Another day, another movie makes a shocking exit from awards season: As first reported by the Los Angeles Times, George Clooney's "The Monuments Men" won't be ready for its Dec. 18 release date because the film's visual effects have proved more complicated than expected. "The Monuments Men" will now arrive in the first quarter of 2014, though no date has been specified just yet. (Clooney, who probably knows a little bit about what's going, told Times reporter John Horn that "Monuments Men" would debut sometime in February.)
By leaving Oscar season, "The Monuments Men" -- which Clooney co-wrote, directed and stars in, alongside Bill Murray, Matt Damon, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Cate Blanchett -- joins an ever-expanding list of presumed awards contenders that have vacated to 2014. In September, Sony Pictures Classics moved Bennett Miller's "Foxcatcher" to next year, while that same month saw The Weinstein Company shift "Grace of Monaco," with Nicole Kidman in the lead role as Grace Kelly, to March 14, 2014. It was rumored that Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" would push to 2014 as well, but it appears the studio has decided to delay the film's release a mere six weeks, from Nov. 15 to Dec. 25.
"This is the most competitive [Oscar] season I've ever seen," TWC head Harvey Weinstein said at the Zurich International Film Festival in September. "And if you aren't ready, don't get in it."
Not that anyone who has hung around should get too cocky: Even without "The Monuments Men," there are plenty of movies in the awards race. Still, which are helped the most by Clooney hopping to 2014? A brief list of awards contenders and others who could benefit.
1. "American Hustle": David O. Russell's star-studded drama, a Sony release that should do good business among adults, was set to open nationwide just seven days after "The Monuments Men." With that conflict gone, Russell's latest is clear to battle with "The Wolf of Wall Street" for the honor of being the December choice for both ticket buyers and Oscar voters.
2. "Captain Phillips": Sony's other big awards contender was already on track for a Best Picture nomination, and one less contender -- from within its own studio no less -- only solidifies that notion.
3. "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty": Many assumed "The Monuments Men" was set as this year's populist Oscar movie (see previous Best Picture nominees like "Les Miserables," "The Help," "Inception"). Now, Ben Stiller's latest, an all-but-assured blockbuster, could slide into that slot. (Unless "Saving Mr. Banks" is already there.)
4. "The Wolf of Wall Street: Much like "American Hustle" and "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," Scorsese's film will benefit from one less late-season contender in its way.
5. "Gravity": With "The Monuments Men" out of the race, awards voters can focus on recognizing Clooney for his strong supporting performance in Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity."
6. 2014 movies: Films set for release in the first quarter of 2014 now include "The Monument Men," "The Grand Budapest Hotel," "Grace of Monaco," "Noah," and, maybe, "Foxcatcher." To think, the first three months of the year are supposed to be horrible!
7. "The Monuments Men": By opening away from the year-end crunch, Clooney's film stands a great chance at reaching a wider audience. All's well that ends well?