Some years, when we reach the end of the first half of the year, there are some films that are well poised to survive through the summer, into the fall and winter. This year, it’s not quite like that. As you’ll see below, there are movies that seem like they could sustain, but nothing feels even close to a sure thing. Some of that is due to the changes in the Academy, but some of it is just the films themselves. Now, the flicks already having been released have things that voters could gravitate towards, but nothing feels like CODA, which came out during the summertime last year (more on that below, but my article almost a year ago was prescient about it being one not to sleep on). Today, as the first half wraps up, it’s time for a summer temperature check of the Oscar season, complete with new predictions!
This summer, we’re really only looking at three notable contenders that have been released, give or take how early year things might surprise. So, while The Batman could still contend for a nod or two, first half fans are pinning their hopes on four particular titles. Those are, obviously, Cha Cha Real Smooth, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All At Once, and Top Gun: Maverick. This quartet are about as different as it gets, which is good, but none are clear cut Oscar juggernauts. So, it makes things a bit unusual here at the end of June.
One thing that was clear as day to see was that Apple was attempting to do with Cha Cha Real Smooth what they did with CODA last year. The release date is a bit earlier, but the hope is clearly that it will find its audience over the coming months, before Academy members come to it late. It feels like a longer shot, in many ways, but there’s a world where the precursors keep this independent favorite alive.
As for Everything Everywhere All At Once, we’ve moved on a bit from the waves of adulation, so now is when we’ll see how it sustains. Will everyone still be fawning when something else has their attention? Moreover, will they return to champion it at the end of the year? It’s very much to be determined, but I’m not quite as skeptical as I was a few months ago. As more contenders emerge, that could change, but right now, I think it could be looking at potentially three or four Academy Award nominations.
Top Gun: Maverick, however, is literally all the rage right now. Tom Cruise hasn’t had a bigger flick, so you have to figure that Oscar will go for this in a big way below the line. As for Best Picture, maybe this is the type of blockbuster that voters could nominate and draw in crowds without pandering? What seemed like wishful thinking is getting more and more viable, the more money it makes, while still drawing in the highest of critical marks.
When it comes to Elvis, it does feel like an X factor. There’s a world where Austin Butler contends to actually win Best Actor, with Tom Hanks a force in Best Supporting Actor. They’re hardly sure things, though, just interesting early year candidates. When I reviewed it a few days ago, I included this Oscar bit:
“Awards-wise, Elvis may prove to be a contender, regardless of my issues. Best Picture remains to be seen, but Best Actor for Butler and Best Supporting Actor for Hanks are nominations that could be in the cards. Below the line, the flick should be a technical player as well. If something like Bohemian Rhapsody could do as well as it did, then anything is possible, so sleep on this one at your own risk. Then again, Rocketman was nearly shut out, so musical biopics are no slam dunks. All in all, even as a flawed picture, it remains a player.”
Remember, it’s still very early. My prior prediction articles (found here and here) may look similar to this new one, but that’s the nature of the beast right now. At the same time, there’s some movement towards embracing what’s making headway now. Previously, I was very conservative, which was why I held off on anything too major for Everything Everywhere All At Once and Top Gun: Maverick, which has obviously now changed, at least a bit. Will they stay there? What of something like Elvis? Time will tell, but as the early part of the year continues to not offer a ton, they’re certainly sitting pretty this summer.
As always, you can see my new crack at advance Oscar predictions here at Awards Radar. We shall see, but this list is sure to change once again when I give it another update, likely in a month or so. Until then, the usual suspects from the initial ranking still loom large…