From ‘Nope’ to ‘The Fabelmans,’ Oscar Season Takes Off Soon With Dozens of Potential Contenders

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As of June 30, we’re at the halfway point for 2022 — and for the Oscar eligibility year. There are dozens of possibilities coming up and many familiar elements — plenty of biopics, a reliance on fall film festivals, a heavy dose of streamers — but this could be an unusual year.

In the first six months of the year, A24’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” seem likely. They would have been Oscar longshots a decade ago (too daring and a summer sequel, respectively), but both should do well since voters’ tastes are changing.

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Also notable this year: The roster of directors is far more inclusive, in terms of gender and race, than in the past.

While the upcoming crop includes past winners like James Cameron, Damien Chazelle, Alejandro Inarritu, Sam Mendes and Steven Spielberg, there are new hopefuls, including Chinonye Chukwu, Andrew Dominik, Sebastian Lelio, Sarah Polley and Gina Prince-Bythewood, to name a few.

At the March 27 Oscars, The Slap stole all the attention, so many overlooked the fact that the best picture winner was radical: “CODA” is about a deaf family, by a woman writer-director, from Apple TV+, a streaming service. Plus multiple noms for “Drive My Car,” for example, show voters thinking outside the box.

This year’s Sundance lineup included “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (director, Cooper Raiff, starring Dakota Johnson), which won the audience prize and was picked up by Apple TV+, the same career arc as “CODA.” Also in Park City were “Living” (Sony Pictures Classics), director Oliver Hermanus, starring Bill Nighy; “A Love Song” (Bleecker Street), Max Walker-Silverman, with Dale Dickey, Wes Studi; and “Nanny” (Amazon), Nikyatu Jusu, with Anna Diop.

Berlin: “Both Sides of the Blade” (IFC Films), Claire Denis, Juliette Binoche; and “The Outfit” (Focus), Graham Moore, Mark Rylance.

Cannes: “Armageddon Time” (Focus), James Gray, Jessica Chastain; “Corsage” (IFC Films), Maria Kreutzer, Vicky Krieps in the fact-based historical drama; “Crimes of the Future” (Neon), David Cronenberg, Viggo Mortensen; “Elvis” (Warner Bros.), Baz Luhrmann, Austin Butler; “One Fine Morning” (SPC), Mia Hansen-Love, Lea Seydoux; “Return to Seoul” (SPC), Davy Chou, Ji-Min Park; “The Silent Twins” (Focus), Angnieszka Smoczynska, Letitia Wright; “Three Thousand Years of Longing” (MGM/FilmNation), George Miller, Idris Elba; and Palme d’Or winner “Triangle of Sadness” (Neon) Ruben Ostlund, Woody Harrelson.

They’re all kudos possibilities, as are pix that have been in general release January-through-June: “Everything Everywhere” directed by the Daniels and starring best-actress contender Michelle Yeoh; “Top Gun: Maverick,” helmed by Joseph Kosinski; “Hustle” (Netflix), Jeremiah Zagar, with Adam Sandler; “The Batman” (WB), Matt Reeves; and “The Northman” (Focus), Robert Eggers.

There were also gems that deserve to find a wider audience in the next few months, including the Terence Davies-directed biopic “Benediction” (Roadside Attractions); fact-based comedy “The Phantom of the Open” (SPC), Craig Roberts, Mark Rylance; and “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” (Lionsgate), directed by Tom Gormican with Nicolas Cage convincingly playing Nic Cage.

In addition to those 23 titles, more than 40 upcoming films sound tasty. Some will shift into next year, and there will be some last-minute additions, and many will fall by the wayside.

This list is designed to help Oscar strategists know what’s coming up: The title is accompanied by the distrib, director and one or two stars. The names mentioned are not Oscar predictions, they’re to jog readers’ memories, as are the occasional descriptions. Documentaries and animated films will come in later columns.

July
“Nope” (Universal), Jordan Peele, Daniel Kaluuya; “Where the Crawdad Sings” (Sony/3000 Pictures), Olivia Newman, Daisy Edgar-Jones.

August
“Catherine Called Birdy” (Amazon), Lena Dunham, with Bella Ramsey, Andrew Scott; “Tar” (Focus), Cate Blanchett in Todd Field’s first film as a director since the 2006 “Little Children”; “Thirteen Lives” (Amazon/MGM), Ron Howard, with Colin Farrell, Joel Edgerton, about the cave rescue of the Thai soccer team.

September
“Blonde” (Netflix) Andrew Dominik’s first narrative since “Killing Them Softly” (2012), with Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe; “Don’t Worry Darling” (WB), Olivia Wilde, with Harry Styles, Florence Pugh; “See How They Run” (Searchlight), Tom George, Saiorse Ronan, Sam Rockwell; “The Woman King” (TriStar) Gina Prince-Bythewood, with Viola Davis, based on true events in the kingdom of Dahomey.

October
“The Banshees of Inisherin” (Searchlight), Martin McDonagh, Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson; “Devotion” (Sony/Columbia) J.D. Dillard, Glen Powell, Serinda Swan, fact-based tale of Korean War aviators; “Till” (MGM’s Orion) Chinonye Chukwu, with Danielle Deadwyler as the mother of Emmett Till, and Whoopi Goldberg as his grandmother; “White Bird: A Wonder Story” (Lionsgate), Marc Forster, Gillian Anderson, Helen Mirren.

November
“Amsterdam” (Disney/20th Century Studios), David O. Russell, Christian Bale, Margot Robbie; “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Disney/Marvel), Ryan Coogler; “Bones and All” (MGM/UA), Luca Guadagnino, with Timothee Chalamet, Taylor Russell, Mark Rylance; “The Fabelmans” (Universal), Steven Spielberg, Michelle Williams; “Golda” (Bleecker Street), Guy Nattiv, with Helen Mirren as Golda Meir; “The Menu” (Searchlight), Mark Mylod, Ralph Fiennes; “My Policeman” (Amazon), Michael Grandage, Harry Styles, Emma Corrin; “She Said” (Universal) Maria Schrader, with Zoe Kazan in the tale of N.Y. Times’ investigation into Harvey Weinstein.

December
“Avatar: The Way of Water” (Disney/20th Century Studios), James Cameron, a followup to the 2009 phenom; “Babylon” (Paramount), Damien Chazelle, with Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie; “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” (TriStar), Kasi Lemmons, with Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston; “A Man Called Otto” (Sony/Columbia), Marc Forster, Tom Hanks, a remake of the 2015 Swedish film; “Women Talking” (MGM’s Orion), Sarah Polley’s first narrative film in 11 years, with a cast including Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy and Rooney Mara.

TBA
Undated films include “Bardo” (Netflix), Alejandro G. Inarritu; “Chevalier” (Searchlight), Stephen Williams, with Kelvin Harrison Jr. in a bio of 18th century Creole composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges; “Empire of Light” (Searchlight) Sam Mendes, Olivia Colman, Colin Firth, in a love story set in the 1980s; “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” (Netflix), Rian Johnson’s sequel to the 2019 hit, again starring Daniel Craig; “The Good Nurse” (Netflix), Tobias Lindholm, Jessica Chastain, with Eddie Redmayne as a real-life murderer Charles Cullen; “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” (Netflix), the maestro’s animated version of the classic; “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (Netflix), Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, stars Emma Corrin; “The Lost King” (BBC Films), Stephen Frears reuniting with cowriter/star Steve Coogan in the true story of a historian’s search for Richard III’s remains; “The Pale Blue Eye” (Netflix), Scott Cooper, Christian Bale; “Shirley” (Netflix) John Ridley directs Regina King as politico Shirley Chisholm; “The Son” (Sony Classics), Florian Zeller, Hugh Jackman, not a sequel to Zeller’s Oscar winner “The Father,” but a companion piece; “White Noise” (Netflix), Noah Baumbach, with Greta Gerwig, Adam Driver; “The Whale” (A24), Darren Aronofsky, Brendan Fraser; and “The Wonder” (Netflix), Sebastian Lelio, Florence Pugh.

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