The big autumn festivals are over, and with the regional festival awards, Cannes, Venice and Toronto, as every year, speculation has begun as to who will headline next year’s Oscar night. Let’s see which films we are most likely to see!
All of Us Strangers (Andrew Haigh). Set in London, the film follows a screenwriter named Adam (Andrew Scott) whose ordinary life in front of his laptop is upended when he and Harry (Paul Mescal, perhaps last year’s most important discovery) meet. Adam recalls his childhood memories and his parents, whom he lost in a car accident when he was 12. When he takes a trip to his hometown and the house where they all once lived, he discovers that his parents are there, living just as they were the day he lost them…
American Fiction (Cord Jefferson). One of the latest entries in the Oscar marathon, this literary satire about race in America recently won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival. It’s worth pointing out that the last 11 winners of the award have all gone on to earn Best Picture nominations. The film follows Monk, a disillusioned writer who writes a novel under an experimental pseudonym that draws on all the stereotypes he so deeply abhors.
Barbie (Greta Gerwing). It’s rare that the most successful film of the year is in the running for the Oscars, but Greta Gerwig’s Barbie is a shoo-in for the top prize. There was a time when most of us doubted the power and might of a Mattel film about a plastic doll, and of course, its merits – but multiple Oscar nominee Gerwig has proved she has a deft hand at making even the most commercial of subjects surprisingly personal.
Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese). Martin Scorsese was not shy in the editing room and decided that his latest film would be just a few minutes shy of three and a half hours. In A Native American community in Oklahoma is infiltrated by white men who plunder their land and steal their money. The result: a classic Scorsese movie that is, of course, big, dangerous, and exciting.
Past Lives: (Celine Song). Song’s intelligent and lyrical debut film has been wowing audiences since its Sundance premiere in January. Set in three different decades, the film follows the journey of screenwriter Nora and her traditional childhood sweetheart Hae Sung as time and geographical distance separate and reunite them. The film was one of the few films in recent months to receive a SAG-AFTRA exemption, meaning its actors – Greta Lee in particular deserves a nomination – could campaign during awards season.
Maestro (Bradley Cooper). Maestro got off to a somewhat rocky start, the film coming under some attack for Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of the famous Jewish conductor wearing a pronounced prosthetic nose. Although critics have mixed reviews of Bradley Cooper’s (A Star is Born) biopic about composer Leonard Bernstein, his Hollywood allies have come out in support of Cooper this time around, thanks to his previous success as an actor-director-screenwriter. And the one person to remember the film for is Carey Mulligan, who gives one of her best performances yet.
Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan). Nolan’s three-hour film follows a specific period in the life of the man responsible for bringing weapons of mass destruction into the world. The film, which is not an easy movie to make, has been a huge hit with audiences, and is on track to become the highest-grossing biopic of all time. Aside from Barbie, it was the film of the summer, and for good reason: Nolan has given film fans another masterpiece.
Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos): Until The Favourite, Yorgos was not an easy director to digest, but at the 2019 ceremony, he won the favour of not only the audience, but also the critics. After the success, the Greek director didn’t go commercial and make a Marvel movie, instead, he made a crazy, discourse-stirring adaptation of an old Alasdair Gray book. In the film, Emma Stone plays a Frankenstein-like woman with the brain of a baby. The director’s daring style has been honoured again this year, with Poor Things winning the Golden Lion in Venice. If anyone can beat Christopher Nolan in the directing category, it’s Yorgos.
The Holdovers (Alexander Payne). Set in Vermont in the early 1970s, The Holdovers follows a grumpy high school teacher played by Paul Giamatti who is asked to look after students who can’t return home for the Christmas season. Here he meets a teenage boy who has recently lost his father. The film, which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in August, was embraced by critics, with the actors in particular being in with a chance of a nomination.
The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer). Ten years after his disturbing masterpiece Under the Skin, Jonathan Glazer is finally returning to feature filmmaking. The film, based on the novel of the same name by Martin Amis (the author died the day after its Cannes premiere), follows the family life of the Auschwitz commandant. It’s a low-budget indie film, but we can imagine it in the Best Film or Best Director categories.