Festival season is over. Everything has been seen now (except Cats). Where do we stand and which December release makes the cut?
When I’m putting together a Best Picture prediction list I have to take a lot of things into account: What festivals did it hit? Who’s the distributor? Do voters have screeners in hand? Will box office matter? These are all elements that individually and together help shape a contender and give us the racers in the race. Festival appearances are really important. Definitely for a win (no Best Picture winner this decade has sidestepped a major festival) but even for a nomination it becomes a factor, most especially for a December release. A December release making it into Best Picture without some sort of festival run is already a difficult task (last year only Vice did that; the year before it was Phantom Thread and The Post) but in a shortened season? The struggle is real. Which is why when I see predictions for 1917, Bombshell and Little Women it gives me pause. It’s just so extremely unlikely.
So, how is a late December release supposed to gain any traction ahead of films that have been seen by voters already when Oscar nomination voting starts January 2nd? There is an argument that with late films can come late voters who really want to see as much as possible before casting their ballot. For a late-breaking, non-festival release to crack Best Picture there have usually been a few factors in place that let it happen. If we look at recent examples like Vice, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Revenant, The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Misérables and Django Unchained you’ll see a lot in common: they’re all films from directors with Oscar bonafides, whether its Best Picture/Director wins or nominations. There’s a built-in trust, essentially. That favors 1917 and Little Women in a big way, less so for Bombshell. I feel strongly about 1917 but I’m still hesitant about Little Women (although many of my peers are not, probably a mistake on my part) but Bombshell falls this month in favor of Ford v Ferrari and Joker, just as in Best Director.
This is really the last period before major guild and industry nominations and critics awards start rolling in and once that starts, the season will gain a life of its own. If you have a NGNG prediction, now is probably the time to throw it out there. Otherwise, the safest bet is to stay the course – or at least be able to bend where it goes. Keep an eye out for this season’s awards trackers (guilds, industry and critics) and the Build by Guild as new awards and nominations are announced. Get ready, Oscar watchers, here we go.
Here are my 2020 Oscar Nomination Predictions in Best Picture for November 29, 2019.
Green – moves up Red – moves down Blue – new/re-entry
1. Marriage Story (Netflix – 11/6, theatrical / 12/6, streaming) – Venice/Telluride/TIFF/NYFF/AFI
2. Parasite (Neon – 10/11) – Cannes/Telluride/TIFF/NYFF
3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (Sony/Columbia – 7/26) – Cannes
4. 1917 (Universal – 12/25)
5. Jojo Rabbit (Fox Searchlight – 10/18) – TIFF
6. The Irishman (Netflix – 11/1 theatrical / 11/27 streaming) – NYFF/AFI
7. The Farewell (A24 – 7/12) – Sundance
8. The Two Popes (Netflix – 11/27, theatrical / 12/20 streaming) – Telluride/TIFF/AFI
9. Ford v. Ferrari (20th Century Fox – 11/15) – Telluride/TIFF
10. Joker (Warner Bros – 10/4) – Venice/TIFF/NYFF
NEXT UP (alphabetical by film)
The Aeronauts (Amazon – 12/6, theatrical / 12/20, streaming) – Telluride/TIFF/AFI
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Sony/TriStar – 11/22) – TIFF
Bombshell (Lionsgate – 12/13)
Hustlers (STX Entertainment – 9/13) – TIFF
Little Women (Sony/Columbia – 12/25)
WATCH OUT FOR (alphabetical by film)
Cats (Universal – 12/20)
Dark Waters (Focus Features – 11/22)
Judy (Roadside Attractions – 9/27) – Telluride/TIFF
Pain and Glory (Sony Classics – 10/4) – Cannes/Telluride/TIFF
Richard Jewell (Warner Bros – 12/13) – AFI
OTHER CONTENDERS (alphabetical by film)
Avengers: Endgame (Disney – 4/26)
Harriet (Focus Features – 11/1) – TIFF
A Hidden Life (Fox Searchlight – 12/13) – Cannes/Telluride/TIFF/AFI
Just Mercy (Warner Bros – 12/25) – TIFF
Queen & Slim (Universal – 11/27) – AFI
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (Disney – 12/20)
Us (Universal – 3/22) – SXSW
Waves (A24 – 11/15) – Telluride/TIFF