Now where did we put that envelope? Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the "Top 10 Early Oscar Contenders You NEED to See."
For this list, we’re taking a look at 2018 movies that have received critical admiration and/or award buzz, suggesting they’ll be significant contenders at the Oscars.
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#10: “Widows” (2018)
Ocean’s 8 isn’t this year’s only female-driven heist movie. Of course where that film was pure popcorn escapism, this thriller could pull off a bigger score come award season. Academy Award winner Viola Davis leads an all-star ensemble as the recently widowed Veronica. Teaming up with three other widows who lost their husbands during a heist gone wrong, Veronica sets out to finish the job. Director Steve McQueen previously brought us the Best Picture-winning 12 Years a Slave and co-wrote the screenplay with Gillian Flynn of Gone Girl fame. With a lineup like this, it’s not surprising that Widows was met with an overwhelmingly positive reception following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival
#9: “Hereditary” (2018)
Being a horror movie, Hereditary might seem like an unconventional Oscar nominee. Of course last year’s Get Out fell under the horror umbrella and it received a Best Picture nomination, not to mention a win for Best Original Screenplay. Going back even further, the Academy recognized The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby, both of which share a great deal in common with this modern classic. While Hereditary may prove a bit too disturbing for some Oscar voters, we’d be shocked if it didn’t at least get nominations for its sets, musical score, and sound design. Toni Collette is also a strong contender for Best Actress, which would mark her first Oscar nomination since The Sixth Sense.
#8: “Eighth Grade” (2018)
The Academy has a soft spot for independent coming-of-age comedies. With a 98% approval score on Rotten Tomatoes, this Sundance favorite seems poised to follow in the footsteps of Best Picture nominees like Juno and Ladybird. Writer/director Bo Burnham, who began his career as a YouTuber over ten years ago, should nab a nomination for his funny, timely, and painfully honest screenplay. While it could be a longshot considering her age and the stiff competition, we wouldn’t be surprised if star Elsie Fisher became one of the youngest Best Actress nominees in Oscar history. Plus, studio A24 is now a major award season player and Eighth Grade is likely their best foot forward.
#7: “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018)
Speaking of A24, the studio officially hit the big time in 2017 when Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight won Best Picture. Jenkins’ follow-up film, If Beale Street Could Talk, is being distributed by Annapurna Pictures and produced by Plan B Entertainment, both of which are synonymous with Oscar gold. The story centers on a pregnant woman whose husband is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. This adaptation of James Baldwin’s provocative and still relevant novel was a standout at TIFF, where it became the first runner-up for the People’s Choice Award. Critics have also praised the cast across the board with three-time Emmy winner Regina King being singled out as a favorite for Best Supporting Actress.
#6: “BlacKkKlansman” (2018)
Although he received an Academy Honorary Award in 2015, Spike Lee has, shockingly, never won a competitive Oscar. That may finally change in 2019, as the overdue filmmaker directed, co-wrote, and co-produced this thought-provoking dramedy. Denzel Washington’s son, John David, gives a breakthrough performance as Ron Stallworth, an African-American detective who infiltrates the KKK. While the premise might sound far-fetched, BlacKkKlansman is actually based on Stallworth’s memoir.The film’s skillful direction, brilliant dialogue, and social relevance helped it to win the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival with a few Oscar nominations seemingly on the horizon.
#5: “The Favourite” (2018)
The Academy can rarely resist a British period piece, but that’s far from the only thing The Favourite has going for it. Director Yorgos Lanthimos, who previously scored an Oscar nomination for The Lobster, brings us this biographical drama about two cousins determined to outshine one another as Queen Anne’s favourite. The film unites a trio of acclaimed actresses with Best Actress winner Emma Stone as Abigail Masham, Best Supporting Actress winner Rachel Weisz as Sarah Churchill, and Golden Globe winner Olivia Colman as Anne, Queen of Great Britain. The enthusiastic reviews out of the Venice Film Festival bode well for all three actresses, and the film itself appears to be an Oscar favorite.
#4: “Roma” (2018)
Set in the early 1970s, this beautifully shot drama from Academy Award winner Alfonso Cuarón follows a family in Mexico City over the course of one year. Mexico selected Roma as their entry for Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Film category, which makes sense since it already won the Golden Lion at Venice. Will this translate into a Best Picture victory just like it did for The Shape of Water? Well, Roma will have an uphill battle since a foreign language film has never won the Academy’s top prize and some voters have an outspoken bias against distributor Netflix. If the Academy is ready to embrace change, however, Roma could break new grounds on Oscar Sunday.
#3: “Green Book” (2018)
In 2016, Adam McKay went from directing Will Ferrell comedies to winning an Oscar for The Big Short. Peter Farrelly, who directed Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary, might follow a similar path with his latest film, Green Book. Oscar nominee Viggo Mortensen plays a nightclub bouncer who becomes the driver for a black pianist in the 1960s, played by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali. It’s kind of like Driving Miss Daisy, but with the races reversed. On a tour throughout the Deep South, the two men form an unlikely friendship in a profound story based on real-life experiences. Taking home the People’s Choice Award at TIFF, Green Book hits all the right notes.
#2: “First Man” (2018)
First Man has all the makings of a certified Best Picture nominee. For starters, the plot revolves around the Apollo 11 moon landing, one of the most significant events in human history. The Oscar-winning talent involved includes screenwriter Josh Singer of Spotlight and director Damien Chazelle of La La Land. This film sees Chazelle re-team with star Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong and Academy Award-winning composer Justin Hurwitz. Claire Foy, who’s fresh off a Primetime Emmy win for her work on The Crown, has also been pegged as a Best Supporting Actress frontrunner for her performance as Armstrong’s wife, Janet Shearon. There’s little doubt First Man could go through the stratosphere.
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Boy Erased (2018)
- Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
- First Reformed (2018)
#1: “A Star Is Born” (2018)
Judy Garland notoriously lost the Oscar for her legendary performance in the 1954 remake of A Star Is Born. If the reviews out of Venice are any indication, Lady Gaga may pull off a feat that not even Garland could. In addition to starring in this modern update of the timeless classic, Gaga also helped craft the celebrated soundtrack. While Gaga has soaked up much of buzz, Bradley Cooper is in a position to receive even more Oscar nominations, as the film’s co-lead, director, co-writer, and co-producer, not to mention a contributor on several songs. The road to Oscar glory can be unpredictable, but the stars are already aligning for this film.