The Oscars: Holy Hell

By Christian DiMartino

Note: the following required zero research.

This year’s Oscar race seems to be shaping up… I think.

The year has been pretty dry thus far. Honestly the only film I’d consider a masterpiece from January to now is probably Hell or High Water, but of course that probably won’t get any attention, because who listens to me? Besides that, Clint Eastwood’s Sully seems like it might get in, and who the hell knows? Maybe, hopefully, even Jon Faverau’s The Jungle Book (it should make a killing though in the technical departments). That’s just judging from what I’ve seen.

But s**t is about to hit the fan. It’s as if every studio joined forces to make sure that 2016 went out with a bang. I’m about to cover a lot of ground here. So much that I know I’m gonna forget some.

There are plenty of other films that could make a hell of an impact. The frontrunner, as of now, appears to be Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, the Ryan Gosling/Emma Stone musical featuring completely original music. Right now, it appears to have the most acclaim.

Aside from that, Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation (out Friday) is apparently excellent. But… that film might lose traction. Reason why is because Parker has been getting a lot of heat recently for an alleged rape scandal back in 1999. One that he refuses to take blame for. Could be a he said/she said deal, but you never know. It might get in the way, kind of like how I feel Quentin Tarantino’s police bashing got in the way of The Hateful Eight (that movie was awesome. You all messed up on that one).

The list really goes on though. Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea is reportedly a big deal too, which is nice considering Lonergan’s last film, his insanely delayed three-hour passion project Margeret, didn’t exactly find its footing. Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival is also apparently a big deal, along with Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, Jeff Nichol’s Loving, and Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women.

Ah, but here’s where the trouble arrives.

My next point is actually nothing new, but I shall discuss it anyways. It is simply too soon to predict this race, because a lot of the major contenders HAVEN’T EVEN BEEN SCREENED YET, and may not be screened until close to their release. In some cases, the films live up to the hype, like The Revenant or The Wolf of Wall Street. In other cases though, they fail to gain much traction, like Joy or Inside Llewellyn Davis. 

 I mention this point for one main reason, but the film being discussed isn’t alone. Just last week, the race received a bit of a curveball: Paramount announced that Martin Scorsese’s Silence will be getting a limited release this year, which qualifies it for this year’s race. So, what does this mean, really? Now keep in mind that nobody has seen this movie. Hell, nobody has seen a trailer. But if I had to take a guess, I think it could have a late-year impact like The Revenant.

I mean, think about it: a three hour Martin Scorsese passion project? You don’t even have to tell me what it’s about and I’m already excited… and then you read the synopsis. It sounds like filmmaking heaven. Plus, Scorsese only has one Oscar, despite having a tremendous track record. La La Land may very well not lose its steam, but Silence could be a threat.

The trouble with films like SilenceThe Revenant, The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, and so on, is that while they may rack up major nominations, they never really go all the way because… they didn’t premiere at any festivals. You wouldn’t think that would make a difference, but it does. Take The Revenant, for example. It was this close to winning Best Picture… until film festival darling Spotlight came in like a wrecking ball and shot that s**t down. HENCE… why La La Land might go all the way. But don’t be surprised if Silence and La La Land split Best Picture and Director.

Another contender still up in the air: Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Ang Lee? War? Ambition? Umm… smells like a winner. Oh but let us not forget Ben Affleck’s Live by Night, or Denzel Washington’s Fences, or even Warren Beatty’s long awaited Rules Don’t Apply.

The fate of all of these films remain in the balance. The fate of this Oscar season remains in the balance. From what I’m gathering though, the rest of this year is going to be complete madness. 

And I can’t wait.

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