Awards Roundtable Discussion, Part 2: Safer Bets and Other Storylines

by | Nov 3, 2022

Members of the 615 Film staff along with two special guests continue their discussion about this year’s awards season. 

We’re back with part two of our awards discussion. Yesterday, we focused on how the blockbusters of this year are going to play a role in the awards season. Today, I ask the same five gentlemen about safer bets and other storylines heading into the awards season, which includes some of the year’s standout indie films that we’ll see pop up over the next few months.

So, yesterday we talked about the blockbusters but now let’s turn our attention to the safer bets and other storylines for this awards season. First, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans appears to be the front runner this awards season, even though none of us have seen it yet. Which film(s) will challenge it down the home stretch?

Cory: Watch out for Everything Everywhere All at Once. It’s one of the most beloved films of recent memory, and despite its idiosyncrasies, has amassed quite a fanbase. Though, Top Gun: Maverick, Women Talking, and The Banshees of Inisherin should all make strong cases.

Micheal: Among those yet to be released Women Talking and Babylon, with perhaps She Said in there as well. Don’t count out Everything Everywhere All at Once, Tar, or even The Banshees of Inisherin either.

Brandon: While The Fablemans will be hard to beat, The Banshees of Inisherin is currently the only one I believe with a chance. A small one.

Mike: I could see Babylon possibly making some noise and The Banshees of Inisherin, which just came out. I do think The Fabelmans has a sizable lead over them and anything else overall, though.

 Logan: If Babylon hits right, it could be a major contender. Everything Everywhere All at Once is also a popular pick, but we’ve seen this story so many times before where the beloved indie movie loses steam at the end (aside from Moonlight).

Some of you brought up A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once, so let’s talk about this spectacular film. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the reception and word of mouth the film has garnered, as it likely now will be a big awards player in several categories. What makes this film special?

Micheal: It was the right movie at the right time. Audiences needed a reason to go back to theaters and this was an original experience best seen on the biggest screen possible. It’s just everything you want a film experience to be.

Brandon: Exploding with extraordinary creativity and style, this is an innovative, incomparable Daniels film that’s equally absurd and awe-inspiring. At the core of this lovely genre-bending, funny, and mind-blowing journey through a multiverse is true emotional depth. It’s a spectacular salute to the human condition. And there are so many great performances, but it doesn’t get any better than Michelle Yeoh. Trust me, nothing will prepare you for this outstanding original creation that only the madcap minds behind Swiss Army Man could bring into existence. Movie lovers are assuredly all the better for it.

Mike: It’s just incredibly unique, original, and entertaining. The script manages to hit every single emotion in ways we haven’t seen and there are truly no dull moments. One of the best films in the last decade.

Cory: The freshness and the emotion. It’s a bold vision executed with a lot of pathos and humor, and sometimes, films like that just strike the zeitgeist in such a way. A perfect storm.

Logan: To me, it has that perfect mixture of impressive technical aspects with original, emotional storytelling. Not a lot of films can meld those two things together.

Is there any specific film or performance that you anticipate sweeping for an award category for the awards and critics groups?

Mike: The Fabelmans and Tar should sweep several categories, and I could see Everything Everywhere All At Once being a popular pick within critics groups.

Brandon: I could see Brendan Fraser doing it given the recent overwhelming praise for his performance in The Whale. Also, his personal story and triumphant comeback doesn’t hurt his chances.

Logan: It seems like Brendan Fraser for Best Actor in The Whale is really building momentum as one of those sorts of steamroller awards picks.

Micheal: Cate Blanchett is such a force in Tar, my favorite film of 2022 to date, that I don’t see how she doesn’t win every award possible.

Cory: I think RRR is going to very well with critics’ groups in the International Feature category. Expect a lot of Brendan Fraser and Colin Farrell splits in Actor, too.

Netflix has come out swinging during awards season over the past few years. But outside of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, is this a weaker awards campaigning year for the streamer?

Logan: It definitely seems like it. Maybe White Noise can sneak in somewhere as well with its major awards name recognition, plus it will probably inspire passionate responses. But otherwise, unless Glass Onion can force its way into the major categories, this will almost assuredly be Netflix’s worse Oscar performance in a while.

Cory: Could be. Though, Bardo might perform a lot better with the Academy than we’re expecting right now. If Netflix walks away with the Animation Oscar for del Toro, gets Descendent and/or Sr. in the documentary field, and nets some key nominations for Bardo and Glass Onion, it’s hard to imagine the streamer will be too disappointed. Eddie Redmayne could sneak in Supporting Actor for The Good Nurse, too.

Micheal: Yes, but that is not a bad thing. Streamers did a service picking up cinema during 2020 and part of 2021. I think the shift back to theaters and big screen experiences is needed as we journey into this new cinematic normal.

Mike: Overall, this will be a down year for Netflix when it comes to the Oscars.

Brandon: All Quiet on the Western Front could also make an impact. Even so, their options do seem a bit more limited this year. But don’t ever count them out! They must have their vengeance against Apple TV+!

We’ve seen foreign films like Parasite and Drive My Car in recent years get nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Are we veering more toward world cinema becoming more prominent during awards season and especially the Oscars?

Micheal: I hope so.

Mike: It sure seems that way. That can definitely be a good thing, I just hope more people actually see the movies that get acclaim. It seems like Parasite, for example, was unheard of by the average audience leading up the Oscars. I hope moving forward great films like that get a lot of buzz prior as well.

Cory: Yes. The diversification of the Academy is leading to more heightened taste. It’s possible Close and Decision to Leave could pop up as surprise Oscar nominations in Best Picture this year, particularly Close, since it’s got A24 behind it and carries such an emotional heft.

Logan: Hopefully! Although I don’t know if any of this year’s crop (outside of the un-nominated RRR) has the same critical buzz as either of those films.

The elephant in the room for this year’s awards season is undoubtedly Apple TV+ moving forward with releasing the Will Smith-starring Civil War film, Emancipation, next month. After the slap at the Oscar’s earlier this year, is it too soon for this film?

Brandon: Probably. Yet, the film could still have success as a whole in getting recognized if it’s that good. Though, another Oscar nomination for Smith seems out of the question at this stage.

Cory: Nah. People have short memories, and Will Smith literally just won the Oscar. It’d feel weird for him to get nominated again after everything that’s happened, but it won’t keep people from supporting the film and praising his work. Apple also has a powerful budget at its disposal to do campaigning, too. If the film hits, anything is possible.

Micheal: If the film is truly good then it’s never too soon. As for the Fresh Prince, yeah, he probably doesn’t have to worry about waking up early when the Oscar nominations are announced.

Logan: For Oscar voters, most likely. For the general public, probably not. I’m personally not super excited for it, but that’s more on account of Will Smith not picking any exciting projects for the last 20 years for the most part.

Mike: It might be a bit too soon, yeah. I do think the slap will overshadow anything he does for a while.

While I don’t think Will Smith will be nominated, his actions shouldn’t hinder the release of a film hundreds worked on – especially if it’s good. Anyway, thank you guys for participating in this two-part discussion. I hope we can do another one of these discussions soon.