If you’ve been around the Oscar game as long as I have, you know that awards season is a marathon, not a sprint. But, as with any race, it’s important to chart the progress of various contenders, and in some cases, pretenders.
Coming out of the Venice-Telluride-Toronto gauntlet, it feels safe to say that Poor Things and The Holdovers are locks for Best Picture nominations, and I may add Cord Jefferson‘s American Fiction to that list once I see it for myself, though I do generally trust Toronto’s esteemed Audience Award as a strong-enough predictor of where things stand.
American Fiction is one of three films new to this week’s Best Picture rankings along with Ava DuVernay‘s Origin and George C. Wolfe‘s Rustin, and the stars of all three films appear to be frontrunners for nominations this year, from Jeffrey Wright and Colman Domingo, who will be competing in Best Actor, to Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, whose performance is said t shake up the Best Actress race.
I maintain that Oppenheimer won’t win Best Picture, as it’s simply not the kind of movie the Academy typically goes for, but I won’t be able to say for certain until I see all of the contenders — especially Poor Things. I do believe that Christopher Nolan has the Best Director statue within his grasp unless Poor Things filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos plays the spoiler.
Meanwhile, with each awards contender I see, the more I’m starting to come around to the idea of Greta Gerwig landing a Best Director nod for Barbie, though her big obstacle may be The Holdovers filmmaker Alexander Payne, who is right on the bubble. I understand it’s still early days, but it feels like the race is settling into place earlier than ever this season.
The hot topic du jour this week was Lily Gladstone‘s “switch” from Best Supporting Actress to Best Actress, but like The Fabelmans star Michelle Williams last year, the move feels warranted, as it sounds to me like Gladstone is a lead in Martin Scorsese‘s latest crime epic. Besides, I don’t think she would’ve walked to victory had she stayed in the supporting actress category, as Da’Vine Joy Randolph brings the heat as a grieving mother in The Holdovers, in which she more than holds her own opposite Paul Giamatti, who is equally deserving of his first Oscar.
As for the biggest drop in this week’s rankings, it’s a battle between Anatomy of a Fall, The Zone of Interest, and Saltburn, as Anatomy was snubbed for the international feature Oscar by France’s selection committee in favor of The Taste of Things, which is generally considered more of a crowd-pleaser. Neon could, in fact, rally the Academy around that film to compensate for that controversial choice, but I saw Anatomy of a Fall at TIFF, and while I certainly liked it — especially the performances — it didn’t quite blow me away. The same goes for Jonathan Glazer‘s Holocaust movie The Zone of Interest, which, while stomach-churning, didn’t really do much for me — a case of more style than substance. As for Saltburn, it just didn’t strike me as an Academy movie, though I love the campaign Amazon has put together for Emerald Fennell‘s creepy sophomore effort.
I still can’t wait to see a handful of Netflix titles, including David Fincher‘s The Killer, Bradley Cooper‘s Maestro, and J.A. Bayona‘s Society of the Snow, so expect to see the rankings change as I get a chance to screen more movies.
For now, this is how I see things… having still not seen a whole lot of things. The only thing I can say for certain right now, besides the fact that these rankings will change, is that the Best Picture race remains wide open.
- Killers of the Flower Moon
- The Holdovers
- Poor Things
- American Fiction (NEW)
- Barbie (-1)
- Past Lives (-1)
- Origin (NEW)
- All of Us Strangers (-2)
- Air (+1)
- Rustin (NEW)
- Ferrari (+1)
- The Killer (-4)
- Anatomy of a Fall (-8)
Analysis: The Holdovers was the only major contender I saw in Toronto, and it’s definitely getting nominated for Best Picture, though I’m not quite sure it’s strong enough to win. I missed American Fiction, which won the Audience Award at TIFF, but that Jeffrey Wright-led satire has to be seen as a serious threat — though I won’t know how serious until I see it.
I still have a sneaking suspicion that All of Us Strangers could muscle its way into the race, even though I haven’t seen that film, and I’m also not ready to write off The Killer, given the Fincher faithful across the industry. Likewise, I believe Amazon has a real shot of scoring a nod for Air if it mounts a strong campaign.
Meanwhile, I’ve downgraded Anatomy of a Fall after seeing it, and suspect it’ll have to settle for challenging for the International Feature award, and I’ve removed several titles from contention, including The Zone of Interest and Saltburn.
This race does seem to be narrowing to Oppenheimer vs. Killers of the Flower Moon, with Poor Things playing the spoiler, but I still have hope that a smaller title will blow me away. Michel Franco‘s devastating dementia drama Memory came the closest in Toronto, and it’s wild how that film is still seeking U.S. distribution, as Jessica Chastain is excellent and Peter Sarsgaard, who won the Best Actor prize in Venice, is also fantastic.
- Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer
- Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon
- Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things
- Alexander Payne, The Holdovers (+1)
- Greta Gerwig, Barbie (+3)
- Ava DuVernay, Origin (NEW)
- Michael Mann, Ferrari (NEW)
- Bradley Cooper, Maestro (+2)
- David Fincher, The Killer
- Celine Song, Past Lives (NEW)
Analysis: This week, I removed Justine Triet (4), Jonathan Glazer (6), and Emerald Fennell (7), adding Ava DuVernay, Michael Mann, and Celine Song. Glazer still has a chance, but I think the other two can be safely removed from serious contention. Right now, I’d say that Gerwig and DuVernay are battling for a nomination, though it’s possible that both could get in and that Payne winds up with the short end of the stick. At the end of the day, this award is all but assured to go to Nolan, though I could see Lanthimos playing the spoiler.
- Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers
- Colman Domingo, Rustin
- Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon (+1)
- Jeffrey Wright, American Fiction (NEW)
- Bradley Cooper, Maestro (-2)
- Gael Garcia Bernal, Cassandro
- Austin Butler, The Bikeriders (+1)
- Andrew Scott, All of Us Strangers (+1)
- Jamie Foxx, The Burial (NEW)
Analysis: This week, I removed The Killer star Michael Fassbender (6) and Saltburn Barry Keoghan (8) due to the emergence of two new contenders out of TIFF — Jeffrey Wright and Jamie Foxx. I know everyone thinks Cillian Murphy is going to walk away with this award, but I suspect it’ll either be Paul Giamatti’s or Jeffrey Wright’s year. The only reason I have Colman Domingo ranked over Wright is that critics are really singling out his performance in Rustin, whereas reviews of American Fiction seem to be more enamored with the writing and the general idea of the satirical film and everything it’s skewering.
While I can’t wait to see movie stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, Adam Driver, and Joaquin Phoenix do their thing on the big screen this fall, it’s Gael Garcia Bernal, that I have my eye on, as I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about his turn as a gay wrestler in Cassandro.
- Emma Stone, Poor Things
- Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon (NEW)
- Annette Bening, Nyad (+6)
- Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Origin (NEW)
- Carey Mulligan, Maestro (-2)
- Sandra Huller, Anatomy of a Fall (-4)
- Natalie Portman, May December (-3)
- Margot Robbie, Barbie (-2)
- Greta Lee, Past Lives (-1)
- Jodie Comer, The Bikeriders (-5)
Analysis: This week, I removed Foe star Saorise Ronan (7) and Napoleon star Vanessa Kirby (10), but really, this lineup looks very different from my last batch of power rankings, as Gladstone and Ellis-Taylor have been added to the Top 5, as has Annette Bening, who was pretty great as a long-distance swimmer in the triumphant Netflix movie Nyad. Sandra Huller is great in Anatomy of a Fall, but I’m not sure she’ll be able to mount a strong enough campaign to topple some of this year’s early frontrunners.
As for Margot Robbie, I still suspect she’ll fall short this year, which looks super competitive, and she’s not the only young starlet in the mix this year, as there’s also Jodie Comer‘s buzzy turn in The Bikeriders and Greta Lee‘s performance in Past Lives to contend with, along with Vanessa Kirby (Napoleon) and Saoirse Ronan (Foe).
Best Supporting Actor
- Robert Downey Jr., Oppenheimer
- Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things (NEW)
- Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon (-1)
- Dominic Sessa, The Holdovers (+1)
- Willem Dafoe, Poor Things (-1)
- Peter Sarsgaard, Memory (NEW)
- Ryan Gosling, Barbie (-1)
- Glenn Howerton, Blackberry (-1)
- Paul Mescal, All of Us Strangers (-6)
- Matt Damon, Oppenheimer
Analysis: This week, I removed The Killer actor Arliss Howard (8) and Charles Melton (9). Melton is said to be impressive in May December, but I’m not sure he’s paid enough dues in the movie world to merit a nomination, nor am I sure that May December will be seen as a major contender this season. I mean, it could be — it has the pedigree, so it’s possible — but it just seems like Netflix may have higher priorities this season. Meanwhile, I don’t really know how Sarsgaard is considered a supporting actor in Memory — he was named Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival — but he’s absolutely going to challenge Dominic Sessa and Willem Dafoe… if his movie gets picked up for U.S. distribution.
Best Supporting Actress
- Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers
- Jodie Foster, Nyad (+6)
- Penelope Cruz, Ferrari
- Julianne Moore, May December (+1)
- Viola Davis, Air (-1)
- Emily Blunt, Oppenheimer
- Niecy Nash-Betts, Origin (NEW)
- Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple (+1)
- Taraji P. Henson, The Color Purple (+1)
- America Ferrera, Barbie (NEW)
Analysis: This week, I removed Salburn actress Rosamund Pike (7) and Killers of the Flower Moon star Lily Gladstone (2), the latter of whom has opted to campaign for Best Actress. That leaves Randolph competing with risers such as Niecy Nash-Betts and Danielle Brooks, the latter of whom is said to be the standout in The Color Purple. I’ll say this much — Jodie Foster feels like a very safe bet to me, as she’s fantastic in Nyad. Meanwhile, Viola Davis is still hanging around, and I feel that her work in Air is better than that of Emily Blunt in Oppenheimer, even though the latter film will obviously have more support within the Academy at large.