Oscar 2013: Best Picture Contenders

August 11, 2013–It’s never too early to start talking about the Oscars, because, by and large, the films nominated for the Best Picture, are usually good, if not distinguished.

As I pointed out in my pioneering book, All About Oscar: The History and Politics of the Academy Awards (first published in 1986 and still in print in its 11th edition), the list of Best Picture Oscar nominees is often a more reliable indicator of the quality of a particular movie year than the single Best Picture winner. Remember how the mediocre “Crash” won the top Oscar award over the superb “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005?

Based on what I have seen and the 100 or so pictures that are going to be released in the next four months, here is my list of Oscar hopefuls (in alphabetical order):

12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
August Osage County
Blue Jasmin
Captain Phillips
Fifth Estate, The
Gravity
Great Gatsby, The
Inside Llewyn Davis
Labor Day
Lee Daniels’ The Butler
Nebraska
Rush
Saving Mr. Banks
Wolf of Wall Street, The

On paper, all 15 films are promising due to the caliber of their talents, in front and behind the cameras.

The above list will get shorter after the first screenings of some of these films in the fall festivals: Venice, Telluride, Toronto, and New York Film Fests.

Who knows? The voters of the Academy may select 10 films for the Best Picture Oscar, rather than 9, as was the case in the last two years.