As in Best Director, the most substantial moves up go to A24’s The Farewell and Neon’s Parasite, the latter of which enters the top 10 for the first time. Universal’s 1917 moves up a spot, swapping with Ford v Ferrari for a share of the dade/dude vote.
For The Farewell, the universally praised indie from A24 (Moonlight, Lady Bird) defied all expectations last week when it became the highest per theater average opener of the year, beating Avengers: Endgame. It also set the record for a non-English language opening weekend debut, blowing past Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution from 2007. This weekend will see its first expansion (just 30 or so more theaters), then another next week and then wide(ish) on August 2nd. While box office doesn’t have to be king for Best Picture, it doesn’t hurt.
Joon-ho Bong’s Parasite won the Cannes Palme d’Or this summer and is set for a fall release from Neon. It’s going to have the red carpet set out for it by the new studio and likely end up at all the right festivals before its debut. While box office may not be as big a factor for the film as it is for other films, there are elements that will need to be in place for it to truly be competitive in the Best Picture race. Non-English language films don’t have an easy time in Oscars’ top category if you don’t have the backing of a Netflix behind you. You’ll need consistent critical support with the December/January awards (with an 89 on Metacritic it probably will) and, even more so, strong guild support. Last season, the director’s branch got Cold War helmer Paweł Pawlikowski into the Best Director race (he won the directing prize at Cannes) but even a superb campaign by Amazon couldn’t get the film in. There needs to be broader support, primarily from the actors, to get them in. Roma and Amour both achieved this through actor support and nominations. Using those examples favors The Farewell (which has two acting contenders) over Parasite substantially but the film earns its move into the top 10 on likely being one of the most critically praised non-English language films of the year.
A lot of holding patterns in place elsewhere with The Irishman (Netflix), Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight) and Harriet (Focus Features) still at #1-3, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia) at #6, and two more Netflix films – The Pope and the Untitled Noah Baumbach aka Marriage Story at 8 and 9 again.
Ford v Ferrari (20th Century Fox) dips a bit (as mentioned above), A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/Columbia) falls out of the top 10 and into Next Up (where is lands with fellow Sony film and female-directed Little Women) and Queen & Slim continues to slide, now landing in Other Contenders. The trailer, while good, feels a bit too slight for Best Picture and with how dirty they did Widows last season, I don’t expect much different.
Should I mention Universal’s Cats? The shock of the trailer’s release (and the internet response to it) yesterday still hasn’t worn off. It was hard to imagine what exactly director Tom Hooper (an Academy Award winner for The King’s Speech) would be able to do with his re-imagining of a Broadway musical that was one of the longest-running of all time while also being one of the most reviled and considered impossible to adapt for the screen. Turns out that was true because what we saw yesterday bad on scale that hasn’t been invented yet. “State of the art digital fur technology” is not a phrase that’s going to age well. At least Disney must have breathed a sigh of relief about not having the worst looking silver screen cats of the year. While I will give in that the production design (massively scaled to mimic size comparisons with cats) is impressive and still a likely contender, I think Cats would have to miraculously make $500M in the US in order to be considered an actual Best Picture player. After all, that’s how Bohemian Rhapsody got there. If that film had made say, $75M in the US and a modest haul overseas, we never would have ended up with it being a Best Picture nominee, much less a four-time Oscar winner.
Here are my 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions in Best Picture for July 19, 2019.
Green – moves up Red – moves down Blue – new/re-entry
1. The Irishman (Netflix)
2. Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight) October 18
3. Harriet (Focus Features) November 1st
4. 1917 (Universal) December 25
5. Ford v. Ferrari (20th Century Fox) November 15
6. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia) July 26
7. The Farewell (A24) July 12
8. The Pope (Netflix)
9. Untitled Noah Baumbach aka Marriage Story (Netflix)
10. Parasite (Neon) October 11
NEXT UP (alphabetical)
Aeronauts (Amazon) November 1
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/Columbia) November 22
Just Mercy (Warner Bros) December 25
Little Women (Sony/Columbia) December 25
Untitled Todd Hayes aka Dry Run (Focus Features)
OTHER CONTENDERS (alphabetical)
Ad Astra (20th Century Fox) September 20
Antlers (Fox Searchlight)
Cats (Universal) December 20
The French Dispatch (TBD)
The Goldfinch (Amazon/Warner Bros) September 13
The Good Liar (Warner Bros) November 15
A Hidden Life (Fox Searchlight)
The Last Thing He Wanted (Netflix)
The Laundromat (Netflix)
Long Time Coming (Warner Bros) October 18
Motherless Brooklyn (Warner Bros) November 1
Nomadland (Fox Searchlight)
Pain and Glory (Sony Classics) October 4
The Personal History of David Copperfield (TBD)
Queen & Slim (Universal) November 27
The Report (Amazon) September 20
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (Disney) December 20
Uncut Gems (A24) December 13
Untitled Roger Ailes Project aka Fair and Balanced (Lionsgate) December 20
Us (Universal) March 22