Oscar pretty much gets to take the summer off. The hot months are filled with big-budget blockbuster movies that make or break studios, but few, if any, are contenders for the major Academy Awards categories. Those contenders arrive with the cooler days of autumn when the kids are back in school and the adults start showing up at the cineplex.
In the coming weeks and months, heading all the way to the last week of December, the films that the studios believe will appeal to the Academy voters will be vying for attention and buzz. Experience has shown that a movie with an earlier premiere -- say, in March or April -- may not be remembered when the winners are being picked nine months later. Thus, most of the "serious" films get held until this time of year.
George Clooney is involved with three fall movies that could be considered for honors. He is a producer on "August: Osage County," the adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. He also is a lead actor, director, producer and writer for the World War II drama "The Monuments Men." And Clooney stars in the space adventure "Gravity."
The Martin Scorsese story of corruption in the world of high finance, "The Wolf of Wall Street," could be a big award winner. So might a couple of Tom Hanks vehicles, "Captain Phillips" and "Saving Mr. Banks." There are also three strong films with racial themes -- "The Butler" and "Fruitvale Station" (in theaters already) and "Twelve Years a Slave" (still to come).
The list of worthies is long, and it is still too early to predict which will come out on top. It is easy, though, to say which ones will not be in the running. Just pick any one of the summer budget busters that tanked. You can safely bet that "The Lone Ranger" will be feeling especially lonely when the Oscars get handed out.