Disclaimer: This post was originally written for No Perfect Movie, but since the site has gone down, I’ve decided to transfer all my work onto this blog.
TIFF ends this Sunday, no doubt prompting a wave of premature, baseless and completely unnecessary features discussing the year’s potential Oscar contenders.
I thought I’d get ahead of the game and post mine first.
The best bets on paper from the big name directors.
On paper, the strongest bet is Alejandro Gonzålez Iñárittu’s The Revenant – after he soared to victory with Birdman. However, after the film’s tortuous production, there are a few questions about whether it’ll be ready in time. The Danish Girl and the Oscars look like a match made in heaven. Some may call it bait, but it’s tough to bet against former winners Tom Hooper & Eddie Redmayne.
The big show at Telluride this year was Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs. Reviews singled out Michael Fassbender’s lead turn & Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay in particular. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks have had plenty of past experience, and with a script written by the Coen Bros, you’d be a fool to dismiss their cold war thriller Bridge Of Spies – even if Spielberg’s recent run hasn’t been his best work.
David O. Russell’s last two collaborations with Jennifer Lawrence yielded directing and acting nominations on both occasions. Joy looks like his most Oscar-friendly movie so far… perhaps a little too much so? Finally, Quentin Tarantino returns this Christmas with The Hateful Eight following back-to-back Best Picture noms. You can bet there’s at least a Best Original Screenplay nod waiting for him.
The smaller flicks that are currently generating a lot of buzz.
Another strong Best Picture contender that’s already premiered is Todd Haynes’ 50s romantic drama Carol, which drew huge acclaim at Cannes and saw Rooney Mara pick up a Best Actress award. However, it’s her co-star Cate Blanchett who may have her hands on the Academy’s equivalent come next February. Someone who could give them both a run for their money is Saorise Ronan, who was widely praised for her turn in fellow period drama Brooklyn at Sundance.
There’s an increasingly likely looking chance that Tom McCarthy’s critically lauded sex abuse scandal drama Spotlight can sneak into contention. Michael Keaton will beworth watching in the Sup. Actor category after his near miss last year. Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth joined Carol at Cannes this year, and while it doesn’t scream BP winner, there could be some recognition Michael Caine in the Lead Actor category.
Likely to be great movies in their own right – but may get unfairly overlooked.
Netflix could ruffle a few feathers with the Cary Fukunaga-helmed, Idris Elba-starring child soldier drama, Beasts Of No Nation. The prevailing argument that it’s “too dark” for the Oscars is a load of bullshit. Any movie should have a shot, regardless of subject matter. The same could be said for Denis Villeneuve’s widely praised war on drugs thriller Sicario – beautifully shot by Roger Deakins.
Two of the most exciting prospects at Telluride & TIFF were Scott Cooper’s Black Mass and Lenny Abrahamson’s Room. The former is building all kinds of buzz as a ‘return to form’ for Johnny Depp, but we’ve been told to keep an eye on his co-star Joel Edgerton too. Meanwhile, Brie Larson looks phenomenal in the latter drama. She’s due for some Oscar recognition any time now – this should be it.
Stephen Frears’ Lance Armstrong biopic The Program appears promising, despit a few mixed reviews at TIFF. Ben Foster & Chris O’Dowd are two very underrated actors who have their chance to shine here. Justin Kurzel’s beautifully shot Macbeth has been more favourably received, but has the misfortune of being overshadowed by Fassbender’s other Oscar-worthy performance this year.
Films that could go down a storm… or just as easily get forgotten.
Ridley Scott’s The Martian has everyone intrigued following its remarkably well-received premiere in Toronto. We’ve got a long way to go until February, but it’d be nice to see veterans like Scott and Ron Howard back on top form. It’s been eight years since the latter filmmaker has competed for Hollywood’s biggest prize, but he could make a big splash with In The Heart Of The Sea.
Robert Zemeckis has had similar struggles lately, but there’s a chance he’s made something special with The Walk. Elsewhere, critics seem polarised by Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette. However, the general consensus is that Carey Mulligan deserves some recognition, while Meryl Streep only has a single scene, which, in hindsight, is almost certainly enough to win the hearts of Academy voters…
We may also see a few late contenders from out of left field. The Julianne Moore-led gay rights drama Freeheld looks great on paper, with a top-notch supporting cast. However it’s generated very little buzz so far, and it may get overshadowed by The Danish Girl. David Gordon Green’s Our Brand Is Crisis could just as easily slip under the radar, but Sandra Bullock might be a dark horse in the Lead Actress race.
The movies that you loved watching in theatres but break the Academy’s ‘no fun’ rule.
George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, Alex Garland’s Ex Machina, Pete Docter’s Inside Out and F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton are probably the four most universally adored movies of the year so far. Naturally, the Academy will elect to ignore them completely in the most heinous and blatant attempt to troll you. Don’t blame them. It’s in their nature. That’s just what they do.