THB #43: Oscar Films All Seen... Still No Frontrunner
Okay… going to be knocking out a lot of awardsy/reviewy stuff in the next 48 hours. The West Side Story embargo releases on Thursday morning. Nightmare Alley launched without an embargo. And I have now seen Licorice Pizza a fourth time and am ready to review.
But here is the headline… there are six surefire Best Picture nominees…
West Side Story, in. Nightmare Alley, in. Licorice Pizza, in. Belfast, in. King Richard, in. The Power of the Dog, in.
There is no real order to that list, aside from an inverted schedule of when they were first shown.
I could put them in order of which I like the most to the least. But I won’t. It’s irrelevant.
While 4 other movies will be nominated for Best Picture, these are the 6 strongest and thus, stand a better chance of winning than the next group.
But this doesn’t mean that the winner will not come from left field.
But it’s possible.
I can make a legitimate argument for every one of these 6 to be the winner. And I can make a legitimate argument for every one of these 6 having a limited chance at winning.
I think the ones that are the most difficult to cross off the list are (alphabetical) Belfast, The Power of the Dog, and West Side Story. But again… this does not mean that I think the winner, come March (March!!!) will surely be one of these 3. They all have (or are about to have) both serious constituencies and serious detractors.
There just isn’t a movie that plays to every field… yet. And while some are feeling that the Movie Movie element of West Side Story’s very existence as a child of Spielberg and that amazing score turns that corner… it needs more than 48 hours to breathe before I believe any of us can really feel that.
Sometimes the movie tells you. This year, it has not.
There is plenty of deep social meaning through all of these pictures (well, maybe Licorice Pizza and Nightmare Alley seem more about individuals with more universal than social issues).
There is big visual movie size in 4 of these 6 movies.
There are veteran directors - including 2 Oscar Director winners and 3 prior Director nominees - behind these 6 films.
There are 4 originals and 2 remakes.
But here’s the thing… bring up any 1 of these titles to half a dozen Oscar voters and you will find “it will wins” and “it can’t wins” (with WSS & Nightmare really just starting to screen).
Then there is The Second Wave: Being the Ricardos, C'mon C'mon, CODA, Don’t Look Up, Dune, The French Dispatch, House of Gucci, The Lost Daughter, Spencer, The Tragedy of Macbeth.
4 of these 10 films are likely to get Best Picture nominations. FOUR!
The Lost Daughter has a step up for a nomination from the Gotham Awards, but just getting nominated would be a win. Other movies have bigger awards pushes. I see at least 5 or 6 acting nominations in this group… so… those help.
This will be a dog fight. Box office is no longer a big issue, so… who the hell knows? I could pick a half dozen groups of 4 that some people would agree with and others would be sure were silly.
I sound like a broken record, but the next important step is going to be voters seeing these movies. There will be more promotional events, like critics awards and nominations from CCA and others. But Academy members, now looking at a fairly narrow field, will watch these films and the Great Settling will occur… eventually.
I have no idea what the trade “experts” will say. Don’t much care. They know less than ever this season.
Obviously, I believe that crowning any one movie at this point is just being a Nightmare Alley carny.
And for the record, my plan is to see Nightmare Alley again before reviewing it properly. But I will say that it is very Noir, very R, and perhaps more commercial than awards… which is not to say it won’t get 8 nominations (Picture, Director, Screenplay, Blanchett, Production Design, Score, Sound, Make-up would not surprise anyone.)