Cate Blanchett, Brendan Fraser, Olivia Colman Emerge as Oscar Contenders After Venice and Telluride

·4 min read
Cate Blanchett, Brendan Fraser, Olivia Colman
Cate Blanchett, Brendan Fraser, Olivia Colman

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty; Andreas Rentz/Getty; Jeff Spicer/Getty

In case you missed it, movies are back — and so is Oscar season!

This year's crop of starry contenders started taking shape over Labor Day weekend thanks to the Telluride and Venice Film Festivals, where red carpets were rolled out and hotly anticipated movies finally screened in public. Who is emerging as a force to be reckoned with at next year's Oscars, which air on ABC March 12?

Cate Blanchett

Let's start with Blanchett, who stuns in Tár (out Oct. 7) playing a ruthless, globally renowned composer leading the world's most celebrated orchestra in Berlin. The two-time Oscar winner gives an " an extraordinary, shattering performance" wrote Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt, portraying a powerful, predatory perfectionist obsessed with her legacy. Even with a runtime of two hours and forty minutes, "I didn't want it to end," wrote the Los Angeles Times' Justin Chang. Through Blanchett's no-holds-barred performance, we meet a woman who ascended in a patriarchal system where one has to "plant yourself at the podium and you cannot entertain doubt. It's your way or the highway," said Blanchett at a Telluride Film Festival Q&A.

Brendan Fraser

It seems the world is at its feet for Fraser's tour-de-force performance in director Darren Arronofsky's latest film The Whale (out Dec. 9), which debuted to cheers at the Venice Film Festival. In the transformational role Fraser plays a 600-pound recluse nearing the end of his life as he tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter (Sadie Sink). "Fraser gives a towering performance," wrote IndieWire's Leila Latif, noting that after the actor's retreat from Hollywood following his accounts of abuse and injury in Hollywood, the role cements his full return to the spotlight, following notable roles in TV projects like The Affair and Trust. "I wanted to disappear into it," Fraser told Vanity Fair of the role. "I wanted to know what I was capable of." Expect to see the love continue for Fraser throughout awards season.

RELATED: Brendan Fraser Moved to Tears by Standing Ovation for Comeback Movie 'The Whale'

Olivia Colman

Three years after winning an Oscar for The Favorite, Colman returns to the screen in director Sam Mendes' personal new film The Empire of Light (out Dec. 9) playing Hilary, a manager at a local movie theater in a seaside English town who quietly copes with schizophrenia. The role marks yet another remarkable turn from Colman, as her resilient, often lonely character seeks joy and connection, particularly with the theater's young and handsome new employee (Michael Ward). Variety's Clayton Davis called the film "a career best performance" from the British star.

Women Talking

Rooney Mara, Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley descended on the Telluride Film Festival with a film that portrays a wrenching and true tale of Mennonite women who were regularly drugged unconscious and raped by men in their own community, who then claimed the horrid acts had been committed by demons. Director Sarah Polley's adaptation, in theaters Dec. 2, focuses on an intense 48-hour period in which the women debate whether to stay or leave the only world they know. The film, which was produced by (and stars) Frances McDormand, was deemed "immaculately made, intellectually adventurous and politically incisive," by Deadline's Todd McCarthy.

RELATED VIDEO: Harry Styles Arrives at the Venice International Film Festival

The Banshees of Inisherin 

The Venice Film Festival is known for generous standing ovations, but 13 minutes? That's high praise across the pond for director Martin McDonagh's rather diabolical 1920s tale of two best friends, Colm (Brendan Gleeson) and Padraic (Colin Farrell) suffering from a massive, mysterious fallout in a tiny Irish town. "It's a treat to see Farrell and Gleason, so glimmering with chemistry as talkative hitmen in McDonagh's In Bruges, back together again," wrote Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson. "Farrell could land the first best actor nomination of his career," wrote Variety. Banshees hits theaters Oct. 21.

Who else will join this prestigious list? All eyes are on this weekend's Toronto Film Festival, where Steven Spielberg will unveil his semi-autobiographical film The Fabelmans, Netflix will roll out its starry sequel Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and Jennifer Lawrence returns to the big screen in her military drama Causeway.