In this year’s battle of the auteurs, expect to see Wes Anderson’s animated “Isle of Dogs” (April 13, Fox Searchlight) contend against long-overdue Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” (May 18, A24), “The Big Short” director Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Backseat” (December 14, Annapurna) starring a beefy Christian Bale, Oscar perennial Mike Leigh’s 1819 massacre epic “Peterloo” (November 9, Amazon Studios), and “Gravity” Best Director-winner Alfonso Cuaron’s return to Mexico, 70 mm black-and-white drama “Roma” (Netflix) which is the centerpiece of the New York Film Festival.
That Netflix title was invited to Cannes, along with Paul Greengrass’ real-life terrorism drama “Norway” (November 2), but out of competition, so Ted Sarandos pulled them back to the fall festivals. That’s where we shall find out which films prove their mettle. (“Norway” is an Adapted Screenplay.)
Advance buzz is building for Yorgos Lanthimos’ royal-court dramedy “The Favourite” (November 23, Fox Searchlight), starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz, partly because the always off-beat Lanthimos did not write the witty original script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. (Searchlight’s “Wendy,” Benh Zeitlin’s long-awaited follow-up to Oscar-nominated “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” has been pushed back to 2019.)
If all goes right, Sundance breakouts Bo Burnham (“Eighth Grade,” July 13, A24) and Boots Riley (“Sorry to Bother You,” July 6, Annapurna) could benefit from a younger and more diverse Academy membership. They could also push into contention such genre films as Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” (June 8, A24), John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” (April 6, Paramount), and upcoming films from Karyn Kusama (Annapurna’s “Destroyer”) and James Gray (Fox sci-fi thriller “Ad Astra,” starring Brad Pitt).
Are Academy voters ready to embrace Jonah Hill’s writing and directing debut, the coming-of-age tale “Mid 90s?” That could be a long shot for A24. But the writers are always more open minded than other branches, from “Bridesmaids” to “Get Out.”
Remember, no film will be deemed a frontrunner until I have seen it.
Wes Anderson (“Isle of Dogs”)
Ari Aster (“Hereditary”)
Bo Burnham (“Eighth Grade”)
Paul Schrader (“First Reformed”)
Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”)
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (“The Favourite”)
John Krasinski, Bryan Woods and Scott Beck (“A Quiet Place”)
Mike Leigh (“Peterloo”)
Adam McKay (“Backseat”)
James Gray and Ethan Gross (“Ad Astra”)
Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (“Destroyer”)
Jonah Hill (“Mid-90s”)
Boots Riley (“Sorry to Bother You”)