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Early Front-running For The Film Awards Season: Part 3

Netflix is out to improve on it’s ‘Roma’ success of last year in the upcoming film awards season—and there are a bunch of quality, last-minute contenders

Read part one here.

Read part two here.

Netflix is out to change the Hollywood movie game, and if reports from the New York Film Festival are to be believed, their Martin Scorsese–directed The Irishman may make last year’s success with Cuaron’s Roma become a distant memory. Along with Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, these two films may be snagging major nominations across the major categories; and we’re no longer just talking Best Picture in a Foreign Language, Best Director, and technical awards. Irishman and Marriage just might give Netflix Best Picture nominations; and if either wins, that’ll truly turn the movie industry upside-down.

To appreciate better what’s happening here, realize that The Irishman’s $160 million budget was shopped around by Scorsese, and the only studio who didn’t blink was Netflix. They plan to run the film in cinemas for less than two weeks, just enough to qualify for Oscar consideration. So here’s a film that’s actually shunning box office revenues, as its real value is the premium it’ll possess as an exclusive streaming choice on Netflix. It’s global-wide subscriptions that Netflix are after; and it’s a game Hollywood has never played in defining quality or award-winning films. 

Starring the gangland triple threat of Robert de Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, and featuring the latest in de-aging technology, The Irishman is a three-hour epic that chronicles the swan song of the mob in America. Pacino plays Jimmy Hoffa, and deNiro is the titular character, through whose story and perspective we view a slice of American history. It’s been touted as a return to form for Scorsese—a more restrained, reflective film, but one with texture, power, and imagination. 

Inspired by his own bi-coastal divorce from actress Jennifer Jason Leigh, Marriage Story is director Noah Baumbach’s most personal film. It stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, and it’s described as today’s version of Kramer vs. Kramer. Both Johansson and Driver are also favored to reap some acting nominations for the film.

For motoring history buffs all over the world, the one they’ll be revving up for is Ford v. Ferrari, a film that chronicles the 1966 Le Mans. James Mangold directs, with Christian Bale as car designer Carroll Shelby, and Matt Damon as race car driver Ken Miles. The acting is said to be very nomination-worthy, and the rich storytelling isn't just for gearheads.

Furthering the cause of historical films and biopics, there are: A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood, which features Tom Hanks as television icon Fred Rogers; being interviewed by an Esquire journalist—and the buzz on this film is how Hanks’ performance has Oscar-winning potential. 

Then there’s the Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet, that stars Cynthia Erivo as the legendary abolitionist, and pioneer of the Underground Railroad.

If it’s real-life legal dramas that make you perk up, watch out for: 

Just Mercy with Michael B. Jordan and Will Smith, is centered on 1980’s Alabama, and a lawyer defending black death row inmates who may have been unjustly persecuted.

While Dark Waters stars Mark Ruffalo as an environmental defense attorney, battling the chemical giant DuPont; and we guarantee there will be no green giants in this one.

Bombshell is about female Fox News employees coming forward with sexual harassment charges against Fox News founder Roger Ailes; and it stars Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, and Margot Robbie. Expect this to be the one championing female empowerment, and fueling #MeToo memories, this coming awards season.

For sheer acting in a film that most likely will be watched by nobody, but critics will hail, look to The Lighthouse. It’s from Robert Eggers of The Witch fame. Shot in black and white, it stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as two men working in an eerie lighthouse. I believe it’ll be shown during the Cinema One Originals Festival. 

Last but not least, if it doesn’t become relegated as Too Late the Dunkirk, there’s Sam Mendes directing Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, Richard Madden, and youngsters Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay, in the World War I drama, 1917. It’s about two young soldiers going on a mission behind enemy lines. Acting pedigree-wise, there is much to look forward to here; and Mendes is a great director. But unless this turns out really fantastic and surprises, it may barely make a ripple.

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