“Do not look upwards”
The academy has gone gaga over Adam McKay’s last two comedies, “The Big Short” and “Vice,” and his new satire, “Don’t Look Up” (to be released later this month), has higher stakes and even more star power. Oscar favorites Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Mark Rylance, and Jonah Hill all star in this ensemble comedy about a comet threatening the end of the world – a just-enough veiled metaphor for the climate crisis, granted even more resonance in the real world during the global pandemic – and amid a sea of vintage suitors, “Don’t Look Up” and its insane future fatalism feels even more relevant.
Five films to watch this winter
These are six sure things. So what other films remain in contention for the last four spots?
Like I said earlier, it helps to have a solid candidate for Best Actor in front of your movie. So expect a major push for the musical ” Cyrano “, with an ever better Peter Dinklage, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Tic, Tic… Boom! “ starring Andrew Garfield as musical theater composer Jonathan Larson, and Joel Coen’s “Macbeth’s tragedy, “ with a galvanizing Denzel Washington in the title role. And since “Go on! Go on” is the first movie that Joaquin Phoenix has starred in since “Joker”, it shouldn’t be overlooked, although I suspect that this sweet little child-rearing drama from director Mike Mills could follow the path of the latest masterpiece Mills’ work, “20th Century Women,” and fly over the heads of the academy.
Hopefully, when voters mark their picks for Best Actress, they find that some of the year’s most wonderful films compete in this category and deserve a spot for Best Picture as well. This group includes that of Paul Thomas Anderson “Licorice Pizza, “ which features the film debut of musician Alana Haim, as well as the film by Pedro Almodóvar “Parallel mothers, “ which won its star Penélope Cruz the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival. In Cannes, Renate Reinsve won the honors for best actress and her romantic comedy-drama “The worst person in the world“ deserves a lot more attention to the awards, while at the recent Gotham Awards the film directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal “The lost girl” won several major trophies, including one for the main performance of Olivia Colman. Many experts believe Kristen Stewart could win the Oscar for playing Princess Diana in Pablo Larraín’s film “Spencer,” although we’ll see if the film itself can handle something that Larraín’s more generally acclaimed “Jackie” couldn’t and make the picture better.
The academy has welcomed a large number of international members as part of the recent campaign to diversify its voting base, which could be good news for Asghar Farhadi: the Iranian director’s films have twice won what is called now the international Oscar, but his new moral drama “A hero” can go further and land a nomination for the best image. Oscar-nominated Italian author Paolo Sorrentino to take the same leap with his coming-of-age film “God’s hand, “ which could also place him in the race for the best directors.
I’m curious to know “CODA,” the dramatic comedy about the hearing daughter of a deaf family. It started 2021 with a huge Sundance sale before landing on Apple TV + over the summer to garner considerably less attention. The film is a crowd-pleaser classic that crowds simply haven’t found, although two recent Gotham Awards wins may finally put the wind in its sails. And then there is the sci-fi epic “Dune,” which will be a major player in all tech categories. Receiving “West Side Story” may relieve the pressure to give “Dune” a better image nod just to have Something shaped like a blockbuster in the last 10, but I still think the film has a good hit on the list: it’s done beautifully, and voters respect director Denis Villeneuve for fighting a corporate tenure that sent his movie to HBO Max without warning. (And let’s face it: this year’s best photo montage will look a lot cooler if it features giant sand worms.)