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Best Picture / Director Oscar chart updates !

by Nathaniel R

Marriage Story would have been a true blockbuster like Kramer vs Kramer or Terms of Endearment in a different era. Now it will just stream but could still be a big player at the Oscars.

There’s still so much we don’t know.

That’s an important fact to start with because reading online discourse about Oscar predictions each year is like pretending we live in a perpetual January when the precursors are well underway and the template is already set which will only vary slightly from organization to organization/pundit to pundit. Oscar fanatics (and pundits) never know as much as they pretend to know early on. History is filled with films with breathless first screenings that didn’t amount to much at the Oscars and vice versa. These things take time and all parts of the cycle should be considered when making predictions. If your predictions are exactly the same as someone else's this early, take a risk. Then you can be wrong in different ways instead of in the same way. Haha.

Five Very Important Things We Don’t Yet Know...

Bombshell is one of the true wildcards in the race. No one has seen it. It could go either way

  1. What any of the precursors will do (other than the dates on which they will do it)
  2. Whether Netflix will be able to handle pushing about 4 or 5 movies hard (when they’ve only managed to make one film work with Oscar each year thus far in the high profile categories ... Mudbound then Roma)
  3. What critics and audiences will think of The Irishman, 1917, Dark Waters, Cats, Little Women, Queen & Slim, Star Wars Episode 9, and Bombshell.
  4. What audiences will think of everything --everything that isn't The Farewell or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, that is. Both of those films have already arrived and proven themselves legitimate contenders. Their challenge is different now...
  5. Will The Farewell and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (and to a lesser extent Us and Avengers) be able to muscle their way back into the conversation in a real way during voting when all of these shiny new films are playing?

Here are the updated Best Picture and Best Director charts.  

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Reader Comments (17)

I would just add The Two Popes ....

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRod

Nathaniel, why do I feel Dark Waters is going to blow this whole race wide open? Ruffalo is so overdue as is (obviously) Haynes.

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

As usual, thanks for all the work on this, Nathaniel. And, as usual, that comment precedes a small nitpicking...... :-)

Todd Phillips should also technically be a "Never nominated in this category", given he was Oscar-nominated for writing BORAT.

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterTravis C

If you think Marriage Story wouldve been a blockbuster in the '80s, why aren't you predicting Noah Baumbach for director?

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

Oscar likes the shiny new things in December so at least 2 or 3 of the unseens are going to be getting a few nominations.

Bombshell I have a feeling will be big and LW,maybe The Irishman has too much pedigree and hopes pinned on it,it will either have to be late Scorsese best it can't really be anything else.

I have 0 faith in Pacino and De Niro.

Marriage Story is the film to beat.

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

Thanks for mentioning Avengers in your article. It's a pleasant surprise to see it get a mention here, especially because I believe it has a pretty good chance of doing well in the Oscar race as long as people keep it in the conversation.

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRon Cruz

The excitement for Bombshell (besides Charlize and Lithgow, of course) kind of baffles me coming from people who despised Vice last year.

I mean, Vice got all the recent-history exposition and characterological mimicry just right, I think. Is there /so/ much more urgency around sexual harassment than there is around the dismantling of constitutional norms and the expansion of executive power? Besides, Jay Roach is the guy who gave us Trumbo, Meet the Fockers and the Austin Powers movies. That's the kind of snobbery that gets Adam McKay dragged every time he dares to make a movie.

Oscar loved Vice (one of the reasons I think Bombshell might be a contender) but the internet hated it! If Bombshell is as good as Vice I'll be satisfied...but it could easily be much worse.

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJF

I would give just about anything for that Joker prediction to not come true. Not because of the movie's quality or ideology (since I haven't seen it, though I'll admit I'm skeptical), but because we are only just crawling out of the post-Dark Knight "do it again, but grittier!"mindset that paralyzed studio movies for the last decade.

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJoe K

JF: Vice's big problem was that McKay doesn't really HAVE the instincts of a filmmaker. He has the instincts of a comedian. A darn good one, unlike Roach (who might be better at drama), but a comedian. The big example I come back to? Any good filmmaker (possibly INCLUDING Roach) doing the Cheney story would make A SEQUENCE (as in 5-10 minutes, just on that) out of the "shot a guy in a face thing". McKay? 30-45 seconds, at most. THAT is why Vice was mildly good AT BEST.

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

The Dark Waters trailer looks awful. Like a bad Soderbergh or worse.

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

No Hustlers, even after such a successful two weeks?

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterParker B

Parker B: Not speaking for Nat, but I kind of think most critics would choose Magic Mike as the better movie if they had to choose between Hustlers and Magic Mike as "quality". So, if the Academy didn't go in for Magic Mike across the board (a better movie that's also about MALE strippers), they're not going to go in for Hustlers across the board, lest they look like hypocritical perverts. A single nomination, at most, will be the reward.

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

JF - I was going to post the same thing.

Vice was filled with Oscar heavy-hitters like Bale, Adams, McKay, and Rockwell, whereas no one associated with Bombshell is that beloved with the Academy, so it made sense to predict it early. Maybe Robbie will prove to be, but if they want to nominate her this year, they will likely just nominate her for OUATIH. Kidman and Theron are in high-profile movies year after year and it doesn't happen for them, and Jay Roach has never been nominated - the sole nod for any of his films is that nomination for Trumbo, because actors love Cranston.

In addition, this feels like a retread of the miniseries and the documentary. Why not a different sexual harassment story? Why not one where Hollywood examines itself? I am curious about The Assistant, the film that premiered in Telluride about a fictionalized version of Harvey Weinstein's assistant - I hope that gets good distribution.

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I think you are underestimating Pain and Glory... I know the general consensus is that only one foreign language film can be nominated, but I think this year, 2 can make the cut. I also think Parasite seems to be in the lead, but Pain and Glory might be the one that can have more guilds support with possible showings in Score and Cinematography, even Film Editing... aside from a likely Banderas nomination, and Screenplay and even director. That gives it enough edge to make history and be one of the two foreign language films nominated for Best Picture in the same year, Parasite being the other one.

After TIFF I got the feeling, Jo Jo Rabitt is going to sweep... Waititi is extremely likeable, Johansson overdue, and this is basically an english spoken Life is Beautiful, which lost Best Picture and Director exclusively because it was Italian spoken (think about it)

September 19, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJesus

We can't believe you left out "The Last Black Man In San Francisco."

September 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

Suzanne - At Telluride, us students got to talk to the director, and she said that the film has no inspiration or intended connection to Weinstein whatsoever.

September 20, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterbeyaccount

Where is The Last Black Man in San Francisco?

September 20, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRudy

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