A Star is Born is a big movie. It has emerged as the Oscar Best Picture frontrunner – for now. Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga will receive multiple nominations. But that doesn’t mean that they’re running away with it. And they shouldn’t run away with it. Anybody running away with anything is no fun for anyone.
The Favourite premiered last night in London featuring three women who are considered top contenders in the lead and supporting Oscar categories. Fox Searchlight decided this week that Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone will be submitted in the Best Supporting Actress categories and that Olivia Colman, who was named Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival, will go lead. There was some thought a couple of months ago that Olivia would compete in supporting where she would have a better chance – and we see this happening all the time – but in the end, they’re positioning her to challenge for Best Actress which means that that race is looking really, really tight.
As Sarah just noted in the previous post, Melissa McCarthy is making a strong push for a Best Actress nomination in Can You Ever Forgive Me? with her most impressive performance in years. But don’t sleep on Glenn Close. Glenn Close has been the sleeper contender in the Best Actress race all season for her performance in The Wife. This is one of Oscar’s favourite storylines: the Icon and the Ingénue, as Sarah called it a couple of years ago when Isabelle Huppert and Emma Stone went head-to-head for Best Actress. This time, it could be Glenn Close, the icon, and Lady Gaga, the ingénue, with Olivia and Melissa making their cases that it’s a four-way battle and not a two person story. And there are several outstanding performances that could turn the fifth nomination spot into a wildcard: Viola Davis in Widows, Yalitza Aparicio in Roma, Kiki Layne in If Beale Street Could Talk, and Sarah’s thinking Toni Collette in Hereditary, that she could make a push.
So while, yes, A Star is Born is the monster frontrunner right now and that 100% benefits the Academy, to have both ASIB and Black Panther be the populist centerpieces of their show, I’m not sure we can call it a slamdunk sweep, not when other studios and Oscar strategists are clearly putting together their campaign plans, ready for a long season. It always helps to know who and what you’re chasing. For ASIB the goal here is pacing. How do you maintain the lead when there’s a target on your back?