Oscar Circuit: The Start of the Race at Venice and Telluride

JobsOSCARS 2016: We’re fully underway.  The awards season has begun with the first set of screenings at the Venice Film Festival and Telluride will kick off its ceremonies today (Friday), where our own Mark Johnson is in attendance to see what films like “Steve Jobs” and “Room” have to offer.

Assessing the year thus far, there aren’t too many things that seem to be igniting “passion.”  Cary Fukunaga’s “Beasts of No Nation” was met with applause at Venice, with some declaring Idris Elba a formidable contender in the seemingly vacant Best Supporting Actor race.  Speaking with two critics that saw it, the word was through the roof for newcomer Abraham Attah.  Many saying, “he carries the film but Oscar is not kind to young male performers.”  Absolutely true but times can quickly change on that front.

Universal Pictures must be feeling pretty confident at the moment as “Everest” opened Venice with great word of mouth.  With “Steve Jobs” heading to Telluride, a very hefty bank account with three massive hits this year, and few other things up their sleeves, this could be their year.  In terms of “Everest” however, I would say the positive word wasn’t overwhelming.  Seems like a commercial play but co-star Keira Knightley did get standout notices.  Is she working on nomination #3?

michaelkeaton_spotlightTom McCarthy is getting the distinct pleasure of being called the first director to release his worst and best film in the same year.  With “The Cobbler,” it seemed as if the Oscar-nominated writer/director had reached a new low with the Adam Sandler dramedy.  For his next film “Spotlight,” phrases like “intelligent,” “thought-provoking,” and “honest” have been thrown around a bit.  Can he score his first Best Picture nomination while scoring back-to-back nods for stars Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo?  Depending on category placement, you can see this contend in several categories like Picture, Director, Lead and/or Supporting Actor, along with Screenplay.

Outside of festival news, we got our first trailers for Tom Hooper’s “The Danish Girl,” which was simply astounding.  After winning a “controversial” Best Picture and Director trophy for “The King’s Speech,” he followed it up with a divisive big musical that also scored nominations (and wins) in the major categories.  It looks, sight unseen of course, that he could join the ranks of David O. Russell (who has “Joy” this year) in scoring three Best Picture nominations in a row.  And if it hasn’t been said, Eddie Redmayne looks to be a true contender to become the new Tom Hanks (another name to watch for “Bridge of Spies“).  After winning for “The Theory of Everything” last year, it’ll take a lot of convincing for voters to check his name off two years in a row.  Honestly speaking, this year the Lead Actor race doesn’t look as “stacked” as it normally does.  There are some big names in play but the women seem to be dominating the quality in rosters.  Just look at Redmayne’s co-star Alicia Vikander, who not only has 7 films this year, but looks just as riveting as her co-star in “The Danish Girl.”  I’d watch out for her to dominate this year in whatever category that the studio sees fit.

There are going to be plenty of more factors to consider as the season gets started.  Toronto and New York will go next with films like “Miles Ahead” and “The Martian” making their big debuts.

The Oscar Prediction pages have been updated (except for Sounds, Visual Effects, and Makeup).  I’m holding back on a heavy presence for films that still do not have distribution or a firm release date.

I’ll be back in a week with some more predictions and updates as more films are seen.

CHECK OUT ALL THE OSCAR PREDICTION CATEGORIES:

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 | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE |FOREIGN LANGUAGE | LIVE ACTION SHORT | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT