Next year’s Oscars: Too early to call it?


Actress Angelina Jolie attends the Oscars on March 2, 2014, in Hollywood, Calif. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
March 8

Angelina Jolie showed up at the Academy Awards last weekend on the arm of partner Brad Pitt, who ended up winning an Oscar as one of the producers of “12 Years a Slave.”

Don’t be surprised if you see Jolie at the Dolby again next year, this time with Pitt applauding from the audience as Jolie wins the Oscar for directing “Unbroken,” a survival tale depicting the life of World War II hero and former Olympic distance runner Louis Zamperini.

Too soon? Definitely. But after spending the past six months writing about “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity,” can you blame us for wanting to take just a peek at the movies that will probably be vying for next year’s awards?

Here’s how the lineup may shake out:

●“Unbroken” (Dec. 25): Jolie has already been on the trail, talking to Tom Brokaw on the “Today” show about adapting Laura Hillenbrand’s bestseller.

“I imagine that for the last 10-something years, [Zamperini has] been sitting there having a coffee in the morning and wondering who’s going to make this movie,” Jolie told Brokaw. “And I’ve been sitting in my room thinking, ‘What am I supposed to be doing with my life? I want to do something important. . . . I need some help. I need some guidance. Where is it?’ And it was right outside my window,” she said, noting that Zamperini lives in her Los Angeles neighborhood.

Zamperini, now 97, ran in the 1936 Olympics, wowed (and met) Hitler, flew a B-24 bomber during World War II, survived 47 days in shark-infested Pacific Ocean waters after a crash landing and then endured brutal treatment as a prisoner of war.

So, yeah, just a little drama. Get to know Jack O’Connell. Playing Zamperini, the young British actor will be the season’s newcomer to know.

●“Interstellar” (Nov. 7): Can Christopher Nolan’s latest sci-fi brain-bender find the wormhole into voters’ hearts? Details about the time travel epic are scarce, but given the filmmaker and the cast — Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon and Casey Affleck — expectations are understandably sky-high.

●“Gone Girl” (Oct. 3): Gillian Flynn’s popular mystery-thriller has Ben Affleck playing a husband suspected of killing his wife (Rosamund Pike) after she goes missing. Director David Fincher’s last three movies — “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Social Network” and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” — have all been in the best picture conversation, although this one feels a bit more like the one preceding those, “Zodiac.” And that’s okay, because, for our money, that’s the best of the lot.

●“Foxcatcher” (unscheduled 2014): Bennett Miller follows his Oscar-nominated “Moneyball” with an altogether different true story — the relationship between paranoid chemical fortune heir John du Pont and an Olympic gold-medal wrestler who was his longtime friend.

The film was slated to open the American Film Institute’s AFI Fest in November last year but, at the last moment, was pushed to this year. We were told at the time that perfectionistic Miller just needed a bit more time to massage the final cut. Particularly for Steve Carell, who plays Du Pont, this has the potential to be a career-changer.

●“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (March 7): Wes Anderson’s latest, a mannered and manic caper movie about an elegant hotel concierge (Ralph Fiennes), takes its place among the filmmaker’s best works. Now all Fox Searchlight needs to do is remind voters, come autumn, that this wonderful movie deserves some recognition. No Anderson movie has been nominated for best picture. This would be a fine place to start.

●“Inherent Vice” (Dec. 12): While we’re on the subject of filmmakers long overdue for an Oscar, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest is an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s comic detective novel. Set in Los Angeles as the ’60s bleed into the ’70s, the film stars Joaquin Phoenix as a pothead private eye investigating the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend. Phoenix, so good (and so different) in Anderson’s “The Master” and Spike Jonze’s “Her,” might be the most interesting actor working today. And we shouldn’t have to sell you on PTA.

●“The Giver” (Aug. 15): No list of best picture contenders would be complete without at least one entry from the Weinstein Co. Based on Lois Lowry’s critically acclaimed young adult novel, “The Giver” concerns a utopian society that has eliminated pain and strife at the expense of love and exhilaration. The cast includes Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, with Phillip Noyce directing. It’s not the kind of movie the academy normally falls in line behind, but Weinstein has a track record of salesmanship.

●“Jersey Boys” (June 20): Clint Eastwood brings the Tony Award-winning musical biography of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to the screen. Really. This is either going to be the feel-good, populist movie of the year or the film version of Eastwood talking to an empty chair. Either way, oh, what a night!

●“Exodus” (Dec. 12): Christian Bale is Moses. Need we say more? Okay. Ridley Scott directs. More? Aaron Paul is playing Joshua. Blow that horn, yo!

●“The Lego Movie” (currently in theaters): Because everything is awesome!!! And with Pixar not releasing a movie this year, it easily moves to the front of the list for at least animated feature.

— Los Angeles Times

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