Tuesday, December 24, 2019

OSCAR WATCH: Can A24 Make a Best Picture Comeback?

Is it time to say goodbye to 'The Farewell' in the Best Picture race?
With just two weeks to go before nomination voting closes on January 7 for the next Academy Awards, the clock is ticking for this year's contenders. In the aftermath of Harvey Weinstein's downfall, upstart distributors have been jostling to fill that void and establish themselves as the new "Oscar whisperers." And so far, Netflix seems to have laid claim to that title with at least 4 viable contenders for Best Picture. But what about the smaller distributors like A24? After a steady climb in the world of Oscar campaigning which included a momentous victory for "Moonlight", the New York-based company had an uncharacteristic down year in 2018, garnering only a single nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Depending on who you ask, there is much cause for concern regarding A24's 2019 lineup. Though their slate includes several acclaimed films, they seem to have been beaten at their own game - edgy but accessible fare - by upstarts Neon, who are flying high on the success of "Parasite" among others. In contrast, A24's prized pony is less clear. Is it "Waves," which has crashed and burned since its buzzy Telluride launch? Is it the challenging but rewarding "Uncut Gems" from the inimitable Safdie Brothers? Or is it Sundance darling "The Farewell," with its strong awards potential in the acting and screenplay categories?

In my estimation, there are 7 films looking like safe bets in Best Picture, which leaves room for A24 to stage a comeback. Here's how I see current state of the Best Picture race:

  1. The Irishman
  2. Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood
  3. Jojo Rabbit
  4. Parasite
  5. Marriage Story
  6. 1917  
  7. Joker
  8. The Farewell
  9. Dolemite is My Name
  10. Uncut Gems

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