Real Life, Real Oscar Potential

Paramount has moved “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” into 2014, meaning the other shoe has dropped. The problem is, the first shoe hasn’t hit the floor yet.

For weeks, insiders have predicted that the studio will move “The Wolf of Wall Street” from its November date to Christmas, pushing “Jack Ryan” into next year. So Step Two is in place, fueling talk that an announcement is imminent for Step One and that “Wolf” will indeed open this year.

There are high hopes for that film and Sony’s “American Hustle.” If either turns out to be a game-changer, that would be a welcome plot twist to the Oscar race. Because so far, the flurry of date-changes have had minimal effect.

There are already enough terrific films to fill the 5-to-10 nomination slots in the key races. So the 2013 absence of “Monuments Men” and “Foxcatcher” still leaves plenty of possibilities.

Studios are always making last-minute tweaks to release schedules, which used to be accompanied by rampant conspiracy theories. That era seems to be fading.

This year, Universal was upfront about postponing “Ronin 47,” saying it needed work. And films like “Titanic,” “The Great Gatsby” and “Shutter Island” all were delayed and all thrived. “Shutter” in particular helped put an end to the conspiracy talk because Par made it clear that this was an economic move, reminding everyone that in most cases, box office is a higher priority than awards.

“Island” — a Martin Scorsese-Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration, like “Wolf”– missed out on awards consideration (though it certainly deserved attention), but it made a whole lotta money, so it was a smart move.

Even though i haven’t seen the film, I bluffingly predicted to a few colleagues that “Monuments Men” could become a front-runner, if not the winner. After a series of downbeat best-pics (like “No Country for Old Men”), voters seemed in the mood for heroes, as in “Argo.” And “Monuments Men” seemed to fit the bill, based on reactions from those who have watched it.

Ah, well. “Foxcatcher” also gets big thumbs-up from the folks who have seen it. And Toronto-screened strong movies like “The Railway Man.”

Which means that, even though it’s only October, the 2014 race is already off to a big start.

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