Contender films like ‘Close’ should be nominated for Oscars

It’s not all about the best when it comes to the Oscars. It is the most viewed. Voters are made up of industrial workers who cannot afford the luxury of dedicating endless hours to watching hundreds of films in a calendar year. That’s where awards strategists come in: They help create and develop the narratives around the movies you “must” watch before compiling your ballot. This strategy has benefited studios with huge marketing budgets, like streamers Apple and Netflix, and box office titans like “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Each year, after multiple conversations with voters during different times of the season about which movies they’re favoring, I’m still surprised not to hear them mention some of the critically lauded features, even the high-profile ones pundits have touted. An Actors Branch member says he has seen three movies this year: ‘The Batman’, ‘Thirteen Lives’ and ‘Top Gun: Maverick’. “I loved them all,” they say Variety. “There are so many things that I have to recover. I plan to do this over the Christmas holidays.

It’s impossible to pack an entire year of cinema into the last two weeks. This year, many films have caused a stir, but some factors go against the genre and smaller, independent features that deserve attention.

Films that portray historical moments, especially those involving racial and gender equality issues, may feel like “homework” to Academy voters. While “Till,” which depicts the heartbreaking story of 14-year-old Emmett Till’s mother after her murder, is quite on the upswing for Best Actress contender Danielle Deadwyler, other elements of the film are worth considering, especially the heartbreaking screenplay and tenderly directed by Chinonye Chukwu.

Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking” looks at women in an isolated religious community who are grappling with the brutal reality of their faith. Some strategists fear the film won’t be shaken properly by the grumpy old men in the industry. But it boasts the year’s most impressive acting ensemble and a fleeting 104 minutes running time, and Hollywood shouldn’t be shy about engaging with the hard, cold truth of inequality in our society.

Films released in the first half of the year struggle to stay afloat on the circuit. Social media critics and cinephiles are helping A24’s multiverse comedy ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ and Warner Bros.’ ‘Elvis’, which debuted in March and June respectively, has cleared the hurdle. However, the Viking epic “The Northman” and meta action film “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”, which were highly anticipated at the time of their release, have not been mentioned in many circles lately.

To see predictions categorized by each individual category, visit Of variety Oscars hub.

MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON, Marcel (voice: Jenny Slate), 2021. © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection
Courtesy of the Everett Collection

Genre bias will always hold back horror and sci-fi movies, mostly due to an elitist view of them, which is why we can’t bet that the fifth installment of ‘Scream’ or the slasher film ‘Pearl’ will make any noise. But if voters can find a soft spot for comedy, perhaps something lighthearted like Apple Original Films’ “Cha Cha Real Smooth” or A24’s animated-live action hybrid “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On” will have its due. In the case of the latter, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more delightfully worthy contender for adapted screenplay, and yes, Best Picture too.

When it comes to non-English language titles, we have seen progress with the representation of international titles receiving accolades. One year after the Japanese film ‘Drive My Car’ beat the odds and landed in the main categories for Best Picture, there is a probable possibility that two international features: the German war drama ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ and the South Korean crime thriller “Decision to Leave” ”- could get out of their category, which would be the first in the history of the Academy. They are in the trenches for the Belgian coming-of-age story “Close”, the Danish religious thriller “Holy Spider” and the French courtroom drama “Saint Omer”, not only for best film but also for acting and technical accolades. All use suspense, tension and heartbreaking emotion to convey their respective themes.

“Goodnight Oppy”
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Also flying under the radar, especially since voters tend to confine them to their own category, are non-fiction films like Amazon Studios’ “Good Night Oppy.” As for the two Mars rovers that were supposed to be operational for 90 days but went on for 15 years, this year is the “CODA” of documentaries. Bringing warm feelings of joy, the tale of two robots and a lot of scientists might make you physically cry. Not acknowledging that the sound, visuals, and music also live up to the awards would be an exercise in folly.

Likewise, “Sr.” — about director Robert Downey, the father of actor Robert Downey Jr. — has remained in the top spot since its Telluride debut. The thinking of Downey Jr., who appears in the film and produced it, getting an Oscar is too good to ignore.

An alarming trend that has developed this season, cited by many industry insiders and strategists, is the difficulty of getting Academy members to attend official screenings in person. Some voters say COVID fears still loom, while others have gotten used to watching movies online in the Academy screening room. Not only the Academy, but other organizations as well, such as the BAFTAs, have begun to allow three or even four guests to facilitate member participation with families and to encourage participation.

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Oscar voters should also make time for all of the following 10 films: Charlotte Wells’ “Aftersun” (A24), JD Dillard’s “Devotion” (Sony Pictures), Antoine Fuqua’s “Emancipation” (Apple Original Films), “Elegance Bratton” by Elegance Bratton. The Inspection” (A24), James Morosini’s “I Love My Dad” (Magnolia Pictures), Max Walker-Silverman’s “A Love Song” (Bleecker Street), Nikyatu Jusu’s “Nanny” (Amazon Studios), “Nothing Compares ” by Kathryn Ferguson (Showtime Documentary Films), “RRR” by SS Rajamouli (Variance Films) and “The Silent Twins” by Agnieszka Smoczynska (Focus Features).

The updated predictions for the Academy Awards pages will arrive on Wednesday of this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

To see the current rankings for each individual category, please visit Of variety Oscars hub. The first series of Predictions of the SAG Awards for cinema has also been revealed.


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