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Awards Season / Oscar Predictions Update: The State of the Race After Telluride and TIFF

Well now, we’ve reached the end of September and it almost feels like the season is already partway over. A lot of that is due to the lack of unseen films at this point, which is fairly rare. Aside from The Color Purple, Flint Strong, and The Iron Claw, is there anything on Oscar’s potential radar that hasn’t screened at a film festival? The answer is, pretty much, no. So, we know the movies in play. As such, it feels like a good point, right as the fall festival season is starting to move towards its back end, to look at the state of the race. Plus, that also means new Academy Award predictions to take a gander at!

The Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival came hot and heavy after the Venice Film Festival. I wasn’t at Venice, but I was in Telluride and Toronto. Venice was where Ferrari, Hit Man, The Killer, Maestro, Origin, and Poor Things launched, among others, so there’s definitely something to be gleamed from there. However, with how quickly Poor Things (more on that in a moment) moved stateside, the big buzz for that one might have come from Telluride, so let us start there…

Telluride had some notable debuts, including All of Us Strangers, The Bikeriders, The Holdovers, Nyad, Rustin, and Saltburn. Of that lot, The Holdovers certainly appears to be a player, with Nyad and Rustin looking for more strategic campaigns, while Saltburn is a huge X factor. Don’t count it out, but it definitely will be a challenge for some Oscar voters. On the other hand, Poor Things, despite some very edgy content, played like gangbusters and will be hard for Academy members to resist. Some were quick to say that it could challenge Oppenheimer in Best Picture. I’m not quite sure about that, but Emma Stone certainly could be the one to beat in Best Actress.

TIFF only had one world premiere that seemed to change the course of the awards season, and that was Audience Award winner American Fiction. If history is to be followed, it’s set for some Oscar love. Could a weird year like this mean that won’t be the case? I’m honestly not sure. The other premieres, like Dumb Money and Next Goal Wins, are looking to be more populist crowdpleasers, with longer shots at awards attention, while Pain Hustlers appears dead on arrival. However, plenty of other festival favorites like Anatomy of a Fall, The Boy and the Heron, Hit Man, The Holdovers, Nyad, Origin, Rustin, and The Zone of Interest played to folks eager to see potential future nominees.

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Also of note, we have the big category placement decision of Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon. Initially, many assumed she’d be campaigned in Best Supporting Actress, where she was an early frontrunner and seemingly a surefire winner. Then, a few days ago came word that she’d be submitted in Best Actress instead. Now, I’ve seen the film (in case you didn’t know), and she’s closer to a Lead than a Supporting player, even if it’s borderline. So, this also isn’t necessarily a Michelle Williams situation, since I think Gladstone is in the thick of the Actress race, even if Supporting Actress was easier pickings. Could this make Killers of the Flower Moon end up nominated a ton but ultimately winless, like The Irishman? Maybe. That being said, it’s just a quirk to the season, so take it as such.

Now, the New York Film Festival is up next. There aren’t any world premieres, but that’s where I’ll be seeing Ferrari, Maestro, May December, and Priscilla. After that, I’ll have seen basically all of the major contenders, so it’ll be time to update predictions. For now, though, NYFF is going to be a fest that offers me some more potential awards season clarity, and that’s never a bad thing.

So, where do we stand? Best Actor and Best Actress look incredibly competitive, Best Supporting Actor could be Robert Downey Jr.‘s for the taking (though Ryan Gosling and Mark Ruffalo would like to have a word), while Best Supporting Actress is now anyone’s game. Both of the Screenplay categories seem competitive, as well. Plus, the technical categories should be a large scale battle between Barbie, The Creator, Oppenheimer, and Poor Things. At the same time, Christopher Nolan could be already locked and loaded for Best Director, while Oppenheimer still feels like the one to beat in Best Picture. Can that change? Of course. Will it change? That’s what we’re going to be looking for once the precursors get underway…

My prior early prediction article (found here) is still available for your perusal, and can see some more of the changes I’ve been making along the way if you click around. The festivals are having their say, so changes are coming as I see the high profile NYFF titles. Especially as films decide whether to remain in 2023 and category placements are made, there’s updates coming. So, just stay tuned there for those.

Folks, as always you can see my newest crack at advance Oscar predictions (which, again, officially are just considered regular old new predictions, as opposed to year in advance) right here at Awards Radar. The changes are coming, and will continue to come, more and more, as the fall festivals continue and then wrap up. So, sit tight for much more…

An Oscar statue is pictured during the Oscars Foreign Language Film Award Directors Reception in advance of the 88th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California February 26, 2016. The Oscars will be presented February 28, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri – GF10000325443

Stay tuned for another update to these Oscar predictions as the fall festival season continues!


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Written by Joey Magidson

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