Along with the holiday decorations that surround us everywhere we go, the annual movie awards brigade arrives these days, a period when the Oscars’ most hyped lure doesn’t always pay off, but the long shot does and the jockeys come to the fore. .
The studios have double-checked their lists (or more) and will be releasing Oscar contenders with a gleam in their eye and dreams of year-end prizes in their heart for the rest of the year.
There are already a few “reliable things” that should overcome the baggage of the so-so hype, such as Sam Mendes’ Empire of the Light, which came out on December 9th. Meanwhile, a few misfits are demanding our attention, including Vicki Crips, the panting real-life empress in The Corsage, out Dec. 30; Jim Parsons and Ben Aldridge as lovers facing an unfortunate future in “Spoiler Beware” (December 2); and Naomi Aki as tragic singer Whitney Houston in I Want to Dance with Someone (December 23).
After all, anything can happen when it comes to Hollywood and the holiday awards season.
But before we get to the rookie crashes, let’s take another look at some of the standout players who have already proven themselves but may have slipped your radar.
After a brief release, Amazon Prime resumes the touching odyssey of the Goodnight Oppie rover on November 23rd. It’s a wonderful film about science, perfect for holiday viewing.
Meanwhile, a bloody feud between Irish sworn enemies, The Banshee of Inisherin would be a strong candidate and is still playing in theaters; as well as a bold creative statement by Todd Field’s “Tár” with a volcanic performance by Cate Blanchett, best actress nominee. And don’t discount Robert Eggers’ rough and brutal Viking epic The Northerner (now available to watch). It could be a dream book. Also in the mix are Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (particularly Angela Bassett’s ferocious portrayal of Queen Ramonda) and Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s wildly creative Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, one of the best films of the year.
But now it’s time to look ahead.
To get into the spirit of the season, we’ve prepared 12 awards season films – releases through the end of the year that Oscar viewers should keep an eye out for.
Okay, we cheated a little by putting in one movie that’s coming out in the Bay Area in January. Don’t be Scrooge, this happens every year.
Here is our review.
If there’s a contender for Best Picture, it’s this one – Steven Spielberg dives deep into a semi-autobiographical nostalgia centered on a kid who falls in love with movies and then decides to make something of his own. Sounds familiar? It was previously rumored that Spielberg and his writing partner Tony Kushner have created another witty gem with a respected veteran cast that includes Michelle Williams and Paul Dano as rookie director Sammy’s bickering parents (Mateo Zorion Francis-DeFord and Gabrielle Labelle ). Since this is a Spielberg production, expect tears to flow and flow.
Details: In theaters.
“Bones and All”
While I doubt the sanity of anyone who thought releasing a film about cannibalism during Thanksgiving was a good idea, the presence of actors Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet, combined with the quirkiness of Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino’s narration, could push it into several categories of awards.
Details: in theaters
“Avatar: The Way of Water”
Derided by some and cherished by others, James Cameron’s 2009 special effects production Avatar received nine Oscar nominations and won three. Cameron may be a divisive director, but he’s always a dependable Hollywood showman, a tech wizard who knows how to impress visuals. That said, expect a split decision on this one, and its 3+ hour run time already has us squirming in our seats.
Details: In theaters December 16th.
Indie filmmaker and screenwriter Sarah Polley offers another one of her adventurous, flamboyant and candid conversation starters. It is a literal speaker, adapted from Miriam Toews’ novel of the same name, about faith and recovery from sexual abuse and trauma in the Mennonite community. Its ensemble cast (Jesse Buckley, Claire Foy, Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara, Judith Ivey, Ben Whishaw and more) makes it a prestigious film with a strong pedigree and an equally strong voice and commitment. It will be a magnet for awards.
Details: In theaters December 2nd.
The “slap” Will Smith gave to Chris Rock at the 2022 Oscars still feels rough, to the point where many of us don’t want to see either of the two at the next ceremony. But what’s impossible to miss is Smith’s presence in this latest epic drama of his that’s generating interest. Director Antoine Fuqua has a mixed record (Infinity with Mark Wahlberg was a mind-boggling disaster), but the impressive trailer suggests it could catapult him into awards orbit. It is based on a true story about a slave who was beaten almost to death and later joined the Union Army. Smith plays both the lead role and co-producer.
Details: December 2 in select theaters and December 9 on Apple TV+.
‘Pinocchio Guillermo del Toro’
Earlier this year, Disney+ released Robert Zemeckis’ live-action wooden adaptation of their 1940 animated classic. Now Carlo Collodi’s convoluted fable about a puppet who wants to be real is being remade by one of the few directors who has been able to give the story the depth, texture and dimension it deserves. At least visually, this episode of Netflix looks unique and appealing.
Details: Available December 11 on Netflix after a short screening in select theaters.
Brendan Fraser’s unbridled performance here could very well top awards season, in part because it’s touted as the comeback of the year for the likeable actor who’s seen his fair share of ups and downs. On top of all that, Frazier deserves credit for this performance on his own terms. Darren Aronofsky’s adaptation of Samuel D. Hunter’s 2012 stage play is a heavy, heartbreaking odyssey as it counts down the hours and days spent with 600-pound reclusive Charlie, who is trapped even deeper in his own grief. You won’t forget the performance or the movie itself.
Details: In theaters December 9th
“Glass Bow: Knives Out”
I know, I know. Set on a Greek island where someone thinks of murder, director-writer Rian Johnson’s surprisingly smart, star-studded detective story is far from the best moment to shoot. The Oscars rarely give the biggest award to a lowly comedy. But when it comes to entertaining us, few 2022 releases can match this one. The fact is that this sequel is even better than the original. He finds divine detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) looking for rats and secrets among new suspects (Kate Hudson – scream). It could well earn Johnson a screenplay award.
Details: in theaters; on Netflix December 23rd.
If Damien Chazelle’s brilliant lollapalooza in the movie offers even one tenth of the Red Bull-like adrenaline rush experienced in his wild trailer, we’re in for something grand and over the top; the best way. The creator of “La La Land” returns to his Hollywood haunt as “Big Dreamers” crashes into harsh reality in 1920s Tinseltown. Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt and Tobey Maguire are just a few of the stars who are putting things in order. We’re in, but there are concerns that this might be overconfident.
Details: Opens in theaters December 23rd.
The wise and handsome tear-jerker character Lucas Dont may not have caught your eye, but he should be and deserves a lot of awards. A close friendship between two 13-year-old boys in the Belgian countryside crumbles after a happy summer ends and they return to school. This is a film full of pain, understanding and compassion. It’s a great film with two incredible young performances by Eden Dambrin and Gustav De Wael.
Details: Expected in theaters sometime in December.
Anyone who has the audacity to even try to compress one of author Don DeLillo’s mind-blowing works into a film deserves respect. Noah Baumbach takes on this challenging assignment as director and writer for this Netflix production based on DeLillo’s award-winning 1985 genre-bending novel. Ostensibly, Noise is a portrait of a family suffering from a toxic waste disaster, but in keeping with DeLillo’s form, it covers much more. In this adaptation, we’re here to take the layers off and then discuss what they all mean. It stars Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, Don Cheadle and Jodie Turner-Smith.
Details: In select theaters on December 2; on Netflix December 30th.
This remake of Akira Kurosawa’s existential tear-jerker “Ikiru” won’t hit the Bay Area until January 6th, but it’s worth the wait. Kazuo Ishiguro’s insightful screenplay and Bill Nighy’s classic performance ensure that Oliver Hermanus’s brooding 1950s-era drama about a troubled British civil servant facing his own mortality reminds us of the need to paint the lines and experience life in order to the most complete.
Details: In theaters January 6th.
Contact Randy Myers at [email protected]