Oscars 2020: What Films Already Out Have a Shot?

Any recent releases you could see doing well at the Oscars next year?

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood movie

As we progress into the rest of the year and see the rest of 2019’s films come into release, we cannot forget that even though a large percentage of Oscar-fare comes out later in the year, there are eight months of films that may also have a shot.

Last year, a quarter of the 93 nominations in major categories came from films released before September, so don’t let that dissuade any thought that if a film came out before September 1st, its Oscar chances are dead in the water. Let’s get started.

 

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

The Lego movie 2

Will the Academy make up for the biggest snub of the decade in the Animated Feature category? Well, unfortunately I don’t think so. Neither of the two LEGO feature films in 2017 (Batman or Ninjago) were nominated, and while The Second Part has its fans, it did take a massive dive in box office. It still has a minute chance, but there’s other animated fare I’d bet on first.

 

Alita: Battle Angel

Alita Battle Angel

For a film that was pushed back two months, normally that would disqualify it from my expectations list. Then again, when Alita: Battle Angel was still being released within the calendar year for last year’s Oscars at a Glance, I thought it had a chance for its Visual Effects, and I still think that. It overperformed at the box office and, arguably, with critics (I didn’t think it would end up with a positive score).

With James Cameron’s name attached to the production company, I wouldn’t roll over with shock if it lands a spot among the five nominees later this year in that category. The sound categories will also be in play for Alita.

 

How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World

How To Train Your Dragon The Hidden World

While I’m not putting either LEGO Movie 2 or Alita up front for Oscar consideration, I am doing so for the third entry in the How to Train your Dragon franchise. With the two previous installments receiving nominations for Animated Feature (and Original Score for the first film), I’d say Dreamworks can rest easy knowing the third film will probably be among the animated features nominated in January.

 

Captain Marvel

Captain marvel

While Marvel Studios will have another of their films front of mind for Oscar consideration, I still think it’s possible for Captain Marvel to land some nods. First and foremost is the Makeup and Hairstyling category. The Skrull makeup was fantastic, and very worthy of a nomination. Best Visual Effects and the two sound categories will also be up for grabs, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Marvel land multiple nominations in those categories.

 

Us

Us movie

Jordan Peele’s first film, Get Out, was a question mark at the Oscars two years ago, and I was not alone in doubting it at first. As it turned out, Get Out was one of the more popular films at the Oscars that year. While Us doesn’t quite have the traction that Get Out did, I still think it has a shot in Original Screenplay. The score by Michael Abels is also worthy of a nomination.

However, I will be a little disappointed (at this stage) if Lupita Nyong’o is left off the list for Best Actress. While horror acting performances are usually not go-tos for Oscar voters, Lupita does have a dual role as both the hunter and the hunted, and her hunted role is reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, which Weaver was nominated for.

 

Dumbo

Dumbo

No matter how bad Tim Burton’s films have been of late, we can’t rule out nominations for his works on the technical side. Two outstanding qualities in the lame remake (in my opinion) were the Production Design and the Costume Design. Burton’s remake of Alice in Wonderland won in both these categories in 2010, so I’d bet Dumbo also has a great shot at landing at least those two categories. Visual Effects, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Original Score may also be on the table, but I’d focus my attention more so on design categories for now.

 

Missing Link

Missing Link movie

Sure, Missing Link was a huge letdown at the box office, but Laika has a good history with the Oscars. Five of their films have been nominated for Best Animated Feature, and I wouldn’t say that number six is out of line with Missing Link, which was still a critical darling.

 

Avengers: Endgame

I speculated on how well-received this juggernaut of a film would do months ago, and I’m not really too changed on the matter as of now. Best Visual Effects, the sound categories, Film Editing, and Original Score will be in play for Endgame, but I wouldn’t ride too high on hopes for Best Picture, Best Actor for Robert Downey, Jr. (who may also run for Supporting Actor), or Director or Adapted Screenplay. It won’t be the end of the world if Endgame only receives nominations in the craft categories, which is where I’m pegging it right now.

 

Aladdin

Aladdin 2019

Another Disney live-action remake I didn’t care for was Aladdin, and my thoughts are very similar to Dumbo on this one: the design categories will be front of mind for voters, and maybe Original Song for Jasmine’s new song “Speechless”, but that will be about it. Best Visual Effects is a maybe, but I think the competition will be too strong.

 

Booksmart

BOOKSMART
Credit: Francois Duhamel / Annapurna Pictures

Here’s a film I wouldn’t doubt too hard. While I don’t think Best Picture will be on the cards, a Best Motion Picture: Comedy/Musical nom at the Golden Globes is more likely. Best Actress for either Kaitlyn Dever or Beanie Feldstein also has a better shot at the Globes, but may bleed over into Oscar consideration as well.

Where I’m putting my money, though, is on Best Original Screenplay, where I think the film does have a very strong shot at the Oscars. It doesn’t hurt that in today’s culture, it would look better to nominate a female-dominated film written by four female writers. Not that the politics are everything at this stage, but if that message is carried out loud and clear from the start, voters will write it in by default when final voting closes in January.

 

Rocketman

Rocketman
Credit: Paramount

Another late May release I have some money on is Rocketman. While a lot of the reviews were heavy on Taron Egerton’s performance, I’m less hot on him getting into a crowded field. I loved him when he was playing Elton John, less so when he was singing as Elton John, which I feel is not a universal critique, but a common enough one to hurt him.

Like Booksmart, I see Rocketman having better odds at the Golden Globes in those Comedy/Musical categories. Outside of Egerton, though, I’d say Jamie Bell has a shot in Supporting Actor, and the Costume Design is so in your face that it will likely be nominated.

 

Toy Story 4

Yeah, I think we’re all on the same page about this one: it’ll be the film to beat this year for Animated Feature. Pixar has such a stronghold on this category (despite a few misses in the last few years) that it’s a given it at least gets nominated. Toy Story 3 was also noticed for its script and for Best Picture, and while Toy Story 4 does have a strong critical reception and a billion-dollar plus box office performance at its back, I don’t think it’ll receive the same amount of love as its predecessor.

 

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Far From Home

I have to say I was a bit disappointed in this film. Maybe because we were coming off of Avengers: Endgame, or that I thought Spider-Man: Homecoming was the strongest MCU film yet, but I don’t see Far from Home getting showered in Oscar love anytime soon. Maybe Best Visual Effects or a Sound nomination, but not much else.

 

The Farewell

The Farewell movie

I missed this one in theaters, but I am very much looking forward to seeing The Farewell. Already there’s a groundswell at work to have this film up for Best Picture, Best Actress for Awkwafina, Best Supporting Actress for Zhao Shuzhen, and Best Original Screenplay. Right now I’d say Shuzhen has the best shot of the four potential nominations, but I won’t rule any of them out. I might shift some of these potential nominations into definites when I see the film.

 

The Lion King

I’m in the crowd that wasn’t happy with this “live-action” remake. A bad year for Disney in my eyes for this trend. Still, we’ve seen Kubo and the Two Strings nominated for Visual Effects, so there is precedent for an animated film (which Lion King is) being nominated for Effects. And since those were the best part of the film, I’d say it will be nominated for that. Maybe Beyonce’s song, “Spirit”, or the new song from the original crew, “Never Too Late”, could break into that category, but otherwise I’d keep expectations lowered.

 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood movie

Of course I had to put this one on here. Tarantino’s films rarely end up with goose eggs when it comes to Oscar nominations, and I don’t think that will be the case here. Right now, I think Once Upon A Time In Hollywood has a great chance to be nominated in these categories: Best Picture, Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing.

I know that Brad Pitt is a popular pick right now for Best Supporting Actor, and he’s in the conversation for sure, but I think he’ll get left off the list. Margot Robbie also has some strong consideration right now for Best Supporting Actress, but again, I’m not betting on it right away. And as for Tarantino for Best Director, it’s also possible, but I’m up in the air about it being a likely nomination right now. He hasn’t been nominated in Directing since Inglourious Basterds, and while Hollywood is a hit at the box office and with most critics, I don’t think it will go down as being as fondly remembered as Basterds was.

 

The Peanut Butter Falcon

The Peanut Butter Falcon
Credit: Roadside Attractions

I have a feeling this is one of those films that looks too small to be in large consideration out front, but may come back and surprise us later on this year. It’s probably a good bet that we will see Peanut Butter Falcon emerge later on in the season as a strong contender. Critics are over the moon for this movie. The performances by Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, and especially Zack Gottsagen are receiving notice. And I think we’ll have to see this one do really well with critics groups and at the Independent Spirit Awards before I lump it in with the others films vying for Oscar love.

 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

WHERE'D YOU GO, BERNADETTE
Credit: Wilson Webb / Annapurna Pictures

Let me be clear: I didn’t like this film very much, and it really doesn’t have too many eyes on it for Oscar consideration. But I have to give a shoutout to Cate Blanchett, who is so wonderful in this movie that I forgot it was her halfway through the film. Depending on where this film ends up at the Golden Globes, I think if Blanchett can pull off a nomination for Best Actress there, a few other groups will start paying attention. It’s unlikely right now, but I’d love to see it happen.

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