Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Looking Ahead Into Next Year's Oscars


The 89th Academy Awards are officially behind us. But as of right now, I'm sure the studios, publicists, etc., are already gearing up contenders for next year's Oscars. Here's a look into what the 90th Academy Awards could offer us.

Academy loves WWII films and this year offers up two WWII films that show plenty of promise. First off is Dunkirk by Christopher Nolan who looks to FINALLY get respect from his directing peers after getting ignored for Best Director thrice for Memento, The Dark Knight, and of course, Inception. Dunkirk will be a summer release so this could end up being Nolan's Saving Private Ryan. It also features Oscar club members Tom Hardy, Kenneth Branagh, and Mark Rylance.

The next film is the biopic Darkest Hour that stars Gary Oldman as the famed Winston Churchill and focuses on a crucial moment in his battle against Hitler in World War II. It also co-stars Emmy winner Ben Mendelsohn, Kristen Scott Thomas, the late great John Hurt, Lily James, and Stephen Dillane. The only potential handicap for Gary Oldman, and the film in general, is that John Lithgow is already collecting awards for playing the same role on the TV series The Crown. But if the picture has the right quality, it should still be able to make an impression.

Typically in the Oscar race, there are smaller, festival discoveries like our recent Best Picture Moonlight and Sundance favorite Whiplash. This year, we have Call Me By Your Name which got positive buzz out of Sundance and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. The film is based on a novel by Andre Aciman about an American teen living in Italy (Timothee Chalamet) who falls for an older student living at his family's house (Armie Hammer). Even though it has the likely critical backing, it could go the way of Moonlight or end up being another Carol. It is being co-written and co-produced by industry veteran James Ivory (Howard's End, The Remains Of The Day, A Room With A View, etc.). So his veteran status could earn the film at least an Adapted Screenplay nomination.

Another film that earned positive buzz out of Sundance is The Big Sick which was purchased by Amazon Studios and is being positioned for a June release. The film is based on the real-life courtship of Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon who wrote the screenplay and depicts how their respective families have embraced their relationship. Its cultural clashing storyline could easily make it this year's My Big Fat Greek Wedding. 

After missing out on a Directing nomination for Zero Dark Thirty, Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow looks to throw her hat back in the Oscar ring with the currently untitled film about the 1967 Detroit riots which boasts an impressive cast that includes Anthony Mackie, John Boyega, John Krasinski, Jack Reynor, Kaitlyn Dever, and Jason Mitchell.

As for other members of the Oscar club, Alexander Payne looks to make a return with sci-fi dramedy Downsizing that stars Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig as a couple that looks to shrink themselves down to a more utopian society only for the wife to back out at the last minute; Paul Thomas Anderson will reteam with Daniel Day-Lewis for an untitled film about the fashion industry in 1950's London; Aaron Sorkin will be making his directorial debut with Molly's Game which stars Jessica Chastain as an Olympian who stages a high-stakes poker game; Todd Haynes will make his return after his egregious Directing snub for Carol with Wonderstruck which stars Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams and is also based on a novel about two children from different time periods who choose to escape their humdrum lives.

After the success of La La Land, we will be getting another musical in the Oscar race with The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman as the founder of the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus P.T. Barnum. Jackman has proven himself a master at musicals so he could really do wonders with this film. He did already get nominated for another musical with Les Miserables. Can the same magic strike twice?

So that's a quick overview as to what next year's Oscars may have in store. Please be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section on what you think and throw in other films that you think might be in store as well. Thanks for reading!!