The fall film festivals are underway so that means...it's awards season! This is probably the favourite time of year for any cinephile, regardless of whether you follow the Oscars or not. All the "prestige" flicks are coming up and it's as exciting as ever. We've already had a few Best Picture contenders in the form of Before Midnight, Fruitvale Station, Blue Jasmine and The Butler. I've managed to catch three of them (Before Midnight, Fruitvale Station and The Butler), with The Butler seeming the likeliest to have the stamina to survive the long season. Of note, there weren't any blockbusters with significant Oscar potential. After a few colossal disappointments this summer, the shift towards more serious fare is certainly welcome. Looking ahead, there are 21 additional films vying for Best Picture nominations. Here are the ones to watch for in the coming months:
RUSH (Sep 20)
Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde
Plot: A spectacular big-screen re-creation of the merciless 1970s rivalry between Formula One rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda.
GRAVITY (Oct 4)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Eric Michels
Plot: A medical engineer and an astronaut work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (Oct 11)
Director: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, Barkhad Abdi
Plot: The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama, the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in two hundred years.
ALL IS LOST (Oct 18)
Director: J.C. Chandor
Starring: Robert Redford
Plot: After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor finds himself, despite all efforts to the contrary, staring his mortality in the face.
12 YEARS A SLAVE (Oct 18)
Director: Steve McQueen
Starring: Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Alfre Woodard
Plot: In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery.
THE COUNSELOR (Oct 25)
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem
Plot: A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.
DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (Nov 1)
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto
Plot: The story of Texas electrician Ron Woodroof and his battle with the medical establishment and pharmaceutical companies after being diagnosed as HIV-positive in 1986, and his search for alternative treatments that helped established a way in which fellow HIV-positive people could join for access to his supplies.
THE BOOK THIEF (Nov 8)
Director: Brian Percival
Starring: Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson
Plot: While subjected to the horrors of WWII Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others.
NEBRASKA (Nov 15)
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb
Plot: An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.
PHILOMENA (Nov 22)
Director: Stephen Frears
Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Charlie Murphy
Plot: A world-weary political journalist picks up the story of a woman's search for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.
MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM (Nov 29)
Director: Justin Chadwick
Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris, Terry Pheto
Plot: A chronicle of Nelson Mandela's life journey from his childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as the first democratically elected president of South Africa.
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (Dec 6)
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, John Goodman
Plot: A week in the life of a young singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961.
AMERICAN HUSTLE (Dec 13)
Director: David O. Russell
Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper
Plot: The story of a con artist and his partner in crime, who were forced to work with a federal agent to turn the tables on other cons, mobsters, and politicians - namely, the volatile mayor of impoverished Camden, New Jersey.
SAVING MR. BANKS (Dec 13)
Director: John Lee Hancock
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti
Plot: Author P. L. Travers reflects on her difficult childhood while meeting with filmmaker Walt Disney during production for the adaptation of her eponymous novel.
HER (Dec 18)
Director: Spike Jonze
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara
Plot: A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly-purchased operating system that's designed to meet his every need.
AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (Dec 25)
Director: John Wells
Starring: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper
Plot: A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them.
THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (Dec 25)
Director: Ben Stiller
Starring: Ben Stiller, Sean Penn, Shirley MacLaine
Plot: An office worker who lives inside fantasy worlds where he gets to live an adventurous life while romancing his co-worker sets off a global journey to fix things when both of their jobs are threatened.
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET (Dec 25)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin
Plot: Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption and the federal government.
LABOR DAY (Dec 25)
Director: Jason Reitman
Starring: Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Tobey Maguire
Plot: Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.