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Picture, Director, Screenplays ~ April Foolish Oscar Predix

by Nathaniel R

I've been rubbing my crystal ball vigorously backstage to bring you the new Oscar charts. Everything is up but the acting now Let's discuss our way too early April guesswork in these categories: PICTURE and DIRECTOR and SCREENPLAYS. Thoughts? Objections? Applause?

Which 2017 releases will Oscar voters fall hard for?

Perfect on paper
Looks right on paper for major Oscar love doesn't always translate to the real thing but I've fallen for the chances of this year's World War II dramas from Chris Nolan (Dunkirk) and Joe Wright (Darkest Hour). Curiously, though both men have helmed Best Picture nominees in the past, neither have been nominated for Best Director yet. So strange but I'm predicting both of them to get in. I'm also predicting Get Out to score a Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Film Editing nods. That might sound crazy but I don't think it is. As I've often said genre pictures need time with awards bodies to cement their worth. Jump in your time machine and I'll bet you people are still talking in glowing terms about Get Out in December and everyone starts rooting for its Oscar nomination because they've accepted that it's special...

The Wildcard Risk
Let's imagine that Yorgos Lanthimos, who has steadily been building a devout fanbase and has already been nominated in the foreign film category (Dogtooth) and for screenplay (The Lobster), breaks through to regular old Oscar love with his newest, The Killing of a Sacred Deer. This is probably an insane call but it's fun to play with such possibilities... and if they come to pass you get brownie points since most pundits will only ever pick prestige safe subjects this early.

You'll see I'm slightly hesistant on Mudbound (though I'm predicting it in a few categories) and Call Me By Your Name (predicting it in one), arguably the two biggest titles from Sundance. In Mudbound's case I'm worried about how Netflix will handle it. Color us surprised that they went with Netflix in the bidding war since Oscar play was reportedly very much on their agenda. Netflix hasn't shown any skill, or rather any true desire to play the theatrical game that's necessary for Oscar love. In Call Me By Your Name's case, I think Moonlight may have confused people as to Oscar's tolerance for gay pictures. Moonlight, for its considerable brilliance, was not overtly sexual which was surely a factor in how well it did with Oscar voters who are known to be a bit antsy around gay content. 

I'm also unconvinced that we'll see Spielberg's The Post this year despite its fast-tracking and my hunch is that Paul Thomas Anderson's untitled drama, George Clooney's Suburbicon, Alexander Payne's Downsizing, and Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled aren't big Oscar deals despite all of those filmmakers being big deals in general ... do not mistake this for assuming that they're bad. I am not. But you can't be nominated every time out unless your name is Meryl Streep. On all counts I could be very very wrong but that's the fun of the punditry game this far in advance. You have to make bold calls because there are only 5 nominees (*shut up Best Picture*) in each category!


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Reader Comments (26)

I don't know if I've done enough good to deserve a director lineup that includes Haynes, Bigelow and Lanthimos. Just saying.

April 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I miss posterized!

April 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue


April 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterErik Anderson

Here's my 10 wide guess for Best Picture:

What it would be if 5:

The Greatest Showman
Baby Driver (For a filmmaker to have gotten to this rarefied qualitative position (seriously, if you're into his rhythms, Edgar Wright is now at the Hitchcock/Spielberg/Kurosawa level, where he'll be a legend, even if he releases NOTHING ELSE) and have 0 Oscar nominations for any of his films? Insane. There are definitely critics who will use their growing fury over that to try to push this into the race in a big way.)
If 6:
If 7:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Remember, Fury Road (which was not the most 100% serious for realy-reals (weighty themes contrasted with "guy with flame-thrower guitar") movie in the world) was probably a 6-10 competitor, in spite of how many tech wins it racked up. Can't entirely discount this pulling something similar, especially since we should know the MCU is far more likely to draw first BP blood right now than anyone else in the genre.)
If 8:
Murder on the Orient Express
If 9:
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (Even if the Wonder Woman movie isn't good, we've definitely earned a film version of her creation backstory, which is pretty much the wildest in all of superhero comics. This is the year's "most interesting biopic", on paper.)
If 10:
Spider-Man: Homecoming or Get Out

7 Other Maybes:

Cars 3
Untitled PT Anderson Project
(if it comes out this year) The Post
Dunkirk (The Dark Knight Rises and Interstellar back to back puts Nolan more behind the eight-ball than you're thinking. This has to be truly great, not just good for a prestige war film, to cut through those disappointments.)

Absolutely don't buy:

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (The Lobster was screenwriters nominating a script for a level of uniqueness far beyond the quality/craft displayed and buyers remorse could happen fairly easily, and I'm not sure he's the kind of talent that would interest non-writers.)
The Current War (Edison vs. Tesla would have been a great central focus for a film. Edison vs. Westinghouse is probably going to bore everyone to tears. Even for a semi-empty biopic nomination, the Marston movie is probably going to draw more interest/ink. On paper, the only thing I'd count on is MAYBE a Supporting Actor citation for Nicholas Hoult (TESLA, baby!), to memorialize what the central focus of the movie should have been.)
Breathe (Produced by the son of the subject and written by the past his prime William Nicholson. This is likely to be a glossy to the point of pain romanticization of the central subject.)

April 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Why isn't Jake Gyllenhaal's Stronger in the running anywhere?

April 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRoberto

I really think you are underestimating Call Me by Your Name. There is genuine excitement about it and I truly feel it could do Brokeback box office. And what I'm seeing is real anticipation among young adult women which could make it a surprise hit. Top that with the rapturous reviews, I think we have a time capsule love story in the pipeline and I cannot wait til November to see it.

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterHepwa

TGShowman will be the GG Musical/Globe Juggernaut this year.

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordon

I think Get Out can make Original Screenplay along with maybe Best Picture, given its timely depiction of racism and how it has the right ingredients: near perfect Rotten Tomatoes score and playing like gangbusters at the box office. If it gets the right campaign, it should be in good shape.

I also think predicting The Post does feel too easy. Sure, it has Spielberg, Hanks, and Streep. But that doesn't automatically mean it's going to be a major Oscar player. Just ask the makers of Nine, J. Edgar, and Diana. People automatically assumed they would be Oscar players until people actually saw them.

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMatt St.Clair

Matt St. Clair: Could Get Out make it? Screenplay is at least highly probable, but beyond that, I'm calling that it's dicey at best. It IS still genre, and, kind of unfortunately, there's TWO other genre things this year (Baby Driver for Edgar Wright and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (bonus: Not hooked into the broader MCU experiment yet, so you really only need to re-watch the first movie to understand the sequel) for Marvel Studios/Marvel Cinematic Universe, in order of likelihood/level of justification) that have the "overdue for Best Picture Nomination" card in their deck. That could suck too much air out of the room for Get Out to get in. (Pun totally intended.)

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

@Volvagia: I *highly* doubt "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" will have a shot. The original didn't make a splash save for two tech nominations. Even if the sequel is as good or even better than the original, I doubt it's gonna make it. I personally like and enjoy the MCU just fine but even I don't think anyone in the Academy thinks they owe it a Best Picture nomination.

I think if there's a genre film that COULD be a Best Picture nominee, it could very well be "Blade Runner 2049". The trailers have been promising. The original's reputation has grown in stature over the years. It's directed by Denis Villenueve broke through this year with "Arrival" so he has some respect and cache. If it gets rave reviews, I think it can "Mad Max: Fury Road" its way in quite easily.

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

Love the April Fools post as always! Here's my foolish prediction for top 8 for BP ---

Greatest Showman
The Post
Glass Castle
PT Anderson
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterT-Bone

LMFAO Volvagia. You usually predict the craziest and some ridiculous things (Like Leslie Mann for "This is 40" or Chris Pratt for "Guardians of the Galaxy") even when these things never happen. And even when we're on December/January. But somehow, it's interesting that belief.

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

Irvin: First off, I notice you didn't say anything about my call on Baby Driver. As I figured in my full 10 guess, the righteous fury might be brewing. Also: Batman Begins to The Dark Knight (1 nomination to 8 under the old system) and The Terminator to T2 (0 nominations to 6 under the old system) have similar trajectories, so it's not without precedent. And as far as Blade Runner 2049? So long as the twist isn't unconscionably stupid/crypto-racist, it could at least be in the race.

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Does Dunkirk have a plot? Every description of the movie I've read sounds incredibly tedious, and the trailer makes it look tedious. What's more, given that it's Nolan, I'm assuming it's 2 1/2 hours or longer. It could definitely try people's patience (and by people, I mean me).

Marti Noxon, who wrote The Glass Castle, is a rather mediocre TV writer who has bounced from show to show for decades. Yes, she has written for good shows (like Mad Men, for a season) but I'd still be surprised if she were Oscar-nominated - or if the movie is very good.

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Sorry for the double post, but how about Aaron Sorkin in the adapted screenplay predictions for Molly's Game?

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I could see Lanthimos being the sole Best Director nod without a Best Picture nomination. It depends on the reaction to the new film. And by that I mean if people go nuts for it like they did for Dogtooth, it could sneak in for Best Picture, too.

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Anonymous: I'm trying to be smarter but still optimistic, at least until the films come out. My "outside the box guesses" this year are "Get some Oscar noms for an Edgar Wright production" (seriously, 0 nominations for ANY of the movies he's made?), "The MCU is well overdue to be in a 6-10 Best PICTURE roster" (hi The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Solider and original Guardians, what did you get passed over for...ooh, Life of Pi, American Sniper and The Theory of Everything, all of which should have gotten ONLY tech or acting nods) and "Ooh, a William Moulton Marston biopic out the same year as the Wonder Woman movie, why does no one seem to care?"

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

volvagia -- honestly i don't think anyone knows about this Marston biopic. It's also from a director and actors who don't have "oscar presence" if you will... and without clear release date or distribution plans.

nevertheless it does sound like it could be interesting.

April 17, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I think Haneke could pull a Farhadi and win foreign film again, with additional screenplay and maybe directing noms. The topic is hot button and there may be residual Huppert good will.

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

@Volvagia "As I figured in my full 10 guess, the righteous fury might be brewing. Also: Batman Begins to The Dark Knight (1 nomination to 8 under the old system) and The Terminator to T2 (0 nominations to 6 under the old system) have similar trajectories, so it's not without precedent. " // "The Dark Knight" had extenuating circumstances: Heath Ledger's untimely death probably added a bit more oomph to the proceedings. As far as the comparisons to "T2", well, NOTHING in the trailers suggest that it's anything so great that it would be running for Best Picture. I could be wrong and you could be right.....but I seriously, SERIOUSLY doubt it. Don't get me wrong. I'm looking forward to it. I think it looks fun. But Best Picture? Please. "Mad Max: Fury Road" had critics showering it with praise to the high heavens in order for it to make a dent, calling it a MASTERPIECE.

Your speculation that the Academy is ACHING to give Marvel its due is simply your wild imagination. I see nothing that suggests that. Again, for a Marvel movie to make a play for Picture, they need to be so good, there's non-fan boy passion behind it. I enjoy the Marvel movies a lot. But none of them are in my Top 10 of the year.

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

Kris Tapley recently saw Ghost Story and said it was a masterpiece. I don't know if everyone just had too much of Casey Affleck but I wonder if that movie will pop through the field of contenders.

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

-Suzanne, Marti Noxon is also responsible for the most divisive season of Buffy (season six). But that was actually an awesome season.

-Goodbye Christopher Robin seems like mediocre oscar bait, but Frank Cottrell Boyce is the screenwriter and I like much of his work, even the work that falls into that genre. And frankly, the end of Winnie the Pooh makes me cry every time, so...

-I'm VERY curious about the Snowman. The creative team is fantastic and really intriguing.

-The Reader is to Kate Winslet what Dunkirk will be to Christopher Nolan.

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Seriously underestimating The Post...

April 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Irvin: You quoted parts of my analysis on two different movies. The righteous fury part is for Baby Driver. Even I'm not stupid enough to assign THAT much passion for any prior Marvel movie. Read more carefully.

April 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

There might be a small percentage of Academy voters who might conceivably vote for Guardians. But this year you also have Thor Ragnorok, also a wacky space adventure with a cool director, that seems to be hitting very similar notes. Both films will have to settle for a couple of tech noms each. If any superhero movie could get into the top categories this year, it's probably Logan. It's distinctive, it's adult-oriented, it's a tear-jerker and a smart campaign would emphasize how it's a movie about helping an immigrant in a very Trump-y dystopia, giving it a bit of weight.

Baby Driver, we'll see. My instinct is a Wright film gets in for Editing before it gets into Best Picture. When the Academy shown no passion for a director before it typically takes a more consciously baity film before they fall for them in a Best Picture sort of way (see how Fincher got almost nothing until Benjamin Button).

The genre film other than Get Out I find myself rooting for most for Best Picture is The Shape of Water. Del Toro hasn't been in top form recently, but the fact Shape of Water seems to be more of its own thing rather than the direct genre recreations of his past two films makes me hope he might finally capture that Pan's Labyrinth magic again.

April 18, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRubi

no love for Lost City of Z or James Gray or the amazing technical achievements (Cinematography, Production Design, Costumes, Hair/Makeup)??

Surely between Amazon and Plan B they will give this film the proper awards dog and pony show in the fall to remind everyone of its unique achievement in today's market place right?

April 18, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterlost city

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