Hollywood is looking forward to the Oscars
The pandemic has forced a move, but the Oscars return to their traditional Hollywood Walk of Fame venue on Sunday, March 27, for some of the tightest competition around, as favourites CODA, Power of the Dog and Belfast battle it out for the ultimate award for the best feature film.
Films like the dark and psychological Western about men who don’t embrace their sexuality, The Power of the Dog has long been in the lead, leaving Netflix hoping for a historic win in this flagship category.
The surprising film, CODA, an upbeat comedy-drama adapted from the French hit La Famille Bélier, is a huge success and is back in the running.
This script and a well-made film, which follows a high school girl torn between her passion for singing and her family, whose other members are deaf and depend on her to communicate with the hearing world, has swept up one award after another from the American film industry unions.
On March 25, for the first time, this low-budget film, which began its run at Sundance in January 2021, topped the industry experts’ predictions, ahead of The Power of the Dog.
The film Belfast came in third,it is a black and white evocation of Kenneth Branagh’s childhood amidst the Northern Irish violence of the late 1960s.
“It’s a race between two or three horses,” confirms Clayton Davis, film awards specialist for Variety magazine, a reference in the field.
According to him, the “momentum” of the last few days was in CODA’s favor. “The last two years have been very difficult for everyone. And +CODA+ is positive, comforting. I think voters are in a feel-good mood,” he told AFP.
The Netflix vs. Apple TV+ match
Many film professionals were enthusiastic about The Power of the Dog, noting its aesthetic prowess and the actors’ performances. Four of them (Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee) are also in the running for this 94th edition.
On the other hand, some have also criticized the film of Jane Campion with a certain coldness. “It’s not everyone’s cup of tea,” says Scott Feinberg, editorial writer for The Hollywood Reporter.
But that’s a handicap because the strange multi-round preferential voting system used at the Oscars for the best feature film category generally favours the most consensual films.
In a competition, a surprise is always possible at the Oscars and the competition “has never been so open”, said on condition of anonymity one of the voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the prestigious trophies.
CODA’s film has a trump card – it’s a low-budget ($15 million) independent film seen this year as the underdog and as such could win sympathy from voters, even if it’s on Apple TV+.
“Some Academy members I talk to are still reluctant to vote for a Netflix film in the best feature category,” this voter tells AFP.
Who of Will Smith and Jessica Chastain?
As for the actors, the big favourite this year is the ever-popular Will Smith, who plays the father of champions Serena and Venus in The Williams Method.
Courtesy of Apple +
CODA star Troy Kotsur is in the running for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. The deaf actor, who plays the loving but sometimes impoverished father of a hearing teenager, has been a hit at the various film awards this season.
On the other hand, the competition is tough for actresses, but Jessica Chastain, unrecognizable in her role as a televangelist in In the Eyes of Tammy Faye, seems to be the best placed. She could be threatened by Penelope Cruz, who was seduced with her performance in Madres Paralelas by Pedro Almodovar.
Ariana DeBose is expected to win for Best Supporting Actress for Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, but Spielberg is unlikely to win Best Director against Jane Campion, who has a good chance of winning the second Oscar of her directing career after The Piano Lesson.
The magnificent film Dune is expected to win in multiple technical categories, from photography to sound too special effects.
All the actors of this cinematographic event hope that this 94th edition will allow them to reconnect with the public and with their audience, in free fall in recent years.
Last year, the event attracted only 10 million viewers, a 56% drop from the previous year, which had already recorded its lowest level in history.
The organizers have launched this year a “fan award”, called to vote on social networks. It is for the Oscars to “see how they can reach a new audience, this TikTok generation”, says Clayton Davis.
Popstar Beyoncé and her young runner-up Billie Eilish will also be fishing for viewers on the Oscar stage. They are both in the running for the Oscar for best song, respectively for The Williams Method and for the latest James Bond movie.