Oscar Updates: In The Thick of Festival Season

Oscar season is starting to ramp up and the races are starting to take shape. While Cannes, Toronto, Venice, and Telluride are in the rear view, festival season is well upon us. It seems like a good time to check in on where the race stands today.

Frontrunners Emerge

Steven Spielberg will always be an awards draw, but his autobiographical film The Fabelmans was met with very positive reviews and awards prognostication. The film has already emerged as the Best Picture frontrunner, despite a very select group of people having seen it. Regardless of the commercial reception, Spielberg is so established at this point, I would be shocked if the film didn’t receive a boatload of nominations.

Meanwhile, the big surprise has been Sarah Polley’s Women Talking. The film’s message is poignant and has a star-studded cast. Reviews have been VERY kind, though it has it fair share of detractors. The Academy has been opening up their minds in the Director’s branch lately, and I see Polley making it to the Best Director five (along with some Supporting Actress nominations).

While some critics have been big fans of Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, some are very much against it. That being said, the love for Brendan Fraser’s performance is almost being universally praised. He immediately jumped to the top of everyone’s Best Actor list (including mine). It feels much more like a coronation and redemption story than a great performance (though I hear it is that too).

Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin has been equally praised, especially the two performances of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. Following their dual Golden Globe nominations for McDonagh’s In Bruges, this film looks to take it one step further into Oscar territory.


So, what’s left? The undeniably biggest film left is Damien Chazelle’s Babylon. The recent trailer release has put the already-hyped film into a new stratosphere. The Oscars love films about Hollywood, and Chazelle already has a solid track record. The buzz has been around Margot Robbie’s performance, but Jean Smart popped out of nowhere to land on people’s radars as well.

With the recent re-release of Avatar, its subsequent sequel Avatar: The Way of Water is starting to get some buzz. The backlash to the original was odd and swift, but there might be a groundswell if this film is half as good as the trailers look. I currently have it in the Best Picture lineup.

Other quieter releases like the Tom Hanks-starring A Man Called Otto, Whitney Houston biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody, and Korean War drama Devotion still might make some late play. Also, according to sources, the Apple produced Will Smith slavery action film Emancipation will be getting a 2022 release date. I am very bullish on the project because of Smith’s recent public persona, but it’s still worth keeping an eye on.

Convicted of Fraud

The Fabelmans‘ Michelle Williams was all but assured a Best Supporting Actress nomination (and some predicting win) as soon as the film premiered. The narrative made plenty of sense. But, life has other plans. Williams will be campaigning for a very crowded spot in Best Actress. I still have her getting in, but her road to a nomination is now significantly harder.

I mentioned Brendan Gleeson earlier, but it looks like they want to avoid the internal competition from Farrell. By all accounts, it’s about the two characters, but Gleeson will be campaigning for his first Oscar nomination as a Supporting Actor while Farrell goes Lead. Best Actor is a barren wasteland right now, but Gleeson might be in contention for the win in Supporting, so I understand it.

Despite Viola Davis getting a bulk of The Woman King‘s press, Thuso Mbedu is the person who is on screen the most. In one of the more egregious cases of category fraud, she will be competing for the Supporting Actress nods alongside costars Lashana Lynch and Sheila Atim. I currently have Lynch predicted and Mbedu not on the longlists, but you never know what precursors can do for a campaign.

It’s Always the Money

A pair of films will be fighting for box office supremacy in December. The previously mentioned Avatar: The Way of Water and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are both expected to leave a large box office tally in their wake. Despite being unseen thus far, Wakanda Forever‘s marketing has been smart and deliberate. If the positive reception that followed its predecessor can be repeated, there is no reason to think it can’t get a Best Picture nomination.

Speaking of positive reception, The Woman King received across the board support from critics and audiences. If the film can maintain some consistent box office staying power, Viola Davis and the supporting cast can find themselves in the mix.

The two early-year successes continue to be Top Gun: Maverick and Everything Everywhere All At Once. The groundswell of each film continues and I expect it to lead to both films earning Best Picture nominations (among many others).

Updated Oscar Charts
Best Picture
Best Director
Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress

2022 Film Reviews
Review: Top Gun: Maverick

You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Letterboxd.
Make sure to subscribe and keep up with everything IC4F has to offer!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s