Oscar Circuit: An Original Raunchy Song Contender and Meryl Streep’s 20th?

With outlets packing their bags, and securing their itineraries in order to head off to Venice and Telluride, the August cinematic landscape has rounded out an enjoyable summer.  This past weekend, the R-rated “Sausage Party” cooked up some impressive money over the weekend.  The raunchy gem, directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon, emerged itself as dark horse possibility for an Animated Feature nomination.  After seeing the branch go for Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s “Anomalisa” last year, it gives me hope that they can go for something unconventional.

The music branch will also have options with the film’s glorious opening number “The Great Beyond” composed by Oscar-winner Alan Menken.  The number feels like it was plucked straight out of a Disney movie, and with the right campaign mounted by distributor Sony Pictures, it can go down in history with similar nominees like “Blame Canada.”

This Friday, Laika’s “Kubo and the Two Strings” will drop for audiences but critics are already on its side.  Screening for critics for weeks, the champions are out in full force including David Ehrlich at indieWIRE.  As Laika continues to reach for the boldest parts of animation, and deliver them successfully to the screen, eventually it’s going to pay off with the animated branch.  Can the film topple Walt Disney’s “Zootopia” or Pixar’s “Finding Dory” from earlier this year?  Road may be tough but perhaps it won’t be a typical “default” choice like in years past.

landscape-1457686899-movies-florence-foster-jenkinsAlso riding a big wave right now is “Florence Foster Jenkins” by Academy Award nominee Stephen Frears.  It feels undeniable that Meryl Streep is heading towards her record 20th nomination in Best Actress, but the film has also emerged s a contender in categories like Best Supporting Actor for Hugh Grant and even Best Picture.  As mentioned for months now, distributor Paramount Pictures will have a slew of choices for themselves during the awards season and I imagine “Jenkins” will surely be given one of the top priorities.  While the box office may be less than stellar, the Academy doesn’t need every film to be a box office success.

In the coming weeks before the festivals kick off, “Ben-Hur” will reveal itself to audiences, assured not to emulate or repeat its classic film source.

craigrobinson_morrisfromamericaThe indie gem “Morris from America” from Chad Hartigan also drops this week.  Premiering at Sundance last January, the dramedy film has been buzzing the past eight months for Craig Robinson for his seemingly understated performance.  More likely to be an Independent Spirit Awards player rather than an Oscar player, A24 has proven to have tricks up their sleeves.

The rest of the month will present “Hands of Stone” from the Weinstein Company (hoping to be a money-maker), “Mia Madre” from Music Box Films (a former Oscar chatter for John Turturro in 2015), and “The Hollars” from Sony Pictures Classics (hoping to be a player for director John Krasinski from “The Office”).

Roadside Attractions and Miramax will enter the conversation with another Sundance film “Southside with You.”  Stars Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter are said to be terrific as young Barack and Michelle Obama, but as we see with small Sundance pictures, it’s hard to get traction in the acting categories, especially when you’re an unknown.  Writer/director Richard Tanne may be able get somewhere in Original Screenplay if the precursors tilt that way but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Outside of that, we’re looking at your usual (and unusual) suspects.  Critics and festival-goers will begin to chime in on some of the films while the rest of humanity sits and waits impatiently.

Tomorrow, updated Oscar Predictions will drop (minor tweaks I assure you), while later in the week we updated our guild space with a look at the Golden Globes, now that certain films have exited.

Discuss your thoughts on the Oscar race in the comments below!

CHECK OUT CURRENT OSCAR PREDICTIONS:

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