By: Henry J. Fromage –
Yep, it’s Oscar Season. If this one feels more muted than usual, just look around you. Truly, fuck 2016. So, yes, this year feels like one of the lighter in some time when it comes to potential contenders, but never fear, when the dust settles, there will enough standout films, already revealed or yet to hit, to make another excellent year at the Oscars.
Oscar Power Rankings
1. Manchester By the Sea
Drawing nothing but critical acclaim since it debuted at Sundance, no film feels like a better bet to last all the way to the big stage.
Currently amassing a surprisingly robust box office after bursting onto the festival scene two months ago at Telluride, Moonlight clearly has the goods.
3. La La Land
This was also a festival darling, and starring the likes of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and coming from wunderkind Damien Chazelle, this is far more likely to draw widespread Hollywood support than the first two.
Currently the only serious contender to cross the $100 million mark, and quite possibly the only film likely to, it’s slot is basically assured.
A Martin Scorcese film made for adults- it’d be a huge upset if it didn’t figure into the race. Certainly doesn’t hurt that this has the growing feeling of an opus.
Early word is that a Viola Davis loss for Supporting Actress would bee an major upset- just the preliminary indication that the film lives up to the reputation of the widely-lauded stage play.
7. Hell or High Water
Probably still the best film I’ve seen so far this year, and, despite it’s early bow, still very much in the race. Hell yes.
8. A Monster Calls
Liam Neeson plays a tree monster that helps a kid through his emotional distress… yes, you heard that correctly. However, all signs so far point to the emotional gutpunch of the year.
It’s been awhile since Harvey Weinstein willed a film into the race, but he’s throwing all his weight behind this one, and despite tepid reviews, it’s working so far.
10. Hidden Figures
Our own Oberst described this as The Help in Space, which… feels right. Looks like a safe, simple, yet entertaining filmmaking showcase for some powerhouse acting for me, which could be enough for a slot this year.
11. 20th Century Women
Mike Mills has been dormant since his excellent Beginners, but word from festivals is he certainly hasn’t lost it, and Annette Bening’s almost certain to get her 5th shot at that Best Actress award.
Natalie Portman’s already got one of those, but the buzz for another has been growing ever since this hit the festival circuit.
Speaking of Best Actress, Amy Adams would be on her sixth attempt, and she certainly deserves the shot. Both her and the film are spectacular.
14. Live By Night
Ben Affleck says this wasn’t made with Oscar intentions, but it’s release window certainly suggests it has at least some hopes there.
15. Patriot’s Day
This just hit big at AFI, from all accounts an even more emotionally impactful men in danger procedural than this year’s also great Deepwater Horizon and Lone Survivor before it.
16. Florence Foster Jenkins
This didn’t seem like it was the kind of film to last the distance, but has been surprisingly resilient. Never count Meryl Streep out.
17. The Birth of a Nation
The rise and fall of this film was very public, and very quick. The biggest Sundance buy ever is starting to look like it’s already fading away.
Speaking of controversy, Homewrecked: The Movie, however unfair the reputation, will have to be pretty damn good to escape its share.
Stephen Gaghan has been out of the game even longer than Mike Mills, and the production troubles around this one (Michael Mann and Spike Lee were signed on first) give pause, but Syriana was pretty darn good…
You won’t find a critic who offer anything but the utmost respect for this film, but you will find plenty who admit they got pretty bored at times.
21. Nocturnal Animals
Tom Ford’s follow-up to A Single Man is apparently just as much an aesthetic and acting success, but most critics have found the plot convoluted but light in meaning.
22. The Founder
A true Dark Horse, this January film may get a qualifying run, and with The Wrestler‘s screenwriter Robert Siegel and Michael Keaton on board a dark-tinged Ray Kroc biopic, it sure sounds like it’ll be good.
Jim Jarmusch has never particularly captured Oscar’s gaze, but he’s at that point where everyone likes his films and he’s gotten enough stature that original screenplay noms should start coming his way with regularity soon.
24. Miss Sloane
This has gotten nearly no festival/critical buzz, but is getting an interesting advertising push right now, plus Jessica Chastain. Could pull a The Big Short and rocket from here.
25. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Reviews have not been kind, but Ang Lee is as beloved a director as there is working today, and Hollywood types might be more intrigued by it’s 120fps wizardry than the buying public.
The Jungle Book, Moana, Hacksaw Ridge, Louder Than Bombs, Love & Friendship, Passengers, Collateral Beauty, The Lobster, Toni Erdmann, Everybody Wants Some!, Indignation, Elle, Rules Don’t Apply, Queen of Katwe, Julieta, Finding Dory, Zooptopia