Read on: IndieWire
Returning veterans take the lead: Brad Bird could land his fifth Oscar nomination for Disney/Pixar smash sequel “Incredibles 2.” His scripts for “Incredibles” and “Ratatouille” both scored Original Screenplay nominations and the films took home Oscars for Best Animated Feature.
Spike Lee is another possibility. “Do the Right Thing” scored an Original Screenplay Oscar nomination, and in 2016 he won an honorary Oscar, and now has strong reviews as well as the Cannes Grand Jury Prize for “BlacKkKlansman” (August 10, Focus Features). Produced by Jordan Peele and Jason Blum, the outrageous and provocative true tale starring John David Washington and Adam Driver as Colorado undercover cops who join the KKK could score some Oscar nods.
Debra Granik played both Sundance and Cannes with Directors Fortnight entry “Leave No Trace” (June 29, Bleecker Street), a father-daughter survival drama starring Ben Foster and discovery Thomasin McKenzie which is among the best-reviewed indies of the year. Eight years after landing four Oscar nominations for “Winter’s Bone,” Granik could earn her second screenplay Oscar nomination with co-writer and producer Anne Rosellini.
“Moonlight” Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins could be back in the Oscar hunt with his long-in-the-works adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 Harlem romance “If Beale Street Could Talk” (November 30, Plan B/Annapurna). The drama starring Kiki Layne and Stephan James as a young couple trying to find justice and veterans Regina King and Colman Domingo as two of their parents is expected to debut at Telluride and other fall film festivals.
Also expected to hit the fall circuit is Oscar-winner Damien Chazelle’s astronaut adventure “First Man” (October 12, Universal), adapted by “Spotlight” Oscar-winner Josh Singer from the non-fiction book by James R. Hanson. Ryan Gosling stars as moon-walker Neil Armstrong.
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Quite a few screenwriters will find out if they have Oscar prospects when audiences react to their films at festivals. They include James Marsh’s true sailing adventure “The Mercy” (BBC/Lionsgate) written by Scott Z. Burns and starring Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz, addiction drama “Beautiful Boy” (October 12, Amazon Studios), adapted by “Lion” Oscar nominee Luke Davies and director Felix Van Groeningen from the memoirs by Nic and David Sheff, David Lowery’s Robert Redford drama “The Old Man and the Gun” (September 28, Fox Searchlight), adapted from David Grann’s non-fiction book, Bradley Cooper and Oscar-winner Eric Roth’s adaptation of “A Star is Born” (October 5, Warner Bros.), starring Cooper and Lady Gaga, and Joel Edgerton’s “Boy Erased” (November 2, Focus Features) adapted from Garrard Conley’s book about a gay teen (Lucas Hedges) sent to conversion therapy.
Genre films could do better than usual with a younger, hipper, more diverse Academy. At the 2018 Oscars, Fox scored the first-ever Adapted Screenplay nod for a comic-book superhero movie (X-Men spinoff “Logan”); Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole (“American Crime Story”) could follow for well-reviewed global blockbuster “Black Panther” (Disney/Marvel).
The writers branch often rewards comedies, so Melissa McCarthy vehicle “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (October 19, Fox Searchlight), adapted from Lee Israel’s memoir by Nicole Holofcener and directed by Marielle Heller (“Diary of a Teenage Girl”) could land long overdue Holofecener (“Enough Said”) her first Oscar nod.
Remember, no film will be deemed a frontrunner until I’ve seen it.
Brad Bird (“The Incredibles 2”)
Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini (“Leave No Trace”)
Spike Lee, Charlie Wachtel, David Rabinowitz and Kevin Willmott (“BlacKkKlansman”)
Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole (“Black Panther”)
Bradley Cooper and Eric Roth (“A Star is Born”)
Luke Davies and director Felix Van Groeningen (“Beautiful Boy”)
Joel Edgerton (“Boy Erased”)
Nicole Holefcener (“Will You Ever Forgive Me?”)
Barry Jenkins (“If Beale Street Could Talk”)
David Lowery (“The Old Man and the Gun”)
Josh Singer (“First Man”)
“The Front Runner”
“Mary, Queen of Scots”
“Mary Poppins Returns”
“The Sisters Brothers”
“Welcome to Marwen”