On a regular basis between now and February 24, 2019, 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.
A Star Is Born
While its competition tours the festival circuit (New York is this week, with the Hamptons this weekend), A Star Is Born is the first of the fall’s big awards movies to hit theaters. The critical raves have continued, and the film’s expected to open north of $30 million domestic, more than last year’s nominees Phantom Thread and Call Me by Your Name managed in their entire runs. If the Oscar race, like pop music, is all about getting everyone’s attention as quickly as possible, A Star Is Born has passed that initial test with flying colors.
Paweł Pawlikowski’s latest, a tragic romance about two Polish musicians torn apart by the Iron Curtain, might seem like a parody of a movie that would play the New York Film Festival. But reviews out of Lincoln Center have been so uniformly warm that pundits like THR’s Scott Feinberg have started considering Cold War a contender for the ultimate prize. Personally I’m not ready to drink the oranżada yet — does the Best Picture race really have room for two black-and-white foreign films?
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born
Last week Bradley Cooper sat down with the New York Times for a profile that turned into an extended negotiation about how much of himself the actor turned director was willing to reveal. (The answer: not much.) Then, four days later, he did a sitdown with W that covered much the same ground. Why is he agreeing to all these interviews if he hates them so much? Because he wants that Oscar, baby! Despite his disagreements with the thrust of the questioning, I think Cooper might be pretty pleased with how the profiles turned out: Not only did they promote his movie, they did so by painting him as a Serious Artist who’s a class apart from his thirstier peers.
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Lanthimos’s historical satire was the opening-night movie at the New York Film Festival, and critics were as enamored as they were at Venice. “His fanbase has been growing with practically every film,” the Film Experience’s Nathaniel Rogers says of the idiosyncratic Greek auteur, “and this looks like the one that will finally put him over — more accessible without losing his distinct voice, especially that bizarre sense of humor.”
Damien Chazelle, First Man; Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born; Alfonso Cuarón, Roma; Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite; Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Christian Bale, Vice
Pundits have been saving room in their predictions for Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic, which recently got a new title, a poster, and a Christmas Day release date. On Wednesday, the film’s trailer hit the web, giving everyone their first glimpse of the project since those grainy on-set paparazzi photos. It’s only a trailer, yes, but the makeup look fantastic, and Awards Daily’s Sasha Stone notes that Bale “nails” the former VP’s voice. Oscar loves a transformation, and it loves a historical figure. If you’ve got both? Look out.
John C. Reilly, The Sisters Brothers
Jacques Audiard’s gonzo Western has performed fairly well in limited release, and reviews have spotlighted Reilly as a standout, with Peter Travers noting that the actor “[steals] the show as the big brother who touchingly imagines a quieter, more settled life than wasting varmints.” But smaller films that come out early in the season risk being forgotten by the time voting rolls around, and Sisters Brothers may not be helped by the Coens’ similar Ballad of Buster Scruggs hitting Netflix only a few weeks later.
Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born; Willem Dafoe, At Eternity’s Gate; Ryan Gosling, First Man; Viggo Mortensen, Green Book; Robert Redford, The Old Man and the Gun
Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born
How many times have you caught yourself singing “Shallow” in the eight days since its release? The Star Is Born soundtrack cut won’t hit the Hot 100 until next week, but as of this writing, it has 12 million YouTube views, with an additional 8 million streams on Spotify. The great reviews for Gaga’s performance keep coming in — Manohla Dargis says her “disarming, naturalistic presence is crucial to the movie’s force” — but other Best Actress contenders can boast those, too. A hit single, though, is an edge no one else enjoys.
Emma Stone, The Favourite
The Favourite has three standout performances, but only two categories to put them in. How the movie’s team untangles that knot is one of the more intriguing strategic subplots of the season. GoldDerby’s Tom O’Neill argues that “if Fox Searchlight wants to go for the win, [Olivia] Colman should go Supporting,” which would open up a Best Actress run for Emma Stone. That Searchlight also has Melissa McCarthy in the Best Actress race provides another wrinkle: Stone’s got the star power to compete in a crowded field, but since she just won two years ago, could the studio see her as less of a threat to overtake McCarthy?
Glenn Close, The Wife; Viola Davis, Widows; Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born; Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Emma Stone, The Favourite
Best Supporting Actor
Sam Rockwell, Vice
The incumbent Supporting Actor winner strapped on a fake nose to play George W. Bush in Vice, and his comic take on the character receives prominent placement in the trailer. (He gets the intro and the button!) When it comes to Dubya impressions, it takes a lot of get out of the shadow of Will Ferrell, but Rockwell may be up to the task.
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Driver held up his end of the deal when he hosted the season premiere of SNL, going viral with a hilarious oil baron sketch, but the nagging sense that he was probably not the top choice for the gig only underscores how much ground this summer release will have to make up during campaign season.
Mahershala Ali, Green Book; Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy; Sam Elliott, A Star Is Born; Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?; Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther
Best Supporting Actress
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite
Like her co-stars, Weisz could end up in either acting category. She’s technically a lead — if The Favourite is an 18th-century All About Eve, she’s the one in the Bette Davis role — but the movie’s going to have to double-up in one category, and that’s usually easier in Supporting. Running Weisz in the lesser category could mean potentially siphoning off votes from the film’s strongest contender, Colman. Does Searchlight want to maximize the number of nominations, or its chances at a win?
Amy Adams, Vice
Adams is another Vice player who’s received the benefit of the doubt while the film remains unseen. Her Lynne Cheney doesn’t get many flashy moments in the trailer, but she has a strong case for a makeup award after being snubbed for Arrival two years ago.
Amy Adams, Vice; Olivia Colman, The Favourite; Claire Foy, First Man; Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk; Rachel Weisz, The Favourite