Who doesn’t love a nice round number? After a few years where the Best Picture category at the Oscars hovered between eight and nine nominees, the academy has finally decided to go back to 10 this season. It’s a move I’m all in favor of, as the larger breed can make room for more distinctive films.
But here’s the bad news: Speaking to voters about the Oscars recently, I hear too many of them complaining, “Are there even 10 great movies to vote for this year?”
Greatness is in the eye of the beholder, but this year’s Oscar nominee pack is at least of a gratifying variety, with blockbusters from big studios, intimate international dramas, and doomsday comedy with a Meryl Streep stamped President. If voters feel that the field is too sparse to fill 10 boxes, it is only because they are not looking for enough.
I have now screened all of the main cast at this year’s Oscars except Guillermo del Toro “Alley of Nightmares” (which will finally begin airing right after this column goes to press), and while a consensus has started to form on the main contenders, there is still an exciting lineup of films that could complement the rest of the lineup. of this year. Here are my screenings for the six films that have the best chances for a better picture, along with a handful of other worthy films that should give voters plenty to choose from.
‘West Side Story’
Could Steven Spielberg’s new musical pull off the same feat as the 1961 big-screen version and win Best Picture at the Oscars? After the screening of the film this week to a standing ovation, I moved “West Side Story” in pole position. Spielberg’s savvy reimagining of the source material marries old-school sweeping with contemporary concerns, putting the film in the right place for Oscar voters. And after last year’s smaller-scale Oscars, a massive Steven Spielberg musical that only makes its theatrical debut is exactly the sort of thing the movie industry – and the Oscars themselves – is will want to rally.
As a movie, “Belfast” has an appealing modesty: it lasts only 97 minutes, it never exaggerates, and it ends exactly when it should. But could that same modesty take him away from Oscar’s top spot? Many in the academy will love Kenneth Branagh’s story of a troubled Irish family, but “West Side Story” offers more pomp and circumstance and “Belfast” has so far amassed a limited gross amount of money. ‘about $ 5 million. . The crowd of older artists who could have made the film a dormant success have yet to return to theaters, so the momentum for the awards will have to come from the sheer love of the film itself.
“The power of the dog”
Jane Campion’s western is anchored by two very lively performances – Benedict Cumberbatch as a sadistic breeder and Kirsten Dunst as her tormented sister-in-law – and has starred at all of the top fall film festivals, as has the last year’s ultimate winner, “Nomadland”, does. Much has changed since 1994, when Campion became just the second woman ever to be nominated for Best Director, and the chance to canonize her could put Campion in the running for a major Oscar. But I think the film has a better chance of winning the directors’ race than triumphing in the best frame.
This inspiring drama about Richard Williams, father of tennis freaks Venus and Serena, boasts of this year’s alleged best actor, Will Smith. That alone should secure it a spot for Best Picture, as the last 10 Best Actor winners all came from films that were also nominated for the top category at the Oscars. (That’s true for just six of the last 10 Best Actress winners, another sign of how this electorate needs to take female films more seriously.) “King Richard” get off on the wrong foot.
“Being the Ricardos”
The teaser for this comedy-drama directed by Aaron Sorkin, he played a very reckless game of “Hide the Lucy”, treating Nicole Kidman’s performance as TV comedian Lucille Ball as impending disaster that needed to be wisely cut. But after the film began screening in front of enthusiastic Guild audiences, the smoky-throat Kidman’s transformation came as a surprise, bringing her one step closer to a second Oscar. Add to all that a solid supporting cast – including Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz, as well as JK Simmons and Nina Arianda – and “Being the Ricardos” (opening later this month) should be a big player in rewards.
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