Oscars at a Glance: What Films Look to be Early Contenders?

Oscars Gold Trophy

Oscars Gold Trophy

A lot of people are looking ahead and trying to debate which films are looking forward to Oscar glory that we have nearly four months to wait until the 89th Academy Awards,I have always had a fascination with the competition aspect of the Oscars, yes, but also the celebration of film aspect that so many people overlook. That was the purpose of the original Academy Awards: to put a spotlight on the craft, actors, and films that deserved more attention. Nowadays it’s turned into an exclusive club that each year ushers in new members and determines who’s in the inner circles of Hollywood. Well, on that cheery note, I’ll go back to the beginning: I love the Oscars. I love the way they work with vetting five actors against each other, or five screenwriters, or up to ten films, and only one will come out with a trophy while the others at least get the stamp of being in the competition. So I decided that today I’ll look at the films that, at the moment, look to be in good shape to be nominated in a major or multiple categories.


La La Land


Right off the top, the film that a little over a month ago I said would become the early frontrunner is La La Land, and boy I might be right. Last year I picked Joy (2015) because of its star power and the overdue factor for director David O. Russell, but the latest from Damien Chazelle looks to be a major threat in almost every category. So obviously, yes, Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song, Sound Mixing and Editing, Art Direction, and Costume Design. Wow! More often than not, the big winners at the Oscars, like Birdman (2014), 12 Years a Slave (2013), Argo (2012), The Artist (2011), The King’s Speech (2010) and The Hurt Locker (2009), and this just names a few, have support from the acting, directors, and producers branches, yes, but also from the technical branches. A film like La La Land with phenomenal reviews and a lot of presence to it that also is a throwback to the musicals of the 50’s and 60’s might just be what Oscar voters are looking for this year.


Billy Lynn’s Lon Halftime Walk


We can never underestimate Ang Lee, and his most recent effort looks like a big-time contender in lots of races, like Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actress and Actor, Lead Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score, Film Editing, Visual Effects, and Sound Mixing and Editing. The trailer for the film was very moving and the film look excellent. I have high hopes for this one.


Manchester by the Sea


From Sundance on, this film has been near or at the top of everyone’s list for films to look out for this fall. With a cast like Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, and Lucas Hedges, it looks like a sure bet for Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor and Actress, Adapted Screenplay, and Film Editing. Being a more personal family drama doesn’t make it a frontrunner for more of the technical categories, but there’s always a chance for more categories to pop up.




Unlike Manchester by the Sea, this is a personal family drama that will incorporate more of the technical aspects because of its 1950’s setting. Directed by and starring Denzel Washington, Paramount has high hopes this will be a nominee in Picture, Director, Lead Actor and Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Costume Design, Art Direction, and Film Editing.




The newest from Martin Scorsese, and one of the more recent additions to the list of films coming out this December with Oscar on the mind, Silence has been eagerly awaited by film buffs for at least a couple of decades, and its a personal project for Scorsese. Right now some slots the film is hoping for are Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Original Score, Film Editing, Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. As we’ve seen, the Academy almost always makes room for Scorsese, and Silence looks to be no exception.


The Birth of a Nation


Sure, we’ve seen that films like Husbands and Wives (1992) have been hurt by personal scandals involving the actors or crew members, and with Nate Parker and his co-writer Jean McGianni Celestin being caught up in a scandal, those who touted it as the Best Picture winner last January have had to change their tune. Not saying it won’t be nominated in categories like Best Picture, Director, Lead Actor, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Film Editing, and Makeup, but it’s been known to hurt. The film is released this weekend, so if the film has a rally behind it from appreciative audiences, maybe it’ll catch its second wind.




The latest from Denis Villeneuve, whose last couple of projects, Sicario (2015) and Prisoners (2013) both found their way at the Oscars, looks like it could be his big break. From Best Picture, Director, Lead Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Visual Effects, and Original Score, Villeneuve may be celebrating the most nominations he’s had for one of his films so far in January.




One of many directors whose works are, in the eyes of many, under-appreciated is Jeff Nichols, and his most recent work, Loving, may be a contender in categories like Best Picture, Director, Lead Actor and Actress, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, Costume Design, and Art Direction.




Almost every year we have a film that just hits the heart, a film that doesn’t have a http://www.movie-blogger.com/oscars-glance-films-look-early-contenders/

whole lot of nominations but that really hits and makes it in for Best Picture. I think there’s a strong possibility that this year the film with that distinction will be Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight. Possibilities are there for nominations for Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, and Original Screenplay. I don’t see too many other possibilities for it, but it could be this year’s Brooklyn (2015) or Room (2015).




Another film that looks to be more of a dramatic and personal one is Lion, and while I haven’t heard too much buzz claiming its the film of the year, there are a few possibilities for the film like Best Picture, Lead Actor, Supporting Actress, and Adapted Screenplay.




Probably the only film I’ll mention today that everyone has had a chance to see, the box office success of Clint Eastwood’s newest may usher in a great result for the film. Nominations aren’t impossible for Best Picture, Director, Lead Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Editing, and Visual Effects. Since it did hit so early this year, we can’t ignore that it has a long road ahead to get all of these nominations.




Another late addition this year is Pablo Larrain’s Jackie with Natalie Portman. While most haven’t touted it yet to be a Best Picture nominee, I see it as a strong possibility along with Best Director, Lead Actress, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, and Makeup. This might be one that surprises us.


20th Century Women


One of the film that I haven’t kept tabs on too much is this one, but the more I look at it, the more I think this is another one that could slip in under the radar and wind up with nominations in Best Picture, Lead Actress, Supporting Actress for multiple contenders, Original Screenplay, Film Editing, Costume Design, and Art Direction.


Live by Night


Ben Affleck’s newest film has just been given the official green light to qualify for this year’s Academy Awards with a limited release Christmas Day and wider release in January, and after his snub for directing Argo, the Academy has an IOU for him. Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Art Direction, Costume Design, Sound Mixing and Editing and even Visual Effects aren’t out of the question. While a lot of people were split over the trailer, it might turn out to be one of the more nominated films.


Florence Foster Jenkins


We can never discount Meryl Streep when she has a worthy performance to be nominated for, and this is one of them. While for the moment we see all of the focus on her, there was a fair amount of buzz on her co-star Hugh Grant a little over a month ago. Having not seen the film yet, I can’t say if too many other aspects other than perhaps Costume Design are good bets as of yet.


The Founder


Originally intended for release in August, the film finally finds its way into theaters this December, and evidently the Weinsteins have a lot of confidence in it to move it to that prime a release time. Best Picture, Director, Lead Actor, Original Screenplay, Original Score, Film Editing, Art Direction, and Costume Design are all up for debate for the film’s Oscar chances.


Hell or High Water


Hey, here’s another one I’ve actually seen! A lot of the buzz on this one is for one of its actors, the great Jeff Bridges, who would celebrate his seventh Oscar nomination if he makes it for the film. While I think that’s the most recent buzz, him only, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being a dark horse to be nominated for Best Picture later this year.