Steven Spielberg And Viola Davis Set Their Oscar Sights After TIFF
Jan 16, 2023
TORONTO – Venice, Telluride, and TIFF have pretty much come and gone, and, as such, the Oscar race is slightly more clear than it was just two weeks ago. Sure, there are a number of major players yet to show their wares such as Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon,” James Cameron’s “Avatar 2,” David O. Russell’s “Amsterdam” and Ryan Coogler’s “Wakanda Forever,” but it looks like we have a frontrunner. And, surprise, it’s perennial Oscar favorite Steven Spielberg and “The Fablemans.” Who could have guessed?
READ MORE: “The Fablemans” Review: Steven Spielberg Bares His Soul [TIFF]
The legendary filmmaker’s autobiographical tale got a huge reception following its Saturday night premiere. Still, it took an Academy member at a competing studio (with their own players in the race) to absolutely gush over it to solidify its top standing in this pundit’s eyes. Best Picture nomination? Done. Best Director nomination? You bet. Michelle Williams Best Supporting Actress nod? For sure (unless they go for Best Actress which might not be a smart idea). Editing? Absolutely. Cinematography? Why not. Costumes? Check. Production Design? Eh. Sound? Probably. Score? Possible, but not a lock. Needless to say, the film will get a ton of nominations. Universal will likely also push Paul Dano and Judd Hirsch for Supporting Actor nods with the latter having a chance because of his very memorable but decidedly short appearance (we’re talking Judi Dench in “Shakespeare in Love” level here).
That being said, no one should be crowning it Best Picture just yet. There is a long way to go and at least three or four backslash cycles before final ballots are cast (obviously, every major player has some sort of backlash, it’s how those who love it react to the narrative that gives it traction or not). Moreover, box office results certainly don’t seem to matter for Best Picture winners these days, but for some reason, we’re slightly concerned in this case. Less than a year ago, Spielberg’s “West Side Story” earned $76 million domestic and was considered a disappointment. We’re not sure “The Fablemans” will make half that even in a more bountiful theatrical environment.
We’ll revisit the Best Picture race with our first installment of the Contender Countdown later this week.
Besides “Fablemans” it is hard to find another Best Picture nominee that debuted in the Great White North. “The Woman King” has a shot (the reviews are very good so far), but the box office will have to come into play to boost its prospects. Gina Prince-Blythewood‘s epic is a crowd-pleaser and could have great word of mouth following its debut on Friday. Moreover, Viola Davis often carries the movie on her shoulders (literally) and it’s an impressive, powerhouse performance the Acting Branch loves to recognize. Davis is also incredibly passionate about the film (she referred to it as her own “magnum opus” at the premiere) and it seems like she’ll be willing to campaign and promote it for the long haul. Thuso Mbedu is also nomination-worthy, but Supporting Actress is insanely competitive this year.
Other performances that popped from TIFF premieres include Jeremy Pope in “The Interrogation” as well as Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry in “Causeway” (great work from both, borderline nominee prospects). And…honestly, that’s about it. (Does that deserve an “eek!”?). Although we will add that if the Golden Globes actually occur (a broadcast announcement seems imminent), Rian Johnson’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” Lena Dunham’s “Catherine Called Birdy” and possibly even Nicholas Stoller’s “Bros” could get some year-end “Comedy Film” category love.
Now, from films continuing their trek on the festival/awards circuit, there’s still major support and love for “The Whale’s” Brendan Fraser (although the film is somewhat polarizing), Cate Blanchett, and “TAR” will have their say in a number of categories, Sarah Polley’s “Women Talking” is a significant player, everyone and everything associated with Martin Mcdonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay), “Empire of Light’s” Olivia Colman, and Ruben Östlund’s “Triangle of Sadness” are all in the mix (although the later didn’t pop at TIFF as one might have expected). And, Laura Poitras’ “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” surprised taking the Venice Golden Lion. Can NEON pull off a Best Picture nomination for a documentary? That’s a tough prospect for any distributor, but they did guide “Parasite” to history.
Other potential players such Chinonye Chukwu’s “Till,” Maria Schraer’s “She Said,” Marc Forster’s “A Man Called Otto” and Scott Cooper’s “Pale Blue Eyes” are also on the horizon. And, don’t forget, “Top Gun Maverick,” “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and, yes, “Elvis” are waiting in the wings. Are you excited yet?
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