2017 Oscars Preview - Best Picture
Best Picture is of course the biggest of all the big awards. If it is competitive, this is where most of the attention will be focused. While it is usually a two-film race, last year's more wide open race came down to three films (The Revenant, Spotlight and The Big Short). Could we be looking at that sort of wide open field this year? Only time will tell. For now, let's look at some of the early contenders for the trophy:
This is a Martin Scorsese passion project about Jesuit priests. It stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver and Liam Neeson. That combination of talent should be enough to get it nominated and given Scorsese's track record as one of the all-time great filmmakers, it will probably be good enough to actually compete for the win as well.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Ang Lee's technical marvel, shot in 4K, 3D and at 120 fps, also has a star studded cast. Though the lead actor, Joe Alwyn, is a relative unknown, Steven Martin, Kristen Stewart and Vin Diesel bring a fair bit of star power to the roster. The film deals with a soldier who is back from war and participating in a Cowboys halftime show. The groundbreaking filmmaking is meant to simulate the effects of PTSD as soldiers return home from war.
The Birth Of A Nation
This "reclaiming" of the narrative takes its name from the century-old racist depiction of a brave Ku Klux Klan. Nate Parker's film portrays Nat Turner's slave rebellion in 19th-century Virginia. The film was a Sundance hit and is said to be a very emotional watch. On the heels of #OscarsSoWhite Part II, expect this to almost certainly be nominated at the very least.
The Zookeper's Wife
Niki Caro's adaptation of this beloved book stars Jessica Chastain. It tells the story of a couple running the Warsaw Zoo who used animal cages to save lives during World War II. Holocaust films usually do well, as do book adaptations. The combination of the two could make it a real threat.
Jeff Nichols' film is set to premiere at Cannes and tells the story of the couple at the center of the Supreme Court case that eventually made interracial marriage legal in the United States. It stars Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton. Given Nichols' recent critical success with films like Mud and Midnight Special, it seems like he is building to big success with the Academy, so this could be his breakthrough.
Manchester By The Sea
Another Sundance hit, this Kenneth Lonergan picture stars Casey Affleck. It tells the story of a man who returns to his hometown when his brother dies suddenly. Michelle Williams also stars in it and it is due out in November. Early reviews of the film and its performances have been glowing.
Some have suggested this could join a very elite Oscar club. Only three films have ever won the "Big Five" awards (It Happened One Night, On Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and The Silence of the Lambs). Can the film win Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Adapted Screenplay? Considering the film is not even done shooting yet, it is way to early to tell. But with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reprising their Tony Award winning roles from the stage, it is certainly a possibility. If the film is good, Fences may run away with this year.
This will be a much more low profile contender than some others on this list, but people are expecting great things from Barry Jenkins' film. It is the story of a queer black man coming of age during the height of the drug war and coming to grips with his own sexuality. A24 has had a lot of success recently with Room and Ex Machina, so the film is likely to work. It stars Naomie Harris, Andre Holland and Mahershala Ali and is due out later this year.
Jennifer Lawrence is gold. If she's in a film, it is on the radar in a big way. This futuristic sci-fi picture is a new lane for her, but Morten Tyldum's followup to The Imitation Game also stars Chris Pratt. The combination should at least bring in the box office results, which will be enough to at least give it a change.
La La Land
The original movie musical is a rare film these days. Early reviews cite Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as the heart of the story. If they are good enough, the film could certainly make it in. At certain awards shows, like the Golden Globes, it will have its own categories, which could help it build up strength before the Oscars.
There's room for lots of other films to sneak in here. Clint Eastwood's Sully, Woody Allen's Café Society, Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals and Garth Davis' Lion all have the pedigree to eventually make it into the mix. Fore more movies that could potentially be a part of the conversation, be sure to check out our coverage of all of the major categories linked below.
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