Top Remaining Movies of 2014 | Part 3: #10 - #5

Sony Pictures Classic, Annapurna International

#10 Foxcatcher |
When it debuted at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, “Foxcatcher” was thrust into the center of awards season conversation as an early frontrunner and the buzz has only been building since. Director Bennett Miller’s previous works include “Capote”, for which he was nominated for the Best Director Oscar, and the sports drama “Moneyball”.

For “Foxcatcher” Miller switches gears to the wrestling world. A shocking true crime drama, it focuses on the lives of Olympic wrestlers Mark (Channing Tatum) and David (Mark Ruffalo) Shultz and their relationship with multi-millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carrell), a prominent sponsor for USA Wrestling in the 90s. To this point, most of the critical attention has been lavished on Steve Carrell’s transformative turn as du Pont. 

The role required Carrell to wear a prosthetic nose. Co-star Mark Ruffalo could prove to be a dark horse in the awards race; sporting a different look and starring in an uncharacteristically dark drama, may draw him attention as a contender. The big performance gamble is whether Tatum can carry a drama of this magnitude. His performance is just as vital a component to its effectiveness. Now Open

Focus Features, Universal Pictures

#9 The Theory of Everything |
Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking’s remarkable life and first marriage is the subject of this biopic. Based on his first wife, Jane Wilde Hawking’s memoir “Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen”, this film follows their relationship as it blossomed when they were both students at Cambridge in the 1960s and continues throughout their marriage.

If you have seen the 2013 documentary “Hawking” you have a strong idea about the various adversities and triumphs the film will cover and the sad revelation that despite all they surmounted, their marriage didn’t have a happy ending.

While it’s hard to imagine this drama capturing the raw disclosure of the moving doc, the powerful emotion of their story is a rousing cinematic prospect. Eddie Redmayne is already garnering Oscar attention for his portrayal of Hawking. As large of an icon as Hawking is, the first Mrs. Hawking is a strikingly fascinating figure herself and watching them explored at the same time is exciting. Release: Nov 26

The Weinstein Company

#8 The Imitation Game |
In 2011 the script for this historical thriller earned the top spot on the annual Black List of the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood. Three years later, it is among the heavy hitters this awards season. This biopic stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the British cryptanalyst, mathematician, logician and computer scientist. 

Alan Turing played a key role in deciphering the Nazi’s Enigma code, which was crucial in securing the Allies victory in World War II. The last chapter of Turing’s life would take a tragic turn when he was prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952. A story about Turing’s life has been in the works for a while and after years of pre-production travails it is finally making its way to theaters. 

“The Imitation Game” marks the English language directorial debut of Morten Tyldum, who brought audiences the astounding thriller “Headhunters”. A strong supporting cast that includes Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong and Charles Dance rounds out the recipe for something spectacular. Release Date: Nov 28

Fox Searchlight Pictures

#7 Wild |
Only a year after his Oscar winning film “Dallas Buyers Club,” Jean-Marc Vallee is back with a follow-up that is already making waves as an awards competitor. Reese Witherspoon stars in this adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir “Wild From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.” The movie subsuquently tells the true story of her 1,100 mile solo-trek to find clarity following a string of personal hardships. 

During her various sojourns, Cheryl reflects on her life as flashbacks reveal what led her to make such a dramatic journey of self-discovery. After a string of commercial struggles at the box office with her romantic comedies, Witherspoon is aiming for the stripped-down simplicity of indie drama in “Wild.” Sans the glamorous hair and make-up of her usual roles, she’s digging into something deeper here. 

As one of the first actresses to successfully navigate between the worlds of big box office and critically rewarding indies, her contribution as a trailblazer has not necessarily received the credit it deserves in recent years. As a critical comeback “Wild” is a pivotal moment for Witherspoon’s career and many will be watching to see how it turns out. Release Date: Dec 5

20th Century Fox

#6 Exodus: Gods and Kings |
Ridley Scott harkens back to his highest grossing film, the Oscar-winning historical blockbuster “Gladiator” with in this sword-and-sandal epic. It is loosely inspired by the Bible’s narrative of Moses. Christian Bale stars as the leader who defies his brother, the Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton), so he can lead the slaves of Egypt to freedom. 

As with Darren Aronofsky’s highly controversial “Noah” earlier this year, “Exodus” is not expected to be a Biblically accurate take on the Old Testament account. As a result, it will probably have to be judged as an abstract interpretation. Ridley Scott has arguably not matched the success of “Gladiator” with any of his follow-up films and it’s a long shot this will be the one to rival it. 

As a sweeping piece of high drama, it is likelier to hit the mark. Its cinematography is the most distinct aspect to set it apart from similar films. Steering away from the arid visualization of Wolfgang Peterson’s “Troy,” “Exodus” has a darker, more foreboding feel that compliments its subject matter. Chiefly fueling most of the interest in this movie is curiosity and much like “Noah”, once people actually see it, the initial buzz will decide its fate. Release Date: Dec 12

Click here for Part 1: #20 - #15
Click here for Part 2: #15 - #10