Boy, weren't the Oscars fun? After months and months of writing about the same movies featuring the same actors winning the same awards, you almost wish that it would never end. That's exactly why we're officially kicking off the 2015 Academy Awards coverage right now.
Sure, I've seen only a couple movies so far that legitimately have a shot at winning any awards this time next year, but that's never stopped anyone from talking about the Oscars as if he or she was an expert.
So here it goes, Oscar season is only just starting, and these are the early, early, early contenders.
The true-life drama about the heir to the DuPont fortune and the Olympic wrestler he killed was all set to be a player in this year's award season, but a last-minute delay pushed it to 2014. If it connects with the critics, we could see a nomination for Steve Carell, who gave a chilling performance in the leaked trailer that the studio quickly took down but everyone saw anyway.
"The Imitation Game"
Benedict Cumberbatch has hung around the fringes of award season for a few years now, coming closer than ever this year by starring in the Best Picture winner, but this year will be his big one. He's starring as World War II code-cracker, computer scientist and persecuted gay man Alan Turing. The script topped the Black List in 2011 and is considered by most accounts to be great. It's pretty much a can't-miss, unless — you know — the movie isn't any good.
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Ah! Here's a movie I have actually seen. Finally. Wes Anderson's latest could be held down by its March release date, but Ralph Fiennes' funny, surprising and warm turn as the womanizing Gustave H is absolutely awards worthy. Let's just hope that the Academy has a memory that reaches back further than three months.
Richard Linklater might have lost Best Adapted Screenplay this year, but that's OK because what he has coming next is going to blow people away. At the Sundance Film Festival, the "Before Midnight" director finally unveiled "Boyhood," a film more than a decade in the making. It follows the same cast of characters (played by the same actors) over the course of 12 years, watching a boy age from 7 to 19. The effect is unlike anything I've personally experienced with a film, and I get the feeling that a lot of people in the Academy will have the same reaction.
Alfonso Cuarón took home two Oscars for his adventure into space. Could Christopher Nolan do the same? The last time Nolan made a movie that didn't feature a man dressed like a bat, he scored two nominations, one for Best Picture and the other for Best Original Screenplay. If he stays true to his track record, we could be looking at a big night for Nolan and another possible nomination for his lead, Matthew McConaughey.
"Into the Woods"
A year-end musical? Directed by Rob Marshall? Starring Meryl Streep? Just tell her she's nominated already.
"Guardians of the Galaxy"
I saved the most obvious pick for last. Right now, it's not really a question of Marvel's upcoming space epic winning Best Picture. How could it not? What I'm curious about is the Best Supporting Actor category. Chris Pratt already has Best Actor locked down, and I hear that Zoe Saldana is already in possession of her Best Supporting Actress statuette. That brings us to Best Supporting Actor, which is now in deadlocked, three-way tie between Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Dave Bautista. This one could be a real heartbreaker, folks.