Why are these Oscar predictions “way too early?”
Well, unlike every other movie blogger right now, I am not attempting to predict who and what will be nominated on January 24th. Instead, with this post, I am attempting to predict which 2017 releases will be nominated next year! In short, I am attempting to predict what movies and which performers will emerge as Oscar contenders over the next 12 months.
Needless to say, this is more than a little bit foolish on my part. I haven’t seen any of the films listed below. Some of these films don’t have release dates and others are coming out so early in the year that, in order to be contenders, they’ll have to be so spectacular that neither the Academy nor the critics end up forgetting about them. For the most part, the true picture of the Oscar race usually doesn’t start to emerge until the summer.
For now, these predictions are, for the most part, wild guesses and they should be taken with more than just a grain of salt. Each month, I will revise my predictions. At the very least, next year, we’ll probably be able to look back at this post and laugh.
(Whenever trying to make early Oscar predictions, one should remember all of the award bloggers who predicted Nicole Kidman would win an Oscar for Grace of Monaco, just to then see the movie make its long-delayed premiere on Lifetime.)
With all that in mind, here are my way too early Oscar predictions for January!
Battle of the Sexes
Again, for the most part, these predictions are a combination of wild guesses, instinct, and wishful thinking. It’s entirely possible that none of these films will actually be nominated for best picture. (Some might even end up premiering on Lifetime, you never know.) Here’s why I think that some of them might be remembered next year at this time:
All Eyez On Me is a biopic of Tupac Shakur. Assuming the film is done correctly, Shakur’s life would seem to have all the elements that usually go into an Oscar-winning film.
Battle of the Sexes is a film based on a true incident, a 1970s tennis match between a feminist and a self-declared male chauvinist. It’s directed by the team behind the Oscar-nominated Little Miss Sunshine and it stars two former nominees, Emma Stone and Steve Carell.
The Beguiled might be wishful thinking on my part but, at this point, wishful thinking is all I have to go on for most of these predictions. The Beguiled is a remake of a Clint Eastwood film and it’s directed by one of my favorite directors, Sofia Coppola! Much like Battle of the Sexes, its misogynist-gets-what’s-coming-to-him storyline might make it the perfect film for the first year of the Trump presidency.
Blade Runner 2047 is one of the most eagerly anticipated films of 2017 and it’s directed by Denis Villeneuve, who is hot off of Arrival. The Oscar success of Mad Max: Fury Road proved that a sequel can be a contender.
Every year, at least one contender emerges out of Sundance and this year, it could very well be Crown Heights. It tells a fact-based story, about a man trying to win his best friend’s release from prison after the latter is wrongly convicted. That all sounds very Oscar baity.
Speaking of Oscar bait, Darkest Hour stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. If that doesn’t sound like Oscar bait, I don’t know what does.
Downsizing is Alexander Payne’s latest film. It’s about a man (Matt Damon), who shrinks himself. It may not sound like typical Oscar bait but Payne is definitely a favorite of the Academy’s.
Dunkirk is Christopher Nolan’s big epic for 2017. Will it be another huge success or will it just be bombastic? We’ll see. The Academy has a weakness for World War II films and it could be argued that the very successful yet never nominated Nolan is overdue for some Academy recognition. (It is true that Inception received a nomination for best picture but Nolan himself was snubbed.)
T2: Trainspotting is probably coming out too early in the year to be a legitimate contender but who knows? The trailer was great. Danny Boyle is directing it. And, much as with Blade Runner 2047, Mad Max: Fury Road proved that a well-made and intelligent sequel can find favor with the Academy.
War Machine is described as being a satire about the war in Afghanistan. Could it be another Big Short? With Obama out of office, the Academy might be more open to political satire than they’ve been in the past.
Danny Boyle for T2: Trainspotting
Sofia Coppola for The Beguiled
Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk
Alexander Payne for Downsizing
Denis Villeneuve for Blade Runner 2047
Again, there’s a lot of random guessing here. Personally, I’d love to see Sofia Coppola receive a second nomination for best director. Payne and Boyle are always possibilities and, if Villeneuve’s work on Arrival is ignored this year, nominating him for Blade Runner would be a good way to make up for it. As for Nolan, he’s going to get nominated some day. Why not for Dunkirk?
Tom Cruise in American Made
Sam Elliott in The Hero
Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman
Logan Lerman in Sidney Hall
Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour
In American Made, Tom Cruise plays a real-life drug runner. It sounds like one of those change-of-pace roles that often results in an Oscar nomination. Gary Oldman has never won an Oscar and has only been nominated once. The Academy might want to rectify that situation by nominating him for playing Winston Churchill. And finally, Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum in a big budget musical that’s scheduled to open on Christmas Day? It sounds like either a total disaster or the formula for Oscar gold!
Logan Lerman is one of those actors who appears to be destined to eventually be nominated for an Oscar and, in Sidney Hall, he ages over thirty years. Finally, Sam Elliott is a beloved veteran who has never been nominated. If The Hero is a hit at Sundance, it’s easy to imagine the Oscar campaign that will follow.
Jessica Chastain in The Zookeeper’s Wife
Judi Dench in Victoria and Abdul
Nicole Kidman in The Beguiled
Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes
Naomi Watts in The Book of Henry
As of this writing, Meryl Streep does not have a movie scheduled to be released in 2017, which means that another actress will get the sport usually reserved for her. But who? Jessica Chastain could be nominated because she’s Jessica Chastain and the Academy loves her. Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria for a second time in Victoria and Abdul. The Academy loves movies about British royalty and Dench has already been nominated once for bringing Victoria to life. Naomi Watts plays a loving but possibly crazy mother in The Book of Henry, which again sounds like a very Oscar baity role. If Emma Stone doesn’t win for La La Land, the Academy could make it up to her by nominating her for Battle of the Sexes.
As for Nicole Kidman in The Beguiled — well, let’s call that wishful thinking. My hope is that Sofia Coppola will do great things with The Beguiled and she will get another great performance out of Nicole Kidman. We’ll see if I’m right.
Best Supporting Actor
Robert Carlyle in T2: Trainspotting
Johnny Depp in Murder on The Orient Experss
James Franco in The Masterpiece
Bill Skarsgard in It
Kevin Spacey in Billionaire Boys Club
Admittedly, the guesses here are fairly random but there is a logic behind each nominee. Robert Carlyle was great in Trainspotting so he might be just as great in T2. In Billionaire Boys Club, Kevin Spacey plays a sleazy con artist and that sounds like the type of role with which he could do wonders. If It is to be a success, Bill Skarsgard is going to have to be a terrifying Pennywise. If Heath Ledger could win for playing the Joker, surely Skarsgard could be nominated for playing Pennywise.
As for James Franco in The Masterpiece … yes, it’s more wishful thinking on my part. Franco will be playing Tommy Wiseau, the director of the notorious The Room. Wiseau is, needless to say, an eccentric figure. Not only do I think James Franco could give an award-worthy performance in the role but I also just like the idea of someone getting an Oscar for playing Tommy Wiseau.
Finally, we have Johnny Depp in Murder on The Orient Express. Why not? It seems like someone from that film’s huge cast is destined to be nominated so why not Johnny Depp?
Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Aniston in The Yellow Birds
Danai Guirra in All Eyez On Me
Kelly MacDonald in T2: Trainspotting
Kristin Scott Thomas in Darkest Hour
Tilda Swinton in War Machine
These guesses are even more random than my guesses for supporting actor. Jennifer Aniston and Danai Guirra will both be playing mothers who lose their sons. A lot of people were surprised when Aniston was not nominated for Cake so here’s a chance for the Academy to make it up to her. As for Kristin Scott Thomas, she’ll be playing Winston Churchill’s wife and the Academy loves historical wives (i.e., Helena Bonham Carter in The King’s Speech and Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything).
As for the last two predictions, Tilda Swinton is listed because she’s Tilda Swinton. Kelly MacDonald is listed for the same reason that I put Robert Carlyle down for supporting actor. She was just so good in the first film.
So, there you go! Those are my too early Oscar predictions for January! Will they prove to be accurate? Probably not.
But we’ll see how things change over the next couple of months. At the very least, you’ll be able to look back at this post and laugh at me for thinking that … oh, let’s say Battle of the Sexes … would ever be nominated for an Academy Award.
As for me, I’ll be revising my predictions in February. At least by that point, maybe the Sundance Film Festival will have provided some guidance…