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Oscar Watch: Two Trailers kick off Oscars race

Posted Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 4:26 PM Central
Last updated Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 5:30 PM Central

by John Couture

It can be argued that Summer is getting started earlier and earlier every year, but now it seems that the awards season is getting in on the act. While technically any film released between January 1 and December 31 in any given year is eligible for the Academy Awards (provided they meet the other eligibility requirements), more often than not the big Oscar contenders are released at the end of the year.

Well, they usually don't get mainstream release until the following year, but they get their Oscar-qualifying runs in before the ball drops in Times Square. So, it's surprising to see studios start Oscar campaigns so soon in the year. Don't get me wrong, films have won after being released early in the year, but usually they don't fare well.

In the past, studios have opted to let all of the big Summer blockbusters come and go before they even think about releasing a trailer for an awards contender. The blitz method has worked for decades, but there's a chance, albeit a small one, that times might changing.

Yahoo! Movies dropped two trailers today for films that will factor heavily in this year's Oscar race, The Butler and Inside Llewyn Davis. While neither film will open before October, you have to figure that these very early first looks are by design and that plan is to create early awards season buzz.

There's no doubt that The Butler, a star-studded adaptation of the real-life story of Eugene Allen the White House butler who served eight presidents, and Inside Llewyn Davis, a look at the life and struggles of a folk singer in 1960s New York, will both garner love with the Academy. The former follows the Forrest Gump and Lincoln game plans for success, while the latter is the latest project from Oscar darlings Joel & Ethan Coen.

Oscar heavyweights The Weinsteins are behind Inside Llewyn Davis which looks to be a right in line with previous Coen brothers' efforts, if not a bit more abstract. Perhaps, they realize that with such a delicate film, it can't hurt to get a bit of early publicity.

Meanwhile, I just think Sony is trying to get ahead of the Summer onslaught with The Butler. The film opens in mid October, so perhaps they just want to plant a nugget so that people don't forget about it when October rolls around.

The Butler trailer is everything that you expect it to be. It plays like an Oscars sizzle reel, touching on all of the big cameos. I think it's safe to say that Forest Whitaker will garner an Oscars nom for Best Actor and Oprah will get one for either Best Actress or Best Supporting Actress. In fact, this is a film that I could see ending up with multiple Supporting nods.

The Butler will hit theaters on October 18.

Inside Llewyn Davis is a bit trickier, probably because of all the secrecy surrounding it. I think the Coens will garner their Best Screenplay and Best Director noms, but beyond that, it's too soon to tell. I don't think the cat is eligible.

What I like in the trailer though is Carey Mulligan's work and it's always nice to see John Goodman back in a Coen brothers film, it has been too long (13 years by my count).

I think it's safe to say that Best Score and Best Original Song will feature Inside Llewyn Davis contributions as well. It's rumored that the film will feature full-length songs actually sung by the actors. I guess it's good that Inside Llewyn Davis counts Justin Timberlake among its cast then, eh?

Inside Llewyn Davis will debut in theaters on December 6.