• James Kunovski

Possible 2022 Oscar Nominees, Ranked By *My* Interest

The 2022 Oscars are well among us. While most prognosticators busy themselves ranking each film or actor’s likelihood of nomination, this guy is drawing an hierarchy on a more distinguished level — pure hype. After a peculiar season that wholeheartedly favoured independent and mid-level budget cinema, 2022 feels like a return to commercial form. New films from Guillermo del Toro, Ridley Scott, Denis Villeneuve, Paul Thomas Anderson and Jane Campion pepper this crammed slate. Which films am I most excited to see, or not, and where could these buzzing works potentially find themselves nominated?

*release dates pertain to the United States

41. A Journal for Jordan dir, Denzel Washington

Photo: okmagazine.com

Washington continues his directing career with an adaptation of Dana Canedy’s memoir on love, loss and the Iraq War. Michael B. Jordan, long overdue for a first nomination, stars in the lead. Though I have pause, A Journal for Jordan, with its simultaneously sentimental and politically drenched underlying leans awfully close to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close territory.

Releasing December 10 in theatres

40. Canterbury Glass dir, David O. Russell

Photo: MEGA

David O. Russell’s first film in six years might follow the path of The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle. They received a combined twenty-five nominations. If the Academy were to honour this period comedy about a doctor and lawyer’s unlikely partnership, based on past adulation, one gets the clue that they go all in, or completely ignore it. The cast, which includes Christian Bale, John David Washington, Margot Robbie, Rami Malek and Anya Taylor-Joy is an endless showcase of A-listers. But it begs the question, is anyone pumped for the return of O. Russell, an allegedly abusive director with a track record of choppy films that nevertheless, Oscar voters adore?

Release date TBD

39. King Richard dir, Reinaldo Marcus Green

Photo: Backgrid

Will Smith could secure his first Oscar nomination since 2006’s The Pursuit of Happyness for his portrayal of Richard Williams, the father and coach of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams. A sports biography opens the doors for meaty monologues, athleticism and physicality. A topic I never thought could be made into a film but also one I know little about. Hopefully this doesn’t turn into another Will Smith Oscar nomination that never was, like Concussion.

Releasing November 19 in theatres and on HBO Max

38. Three Thousand Years of Longing dir, George Miller

Photo: Backgrid/KHAPGG

George Miller’s newest genre diversion follows a lonely and bitter British woman who discovers a wish-granting Djinn on a trip to Istanbul. I’m getting a wrong amount of live-action Aladdin vibes. Miller has proven himself an auteur whose genre-defining films (Mad Max: Fury Road) can break into the Oscar field. Featuring Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba as the leads, Miller tries his turn with the buzzwords, ‘epic,’ ‘fantasy,’ and ‘romance.’

Release date TBD

37. Don’t Look Up dir, Adam McKay

Photo: Netflix

Even though McKay’s The Big Short and Vice made a splash at the Oscars, on the main stage, they were both polarising films. Maybe his jarring, controversial style will catch up to him with Don’t Look Up, a black comedy about two low-level astronomers who must warn mankind of an approaching fatal comet. I can already feel the satire. While the cast is astronomical, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and even Ariana Grande star, I still have a hard time predicting this as an Oscar contender. Only a watch can clear up why, or turn my logic against me.

Release date TBD on Netflix

36. Luca dir, Enrico Casarosa

This Pixar coming-of-age tale has an animated feature nomination written all over it. Set in the sunny Italian Riviera, we follow Luca, a sea monster (turned boy) whose underwater secret might interfere with the best summer of his childhood. Coinciding with a (northern hemisphere) summer release is the right choice. Pixar has shown that despite its excellence, their films can confidently be split into tiers. Last year’s Pixar nominees were Soul (A-level) and Onward (B-level). Where will Luca land? I’m mostly indifferent to this sentimental diversion until I read director Casarosa’s influences, from Fellini to Miyazaki.

Releasing June 18 on Disney+

35. The Brutalist dir, Brady Corbet

Photo: theplaylist.net

A superlative cast that includes Joel Edgerton, Marion Cotillard, Mark Rylance, Sebastian Stan & Vanessa Kirby, headline Corbet’s (Vox Lux) latest work on the postwar American dream and one Hungarian architect’s thirty-year masterpiece. Replace the American setting and The Brutalist feels like a guaranteed submission into the international feature field. With the right energy, Edgerton could earn his first Oscar nomination. That might rely on a specific angle — one of the tortured genius — which could be ignored on the count of subtlety.

Release date TBD

34. Vivo dir, Kirk DeMicco

Sony Animation is no stranger to a bad release (sorry for bringing up The Emoji Movie) but their catalogue still possesses a few golden nuggets like Oscar-winner Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and this year’s high-key crazy The Mitchells vs. the Machines. Vivo is ostensibly a vehicle for Lin-Manuel Miranda (one of several of the Hamilton creator’s 2021 projects) and even if this story about the power of music and friendships falls a little flat, how far can it fall with multi-hyphenate Miranda at helm.

Release date TBD on Netflix

33. The Last Duel dir, Ridley Scott

Photo: MEGA

One of two Ridley Scott’s 2021 films (other is House of Gucci) reeks of old-fashioned Oscar fanfare, on par with Gladiator and Braveheart. Scott’s Gladiator was a massive success, at the box office, and at the Oscars where it won five, including Best Picture. At the time, it felt like a throwback to the epics of yesteryear but that was also twenty years ago. In The Last Duel, which aims to combine revenge with drama and history, an eponymous duel between King Charles VI and Jean de Carrouges takes centre stage. Scott’s epic could appeal to an older voting bloc but at least he’s giving voters options.

Releasing October 15 in theatres

32. Belfast dir, Kenneth Branagh

Photo: Belfast Telegraph

Branagh, known for his Shakespearean and more recently, Agatha Christie escapades, writes and directs this semi-autobiographical work that examines Northern Ireland’s tumultuous 1960s through the exploits of a working class family, and their young son. The cast includes Oscar-winner Judi Dench, Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan and Ciarán Hinds. If Belfast sticks around voters’ memories, the film could not only sweep for its period craft but for Branagh whose writer/director effort in 1996’s Hamlet earned that film four nominations. I’m most excited for the possibility that he will infuse the proceedings with Shakespearean tragedy, and an epic, irresistible scope.

Releasing November 12 in theatres

31. The Survivor dir, Barry Levinson

Photo: BRON Studios/IMDb

The charm of Levinson’s Best Picture-winning Rain Man belongs firmly in the last century. Based on premise alone, his new film which stars Ben Foster and Vicky Krieps similarly overflows with stereotypical, bygone Oscar taste. The true story behind The Survivor, of Harry Haft, an Auschwitz survivor who used his high-profile boxing career to reunite with his first love, is obviously incredible — an adaptation seems like an obvious push for awards.

Release date TBD

30. Cry Macho dir, Clint Eastwood

Photo: IMDb/Warner

While the auteurs show up in force, an Academy bent on rewarding industry veterans will likely stumble upon Clint Eastwood’s Cry Macho. Eastwood’s Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby both won Best Picture. This time, he eyes more gold as Miko, a one-time rodeo star who is tasked with bringing an old boss’ son home. Eastwood might occasionally miss the mark but he’s also a ninety-year-old working in the film industry, and though the concept might be overdone, its release is a bittersweet blessing in disguise. Cry Macho shares its release date with Last Night in Soho and The French Dispatch. Stiff competition… Whether it shines through, or not, could set up its award chances.

Releasing October 22 in theatres and on HBO Max

29. No Time To Die dir, Cary Joji Fukunaga

Bond fans must be biting their fingernails every time a new announcement comes through for the highly anticipated, and frequently delayed, 25th Bond film. I’m not crazily excited, and although that trailer does look spicy, No Time To Die only feels like a reason to visit the cinemas with dad. Skyfall broke into five Oscar categories, winning two for Adele’s title song and its sound editing. No Time to Die might clinch a spot for Billie Eilish’s soft ballad title track, considering it has already won a Grammy.

Releasing October 8 in theatres

28. Being the Ricardos dir, Aaron Sorkin

Photo: Backgrid

I’m not sure who told Sorkin he should keep directing his scripts, alas, here we are again. At this stage, it has become entertaining to follow these projects and anticipate the obligatory writing Oscar nomination. Being the Ricardos stars Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz over a week of I Love Lucy production. Where do Sorkin’s snappy dialogue and these showbiz icons go hand-in-hand? Or, how does Nicole Kidman end up as Lucy when Debra Messing has proven she has the chops? Who knows, but that’s not enough for the Academy to deter away from Sorkin, and in a guilty sense, nor myself.

Release date TBD

27. The Power of the Dog dir, Jane Campion

Photo: IMDb/Film Affinity/Daniel Birchfield

A man wages war against his brother's new wife in Jane Campion’s Neflix release The Power of the Dog. Campion who won the 1994 writing Oscar for The Piano, directs Benedict Cumberbatch and the real-life couple Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons in this saga that hopefully upholds a similar adoration for New Zealand scenery. Maybe Dunst, who has surprisingly never been nominated for an Oscar can make her way into the game. Netflix is withholding the right amount of info and it’s working. I’m keen.

Release date TBD on Netflix

26. Passing dir, Rebecca Hall

Photo: Netflix

Ruth Negga managed to squeeze into the stacked 2017 Best Actress race for her performance as Mildred Loving in Loving. The film’s sole nomination, Negga could pull off something similar for Passing. Negga joins Tessa Thompson in this tale of two mixed-race childhood friends and the implications of identifying as African-American and “passing” as white. One of Sundance’s hottest titles, Passing has already gained a favourable critics reception (it holds an 84 on Metacritic). Concerning the Best Picture snub of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, Gene Siskel pointed out that the Academy only explores race relations when they’re viewed from a distance. That idea still rings true today — sure BlacKkKlansman was nominated for Best Picture but Green Book won. Academy response, or the lackof, will be telling. The story itself is biting, and Negga’s fawning over the source material makes Passing one of the more promising titles of latter year.

Release date TBD on Netflix

25. The Tragedy of Macbeth dir, Joel Coen

Photo: Alison Rosa, Mark Seliger

Usually I wouldn’t be too fussed about another Macbeth adaptation but naturally I’m sucked right back in when Joel Coen directs and Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand star. A black-and-white film that will be entirely shot on sound stages, Coen’s approach oozes with arthouse appeal while bizarrely ringing as a companion piece to Lars Von Trier’s Dogville. McDormand, who is coming off her third acting win, could be nominated for her turn as Lady Macbeth. A win would be historically record-tying. Trying to gauge whether that could happen has me more than engaged.

Release date TBD in theatres and on Apple TV+

24. Don’t Worry Darling dir, Olivia Wilde

Photo: Backgrid

A 1950s-set psychological thriller that uncovers the dark truth in a façade-driven era? Sign me up. Olivia Wilde directs her sophomore feature; Florence Pugh and Harry Styles lead. Handsome costumes and set aside, a gripping mood that explores more than one side could boost Don’t Worry Darling to the top of Oscar voters’ screeners. Just please don’t turn into another Suburbicon.

Release date TBD

23. Encanto dir, Byron Howard & Jared Bush

How can a thirty-second teaser which effectively shows butterflies and a mountaintop home have me so damn hooked? I can’t answer that specifically but I know that another Disney film which spotlights Latin American culture with original songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda is as exciting as it is refreshing. Encanto stars Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine & In the Heights) as Mirabel, a child who must call on her magical ancestry to protect her family’s abode. It might just follow in the steps of Coco and Frozen. That is, the animated film which wins its feature category and also dips its toes into the company of original song.

Releasing November 24 in theatres

22. The Humans dir, Stephen Karam

Photo: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

This year’s Oscars welcomed play adaptations The Father and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Each earned two awards. The Humans, based on the one-setting, one-act Tony Award-winning play of the same name follows a Thanksgiving dinner and an American family on the brink of collapse. I missed the Broadway run by a day, so I’m keen to see an adaptation. Single-setting play adaptations can be tricky to master — hopefully Karam subverts those restrictions and delivers something akin to The Father. Only then can Oscar success stay a mere short stop away, especially for Jayne Houdyshell who won the Tony and reprises her role.

Release date TBD

21. Tick, Tick… Boom! dir, Lin-Manuel Miranda

Although the wait is tangible for fans itching over Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut, Oscar consideration has mostly taken a back seat. Who knows where this musical about a theatre composer’s creative crisis at 30 will find itself appreciated but don’t discount it being swept up in this year’s redux LMM fever. Will Tick, Tick… Boom! attract the votes of independent circuits? Likely, but Miranda’s film, based on the late Jonathan Larson’s Off-Broadway hit, with Andrew Garfield and more than a few Broadway veterans already has my interest, with or without trophies.

Release date TBD in theatres and on Netflix

20. The Eyes of Tammy Faye dir, Michael Showalter

Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield star as Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker, the notorious televangelist couple in a film that guarantees to spotlight its performers. Garfield and Chastain, with their combined three nominations could be close to receiving renewed awards attention. Showalter’s film seems to herald Chastain who undergoes a hefty transformation. Faye was a mysteriously glamorous woman, of progressive morals, unlike her fellow evangelists, who was categorically lumped into her husband’s fraudulent affairs. Though there’s an option for camp (even RuPaul narrated the documentary of the same name) hopefully Tammy Faye explores the dark meat behind those sexist circumstances, and only then will it surpass shallow limitations.

Releasing on September 17 in theatres

19. A Hero dir, Asghar Farhadi

Photo: IMDb

Asghar Farhadi, one of Iran’s most accomplished and lauded directors makes his return to Persian cinema with A Hero. Though his film will soon premiere at Cannes and compete for the coveted Palme d’Or, not much is known about the plot. Either way, I’m hooked. Farhadi produces some of the most gripping and fundamental cinema. He has won the then-foreign-language film twice for A Separation (2011) and The Salesman (2016), two personal favourites. The directors branch is diversifying their nominations. There’s an expectation of at least one non-American director every year; we could see Farhadi for the first time. I’m not one for sympathy Oscars but let’s just consider that a collective correction.

Release date TBD

18. The Harder They Fall dir, The Bullitts (Jeymes Samuel)

Photo: Twitter/NetflixFilm

A Black Western that follows Old West Cowboy Nat Love’s vengeance, starring Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Lakeith Stanfield, Delroy Lindo and Regina King is, well you get the idea, an awaited film. Add that the Western hasn’t exactly faded from voters’ taste. Netflix’s News of the World, starring Tom Hanks as a Civil War veteran who aims to reconnect a girl with her family was a mostly stale affair that still garnered four nods.

Release date TBD on Netflix

17. The Many Saints of Newark dir, Alan Taylor

Photo: IMDb/Bauer Griffin

A feature-length spinoff to an acclaimed series is nothing new — successions to Deadwood and Breaking Bad received Emmy attention. What changes with The Sopranos’s prequel is the arena in which it is lauded. Can the 21-time Emmy winner become an Oscar frontrunner? Many Saints follows the 1967 Newark Riots and the tensions between the African-American and Italian-American communities, a young Tony Soprano (Michael Gandolfini) amongst them. Directed by television’s prolific Alan Taylor and co-written by series creator David Chase, Oscar love might just result in this prognosticator’s most arduous Oscar Death Race. Yes, I’ve never seen HBO’s hit but sometimes all you need in life is a little nudge.

Releasing September 24 in theatres and on HBO Max

16. Respect dir, Liesl Tommy

Hopefully an August release doesn’t hurt Jennifer Hudson’s Oscar chances. Hudson, a supporting actress winner for Dreamgirls, is the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin. Based on the trailer alone, Respect feels like it could transcend the music biopic which sits firmly in the Oscar threshold of ‘good performance, average movie.’ If Reneé Zellweger could win for Judy, no reason why Hudson can’t too.

Releasing August 13 in theatres

15. Spencer dir, Pablo Larraín

Photo: Neon

We get one TV show and a movie and people say we have too much Princess Diana content. There’s reasons to look forward to Spencer which scores Kristen Stewart as the revered Princess of Wales. Pablo Larraín, who directed Jackie, and led Natalie Portman to an Oscar nomination, will likely prioritise a similar arthouse dynamic (Anne Boleyn is even a character, which feels very telling). The whole Kristen Stewart can’t act nonsense is so last decade, and while Diana is no doubt a challenging role, the blissful karma of an Oscar nomination would be the ribbon on top of Stewart’s swelling idiosyncratic career.

Release date TBD

14. Dune dir, Denis Villeneuve

Villeneuve has built a reliable Oscar track record with Incendies, Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival and most recently with Blade Runner 2049. Even if Dune is left out of the Best Picture mix, unless voters go all out on mega-budget commerciality, Dune is likely to succeed in more than a few technical or craft categories. Costumes for the desert-toned designs, sound, score, visual effects, you get the gist. Though I get the feeling that this Dune will also be challenging, and polarising, that weirdly has me more excited than the more safe entries on this list.

Releasing October 1 in theatres and on HBO Max

13. Summer of Soul dir, Questlove

The Oscar’s documentary field remains wide open. Summer of Soul, “Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised” could cement itself as an early frontrunner. Directed by Questlove, this acclaimed doc unveils the abandoned footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival which spotlighted Black entertainment icons. Playing on the same summer as Woodstock, the six-week long festival took a backseat in subsequent pop culture. Splicing miraculous live footage with timely interviews, Summer of Soul contains a considerable power. Now, Academy don’t be scared by the archival footage.

Releasing July 2 via Hulu

12. Blonde dir, Andrew Dominik

Photo: Film Affinity

Michelle Williams was Oscar nominated for her turn as Marilyn Monroe in 2011’s My Week with Marilyn. Ana de Armas (Knives Out) stars as the immortalised Hollywood symbol in this fictionalised take on the bombshell’s life. Achieving Monroe without parodying the emblematic figure is both an actor’s dream and an unenviable task. Actors in the Academy may embrace de Armas for her exhausting commitment. So far, the reception is positive. Joyce Carol Oates who wrote the novel from which the film is based, said of a rough cut, “It is startling, brilliant [and] very disturbing.” Oates’ words have gone a long way in selling the film.

Release date TBD on Netflix

11. Flee dir, Jonas Poher Rasmussen

There are rumblings that Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Sundance-winning animated documentary could achieve a record-setting trio nomination for Animated Feature, International Film and Documentary Feature. Of course, achieving this is sort of unprecedented and an uphill battle *but* Collective and Honeyland, from the past two years, pulled off dual-nominations in Documentary Feature and International Film, and even that would have seemed unforeseeable a couple of years prior. Flee follows Amin, a refugee who shares his hidden past on the verge of marriage. Though I didn’t catch any Sundance premieres, they will probably be first available for me at the Sydney Film Festival in August. There, it will be on the top of my wish list.

Release date TBD

10. Mass dir, Fran Kranz

Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Bleecker Street, the distributor of this Sundance debut doesn’t have the best Oscar record, with their FYC campaigns often falling on deaf ears. Mass, which tells the story of a meeting between the parents of a shooting’s victim and perpetrator, could break into smaller award circuits like the Independent Spirit Awards but whether it can clinch Oscar gold remains the bigger question. Telling a vital and potent perspective, gushing praise for the quartet of performers, Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd and Reed Birney, could lead a few of them to a nomination. Mass would have likely seen nominations in this uncrowded year. Regardless, this sensitive film painfully reverberates.

Release date TBD

09. CODA dir, Sian Heder

Photo: Courtesy of Sundance Institute

CODA (standing for child of deaf adults) made the rounds at this year’s Sundance, ultimately setting the record for highest acquisition — Apple paid $25 million for the Grand Jury Prize winner. CODA which features Academy Award-winner Marlee Matlin (Children of a Lesser God) follows the only hearing member of a culturally deaf family torn between the family fishing business and her music dreams. Like Mass, at this year’s fortunate embrace of independent cinema, CODA would have likely joined the pack but it risks being shunted aside at the upcoming ceremony by emotional and financial heavy-hitters. The late summer release could damage chances but Apple would love a few Oscars under its belt. Luckily, they might dish out on the campaign too.

Releasing August 13 in theatres and on Apple TV+

08. West Side Story dir, Steven Spielberg

When it was announced that Spielberg was making his own West Side Story, I’m sure I sighed. Though the original 1961 film has its flaws, mostly by way of its questionable casting, it is still one of the most dynamic and timeless screen musicals. Though this teaser, with its crossing of Old Hollywood glory and the modern-day blockbuster, is hopeful. For those unfamiliar, West Side Story tells the Romeo and Juliet-esque story of Tony and Maria, two teenagers that despite affiliations with rival street gangs fall in love in 1950s New York City. The 1961 film scored ten Oscars. Ariana DeBose and David Alvarez could repeat the Oscar-winning performances of Rita Moreno and George Chakiris. Even Moreno returns. The Academy is rarely kind to remakes (only one, The Departed, has won Best Picture) but West Side Story, with its winter release and high expectations, could break the mould.

Releasing December 10 in theatres

07. Annette dir, Leos Carax

Bah bien sûr Annette, Leos Carax’s new film that feels tailor-made to festival interests will premiere at Cannes. Adam Driver and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard star in this Sparks-written musical about an artistic couple whose newborn daughter, Annette, changes the paths of their lives. The cinematography is gorgeous and the finishings are uber-stylised. Per Carax’s trajectory, if Annette is too alienating for mainstream audiences, perhaps it’ll find solace in the Academy’s niche. That outlook will be a challenge for Annette — anyway, it’s already captured the hearts of film Twitter.

Releasing August 20 via internet

06. The French Dispatch dir, Wes Anderson

Through delay after delay, thick and thin, Wes Anderson’s stunning “love letter to journalists” has maintained its bleep on filmgoers’ radars. Soon premiering at Cannes, that passion will likely be reinvigorated when the presses run. We’re in store for another visual feast, each still drenched in muted pastels and precise framing, plus an experience decked out with returning Oscar company. This feels like the right time to laud Anderson, especially on the level as his nine-time nominee, four-time Oscar winning The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Releasing October 22 in theatres

05. Last Night in Soho dir, Edgar Wright

While I sat there rewatching the now-deleted fifteen-second teaser an unhealthy amount of times, little did I know what loopy hell would be unleashed when they dropped this sleek and stylish trailer some days later. Wright’s foray into a psychological thriller might be too genre-bendy for some Oscar voters but it could also achieve what Black Swan pulled off some ten years ago. Last Night in Soho blends fashion with duality, ‘60s London and the fading present. Featuring Anya Taylor-Joy, who will surely be an Oscar nominee by thirty, this fall release has propped itself as an elevated contemporary companion to its lengthy list of influences. Don’t fail me now.

Releasing October 22 in theatres

04. In the Heights dir, Jon M. Chu

I’ve been prepared for this adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning Broadway musical for well over a year. A wait like that can tamper with the end result, so what are my expectations? I want something brassy, huge, unapologetic and something that isn’t afraid to be a little corny because it prioritises sharing its heart with a lively personality. So far as Oscars go, In the Heights could come close to a Best Picture nomination as could supporting player Olga Merediz. It would be a step in the right direction, and temporary reconciliation for Latin American representation, long neglected by the Academy.

Releasing June 10 in theatres and on HBO Max

03. House of Gucci dir, Ridley Scott

Photo: Lady Gaga/Instagram

Set photos for Ridley Scott’s other 2021 release are an enticing standalone entity. Round them up into the same film and you’ve got yourself a prize, something that’s glamorous, garish, camp and a little controversial. An alpine black-and-white fur/wool ensemble, Lady Gaga feeding Adam Driver and a bald Jared Leto (who definitely can’t hurt you) combine into this fact-based telling of Maurizio Gucci’s (Driver) murder by his ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga). If Scott can bring some Ryan Murphy American Crime Story energy to these proceedings, great, but please make it at least watchable. When you have Scott directing Lady Gaga and Adam Driver plus a glorious budget for hair, makeup and costumes, how can the Academy look away?

Releasing November 24 in theatres

02. Soggy Bottom dir, Paul Thomas Anderson

Photo: The Image Direct

PTA returns to the inner workings of the San Fernando Valley with Soggy Bottom, the Cooper Hoffman-led story of a successful child actor, and high school student, in the crazy ‘70s. Or will it be psychedelic, or idealistic or fresh? That’s what makes the mystery of this feature all the more promising. The release date sings harmonious songs of campaigning, and PTA, who after eight nominations is long overdue, could potentially slot into the directors race. For There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread, with their fourteen nominations, there’s also Inherent Vice and The Master, with five. Whether or not Soggy Bottom (new name would help) captures the adulation of each voting branch, or just a few, remains to be seen. Maybe you’re wondering if I only let awards inform my cinema-going but let it be said, Oscars or not, I’ll be catching the first matinée.

Releasing November 26 in theatres

01. Nightmare Alley dir, Guillermo del Toro

Photo: IMDb

Searchlight Pictures have become the unlikely 21st-century awards magnet. They hope to continue the path that led to the Best Picture-winning Slumdog Millionaire, 12 Years a Slave, Birdman, The Shape of Water, and Nomadland, with Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley. Del Toro’s first film since The Shape of Water follows a travelling charlatan carny (Bradley Cooper) who crosses paths with a psychologist (Cate Blanchett) more dangerous than he is. The studio knew exactly what they were doing when they released those stills, and sure, people ran with “Carol 2” but how incredible does it look. Just like The Shape of Water, with thirteen nominations, Nightmare Alley could enjoy across-the-board admiration, sliding into almost all eligible categories. I can already envision Searchlight’s juicy campaign, one that banks on Old Hollywood nostalgia, and appeals to the cinephile in the average Oscar voter.

Releasing December 3 in theatres