With the Toronto, Telluride, and Venice film festivals behind us, it’s fair to say the Oscar season has begun in earnest. As studios begin positioning their respective titles for maximum exposure and disingenuous feel-goodedness, prognosticators both professional and amateur will start guessing as to the impact of said positioning (and, I guess, said feel-goodedness).
I’ve become increasingly hardened to the Oscar process over the last few years — mostly for overexposure but also for those who take it too personally (“WHY DIDN’T MY FAVORITE MOVIE WIN?!?!?!?”) and not personally enough (“So, Woody Allen might have molested a child … what does it mean for Cate Blanchett’s Best Actress chances? Exclusive breaking story at ClickHerePlease.com.”)
But fuck it, I’m going to give this one a go. (If it distracts me from politics for the next two months, I’ll try anything.) One caveat: I’m only listing titles that have screened at festivals or for critics — basically anything that someone has seen and publicly commented on or written about. Will Silence or Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk sweep this year’s awards? Sure, maybe. But I don’t know anything about that yet, so let’s limit the conversation to known quantities. Seems reasonable, yeah?
Other possibilities: Nocturnal Animals, Florence Foster Jenkins, Hacksaw Ridge, Love & Friendship, A Monster Calls
Still out there: Silence, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Fences, Hidden Figures, Allied, Passengers, The Girl on the Train, Collateral Beauty, 20th Century Women, Rules Don’t Apply, Gold, Live by Night
It’s a fairly top heavy list with La La Land and Lion feeling like the only possible contenders at this point for a win. But with some major filmmakers still out there, it’s quite possible this category goes through several big shake-ups.
Other possibilities: Garth Davis, Lion; Jeff Nichols, Loving; Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation; Pablo Larrain, Jackie
Still out there: Martin Scorsese, Silence; Ang Lee, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk; Denzel Washington, Fences; Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures; Robert Zemeckis, Allied; Morten Tyldum, Passengers; Ben Affleck, Live by Night
Garth Davis should probably be on here for Lion‘s rapturous reception at TIFF, but he’s a newcomer and his film won’t be as obviously directed as some others in the mix.
Other possibilities: Jake Gyllenhaal, Nocturnal Animals; Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation; Adam Driver, Paterson; David Oyelowo, A United Kingdom; Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Snowden
Still out there: Denzel Washington, Fences; Andrew Garfield, Silence; Will Smith, Collateral Beauty; Michael Keaton, The Founder; Joe Alwyn, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk; Brad Pitt, Allied; Chris Pratt, Passengers
With Nate Parker feeling further and further away from the Kodak every day and nothing like Leo last year on the horizon, this category feels like Casey Affleck’s to lose.
Other possibilities: Amy Adams, Nocturnal Animals; Isabelle Huppert, Elle; Kate Beckinsale, Love & Friendship; Rachel Weisz, Denial; Rooney Mara, Lion; Rosamund Pike, A United Kingdom
Still out there: Viola Davis, Fences; Annette Bening, 20th Century Women; Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures; Emily Blunt, The Girl on the Train; Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane; Marion Cotillard, Allied
This will be the second consecutive year in which Best Actress is the most competitive category at the Oscars. (Side note: These are my favorite years.) Stone and Portman are locked in. The others will move up and down as other titles drop.
Other possibilities: Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea; Timothy Spall, Denial; Tom Bennett, Love & Friendship; John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane
Still out there: Liam Neeson, Silence; Stephen Henderson, Fences; Steve Martin, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk; Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply; Kevin Costner, Hidden Figures
No idea. What a weird group.
Other possibilities: Rachel Weisz, The Light Between Oceans; Helen Mirren, Eye on the Sky; Aja Naomi King, The Birth of a Nation; Julianne Moore, Maggie’s Plan
Still out there: Kristen Stewart, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk; Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures; Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women; Elle Fanning, 20th Century Women; Rebecca Ferguson, The Girl on the Train; Laura Dern, The Founder; Jennifer Jason Leigh, LBJ
Like Supporting Actor, this one feels super strange. That said, the idea of a Williams/Harris horse race for those two particular films is incredibly enticing.