Like all film fans, I was ecstatic when the lineups for the Toronto, Venice, and Telluride film festivals were announced. There were so many movies to sink my teeth into that I knew I had to go. So, I set up a GoFundMe to pay for my trip, and agreed to write a report for Crooked Marquee. As it turns out, the GoFundMe only got two backers (thanks mom and mom’s weird book club friend Sharon), but I’d already committed myself to the article, so here I am. I figured out a way to make it to all three festivals — I won’t bore you with the details of how — so let’s start predicting this year’s Oscars with the kind of insider knowledge you could only have if you truly did go to Toronto, Telluride, and Venice, which I definitely did.
For Boy Erased, I’m predicting a Best Actor win for Russell Crowe as well as a Best Picture nomination. Joel Edgerton’s decision to follow up The Gift with a 22-years-later prequel to the underrated Arnold Schwarzenegger film Eraser — starring fellow Australian Russell Crowe as the younger, or “boy,” version of Arnie’s character — is one of the boldest cinematic choices of the year, and seeing how the erased becomes the eraser is truly one of the great surprises of the festival circuit. As I was walking the streets of Utah after the Telluride premiere, all I could think about was this film.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Telluride, Neb., was buzzing after the announcement that Melissa McCarthy would be premiering her documentary Can You Ever Forgive Me? The film is a 90-minute single-take apology video where McCarthy lays out in graphic detail how terrible the 2016 Ghostbusters remake was and asks the audience for their forgiveness. Expect this to nab a Best Documentary Feature nomination early next year, and to Ms. McCarthy, I say: Yes. I can.
When I found out that Ryan Gosling was going to be in Damien Chazelle’s First Man, I was over the moon. A film about the first homo sapien in human history is a risky bet, but even more with Chazelle’s decision not to have the dialogue be in English or a caveman language, but for every one of the cavemen who look down on Gosling’s shamed bipedal pioneer to speak solely in jazz. Whenever one of them opens his mouth, a Louis Armstrong riff or a Count Basie song will emerge. While I don’t think this experimental caveman musical will nab Best Picture, I do expect it to get a nomination, since it played at all three festivals.
When walking from the nearest Tim Horton’s (the Canadian Starbucks for those who don’t have the luxury of going to these festivals) to the Toronto premiere of Life Itself, the newest work from the creator of my mom’s favorite show This is Us, something in the air told me that this was going to be special. And since I’m predicting Life Itself to sweep the Oscars with a win for Best Picture, I knew that feeling was right. My whole theater was enraptured after this multi-generational weeper; every person I saw walking out had tears streaming down their face. I have never seen an audience so invested in a movie as in Life Itself. This is going to go down as one of the standout films of 2018.
The Old Man and the Gun
I’ve loved Robert Redford for many years, but this violent epic casts him in a whole new light, easily his best performance since Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which is the other film with him in it that I’ve seen. Redford as a gun-toting old man is perfect casting, and watching him mow down criminals as a force of the law a la Death Wish is nothing short of exhilarating. I’ll be shocked if The Old Man and the Gun doesn’t pick up a Best Picture nomination come Oscar time.
On the wide bustling streets of Venice, Italy, the biggest splash was made by the winner of the festival’s Golden Bear, Roma. While I am not a fan of Cuarón’s previous film Children of Men, I was quite excited that he was making a historical epic about the history of Rome. And what better place to showcase a film about the capital of the Roman Empire than the country it took place in, that I went to, to watch movies? Seeing Roma in a part of Italy where Rome used to be was spellbinding, and one of the strongest moviegoing experiences of my life. I predict it will get a Best Picture nomination.
White Boy Rick
Wyoming’s annual film festival had a lot of interesting and polarizing films, but none more than White Boy Rick, a complicated and flawed but constantly entertaining film about Ricky Wershe Jr., a young hustler and informant in 1980s Detroit. Matthew McConaughey is great here, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see Bel Powley, in a wonderful little role as Rick’s drug-addict sister, pick up a Best Supporting Actress nomination. I don’t think White Boy Rick will get a Best Picture nomination, but it’s still a worthwhile entry into the Oscar season. On a side note, props to Sony Pictures for releasing the film directly after its festival circuit this weekend, so the unfortunate people who didn’t get a chance to see it early, like I did, could see the film for themselves.
I loved Widows. I’m definitely predicting a Best Picture nomination for this one. After seeing it, I ran up and down the streets of Toronto looking for someone to talk to, but since it was Canada, everybody spoke French, obviously, so nobody could understand me. For someone who’s 88 years old, Steve McQueen has made a wonderful film about women grieving the loss of their husbands. It’s a quiet, simple, beautiful film that should be seen by young and old.
So get your scorecards ready, because this is the definitive guide to the upcoming Oscar race. Be sure to check out these films when they hit theaters, and if you see me there watching them, it’s just because I want to watch them all a second time.