Oscar campaigning is officially underway as there were several events this weekend in Hollywood, featuring many expected award season contenders trying to build as much awareness around their projects and performances before the holiday break. We are now just 5 weeks away from the Hollywood Foreign Press announcing the Golden Globe nominees for this film cycle, a cycle that has, so far, been dominated by sexual harassment and abuse headlines. The goal, then, for them at least, is to get back to business while acknowledging that the business needs to change. Some have said that one result of this kind of scrutiny will be that women will have more opportunity to advance into meaningful decision-making roles in the industry. That’s the hope. Some have also said that, given what a heatscore Hollywood is right now, it will be incumbent on the various guilds and associations that distribute some of the most prestigious awards to reflect the change that Hollywood aims to be. So we start with what the field looks like right now. And, right now, across most categories, it’s about as wide open as we’ve seen in recent years. Sure, Gary Oldman and Daniel Day-Lewis seem to be locked in for Best Actor Oscar nominations but the other three spots are very competitive. And Gary in the past has made some pretty controversial comments. In another year, they may have been able to avoid all that sh-t coming back to hurt his chances, the way, for example, Casey Affleck was able to skate through pretty easily last year. This year, however, everyone’s being microscoped. It remains to be seen whether or not Gary will be held to account for his own history. (Imagine what would have happened if Manchester By The Sea came out in 2017 instead of 2016?)
Gary, cementing his position as the Best Actor frontrunner, was honoured last night at the Hollywood Film Awards. These awards are meaningless as predictors of who might actually win the awards that actually matter. Even James Corden, who hosted the event, made several jokes about how the Hollywood Film Awards are about as important as the MTV Movie Awards. The award recipients are determined ahead of time and they’re chosen in cooperation with the film studios. To be chosen, you have to promise that you’ll show up. What the Hollywood Film Awards do tell us, however, is who will be playing the game for the next several months leading up to Oscar. You know who’ll be playing?
Mary J Blige.
Mary J was given the Hollywood Breakout Performance Actress Award for her work in Mudbound. Mudbound was very well-received at Sundance in January and again at TIFF in September. The film opens on November 17 and she is now being considered a strong possibility for a nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category. Right now, Allison Janney (I, Tonya) is probably the lock in that category for a nomination – and she was given the Hollywood Supporting Actress Award last night – but, again, the rest of the field is still pretty open. Mary J has an excellent shot at it. Especially if she’s committed to the campaign.
And you know who else we’re still talking about? Kumail Nanjiani. The Big Sick won the Hollywood Comedy Ensemble Award and while that film’s best chances will probably be at the Golden Globes, where the dramatic and comedy categories are separate, some believe that with the right campaign strategy, The Big Sick could be part of the Best Picture conversation at the Oscars. It would never win, of course, but to be included among the up-to-ten films listed as the standouts of the year is a big deal. Kumail and his wife, Emily V Gordon, co-wrote the script. There’s also the possibility of a screenwriting nomination.
And don’t forget about Jordan Peele and Get Out. As Sarah wrote recently, Jordan has spent the last few weeks at several Q&A screenings and panels, making sure that Get Out is still front and centre. This weekend he attended the Deadline Contenders event to once again reiterate the relevance of his movie in these times while arguing the merits of its genre: horror. Get Out, after all, isn’t just about identity politics, it’s also an intelligently written, excellently directed, and deftly produced film. It checks every box that the Oscars claim to stand for.
More on the Hollywood Film Awards and Oscar campaigns throughout the day.
Yours in gossip,