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Film & TV

The early contenders for 2019 Oscar glory

The Oscars may be in February, but some frontrunners are already emerging

If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins

If Beale Street Could Talk
Barry Jenkins follow-up to Best Picture winner Moonlight is one that is certain to pull at a few heartstrings. An adaptation of the James Baldwin novel of the same name, the plot follows an African-American woman seeking to clear the name of her husband before the birth of their child. While Barry Jenkins could have easily cast established actors in the lead roles following the monumental success of Moonlight, he has chosen instead to go with relative unknowns Kiki Layne and Stephen James to play the leads, so be on the look-out for what is sure to be a poetic powerhouse this awards season. BH

Widows
An intriguing follow-up to 2012’s Best Picture Oscar winner 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen returns with a remake of Lynda La Plante’s ITV miniseries, Widows. McQueen swaps London for Chicago in his reimagining, as Viola Davis leads a group of wives that attempt to recoup the $2m lost by their husbands who are all killed in a heist gone wrong. McQueen has assembled a cast rich with depth and distinction; Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Erivo feature in Davis’ crew, whilst Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Carrie Coon, Jon Bernthal, Lukas Haas, and Robert Duvall offer great power in smaller roles. But the standout performance here is Daniel Kaluuya’s supporting role as the enforcer tasked with ensuring Davis and co reimburse his boss (played by Atlanta’s Brian Tyree Henry). Elsewhere, McQueen ensures that the film’s female voice is gritty and authentic; he enlists the accomplished Gillian Flynn, of Gone Girl and Sharp Objects, as co-screenwriter. JO

First Man director Damien Chazelle

First Man
It seems as if directors Barry Jenkins and Damien Chazelle will battle it out for the Best
Director prize once again this coming awards season. Chazelle is moving away from his jazz
roots, and is following up La La Land with First Man, a biopic about first man on the moon
Neil Armstrong and his family on the build up to that monumental achievement. The film
stars Ryan Gosling as Neil, and Claire Foy as his wife Janet – who I think is a shoe-in for the
Best Actress award this season despite being up against tough competition. The film looks
to be a splendid retelling of the moments leading up to mankind’s greatest moment,
and is one of the first you can catch in cinemas this year – dropping this month. BH

Vice
Oscar season’s muscular political drama comes in the form of Vice, Adam McKay’s follow-up to The Big Short. Vice is another mesh of comedy and drama from McKay, as he charts the rise of Dick Cheney to become the most powerful Vice President in America’s history. Cheney is portrayed by Christian Bale and Cheney’s wife, Lynne, is played by Amy Adams. In support, there’s the exciting prospect of reigning best supporting actor Sam Rockwell as George Bush as he attempts to secure back-to-back wins. The campaign for that elusive Oscar also continues for Steve Carell in the role of Donald Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of Defence. As the scarce pictures from the set have shown, it’s another big transformation for Bale. And with five-time nominee Amy Adams also in attendance, expect Vice to be extremely competitive in the acting categories. JO

A Star is Born’s Lady Gaga

A Star is Born
If you haven’t heard of this by now, I’d be surprised. Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut is a
remake of many a film under the name ‘A Star is Born’, but this will more than likely be one of the most successful of the films on this list. Lady Gaga is a dead-cert pick to at least get a nomination for Best Actress, with perhaps Bradley Cooper snagging a Best Director nomination, however it’s hard to say with such strong competition. The best song category I would say is almost definitely going to go this film’s way, so expect A Star is Born to pick up a lot of nominations. BH

Green Book
Peter Farrelly’s sudden turn away from gross-out comedy was one of the more surprising returns from the film festival season. Best known for There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber, Farrelly’s decision to make a film about racial divisions in the 1960s was met with curiosity. Starring Viggo Mortensen and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali, Green Book picked up the people’s choice award at Toronto. This award in particular often stokes the embers of Oscar chatter into a full-blown inferno considering past winners include American Beauty, Slumdog Millionaire, 12 Years a Slave, and La La Land. Expect Mortensen and Ali to receive recognition for their strong performances too. JO

Roma
Perhaps more of an outside pick here, especially with this being a foreign language, Netflix-produced film, but regardless of that Roma has been picking up a bit of buzz when it comes to
awards season. Alfonso Cuaron, director of Children of Men and the smash-hit Gravity,
returns after a long hiatus with a personal tour-de-force that is said to be reminiscent of
Federico Fellini films of the past (for those of you familiar with film, that should strike at least
a little bit of excitement within you). The advantage of this being a Netflix film is that this will
be accessible to a lot of you reading. The disadvantage for the film itself is that, aside from a
rumoured theatrical run, the Oscar voters may disregard this based on it being a Netflix film.
This might get a hesitant nod for a Best Picture nomination, but knowing the Oscars, it may
simply fall by the wayside. BH

The Favourite’s Olivia Colman

The Favourite
Director Yorgos Lanthimos has really found himself in esteemed company following the success of his last two films, The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer. His latest, The Favourite is no different. Having picked up the Grand Jury Prize and a nomination for the Golden Lion at Venice, The Favourite is already picking up steam as we dig deeper into awards season. It’s another absurd romp from Lanthimos and his campaign for Academy recognition will be bolstered by his cast – one of Britain’s big hopes this year, Olivia Colman, and previous winners Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz. Colman has already won the Volpi Cup for best actress at Venice which will give her extra traction as we hurtle towards the Oscars and both Weisz and Stone’s performances could see either honoured in the best supporting category. JO

Mary Queen of Scots’ Margot Robbie

Beautiful Boy
For fans of last year’s Call Me By Your Name, actor Timothée Chalamet is a shoe-in for a
Best Actor nomination with this family-drama about a young man struggling with meth addiction. Steve Carell fans will also be glad that the actor returns to his more serious outings, playing the father here; it wouldn’t surprise me if he ran away with the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this film. I’m excited for another reason however, as actress Maura Tierney (perhaps best known for her role as Abby Lockhart on the TV series ER) plays the mother in the film. She just might nab the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, although I would say she is more of an outside choice. Despite a relatively unknown director (at least to me) being at the helm, I’m most excited for this out of all the films on offer here. BH

Mary Queen of Scots
The Academy adore historical dramas and have been particularly amorous of those centering around monarchs. Cate Blanchett earned her first nomination playing Elizabeth I, and Judy Dench and Helen Mirren both won awards for their respective portrayals of Elizabeth I and Elizabeth II. And with two of 2017’s best actress nominees, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, at the centre of a dramatisation of the 1569 Northern Rebellion playing Mary Queen of Scots and Queen Elizabeth I respectively, they look certain to be figuring in the fight for best actress and best supporting actress if history is anything to go by. JO

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