It’s never too soon to start looking at which films will go all the way to whatever the Kodak Theater ends up being called by the time of the next Oscars.
Joe Wright, director of 2007 Best Picture nominee “Atonement” and 2005’s “Pride & Prejudice,” helms this adaptation of Leo Tolstoy‘s classic novel, a tragedy about a married aristocrat and socialite and her affair with a cavalry officer. Keira Knightley and Jude Law star, with Aaron Johnson, Saorise Ronan, Emily Watson and Olivia Williams.
Westerns have all but died out in the movie industry, but then “True Grit” garnered 10 Academy Award nominations in 2010. Quentin Tarantino directs this story of a freed slave who treks across America with a German bounty hunter to retrieve his wife from a charming but sadistic plantation owner. With Oscar champ Jamie Foxx (“Ray”) in the title role as well as Christoph Waltz (who Tarantino directed to an Oscar in “Inglorious Basterds”), Kerry Washington and past nominee Leonardo DiCaprio, this is already a frontrunner.
“The Great Gatsby”
Baz Luhrmann, the visionary director of 2001 Best Picture nominee “Moulin Rouge,” offers his take on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel that remains a staple of the high school literature class. The romantic drama tells the story of Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire), who is drawn into the world of the enigmatic Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) and becomes witness to the moral decay of the wealthy in the roaring twenties. Carey Mulligan and Isla Fisher co-star in this 3D drama. Here’s hoping the film follows the original story closely, for those students who want to write a book report without actually having to read it.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Peter Jackson helms one of the most anticipated films of the year. In this prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) journeys to the Lonely Mountain, only to stumble upon the ring that started it all. Ian McKellen returns as the wise gray wizard Gandalf and Andy Serkis as the loathesome Gollum. Jackson won three Oscars for his last visit to this legendary world created by ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼J.R.R. Tolkien when “The Return of the King,” the last of the “LOTR” trilogy, swept the Academy Awards in 2003.
“Hyde Park on Hudson”
The story of the love affair between Franklin D. Roosevelt and his distant cousin Margaret Stuckley is viewed through the weekend in 1939 when King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (parents of the current Queen) visited the president at his home. The cast is led by Oscar nominees Bill Murray and Laura Linney with Olivia Colman (“Tyrannasaur”) and Samuel West as the monarchs.
Tom Hooper won an Oscar for helming 2010 Best Picture champ “The King’s Speech.” His follow up is the screen version of the 1987 Tony-winning musical based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel. Set in 19th-century France, a paroled prisoner (Tony champ Hugh Jackman) seeks redemption but is pursued relentlessly by a policeman (Oscar winner Russell Crowe, “Gladiator”). Hooper has assembled an award-winning team behind the scenes as well.
In this epic directed by Steven Spielberg, a pair of two-time Oscar champs — Daniel Day-Lewis (“My Left Foot,” “There Will Be Blood”) and Sally Field (“Norma Rae,” “Places in the Heart”) — play the 16th president and his troubled wife. Oscar nominee John Logan and Tony winner Tony Kushner (“Angels in America”) adapted Doris Kearn Goodwin‘s bestseller “Team of Rivals.”
Paul Thomas Anderson returns with his first film since 2007’s Best Picture nominee. Oscar champ Philip Seymour Hoffman (“Capote”) plays a charismatic religious leader and Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix is the drifter who falls under his spell in this drama set in the 1950s. Oscar nominee Amy Adams co-stars.
“The Silver Linings Playbook”
For his first film since 2010 Best Picture nominee “The Fighter,” writer/director David O. Russell adapted Matthew Quick‘s novel about a teacher (Bradley Cooper) recovering from a nervous breakdown. Two-time Oscar champ Robert DeNiro (“The Godfather, Part II,” “Raging Bull”) costars along with Oscar nominees Jennifer Lawrence and Jacki Weaver.
“World War Z”
Marc Forster is one of the most genre-defying directors of the last decade with films like “Monster’s Ball,” “Finding Neverland” and “Quantum of Solace.” He helms this big-budget drama about a UN employee (Brad Pitt) out to save the world from zombies.