A Best Picture lineup consisting of classic Oscar themes like gangsters, war, adaptations of classic novels, bold takes on old tales and female-fronted and directed films could make up one of the Academy’s most diverse groups of nominees in a very long time if this year ends up looking anything like the list below.
It’s early and very few films have been seen in full but with Cannes underway and summer just ahead it will be no time before we’re at the late summer/early fall festivals with no time to look back.
Two very strong studios, Fox Searchlight and Focus Features, have been very adept at getting multiple films into Best Picture but this year they both seem to have clear #1s they’re pushing – Jojo Rabbit and Harriet, respectively. Both films stand as two of the best potential contenders this season and both are going to hit the festival circuit running. I can see Jojo Rabbit debuting at Venice while Harriet hits Telluride as its bow.
Netflix is also taking its first Best Picture nomination in last year’s Roma as a sign that the Academy and its voters are embracing streaming with open arms. The streaming giant has half a dozen contenders this year, a very different approach than last season, all with real potential. The Irishman from Martin Scorsese is definitely their top choice and it will be interesting to see if they unveil it like they did for Roma, with a short, exclusive theatrical run before its home debut. That goes for any of their contenders this year, including The Pope, The Laundromat and The Last Thing He Wanted.
Sony/Columbia might have to make some very tough choices between Quentin Tarantino’s potential summer blockbuster Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, the fall biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood from Marielle Heller and the Christmas release of Greta Gerwig’s Little Women remake. It’s hard to imagine the studio, which hasn’t gotten a Best Picture nomination since 2013’s Captain Phillips, getting two, much less three in.
Universal is hot off its Best Picture win for Green Book, a first for the studio since 2001’s A Beautiful Mind. They already have the blockbuster Us from Oscar-winner Jordan Peele in the bank and the upcoming releases 1917 from Oscar winner Sam Mendes and Queen & Slim from Melina Matsoukas and written by Emmy winner Lena Waithe.
With Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox (and Fox Searchlight) now complete, it’s difficult to tell how hard they’ll campaign for Fox films vs their Star Wars and Marvel properties, especially after last season’s historical Best Picture nomination and Oscar wins for Black Panther. It seems like the smart move to keep those money-making films separate from the Fox properties in terms of awards plays unless they feel the final installments of the Avengers franchise and of this Star Wars trilogy are worth it.
A24 is playing a risky game once again, releasing The Farewell in the summer instead of fall where it could be an easier sell, but if the film is a hit they know where to keep their attention. They also have Waves, the follow-up from Krisha director Trey Edward Shults but with a purported first-cut run time of 3hr and a rumor it was denied by Cannes, it’s going to back to the editing room and a hope for a fall festival run for the film.
Here are my 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions in Best Picture for May 16, 2019.
|1. The Irishman (Netflix)|
|2. Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight) October 18|
|3. Harriet (Focus Features) November 1st|
|4. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/Columbia) November 22|
|5. 1917 (Universal) December 25|
|6. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia) July 26|
|7. Ford v. Ferrari (20th Century Fox) November 15|
|8. Little Women (Sony/Columbia) December 25|
|9. The Pope (Netflix)|
|10. Just Mercy (Warner Bros.) January 17, 2020|
|NEXT UP (alphabetical)|
|The Farewell (A24) July 12|
|The Laundromat (Netflix)|
|The Personal History of David Copperfield (TBD)|
|Queen & Slim (Universal)|
|The Woman in the Window (20th Century Fox) October 4|
|OTHER CONTENDERS (alphabetical)|
|Ad Astra (20th Century Fox) September 20|
|Cats (Universal) December 20|
|The French Dispatch (TBD)|
|The Goldfinch (Amazon/Warner Bros) September 13|
|The Last Thing He Wanted (Netflix)|
|Motherless Brooklyn (Warner Bros.) November 1|
|The Report (Amazon) September 20|
|Rocketman (Paramount) May 31|
|Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (Disney) December 20|
|Untitled Roger Ailes Project aka Fair and Balanced (Lionsgate) December 20|
|Us (Universal) March 22|