Every Movie You Need To See Before Oscar Night
2018 was a tremendous year for films both big and small, telling stories that offered incredible variety, and incredible diversity, to more and different kinds of audiences than ever before. As awards season reaches its climax with the announcement of the Academy Award nominations, take a look at the films from last year that you should have seen - and if not, absolutely must see - before Hollywood honors its highest artistic achievements.
'A Quiet Place'
John Krasinski’s tight-lipped thriller broke box office records last spring, and it’s quietly racked the kind up accolades that hint it might earn a nod for Best Original Screenplay.
'At Eternity's Gate' (2018)
Julian Schnabel has always been a critics’ darling, but his intimate, impressionistic portrait of Vincent Van Gogh seems likelier to win a Best Actor nomination for his star, Willem Dafoe.
Spike Lee’s latest film, which dramatizes the true story of a black police officer who went undercover in the KKK, may not only earn the filmmaker Best Picture, Director and Adapted Screenplay nominations, but a Best Supporting Actor nod for Adam Driver.
The year’s biggest and boldest hit has already proven that Wakanda is truly “forever,” but the film’s legacy may continue with Costume and Production Design, Original Score and Song, Sound Editing, and quite possibly, Best Picture nominations.
This film’s Golden Globes upset rekindled its chances as an Oscar contender, starting with Best Picture, Rami Malek’s Best Actor-worthy turn as Freddie Mercury, Costume Design, and perhaps predictably, Sound Editing.
Steven Yeun’s turn as a mysterious playboy netted him a number of critics’ awards for Best Supporting Actor, so it seems possible to keep that heat going until the Academy Awards, even if Lee Chang-dong’s drama proves too mysterious for a Best Foreign Film nomination.
'Can You Ever Forgive Me?'
Marielle Heller’s sophomore film, about real-life forger Lee Israel, may not be a Best Picture contender, but nominations for Melissa McCarthy for Best Actress and Richard E. Grant for Best Supporting Actor seem likely, even as its script may earn Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty a Best Adapted Screenplay nod.
'Cold War' (2018)
Pavel Pawlikowski deservedly attracted attention for his debut film “Ida,” but its follow-up, a tumultuous love story spanning decades, may earn him Best Foreign Film and Best Director nominations, a nod for the sumptuous black and white imagery of cinematographer Lukasz Zal, and possibly an extremely well-deserved Best Actress nomination for his star Joanna Kulig.
Bo Burnham’s coming of age story doubles as one of the year’s most frightening films - mostly in terms of the recognition it produces in virtually anyone who sees it. Elsie Fisher netted a deserved Golden Globe nomination for her performance in the film, and it’s both her turn as Burnham’s writing and directing that deserve to be honored alongside the rest of the year’s best work.
Yorgos Lanthimos’ wicked comedy about Queen Anne and the two women competing for her favor immediately sparked debates about how best to recognize its three incredible leading ladies, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone - who’s Lead Actress? Who’s Supporting - but nominations seem imminent, as well as for Best Original Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, Costume Design, and even Best Picture.
Damien Chazelle’s portrait of Neil Armstrong’s trek - both physical and emotional - to the moon may have mostly come and gone from theaters, but Claire Foy’s performance as Armstrong’s resilient wife seems destined to earn her a Best Supporting Actress nomination, while the film itself will likely attract nods in technical categories such as Cinematography, Editing, Music, Production Design and Visual Effects.
Paul Schrader’s story of a man of the cloth who finds himself in a crisis of faith while attempting to help a young married couple through their own may earn the filmmaker a Best Original Screenplay nomination, but after winning Best Actor from a number of critics groups, Ethan Hawke seems like a shoo-in for at least a nomination.
Another Golden Globe shocker, Peter Farrelly’s dramatization of the journey taken by black classical pianist Don Shirley and his driver Tony Lip may earn nominations for Best Picture, Actor (Mahershala Ali), Supporting Actor (Viggo Mortensen), and Original Screenplay.
'If Beale Street Could Talk' (November 30)
Barry Jenkins’ sumptuous, transcendent follow-up to “Moonlight” is on track right now for Best Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, and Supporting Actress nominations, and in that last category, Regina King seems like the woman to beat.
'Leave No Trace'
Debra Granik’s drama about a PTSD-addled veteran and his daughter living off the grid in the Pacific Northwest experienced an impressive surge in the last weeks of the year thanks to well-deserved recognition from a number of critics’ groups, hinting at the possibility of nominations for Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress for its teenage star Thomasin McKenzie, and Best Director for Granik.
'Mary Poppins Returns'
This original musical, a follow-up to the Disney classic, seems like a lock for at least one Original Song nomination. But Emily Blunt’s performance in the title role may also earn her a Best Actress nod.
'Minding The Gap'
This skateboarding documentary racked up awards from a number of critics groups, hinting that it may grind out a Best Documentary nomination at the Oscars.
Alfonso Cuaron’s black and white, deeply personal story of a Mexico City maid and the family that she cares for - and that cares for her - is one of the year’s front runners, and nominations are almost certain to come for Best Picture, Director, Actress (for newcomer Yalitza Aparicio), Cinematography, Original Screenplay, Production Design, and Foreign Film.
Hirokazu Kore-eda turned what could have been a precious story of a street urchin taken in by a struggling family into a powerful, understated story of love and redemption, and its recognition at year’s end by critics groups points to at the very least a possible Best Foreign Film nomination.
'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse'
Phil Lord and Chris Miller have a remarkable track record for turning questionable ideas into terrific films, but no one could have expected this animated Spider-spinoff to be so good that it took tons of awards already, and currently stands as front-runner for the year’s Best Animated Film.
'A Star is Born'
Critics started printing plaques for this film after its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, and its continued run of accolades has led it to likely nominations in as many as 12 categories, including Best Picture, Director (Bradley Cooper), Actor (Cooper again), Actress (Lady Gaga), Supporting Actor (Sam Elliott), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing, and of course, Original Song.
Adam McKay’s incisive, impenetrable portrait of former Vice President Dick Cheney is dividing critics but it still seems likely to receive nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Christian Bale), Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), Original Screenplay and very deservedly Makeup and Hairstyling.
Glenn Close was the unexpected Best Actress winner at the Golden Globes for her performance in this slightly below-the-radar film about a woman stepping out of the shadow of her more famous and less talented husband, and she will likely repeat that success at the Oscars with at least a nomination for Best Actress.
'Won't You Be My Neighbor?'
The year’s biggest tearjerker, this documentary about longtime children’s television host Fred Rogers will be the film to beat in the Best Documentary Feature category.