in ,

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

saoirseronan brooklyn

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.



What do you think?

268 points
Upvote Downvote
Binge Watcher

Written by Clayton Davis

Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He also founded the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, the first Latino-based critics’ organization in the United States. He’s also an active member of the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times,, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

What about Beasts of No Nations chances of a Best Pic nom? How about Fukunaga?

Luke McGowan

When are we likely to hear about Genius? I imagine that Miles Ahead will get a release date depending on its NYFF, but Genius isn’t playing at festivals. It seems to be ranking quite highly despite that and the fact that we’ve seen not even as much as a picture.


I know there’s not much to say about the foreign-language category yet, but why do you have both Dheepan and Marguerite et Julien? They’re both French films and therefore couldn’t both get nominations. If you were thinking of Dheepan being submitted as a Sri Lankan film, I’m almost certain it would be disqualified on account of it being a French production. Plus, Marguerite et Julien got pretty bad reviews out of Cannes. I’d replace that one with either Germany’s Labyrinth of Lies or Denmark’s A War.


Gosh, I’m excited. It looks like Beasts of No Nation, baring any major screening disasters a la Selma, might be able to make a decent awards presence even with Netflix’s inexperience in the Oscar race. I agree that the reviews for Everest haven’t been as good as the inital tweets would suggest, (the 64 on Metacritic is a little alarming), but it sounds like it was made to dominate the tech categories. And I would LOVE to see Keira Knightley get as much Oscar recognition as she can get. Spotlight has instantly shifted in my mind from “Oh, so that… Read more »

Jamie Teller

Definitely a less stacked year for Actor than last year, but a potentially very solid one for Actress. I’d like to see that.

Anthony Moseley

Apparently Black Mass is getting some high praise and some are saying it’s a career best performance from Johnny Depp. Maybe it’s time to move Depp back up the list? I still never understood why you dropped him so low after initially having him in your top 5.


Spotlight film 2015

Venice 2015: Instant reactions to ‘Spotlight’

100 yen

Japan banks on ‘100 Yen Love’ as Paraguay sends first Foreign Oscar entry