Awards Roundtable Discussion, Part 1: The Blockbusters

by | Nov 2, 2022

Members of the 615 Film staff along with two special guests discuss this year’s awards season in a two-part discussion.

As we move past Halloween, all eyes turn towards the upcoming awards season. With just two months left in the year, there are still plenty of films set to come out before the end of 2022. With that said, the rough edges around the awards season are starting to smooth out. So, before the real marathon begins, I wanted to discussion the upcoming awards season with members of the 615 Film staff, along with two special guests: Micheal Compton of Bowling Green Daily News and Brandon Vick of The SoBros Network. If you aren’t following their work, be sure to do so.

In part one of this discussion, I ask the five gentlemen, who are all part of the Music City Film Critics’ Association (MCFCA), their thoughts about the year’s biggest films that will play a role in the upcoming awards season. Please be sure to come back tomorrow when we will discuss likely safe bets and some of the year’s smaller/indie films that’ll play a factor in the awards season.

Before we get started, Halloween has come and gone. In your opinion, what is the best horror film of the year?

Brandon: Barbarian all the way!

Micheal: Everything that’s not Austin Butler in Elvis. Seriously, I’m still fond of Fresh, a film that I believe deserved a theatrical release and the chance to be seen with other moviegoers. That’s the movie that made Daisy Edgar-Jones a star, and I really loved how Sebastian Stan went all in on his maniacal character.

Cory: Nope is my favorite film of the year, and it’s got a strong horror backbone, so I’ll go with that.

Mike: That is a tough one. For me, it has to be Smile. That movie was genuinely scary and creepy, making looking at a person smiling never the same.

Logan: It has been a great year for horror movies, but if I have to pick one, I’m definitely going with Nope, which is probably my favorite movie of the year so far.

I love the variety of answers. I think it speaks to how strong the horror genre has been this year. OK, now let’s do a vibe check for the year 2022 in film, so far. We still have a couple of months to go, so this answer may change. How does this year in film compare to the previous few years in film?

Cory: I think 2022 has been very thorough. It’s a year where we’ve seen the release calendar struggle a bit post-COVID, but there’s been a nice variety of quality studio films and independent gems.

Logan: It’s hard to say. There are only a couple of months left, but those are always the months that are the most jam-packed with interesting releases. I was actually pretty big on 2021 as a film year, but the next few months could certainly push 2022 over the top.

Mike: This year feels more low-key to me. Sure, there are some great movies that have either hit theaters or are coming soon, but 2022 doesn’t seem to have the buzz that previous years have had. We may get surprised when it is all said and done, but overall, it has felt way more quiet.

Micheal: I’ll reserve final judgment based on the last two months, but to date it’s been kind of down. I think this is where we are truly seeing the effects of COVID with the lack of quantity hurting the overall quality.

Blockbusters have played such a big part in audiences returning to theaters this year, and I think we’ll see them play a bigger role in this upcoming awards season than we have in previous years. With that said, Top Gun: Maverick almost certainly is going to be an awards player. But which Oscar does it have a better chance of winning? Best Picture or Best Actor?

Micheal: While I think it has the better chance of being nominated for picture, but actually has a better chance of winning for actor. With 10 slots for picture, I think it might slip in, but Cruise will have a harder time making the cut at five. That being said, it would be the perfect way to give him the makeup Oscar he should have won for Magnolia.

Mike: I’d say Best Picture. Tom Cruise is great in it, but when I think of why I loved Top Gun: Maverick so much, I don’t immediately think of his performance. I think of the stunning practical effects and the nonstop thrill ride the movie was. Cruise deserves recognition, but Maverick is more deserving of Best Picture.

Cory: Best Picture, for sure. Tom Cruise might have too much baggage to net a Best Actor nomination, unless the industry wants to salute him for his recent support of the theatrical experience and to honor his career as a whole.

Logan: Personally, I don’t understand where the Tom Cruise -for-Best-Actor buzz has come from. Not that he doesn’t do a great job in the movie, but those types of roles/movies are rarely even nominated, much less rewarded, in the lead categories. That being said, Picture makes a lot more sense with the “Top Gun: Maverick-saved-movie-theaters” narrative.

Brandon: I don’t see Tom Cruise getting in for Best Actor at all, so that only leaves Best Picture. But I can definitely see Top Gun: Maverick getting quite a few nominations at the Oscars.

Speaking of blockbusters, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of Water are about to be released. What are the chances either (or both) join Top Gun: Maverick in the Best Picture category at the Oscars?

Logan: What I’m worried will happen is these movies will cancel each other out. It’s so hard for a blockbuster movie to even reach the Best Picture race, much less multiple in one year. Part of me thinks that Avatar has no shot, but every time we think that James Cameron proves everyone wrong. So, I’ll go with The Way of Water.

Micheal: Very slim. Votes usually only have room for one crowd-pleasing blockbuster in a field in a given year and that seems to be Maverick’s spot to lose.

Cory: We’ll have to see how they play. They both make cases based on history alone, but the overall quality of the films is still in question. We’ll start there and see how it all shakes out.

Brandon: Actually, I could see both of those getting in the Best Picture category before Top Gun: Maverick. But fingers crossed all three get in there!

Mike: I think they both have a chance to get a Best Picture nomination, but if I had to pick, I’d say Black Panther: Wakanda Forever has a better shot. It has been so long since the first Avatar was released, I wonder if audiences and critics will be as captivated as they were all those years ago.

Elvis was a smash-hit during the summer, but do you see it carrying any momentum going into the awards season outside of Austin Butler’s portrayal of The King of Rock and Roll?

Logan: Potentially. The Oscars love a biopic, and this one was a huge hit from a director whose films they’ve nominated before. I think Austin Butler should be the front runner for Best Actor right now, but there are several contenders still to see.

Cory: It’s very possible. Unlike Rocketman, Elvis has a subculture unto himself and reached more of the zeitgeist. It feels more like Bohemian Rhapsody. Baz Luhrmann’s style can be abrasive, but the film’s box office performance post-pandemic, and the way the fall festival season is shaping up, could spark the film for a Best Picture nomination. It’s a popular movie for those who connect to it.

Brandon: I certainly see it picking up some production nominations, but as far as acting ones…I doubt it.

Mike: I honestly don’t see Elvis carrying that much momentum. I feel like Austin Butler will get a nomination and then possibly costume design and makeup.

Micheal: I’ve already mentioned my feelings on the movie, but yes, I think Butler is a legit actor contender, but that is likely it. Then again, if Moulin Rouge got an Oscar nomination for picture, then anything is possible.

RRR, the Indian swashbuckling blockbuster that has taken the states by storm, won’t be nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars since it wasn’t the country’s official selection for the Best Foreign Film category. However, the film has to be nominated for Best Original Song, right? “Naatu Naatu” is such a good song.

Mike: I definitely think it should get nominated for Best Original Song. It’s so captivating.

Micheal: Would love to see a song nomination. Hopefully it can find its way into a few technical awards as well.

Cory: It’s hard to say. The Academy loves to nominate songs that actually factor into the movie, which “Naatu Naatu” does. It just depends if the music branch connects to RRR on a whole like other circles have. It’s possible, though.