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The 10 surest bets for next year's Oscars

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While you might protest that it's still too damn early to be predicting these things, the race for next year's Oscars has well and truly begun. The past week has seen some of the remaining key film festivals of the year announce their schedules (always a tell) and Richard Linklater's Boyhood has finally been released, to universal acclaim and awards buzz.

So, feel free to look back in six months time and laugh at us, but here are the 10 films we expect to see featured in the next set of Oscar nominations.

1. Boyhood

Probably the surest bet on the list, everything is aligning rather perfectly for Richard Linklater's epic tale of growing up, told over an incredible 12 years. It's already received deservedly rapturous reviews (a whopping 99% on Rotten Tomatoes), its box office success is starting to break out here and in the US and its broad appeal means that everyone is talking about it. Check out our interview with Linklater here.

Most likely category? Best Picture

Stumbling block? The naturalistic nature of the film means there are no real "actor" moments which then means that acting Oscars might be hard to come by although if Hawke is pushed for Best Supporting Actor, he could be in with a chance.

UK release: out now

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2. Foxcatcher

Another film which opened to glowing reviews on the festival circuit, this dark true-life drama is blessed with something the Academy goes nuts over: actor transformation. Steve Carell takes on his most serious role to date, playing the reclusive millionaire who develops s dangerous relationship with a young wrestler, played by Channing Tatum. Both actors are gaining serious buzz and critics are calling it one of the best American films of the decade. Check out the trailer here.

Most likely category? Best Actor

Stumbling block? There's the potential that voters might find it all a little too dark or struggle to take Carell and Tatum seriously.

UK release: January 9th

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3. Whiplash

Taking the inspirational teacher trope and turning it on its head, after a beating, this drama about a young drummer tortured by his cruel teacher, has already won plaudits for its surprisingly brutal take on a familiar story. Miles Teller and JK Simmons, as student and teacher respectively, have been named as likely nominees next year (Simmons more of a lock) and while it might be a more unconventional take on the subgenre, reviews suggest that it'll leave you on a well-earned high. Check out the trailer here.

Most likely category? Best Supporting Actor

Stumbling block? Sundance indie hits often don't travel all the way to the Oscars and instead take a trip to the Independent Spirit Awards instead.

UK release: TBC

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4. Mr Turner

If there's one thing the Academy loves, it's us Brits. They especially love us when we're in period garb and being directed by Mike Leigh. While his last impeccable film Another Year only scooped one nomination (for Best Original Screenplay), we expect bigger things for this one, given that his last period film Topsy Turvy won two Oscars and was nominated for two more. Timothy Spall, playing eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner, is a lock for Best Actor.

Most likely category? Best Actor

Stumbling block? While Leigh's films have gained scattered nominations of late, his last Best Picture nod was back in 1996 with Secrets & Lies.

UK release: October 31st

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5. The Imitation Game

And here's where the speculation starts with the first unseen film on the list. Just unveiled as the opening film of the London Film Festival, this tale of doomed codebreaker Alan Turing has Oscar written all over it. In code. Benedict Cumberbatch takes on the lead role while Keira Knightley, Mark Strong and Matthew Goode provide support. Turing's life was a turbulent one from the highs (he's seen by many as the father of artificial intelligence) to the devastating lows (he was prosecuted for homosexuality) and if all goes to plan, this should be a fascinating drama. Check out the trailer here.

Most likely category? Best Actor

Stumbling block? Cumberbatch's last attempt for Oscar glory? The Fifth Estate. Enough said.

UK release: November 14

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6. Trash

Crudely, this is Slumdog Millionaire meets City of God from the Oscar-nominated director of Billy Elliot and if that doesn't scream awards at you then you need to bone up on your Oscars history son. Stephen Daldry (who was also nominated for The Reader and The Hours) directs a script from Richard Curtis (nominated for Four Weddings and a Funeral) based on a book by Andy Mulligan and starring Rooney Mara (nominated for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and a cast of unknown youths in what sounds like surefire Oscarbait. The plot, if you're asking, concerns street kids who find a wallet which leads them into trouble.

Most likely category? Best Director

Stumbling block? Last time Daldry headed for Oscar glory was with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which, yes, nabbed a nomination for Best Picture (despite being ripped apart by critics), but broke his record of Best Director nominations.

UK release: October 31st

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7. Unbroken

In what's shaping up to be quite the comeback year for Angelina Jolie, after Maleficent became the biggest hit of her career with over $700 million made worldwide, her second film as a director might end up being her biggest triumph yet. The story of Olympian war hero Louis Zamperini is an incredible one and rising star Jack O'Connell, recently proving his stuff in Starred Up, has the potential to do something fantastic with the material. It ticks all the Oscar boxes, if done right.

Most likely category? Best Picture

Stumbling block? It's only Jolie's second film as a director and while her first, Bosnian war drama In the Land of Blood and Honey received some polite notices, it was hardly a rousing success.

UK release: December 26th

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8. The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby

A unique way of telling a film about a relationship, this is actually a collection of three films: Him, Her and Them, which will all be released separetely. Each tells the story of a marriage but from different perspectives. Wildly ambitious, it stars Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy as the lead couple with stellar support from Viola Davis, William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert and Bill Hader. All three versions have screened and reports are positive. With Oscar pros the Weinsteins behind this one, it has a strong chance.

Most likely category? Best Actress

Stumbling block? The release strategy is awfully confusing and threatens to put some of the older voters off.

UK release: TBC

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9. A Most Violent Year

Jessica Chastain features here again, albeit in a rather different guise, in this 80s-set crime drama. The Academy are clear fans of her (after nominations for The Help and Zero Dark Thirty) and this film gives her the chance to do something a bit different. It comes from JC Chandor (a fellow nominee for his Margin Call script) and the plot focuses on one of the most crime-ridden years in New York's history and how one family fits into all the chaos. It also stars Inside Llewyn Davis lead Oscar Isaac, who could find himself a place in the Best Actor category if he isn't snubbed again.

Most likely category? Best Original Screenplay

Stumbling block? Even though Chandor directed Robert Redford to arguably his finest performance in the exceptional All Is Lost, the film only managed one measly nomination for Sound Editing.

UK release: TBC

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10. Selma

A rather late entry to the race here (it's still being made as we speak) but this drama centred on Martin Luther King looks like a strong contender. Rather than covering MLK's entire life, the film covers the 1965 voting rights marches and stars British actor David Oyelowo as the man himself with support from Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, Common and Oprah Winfrey, who's also producing. It's also got Brad Pitt onboard as producer which did no harm for a certain film about slavery at the last Oscars ceremony...

Most likely category? Best Picture

Stumbling block? It's being directed by Ava DuVernay who won acclaim for Middle of Nowhere but is untested with anything that isn't a small-scale indie.

UK release: TBC

Related

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Powerful Second Trailer For Foxcatcher

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First Trailer For The Imitation Game

boyhood.jpg

Why you should all see Boyhood

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