In this year’s battle of the auteurs, long-overdue Paul Schrader’s “First Reformed” (A24) goes up against “The Big Short” director Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice” (Annapurna) starring a beefy Christian Bale as Dick Cheney, and “Gravity” Best Director-winner Alfonso Cuarón’s return to Mexico, 65 mm black-and-white “Roma” (Netflix). McKay and Cuarón landed WGA nods.
But the duel for the win is between two true stories. Writer-director Peter Farrelly’s Toronto audience-award-winning breakout “Green Book” is about a sophisticated concert pianist (Mahershala Ali) and the New York bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) hired to drive and protect him on the road in the 60s Deep South. Controversy keeps dogging the Screenplay Golden Globe-winner, which could impact Academy voters.
Even without a WGA mention (it wasn’t eligible), Oscar buzz is building for Yorgos Lanthimos’ witty royal-court dramedy “The Favourite” (Fox Searchlight), starring Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, and Rachel Weisz as real 18th-century characters, partly because the always off-beat Lanthimos didn’t originate the script. With ten nominations, the British movie should get a nice boost from the BAFTAs.
Contenders are listed according to their likelihood to win.
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara (“The Favourite”)
Nick Vallelonga & Brian Currie & Peter Farrelly (“Green Book”)
Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma”)
Adam McKay (“Vice”)
Paul Schrader (“First Reformed”)