterpiece.

      • m1

        The book was very well-written (if in dire need of an editor). The mystery was rather compelling, and with a director like Fincher on hand, the movie could be (dare I say it) a masterpiece.

      • Andrew M

        @Jem Completly agree with you. People think any movie they need to read subtitles to see is amazing. I love foreign movies, but there ARE bad foreign movies.

    • Nick

      The Swedish films were not that great. I don’t know why people act like they are masterpieces. Far from it. David Fincher can direct a better movie with his eyes closed.

    • Chuck

      I have to say: the swedish trilogy is worth to watch but not brilliant :)
      I believe in Fincher. He’s sooo good at adaption
      Sorry for my bad english :(

    • Fatima

      Another voice chiming in to say that the Swedish ones were rushed and all together very mediocre. Fully expecting the American version to be better, which IS unusual. Subtitles don’t make something genius.

  • ben


    That movie does look amazing. Gary Oldman can finally get an Oscar nomination. Also, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, and Colin Firth as supporting actors. That Ides of March also looks great and Young Adult seeing how I am a Jason Reitman fan.

  • Lynne

    I think Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is going to surprise a lot of critics/bloggers with how it performs. Thomas Alfredson + great ensemble of British actors + source material? Too many brilliant elements for it to fail.

    • RT

      Agreed, and it will be nice to have something in theaters that isn’t just more fanboy tripe!

    • E

      To play devil’s advocate, Oscar predicting at this point in the year is all about movies with casts and pedigrees too brilliant to fail. And every year, a good percentage of them fail anyway. I do hope this isn’t one of them, though.

  • William Forrester

    I think Leonardo will surely get a nomination for an Academy Award. I think he’ll get a Oscar nomination at least. He is incredible and he is amazing. And I think he will get it. It’s an incredible performance, just wonderful.

    • Matt

      How do you know? It hasn’t come out yet!

    • Van Der Woodsen

      Trust me next year will be Leo’s year. It’s a bio pic & Eastwood is directing. He’s the favourite ALREADY.

      • Dan

        You say exactly the same thing in your first, second, and fourth sentences. All three of those sentences say the same thing. You should learn how to write. You say the same thing in three different sentences.

      • Dan

        Sorry, this was meant to be a reply to William Forrester above.

      • disappointed

        Leo playing gay=Oscar.

  • Julia

    Just the trailer for War Horse gives me goosebumps. If the film lives up to even an eighth of my expectations, it’ll be worthy of a nod or two.

    • Edogg

      The play was fantastic. I don’t know how the movie is going to translate to the screen. The story is a total fantasy. The ending might be seen as ridiculous.

  • Martin Haro

    Don’t forget about “W.E.”! Already a festival darling, Madonna’s the season’s darkest horse.

    • dee

      If the Weinsteins have ponied up enough $$$$$ to make it good she just might win.

      • Martin Haro

        Oh snap!

  • R

    Drive has a 9.1 on imdb or I thought it did but it’s not released to the public but literally that screams oscar to me. Like Crazy & Martha Marcy May Marlene are contenders for acting. Otherwise the movies you mentioned sound good besides Warrior (Like The Fighter!!!!!) and It probably wont be good

    • asher

      I saw an advanced screening of “Warrior,” and it was awesome. Great performances, great story and real emotion. I was not even into MMA fighting, but I am now!

    • Last 7 Rows

      I’m with you on “Drive.” It might not have been included due to its 16 September release date not technically being “Fall.” I know that would be a ridiculous nitpick, but I can’t figure out any other reason it would be left off of this list.

  • G.R.

    Dave — looks like a pretty good list so far. Personally, I’m hoping ‘Tyrannosaur’ will get a couple of acting nods (for Peter Mullan and Olivia Colman), or at least a nod for its screenplay.

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