LOS ANGELES — Now that Ben Affleck has shaved his good-luck Oscar beard, we believe it’s safe to officially close the book on the 2012-13 awards season so we can peek at the treasures that await. What will the coming best picture race look like? Here are some candidates:
May 10: Director, Baz Luhrmann; cast, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire. “Gatsby” could well be this year’s “Les Miserables” (without the singing) — a lavish, emotionally over-the-top, sweeping spectacle that aims to hold a mirror to modern times.
Dec. 18: Director, George Clooney; cast, Daniel Craig, Clooney, Cate Blanchett. It’s a WWII action-thriller about a special platoon charged with saving art from the Nazis. Tension + higher purpose + Clooney = best picture?
Late 2013: Director, Martin Scorsese; cast, Leonardo DiCaprio. The fifth collaboration between Scorsese and DiCaprio has sex, drugs and securities fraud, not to mention mob elements, along with a script from Terence Winter, who, judging from his work on “The Sopranos” and “Boardwalk Empire,” knows his way around the subject at hand.
Late 2013: Director, Alexander Payne; cast, Bruce Dern, Will Forte. Payne’s road trips (“About Schmidt,” “Sideways”) never disappoint. This one follows a son (Forte) reluctantly taking his irascible dad (Dern) from Billings, Mont., to Lincoln, Neb., to claim a magazine sweepstakes prize.
Oct. 11: Director, Paul Greengrass; cast, Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener. Hanks plays a cargo ship captain taken hostage by Somali pirates. Greengrass (“United 93,” “Bloody Sunday”) knows how to craft compelling cinema from true stories, and it’s about time the academy recognizes him for something.
Late 2013: Director, Bennett Miller; cast, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo. Miller follows his Oscar-nominated “Moneyball” with an altogether different true story — the relationship between paranoid chemical fortune heir John du Pont and an Olympic gold-medal wrestler who was his longtime friend.
Fall: Director, John Wells; cast, Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Juliette Lewis. The movie has the pedigree — Tracy Letts adapted his Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play about a dysfunctional family coming together after a crisis. And it’s being released by the Weinstein Co., so there’s that. But Wells is primarily a TV director and dramas centered on family conflict often turn into tonal train wrecks.
Oct. 4: Director, Alfonso Cuaron; cast, Clooney, Sandra Bullock. Clooney (he’s everywhere!) and Bullock play astronauts dealing with a mission gone bad. Cuaron (“Children of Men”) is one of our most gifted directors and this will need critical raves to break through the academy’s tendency to short-sheet sci-fi.