Oscar Buzz: Who’s In The Running?

December 28th, 2018Oscar Buzz: Who’s In The Running?

The year is almost over, but that means awards season is in full swing. The Oscar nominations won’t be announced until January 22. It’s never too early, however, to start predicting which films might be nominated, and which could win. 

Many factors play into Oscar nominations, beyond how worthy any one film might be. There are guild awards, like the Producer’s Guild, the Director’s Guild, and the Screen Actors Guild. Only that last one has announced their own nominations already. And Oscar nomination voting doesn’t even begin until after the Golden Globes, which are handed out on January 6. So no matter how things look now, it could all change.

Let’s look at the big Oscar buzz so far — and in so doing look back at a whole crop of the best films of 2018. Many of these are still in theaters, so it’s not too late to catch up!

A Star Is Born

[Credit: Warner Bros.]

Bradley Cooper made his directorial debut with this remake, and he’s probably going to get a Best Director nomination for his efforts. And A STAR IS BORN is one of the strongest challengers in the Best Picture race. Finally, it will almost certainly set up a Best Actress nomination for Lady Gaga, who plays Ally, the singer discovered in a drag bar by Cooper’s character — and who becomes a massive star almost overnight.

Black Panther

[Credit: Marvel Studios]

Comic book movies are rare Oscar contenders outside technical categories that honor effects, sound, and editing. BLACK PANTHER did so much in 2018 that we would be surprised if it didn’t end up with a Best Picture nomination. A Best Director nomination also seems pretty likely for filmmaker Ryan Coogler, which is something worth celebrating.

Bohemian Rhapsody

[Credit: 20th Century Fox]

People really like this Queen biopic, and a couple of Screen Actors Guild nominations turned it into a stronger-than-expected awards contender. We wouldn’t be shocked if BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY landed in the Best Picture nomination list. Even more likely is Rami Malek scoring a Best Actor nomination. 

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

[Fox Searchlight Pictures]

Melissa McCarthy’s extraordinary work, in the lead role of this true story about a struggling writer who begins to forge letters from deceased authors, is the stuff Best Actress awards are made of. There are a lot of strong contenders for that award this year, but Oscar voters do love a comedian who succeeds in a drama. Richard E. Grant was nominated by SAG as Best Supporting Actor, and he’s a very probably Oscar contender as well. 

Eighth Grade

[Credit: A24]

Bo Burnham’s directorial debut is a relatively small movie compared to some of the major Oscar contenders, but it packs such an emotional punch that ignoring it would be a mistake. Best Original Screenplay seems like the best bet for EIGHTH GRADE, but it could be a contender in other categories, too.

The Favourite

[Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures]

This court drama could easily see a well-deserved Best Actress nomination for Olivia Colman, who plays Queen Anne of England. Rachel Weisz, who plays her right-hand woman, Sarah Churchill, and Emma Stone, as Abigail Hill, who strolls into the court covered in mud and quickly becomes a person of power, are both great Best Supporting Actress contenders. This dynamic movie is a likely Best Picture nominee, and Yorgos Lanthimos could easily end up with a Best Director nomination. 

First Man

[Credit: Universal Pictures]

Damien Chazelle’s last dance at the Oscars was pretty crazy — his 2016 film LA LA LAND won six Oscars, including Best Director for Chazelle. It was the phantom Best Picture winner in the “envelopegate” snafu that ultimately revealed MOONLIGHT as the actual winner. Now Chazelle’s new movie about Neil Armstrong and the first manned mission to the moon is a certain contender for several awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay. 

First Reformed

[Credit: A24]

In a just and perfect world Paul Schrader’s film would be a shoo-in for several nominations, from Best Picture to Best Director, Original Screenplay, and Best Actor. Ethan Hawke shines as a pastor struggling with a variety of problems in his small parish and personal life — and the Best Actor nod isn’t out of the question for him. But in all the other categories FIRST REFORMED might be too dark and serious to capture the imaginations of Oscar voters.  

Green Book

[Credit: Universal Pictures]

The interplay between Viggo Mortensen, as a racist New York bouncer, and Mahershala Ali, as a musician who needs a driver for a tour through the American South in the ‘60s, is primo Oscar material. Both men are easy candidates for Best Actor nominations, while director Peter Farrelly could maybe squeak in as a Best Director nominee. And while GREEN BOOK isn’t likely to win Best Picture, it could easily be on the nomination list.

Mary Poppins Returns

[Credit: Disney]

A musical like this has an almost guaranteed Oscar inroad thanks to the Best Original Song category. (Not to be too cynical, but one reason the film has all-new songs is that re-using classic MARY POPPINS songs would have reduced its Oscar chances.) Emily Blunt could also show up on the Best Actress nomination list. 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

[Credit: Sony Pictures]

Reactions to this animated film are so good that a Best Animated Film nomination seems like a foregone conclusion. At this point, SPIDER-VERSE could easily take home the statue. Squeezing into other categories, such as Best Director, seems unlikely, especially since SPIDER-VERSE has multiple directors and the breakdown of those duties might be too complicated for a nomination.

Vice

[Credit: Annapurna Pictures]

It’s kind of an outsider right now, especially since the first wave of reviews was mixed. But Adam McKay’s angry, vibrant, and every entertaining Dick Cheney biopic still has plenty of Oscar juice. Christian Bale will certainly get a Best Actor nomination, and there would be precisely zero surprise if he won his second Oscar. (His first win was for Best Supporting Actor, in THE FIGHTER.) Can VICE go further than that? It’s a risk-taking movie, so we’ll never say never.

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