Texas Chainsaw 3D

2013 began with Texas Chainsaw 3D, and is closing with a smattering of films that could get some awards love, with The Wolf of Wall Street the strongest, and with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty a question mark. Have we learned anything? Probably not.

There are a crop of contenders, though it’s hard to sort out what’s hot in the moment and what’s got the gas to take it home. American Hustle is now in theaters everywhere, and it’s been doing well on the awards front, but it’s hard to know if the sizzle will stick around. There’s no clear front-runner this year, and the divided responses to Wolf of Wall Street, with some academy members calling it vile means that it isn’t the big dog in the room, even if it’s one of the best pictures of the year.

Gravity is a cinematic experience, which means the voters who watch it at home off of a DVD screener may not be as enraptured as those who saw it in Imax and in Dolby Atmos. It’s also a special effects heavy movie, which often doesn’t play big to the voters. In fact they may respond mostly to the stuff that works against the film, they may like that Sandra Bullock has a tragic backstory. Such is awards season.

Can Nebraska and Saving Mr. Banks be saved by the awards season? Right now both aren’t doing so hot at the box office, though the former hasn’t expanded to a wide release yet. But it’s a black and white movie that stars Bruce Dern, so…

Will 12 Years a Slave still seem fresh when it comes time to hand out awards? Is Inside Llewyn Davis too niche for its own good? Will any/enough voters see something like Short Term 12? Did Lone Survivor and August: Osage County come too late to get traction, or are they the sneaky types that somehow get to be favorites through screenings and screeners? Will anyone remember Lee Daniels’ The Butler? Should they?

Will Dallas Buyers Club make more of a mark after nominations, is Captain Phillips forgotten, and will the generally older voters find soemthing like Spike Jonze‘s Her accessible?

Though it’s been a great year in cinema, there’s no film out that has clear front-runner status, and every film that has champions also has detractors. Though it’s unlikely that means something like Blue Jasmine will sneak in for a steal, there’s no consensus yet, and this doesn’t seem like a year that will lead to one.

What 2013 movies are you playing catch up with?