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 is mounting a fall festival break for awards season, complete with 21 day-and-date theater bookings.
Courtesy of Sundance Institute
Wash Westmoreland’s “Colette” (Metascore: 74) is an arthouse natural picked up by Bleecker Street (partnering with 30West). The charming British-accented biopic stars two-time Oscar nominee 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: 82) 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 also 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.
There’s also Glenn Close’s strong performance in fall hit “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” (December 25, Focus Features), newcomer Kiki Layne in the next film from “Moonlight” Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Annapurna), Saoirse Ronan in the title role “Mary, Queen of Scots” (December 7, Focus Features), and Olivia Colman as crazy Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’ 18th-century court drama “The Favourite” (November 23, Fox Searchlight).
Oscar perennial Viola Davis could carry weight in Steve McQueen thriller “Widows” (November 16, Fox), Emily Blunt takes the Julie Andrews role opposite Lin-Manuel Miranda in “Mary Poppins Returns” (Disney), Lady Gaga follows such singer-actresses as Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand in “A Star is Born” (October 5, Warner Bros.) and Melissa McCarthy incarnates a real-life novelist/con-artist in dramedy “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (October 18, Fox Searchlight).
Alfonso Cuaron’s autobiographical upstairs-downstairs drama “Roma” stars warmly empathetic pre-school teacher Yalitza Aparicio as the hard-working nanny to a sprawling middle-class family in Mexico City; she could follow the likes of Harold Russell (“The Best Years of Our Lives”) and Haing S. Ngor (“The Killing Fields”) as a first-time performer who wins the Oscar.
Debuting quietly at Toronto but building critical support is Matthew Heineman’s “A Private War” (November 2, Aviron) starring Oscar-nominee Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) as fearless war correspondent Marie Colvin. She could gain traction if enough people see the movie to move the needle with critics groups and SAG.
And Oscar perennial Nicole Kidman (Best Actress winner for “The Hours”) is never to be underestimated. She plays a hardboiled cop with a questioning daughter who tries to reckon with mistakes she made in her past in Karyn Kusama’s elegantly wrought “Destroyer” (Annapurna).
Remember, no movie will be deemed a frontrunner until I have seen it. Lists are in alphabetical order.
Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”)
Glenn Close (“The Wife”)
Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”)
Lady Gaga (“A Star is Born”)
Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Photo by Mary Cybulski
Toni Collette (“Hereditary”)
Viola Davis (“Widows”)
Felicity Jones (“On the Basis of Sex”)
Nicole Kidman (“Destroyer”)
Keira Knightley (“Colette”)
Rosamund Pike (“A Private War”)
Saiorse Ronan (“Mary, Queen of Scots”)
Emily Blunt (“Mary Poppins”)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (“The Kindergarten Teacher”)
Kathryn Hahn (“Private Life”)
Kiki Layne (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
Carey Mulligan (“Wildlife”)
Charlize Theron (“Tully”)