Entertainment & Arts

A star is born? Early contenders for Oscars success

The Telluride Film Festival has opened in Colorado and if we go by the previous decade, there's a 90% chance that the 2019 Oscars best picture winner will be shown there in the next few days.

Over the last 10 years, only one best film winner hasn't been screened in Telluride - The Hurt Locker.

Oscar-watchers always keep an eye on the other major autumn festivals too - Venice is currently under way and Toronto starts on Thursday. Many best film winners, such as The Shape of Water, have actually played at all three.

Here are some of the films whose inclusion on the autumn festival circuit clearly signals their Oscar intentions.

A Star Is Born

Image copyright Warner Bros
Image caption Bradley Cooper (pictured with Lady Gaga) acts, writes, produces and directs

What you need to know: Lady Gaga stars opposite Bradley Cooper, who makes his directorial debut in this remake of a remake of a remake. Cooper plays a musician who falls in love with Gaga's struggling singer/songwriter. As her career ascends, their relationship suffers.

The buzz: When Cooper screened the film to US cinema exhibitors last week, it reportedly got a rapturous reception.

Festival appearances: It'll have its world premiere at Venice and will then play Toronto.

Oscar hopes: Cooper could score in multiple categories - best film, director, screenplay and actor. Gaga could score in acting. And she and Mark Ronson could get a best song nod for The Shallow, which is featured in the trailer and has smash written all over it.

First Man

Image copyright Universal
Image caption Ryan Gosling will be hoping his journey to space as Neil Armstrong lands him his first Oscar

What you need to know: It's the story of pilot and astronaut Neil Armstrong in the lead-up to the 1969 moon landing.

The buzz: It's had strong reviews out of Venice. After Whiplash and La La Land, director Damien Chazelle has confirmed his status as one of cinema's brightest and most consistent young talents.

Festival appearances: Venice, Telluride and Toronto.

Oscar hopes: Chazelle is the youngest ever best director winner, and could pick up his second Oscar in three years. Gosling and Claire Foy - who plays Armstrong's wife - could both get acting nods.

The Favourite

Image copyright 20 Century Fox
Image caption Rachel Weisz and Olivia Colman could be in the running

What you need to know: It's an 18th Century costume drama about two women, played by Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, competing for favour at the court of Olivia Colman's Queen Anne.

The buzz: It's had rave reviews in Venice. Audiences there have absolutely loved Weisz, Stone and particularly Colman. Director Yorgos Lanthimos is known for offbeat projects The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, but this is said to be his most mainstream effort.

Festival appearances: After its world premiere in Venice, it's heading to Telluride. It will open the New York Film Festival at the end of September and will also play London.

Oscar hopes: Weisz, Stone and Colman could all get acting nods. Best film is more than possible. And The Favourite has to be an early favourite in production design and make-up and hair, while Sandy Powell could win a fourth statuette for her costume design.

Beautiful Boy

Image copyright Amazon Studios
Image caption Beautiful Boy could land Amazon its second best picture nomination

What you need to know: Timothee Chalamet plays a young man struggling with drug addiction and Steve Carell plays his father.

The buzz:The tear-jerking trailer showcases the talent of its two stars, in the kind of true story that often appeals to Oscar voters.

Festival appearances: The film will have its world premiere in Toronto.

Oscar hopes: If the film works, acting nominations look on the cards for both Chalamet and Carell. It could also give streaming service Amazon another best picture nomination following Manchester By The Sea in 2017.

If Beale Street Could Talk

Image copyright Annapurna Pictures
Image caption Kiki Layne stars as Trish alongside Stephan James, who plays her fiance Fonny

What you need to know: It's director Barry Jenkins' first film since Moonlight (eventually) won best picture in 2017, and is based on a 1970s love story set in Harlem by James Baldwin.

The buzz: So far we haven't even had a trailer, so there's little word on what it might be like.

Festival appearances: It will have its world premiere in Toronto, surprisingly missing Telluride, a festival Jenkins has a long relationship with and where he premiered Moonlight. It will also be screened at the London Film Festival.

Oscar hopes: Jenkins could well feature again in the director and screenplay categories. And best film could be a possibility too.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Image copyright 20th Century Fox
Image caption Melissa McCarthy swaps laughter for subterfuge with her portrayal of writer Lee Israel

What you need to know: Melissa McCarthy, best known for her comedy work, takes a more serious turn in the true story of best-selling writer Lee Israel, who turned to forgery and deception.

The buzz: Comedy performers showing lesser-seen sides to their talents often attract Oscar buzz, so expectation is building.

Festival appearances: It'll have its world premiere at Telluride. It'll also play in Toronto and London.

Oscar hopes: McCarthy could feature, as could Richard E Grant, who plays a close friend.


Image copyright Netflix
Image caption Marina de Tavira stars in Alfonso Cuaron's first film since Gravity

What you need to know: It's Mexican-born director Alfonso Cuaron's first film since the Oscar-winning Gravity, and follows the life of a family in Mexico City in the 1970s.

The buzz: It's already been highly praised by audiences who have seen it at the Venice Film Festival.

Festival appearances: It will also play Telluride, Toronto and London.

Oscar buzz: Cuaron is one of cinema's most skilled film-makers, and this passion project of his could give Netflix its first best picture nomination.


Image copyright 20th Century Fox
Image caption Widows' provocative trailer has set social media abuzz

What you need to know: Based on a Lynda La Plante TV series about a group of women whose criminal husbands die in a robbery, it's Steve McQueen's first feature since Twelve Years a Slave won best picture in 2014.

The buzz: The first trailer has generated a lot of online chatter.

Festival appearances: Toronto will host its world premiere, and it'll open the London Film Festival in October.

Oscar buzz: Between McQueen, stars like Viola Davis, co-writer Gillian 'Gone Girl' Flynn and producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman (two of the producers behind The King's Speech), there'll be a lot of attention on whether such a high-calibre line-up will also enjoy Oscar success.

Boy Erased

What you need to know: Lucas Hedges is the teenage son of a Baptist pastor played by Russell Crowe, and is forced to undergo so-called gay conversion therapy.

The buzz: We've only got the trailer to go by, but the story is based on the memoir of a writer who experienced gay conversion therapy as a teenager is undoubtedly powerful stuff.

Festival appearances: The world premiere will take in Telluride before it heads to Toronto.

Oscar buzz: Any of the acting talent on display could feature at the Oscars - Hedges in best actor, and Crowe and Nicole Kidman in the supporting categories along with Joel Edgerton, who plays the man who heads the conversion therapy course, and who also directs the movie.


What you need to know: Nicole Kidman plays a jaded police detective who is haunted by her experiences undercover many years before.

The buzz: Its team bills it as more a character study than a cop movie. If they can get the balance right, audiences could be enthralled.

Festival appearances: It will have its world premiere at Telluride before Toronto a few days later before playing in competition in London.

Oscar buzz: An A-list star looking so decidedly unglamorous is always attractive to Oscar voters.

The Front Runner

What you need to know: It tells the story of Democratic hopeful Gary Hart's unsuccessful presidential run for in 1988, which was derailed by allegations of extra-marital affairs.

The buzz: Hugh Jackman, who plays Hart, looks impressive in the trailer, and for many the subject matter has echoes with 2018.

Festival appearances: Telluride before Toronto, followed by London.

Oscar buzz: Writer/director Jason Reitman is well liked by Oscar voters, and if Jackman convinces in the central role, a best actor nomination could be on the cards.


What you need to know: The film follows the tragic events of the Peterloo massacre in Manchester almost 200 years ago, when huge crowds gathered to demand parliamentary reform.

The buzz: Director Mike Leigh is one of the UK's biggest film talents. That together with the film coming out against a backdrop of political uncertainty could be a potent combination.

Festival appearances: It will have its world premiere in Venice, will then head to Telluride and Toronto. It will also have a UK premiere in Manchester - as part of the London Film Festival.

Oscar buzz: Leigh is a seven time nominee and the Academy might feel this is finally the project to reward him for.

The Old Man and The Gun

What you need to know: Robert Redford plays an ageing bank robber. It's based on a real individual and is, as according to its makers, "mostly true".

The buzz: The trailers show Redford in his final film role in understated but compelling form, reminding us why he's been such a cinematic force for so many decades.

Festival appearances: A world premiere at Telluride will be followed by Toronto and London.

Oscar buzz: Redford has never won an acting Oscar - could he be rewarded at the end of his long and distinguished career?

The Hate U Give

What you need to know: It's based on a young adult novel about a teenage girl whose friend is shot dead by police.

The buzz: The word from advance screenings has been positive, and 20th Century Fox seem confident about its prospects.

Festival appearances: It will have a world premiere at Toronto, and will head to London.

Oscar buzz: In an era of Black Lives Matter protests, could it be a best film prospect?

It's not all about the autumn festivals, of course. It's usual to see a few films that were released earlier in the year sneaking into consideration. This year that list could include Black Panther, Black Kkklansmen, A Quiet Place and Hereditary.

The 2019 Oscar ceremony will be held on 24 Feb 2019.

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