OSCARS: Has a Frontrunner Emerged in the Best Picture Race Yet?

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blade runner 2049

As we get knee deep into the October days, films like “Blade Runner 2049” from Denis Villeneuve and “Last Flag Flying”  from Richard Linklater got their first views in front of critics.  In the case of the former, it has emerged as a true spectacle, along with being declared the technical achievement of the year.  The comparisons to “Mad Max: Fury Road” were plentiful and could spill over into a double nomination morning if the stars align.  This is all interesting in a year “without a frontrunner.”

In the case of Linklater’s film, the NYFF bow was mixed to positive, but Oscar-nominee Steve Carell remained constant and will urge himself into a less than satisfying Best Actor race.  There’s huge potential of him making the lineup, and even benefiting his co-star Bryan Cranston.

As seen in the newest prediction updates, films with little to no marketing and/or titles have been cooled on.  The still-untitled film from Paul Thomas Anderson seems like one of those films that may be struggling to find its footing, though Focus Features hasn’t spoken about any doubts on the film yet.  Breaking late in the year becomes harder for you to be recognized in an awards race hence, we’ll pull back on the Daniel Day-Lewis run until further notice.

Same goes for Steven Spielberg’s “The Post.”  A source shared earlier in September that we would see a trailer before the end of the month.  Fast forward to Oct. 5, we’ve only seen a few pictures of Meryl Streep and little else.  With a likely run in Original Screenplay (though don’t be surprised to see a Moonlight/Syriana switcharoo if it occurs), the film will also be looking to capitalize on buzz during the precursor run.  In a film that will likely be heavy on Kay Graham (played by Streep), a gut feeling surrounds an overshadowed Tom Hanks waiting in the wings, resulting in him, once again, missing out on Oscar attention.

The buzz and reviews for David Gordon Green’s “Stronger” has propelled star Jake Gyllenhaal into the fray, hoping to finally snag his second Oscar nomination after countless snubs for films like “Prisoners” and “Nightcrawler.”  Can we also find the buzz to pull in co-star Tatiana Maslany and possibly a Screenplay/Picture play?

Bleecker Street is gearing up to push the pedal to the floor for their films “Breathe” from Andy Serkis and “The Man Who Invented Christmas” from Bharat Nalluri.  In the case of the former, stars Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy have plenty of goodwill within the industry to carry them through despite not a lot apparent passion from critics at the moment.  In the case of Garfield, he will be capitalizing off his first nod for “Hacksaw Ridge” last year and could start a wave of multiple nominations over the next few years.  With Foy, she has a loss for “The Crown” under her belt at the Emmys, and seems to have the buzz saying “she’s the best thing about it.”  Phrases like that can go a long way.

With runner-up spots at the Toronto International Film Festival, “Call Me By Your Name” from Luca Guadagnino and “I, Tonya” from Craig Gillespie may be stronger entries on the year.  Sony Pictures Classics feels confident in the chances for Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg becoming the first duo Supporting Actor nominees since “Bugsy” and they feel Timothée Chalamet can become the third youngest Best Actor nominee ever.  Big hurdles to jump but doable.

In the case of “I, Tonya” with Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, the two stars seem prime to become frontrunners in their respective categories and the last time two acting winners came from a film not nominated for Best Picture was 1962 and 1963 with “The Miracle Worker” (Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke) and “Hud” (Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas) – thank you to reader Avi Saks for pointing that out on our newest podcast episode.  The film could also pull the “Dallas Buyers Club” playbook and completely overperform, scoring key nominations like Editing and Original Screenplay.

Other updates worth noting is GKIDS submissions of five films in the Animated Feature race.  “The Breadwinner” has already been on our radar from executive producer Angelina Jolie but the buzz is high on films like “The Girl Without Hands” and “Birdboy: The Forgotten Children.”  Can anything top “Coco” at the moment though, even sight unseen?

Finally, for the second time this year, we’ve moved to a new predicted winner for Best Picture, emulating last year’s exact model.  Considering that we haven’t had a December release win Best Picture since “Million Dollar Baby” in 2004, we could be looking for a surprise, more “consensus” film to enter the fray.  Currently, we’re expecting the TIFF Audience winner “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” can be that film, scoring just two other Oscars on the night: Original Screenplay for writer/director Martin McDonagh and Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell.  Last year’s winner “Moonlight” won those 3 awards (except winning Adapted instead of Original), and a more “technical achievement” took home the rest.  What film will that be?

The two films that could pull that “technical card” are “The Shape of Water” from Guillermo del Toro and “Blade Runner 2049” from Denis Villeneuve.  It’ll be interesting to see how the chips fall when NYFCC announces at the end of November (early much?).

Read the newest Oscar Predictions and include your own in the comments below:

CLICK THE CATEGORY TO SEE THE OSCAR PREDICTIONS:

MOTION PICTURE | DIRECTOR |
LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE |
PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS |
ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG |
FOREIGN LANGUAGE |

  • blake011

    I am really excited about Three Billboards. I hope its as great as everyone says and it goes all the way.

  • Tee

    Question: I’m not the only one getting “Miss Sloane” vibes from “Molly’s Game”, right? Chastain delivers career-best work with witty, quick, and Sorkin dialogue, but the reviews weren’t overwhelmingly positive and its a potential box office flop. The general vibe and atmosphere of the film feels similar based on what we’ve seen as well.

    Just like some thoughts on it, that’s all.

    • Ferdinand

      The thing that I think makes this different is that adapted screenplay is so weak that they don’t have that many possible situations where Molly’s Game isn’t nominated

      • Jamie Teller

        Molly’s Game has also received pretty strong reviews overall.

  • michaeldal65

    Since last year’s winner was an emotional drama, I’m guessing this year will be about spectacle which means 2049 and Dunkirk will be slugging it out.

    • Ferdinand

      But the year before that was an emotional drama as well

  • J2020

    I don’t see any mentions to “Florida Project”, who belongs to A24 (Room was nominated for director and movie when no one see that coming and won best actress & Moonlight) and today, Willem Dafoe is the frontrunner in supporting, not Rockwell. Actually, I know is pretty early, but Oldman and Willem are probably locks for win.

    I think Garrett Hedlund could be a big upset like Aaron Taylor Johnson last year (I don´t think he will make to the Oscar, but maybe for Globes or something), couse I heard he will be doing a lot of screening.
    And for actress you are pushing to hard for Margot Robie. She probably will have the Golden nod, and maybe the Oscar (if Winslet and Meryl are bad), but she is miles away to be “the frontrunner” or one of… today the frontrunner clearly is Sally Hawkins (my fav is Frances McDormand), who are the locks for a nod.

  • Ferdinand

    I’m sorry, I generally don’t like to say: “why do you have this film so low and this movie so high” but I just don’t quite see how Lady Bird and Get Out are weaker contenders than Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Detroit, Downsizing, Wind River, Victoria and Abdul, The Beguiled, War for the Planet of the Apes, Murder on the Orient Exprerss, Goodbye Christopher Robin and Logan. Maybe they’ll be only screenplay contenders as you mention with Lady Bird in your best picture predictions but that’s a lot better than only having an outside shot at a few crafts categories or perhaps even nothing at all, like with most of these other movies

  • Jamie Teller

    Tatiana Maslany in Stronger: Lead or Supporting? I personally think she’s a lead, but if she’s pushed Supporting, you have the issue of her vs. Miranda Richardson…and I thought Richardson was more impressive.