The official start of the 2019-20 awards season is still months away, but with the Cannes lineup announced and dates set for the fall’s big contenders, it’s not too early to start thinking about the movies and performances that will register with awards voters later this year. Sundance often brings a handful of early contenders, but this year was relatively light on narrative contenders: “The Farewell” and “The Report” seem most likely to break out, as could Alfre Woodard for her performance in Grand Jury Prize winner “Clemency.” As ever, documentaries showed a stronger hand in Park City, with titles such as “Apollo 11,” “American Factory,” “One Child Nation,” and “Knock Down the House” all likely to build awards buzz this year.
Per usual, studios are saving their biggest contenders for the fall film festivals. One exception is Jordan Peele’s horror thriller “Us,” which scored $246 million worldwide for Universal, almost as much as the writer-director’s previous smash “Get Out” ($255 million worldwide), which earned four Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Daniel Kaluuya and Best Original Screenplay, which Peele won. Weighted with expectations, “Us” is a more polarizing effort but still boasts critical raves and strong Oscar buzz for Lupita Nyong’o’s double lead performance.
Cannes 2019 brings high-profile launches of Paramount’s “Rocketman,” starring Taron Egerton as Elton John, and most likely Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” the latest effort from two-time Oscar-winner Quentin Tarantino, starring Oscar-winner Leonardo DiCaprio. Both films are hopeful Oscar contenders for their respective studios. Cannes is also a platform for the year’s foreign film contenders. Three films in competition at Cannes 2018 landed nominations this year: “Shoplifters,” “Cold War,” and “Capernaum.” Filmmakers such as Bong Joon-ho (“Parasite”), Pedro Almodovar (“Pain & Glory”), and the Dardenne brothers (“The Young Ahmed”) all have new works and potential foreign Oscar contenders screening at Cannes.
The fall will see the usual onslaught of awards titles. Directors returning to the season include Martin Scorsese (“The Irishman”), Greta Gerwig (“Little Women”), Ang Lee (“Gemini Man”), Steven Soderbergh (“The Laundromat”), Marielle Heller (“It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”), Dee Rees (“The Last Thing He Wanted”), Joe Wright (“The Woman in the Window”), and more. Scorsese’s “The Irishman” reunites the director with Robert De Niro in a gangster drama backed by Netflix. After “Roma” failed to win Best Picture this year over “Green Book,” expect the streaming giant to be back in full Oscar campaign mode later this year.
IndieWire’s awards editor Anne Thompson breaks down each of the six main categories this week with full previews of the contenders to expect in each race.
Best Picture (Coming soon)