If you thought Tom Hanks, Cate Blanchett, Bruce Dern and Robert Redford were adding up to a crowded Oscar season, just wait. Here come Judi Dench, Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep.
This year’s Oscar race is so jam-packed that it’s starting to resemble the New York City Marathon. When a ferocious campaigner such as Harvey Weinstein holds back the release of an Oscar gorilla like “Grace of Monaco,” starring Nicole Kidman, you know things are getting rough. “This is the most competitive season I’ve ever seen,” Weinstein reportedly said at a Zurich film festival earlier this year. “And if you aren’t ready, don’t get in it.”
The jockeying has been fierce, with several studios choosing to delay their movies rather than rush them to market. George Clooney’s World War II drama “The Monuments Men” was pushed to 2014 while he fine-tuned the visual effects. “Foxcatcher,” a true-crime drama starring Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, was moved to next year to give director Bennett Miller (“Capote”) more time to finish it. Martin Scorsese tinkered with his DiCaprio vehicle “The Wolf of Wall Street” for so long that Paramount pushed its Nov. 15 release date to Christmas Day. Paramount also bumped “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” a Tom Clancy reboot starring Chris Pine, out of the high-profile Christmas slot into January.
Speaking of Christmas, there’s barely enough room under the tree for all the movies. The Dec. 25 holiday typically sees three nationwide releases. This year, there are five. Even Justin Bieber is horning in with a new pop doc, “Believe.” There also are two smaller-scale releases: “The Invisible Woman,” a biopic about Charles Dickens and his secret lover, from actor-director Ralph Fiennes, and “August: Osage County,” starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts. (That’s what counts as “smaller” this Christmas.)
Don’t forget about guaranteed blockbusters like the sequels to “The Hobbit,” “The Hunger Games” and Will Ferrell’s “Anchorman,” all of which look like opportunities for the studios to print money. It’s going to be a busy holiday season.