Remember These 8 Worthy Pre-Oscar Season Contenders
Don’t forget these award worthy contenders come Oscar season!
With fall film festival season underway this month and ushering in the beginning the Oscar chatter, many high quality movies that opened during the first two-thirds of the year can be overlooked. Up until recently, the first half of the year is no longer an Oscar wasteland. Tings have changed thanks to multiple Academy Award wins for movies like “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” If any movies from the first half of the year will receive multiple technical nominations, it could be Jon Favreau’s “The Jungle Book.”
With that being said, here are some movies that deserve serious awards consideration in a variety of categories:
Best Supporting Actor: John Goodman in “10 Cloverfield Lane”
Though Alden Ehrenreich would more likely receive a nomination for his work in the Coen’s golden era Hollywood in for his charming, scene stealing breakout in “Hail, Caesar!,” anyone can admit that John Goodman deserves serious consideration for his work in the science fiction thriller. Mr. Goodman’s performance is just as surprising as the out of nowhere movie which was announced weeks before release and made a nice chunk of change at the domestic box office ($70 million). Goodman channels serious paranoia, raw and goofy among the dire circumstances of his situations. Like a great supporting performance, you want to know what he is up to when he isn’t on screen.
Best Actress: Anna Gunn in “Equity”
Bryan Cranston might earn his second Best Actor nomination in a row with “Wakefield,” but his”Breaking Bad” co-star Anna Gunn delivers a terrific performance as a senior investment banker dealing with launching an IPO for a social media start up while confronting corporate finance sexism. She navigates the complexity of the ensuing drama with such simplistic confidence. Smart, sexy, and sophisticated, the focused performance from Anna Gunn is the rock solid core of the business drama that critiques the gender politics of the boys club mentality immersed in corporate finance. Why not invest in strong female characters with awards nominations?
Best Original Screenplay: “The Lobster”
A24 has such an array of top notch movies together, “The Lobster” is one of their truly original releases (though the same thing could be said for the even more bizarre “Swiss Army Man.”) In this dark, witty, and bruising sci-fi satire about singleness and societies obsession with finding love, people are turned into an animal if they don’t find a partner by a certain age critiquing the fascist oppression of coupling. Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou’s biting screenplay says so much about relationships.
Best Cinematography: “Songs My Brother Taught Me”
The luminous cinematography in the little seen and poignant Native American drama “Songs My Brother Taught Me” set on a South Dakota reservation. Joshua James Richards has countless perfectly framed shots that recall a Terrance Malick type of influence. Thankfully their our creative shots that showcase true originality. I technically watched this stirring and spiritually infused film last year yet still recall quite a few scenes. In a perfect world, those lasting impressions of the vivid imagery should garner Mr. Richards Oscar’s attention.
Best Editing: “OJ Made In America”
This category has an anti-doc bias. ESPN’s “OJ Made In America” will likely be a serious Best Documentary Feature thanks to its one week NY and LA theatrical run before its television debut. The comprehensive editing work of Bret Granato, Maya Mumma, and Ben Sozanski will them additional respect among the doc world. Culling the completed shot footage must have been daunting, but the precise cuts between interviews, vintage images, and archival footage was perfect. The weaving of numerous, interconnected thematic elements that conveyed intellectual and emotional stimulation complimented what was on screen. Even though the finished work is the award in itself, an Oscar would be the cherry on top.
Best Documentary: “Zero Days”
Best Documentary Feature category is usually a hot mess where biases and self-congratulation take precedence over merit. (This is even worse here than other Oscar categories.) Often true works of art can shine through, but all bets are off in what will get nominated. I expect “Weiner” and “Life, Animated” to make the cut. Alex Gibney’s revealing and wonky look at the birth of modern cyber warfare is a stark warning to the future of civilization and deserves to be shortlisted into the final eligible 15 docs.
Best Costumes: “The Witch”
Many superficial fantasy and old fashioned epics will be nominated in this category next year. I cannot think of a movie with more seamless authentic wardrobes than the costumes in the indie horror breakout “The Witch.” The directing and cinematography were exceptional, but Linda Muir crafted hand made linens which were historically accurate for the 17th century American setting has the best chance to earn an well deserved Oscar nomination.
Best Original Song: “Drive It Like You Stole It” from “Sing Street.”
In what might seem like an shoo-in for the song category, no one knows anything especially when the terrible Sam Smith 007 song recently won the Oscar. Many popular songs will be in contention including Shakira’s “Try Anything” from “Zootopia” and Justin Timberlake’s popular “Can’t Stop This Feeling” from “Trolls.” Weinstein, ditch the Adam Levine ballad and campaign for the catchy “Drive It Like You Stole It” instead. You have a potential cult tune on your hands. Work to give it the Oscar nomination it deserves.