Oscars Watch: Awards Season Is Upon Us

Steven Spielberg directing Lincoln. Courtesy of Walt Disney/20th Century Fox

With the launch of Venice, Telluride and Toronto, awards season is officially upon us in the newest Oscars Watch column.

I’m not attending Venice or Telluride but I will be on the ground during the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival. Judging by their pedigrees, a number of films have an opportunity to break out as a Best Picture contender. Nobody wants to enter the fest season with a highly anticipated film and end up turning into Life Itself (not the Roger Ebert documentary!). Meanwhile, the TIFF Grolsch People’s Choice Award is one of the first pre-cursors for the Oscars. Since its inception in 1978, seven films have won Best Picture out of 21 nominations.

Steven Spielberg is bringing semibiographical The Fabelmans to Toronto for its world premiere. This is the first time that Spielberg is playing the Canadian film festival. It is a film that I am highly anticipating and plan to attend on September 10. He could have a cast full of nobodies and I would still be in attendance. We’re talking about Steven Spielberg here. You’ve heard me say this time and time again but I am not doing what I do without Jurassic Park. I would RSVP for the Saturday night red carpet but this is impossible with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery preceding the premiere. In any event, The Fabelmans is almost certainly going to be in the running for the TIFF Grolsch People’s Choice Award. Spielberg should end up with his 10th Oscar nomination for Best Director.

Empire of Light, directed by Sam Mendes, is one of the films that could break out as a Best Picture contender. Mendes is no stranger to being in this position and this is a film set at a cinema in the 1980s. Going off the the TIFF premiere status, it’ll start its journey at the Telluride Film Festival. What surprises me, however, is that all of the film’s screenings start before 5 PM. The Canadian premiere will make for one heck of a double-feature with the North American premiere of Martin McDonagh’s The Banishees of Inisherin. Searchlight Pictures has a busy festival with The Menu and Chevalier but based on pedigree, those are its strongest awards contenders.

The Son
L-R: Zen McGrath, Laura Dern, and Hugh Jackman in The Son. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Sony Classics is bringing a few films to TIFF, including Florian Zeller’s The Son. Will Hugh Jackman follow in the footsteps of Anthony Hopkins? The film is going from Venice to Toronto. The Son is the second film based on a trilogy of players by the filmmaker. I imagine he’ll be back with the third film adaptation soon enough but for now, I expect Hugh Jackman to be a strong Oscar contender.

Noah Baumbach follows up Marriage Story with White Noise. While the film is launching in Venice, it’s skipping over Telluride and Toronto for New York. I won’t be in New York so it’ll be some time before I see this one. Netflix also has All Quiet on the Western Front, among others. The German Oscar submission for International feature is the third adaptation of the 1929 Erich Maria Remarque novel. Unlike 1930 and 1979, the 2022 film is the first German language adaptation. Unfortunately, I’m not going to get to it during TIFF in all likelihood. I’ll be waiting for later this year.

On the documentary front, some films could come out of the fest in strong position. If the recent success of Dopesick is any indication, look for Neon’s All the Beauty and the Bloodshed to make some noise. Laura Poitras is already an Oscar winner for directing Citizenfour. Perhaps two-time Emmy nominee Mark Fletcher will make some noise with the world premiere of Patrick and the Whale? The film comes from Terra Mater Studios, which previously gave us the likes of Sea of Shadows and The Ivory Game. If the film gets a quick acquisition out of the fest, maybe it’ll be a documentary feature contender in no time.

Good Night Oppy
Opportunity in Good Night Oppy. Courtesy of Amazon Studios.

You can’t ignore Ryan White’s Good Night Oppy either. White’s new documentary focuses on the Mars rover, Opportunity. Sent to Mars for a 90-day mission, the rover stayed there for 15 years! I haven’t seen the film but much like Free Solo in 2018, this is one of those that I want to see on the big screen, even if it means going to a public screening of The Son and not fitting Raymond and Ray into my schedule. Amazon will give it a brief theatrical release in early November before it starts streaming November 23 on Prime Video.

Brendan Fraser is certainly sitting in a good position as we enter the true launch of awards season. He’ll be receiving a TIFF Tribute Award for his performance in The Whale. If you’ve noticed the TIFF Tribute Awards for Performance during the past few years, they’ve been a good pre-cursor for Oscar Sunday. Two years ago, they honored Anthony Hopkins. Last year, it was Jessica Chastain. Fraser is enjoying a renaissance and it’s a bummer that we will never see his work in Batgirl. We’ll see him again at some point in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon in 2023. It’s a god thing that the Scorsese film isn’t getting a 2022 release because voters would probably be splitting votes. If you’re eying an Oscar trophy, that’s the last thing that anybody wants.

If it were up to me, the Academy would have nominated Knives Out for Best Picture. They didn’t. If there a Best Ensemble category, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery would be a strong contender. I’m hopeful it gets nominated during January’s Critics Choice Awards but we’ll see. Regardless, I’m expecting good fun in the Rian Johnson whodunit.

We’ve seen a few contenders earlier this year-Adam Sandler is an Oscar contender once again for Hustle–but the fun is just getting started!

The 95th Academy Awards ceremony will be held March 12, 2023.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.