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Oscars 2019: our tips on the Best Picture frontrunners


Awards season is officially upon us and we're counting down the days until the Oscars on 24th February 2019. Here are our tips for the Best Picture contenders...

Will A Star is Born be Oscar nominated for Best Picture?

Graced with a 90% rating on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes, it's safe to say the fourth take on A Star is Born is the most acclaimed so far. (It also won over our Unlimited members – click here for their responses.) Debut director Bradley Cooper has drawn praise for his soulful inversion of the enduring story, in which ageing country star Jackson Maine (Cooper) schools reluctant singer-songwriter Ally (Lady Gaga) in the art of fame.

The laudatory reviews and raw authenticity of both the lead performances and musical sequences (filmed live at some of the world's biggest festivals), have earmarked this as perhaps the main contender (so far) in this year's Best Picture race.

Click here to book your tickets for A Star is Born.

Will First Man win the Best Picture Oscar?

Let's face it, the Oscars are infamous for fawning over movies that champion good old American history. However, it's hard to deny the sweeping power of First Man's narrative, one that takes a close-up look at astronaut Neil Armstrong and his Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

Not only has the movie got the weight of history on its side, it also reunites La La Land director Damien Chazelle with star Ryan Gosling. Given they've already worked magic with the musical, expectations are sky-high for their first attempt at the biographical drama. And with 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, not to mention a prestigious opening gala slot at this year's Venice Film Festival, this is a rival to A Star is Born's crown.

Click here to book your tickets for First Man.

Will Roma win Netflix its first Oscar?

Released 14th December (Netflix)

Alfonso Cuaron's sprawling drama might be headed to Netflix but don't underestimate its chances – those who've seen it believe Roma to be the director's finest movie so far. No mean feat given his sci-fi drama Gravity won Best Picture and Best Director in 2014, a jewel in a career that's already encompassed critical hits A Little Princess, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men.

Set in the 1970s and shot in lustrous black and white, Roma is the story of one family in Mexico City, as seen through the eyes of their devoted nanny. Shot with an eye for both the personal and political, it's been hailed as a deeply emotional experience, with Brian Tallerico of describing it as "a masterful achievement in film-making as an empathy machine".

Given Cuaron is held in high esteem by the Oscars (both Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men were nominated for their screenplays), consider this the dark horse. If the movie were to win Best Picture, it would become the first Netflix-distributed movie to do so, thereby making movie history in the process.

Will Steve McQueen win another Oscar for Widows?

Released 6th November

Steve McQueen was feted by the Academy Awards in 2014, becoming the first African-American film-maker to win the Best Director trophy. The film in question was the blistering fact-based drama 12 Years a Slave, the devastating true story of Solomon Northup that examined the institution of American slavery in unprecedented and harrowing detail.

That film made history, but it was hardly an anomaly in McQueen's career. His earlier movies with Slave star Michael Fassbender, Hunger and Shame, drew their fair share of critical acclaim, announcing McQueen's successful move from Turner Prize-winning artist to director of formidable repute.

His latest, Widows, has continued his hot streak, drawing strong reviews for its script and cast. It's an adaptation of Lynda LaPlante's 1980s TV series, a heist story in which four bereaved women continue the criminal escapades of their recently deceased husbands. Scripted by McQueen and Gone Girl's Gillian Flynn, with an exceptional cast headed by Oscar-winner Viola Davis, this is another noteworthy candidate for the Best Picture prize.

Is The Favourite an Oscar Best Picture contender?

Released 1st January 2019

Director Yorgos Lanthimos relishes the macabre and the unpleasant. After all, this is the director who, in 2015's The Lobster, took the concept of the love story and contorted it beyond recognition, bringing us the twisted tale of people who transform into animals of their choosing should they not find a life partner. His earlier films, Dogtooth and Alps, were no less bizarre, featuring all kinds of aberrant and shocking behaviour.

His latest, The Favourite, is courting awards attention, but don't be fooled into thinking he's gone soft for the Academy's benefit. It's a typically spiky and blackly comic period drama, in which the ailing Queen Anne (an exceptional Olivia Colman) finds herself manipulated by rival court suitors Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. It may be dressed in all manner of period finery, but these three characters don't play nice, and critics have agreed this makes the movie a wickedly entertaining treat.

Even so, is it too perverse and off-the-wall for the infamously mainstream Academy Awards to handle?

Will Stan and Ollie be Oscar nominated?

Released 11th January 2019

The twilight years of comedy legends Laurel and Hardy make for melancholy and affectionate drama in this charming biopic. Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly have generated significant acclaim for their uncanny impersonations of chalk and cheese duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, in a movie that sweeps us from their Hollywood heyday to the bitter infractions of their final years spent touring UK seaside towns.

Is Hugh Jackman movie The Front Runner an Oscar favourite?

Released 11th January

Hugh Jackman gives a compelling performance as US democratic senator Gary Hart in this fact-based drama. In 1988, Hart was emerging as the clear favourite in the race for the US Presidency – until his campaign was spectacularly derailed by allegations of infidelity. Troubling questions then begin to emerge about the mainstream's media's accountability, and the skill of a politician in navigating such choppy waters.

Will Timothee Chalamet movie Beautiful Boy be Oscar nominated?

Released 18th January 2019

Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet are a heart-wrenching father-son duo in this gruelling true story of drug addiction. Adapted from the memoirs of Nic and David Scheff, this is an unflinching look at the impact of crystal meth addiction on one family, as a father finds himself helplessly watching his son slide into chaos. Mark our words, Chalamet will be in line for a nomination with his uncompromising turn as the troubled teen.

Will Barry Jenkins movie If Beale Street Could Talk win an Oscar?

Released 18th January 2019

Film-makers who have past form at the Oscars are often positioned as favourites when the race comes round again – and if we've already said it could work in Alfonso Cuaron's favour, then Barry Jenkins is another shoo-in.

His 2016 drama Moonlight may be infamous for grabbing the Best Picture Oscar from under La La Land's nose, but the movie's qualities go far beyond an Academy Award mix-up. It was a sensitive, gorgeously filmed, multi-generational coming-of-age drama that tackled black identity and gay sexuality in a manner that was frank and truthful, with much of the praise deservedly going in Jenkins' direction.

His new film, If Beale Street Could Talk, is adapted from a novel by James Baldwin, exploring the romance between a young Harlem couple that is beset by tragedy, hardship and the looming spectre of imprisonment. With its themes of love and racial identity at the forefront, expect this to play well at the Oscars next year.

Will Melissa McCarthy win her first Oscar for Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Released 1st February 2019

Melissa McCarthy might be best known for her scene-stealing comedy roles in Bridesmaids and Spy, but she forges a whole new dramatic arc in this moving drama, based on true events. She plays struggling biographer Lee Israel, a writer who finds herself out of step with current trends. But when she starts forging celebrity biographies, Israel finds her profile and critical reputation boosted. Richard E. Grant plays Israel's hard-drinking best friend.

Stay tuned to this blog post for updates on this year's Best Picture nominees, and tweet us your own thoughts @Cineworld.

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