Oscar Watch: The Old Man & The Gun

In case you didn’t know, there are two major film festivals currently happening. In addition to Venice (which has produced a handful of Oscar Watch posts already), the Telluride Film Festival kicks off today. The opening selection is The Old Man & The Gun, David Lowery’s latest which reportedly features the retirement role of Mr. Robert Redford. It tells the true life story of Forrest Tucker, a genteel bank robber and prison escape artist.

Early screenings have occurred and reviews are quite positive. However, nothing I’ve seen suggests this will be a factor in Best Picture. Lowery is a critical favorite. Yet even better reviewed features such as Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and A Ghost Story didn’t register with the Academy.

The big question is whether Redford gets in for Best Actor. Shockingly, the legendary performer has been nominated only once. That was 45 years ago for The Sting. He has won Best Director for 1980’s Ordinary People. The lead actor looks like it has the potential to be crowded, but this could be voters final chance to recognize him as he says Gun will be his last acting role.

As for supporting players, I wouldn’t look for Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, or Tom Waits to get any traction for their work. Sissy Spacek, on the other hand, could also benefit from her stature as writers are citing her strong work. It’s also worth noting that Fox Searchlight is one of the better studios at awards campaigns.

Bottom line: competition is a key factor, but Redford and Spacek are possibilities.

The Old Man & The Gun is scheduled for release September 28. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

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Oscar Watch: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Just over a decade ago, Joel and Ethan Coen finally broke through with Academy voters via No Country for Old Men. Premiering in Venice today is their latest effort The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. Originally conceived as a six-part Netflix series, the brothers Coen chose to combine this tale of violent Western vignettes into a feature film. Its cast includes Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, James Franco, Zoe Kazan, Tom Waits, Tyne Daly, and Brendan Gleeson.

Reviews overseas indicate that Ballad contains great moments and some uneven ones. I wouldn’t expect this to be a contender in Picture or Director. As for its actors, Neeson and Waits have been singled out. Yet again, their inclusion is Supporting Actor could be a reach.

Ballad does stand a better chance at possible recognition for Original Screenplay (depending on strength of competition) and its cinematography.

Bottom line: Ballad could factor into down the line races, but don’t expect this to play in the largest prize pool.

Following an expected theatrical release, Scruggs debuts on Netflix on November 16. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Non-Fiction

NonFiction is the latest release from writer/director Olivier Assayas and it’s my latest Oscar Watch post coming from the Venice Film Festival. The pic is said to be a departure from the French filmmaker’s recent fare like Clouds of Sils Maria and Personal Shopper. More of a comedic effort, Guillaume Canet and Juliette Binoche star and reviews from Italy indicate another critical darling for Assayas.

However, strong critical reaction hasn’t translated into Oscar nominations previously for the auteur and that is likely to be the case here. Kristen Stewart received career best reviews for Clouds and Shopper and Academy voters didn’t notice. This will need to break out in a huge way stateside for any chance at recognition.

Bottom line: NonFiction is probably a non-starter in the biggest awards derby.

Oscar Watch: A Star Is Born

One of the most eagerly awaited pictures has debuted at Venice today with A Star Is Born. The film is the third remake of a tale that began onscreen over 80 years ago. The 1937 version starred Janet Gaynor and Fredric March. The 1954 Star featured Judy Garland and James Mason. The 1976 version featured Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. All three of them received multiple Oscar nominations. None of them were featured in the Best Picture race.

That is probably about to change. The 2018 Star is directed, co-written, and starring Bradley Cooper in his debut behind the camera. His acting counterpart is Lady Gaga. Early reviews have praised both of their performances and it appears very likely both will be honored in their respective lead acting races. This would obviously be Gaga’s first nomination and Cooper’s fourth after Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and American Sniper. Cooper may well find himself honored for his direction and Adapted Screenplay alongside Eric Roth and Will Fetters.

As for supporting players, the Academy may take notice of Sam Elliot’s work as Cooper’s older brother. Critics have also pointed out the performance of Rafi Gavron as the manager of Cooper’s troubled music superstar character.

Several down the line categories could in the mix including Cinematography, Editing, both Sound races, and Gaga’s original songs that are expected to be part of the soundtrack.

Bottom line: Another contender was born today in Venice – one with serious star power.

A Star Is Born opens domestically on October 5. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Other Side of the Wind

Could a film made over four decades ago find itself in the Oscar mix in 2018? That’s the question that the Venice Film Festival is helping answer with the long-awaited release of The Other Side of the Wind. Shot from 1970 to 1976, Wind was directed by the legendary Orson Welles with a cast led by another legendary filmmaker, John Huston. The satirical take on Hollywood never reached completed status and its long production and eventual restoration will have a feature-length documentary accompany it upon its Netflix release.

Reactions are out and many suggest the picture is well worth seeking out. Hardcore movie buffs certainly have its release circled on their autumn calendars. That said, I’m skeptical that Oscar voters will recognize it in any significant way. Famously, Welles didn’t even pick up any Academy Awards for his magnum opus Citizen Kane.

If this stands any legitimate chance at a nomination, it could be in the Editing category. That’s where Bob Murawski, who won a statue for editing 2009’s The Hurt Locker, was tasked with assembling hours of footage from the 1970s into what festival goers are witnessing today. Even that, however, could be a remote possibility.

The Other Side of the Wind (along with its accompanying doc) makes it to Netflix on November 2. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: The Favourite

As far as Oscar hopefuls go, the Venice Film Festival is now 3 for 3 as far as major releases becoming contenders. Today saw the screening of The Favourite, the 18th century set drama from director Yorgos Lanthimos. Early reviews are quite strong and it has now put itself into serious contention.

Lanthimos is known for his bizarre features including The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Neither received much love from awards voters, but The Favourite is said to be his most accessible pic to date. That could bode well for its inclusion in both Picture and Director.

As far as acting attention, any potential love will go to the women of its cast. Olivia Colman is likely to be campaigned for in lead Actress and her chances have significantly improved following the Venice debut. As for Rachel Weisz or Emma Stone in the Supporting field, that remains less clear (I’d give Weisz a bit of an edge if either makes it). I wouldn’t look for its actors like Nicholas Hoult or Joe Alwyn to be factors.

Additionally, The Favourite appears on a good course for an Original Screenplay nod. Tech nominations in Production Design, Cinematography, Costume Design, and Makeup & Hairstyling are also on the table.

Bottom line: The Favourite could be a favorite in several races for nominations. Expect this to vault up my chart in several categories in next week’s ranked predictions.

The Favourite opens stateside on November 23. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

Oscar Watch: Roma

One day after First Man landed raves at the Venice Film Festival, another Oscar-winning director’s latest has proven itself a contender as well. Roma from Alfonso Cuaron has screened and critical reaction has been glowing.

Five years ago, Cuaron took home the Best Director prize for Gravity. This follow-up is more personal and was made on a smaller scale. The autobiographical feature is set in Mexico City in the early 1970s. Reaction from Venice indicates this is one to watch for Best Picture and Director. Cuaron could also be recognized in other categories, including his Original Screenplay, Cinematography (alongside Galo Olivares), and Editing (with Adam Gough).

If Roma really catches on with Oscar voters, the film’s lead actress Yalitza Aparicio could warrant attention. This is her first feature film.

Bottom line: the second day of Venice has produced yet another serious awards title with Roma.

After an anticipated theatrical run, Roma is scheduled to debut on Netflix on December 14. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…