The trophies are freshly engraved and ears are still ringing from being rocked by Queen, but it’s already time to start thinking about next year’s 92nd Academy Awards.
Although we’ve got a few months until festival season and Oscar-bait movies hitting screens in the fall, those three awards won Sunday night by “Black Panther” – a February release – are a good reminder that a great movie can happen at any time of the year. Which means a whole mess of pundits will be paying close attention to 2018 screenplay winner Jordan Peele’s new scare-fest “Us,” which is out next month.
So what could make some noise at the 2020 Oscar ceremony? Ready or not, here’s a way-too-early look at the major categories (with release dates for those films that have them):
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Margot Robbie stars as Sharon Tate in Quentin Tarantino's "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," set in and around L.A. during the Manson Family murders. (Photo11: ANDREW COOPER)
Whoever thought Netflix went all in to get Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” the Academy’s biggest prize, just wait till this fall. The streaming service has director Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” the anticipated crime drama about mob hitman Frank Sheeran – and a Scorsese gangster film with Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci is made for best picture. Also on tap before the end of the year: Steven Soderbergh’s “The Laundromat,” a Panama Papers drama starring Meryl Streep and Gary Oldman, and the political thriller “The Last Thing He Wanted,” starring Anne Hathaway and directed by Dee Rees (“Mudbound”).
The Oscars love stories about Tinseltown, so there’ll be lots of salivating for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” (July 26), an all-star affair set in and around L.A. during the time of the Manson Family murders. Greta Gerwig follows up her 2018 best-picture nominee “Lady Bird” with a new adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic “Little Women” (Dec. 25), and director Sam Mendes switches from James Bond films back to prestige cinema with the World War I film “1917” (Dec. 25). The recent surge of musicals might do wonders for the big-screen version of Broadway’s beloved “Cats” (Dec. 20), but don’t sleep on Peele scaring up some Oscar votes for “Us” (March 22).
Then there’s “Star Wars: Episode IX” (Dec. 20): Does the Academy pull a “Lord of the Rings” and throw a bone to the end chapter of the cultural-touchstone film saga? Or does it land in a most popular movie category, nixed this year but threatening a return, where it could potentially compete with “Toy Story 4,” “Frozen II,” “Avengers: Endgame” and “The Lion King”?
Tom Hanks seems like he'd be a natural as Fred Rogers in "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." (Photo11: LACEY TERRELL)
Is it a bit crazy to think Tom Hanks playing Mister Rogers is already a lock? Maybe, but an Oscar favorite starring as the iconic children’s show host in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (Nov. 22) seems a pretty likely bet. “Once Upon a Time” marks Leonardo DiCaprio’s first role since winning best actor for “The Revenant” three years ago, but more A-list competition might come in the form of co-star Brad Pitt. Plus, De Niro has earned three Oscar nominations (and one win) under Scorsese’s direction – perhaps “Irishman” is a fourth?
Daniel Kaluuya, a 2018 nominee for “Get Out,” could be back in the category with “Queen & Slim” (Nov. 27), where he plays a black man on the lam after killing a cop in self-defense when he’s pulled over on a first date. Kaluuya could run into Timothee Chalamet again next award season, with Chalamet playing Henry V in Netflix’s “The King” (fall). Other notables include Ansel Elgort starring as a teenager who loses his mom in a terrorist bombing in “The Goldfinch” (Oct. 11), and Taron Egerton wearing the flamboyance of Elton John in the biographical fantasy “Rocketman” (May 31).
Cynthia Erivo plays freedom fighter Harriet Tubman in "Harriet." (Photo11: GLEN WILSON/FOCUS FEATURES)
With six nominations and no wins yet, maybe Amy Adams gets lucky No. 7 as an agoraphobic widow who witnesses an act of violence while spying on her neighbors in “The Woman in the Window” (Oct. 4), based on A.J. Finn’s best-selling mystery novel. However, Tony winner Cynthia Erivo could upend her as Underground Railroad freedom fighter Harriet Tubman in the biopic “Harriet.” Plus there’s Lupita Nyong’o playing dual roles – one heroic, one horrific – in Peele’s “Us.”
In what could be another situation like “The Favourite,” with its cast split between lead and supporting, Melissa McCarthy, Elisabeth Moss and Tiffany Haddish all factor equally into the female-fronted 1970s mob drama “The Kitchen” (Sept. 20). More for your consideration: Natalie Portman plays an astronaut who loses touch with reality after returning home in the sci-fi flick “Lucy in the Sky,” Emma Thompson is a caustic TV host trying to get her career back in track in “Late Night,” and Renee Zellweger takes on the legendary Judy Garland circa 1968 in the biopic “Judy.”
Mo (Griffin Gluck, left) and Zete (Pete Davidson) are unlikely best friends in coming-of-age comedy "Big Time Adolescence." (Photo11: SUNDANCE INSTITUTE)
Best supporting actor
“The Irishman” possibly pushes Pacino (playing Jimmy Hoffa) or Pesci here, and “Once Upon a Time” could field the category seemingly by itself with a group of bench players including Pacino, Bruce Dern, Kurt Russell, Damian Lewis and Scoot McNairy. The same could be said of “Cats”: Maybe there’s someone purr-fectly awards-worthy like Idris Elba’s mysterious Macavity, Ian McKellen’s wise old Gus the Theatre Cat or Jason Derulo’s mischievous Rum Tum Tugger?
No one knows a darn thing about James Gray’s mysterious sci-fi thriller “Ad Astra” (May 24) but a couple of Hollywood legends, Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland, have supporting roles. Awards-season regular Lucas Hedges plays a fictionalized version of Shia LaBeouf in LaBeouf’s screenwriting debut “Honey Boy,” and “Saturday Night Live” regular Pete Davidson impressed at Sundance Film Festival as a charming stoner in the premiere of coming-of-age tale “Big Time Adolescence.”
Seattle woman Bernadette Fox (Cate Blanchett) goes missing from an idyllic life and her family has to solve the mystery of her disappearance in Richard Linklater’s "Where'd You Go, Bernadette?" (Photo11: WILSON WEBB/ANNAPURNA PICTURES)
Best supporting actress
Margot Robbie has already turned heads with first-look photos of her as a spot-on Sharon Tate from “Once Upon a Time,” and the “I, Tonya” best actress nominee is likely to find her next Oscar at-bat in this category. Meryl Streep could snag her 22nd acting nomination – and break her own record – with her role as the March sisters’ rich aunt in “Little Women,” which could field Laura Dern (as mom Marmee March) here, too.
Cate Blanchett could conceivably go for win No. 3 as the disappearing title mom of Richard Linklater’s “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” (Aug. 9). Annette Bening stars as Sen. Dianne Feinstein in “The Report,” a political procedural true story delving into the CIA’s post-9/11 “interrogation techniques” that premiered at Sundance. And it goes without saying that Taylor Swift’s squad, famous and otherwise, will be the best Oscar campaigners for her role as Bombalurina in “Cats.”
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