Awards: How Big Can ‘Waves’ Break with Oscar?


“Waves” had its debut at the Telluride Film Festival and the consensus seemed to suggest a major Oscar player had emerged. Director Trey Edward Shults’ movie went on to screen at the Toronto International Festival and several regional festivals. It earned four stars from Awards Circuit’s editor Clayton Davis in his wrap-up of the Middleburg Film Festival. The reviews remain strong for the film but where has all the Oscar buzz gone?

Anyone who follows the Oscars knows a few things: There are different phases to the awards season, movies have many different life cycles and studios, inadvertently or otherwise, must pick their top pony in the race. Distributor A24 needs to reposition “Waves” and continue to grow awareness for the film.

Shults has built-up a great deal of respect in arthouse film circles with his debut “Krisha” and his follow-up “It Comes at Night.” It seems he was poised to graduate to the next level with a more accessible indie hit. Early festival buzz indicated Best Picture and Director nominations were in play for Shults but the predicted tally seems to be dwindling. It’s still early.

The Gotham Awards are typically the first round of nominations each season. They aren’t heavily predictive for the Oscars, but “Waves” scored two nominations, including Best Feature. Critics groups are going to need to rally around the film in a crowded season, which will help keep it in the conversation. Perhaps, “Waves” can reignite the buzz it originally had.

The ensemble cast is universally praised. Sterling K. Brown continues to hover around a crowded Best Supporting Actor field. If “Waves” makes it to the Oscars, it seems a nomination for the Emmy-winning actor is a likely possibility. Shults could garner a Best Original Screenplay nomination if the Academy is looking to honor his work on the film.

The current awards season is in flux. There are no guaranteed winners in any categories and nominations could go in a variety of directions. This might prove to be a good thing for “Waves.” There’s always room for the unsuspecting player in the race.

What do you think? Will ‘Waves’ make a splash in the Oscar race? Let us know in the comments below!