The Telluride Film Festival wrapped over the weekend, with the first big wave of Oscar contenders dropping, and we’re not talking about just a tech player here or there. We’re talking about bonafide Best Picture contenders that could carry the tradition of every Best Picture winner since 2012’s “Argo” premiering at the Colorado film festival.
If we’re ranking the most likely of contenders than Damien Chazelle’s “First Man” has to sit on the top. Starring Ryan Gosling as famed astronaut Neil Armstrong, the critics (including our own Mark Johnson) swooned over the film in the biggest way possible. Going as far as calling it this year’s “Gravity” as a film that can sweep many of the technical awards it will undoubtedly get nominated for. Gosling nabbed himself his first share amount of notices, in what looks to be a strong play for the actor to nab his third nomination. Gosling previous nominations include “Half Nelson” and most recently “La La Land,” a film in which Chazelle also directed. It also helps that Gosling has quite a bit of presumed “snubs” under his belt (“Drive,” “Lars and the Real Girl,” and “Blue Valentine” to name a few).
Gosling won’t be the only actor contending as co-star Claire Foy seemed to eat up much of the praise going towards an acting performance. In what is a seemingly open Supporting Actress race, Foy seems to be the first major Oscar contender in the race (mostly because people are sleeping on Rachel McAdams in “Disobedience” with no really believing in the ability of Michelle Yeoh in “Crazy Rich Asians“). Of the men, Jason Clarke seized some ink but it’s unsure if he’ll be able to go the distance. He’ll have to “Alan Alda” himself into the Supporting Actor race by year’s end.
Other films that debuted in North America included “The Favourite” from Yorgos Lanthimos which has generated some of the hottest debates on where its three leading cast members should be placed. Starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz, there are still internal debates with the awards teams on where each should campaign. Colman clearly grabbed the bulk of the praise, which could put her in a “dealer’s choice” type of scenario. Either way, she’ll battle the aforementioned Foy in Supporting Actress or Glenn Close (“The Wife“) and Lady Gaga (“A Star is Born“) in a leading bid. She’s honestly competitive in either race.
“Boy Erased” has its passionate supporters, igniting a campaign for Lucas Hedges. Previously nominated for “Manchester by the Sea,” he will also have “Ben is Back” debuting at TIFF, directed by his father Peter Hedges. Alfonso Cuaron’s “ROMA” continued its goodwill from Venice, being declared a “masterpiece” and “an essential part” of the upcoming awards season. How far will it be able to go?
Then there were the mixed bags that were dropped. Jason Reitman’s “The Front Runner” seemed to be all over the map but seems to at least be a vehicle for star Hugh Jackman, hoping for his second nomination after “Les Miserables” in 2012. David Lowery’s “The Old Man & the Gun” definitely garnered respect, and could be a possibility for Robert Redford in his alleged final film role, but where can it contend? Co-star Sissy Spacek was praised for her chemistry with Redford, but sources have shared that a Lead campaign is in the works despite many thinking that she’s a clear supporting character. Perhaps they’re open to a change?
Marielle Heller’s follow-up to “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” landed in the mountains of Colorado as well with positive praise. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” stars Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant, who both have been declared contenders in their respective categories. Can the film breakout in more places than that? There will be a passionate body that will bang the drum for Heller in Director as well as Adapted Screenplay that’s penned by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty.
Yann Demange’s “White Boy Rick” has fans of its performances particularly Matthew McConaughey and Bel Powley, but the film looks to be a clear divide on the material it presents. Orson Welles’ “The Other Side of the Wind” caught praise but its unclear if it’s just because Orson Welles’ memory lives on and they’re just super excited to see something from him again or it’s just nostalgic glasses. Star John Huston himself got praise for his performance, which would be an interesting take in a thinner Best Actor race.
We heard lots of the “boredom” card played when it came to Mike Leigh’s “Peterloo,” and that was echoed in Venice as well. It’ll hope for some tech love methinks but little else.
Of course, the foreign contenders were plentiful. “ROMA” will emerge as the front-runner but “Girl” and “Shoplifters” made strong cases for themselves.
In the interim, enjoy the updated predictions before we land at the Toronto International Film Festival later this week where more questions will be answered.
Be sure to check out the Official Oscar Predictions Page to see where the films and performances rank!