The Oscars are upon us. And after the dreadful Golden Globes telecast, one can hope that the glitzy glamour of the awards season will be salvaged by the Academy Awards (so what if it won’t have a host? Sigh.) But even during its worst telecasts, the Oscars will invariably give you butterflies. With Hollywood’s biggest night only a month away, it’s understandable that a lot of you will be scurrying around to watch all the films. So that you can act cool at the next millennial gathering.
Well, you only have to watch 15 films for that. No biggie right? That’s two weekends or four days of comfortable binge. Once you go through this list, you’ll be ready to share your gyan on the Oscar hopefuls.
1. Green Book
Peter Farelly’s film is based on the real-life account of Jazz-pianist Don Shirley (played by Mahershala Ali) and his evolving relationship with his driver, Tony Vallelonga (played by Viggo Mortensen). The film that sees the musician touring the ‘deep South’ (the more racially polarised states) with his driver/bodyguard, flips the switch on the films based on an unusual friendship. Don Shirley ‘educates’ his driver, and helps him look bigotry in the eye.
2. A Star Is Born
The fourth remake of a timeless Hollywood film, the 2018 version was reinterpreted by Bradley Cooper. Serving as his directorial debut, Cooper cast popstar Lady Gaga in the film’s lead role. The film is the frontrunner in the categories of Best Original Song and Music – for which it has already won many awards including at the Golden Globes.
3. First Man
Damien Chazelle’s brilliant biopic about the first man in space, Neil Armstrong, exemplifies how grief can be a strong motivator. It romanticises a man, who was able to undertake one of the single bravest missions in the history of mankind. With a terrific lead pair – Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy, Chazelle offered a human side to the Armstrong family.
Alfonso Cuaron’s love letter to his childhood growing up in Mexico has put Netflix on the map with a maiden Oscar campaign. It is also deemed one of the best films of the year in the world, that is doused with generous portions of complex nostalgia and features some of the year’s best cinematography (to the credit of Cuaron himself).
Adam McKay’s outrageous take on a biopic is centered around the infamous VP during the Bush administration, Dick Cheney. Known to be a secretive and the opposite of charismatic man, the film benefits from a stunning lead performance by both Christian Bale and Amy Adams.
6. If Beale Street Could Talk
Barry Jenkins is returning with his latest film, after Moonlight won Best Picture under the most bizarre circumstances. Based on a James Baldwin novel from the late 1970s, this one’s been described as a heartachingly beautiful love story set during the Civil Rights movement. It also features Nicholas Britell’s score, which will be a big contender for Best Original Music.
7. The Favourite
Greek Director Yorgos Lanthimos has finally made it to Oscars radar, after two terrific English films – The Lobster and Killing Of The Sacred Deer. His latest features the gobsmacking trio of Olivia Coleman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone – in an 18th century period drama.
8. Bohemian Rhapsody
20th Century Fox’s polarising biopic on Freddie Mercury might have won big at the Golden Globes, but there’s a strong campaign around Rami Malek’s lead performance. The film that was shrouded in controversy after allegations against director Bryan Singer (who was fired), is now on the verge of hitting the $800 million-mark, which is huge for a musical.
9. A Quiet Place
John Krasinski’s directorial debut was unanimously praised for the way it interspersed a stellar sound design with meticulously drawn-out silences. Starring Krasinski and his actor/wife, Emily Blunt, the film was hailed as one of the great horror/creature movies of all time.
Spike Lee’s political comedy is Hollywood’s rib-tickling experience at the cinema this year. Based on the (real-life) bizarre incident of how a black undercover cop infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan (a group of White Supremacists), the film stars John Day Washington and Adam Driver in the lead roles. It also ends with footage from Charlottesville, painting a scary picture of post-Trump America.
11. Eighth Grade
Bo Burnham’s coming-of-age film is probably one of the most authentic High School movies to come out of America. Starring teenage actor, Elsie Fisher, the film examines the fundamental changes in a 13-year-old’s life as she overcomes the anxiety of the pressures of school.
12. First Reformed
Paul Schrader’s film heavily derives from Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (written by Schrader), where a priest struggles with his beliefs. Starring Ethan Hawke in the lead role, this one might not necessarily win during Oscar night, but it is one of the mandatory watchings from 2018.
13. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Melissa McCarthy’s breakout role in a thriller sees her play the role of Lee Israel, a world-famous profiler turned biographer. Directed by Marielle Heller, the film also stars Richard E Grant, and is expected to be one of the dark horses at the Oscar’s race.
14. Black Panther
Marvel Cinematic Universe’s surprise blockbuster earned more than a billion dollars, presented Africa’s first world-renowned superhero, and quite possibly landed the villain-of-the-year in the form of Michael B Jordan’s Killmonger. Ryan Coogler’s film strong campaign could change the status-quo for VFX-heavy and superhero films this year.
15.Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Sony’s animation feature has swept the awards season, leaving behind Pixar’s Incredibles 2 and even Wes Anderson’s Isle Of Dogs. And it is the frontrunner at the Oscars too, which is hardly surprising.