Now that the 2018 Oscars are over, it’s time to look ahead to next year’s ceremony. What movies could be in contention? You might think it’s too early to have any idea. But just based on the talent involved, there are some films that we feel safe saying have a strong shot at getting Academy Awards buzz (at least, assuming they end up being good). And we may actually have already seen one Best Picture nominee.
Here’s a look at the films we think could be serious contenders at the 2019 Oscars.
1. Black Panther
Black Panther is a complete and utter phenomenon. It seems extraordinarily unlikely that the Marvel flick won’t get any Oscar nominations at all; even Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 got some at the most recent ceremony.
But Black Panther‘s nominations might not be limited to categories like Best Visual Effects. Depending on how the rest of the year goes, we actually don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that the film has a shot at a Best Picture nomination.
After all, this is much more than just a comic book movie; the film is about issues relevant to today, something the Academy always loves. We’ve seen in recent years that blockbusters can earn Best Picture nominations, i.e. Mad Max: Fury Road. And we’ve seen that crowd-pleasing movies released towards the start of the year can still be nominated, i.e. Get Out.
Best Picture doesn’t seem out of the question, nor does Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Cinematography.
Next: This new film comes from the director of one of the 2017 nominees for Best Picture.
2. First Man
Looking ahead to movies that haven’t come out yet, First Man on paper has just about everything we’d be looking for in an Oscar contender. For one, it’s directed by a guy who the Academy loves: Damien Chazelle. His last two movies, Whiplash and La La Land, were both nominated for Best Picture; the latter was the frontrunner until Moonlight unexpectedly swept in.
The film also stars a guy who the Academy loves: Ryan Gosling, who has already been nominated at the Oscars twice. And it’s co-written by another guy the Academy loves: Josh Singer, whose last two screenplays, Spotlight and The Post, were both up for awards (though the latter missed out on a screenplay nomination).
Plus, the movie is about a real person, Neil Armstrong. Pretty much every year, there’s always at least one Best Picture nominee that’s based on a real person.
We don’t yet know if First Man is any good, but Chazelle has been fairly reliable so far, and this looks like it has all the workings of an award show favorite.
Next: This movie comes from the director of the movie that beat La La Land for Best Picture.
3. If Beale Street Could Talk
Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins competed against one another for Best Picture in 2017; while La La Land was Chazelle’s film, Jenkins directed the eventual Best Picture winner, Moonlight. Funnily enough, the two might be competing again in 2019.
Jenkins’s newest film is called If Beale Street Could Talk. Based on the novel of the same name, it revolves around a pregnant woman living in Harlem who attempts to prove that the father of her child is innocent following a rape accusation.
After Jenkins swept the awards season with only his second movie, we shouldn’t sleep on any future films of his. If Beale Street Could Talk looks like a strong contender for Best Picture, in addition to Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Plus, Regina King is in the movie as the protagonist’s mother, so we’ll have to keep an eye on her for a possible Best Supporting Actress nomination.
Next: This movie stars an Academy Award-winning actor and is helmed by the director of a recent Best Picture nominee.
Speaking of films helmed by directors who recently did well at the Oscars, there’s also Backseat. This new biopic from Adam McKay stars Christian Bale as Vice President Dick Cheney.
Also starring in the film is recent Best Supporting Actor winner Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush, in addition to Academy Award nominee Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld. There’s also Academy Award nominee Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney.
Adam McKay’s last film, The Big Short, was another politically-charged movie based on a true story with a stellar cast, and that ended up scoring five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. If Backseat is as good, we should expect history to repeat itself.
Unless the movie is a total disaster, it seems reasonable to anticipate a Best Picture nomination in addition to a Best Actor nomination for Christian Bale and a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Sam Rockwell. And in the Best Supporting Actress category, could this finally be Amy Adams’ year to win an Oscar?
Next: An actor who had supporting roles in two Best Picture winners last year gets his time to shine in this movie.
5. Boy Erased
We’ve seen Lucas Hedges in a whole bunch of Oscar movies lately. Last year, he had supporting roles in both Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and the previous year, he was in Manchester by the Sea. In 2018, he’ll actually take center stage and star in a movie that could earn him a Best Actor nomination.
Boy Erased is a new film by Joel Edgerton about a young man (Hedges) who is sent to gay conversion therapy by his religious family. Russell Crowe stars as the boy’s Baptist father, while Nicole Kidman plays his mother. It’s got a star-studded cast, and the emotional story sounds right up the Academy’s ally.
The movie is being distributed by Focus Features, which put out Best Picture nominees like Phantom Thread and Darkest Hour. If it’s good enough, a Best Picture nomination seems possible, in addition to Best Adapted Screenplay. And might Hedges score a Best Actor nomination, being the Timothée Chalamet of the 2019 Oscars?
Next: This movie stars one of the frontrunners for the Best Actor Oscar in 2018.
6. Beautiful Boy
Actually, the Timothée Chalamet of the 2019 Oscars might just be Timothée Chalamet himself, as he has a movie coming out next year, too: Beautiful Boy.
This one follows a father, played by Steve Carell, whose son, played by Chalamet, struggles with meth addiction. The movie is about a serious issue, drug abuse, and it stars two previous Oscar nominees. In 2018, Chalamet lost out on Best Actor to Gary Oldman, but he still became a sensation, and there was a sense coming out of the awards season that he’d be back to win the Oscar at some point in his career. We may be waiting less time than we thought.
In addition to a possible Best Actor nominee for Chalamet (or possibly Best Supporting Actor), the movie also seems like it has a shot at Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay since it’s based on a non-fiction book.
Next: This movie stars two women who were just nominated for Best Actress.
7. Mary, Queen of Scots
At the 2018 Oscars, two of the nominees for Best Actress were Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. Both of them were excellent but ended up losing to Frances McDormand. Now, Ronan and Robbie are actually teaming up on the same film: Mary, Queen of Scots.
This historical drama stars Ronan as the Scotish queen, while Robbie plays her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. It’s the directorial debut of Josie Rourke, though the screenplay comes from Beau Willimon, the creator of House of Cards.
The movie definitely seems like a possible Best Picture contender, but even more likely is that Ronan will score another Best Actress nomination. Robbie has a serious shot at being nominated again, too — although depending on how much screen time she has compared to Ronan, she may be in Best Supporting Actress.
Next: This biopic stars a previous Oscar nominee.
8. On the Basis of Sex
It looks like the 2019 Oscars might feature an unusually high number of biopics. After all, there’s another one that we think might be a contender: On the Basis of Sex. From Mimi Leder, this drama stars Felicity Jones as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Armie Hammer plays her husband, Martin D. Ginsburg.
Jones was previously nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as Stephen Hawking’s wife in The Theory of Everything. Shifting into the lead role, might she be able to nab a nomination again this year? And although Hammer wasn’t nominated for Call Me By Your Name, might this be the film to earn him awards recognition?
It would also be great to see a nomination for Leder, a talented director who helmed many of the best episodes of The Leftovers, as well as the 1998 action movie Deep Impact.
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