Oscar Futures: Why the Comedy Controversy Could Help Get Out

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Photo: Photo Credit: Universal Pictures/Copyright: © 2017 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

On a regular basis between now and March 4, 2018, when the winners of the Academy Awards are announced, Vulture will consult its crystal ball to determine the changing fortunes in this year’s Oscars race. In our Oscar Futures column, we’ll let you in on insider gossip, parse brand-new developments, and track industry buzz to figure out who’s up, who’s down, and who’s currently leading the race for a coveted Oscar nomination.

Best Picture

Up

Get Out

Is Get Out a comedy or is it something else entirely? That’s the question on everybody’s lips this week after it was revealed that the Golden Globes will consider the film in the comedy/musical categories instead of the dramatic races. Co-star Lil Rel Howery voiced some objections about that classification on Twitter — “If I can be honest,” he wrote, “this is weird to me” — and even writer-director Jordan Peele seemed to air some misgivings. Perhaps counterintuitively, this has all worked in Get Out’s favor: Not only does the film have a much better chance of competing and even winning in the comedy categories, but the furor around its designation ensures that people will think of it as more than just a comedy. Somehow, Get Out has managed to have its cake and eat it, too!

Down

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is still wonderful, no matter how critically maligned this week’s Justice League is. That said, the Patty Jenkins film is on the bubble of making it into the Best Picture race, and it doesn’t help to have a lesser effort starring this superheroine in theaters while voters are beginning to make up their minds.

Best Director

Up

Jordan Peele, Get Out

Peele is the awards-season director everyone wants to meet, and at the Governors Awards this past weekend, he received a steady stream of well-wishes from big names in the Academy. I think he’s going to make the Best Director final-five since there’s an excitement and freshness to him that no other contender can quite surpass, but he’ll have to carefully toe the line in moments like this Golden Globes controversy: If they’re going to give you an award, they want to think you want it.

Down

Dan Gilroy, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

After an iffy reception at the Toronto Film Festival, Gilroy went back and recut his Denzel Washington legal drama, eventually snipping ten minutes and reshuffling certain beats. The reaction from critics, though, is still fairly middling.

Current Predix

Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water; Luca Guadagnino, Call Me by Your Name; Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk; Jordan Peele, Get Out; Steven Spielberg, The Post

Best Actor

Up

Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

No one benefits more from the Golden Globes classification of Get Out than Kaluuya. He’s almost certain to snag a Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical nomination now, which wouldn’t have been a done deal if the film were competing in the Drama category. That move will continue to keep him in the race and give him visibility as a contender. Universal should also stress that he fronts what is likely to be by far the biggest film in this category, since many of this year’s Best Actor candidates hail from small or underperforming movies.

Down

Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Can Washington still make this lineup despite starring in a so-so film that isn’t likely to have much staying power? He has a few things in his favor, namely that he is an Academy favorite playing a character-actor role. He is also going up against competitors like Stronger’s Jake Gyllenhaal and Breathe’s Andrew Garfield, whose films didn’t set the box office on fire. That said, the Best Actor field is backloaded with contenders who will be debuting their better-liked films over the weeks to come. It won’t be easy for Washington to keep floating Roman J. Israel, Esq. all on his own.

Current Predix

Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name; Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread; James Franco, The Disaster Artist; Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour; Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Actress

Up

Jennifer Lawrence, Mother!

Mother! is not the easiest sell as an awards movie, but Lawrence is making all the stops she would if it were, landing in the thick of the Hollywood Reporter’s much-discussed actress roundtable. It’s still possible that she could earn her film’s sole nomination, as she did with Joy, as long as she keeps showing up where contenders are expected.

Up

Daniela Vega, A Fantastic Woman

The Chilean actress would be the very first trans performer nominated in this category, and her intimate drama bows this week in an awards-qualifying run before returning for a wider, fingers-crossed engagement in February. It will help that A.O. Scott raved about the film in this week’s Times, writing, “Daniela Vega, the star, is fantastic in it. Quote me in the ads, with exclamation points if you must.”

Current Predix

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water; Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Margot Robbie, I, Tonya; Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird; Meryl Streep, The Post

Best Supporting Actor

Up

Jason Mitchell, Mudbound

Mitchell is so, so good as a war veteran who finds home more inhospitable than the front in this Dee Rees drama, which bows on Netflix this weekend. I think he is likely to be the biggest takeaway from the well-reviewed Mudbound, since he gives the film its thematic spine and yearning heart. I still continue to be skeptical, though, that Netflix can manage an acting nomination this year. They’re certainly pouring money into it and sending out lots of screeners (an irony, since most voters can already watch the film on their TV), but without traditional barometers of success like box office or even viewership figures, it becomes harder to gauge what sort of momentum the film has.

Up

Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name

Suddenly, Hammer is everywhere, not only baring his soul to us but chomping on hamburgers with GQ, talking with Timothée Chalamet in the Times, and proving to be an amiable, well-dressed red-carpet presence. The supporting-actor category is crowded with contenders (including his own Call Me by Your Name co-star Michael Stuhlbarg), but there’s a narrative here about a leading man mounting a creative comeback that I think voters will find intriguing.

Current Predix

Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project; Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water; Ben Mendelsohn, Darkest Hour; Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me by Your Name

Best Supporting Actress

Up

Allison Janney, I, Tonya

The likely Best Supporting Actress front-runner landed on the Hollywood Reporter roundtable alongside several leading ladies, a sign of just how seriously we should take her this season.

Even

Mary J. Blige, Mudbound

Blige was the other supporting actress to make that roundtable and there’s room for her in this category, though in addition to the open question that is Netflix, she’s missing The Big Scene in Mudbound that almost every other contender has got. It’s good, quiet, transformative work that is in danger of being overlooked.

Current Predix

Hong Chau, Downsizing; Holly Hunter, The Big Sick; Allison Janney, I, Tonya; Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread; Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird

Why the Comedy Controversy Could Help Get Out