Oscars 2019: These Films Probably Have A Shot At Best Picture

After a few shaky years, Hollywood is back in a good rhythm. The films coming out of the studios and the independent landscape are better than ever. This year, we’ve gotten a few fantastic superhero flicks, some devastating tearjerkers, and some powerhouse performances from some of our most beloved actors. It looks like award season is going to be pretty marvelous.

Oscar nominations will debut early next year with the 91st Academy Award ceremony set to be held in Los Angeles on Feb 24, 2019. However, with the buzz from the Toronto Film Festival, New York Film Festival, and as films hit theaters, we have a pretty good idea of who has a hat in the race for the Best Picture Award at the Oscars in 2019. One of these 15 films will probably take home a golden statue.

15. First Man

First Man

First Man | Universal

Ryan Gosling and director Damien Chazelle have teamed up once again. This time instead of a musical, the pair tell the story of Neil Armstrong, the first man to land on the moon back in 1969. First Man follows Armstrong (Gosling) from the late ’50s until the moon landing. A workaholic reeling from a devastating family trauma, the film chronicles Armstrong’s life and NASA’s devastating failures and the massive loss of life that went into getting to the moon landing.

With a ton of space shots and machinery, Chazelle makes his audience feel as if they too are experiencing space flight. Though Gosling is good as always, it’s Claire Foy’s performance as Armstrong’s wife Janet that is packed with all of the emotion and heartache.

Next: Marvel’s best superhero film. 

14. Black Panther

Nakia, T'Challa, and Okoye in Black Panther

Nakia, T’Challa, and Okoye in Black Panther | Marvel Studios

If Marvel/Disney is able to score a Best Picture nod for Ryan Coogler’s sensational Black Panther, it will be something for the history books. Since 2008, Marvel has pretty much had the lock on the superhero genre, but Coogler’s Black Panther set a new standard of excellence. Chadwick Boseman’s King T’Challa stands at the center of this marvelous Wakandan world, filled with wondrous technology, and traditions pulled from every corner and country in Africa.

From the costuming to the supporting cast and certainly Michael B. Jordan’s villainous Killmonger, Black Panther was not a film solely about entertainment, but a narrative about what it means to be Black today.  The groundbreaking movie certainly deserves a shot at the Oscars’ most coveted award.

Next: Keira Knightley’s best role in years.  

13. Colette

Colette

Colette | Bleecker Street

We’re here for any films that puts women and the LGTBQ community at the center.  In Colette, Keira Knightley stars as Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette who in early- 20th century Paris agrees to ghostwrite a semi-autobiographical novel for her husband (Dominic West). The book is a sensation, and it inspires Colette to begin fighting for ownership of her own work.

In the midst of her fight, she also begins rebelling against the societal constraints of the time.

Next: The most nerve-wracking horror film of the year. 

12. A Quiet Place

Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place

Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place | Paramount Pictures

You have to have nerves of steel to get through John Krasinski’s aggressively terrifying directorial debut, A Quiet Place. In the film, The Office alum stars opposite his real-life wife, Emily Blunt in post-apocalyptic America where monsters with hypersensitive hearing and indestructible armored skin attack anything that makes noise.

An erringly silent film where the family mostly communicates using sign language, A Quiet Place will leave you on edge from the moment you discover that Blunt’s character is pregnant and must give birth in silence to the creature’s horrifying appearance. If the film doesn’t get the best picture nod, Blunt must at least get one for Best Actress.

Next: A haunting film about drug addiction 

11. Ben is Back

Ben Is Back

Ben Is Back | LD Entertainment

Drug addiction has been and still is one of the most troubling and gut-wrenching issues in our country. In Ben is Back, nineteen-year-old Ben Burns (Lucas Hedges) who has struggled with drug addition returns home on Christmas Eve much to the delight of his mother Holly (Julia Roberts) and the disdain of his siblings.

Told over the course of 24 hours, Holly must deal with some terrifying new truths about her child. Her unconditional love for her son is tested as she struggles to keep him clean.

Next: The most realistic coming-of-age story. 

10. Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade | A24

Hollywood has done plenty of coming-of-age stories, but there have been none as remarkable in recent years as Eighth Grade. Written and directed by Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade follows 13-year-old Kayla (Elsie Fisher). Raised by a single father, Kayla is desperately trying to carve out some space for herself and get through middle school without it becoming a complete disaster.

Both hilarious and heartbreaking, Eighth Grade truly captures the essence of what it means to be a young teen in a society full of social media, bullying, and meme culture. One thing is for sure, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart.

Next: Melissa McCarthy does drama. 

9. Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? | Fox Searchlight

We usually seek out Melisa McCarthy for her comedic chops and we forget how wonderful she is in drama. McCarthy reminded us all of who she was with her stunning portrayal of the late, Lee Isreal, in Can You Ever Forgive Me? Lee is a surly author who after falling on hard times in the late ’80s, begins pawning fake letters from dead icons to make some cash. Her “business partner” and reluctant friend, Jack (Richard E. Grant) is a queer drifter who become her right-hand man.

From Nicole Holofcener’s knockout script which came from Israel’s autobiography of the same name and the lens of Marielle Heller, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is gloomy, powerful and also some of McCarthy’s best work in years.

Next: A James Baldwin masterpiece come to life. 

8. If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk | Annapurna Pictures

In his follow up to 2016’s astounding Moonlight, Barry Jenkins’ adapted James Baldwin’s 1974 novel, If Beale Street Could Talk to screen. The film is a drama with a Black love story at the center, which is still a rarity in Hollywood. Set in Harlem in the 1970s, we follow Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), childhood friends who realize that they have something much deeper than friendship between them.

The pair fall blissfully in love until an interaction with a racist cop snatches their entire future from them in a blink of an eye. With breathtaking shots and Jenkin’s beloved classical score. If Beale Street Can Talk is as heartbreaking as the words on Baldwin’s page.

Next: A humorous 1960s period piece. 

7. Green Book

Green Book

Green Book | Universal Pictures

There have been more than a few films that have come out of Hollywood depicting the Jim Crow era. Films like The Help and Malcolm X, are just two of many that ring a bell. However, there has been nothing quite like Green Book.  Directed by Peter Farrelly, Green Book follows an Italian-American bouncer named Tony Lip (Viggo Mortenson) who begrudgingly takes on a job as a chauffeur and bodyguard for Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-renowned Black pianist who travels down South in the winter of 1962, for a tour.

Two very different men from very different backgrounds must come together to figure out how to navigate the troubling South without killing each other or getting killed. Though race and the green book, which was made for Black motorists who were traveling south and needed to know where they could safely stop, dine and sleep are center, the film is also amazingly humorous.

Next: A haunting crime thriller

6. You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here | Amazon Studios

In what has been called his best work, Joaquin Phoenix stars in the psychological thriller crime drama film, You Were Never Really Here as Joe, a hired gun who uses brutal and cruel force to rescue trafficked girls — all while reeling from the pain of his own violent and traumatic childhood.

Upon returning home to New York City after completing a job, Joe is tasked with rescuing a teenage girl in dire need of his help. However, what Joe uncovers is much more sinister than the disgusting business of human trafficking. You Were Never Really Here is a brutal as it is thoughtful and intriguing.

Next: Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal are mom and dad.

5. Wildlife

Wildlife

Wildlife | IFC Films

Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal are magnetic in Paul Dano’s directorial debut, Wildlife. Mulligan and Gyllenhall play Jeanette and Jerry — a housewife and a golf pro — in a small town in 1960s Montana. When he loses his job, Jerry sets off to fight wildfires near the Canadian border leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves.

The couple’s young son, Joe (Exen Odenbould) watches his mother struggle to keep their heads above water. It is both a superb and absorbing film.

Next: A tale about getting into the queen’s favor. 

4. The Favourite

The Favourite

The Favourite | Fox Searchlight

Kingdoms always seem a bit more fun when women are sitting on the throne. Director Yorgos Lanthimos’ dark but hilarious, The Favourite is set in the 18th century when England was at war with the French. Olivia Colman stars as the sickly and frail Queen Anne who depends heavily on her close friend Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) who practically runs the country.

Lady Sarah’s position begins to shift when a new servant, Abigail (Emma Stone) arrives. The newcomer sees her position in the palace as an opportunity to get back to her aristocratic roots. The ladies’ competition for the queen’s affection makes magic on the cinema screen.

Next: A narrative surrounding a tortured pop star. 

3. Vox Lux

Vox Lux

Vox Lux | Neon

In her best performance since Black Swan, in Vox Lux, Natalie Portman stars as Celeste, a mega-pop star who is still haunted by a terrorist attack she experienced as a tween. Now, twenty years later, she has become a victim of a society who objectifies her trauma. Dealing with her own teenager daughter, and a slew of scandals, another horrific act of violence snaps her awake.

In Vox Lox, Portman slips into a thick Bronx accent and the swagger of an exhausted alcoholic.  She delivers her own vocals in this performance.

Next: A devastating memoir that puts the horrors of gay conversion at the center. 

2. Boy Erased

Boy Erased

Boy Erased | Focus Features

Based on Garrard Conley’s astounding memoir, and directed by Joel Edgerton, Boy Erased follows Jared (Lucas Hedges), the son of a small-town Baptist pastor (Russell Crowe) who is outed at the age of 19 and forced to go into a conversion therapy program or be shunned and exiled from this family and everything he knows.

The film takes an in-depth look at these horrific programs and their processes and follows as Jared begins to realize who he is. Meanwhile, his mother (Nicole Kidman) also begins to rethink her beliefs because of her love of her son. Boy Erased is both gripping and painful.

Next: Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut. 

1. A Star is Born

A Star is Born

A Star is Born | Warner Bros.

There have been a zillion versions of A Star is Born, from the 1937 original film to the Judy Garland version and most notably, the 1976 film starring the legendary Barbra Streisand. And yet, with his 2018 remake which also marks his directorial debut, Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born is simply astounding. Cooper stars in the film as Jackson Maine — a beloved veteran musician struggling with his alcohol addiction.

His life takes a turn when he meets, Ally (Lady Gaga), a struggling musician who has been told continuously that she doesn’t have what it takes to make it in the industry. Under Jackson’s guidance, Ally finds her voice and a life with Jackson, but Jackson’s demons might cost them both everything. From the incredible soundtrack to the superb acting and cinematography., 2018’s A Star is Born will undoubtedly stand the test of time.

Follow Aramide Tinubu on Twitter @midnightrami.

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