Check out our predictions of what might win on March 4.
Here’s an Oscar time-line.
Sundance 2017 introduced the first potential feature contenders: Michael Showalter’s big Amazon Studios sale, “The Big Sick,” a true romance starring writer-actor Kumail Nanjiani, who shared an Original Screenplay nod with wife Emily V. Gordon, and Sony Pictures Classics’ elegiac gay romance “Call Me By Your Name,” directed by Luca Guadagnino, written by nominee James Ivory, and starring Armie Hammer and “Homeland” breakout and best Actor nominee Timothée Chalamet as summer lovers, and stalwart Michael Stuhlbarg as the teenager’s father.
Netflix campaigned for its $12.5 million pickup of Dee Rees’ post-World War II southern drama “Mudbound” starring Jason Clarke, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell and an unrecognizable Mary J. Blige, who landed nominations for Supporting Actress and Song. Adapted by writing nominees Rees and Virgil Williams from Hillary Jordan’s 2009 novel, this movie is not small. Rees and cinematographer Rachel Morrison, the first woman to be nominated in that category, executed sweeping, gorgeous cinema with disciplined precision.
Netflix’s “Icarus” comes from marathon biker Bryan Fogel, who stumbled upon a riveting global scoop: the Russian Olympic doping scandal, and “Strong Island” is a heartfelt docu-memoir from transgender filmmaker Yance Ford.
Early 2017 releases include Jordan Peele’s brainy Hitchcockian thriller “Get Out,” among the best-reviewed of the year; Universal pushed it hard, hoping that its genre elements wouldn’t prevent it from scoring anything beyond a well-deserved nod for screenplay. It also landed Picture, Director and Best Actor Daniel Kaluuya.
Cannes 2017 delivered a handful of contenders.
Following their Oscar win with “Moonlight,” A24 pushed Cannes/NYFF hit “The Florida Project,” writer-director Sean Baker’s follow-up to “Tangerine.” New York Film Critics Circle director-winner Baker’s slice of life along Orlando’s budget motels relies on Willem Dafoe (“Platoon,” “Shadow of the Vampire”), whose humane and paternal motel owner is the glue that holds together this poverty-row drama. He landed his third nomination.
Another A24 pickup doing well on the fall circuit is writer-director Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical directing feature debut “Lady Bird,” starring Saoirse Ronan as a rebellious California high school achiever eager to escape to an Eastern college and Laurie Metcalf as her mother.
At the front of the documentary Oscar line is “Faces Places,” 89-year-old Honorary Oscar-winner Agnes Varda’s heart-tugging pop-up road movie documentary, co-directed with artist JR, which won the Cannes Best Documentary prize and the NYFCC Best Documentary and continues to win awards. She’s at the top of her game, even if she’s going blind and leaning on a cane. The aging Academy is responding to this love letter to the creative spirit.
Another summer blockbuster is Christopher Nolan’s stunning cinematic achievement, the World War II original “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.), which is vying for Best Picture with fall openers “Darkest Hour” (Working Title/Focus Features), Joe Wright’s World War II portrait of Winston Churchill, starring Actor frontrunner Gary Oldman; two Fox Searchlight entries, Guillermo del Toro’s dark romantic fantasy “The Shape of Water,” starring Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins and Octavia Spencer, and Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” starring Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell; as well as Paul Thomas Anderson’s ’50s fashion-world romance “Phantom Thread” starring Daniel Day-Lewis, and Steven Spielberg’s “The Post,” a loveletter to both the role of journalism in a free society and newspaper publisher Katharine Graham, who is played by Meryl Streep in a performance that scored her 21st Oscar nomination.