31 August 2013 9:57 AM, PDT | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Four days ago, the 2013 Oscar race was mostly a matter of crossed fingers and speculation, but things have quickly shifted into high gear. The Venice Film Fest has served up two home runs in its first few days: Warner Bros.’ “Gravity” and the Weinstein Co.’s “Philomena.”

Add in a few other strong possibilities here — including Sony Pictures Classics’ “Kill Your Darlings,” starring an outstanding Daniel Radcliffe, and “Tracks,” the John Curran-Mia Wasikowska drama — plus Telluride’s enthusiastic reception for Fox Searchlight’s “12 Years a Slave” and WB-Alcon’s “Prisoners,” and it’s already shaping up to be a hot year.

Gravity” was stirring up buzz here in Venice even before it opened the fest Aug. 28, but it’s still generating talk, even after many other films have opened and would theoretically suck up some of the “Gravity” energy. And “Philomena” got an enthusiastic reception at Saturday’s press screenings. »

- Timothy M. Gray

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