Oscar Updates: Festival Bonanza!

Films are finally being seen with the Telluride and Venice Film Festivals drawing to a close.. Toronto and the New York Film Festival are just right around the corner, and the Oscar race is starting to take visible shape.

Big Debuts

The first eyes were finally laid on Dune, The Power of the Dog, Spencer, Belfast, King Richard and Parallel Mothers. Each film was received with near-universal acclaim. While some had high expectations, King Richard and Belfast came out of nowhere.

Reinaldo Marcus Green’s King Richard in particular put Will Smith firmly in the Best Actor conversation, while Aunjanue Ellis emerged as the surprise Supporting Actress candidate. The film itself is being touted with mainstream potential that could find itself firmly within the Best Picture ten.

The other surprise was Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. Intimate passion-projects from famous directors are spotty, but the reviews have been over-the-top in the film’s praises. Some critics are even calling it the first film with a chance to win Best Picture. The acting troupe attached are also garnering raves, include Jamie Dornan in Supporting Actor, Judi Dench and Caitriona Balfe in Supporting Actress and even the young Jude Hill garnering some Best Actor mentions.

As for Pablo Larrain’s Spencer, Kristen Stewart’s portrayal of Princess Diana has put here firmly in the lead spot for Best Actress. The film itself has been compared to Larrain’s last feature Jackie, but more praise has been heaped on Larrain than the film itself. I currently have Larrain on the outside looking in at a crowded Best Director field, but that could change very soon.

Dune and Dogs

Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog started everything off and despite each review expecting a divisive reception, each review was rapturous in the film’s praises. The acting of Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst (who looks like she is going supporting) have been singled out, as has the film’s technical aspects. Campion is looking to become the first woman to be nominated for Best Director twice, and right now I see her as the frontrunner for the trophy.

Maybe the most anticipated film of the year was Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Dune. Despite some vocal detractors, the film’s technical marvels have solidified it as one films that will factor in most of the technical categories. A film like Dune was never seen as an actor’s showcase, but Rebecca Ferguson has been singled out as the best-in-show. I have her with an opportunity for a nomination, but the film will have to reach some serious commercial heights to get that far. As far as the Oscar chances elsewhere, I am currently predicting 10 nominations, including Best Director and Best Picture.

What’s Left

There really aren’t many films that no one has laid eyes on. The twosome of Ridley Scott films in the form of The House of Gucci and The Last Duel are debuting soon. I am not very optimistic about Gucci, while I feel Duel as a much more viable candidate, despite both actresses from those films in my predicted five.

Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth debuts at the New York Film Festival, while we are still waiting on when Don’t Look Up, West Side Story, Nightmare Alley and Soggy Bottom (or whatever Paul Thomas Anderson will call his film) will be seen. Don’t forget those surprise films that pop up and take hold of the Oscar race at the last second.

We are less than four months before the end of 2021 and the Oscar-eligible films can stop. The next few months will be coming fast and furious.

All Oscar Predictions

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