Yes, awards season is imminently upon us again. The annual hoopla of self-indulgent congratulations that spans the winter months will soon begin. This year, awards season is extended by a week so will culminate with the 90th Academy Awards on Sunday 4th March 2018. This is to avoid any clashes with the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. So you can blame/thank the IOC for this.
If you like this sort of thing, welcome and strap yourself in for a lot (and I do mean a lot) of awards coverage. If you don't, then... apologies but keep your head down and it'll be over quicker than you think.
So, as is now usual, I've had a furtle through the major film festivals of the year and here are a few films you may well see mentioned a lot over the next couple of months.
Martin McDonagh's latest film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, so that could well feature. Frances McDormand has been greatly praised for her performance as a grieving mother demanding answers over the death of her daughter, so she could well get a Best Actress nod. There could be also be Best Supporting Actor nominations for Woody Harrelson, who plays the town sheriff, and Sam Rockwell as the town deputy.
Sofia Coppola took the Best Director prize at Cannes for The Beguiled, a Southern gothic drama starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell. When a wounded Union soldier arrives at Miss Martha Farnsworth's Seminary For Young Ladies, the staff and students all take an interest in this man. Taking him in so he can recover from his injuries, soon the women begin to compete for the soldier's favour, which sets the scene for tragedy. Potential Best Picture and Best Director nods; given a very wide open field for acting nominations this year, I'd be surprised if any of the cast get nominated (although Kidman and Dunst are the most likely candidates if they do).
Guillermo del Toro's dark fairytale The Shape Of Water won the Golden Lion at this year's Venice Film Festival, so it could feature highly as well. Set in the 1960s, Elisa, a mute young woman (Sally Hawkins) who works in a high-security government laboratory, finds a secret classified experiment and the two of them start to fall in love. Hawkins has had a lot of praise for her role, so she could be nominated for Best Actress, whilst Octavia Spencer could get a third Best Supporting Actress nod for her role as Elisa's co-worker.
Mudbound, a period drama directed by Dee Rees, could feature too. It's the story of two Second World War veterans who return to work on a farm in rural Mississippi and have to adjust to life back home. Already praised for its ensemble cast and the supporting performance by an unrecognisable Mary J. Blige, this could do very well during awards season.
Luca Guadagnino's luscious 1980s coming-of-age drama Call Me By Your Name has been praised highly, so it may well feature. Timothee Chalamet could well be up for Best Actor for his central role as the precocious Elio, whilst there could be Supporting Actor nods for Armie Hammer (as Elio's paramour Oliver) and Michael Stuhlbarg (as Elio's father).
Dunkirk may finally be the film that gets Christopher Nolan a Best Director nod from the Academy. It's a technically accomplished film, so it should get a raft of technical awards (editing, cinematography, sound). It may well get a Best Picture nod as well. In terms of any acting awards, the only actor who really stands out is Mark Rylance, so there's a potential Best Supporting Actor nod for him there, but I think it's unlikely.
Aaron Sorkin's directorial debut Molly's Game could see Jessica Chastain get a Best Actress nod for her central role as Molly Bloom, an Olympic-class skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker games for a decade before being arrested by the FBI. There could also be a Supporting Actor nod for Idris Elba who plays Molly's lawyer Charlie Jaffey.
Steven Spielberg. Tom Hanks. Meryl Streep. A biopic of the journalists from the New York Times and the Washington Post who declassified 'The Pentagon Papers' (relating to the Vietnam War) which showed that the Johnson Administration systematically lied about the war- not just to the public, but to Congress as well. The Post has pretty much got Oscar-bait written all the way through it like a stick of Blackpool rock. Streep may well get her 21st Oscar nod as Kay Graham (the first female newspaper publisher) whilst Hanks could well get nominated for his role as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee.
Paul Thomas Anderson is a director whose work is admired within the Academy, so his latest film- Phantom Thread- might get some attention this awards season, not least because it is reputed to be Daniel Day-Lewis' last film before he retires from acting. He may well get a Best Actor nod for his central role as a dressmaker who falls for a younger woman. Anderson may get a Best Director nod and the film could be up for Best Picture.
Another director whose work is popular with members of the Academy is Alexander Payne (The Descendants, Nebraska). His latest film Downsizing is a satire about a man who realises he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself- it would help save the planet and they could afford a better quality of life at the same time. Payne could get a Best Director nod, whilst Matt Damon could get recognised in the Best Actor category.
Saoirse Ronan could well get another Best Actress nod for her role in Lady Bird, written and directed by Greta Gerwig. Ronan plays Christine McPherson (nicknamed Lady Bird), a young woman who goes to live in Northern California for a year. Laurie Metcalf has also been getting good reviews for her role as Christine's mum so a Best Supporting Actress nod might not be out of the question either.
Battle Of The Sexes should feature heavily. A biopic about the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, it's directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (previous Best Director nominees for Little Miss Sunshine), written by Simon Beaufoy (who won an Oscar for the screenplay for Slumdog Millionaire) and stars Emma Stone and Steve Carell as King and Riggs respectively. This year's Best Actress winner for La La Land, Stone could see another Best Actress nomination, whilst Carell could get a Best Actor nod.
This year has seen big-screen remakes of two previous Oscar contenders, so it may not be a surprise to see either Beauty And The Beast and/or Murder On The Orient Express mentioned. The 1991 version of Beauty And The Beast was the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture, whilst it won two Oscars (both for its music). I can see it getting technical awards- the costume and production design are sublime. As for Murder On The Orient Express, it'll be hoping to replicate the success of the 1974 original with a slew of nods, which included Best Cinematography and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Biopics are basically awards catnip, so I expect to see at least some of the following films recognised.
- I, Tonya: A potential Best Actress nod for Margot Robbie as infamous ice-skater Tonya Harding, with a possible Best Supporting Actress nomination for Alison Janney as her overbearing mother
- The Greatest Showman: A second Best Actor nod could be in the offing for Hugh Jackman as circus impresario P.T. Barnum
- Victoria & Abdul: Judi Dench may get a Best Actress nomination for her role as the elderly Queen Victoria in Stephen Frears' respectful biopic.
- Darkest Hour: Gary Oldman seems likely to get a second Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of Winston Churchill.
- Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool: Annette Bening may be recognised for her lead role as Oscar-winning actress Gloria Grahame and there may be supporting nods for Jamie Bell (as Grahame's lover Peter) and Julie Walters (as Peter's mum)
The timetable for the major awards in 2018 is as follows:
Film Independent Spirit Awards
Nominations announced: 21st November 2017
Awards ceremony: 3rd March 2018
Critics' Choice Awards
Nominations announced: 6th December 2017
Awards ceremony: 11th January 2018
Nominations announced: 11th December 2017
Awards ceremony: 7th January 2018 (hosted by Seth Meyers)
Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards
Nominations announced: 13th December 2017
Awards ceremony: 21st January 2017
Writers' Guild Of America (WGA) Award
Nominations announced: 4th January 2018
Awards ceremony: 11th February 2018
Producers' Guild Of America (PGA) Award
Nominations announced: 5th January 2018
Awards ceremony: 20th January 2018
BAFTA Film Awards
Nominations announced: 9th January 2018
Awards ceremony: 18th February 2018
Directors' Guild Of America (DGA) Award
Nominations announced: 11th January 2018
Awards ceremony: 3rd February 2018
Golden Raspberry Awards (Razzies)
Nominations announced: 22nd January 2018
Awards ceremony: 3rd March 2018
Academy Awards (Oscars)
Nominations announced: 23rd January 2018
Awards ceremony: 4th March 2018 (hosted by Jimmy Kimmel)
It all kicks off tomorrow- as is tradition- with the Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations. So, get your spreadsheets ready (or is that just me?) and let's get on with it!