How exciting that we’re entering our first year with ten nomination slots on the Oscar ballot, thus expanding the race significantly. We have on paper a long list of films that are to be released this year, give or take. There are always many films that come from places unknown as the year goes forward. The various film festivals will begin after Summer. However, in looking over the list of release dates, we have a rough sketch of the movies that are coming out.
The voting and tabulation will be different this time around because choosing five and counting out a random number between 5 and 10 is different than choosing an even 10. Here is how Marshall Flores describes the tabulating:
1) Voters will rank 10 films for Best Picture on their nominating ballots.
2) These ballots will be sorted by their #1 votes into piles for each film in contention. This acts as the first round of voting.
3) Any film that receives at least 9.1% of the vote is automatically nominated for Best Picture (and if any of these films hit 11%, they qualify for the “surplus rule,” which means the next highest ranked film on these ballots will receive a fractional bonus vote)
4) The film with the fewest number of votes will be eliminated, and its ballots will be redistributed to the next highest ranked film still in contention, and acts as the next round of voting.
5) Vote redistribution from the film eliminated in the prior round takes place
6) Any film that receives at least 9.1% of the remaining votes is nominated for Best Picture (and surplus rule continues to be in effect)
7) The film with the fewest number of votes will be eliminated, and its ballots will be redistributed in the next round.
8) Steps 5-7 repeat indefinitely until all 10 Best Picture nominees have been determined.
It’s confusing to think about. In the past when there was an even 10 — in 2009 and 2010 — the nominees more or less matched the Producers Guild nominated 10. In fact, if you want to guess which films just missed an Oscar nod, all you have to do is look at the PGA’s 10 compared to Oscars in the years between 2011 and last year.
In general, the darker films did not make it into the former system. And that COULD mean that darker films will make it in this year, if there are any.
It’s hard to know which direction this year will go, where movies are concerned. We’re still living through an intensely polarized time, emerging from a pandemic, trying to put things back in order and get on with our lives. I’m going to take a wild guess and think that the Oscars overall will go much, much bigger rather than much much smaller. If possible.
I also don’t think the movies that lead the list of favorites will be depressing films. I think people have had enough of depressing and will be looking for entertaining or uplifting. That’s just a guess.
It’s going to take a while for this change to take effect because probably many of the movies released this year are going to be depressing or at least serious. Some of them are going to be Hollywood driving home a political message that really has nowhere to go, considering they are basically preaching to the choir at this point. Any movie about a social cause is only going to be watched by people who already agree with the film’s message. But I also don’t know if awards voters will be up for heavy-handed messaging. It is still too early to say, both because we don’t know what the world events will be happening or which issues will be consuming our attention as we head towards the Oscars, and because we don’t yet know which movies are going to be the best.
It’s already June and so far we really only have one viable contender and that’s Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, if the internet hasn’t destroyed it yet. It seems likely to do well, since its main competition is going to be Spielberg’s West Side Story and that is going to turn into a story — these two movie musicals pitted against each other.
I do think In the Heights can stay in the conversation because it is going to be the only one of its kind — a musical with a diverse cast and crew that is really good. It is also hopeful and feel-good. I think it will end up on a lot of top ten lists. But, as I said, the Golden Globes would have been its best springboard to Oscar.
Either way, looking over the upcoming films, The most obvious gets would be:
The Tragedy of Macbeth
The Last Duel
The Many Saints of Newark
West Side Story
The French Dispatch
House of Gucci
Don’t Look Up
Tick Tick …Boom!
Those are the titles that stand out right now. But there are others, like the Card Counter or Blonde, that could be strong contenders if they’re good enough.
Either way, here is our list so far of upcoming films.
No Sudden Move HBO Max / Warner Bros. Pictures, Steven Soderbergh (director); Ed Solomon (screenplay); Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Amy Seimetz, Brendan Fraser, Kieran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Craig Grant, Julia Fox, Ray Liotta, Bill Duke
Stillwater Focus Features / DreamWorks Pictures / Participant; Tom McCarthy (director/screenplay); Marcus Hinchey, Thomas Bidegain, Noé Debré (screenplay); Matt Damon, Camille Cottin, Abigail Breslin
Annette Amazon Studios – Leos Carax (director); Ron Mael, Russell Mael, Leos Carax (screenplay); Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg, Russell Mael
John and the Hole – IFC Films – Pascual Sisto (director); Nicolás Giacobone (screenplay); Charlie Shotwell, Jennifer Ehle, Michael C. Hall, Taissa Farmiga
Respect Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Bron Creative Liesl Tommy (director); Tracey Scott Wilson (screenplay); Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Skye Dakota Turner, Tate Donovan, Mary J. Blige
Coda Apple TV+ Sian Heder (director/screenplay); Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin
Reminiscence HBO Max / Warner Bros. Pictures / FilmNation Entertainment Lisa Joy (director/screenplay); Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Cliff Curtis, Marina de Tavira, Daniel Wu, Mojean Aria, Brett Cullen, Natalie Martinez, Angela Sarafyan, Nico Parker
The Card Counter Focus Features; Paul Schrader (director/screenplay); Oscar Isaac, Tye Sheridan, Tiffany Haddish, Willem Dafoe
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie Amazon Studios / 20th Century Studios / Regency Enterprises / Film4 – Jonathan Butterell (director); Tom MacRae (screenplay); Max Harwood, Sarah Lancashire, Lauren Patel, Shobna Gulati, Ralph Ineson, Adeel Akhtar, Samuel Bottomley, Sharon Horgan, Richard E. Grant
The Eyes of Tammy Faye Searchlight Pictures – Michael Showalter (director); Abe Sylvia (screenplay); Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield, Cherry Jones, Vincent D’Onofrio
Blue Bayou – Focus Features / Entertainment One – Justin Chon (director/screenplay); Justin Chon, Alicia Vikander, Mark O’Brien, Linh Dan Pham, Emory Cohen
The Many Saints of Newark HBO Max / Warner Bros. Pictures / New Line Cinema / HBO Films – Alan Taylor (director); David Chase, Lawrence Konner (screenplay); Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Michael Gandolfini, Billy Magnussen, John Magaro, Michela De Rossi, Ray Liotta, Vera Farmiga
Dune HBO Max / Warner Bros. Pictures / Legendary Pictures – Denis Villeneuve (director/screenplay); Jon Spaihts, Eric Roth (screenplay); Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem
The Last Duel Cinema – The Last Duel 20th Century Studios / Scott Free Productions / TSG Entertainment Ridley Scott (director); Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Nicole Holofcener (screenplay); Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, Ben Affleck
Antlers Searchlight Pictures Scott Cooper (director/screenplay); Nick Antosca, C. Henry Chaisson (screenplay); Keri Russell, Jesse Plemons, Jeremy T. Thomas, Graham Greene, Scott Haze, Rory Cochrane, Amy Madigan
The French Dispatch Searchlight Pictures / Indian Paintbrush Wes Anderson (director/screenplay); Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson
Last Night in Soho Focus Features / Working Title Films / Film4 Edgar Wright (director/screenplay); Krysty Wilson-Cairns (screenplay); Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, Rita Tushingham, Terence Stamp.
Cry Macho HBO Max / Warner Bros. Pictures / Malpaso Productions Clint Eastwood (director); Nick Schenk, N. Richard Nash (screenplay); Clint Eastwood, Eduardo Minett, Dwight Yoakam
Eternals Marvel Studios – Chloé Zhao (director/screenplay); Patrick Burleigh (screenplay); Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Gil Birmingham, Harish Patel, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie
Belfast Focus Features – Kenneth Branagh (director/screenplay); Judi Dench, Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Jude Hill
King Richard – HBO Max / Warner Bros. Pictures / Westbrook Studios – Reinaldo Marcus Green (director); Zach Baylin (screenplay); Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Jon Bernthal, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Tony Goldwyn, Dylan McDermott
House of Gucci Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Scott Free Productions / Bron Creative – Ridley Scott (director); Roberto Bentivegna (screenplay); Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto, Jack Huston, Reeve Carney, Salma Hayek
Soggy Bottom Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Bron Creative – Paul Thomas Anderson (director/screenplay); Cooper Hoffman, Bradley Cooper, Alana Haim, Benny Safdie
Nightmare Alley – Searchlight Pictures / TSG Entertainment – Guillermo del Toro (director/screenplay); Kim Morgan (screenplay); Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Toni Collette, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Rooney Mara, David Strathairn
West Side Story – 20th Century Studios / Amblin Entertainment – Steven Spielberg (director); Tony Kushner (screenplay); Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Josh Andrés Rivera, Ana Isabelle, Corey Stoll, Brian d’Arcy James, Rita Moreno
A Journal for Jordan – Columbia Pictures / Escape Artists / Bron Studios – Denzel Washington (director); Virgil Williams (screenplay); Michael B. Jordan, Chanté Adams
Cyrano – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Working Title Films – Joe Wright (director); Erica Schmidt (screenplay); Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Ben Mendelsohn, Brian Tyree Henry, Kelvin Harrison Jr.
No release date yet
The Tragedy of Macbeth -A2 – Joel Coen; Frances McDormand, Denzel Washington, Brendan Gleeson
Tick Tick Boom! – Netflix – Lin-Manuel Miranda (director), Steven Levenson (screenplay), Andrew Garfield, Bradley Whitford, Vanessa Hudgens.
The Harder They Fall – Jeymes Samuel (writer+director), Boaz Yakin (writer), Idris Elba, Zazie Beetz, Delroy Lindo, LaKeith Stanfield
Don’t Look Up – Netflix – Adam McKay (writer + director) – Gina Gershon, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Tyler Perry, Mark Rylance
Being the Ricardos – Netflix – Aaron Sorkin (writer + director) Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, JK Simmons.
Blonde – Andrew Dominik (writer + director) Ana de Armas, Julianne Nicholson, Adrien Brody
Spencer – Pablo Larrain (director), Steven Knight (writer) Kristen Stewart, Sally Hawkins.
What think you, Oscarwatchers? What would be your top ten picks?