The Oscars: Who are the frontrunners for a nomination?

It’s the biggest event in showbiz, where Hollywood stars shine and legacies are made.
The nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards will be announced today following big wins already for the likes of Joker, Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood and 1917 at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards.

So which films and actors could be in the running for entertainment’s most coveted trophy?

Image: Joaquin Phoenix in Joker, the origin story of the Clown Prince Of Crime
Joker
Todd Phillips’ origin story of the Clown Prince of Crime has been getting lots of attention, winning Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice gongs for star Joaquin Phoenix.

Advertisement

Premiering at Venice Film Festival (where it won the Golden Lion award) last year, it earned an eight-minute standing ovation.

But later, red carpet events were pulled by Warner Brothers ahead of its release due to controversy around its violent themes. In the US, law enforcement upped staffing around screenings and warned fans not to wear masks or take fake weapons into cinemas.
The Aurora cinema in Colorado, where a mass shooting took place following a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, refused to show the film.

:: Listen to Backstage on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
On the plus side, Phoenix has received almost unanimous praise – reportedly losing 52lbs for the role to achieve the “wolf-like and malnourished” look director Todd Phillips wanted.
And if there’s one thing Oscar voters love, it’s a transformative performance.
Heath Ledger won a posthumous Oscar for his 2008 turn as the Joker, and Phoenix will surely be hoping to add another gong to the character’s awards cabinet.

Image: Benedict Cumberbatch in First World War film 1917. Pic: E One
1917
A First World War drama filmed as if shot in a single take has already done well at the Golden Globes and is a strong contender.
It tells the story of two young soldiers who have been given an almost impossible mission to save their comrades.
With comparisons to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, the emotional period piece is likely to play well to the Academy audience.
Since winning best picture for one of his first films (American Beauty) in 2000, director Sam Mendes hasn’t made much of a splash at the Oscars – could this bring him back into the game?

Image: Al Pacino plays union leader Jimmy Hoffa, whose murder has never been officially solved. Pic: Netflix
The Irishman
Robert De Niro partnered up with director Martin Scorsese for the ninth time in this gangland crime epic.
Based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses, it tells the story of the never-solved mystery of who killed union leader Jimmy Hoffa.
A Netflix film, it premiered at the New York Film Festival, showing off ambitious de-aging visual effects which took up to 30 years off its leading men – De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci – all of whom are in their 70s.
Jumping back and forth between decades, and with a three-and-a-half-hour running time, some audience members may feel they’ve gained a couple of years by the end of the film.
One thing’s for sure, as a well-known critic of Donald Trump, if De Niro bags a gong at the Oscars, chances are he’ll have something political to say at the podium. He was a notable omission on the Golden Globes and BAFTA shortlists – being left out of the nominations for best actor – but Scorsese, Pacino and Pesci have fared better.
It’s also worth noting that Scorsese has received more best director nods than any other living filmmaker.

Image: Renee Zellweger plays Judy Garland in the biopic directed by Rupert Goold
Judy
Renee Zellweger plays Hollywood legend Judy Garland in this biopic about the twilight of the star’s career.
Thirty years after shooting to fame as a child actor in The Wizard Of Oz, the toll of sleeping pills, diet pills and numerous marriages had taken its toll.
The movie shows Garland just six months before her death in 1969, as she performs at Talk Of The Town in London, with varying degrees of success.
With hours in the make-up chair every day to apply prosthetics and a wig, Zellweger will be hoping for some recognition from Academy voters.
Impressively, she also sings in the role, belting out big numbers including Somewhere Over The Rainbow.
Will her bravery in taking on one of the most celebrated singing voices of an age pay off, earning her a best actress nod?
Zellweger has triumphed this year at the Golden Globes and the Critics’ Choice Awards. She already has a best supporting Oscar for Cold Mountain, so will be hoping this could be time for the big one.

Image: Taron Egerton becomes Elton John in biopic Rocketman
Rocketman
This biopic of Elton John created a big buzz at the box office when it was released last year, and scored a Golden Globe win for star Taron Egerton, who lent his own vocals to play the flamboyant singer.
Egerton and Sir Elton reportedly got on so well that the singer gave the actor his own diamond earring to wear in the role.
The young actor forgot to embrace the singer as he got up from their table to accept his Golden Globe award, and joked afterwards that he was not in his “right mind”.
Will he be able to make up for it with an Oscar win?

Image: Taika Waititi and Roman Griffin Davis in the polarising JoJo Rabbit
JoJo Rabbit
A comedy about an invisible friend who happens to be Hitler doesn’t sound like a natural Oscar contender, but this film could do it.
Scarlett Johansson leads the cast, directed by What We Do In The Shadows actor and creator Taika Waititi.
Front and centre of the film, Waititi cast himself as Hitler.
The anti-hate satire has so far divided critics, which is not surprising due to its challenging themes.
The film took home the People’s Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival (TIFF) – which normally signals it’s a dead cert to be nominated for the biggest Oscar of them all – best picture.
In fact, 10 of the last 11 People’s Choice winners have gone on to score best picture nominations, including last year’s winner Green Book.

Image: Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story
Marriage Story
Again with Scarlett Johansson in a lead role, but this time alongside Adam Driver.
The pair play husband and wife Nicole and Charlie, whose marriage gradually unravels during the course of the film.
Inspired by director Noah Baumbach’s real-life divorce from actress Jennifer Jason-Leigh, this is a very personal film to both him and twice-divorced Johansson, who was going through her second split at the time of filming.
It’s a thoroughly modern streaming service offering from Netflix, but with Roma getting plenty of nominations last year that doesn’t rule it out.
Looking back nearly 30 years, divorce-drama Kramer Vs Kramer took home five Academy Awards, including best picture, best actor and best director.
Can this movie repeat the break-up magic?

Image: Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio join Quentin Tarantino in his ninth movie
Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino’s take on the infamous Manson murders, this is the this ninth, and possibly penultimate, film.
The director has said he intends to direct just one more after this (although whether he sticks to that self-imposed rule is yet to be seen).
Describing it as a love letter to all things Hollywood, there has been some controversy over his use of real-life figures Charles Manson and Sharon Tate, but the murdered actress’ sister is said to be a fan of the film.
It’s certainly got the star power to garner plenty of attention, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie leading the cast.
After finally bagging his first gong two years ago for The Revenant, could DiCaprio be on a roll?
It has already done well at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice ceremonies – with Pitt getting a best supporting actor gong at both.

Image: Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite won the Palme d’Or
Parasite
A black comedy about social climbers by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho which took home the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Critically acclaimed, it has done well at awards ceremonies so far this year, picking up best foreign language film at the Golden Globes and surely a dead cert to receive the equivalent at the Oscars.
It is also widely touted as a potential best picture contender.
Parasite already has a host of BAFTA nods, and also shared the best director prize with Sam Mendes (1917) at the Critics’ Choice Awards.
Other likely contenders

Image: Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) meets journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood
Based on an Esquire article, this film stars Tom Hanks as American children’s presenter Fred Rogers.
Welshman Matthew Rhys plays the journalist tasked with writing a feature on the much-loved star, while Can You Ever Forgive Me filmmaker Marielle Heller directs.
It will be interesting to see how well this film translates internationally, as while Rogers is a household name in the US (a kind of American Valerie Singleton or John Craven), he’s little known in the UK.
A documentary on the same theme – Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – was snubbed at last year’s awards, so could this film make up for it, bagging Hanks his third best actor gong?

Image: Matt Damon and Christian Bale take to the track in Le Mans ’66
Le Mans ’66 / Ford V Ferrari
Christian Bale and Matt Damon head up this motoring movie, which has not one, but two titles.
Sold as Le Mans ’66 in the UK, US audiences apparently prefer Ford V Ferrari.
It tells the story of the friendship between former racing driver Carroll Shelby (Damon) and ill-tempered racer Ken Miles (Bale), a partnership that shaped 1960s motor racing.
Walk The Line’s James Mangold directs.
Bale and Damon both already have one Oscar each, but as to the politics over who might compete for best actor in this film, it’s anyone’s guess.
The film’s impressive racing scenes are likely to get attention in the technical categories.

Image: Adam Sandler stars as Howard Ratner in Uncut Gems. Pic: Netflix
Uncut Gems
Adam Sandler has received critical acclaim for his portrayal of diamond dealer Howard Ratner in this tense film by directors the Safdie brothers.
Normally known for his comedies, there has been quite a bit of buzz about whether Uncut Gems could earn the star an Oscar nomination.
Earlier in January, Sandler picked up the award for best actor at the National Board of Review gala.

Image: Mark Ruffalo as Hulk in Avengers: Endgame
Avengers: Endgame
Comic book films may do well at the box office, but they have traditionally been overlooked at the Oscars.
Could Black Panther’s nomination for best film at last year’s awards (a first for the genre) help pave the way for this big action offering?
None of the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have ever won an Oscar in one of the main five categories, so if the concluding part of the infinity saga finds itself in with a chance, it would be a very big deal indeed.

Image: Toy Story 4 is likely to go head to head with Frozen II
Toy Story 4
This long-running Pixar favourite broke records at the box office, impressed critics and pleased fans when it was released earlier this year.
The chance of Woody, Buzz and Bo Peep not making an appearance in the best animation category seems slight.
It will likely itself up against Frozen II, as Elsa and Anna make a triumphant return five years after the original, so it’s likely to have strong competition.

Image: Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce in The Two Popes
The Two Popes
Two iconic actors – Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce – go head-to-head in this Vatican two-hander, directed by City of God’s Fernando Meirelles.
Premiering at the Telleride Film Festival in Colorado, many were pleasantly surprised by how funny it was.
Based on a play, the humorous pope-off could well get acting nods for its lead stars.

Image: Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones in The Aeronauts. Pic: Amazon Studios
The Aeronauts
Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones will be hoping their second big screen partnership can rustle up some of the same Oscar magic as The Theory Of Everything.
It will certainly be the only Victorian hot air balloon thriller up for consideration (vertigo sufferers, you have been warned).
This time round, both get to play scientists, so could it be Felicity’s turn for a best actress nod?

Image: Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Eliza Scanlen in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women
Little Women
Director Greta Gerwig’s debut feature film Ladybird got five nods at the Oscars two years ago, and made her one of only five women in history to be nominated for best director.
Now she’s turned to Louisa May Alcott’s classic tale for her third big screen offering.
The all-star cast includes millennial stars Saorise Ronan, Timothee Chalamet and Emma Watson, as well as veteran actors including Meryl Streep and Laura Dern.
It has been a notable omission from the Golden Globes and BAFTA shortlists, so will the Oscars change that?

Image: Awkwafina can’t face saying goodbye to her grandmother in The Farewell
The Farewell
This low budget, part foreign-language dramedy looks like a long shot, but you never know.
Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina stars as a Chinese-American granddaughter coming to terms with her grandmother’s terminal cancer – a diagnosis her grandmother is totally unaware of.
Based on real-life experience of director Lulu Wang, the film finds unexpected humour in the East and West culture clash and the taboo topic of death.
It won the Audience Choice award at Sundance London, and Awkwafina won a Golden Globe for her performance.
If she is nominated for best actress at the Oscars, she would be the first Asian-American woman in the category.

Image: The Peanut Butter Falcon tells the story of an unlikely friendship between two runaways
The Peanut Butter Falcon
This feel-good buddy movie brings together two unlikely runaways, played by Shia LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen, as they cross the American South on a raft.
If first-time film star Gottsagen – who has Down Syndrome – were to be nominated and win, he would be only the third disabled actor to be recognised at the Academy Awards in more than 90 years.
Worth taking note of

Image: Timothee Chalamet plays historical figure Henry V in The Netflix film The King
The King
Timothee Chalamet leads this historical and Shakespearean mash-up, merging Henry IV, Part I and Part II, as well as Henry V.

Image: Meryl Streep is queen of the Oscars, but will she get another for The Laundromat?
The Laundromat
Will Meryl Streep get her 22nd Oscar nomination for her widow-detective role in Steven Soderbergh’s Netflix drama?

Image: Nicole Kidman stars as Gretchen Carlson in Bombshell
Bombshell
Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie star as Fox News employees standing up to workplace sexism in a pre-Me Too world.

Image: Brad Pitt in Ad Astra. Pic: 20th Century Fox
Ad Astra
Brad Pitt plays an astronaut sent to find his father in James Gray’s space drama.

Image: Adam Driver portrays a real-life Senate worker in The Report
The Report
Adam Driver portrays a real-life Senate worker exposing abuses in CIA intelligence gathering post-9/11.

Image: Eddie Murphy plays Rudy Ray Moore in Dolemite Is My Name
Dolemite Is My Name
Eddie Murphy is on the comeback trail as a blaxploitation pioneer Rudy Ray Moore – will it earn him an Oscar nod?
Stranger things have happened…

Image: Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu play strippers in Hustlers
Hustlers
A singer so famous she’s known by just three letters, could J-Lo get her first Oscar nomination for her role as a savvy stripper?

Image: Taylor Swift living her best life in the Hollywood film of musical Cats
Cats
Will the likes of Taylor Swift, Dame Judi Dench and Idris Elba garner Academy attention for their unnerving part-human part-feline performances?
Despite being panned by critics, the movie should get some technical recognition for its patented “digital fur technology” at the very least.

Image: Downton Abbey graduates from the small to the silver screen. Pic: Focus Features
Downton Abbey
Like the royals, afternoon tea and the British accent, the Americans love Downton.
So, what better way for them to show it than to nominate the movie version for an Oscar?
The 92nd Academy Awards take place on Sunday 9 February.

Source : Sky News