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Oscar 2014: AMERICAN HUSTLE, GRAVITY Chances Undermined by 289 Eligible Features?

Oscar 2014 Jennifer Lawrence American HustleOscar 2014: 289 movies in the running for Best Picture and in other regular categories (image: Jennifer Lawrence in 'American Hustle')

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced earlier today, December 16, 2013, that no less than 289 feature films are in the running for the 2014 Academy Awards.

As the Academy's press release explains, to qualify for the 2014 Academy Awards, "feature films must open in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County by midnight, December 31, and begin a minimum run of seven consecutive days."

According to Academy rules, a feature film "must have a running time of more than 40 minutes and must have been exhibited theatrically on 35mm or 70mm film, or in a qualifying digital format."

There's more: feature films that were first publicly shown or distributed "in any manner other than as a theatrical motion picture release" cannot be considered for Academy Awards in any category. The “Reminder List of Productions Eligible for the 86th Academy Awards” is available here

Nearly 300 features: Fierce Oscar 2014 competition?

Now, 289 feature films. Does that mean competition has gotten fiercer for the likes of David O. Russell's American Hustle, Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity, and Spike Jonze's Her? Or that hundreds of actors and actresses will be vying for Academy Award nominations in the acting categories – thus making things more difficult for the likes of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Jared Leto, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Julia Roberts, and Tom Hanks?

Not at all.

True, the Naomi Watts star vehicle Diana, the Stephenie Meyer adaptation The Host, the Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger box office bomb The Escape Plan, the Steve Carell comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, and Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas are all "eligible" for the 2014 Oscars, but that doesn't mean they and most of the other official contenders will be seriously considered – or even marginally considered – for the awards. And that includes well-regarded but awards-season buzz-less fare whose DVDs and Blu-rays will likely go unseen by the overwhelming majority of Academy members, e.g., Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt, Haifaa al-Mansour's Wadjda, Eytan Fox's Yossi.

As usual, perhaps with a surprise here and there, the buzz-y names will be the ones to get shortlisted when the 2014 Academy Awards nominations are announced on Thursday, January 16, 2014, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

The 2014 Academy Awards ceremony will be held on Oscar Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center located in, where else, Hollywood. The show will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide. In the U.S., the Oscarcast will be broadcast live on the ABC network.

Jennifer Lawrence American Hustle image: Sony Pictures / Columbia Pictures.

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