Post Venice/Telluride/Toronto Predictions
Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen "Bridge of Spies"
Quentin Tarantino "The Hateful Eight"
David O. Russell and Annie Mumolo "Joy"
Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer "Spotlight"
Peter Docter, Ronaldo Del Carmen, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley "Inside Out"
Other Contenders - Abi Morgan "Suffragette", Laszlo Nemes and Clara Royer "Son of Saul", Paul Weitz "Grandma", Amy Schumer "Trainwreck", Paolo Sorrentino "Youth", Taylor Sheridan "Sicario", Michael Alan Lerner and Oren Moverman "Love & Mercy", Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, Alan Wenkus, S. Leigh Savidge "Straight Outta Compton", Charlie Kaufman "Anomalisa", Alex Garland "Ex Machina", Angelina Jolie "By The Sea", Nancy Meyers "The Intern", Diablo Cody "Ricki and the Flash", Marc Basch and Brett Haley "I'll See You Me In My Dreams", Olivier Assayas "Clouds of Sils Maria", Rick Famuyiwa "Dope", Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi, Bahareh Azimi "99 Homes", Woody Allen "Irrational Man", Alan Bennett "The Lady in the Van", Guillermo Del Toro and Matthew Robbins "Crimson Peak", Tim Talbott "The Stanford Prison Experiment", Paula Pell "Sisters"
Commentary - Right now this feels like a five-way race, which is disconcerning because three of the major ones here have not been seen yet, and could be less than stellar. First, let's start with the ones we have seen. At the top of the list right now is Tom McCarthy's Spotlight. I am personally surprised at how this film has risen so quickly to the top, when its reviews out of the fests were a bit muted. But nonetheless, it has done well enough, and apparently is just the right formula (timely, fast-paced, well-acted) for Oscar consideration. Not just consideration, it has jumped to the lead for Picture and other categories as well, at least until some of the later contenders emerge. The other big one is Inside Out. After a few years of dry spells for animated films, Inside Out could return Pixar to Oscar glory in Best Picture, and in other categories outside the Animated Feature one. The Pixar greats almost always seemed to bring a screenplay nod along with them, and Inside Out's script is definitely going to be one of the best come year's end. The other three are prestige projects with a lot of potential. Quentin Tarantino's last film won his category, and The Hateful Eight looks like another classic from the master. While Unbroken failed to make much of a mark, the Coen Bros hope this time around things are different, with Steven Spielberg's Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies. Finally, David O. Russell has been waiting five years to win an Oscar, and Joy might just be his ticket to glory. It doesn't hurt that previous nominee Annie Mumolo is joining him. These feel like the five, and nothing else seems to be sticking out. Suffragette did well at the fests, but no one is talking about Morgan's script. Son of Saul could be the foreign contender that sometimes slips in. Sicario is getting raves, but is also getting immediately written off as an Oscar contender. Trainwreck was no Bridesmaids, Anomalisa is weird, Love & Mercy is a dark horse, and By The Sea just has question marks written all over it. Sisters could be a comedy hit, Crimson Peak and Ex Machina could overcome their genre trappings, and early contenders like The Lady in the Van, I'll See You In My Dreams, and Clouds of Sils Maria could survive the long haul. Youth seems like a safe sixth or seventh slot coming out of the festivals, The Stanford Prison Experiment won the Sundance screenwriting prize, and 99 Homes is hanging on. Throw in contenders who have fallen from the lead, but still think they can make a dent like Cody for Ricki and the Flash, and Meyers for The Intern, and this race is a mess from number 6 on.