Oscars Notice: The Eve of Venice, Telluride, and Toronto

The start of the fall film festivals, commonly known as the “Big 3”, marks the official beginning of a brand new Oscars season. With the upcoming slate of galas, presentations, and private screenings, studios will be jockeying for position with their most prestigious of films considered for awards potential. 

While some Oscar-worthy films have already landed, most recently Spike Lee’s return-to-form BlacKkKlansman, the bulk of the awards heavyweights make their mark on the fall festival circuit. That being said, here are the four films from this upcoming circuit that have the greatest of awards potential. 

Note: These are my personal top 4 films to watch for and many will be left out. 

First Man

Why I think it’s a top contender: The La La Land duo is back for more. Director Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling could prove once again to be a winning team. A film based on historical events about an American icon is, on paper, a slam dunk for these two. For the moment, I’m looking at First Man much in the same way I looked at Dunkirk last year. Tech-heavy period pieces. Impossible achievements. Gripping, on-the-edge-of-your-seat thrill rides. I expect this film to be just as competitive, if not more so, in the top flight and below-the-line Oscar categories this year.

Plot Summary: The riveting story of NASA’s mission to land a man on the moon, focusing on Neil Armstrong and the years 1961-1969. A visceral, first-person account, based on the book by James R. Hansen, the movie will explore the sacrifices and the cost—on Armstrong and on the nation—of one of the most dangerous missions in history. (Courtesy: Universal Pictures)

Stars: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler, and Corey Stoll

Awards Potential: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, plus a boatload of techs.

A Star is Born

Why I think it’s a top contender: No other film can compete with the star power that this film possesses. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga take on a classic musical-oriented story. What’s not to like about this one? If the chemistry between the two stars is as simmering as it appears, then it will not only do tremendous box office numbers, but also be competitive at the Oscars.

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Plot Summary: In this new take on the tragic love story, he plays seasoned musician Jackson Maine, who discovers—and falls in love with—struggling artist Ally (Gaga). She has just about given up on her dream to make it big as a singer… until Jack coaxes her into the spotlight. But even as Ally’s career takes off, the personal side of their relationship is breaking down, as Jack fights an ongoing battle with his own internal demons. (Courtesy: Warners Bros. Pictures)

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliot, Dave Chappelle, and Andrew Dice Clay

Awards Potential: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress/Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Score, and Song.

Roma

Why I think it’s a top contender: This film is being deemed as Alfonso Cuaron’s most personal film and it could also be one of the timeliest of this Oscar season. An arthouse film on a grand scale, shot on 70mm film stock. This could be the makings of something special. Netflix is hungry for awards attention. They want a seat at the table and they’ll do anything to get there. If this turns out to be as good as I think, Cuaron will hand-deliver that seat to Netflix.

Plot Summary: Set in Mexico City in the early 1970’s. The story centers around a middle-class family held together by a domestic worker (Yalitza Aparicio) over the course of a life-changing year. The worker, Cleo, and the family’s matriarch, Sofia (Marina de Tavira), wrestle with changes in the family home while Mexico braces for a confrontation between the government-backed militia and student demonstrators. (Courtesy: Netflix)

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Stars: Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira

Awards Potential: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Screenplay, a boatload of techs.

The Favourite

Why I think it’s a top contender: Yorgos Lanthimos makes some wild, unique, and weird pictures. This isn’t always a plus, as weird doesn’t always play well with the Academy. But with this one, Lanthimos could have a change in fortune. The performances from the leading women of this film look spectacular and what we often see is that an actor-driven film is often a good omen. The production design and story look magnificent as well.

Plot Summary: Early 18th century.  England is at war with the French.  Nevertheless, duck racing and pineapple eating are thriving.  A frail Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) occupies the throne and her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) governs the country in her stead while tending to Anne’s ill health and mercurial temper.  When a new servant Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives, her charm endears her to Sarah.  Sarah takes Abigail under her wing and Abigail sees a chance at return to her aristocratic roots.  As the politics of war become quite time consuming for Sarah, Abigail steps into the breach to fill in as the Queen’s companion.  Their burgeoning friendship gives her a chance to fulfil her ambitions and she will not let woman, man, politics or rabbit stand in her way. (Courtesy: Fox Searchlight)

Stars: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, and Nicholas Hoult

Awards Potential: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Multiple Supporting Acress, Best Original Screenplay.

These are my four films to watch out for during the 2018 fall festival run. Let’s wait and see if these films falter and others rise to the surface.

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