The Academy Screening Room is now open to all eligible AMPAS members, with the first wave of films uploaded for Oscar consideration for the upcoming awards season.
Nine notable titles are among the films, including Ben Affleck’s “Air” from Amazon Studios, Michael B. Jordan’s “Creed III” from MGM, Kelly Fremon Craig’s “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” and Chad Stahelski’s “John Wick: Chapter 4,” both from Lionsgate.
The Academy performs a heavy vetting process for each film that chooses to submit for consideration. In 2022, nine movies were among the first added to the members’ portal while in 2020, eight films kicked off that season. Historically, over 300 movies are in the running for best picture consideration. Obviously, more films will be added, and in greater batches, over the next several months. Distributors are the ultimate decision makers on when a movie is placed on the Academy Screening Room for viewing.
Boasting a star-studded ensemble, “Air” tells the story of sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro and the pursuit to sign rookie basketball player Michael Jordan to Nike in the 1980s. With a global box office of $90 million since debuting in April, the film was a critical hit sitting comfortably at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. With its pedigree, it will be one of the streamer’s big pushes for the fall awards season alongside other potential counterparts like “Saltburn” from Emerald Fennell and “The Burial” from Maggie Betts. Along with best picture, it will vie for attention for best actor for Matt Damon (his best turn since “The Talented Mr. Ripley”), supporting actress for Viola Davis (fresh off her snub for “The Woman King”), supporting actor for Chris Messina and possible double noms for Affleck in directing (a decade after his film “Argo” won best picture) and also supporting actor.
Read: Variety’s Awards Circuit for the latest Oscars predictions in all categories.
Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut was among the big successes of the first quarter, raking in $275 million on a $58 million budget. While it was the best performing of the “Creed” entries, with great reviews, it could be an uphill battle for Academy recognition in categories like acting for Jordan and film editing for Tyler Nelson and Jessica Baclesse. However, MGM will make a concerted effort to put the first-time helmer in the mix for the DGA’s debut directing prize, which is utterly attainable.
Lionsgate is bullish on its two submissions thus far, and they have the critical backing to prove it.
In the case of “Margaret,” it has a near-perfect score on RT (99%), and sits impressively alongside other female-directed darlings such as Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” (2017) and Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” (2014), which both received best picture recognition. However, films like Channing Godrey Peoples’ “Miss Juneteenth” (2020) and Audrey Diwan’s “Happening” (2021) couldn’t muster a single Oscar nom. There’s a passion for the adaptation of the Judy Blume novel that could bring it to the forefront of adapted screenplay and manage to get momentum for supporting actress hopeful Rachel McAdams, a former nominee for the best picture winner “Spotlight” (2015). At the moment, its best shot lies within the costumes of legend Ann Roth, a two-time winner for “The English Patient” (1997) and “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (2021). At 91, she would also make history as the oldest competitive Oscar nominee, a record currently held by composer John Williams who was 90 last year when he was recognized for “The Fabelmans.” Her cameo in the summer smash “Barbie” could also coincidentally do wonders for her on the circuit.
No one is going to pretend that the fourth installment of the “John Wick” franchise will suddenly factor into the Oscar conversation when its predecessors have failed to do so. However, $427 million later, the 26-year-old studio is asking why not? George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) was also the fourth movie of a franchise that was never on Oscar’s radar, and it managed 10 noms, taking home six. The action film could find love among the artisans such as sound, film editing and cinematography by Dan Laustsen, a two-time nominee for “The Shape of Water” (2018) and “Nightmare Alley” (2022).
There’s also undeniable respect and love for star Keanu Reeves (No. 4 on the New York Times’ list of greatest actors of the 21st century), which makes him the type of performer his peers could get behind substantially if he were to be campaigned. There’s also the industry’s push for the Academy to add a stunt category which has been in the works for years. “Wick” have been a worthy entry if it were already instituted.
Also uploaded to the digital platform are three acclaimed documentaries vying for consideration.
IFC Films’ tech drama “BlackBerry,” a sleuth contender for Glenn Howerton and adapted screenplay and the indie “Monica” with Trace Lysette and Patricia Clarkson are among the notables as well.
The box office smash animated film “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is also up on the platform, as well as Peacock. The first step to Jack Black’s Oscar nom for the original song “Peaches?”
Another debut filmmaker, Ray Romano has his moving “Somewhere in Queens” from Roadside Attractions for voter’s consideration that has a worthy turn from Laurie Metcalf.
After premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2022, Sony Pictures Classics’ documentary feature “It Ain’t Over” about New York Yankee Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra is seeking love after picking up an impressive 98% score on RT.
The race is on.
- Oscar Race Kicks Off as First Screeners Drop: ‘Air,’ ‘Creed III,’ ‘John Wick 4’ and More (EXCLUSIVE)
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