Kathryn Bigelow has become something of an Oscars darling, with her war-themed movie The Hurt Locker claiming six gongs, and terrorist drama Zero Dark Thirty taking another. In her new film, based on the 1967 race riots in Detroit, Bigelow has tackled the fraught subject of race relations in America, winning both praise and criticism.
Kristopher Tapley in Variety tips Dunkirk as the first “slam-dunk Oscars contender” of the year. The critic notes that the film’s director, Christopher Nolan, has been passed over before for critically acclaimed and popular films such as Inception and The Dark Knight, so nothing is certain. But Tapley believes that his latest movie, a “riveting account of the defence and evacuation of British and Allied forces” from Dunkirk in the Second World War, “might well be Nolan’s masterpiece”. He adds that it’s “one of the great entries in a well-worn genre that has never, ever seen anything quite like it”.
The film “gobsmacked” Sundance critics and scored big US box-office revenues from a modest $4.5m budget. The critics say director Jordan Peele has already got the Academy talking, having established “a singular voice on timely issues of race” with a film that’s “groundbreaking” in terms of message and style.
City of Ghosts
Heineman’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated look at Mexico’s drug war, Cartel Land, is a “daring and timely non-fiction”, says the critic. The Amazon-backed documentary uses footage from Syria taken by fearless Raqqa journalists whom the film-maker tracked through Turkey and Germany – where they learn they may not be safe anywhere. Best Documentary Feature has its own category, however, so this one wouldn’t be in the running for Best Picture.
Superhero films have never done well at the Oscars but nevertheless suggests that Logan might just claim one. Earlier this year, Todd VanDerWerff dubbed Logan “the best X-Men movie since 2003”. The critic describes Hugh Jackman’s final outing as Wolverine as “a lonely, pre-apocalyptic western” that’s “unexpectedly, resonant, bittersweet, and maybe even profound”.
Airing 76 years after its character was created, Wonder Woman’s fans are loyal. Viewers came in droves to see the film, causing it to cross the $820 million mark at the global box office. EW’s Nolfi describes it as a “timely status as a tale of feminine badassery – coupled with some of the best reviews of the year and the fact that it’s the highest-grossing female-directed movie ever.” New Oscar voter Terry Crews had never seen anything like it, telling EW “I got choked up in the theatre because I felt like, ‘This is possible now,’ whereas before, it actually was not possible.” According to Nolfi, the film could easily take home Best Picture and Patty Jenkins could take home Best Director.
Many reviewers believe Darkest Hour is a more obvious Oscar contender than Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Atad says a Best Picture nomination is nothing short of a guarantee as “It’s got a… giant performance from Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in his first days as Prime Minister, and a relentless pace despite its ornery parliamentary setting.”
The Florida Project
Due to its tiny budget and large aspirations. It follows a six-year-old girl living in a Florida hotel with her single mother, on the strip leading up to Disney World. The child stars “deliver incredible performances, and the film’s attention to an overlooked kind of poverty is balanced out by genuine empathy for its subjects.
Call Me By Your Name
LGBTQ romance could follow in Moonlight’s successful footsteps and win everything from Best Picture to Best Adapted Screenplay, EW’s Christopher Rosen and Joey Nolfi say. The film will be released on 24 November and follows a teenage boy who forms a “passionate bond” with an older man. Rosen and Nolfi also note that 21-year-old Timothee Chalamet, the young star who shines as the film’s main character, could win for Best Lead Actor and become the youngest actor to receive the nomination since Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network. The movie, directed by Luca Guadagnino, is already one of the year’s most acclaimed films.
The drama starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep centres on The Washington Post defending its publication of the Pentagon Papers. “The Washington Post, given its reporting on the Trump administration, has rarely been more relevant or more popular among the liberal elite,” Atad writes. “And a story about the freedom of the press couldn’t be more timely given the current political situation.” Though The Post has yet to be released, Hanks, Streep and Spielberg are all darlings of the Academy, which believe the film could take the top prize.
The Big Sick
A number of smaller films have punched above their weight this year, but few more so than The Big Sick. Critics at Sundance and beyond have loved Kumail Nanjiani’s romantic comedy, co-starring Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano and Holly Hunter. Silicon Valley star Nanjiani co-wrote the story with his wife, Emily V. Gordon, based on the story of their own cross-cultural relationship and struggles with illness, religious differences and the usual marital ups and downs.
It’s one of the year’s best comedies.
Even before it opened the Venice Film Festival, Alexander Payne’s Downsizing was causing a buzz. But the positive reception following its gala launch has confirmed it as a contender. The sci-fi comedy, starring Matt Damon and Kirsten Wiig.