With the recently concluded 75th Venice Film Festival taking over the world of showbiz during the past fortnight, the focus will now shift to the other side of the Atlantic. 2018’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is expected to be screening a host of films – that are being considered serious bids to be Oscar contenders, even though we’re only in the third quarter of the year.
India will be represented by Nandita Das’s Manto, a film that has already gotten rave reviews and a standing ovation at its Cannes premiere. Vasan Bala’s The Man Who Can Feel No Pain (Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota) got an enthusiastic response to its quirky trailer and Village Rockstars’ director Rima Das is set to screen her next film – Bulbul Can Sing, at this year’s TIFF.
However, let’s look at the following 8 films that are already being pitted as strong contenders at the 2019 Oscars:
1. A Star Is Born
Directed by and starring Bradley Cooper, the film proving to be a feature film debut for Lady Gaga, has already gotten rave reviews at its Venice premiere. A third remake of the 1948 original, the film apparently has a scintillating 20-song soundtrack. And thus, should be a strong contender for Best Original Song too.
2. First Man
Oscar-darling Damien Chazelle has directed this film starring Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy among others. The film is getting solid word-of-mouth ever since the first trailer, and if Whiplash and La La Land are any examples for how much the Academy loves Chazelle’s, then this one too should brace itself for many Oscar nominations.
3. If Beale Street Could Talk
Barry Jenkins’s latest film, the film is based on the 1974 novel of the same name by James Baldwin. Considering how Moonlight snuck the carpet from under La La Land’s feet exactly two years ago, you can bank on another Jenkins/Chazelle face-off at the Oscars this year. Two equally bright minds admired for their respective styles, it should be one hell of a race to the finish.
Steve Mcqueen (12 Years A Slave) is embracing the Hollywood heist formula with screenwriter/author Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl). And with a cast including names like Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Daniel Kaluuya, Jackie Weaver and Jon Bernthal – the film apparently examines the role-reversal with minutiae, with a publication already declaring it ‘Ocean’s 8 with a Dragon Tattoo’.
5. White Boy Rick
Starring Matthew McConaughey and Richie Meritt, this film about a 15-year-old FBI informer is being tipped as one of the year’s dark horses. Add to that the speculation about director Yann Demange being considered for Bond 25, and we have a film that could very well go on to become one of the high-profile films of the year.
6. Mid 90s
Jonah Hill’s directorial debut is set in the South-Central suburbs of L.A. and derives a lot from Hill’s growing up years. The cast includes Lucas Hedges among relatively unknown faces and is rumoured to be A24’s prestige project a la Ladybird from last year. A lot rides on this film for Jonah Hill’s career as a writer/director and actor too.
7. The Wedding Guest + Hotel Mumbai
After his Oscar-bid alongside stalwarts for Garth Davis’s Lion in 2017, Dev Patel has two films lined up for this year. The first is Michael Winterbottom’s The Wedding Guest, where he is playing a Pakistani national.
The second is Hotel Mumbai, which is inspired from 2008’s Mumbai Terror Attacks on Hotel Taj, where he will star alongside Armie Hammer. Trust one of them to really hit the target.
Alfonso Cuaron’s magnum opus for Netflix got a standing ovation at Venice and along with that won the Golden Lion (best film). And it’s already being considered a favourite for Best Foreign Film. We’ll just have to find out how Netflix (an online streaming service) lobbies the film for the big screen.
Nicole Kidman’s Destroyer, has her looking completely unrecognisable. Along with Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Kindergarten Teacher – the films could spring a surprise (or two) in the acting categories.
Palm d’Or winner Shoplifters will remain a compelling choice for Best Foreign Film, but will it be able to outshine Curaon’s seamless craft in Roma? That’s the question everyone’s already asking.