Total Recall: The 2014 Best Picture Nominees

In this special edition of Total Recall, we take a closer look at this year's contenders.

Oscars

Awards season is in full swing, and film fans everywhere are either debating their picks for who's about to win or arguing over those who've already won. That goes double for us at RT, and to celebrate our annual embrace of Oscar fever, we've decided to dedicate this week's list to the films getting ready to duke it out for this year's Best Picture Academy Award. With room for real-life stories, a little computer romance, some hard-hitting drama, and even some action and/or comedy, this year's batch of nominees is certainly an eclectic bunch -- so let's take a look at them all, reminisce about how many we've seen, and then hit the comments section to weigh in on their odds of winning come March 2. It's time for Total Recall!

American Hustle

93%

Former enfant terrible David O. Russell has practically become synonymous with Oscar prestige of late. Both The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook were major award players (and acting trophy winners), and you couldn't design a more Academy-friendly movie than his latest, American Hustle. It's got period glam, a rollicking sort-of true story, and more big acting (and hair) than you can wave a SAG award at: Jennifer Lawrence and Christian Bale (Russell Oscar alums, both), Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper will make this one a favorite across categories. As Toronto Star's Peter Howell states, "It's one of the year's cleverest films, and also one of the best."

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Captain Phillips

93%

If there's one thing Oscar can't get enough of, it's America's national acting treasure and most loved citizen, Tom Hanks. With dual acclaimed performances -- as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks and the besieged captain in Paul Greengrass's real-life thriller -- it's a good chance the multiple Academy Award winner will be revisiting the podium this year. He's got solid support in this tense high-seas nail-biter, too: Barkhad Abdi gives him a run for his acting dollar as the desperate Somali hijacker, and Greengrass is in typical queasy faux-doco form. In the words of EW's Owen Gleiberman, "Greengrass keeps you off balance -- he's a jittery poet of reality."

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Dallas Buyers Club

93%

Really, it doesn't get any more Best Picture-friendly than this. Consider: the real-life story of a homophobic redneck (Matthew McConaughey) who contracts AIDS and has a change of heart while selling medication to the gay community. Consider: two straight actors (McConaughey and Jared Leto) either in states of emaciation or extreme drag, both catnip to Academy voters. Oh, and consider that the movie has actually been well-reviewed, too. "McConaughey delivers the performance of his career," says Ann Hornaday at the Washington Post, "characterized not just by an astonishing physical transformation but by a wellspring of deep compassion and fearlessness." The actors are locks for nods and odds-on for wins. Can the movie follow suit?

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Gravity

97%

Alfonso Cuarón's interstellar adventure came freighted with high expectations, and delivered both commercially and critically -- making it the kind of all-round winner the industry loves to reward. Dazzling in its digital virtuosity, the Sandra Bullock-George Clooney starrer used the latest advancements in CG technology for the old-fashioned purpose of bringing audiences to the edge of their seats, where they dutifully remained, in thrall, for 90 minutes. "Cuarón brilliantly manages to create both awe at his glorious space vistas," noted The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, "and knuckle-gobbling tension at what's happening in the foreground."

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Comments

gammellm

Mike Gammell

12 Years a Slave probably deserves it most, but I think the star power of American Hustle will win get that movie the win.

Jan 16 - 06:29 AM

Dave J

Dave J

A part of important history that should never be repeated!

Jan 17 - 01:18 PM

Sebastian O.

Sebastian Ochoa

I hope 12 Years doesn't win, it just seems a bit like a safe film to get it. It is a fantastic film, but it brings nothing new to cinema. 12 Years a Slave is the generic good film.

Jan 17 - 08:35 PM

bennett g.

bennett galef

That's so interesting, because I think the exact opposite. 12 Years a Slave to me was the anti-thesis of any slavery movie I have ever seen. To me it lacked the stuff so many pictures have done. It shows the grime behind the eyes of slavery--for example, when Patty is having tea with the other slave who has become almost a house-guest? Or the scene where Michael Fassbender's character's sister hits Patty in the face in house in the middle of the night? How he got them all up to dance? How she fed them cake? Those interesting, perverted aspects of slavery are revolutionary, because they put you in a real world where slavery exists.

Jan 19 - 10:23 AM

Heath Cowart

Heath Cowart

Sister? I believe that was his wife, played by Sarah Paulson.

Jan 20 - 08:49 AM

Tim Ochoa

Tim Ochoa

American Hustle will pick up a few awards, but I do not see it winning best picture. 12 Years a Slave was not only well acted, but it had very important social and historical lessons. The Academy loves pictures like this. It is the type of movie that everyone needs to see, and because of that, I believe that it will win best picture.

Jan 16 - 06:36 AM

OLUCKYMAN19731

Mick Travis

Also don't forget that Hollywood was built because of the 1915 epic THE BIRTH OF A NATION which notoriously depicted the KKK in a heroic role; that was the film that made the industry what is today, and with 12 YEARS (and DJANGO, to a degree) we are finally making up for that.

Jan 16 - 06:53 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I think you exaggerate the importance of Birth of a Nation slightly.

Jan 16 - 10:00 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Griffith is still considered the "father of American film". Sad but true.

Jan 17 - 06:24 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

But to say any one film "made the industry what it is today" is a pretty bold statement considering the depth and variety of what the industry is today.

Jan 17 - 03:36 PM

Devon Sowden

Devon Sowden

Birth of a nation caused riots when it came out in 1915 in the cities of Boston, and Philadelphia. Not to mention the cities of Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Missouri, Denver, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis refused to have the film open. Even in the period of time where racism was a lot more common, many people still were outraged by the film. it may of been the highest grossing silent film in the united states, but keep in mind it was still considered controversial and offensive at the time of its release.

Jan 19 - 10:06 PM

Kevin Jameson

Kevin Jameson

I'm terrified that American Hustle is going to win Best Picture now. It's just so mediocre.

Jan 16 - 06:38 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I suspect you don't know what the word mediocre means.

Jan 16 - 10:02 PM

Daniel Cockriel

Daniel Cockriel

American Hustle DEFINES the word mediocre.

Jan 18 - 07:55 AM

Tri Nguyen

Tri Nguyen

I agree.

Jan 17 - 02:19 PM

Jeremy Schep

Jeremy Schep

I wouldn't call it mediocre. I thought it was interesting and genuinely entertaining. However it was flawed and miscast (Jennifer Lawrence, as well as she did, was way too young for her role) and didn't do as well as other films that were done in similar ways.

Jan 19 - 07:38 PM

Ross Stolzenburg

Ross Stolzenburg

Mediocre is putting it lightly. It was less than mediocre and lazy, felt like Russell didn't even care and yet knew with the right cast he could fake it and still make it to the red carpet

Jan 21 - 03:31 PM

Marco Cristancho

Marco Cristancho

I must be the only human being that cannot watch a single Tom Hanks movie!

Jan 16 - 06:48 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Probably, you're the only one I know anyway.

Jan 16 - 10:00 PM

Dipanwita Majumder

Dipanwita Majumder

watch Cast Away, it might change ur mind

Jan 17 - 07:41 AM

Richard Whitney

Richard Whitney

Or Splash. At very least

Jan 17 - 02:01 PM

Bruce Bethany

Bruce Bethany

Big? Saving Private Ryan? Philadelphia? Splash? Apollo 13? The Road to Perdition? Toy Story? Captain Phillips? A League of Their Own? Sleepless in Seattle? You've Got Mail? Charlie Wilson's War? Castaway? Marco shouldn't fo to movies. Any movie. Ever.

Jan 17 - 08:55 AM

Swaroop Sreenivas

Swaroop Sreenivas

FOREST GUMP!!!!!!!!!!

Jan 18 - 11:35 PM

Harper Lee

Harper Lee

I agree with you Marco. I CANNOT stand Tom Hanks! (Though I have seen a few of his films.)

Jan 21 - 11:17 AM

Lester Mercado

Lester Mercado

No Before Midnight :(

Jan 16 - 06:48 AM

Chad Anderson

Chad Anderson

Also saddened but not suprised. It was the best reviewed movie of the year. I've already forgotten about Philomena.

Jan 16 - 09:49 AM

Sebastian O.

Sebastian Ochoa

Actually, Gravity was (Golden Tomato Awards).

Jan 16 - 04:56 PM

J.D Dean

J.D Dean

Yeah it really sucks, but let's be honest it's not surprising they didn't nominate it. Heck, I'm worried it might not win the one award it is nominated for.

Jan 16 - 07:41 PM

Jeremy Schep

Jeremy Schep

Bummed that Mud was snubbed as well. It was better than DBC.

Jan 19 - 07:39 PM

Nataniel Costard

Nataniel Costard

The Oscars have a long running history of giving Best Picture Awards to mediocre movies, so don't be terrified, just be ready.

Jan 16 - 06:50 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Again, a lot of people struggling with the definition mediocre. The Oscar's may not always pick your favorite, but overwhelmingly best picture winners stand the test of time.

Jan 16 - 10:03 PM

Samuel King

Samuel King

1994 Best Picture Winner - Forrest Gump (amazing movie, loved it) But it beat both Pulp Ficton and Shawshank Redemption.....I know what's third on my list of those three, what about you?

Jan 16 - 11:14 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Still, not mediocre film by any means and still very well regarded today. There are examples every year where movie's that should have been recognized weren't, but that in no way makes the movie's that won mediocre or wins by mediocre movie's common. I can think of maybe two best picture wins in the history of the show that COULD be considered mediocre films.

Jan 17 - 02:09 AM

Daniel Cockriel

Daniel Cockriel

Slumdog Millionaire=mediocre, Hurt Locker=mediocre, Dances with Wolves=mediocre(at best), Argo=mediocre, The Kings Speech=mediocre, Crash=mediocre.. It has happened a lot more in recent years than people seem to notice. Not saying any of those are bad films (except DwW, because, fuck that film), but most haven't stood the test of time all that well imo.

Jan 18 - 08:00 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Argo and Slumdog were mediocre. But I see your point and (Llewyn Davis aside) I think this year's list is a great collection.

Jan 17 - 06:34 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Didn't like ILD? I haven't gotten out to see it yet, seems like one of those movie's that you're not necessarily going to enjoy even if you appreciate it.

Jan 17 - 03:39 PM

Jason K.

Jason Kibler

I loved American Hustle, but have to agree that it likely isn't the best picture of the year. I haven't seen 12 years. I felt Gravity was one of the most amazing movie experiences I ever had. I can't imagine 20 years from now in which that movie still will not be considered an amazing accomplishment from either a technical or content perspective.

Jan 17 - 10:17 AM

OLUCKYMAN19731

Mick Travis

Also don't forget that Hollywood was built because of the 1915 epic THE BIRTH OF A NATION which notoriously depicted the KKK in a heroic role; that was the film that made the industry what is today, and with 12 YEARS (and DJANGO, to a degree) we are finally making up for that.

Jan 16 - 06:53 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I think you exaggerate the importance of Birth of a Nation slightly.

Jan 16 - 10:00 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Griffith is still considered the "father of American film". Sad but true.

Jan 17 - 06:24 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

But to say any one film "made the industry what it is today" is a pretty bold statement considering the depth and variety of what the industry is today.

Jan 17 - 03:36 PM

Devon Sowden

Devon Sowden

Birth of a nation caused riots when it came out in 1915 in the cities of Boston, and Philadelphia. Not to mention the cities of Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Missouri, Denver, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis refused to have the film open. Even in the period of time where racism was a lot more common, many people still were outraged by the film. it may of been the highest grossing silent film in the united states, but keep in mind it was still considered controversial and offensive at the time of its release.

Jan 19 - 10:06 PM

Andy Stimpson

Andy Stimpson

Fingers crossed that American Hustle sweeps.

Jan 16 - 07:07 AM

Cody K.

Cody Kerr

American Hustle will be the "Lincoln" or "Curious Case of Benjamin Button" of this year, only a couple awards despite having most nominations of the year.

Jan 17 - 10:04 AM

Neil Wiskur

Neil Wiskur

"Her" is a terrible movie. Too long, too predictable, unlikable pussy for a main character, terrible meaningless ending, and about halfway through you realize that he's only with the computer because he doesn't have anybody else. I can't believe this garbage is being praised by critics, worst movie I've ever seen with a 90%+ rating.

Jan 16 - 07:12 AM

Jed Bookout

Jed Bookout

Palm, meet face.

Jan 16 - 07:48 AM

Cole Miller

Cole Miller

You must not have a heart. or a brain. Cause the film works on both a philosophical level and a deeply emotional one, your loss.

Jan 16 - 08:50 AM

Gage Kent

Gage Kent

Neil, how did you even see "Her"? People under 17 aren't allowed in without a guardian.

Jan 16 - 03:57 PM

Matthew Flora

Matthew Flora

Sinfully scathing Neil, only a pubescent hack would utilize the word "pussy" whilst reviewing this film or as a descriptor in reference to Phoenix's role in it. No brain is an understatement, you're simply a Michael Bay brand philistine. I can appreciate that everyone has their own opinion but for goodness sake, if you're going to bash "Her" then formulate an effective argument first.

Jan 16 - 07:52 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Cooties, y'all.

Jan 17 - 06:35 AM

Matt Giljahn

Matt Giljahn

The Academy Awards reference their winners as those who "achieved" the most in each category. I think it's hard to argue that there was a film that "achieved" more for the film industry as a whole than Gravity. The way it was developed, executed, and edited was revolutionary. It certainly didn't have the same social and political impact that movies like 12 Years A Slave did, which is why it won't win, but if the Academy stuck to its roots and gave its largest award to the film that will have the largest impact on the film world in the future, it certainly would be Gravity.

Jan 16 - 07:21 AM

The Driver

The Driver

I agree with you 100% good sir. I still haven't seen most of the Best Picture noms, but Gravity is far and away the best film I've seen all year. It's actually my favourite film of the decade so far. 12 Years a Slave is probably going to win the big prize, but it's Gravity that deserves it the most. There hasn't been another film like it.

Jan 16 - 07:59 AM

Bruce Bethany

Bruce Bethany

Dan can't agree 100% if he hasn't seen the other films. Gravity is very good, but so are most
of the other nominees. Dan should see them before making a firm declaration. I think Cate Blanchett should win best actress, but I don't control the voting process.

Jan 17 - 11:40 AM

P J.

P Johnston

I also agree. "Gravity" is a triumph on every level. The technical achievements pushed the envelope for what's possible in film. The focus of the film was a genuinely heroic character, and there aren't nearly enough of them any more. It seems like lots of "Serious" critics think only films filled with morally-ambiguous antiheroes are worthy of their admiration. But there is a place in art for inspiring and ennobling tales as well.

Jan 16 - 09:31 AM

George Orwell

George Orwell

A lot of good aspects to this film... and done with only two credited actors.

Jan 16 - 09:41 PM

Samuel King

Samuel King

I just had to pick a random person talking about Gravity abd say my peice so please do not fee like any of this is directed at your views.
BUT WHY IS NOONE TALKING ABOUT PRISIONERS!!!!!!!!!!!???

Jan 16 - 11:18 PM

Lenny M.

Lenny Monroe

I agree as well. Gravity set the bar pretty high as well in many ways. It was a big-budget Hollywood filn with the heart of a small-bidget independent mind. One critic reviewing the film said it best, in just 90 minutes it rewrote the laws of filmaking as we know it.

The way I see it, thw Best Picture winner will go one of 2 ways from the Academy: either they will play it safe and award a period-drama based on real accounts (12 Years a Slave, American Hustle mostly, maybe even Wolf of Wall Street) or the Academy will go big, bold and brave by awarding a Sci-Fi/Space fiilm, which they rarely ever do (Gravity)

Jan 16 - 10:07 AM

William Ackerman

William Ackerman

If 12 Years a Slave doesn't win, everyone will say the Academy is racist, because people are ignorant like that. That's the reason I believe Gravity won't win, even though it should.

Jan 16 - 01:13 PM

Bruce Bethany

Bruce Bethany

The Academy is overwhelmingly comprised of people who have a history of
oppression. They will vote for 12 Years a Slave. Guaranteed.

Jan 17 - 11:47 AM

Devon Sowden

Devon Sowden

Gravity was step forward in special effects, but in terms of writing and characters it was total garbage.

Jan 19 - 10:11 PM

Scott Melville

Scott Melville

No love for Llewyn Davis? Not even original screenplay? Yeesh.

Jan 16 - 07:26 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

"I don't see a lot of money here."

Jan 17 - 06:37 AM

Jed Bookout

Jed Bookout

Palm, meet face.

Jan 16 - 07:48 AM

The Driver

The Driver

I agree with you 100% good sir. I still haven't seen most of the Best Picture noms, but Gravity is far and away the best film I've seen all year. It's actually my favourite film of the decade so far. 12 Years a Slave is probably going to win the big prize, but it's Gravity that deserves it the most. There hasn't been another film like it.

Jan 16 - 07:59 AM

Bruce Bethany

Bruce Bethany

Dan can't agree 100% if he hasn't seen the other films. Gravity is very good, but so are most
of the other nominees. Dan should see them before making a firm declaration. I think Cate Blanchett should win best actress, but I don't control the voting process.

Jan 17 - 11:40 AM

Sam Denyer

Sam Denyer

Still gutted that neither Emma Thompson nor Tom Hanks were nominated for Saving Mr. Banks and Captain Phillips.

Jan 16 - 08:27 AM

Hugo Patino

Hugo Patino

I think part of the reason might be because Meryl Streep was bashing the movie

Jan 19 - 08:19 PM

Cole Miller

Cole Miller

You must not have a heart. or a brain. Cause the film works on both a philosophical level and a deeply emotional one, your loss.

Jan 16 - 08:50 AM

Lenny M.

Lenny Monroe

I want Gravity to win the most, but if not Gravity then 12 Years a Slave, but I have a feeling that American Hustle will win over them both.

Jan 16 - 08:53 AM

Masud RaYhan

Masud RaYhan

Same here.. want Gravity to win ..

Jan 17 - 04:57 AM

Francisco Borrego

Francisco Borrego

100% on gravity, if not... I want wolf of wall street to win. There was some kinetic acting in that film as well as directing. Truth be told, I thought american hustle was verrrrrry weak. Cast doesnt shock me, the film just felt too long.

Jan 17 - 09:30 AM

Richard Hughes

Richard Hughes

How about everybody gets a "Everyone's a Winner" participation award so nobody goes home upset.

Jan 16 - 09:28 AM

Jesus Contreras

Jesus Contreras

The white people merit system!

Jan 17 - 01:09 PM

P J.

P Johnston

I also agree. "Gravity" is a triumph on every level. The technical achievements pushed the envelope for what's possible in film. The focus of the film was a genuinely heroic character, and there aren't nearly enough of them any more. It seems like lots of "Serious" critics think only films filled with morally-ambiguous antiheroes are worthy of their admiration. But there is a place in art for inspiring and ennobling tales as well.

Jan 16 - 09:31 AM

George Orwell

George Orwell

A lot of good aspects to this film... and done with only two credited actors.

Jan 16 - 09:41 PM

Samuel King

Samuel King

I just had to pick a random person talking about Gravity abd say my peice so please do not fee like any of this is directed at your views.
BUT WHY IS NOONE TALKING ABOUT PRISIONERS!!!!!!!!!!!???

Jan 16 - 11:18 PM

Chad Anderson

Chad Anderson

Also saddened but not suprised. It was the best reviewed movie of the year. I've already forgotten about Philomena.

Jan 16 - 09:49 AM

Sebastian O.

Sebastian Ochoa

Actually, Gravity was (Golden Tomato Awards).

Jan 16 - 04:56 PM

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