Quentin Tarantino’s latest feature debuted to 5-star reviews and controversy at Cannes in May, with many reviewers lauding it a masterpiece, and others critiquing the director’s attempt to dramatise such a grim bit of US history (the Manson murders). Others felt he hadn’t provided an adequate amount of lines for Margot Robbie, who plays doomed starlet, Sharon Tate. The Oscars can’t help but court controversy, and they’ve yet to give Tarantino a best picture award. Perhaps this could be his year…
Bohemian Rhapsody didn’t take home the main prize last year, but it certainly dominated the ceremony, with Queen opening the show and Rami Malek winning for Best Actor. Dexter Fletcher, who finished BoRhap after Bryan Singer left the film, has an even better film on his hands this year. It’s a delightful musical (the all-singing, all-dancing kind), which journeys through Elton John’s battle with drug addiction at the height of his fame, from the mid 1970s to 1990.
In 90-plus years of Academy Awards, only three animated films have been nominated for best picture, with none of them bagging the ultimate prize. The last to do so was Toy Story 3 back in 2010 – so a nomination here is not out of the realm of possibility. The fourth instalment of the series about sentient children’s toys feels a little like an addendum rather than a conclusion, but that doesn’t take away from the sheer brilliance of the animation and storytelling on show. New toys voiced by Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele and newly anointed international hero Keanu Reeves are enjoyable additions.
This motorsport biopic has all the makings of a best picture nominee. Two Oscar-winning frontmen in Matt Damon and Christian Bale, a proven director in James Mangold (Walk The Line, Logan) and a true story which sees America conquer a foreign power. This time around, it’s the far-from-glamorous Ford Motoring Company mounting a challenge against perennially dominant Italians at Le Mans 24 hour race. Damon plays Carroll Shelby, the visionary American driver and car designer who recruits rogue driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale) to beat out Enzo Ferrari.
No, really. The final outing for Iron Man, Captain America and co may not surmount Avatar to become the highest-grossing film of all-time, but it could well take home an Academy Award or two.
Black Panther earned Marvel’s first-ever Best Picture nod last year, and rightly so – it showed us that superhero filmmaking could have depth, cultural relevance and extravagant intergalactic action scenes all at once. And, though Endgame doesn’t have quite the same gravitas, it was universally lauded by critics and a majority of its fanbase. The Academy has realised that it needs to bend with the changing nature of cinema, and, as the 2019 Box Office reveals, Endgame can’t be ignored.
Taron Egerton, Rocketman
Elton John and Taron Egerton in Cannes, Getty
They may look almost nothing alike, but Taron Egerton defied the odds and absolutely inhabited the role of Elton John. Oh what a bit of dental work, a cheeky grin and pinch of swagger can do. If Rocketman is in the Oscars conversation as we suspect it will, then Taron will be one of the first names on the ballot.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Leo had to wrestle with a bear to get his first Oscar (for 2017’s The Revenant). Hopefully he won’t have to go so far for his second. Tarantino films have not traditionally been great for actors, in terms of Oscar success. Only Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds) has bagged one for his turn under his direction. But Leo is Leo, and he may well have done enough as actor Rick Dalton to take it home.
Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day In The Neighbourhood
The Oscars love Tom Hanks. Everyone loves Tom Hanks. Here, he plays Fred Rogers, the real-life US children’s TV personality, who is beloved for his kind, neighbourly nature. Hand, meet glove.
Hanks has won two Oscars: the first for Philadelphia in 1993, the second for Forrest Gump in 1994. 25 years later, it may once again be his time.
Lupita won for Best Supporting Actress in 2014 for her stunning turn in 12 Years A Slave, and she could well bag the Leading Actress award this time around for her performance as Adelaide Wilson in Jordan Peele’s latest film Us.
Horror films do not typically get the recognition they deserve at these awards shows, but this film has two previous winners on board in Nyong’o and Peele, and horror’s importance to the Box Office these days – Get Out was one of the most profitable film of 2017, taking in $255m off a budget of $4.5m – seems to have made Hollywood reconsider the genre.
Amy Adams, Woman in the Window
How long will Amy Adams have to wait for her Oscar? We don’t want to see her go the way of Leonardo DiCaprio. She plays an agoraphobic child psychologist who witnesses a crime in this film from Joe Wright (Atonement, Darkest Hour).
This one isn’t out until the end of the year; but that may well work in its favour. Saoirse was unfortunate to miss out on the Oscar after getting the nod for Lady Bird in 2018, but this adaptation of the beloved literary classic could be her best chance yet. She has competition from her fellow cast-members Florence Pugh, Emma Watson and Laura Dern, but she is in the best position as protagonist Jo March.
One of the pleasant surprises of the 2018 ceremony was Peele picking up the award for Best Original Screenplay. Us is another brilliant display of his talents, and he has been credited with getting a career-best performance out of his star, Lupita Nyong’o. If the Academy can overlook the horror snobbery, he’s in with a strong chance.