Oscar Preview: Weekend of Oct. 4-6, 2013

We had one film release this past weekend with the potential for Oscar nominations.

Gravity

It’s been a long time since a science fiction film has so grabbed the collective imaginations of both audiences and critics that it is entirely conceivable that Gravity could become the first of its genre to win Best Picture, though it has some very strong competition this year.

Opening to a staggering $55 million at the box office, Gravity easily marks director Alfonso Cuaron’s most popular non-franchise effort (he directed the third Harry Potter film). Cuaron has often been described as one of the great working filmmakers and had his prior film, Children of Men, not been released so late in Oscar season that no one had a chance to see it, it might have been listed among that year’s five Best Pictures by the Academy. This time, however, there are ten spots available and little doubt that Cuaron will be among them.

The film is also assured nominations in several tech categories, including Editing, Cinematography, Art Direction, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Visual Effects. On top of that, I wouldn’t doubt that it picks up a nomination for Original Score. As it goes up the rankings of prominent categories, its chances become more difficult. With the minimalist screenplay, a writing nomination might be a challenge, but if the film continues to pick up steam, it could manage one. Sandra Bullock seems to be emerging from a crowded race as a near-lock for a Best Actress nomination and the icing of the cake would be a Cuaron nomination in Best Director.

All that amounts to eleven potential Oscar nominations, which might be enough to put it into the running for Best Picture. A lot will be determined by how 12 Years a Slave performs when non-festival audiences and critics get a look at it, but the strong word out of Telluride and Toronto puts that film as the one to beat, but a week is a long time in the Oscar race and right now, Gravity is some heavy competition.

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