Oscars 2013: The past could be present again

11:39 AM, Mar 13, 2012   |    comments
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By Brian Truitt, USA TODAY

The shine is still on this year's Oscar trophies, but that doesn't mean people aren't already pondering the 2013 Academy Awards.

And just like the newly crowned best-picture winner, The Artist, the films with the most potential for next year's Oscar contention take moviegoers back to the past.

The voters love big, recognizable faces in adapted works, says Tom O'Neil of GoldDerby.com, whether it's mining real life or literature. So one of the favorites for 2013 - at least on paper - is The Great Gatsby (opening Dec. 25, 2012), director Baz Luhrmann's 3-D version of "arguably the greatest American novel, adapted by our best director of romantic melodramas," O'Neil says.

What makes F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 classic so compelling? For O'Neil, it's the "unhinged romantic abandon and yearning" that Jay Gatsby has for Daisy Buchanan.

The roles are played by a pair of Oscar nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan. O'Neil says this version "is made for Oscar consideration."

So is director Steven Spielberg's Lincoln (December), says Scott Feinberg, awards blogger for The Hollywood Reporter. It's based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin's best-selling book Team of Rivals, it's a period piece, and it's about a real-life person, Abraham Lincoln, as played by Daniel Day-Lewis- "every single thing that should bring you an Oscar," Feinberg says.

O'Neil says two-time best-actor winner Day-Lewis could be the downfall, however. "What made Lincoln a compelling character was this warmth of humanity that just glowed,'' he says. "I'm not sure Daniel Day-Lewis can pull that off."

Feinberg says Day-Lewis and DiCaprio could go head-to-head for best actor. They may be joined by one or both of director Tom Hooper's two leads in the musical Les Misérables (Dec. 14): Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Javert.

Those and other films with best-picture potential, such as Anna Karenina with Keira Knightley and Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, are due in winter, which is more likely to produce Oscar favorites.

One major exception, however, could be The Dark Knight Rises (July 20). O'Neil says Christopher Nolan's third Batman film will enter the awards race "with an Oscar IOU in hand." There was such an outcry over the previous Bat-blockbuster, 2008's The Dark Knight, not receiving a nomination that the number of best-picture nominees allowed was increased from five to 10 movies.

Genre movies, though, don't receive Oscar love often enough to be certain, says Kristopher Tapley of Hitfix.com's In Contention blog. "It could be the Mona Lisa of comic-book films and still get snubbed."

There are quite a few actors on the Oscar "overdue" list, too. Director Clint Eastwood, 81, has two best-picture wins -Million Dollar Baby and Unforgiven- but has never won in an acting category; his performance in Trouble With the Curve (Sept. 28) could be his last. And Bill Murray, who stars as President Franklin D. Roosevelt in Hyde Park on Hudson (Dec. 7), has only one nomination in his long career.

"There's a lot of goodwill toward him in the industry," O'Neil says. "He has a high cool factor, but he also has a reputation for being a difficult personality. He's both beloved and tolerated, shall we say."

Copyright 2012 USA TODAY

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