Every week between now and January 13, when the Academy Award nominations are announced, Vulture will consult its crystal ball to determine the changing fortunes of 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.
Ford v Ferrari
Let’s ride. Ford v Ferrari blew past the competition at last weekend’s box office, with a $30 million opening that was much higher than tracking predicted. “Two great stars in the right sorts of parts. A premise people are excited about … Funny how all that still works,” Richard Rushfield wrote in the Ankler. Considering its appeal to certain dad-ular demographics, FvF’s chances of becoming this year’s official Thanksgiving-weekend family-outing movie look strong.
Coming into the season, Waves had a lower profile than A24’s other contenders, until a rhapsodic reception at Telluride scrambled all expectations. Like weathermen in Oahu, pundits wondered: Just how big could these waves get? Thursday’s nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards were basically the A24 Oscars — The Lighthouse and Uncut Gems led the field, while The Farewell and The Last Black Man in San Francisco managed key pickups. Even on these friendly shores Waves pulled in only a single nomination. Waves, don’t die!
Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Joker, Little Women, Marriage Story, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Parasite, The Two Popes
Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story
Marriage Story earned a Best Feature nomination at the Spirits, as well as the Robert Altman Award for best ensemble. (Which is why none of its actors got individual nominations.) One key miss? Baumbach in Best Director. It’s possible to overreact to the Spirits — Spike Lee was snubbed last year — but this could be a sign that love for Marriage Story may not automatically translate into a Baumbach directing nod.
Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Heller has been getting a lot of critical love for investing what could have been a fairly rote heartwarmer with all sorts of idiosyncrasies, with Richard Brody raving about her “genius.” (He also compares the movie to the recent works of Clint Eastwood, which is Brody out-Brodying himself.) Pundits have been downgrading Beautiful Day recently, but a solid run over the holiday weekend could get some momentum going for this warm, fuzzy blanket of a movie.
Noah Baumbach, Marriage Story; Bong Joon-ho, Parasite; Greta Gerwig, Little Women; Martin Scorsese, The Irishman; Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Paul Walter Hauser, Richard Jewell
Speaking of Eastwood, his film about the security guard wrongfully accused of the Atlanta Olympics bombing finally debuted to the public Wednesday night. While certain elements of the movie have raised hackles — particularly a scene where Olivia Wilde’s reporter trades sex for a scoop — viewers agree Hauser, a comic actor previously known for supporting parts in I, Tonya and BlacKkKlansman, is up to the task of his first lead role. “He rises to the opportunity of a lifetime, capturing both the lack of sophistication and the sweetness of a very sympathetic character,” writes Scott Feinberg. In a category packed with some of Hollywood’s top leading men, can a new face break through?.
Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes
“If you’re predicting The Two Popes to be strong enough to get in for Best Picture, then you’d better be predicting Pryce,” writes Sasha Stone. The logic is sound, and as it happens, I am predicting those pontiffs to get in, which means I need to find a place for Pryce. But that means I’ve got 80 percent of the slots in this category going to Netflix. That can’t be right — can it?
Robert De Niro, The Irishman; Adam Driver, Marriage Story; Eddie Murphy, Dolemite Is My Name; Joaquin Phoenix, Joker; Jonathan Pryce, The Two Popes
Alfre Woodard, Clemency
This week, Mark Harris noted pundits’ unfortunate habit of assuming this category’s four highest-profile white contenders are locks, leaving all the nonwhite actresses to compete against each other for the fifth spot. I’ve been guilty of thinking that way, so the reminder is heeded. And would you look at that, this week Woodard didn’t just get a Best Actress nomination at the Spirits, but Clemency itself also showed up across the board. However, I’ve seen reports the film hasn’t sent out SAG screeners yet, a crucial step for this late-December release.
Awkwafina, The Farewell
Thursday wasn’t a great day for Awkwafina — awards-wise, I mean; I’m sure she could have had a lovely time hanging out with friends — as she got left out of the Best Actress lineup at the Spirits. Considering the results in other categories, it’s possible support for The Farewell may wind up being funneled toward one of her co-stars instead.
Awkwafina, The Farewell; Cynthia Erivo, Harriet; Scarlett Johansson, Marriage Story; Charlize Theron, Bombshell; Renée Zellweger, Judy
Best Supporting Actor
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
I will say this for that brutal Jeopardy clip: The screen that shows visual clues to the contestants is reportedly very small and far away. Since his storybook run in the ’90s, Hanks hasn’t had the run of Oscar success that it feels like; but while louder contenders seem to have surpassed him this year, I still think his chances of earning his first nomination since Cast Away are secure, particularly as the Golden Globes’ Cecil B. DeMille Award affords him primo face time during the heart of Oscar voting.
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood; Anthony Hopkins, The Two Popes; Al Pacino, The Irishman; Joe Pesci, The Irishman; Brad Pitt, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Best Supporting Actress
Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell
Zhao made her first trip to the U.S. this month to campaign for The Farewell, and this week saw her receive a supporting-actress nom from the Spirits. The film wouldn’t work if her Nai Nai didn’t inspire tons of affection, and that same affection likely makes her The Farewell’s strongest acting contender.
Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers
At times this season I’ve lain awake at night wondering if the Oscar buzz for Lopez was real, or merely a media creation. But this week, the Spirits handed J.Lo her first nomination of the season. (The Gothams don’t have a supporting category.) It’s really happening!
Laura Dern, Marriage Story; Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers; Florence Pugh, Little Women; Margot Robbie, Bombshell; Zhao Shuzhen, The Farewell