It's mid-December, and everybody's a winner, what with critics' prizes and best-ofs and award nominations being announced seemingly around the clock. Has any of this changed the best picture race? And how are the documentary and foreign-language categories shaping up? Let's take a look.
"Saving Mr. Banks"
"Inside Llewyn Davis"
Bubbling under: "
"12 Years a Slave" remains the front-runner and will likely lead the field with the most nominations when the academy makes its announcement next month. Scoring three acting nods —
Of course, movies can score a double-digit number of nominations and still not win anything. It happens all the time; just ask the Coens (
"20 Feet From Stardom"
Bubbling under: "Tim's Vermeer," "God Loves Uganda," "Dirty Wars," "The Armstrong Lie," "The Crash Reel," "Cutie and the Boxer," "First Cousin Once Removed," "Which Way Is the Front Line From Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington," "Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer," "Life According to Sam"
Analysis: The 15 shortlisted documentaries bear witness to a great year in nonfiction filmmaking, ranging from the haunting look at the way orca whales respond to captivity with "Blackfish" to the crowd-pleasing music movie "20 Feet From Stardom," which celebrates the backup singer's role in creating the soundtrack of our lives. Sarah Polley's "Stories We Tell," a fearless investigation into the mysteries of her family life might be not just the year's best documentary but the movie of the year. Full of warmth and humor and impeccably constructed, it's the latest chapter from a filmmaker ("Away From Her,"
"The Great Beauty"
Bubbling under: "Omar," "Bethlehem," "The Broken Circle Breakdown," "Ilo Ilo," "Child's Pose," "Neighboring Sounds," "The Grandmaster," "Gabrielle," "The Rocket," "Stalingrad"
Analysis: With a field of 76 submissions, there's likely going to be a surprise or two when the contenders are narrowed to nine finalists in mid-January. Asghar Farhadi's intricate drama "The Past" certainly seems a safe bet, given its strong reviews and the fact that Farhadi's last movie,
Two possible shortlist surprises: Belgium's "The Broken Circle Breakdown," a heartbreaking relationship drama that recalls "Once" in its use of music, and the Brazilian entry, "Neighboring Sounds," a nightmarish portrait of paranoia that, yes, owing to its title, rewards a close listening.