Breaking out of Sundance, Netflix-produced Tamara Jenkins drama “Private Life” (Metascore: 81) stars Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn as a couple struggling with a midlife infertility crisis. They turn to their beloved niece (Kayli Carter) to consider donating some of her eggs to the cause, to the horror of her mother (Molly Shannon). Netflix plans a fall festival break for the movie as an awards season launch.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute
Wash Westmoreland’s “Colette” (Metascore: 74) is a conventional arthouse play, predictably picked up by Bleecker Street (partnering with 30West). The charming British-accented biopic stars Keira Knightley as a smart young French beauty plucked from the country in Burgundy to marry a sophisticated older Parisian, womanizer Henri Gauthier-Villars (Dominic West). She ghostwrites his “Willy” potboilers for him until she eventually grows into her own identity as a woman writer (“Gigi,” “Cheri”), stage performer and lover of women. Knightley and West are both superb in the well-mounted period movie, which could ignite long-term interest.
Actor Paul Dano’s directorial debut “Wildlife” (Metascore: 83) is a ’60s dysfunctional family tale preserved in amber and observed by the 14-year-old son (Australian discovery Ed Oxenbould) of unhappy, unfulfilled parents (Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan, who gives an awards-worthy performance). The bleak drama (IFC) got a boost from its berth in the Cannes Directors Fortnight.
Also giving standout Sundance performances were Charlize Theron as a depressed new mother in Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman’s well-reviewed “Tully” (Focus Features), a more sympathetic follow-up to “Young Adult,” which floundered at the box office. Toni Collette is another sort of beleaguered mom in horror entry “Heredity” (A24), which could be limited by its genre.
Breaking out at Cannes was Oscar-winner Penelope Cruz in Asghar Farhadi’s Spanish-language melodrama “Everybody Knows,” costarring Javier Bardem, which played well opening night and was scooped up by Focus Features.
There’s also good word on Glenn Close in “The Wife” (Sony Pictures Classics), Felicity Jones’ chance at a second Oscar nomination as the young future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Mimi Leder’s drama “On the Basis of Sex” (Focus Features), newcomer Kiki Layne in the next film from Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Annapurna), Saoirse Ronan vs. Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I in “Mary, Queen of Scots” (Focus Features), Claire Foy as the wife of astronaut Neil Armstrong in “First Man” (Universal) and Emma Stone in Yorgos Lanthimos’ 18th-century Queen Anne court drama “The Favourite” (Fox Searchlight).
Walt Disney Pictures
Other Oscar perennials Cate Blanchett (“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”) and Viola Davis (“Widows”) will carry weight too. Emily Blunt takes the Julie Andrews role opposite Lin-Manuel Miranda in “Mary Poppins Returns” (Disney), Melissa McCarthy incarnates a real-life novelist/con-artist in dramedy “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” and hard-working Sebastián Lelio (Oscar-winner “A Fantastic Woman”) offers two movies with strong roles for women: Julianne Moore in the English-language remake of “Gloria” and Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz in lesbian romance “Disobedience.”
For once, Meryl Streep is out of the Best Actress race this year; she’s got two Supporting Actress possibilities in sequels “Mary Poppins Returns” and “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.”
Remember, no movie will be deemed a frontrunner until I have seen it.
Penelope Cruz (“Everybody Knows”)
Keira Knightley (“Colette”)
Carey Mulligan (“Wildlife”)
Charlize Theron (“Tully”)
Felicity Jones (“On the Basis of Sex”)
Glenn Close (“The Wife”)
Cate Blanchett (“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?”)
Viola Davis (“Widows”)
Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Margot Robbie (“Mary, Queen of Scots”)
Saiorse Ronan (“Mary, Queen of Scots”)
Toni Collette (“Hereditary”)
Annette Bening (“The Seagull”)
Kathryn Hahn (“Private Life”)
Kiki Layne (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Lady Gaga (“A Star is Born”)
Rachel McAdams (“Disobedience”)
Julianne Moore (“Gloria”)
Rachel Weisz (“Disobedience”)