Rami Malek and Gwilym Lee in Bohemian Rhapsody.
Photo: Alex Bailey/Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
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.
When the embargo for this Freddie Mercury biopic broke on Tuesday, more than a few critics stoned it and spit in its eye. Even a positive review like the Wrap’s calls the film “an object example of how a film can be entertaining and even exhilarating without being particularly good.” We’ll see if this drubbing really matters when anyone can see the movie; Bohemian Rhapsody’s best strategy might be a Greatest Showman--style campaign powered by good word of mouth.
Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins both followed up their Oscar breakouts with more awards-friendly work. Luca Guadagnino, to put it mildly, did not. Critics are divided on whether Suspiria is a mesmerizing masterpiece or a maddening mess — sometimes they’re even divided within themselves — but the one thing everyone can agree on is that it’s probably way too weird for the major Oscar categories. (Best Makeup, on the other hand … )
Damien Chazelle, First Man
First Man’s best hope of staying in the Oscars’ orbit was to hold steady at the box office and attempt a reentry into the awards narrative once the story of its underwhelming opening had burned off. The film fell 48 percent in its second weekend, which is neither great nor terrible, and now Universal is giving some of First Man’s IMAX screens to Halloween. I still think Chazelle will be able to stick around in this category, but some prognosticators have started leaving him off their final five.
Bryan Singer, Bohemian Rhapsody
Probably not gonna happen.
Damien Chazelle, First Man; Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born; Alfonso Cuarón, Roma; Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite; Spike Lee, BlacKkKlansman
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Even the negative reviews of Rhapsody reserve some space to praise Malek’s transformative turn as Freddie Mercury, and the movie sends you out on a (literal) high note with an 11-minute re-creation of Queen’s Live Aid performance, in which Malek almost seems to be channeling Mercury’s spirit. Running in drama at the Golden Globes may put Malek’s campaign under more pressure than musical/comedy would, but he’s a two-time Globe nominee for Mr. Robot, so the love from the HFPA is there.
Ryan Gosling, First Man
The person I think most likely to be affected by First Man’s soft opening is Gosling, who has now dropped down to fifth in GoldDerby’s Best Actor odds. At this point in the season, it’s simply more tempting to boost up a performance in a movie that hasn’t been released yet, like Christian Bale in Vice, over one in a film that’s lagging.
Christian Bale, Vice; Bradley Cooper, A Star Is Born; Ryan Gosling, First Man; Ethan Hawke, First Reformed; Viggo Mortensen, Green Book
Yalitza Aparicio, Roma
Aparicio’s campaign ramped up this week as she started making the interview rounds through an interpreter. (She doesn’t speak English yet, but is planning to learn.) The 24-year-old former preschool teacher’s got a classic Oscar narrative of a nonactor plucked out of obscurity by a famous director, and she’s quite literally the face of the film. The language barrier might not matter here.
Glenn Close, The Wife
Close has been considered a Best Actress front-runner during the early part of the season, but now the hard part begins: She just started a role Off Broadway in the Public’s Mother of the Maid, which will make further campaigning difficult. But not impossible — get those airline miles, girl!
Glenn Close, The Wife; Olivia Colman, The Favourite; Viola Davis, Widows; Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born; Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Best Supporting Actor
John Krasinski, A Quiet Place
This week A Quiet Place decided to follow the Spotlight strategy of running all of its actors in Supporting. In Krasinski’s case, it’s fairly blatant category fraud, but the film’s not considered a major player in the acting categories, and as he seemingly did it to help out his wife (about which more below), it doesn’t seem likely anyone will hold it against him.
Lutz Ebersdorf, Suspiria
Unfortunately, the 82-year-old German newcomer is ineligible to be nominated this year, as it turns out he does not exist.
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
Tilda Swinton, Suspiria
Can Tilda Swinton’s triple roles in Suspiria attract the attention of the Academy, or will they see it as a Makeup play only? Guadagnino has been singing her praises on the film’s press tour, emphasizing that he sees the parts as representing Freud’s three aspects of the human psyche, but the Academy hasn’t really gone for Swinton’s showier performances recently.
Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place
After originally announcing that Blunt would run in Best Actress, team Quiet Place reversed course and decided to run the whole cast in Supporting. It seems likely this is so Blunt doesn’t have to compete with herself in Mary Poppins Returns, though it’s an open question whether Disney had to provide a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down.
Amy Adams, Vice; Claire Foy, First Man; Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk; Emma Stone, The Favourite; Rachel Weisz, The Favourite