What if Hollywood canceled this year’s fall movie season and Academy Awards voters had to come up with five Best Picture nominees anyway? Here’s what the list might look like: Courage Under Fire, Emma, Fargo, Lone Star, and Trainspotting. If that selection sounds far-fetched, consider that by this time last year, four of the five eventual Best Picture nominees had already been released — Apollo 13, Babe, Il Postino, and the winner, Braveheart, which most Oscar nomination forecasters, including us, doubted would even make the final five. So take our expert opinion with a grain of salt when we say that this year the biggest Oscar contenders are probably still on the horizon. But that doesn’t mean that all earlier movies will be ignored: Fargo’s Frances McDormand and Emma’s Gwyneth Paltrow could vie for Best Actress, Courage’s Denzel Washington could nail a Best Actor nomination, and Lone Star writer-director John Sayles surely merits attention as well. (Don’t count out A Time to Kill either, as a safely traditional choice in an oddball year.) All these potential nominees can take comfort in a September lineup that shouldn’t hurt their chances much. Among this month’s releases, the only competition is minor — the Merchant Ivory biopic Surviving Picasso and the long-delayed American Buffalo.
Posted August 23 1996 — 12:00 AM EDT
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