The People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival has been called the “starting line” for the Academy Awards race in recent years, with nine of the last 10 winning films going on to earn Best Picture Oscar nominations.
This year, the surprise winner was longtime Rhode Island resident Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book,” a humorous but impactful film about the unlikely friendship of a black concert pianist and the white driver hired to safely get him through a segregated South. Farrelly is probably best known for directing decidedly un-Oscar-like comedies with his brother Bobby such as “Dumb and Dumber,” “There’s Something About Mary,” and “Stuck on You,” and for giving cameos to their Boston buddies Cam Neely and Lenny Clarke. Put simply, “Green Book” is a far cry from typical Farrelly fare.
With the 2018 Golden Globe nominations set to be announced next week, awards season is at our door. To help navigate the mess of predictions and help you unearth unheralded gems like “Green Book,” we put together a guide to films with local ties and their odds of scoring Golden Globes or Academy Awards nominations, according to the experts at awards predictions site Gold Derby.
The Heavy Hitters
Plot: The story of Neil Armstrong’s journey to the moon and the personal journey that preceded it. Ryan Gosling reunites with “La La Land” director and Harvard grad Damien Chazelle, playing the pioneering but publicity-shy astronaut, with Claire Foy (“The Crown”) as his concerned wife.
Nomination Odds: Out of this world. Gold Derby predicts the Golden Globes won’t be able to resist the “La La” tandem of Gosling and Chazelle, giving the actor the second-best odds at Best Actor (Drama) and the director fifth-best odds for Best Director. The site also pegs “First Man” at 9/2 odds for Best Picture (Drama), good for third-best odds in the field, and Foy as having the third-best odds for a Best Supporting Actress nomination. Gold Derby is less optimistic about the film’s prospects for major Oscar nominations, giving “First Man” the seventh-best odds for Best Picture and fifth-best odds for Gosling and Foy for Best Actor and Supporting Actress, respectively. However, the site gives “First Man” winning odds to land nominations in multiple technical categories, including Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, and Film Editing.
Plot: Based on a true story, the film stars Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn in the “Lord of the Rings” movies) as bouncer Frank Anthony “Tony Lip” Vallelonga, who is tasked with driving world-class black pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”) to various performances in a culturally segregated South. The duo learn to navigate their different upbringings and personalities while forging an unlikely friendship. Besides being directed by Farrelly, the film was co-written and co-produced by Lynn native Brian Currie, who also appears in a cameo as a Maryland state trooper.
Nomination odds: Outstanding. Shortly after its Toronto premiere, the Hollywood Reporter dubbed the film as “the contender no one saw coming,” and Gold Derby has it in the running for just about every major award. Gold Derby gives it second-best odds for Best Picture and top odds for Mortensen as Best Actor in the Comedy/Musical categories, as well as second-best odds for Best Screenplay and top odds for Ali as Best Supporting Actor. Oscar-wise, Gold Derby gives “Green Book” third-best odds for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor (Mortensen), and top odds for Ali as Best Supporting Actor.
While history suggests the film is a Best Picture shoo-in, there are some concerning signs. Shirley’s family members have criticized the film, with one saying it’s “full of lies” about the late pianist. Some critics have also painted “Green Book” as a “white savior” film. Then there’s the issue of whether enough people will see “Green Book” for it to sustain momentum. During its the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, “Green Book” earned only $7.4 million on more than 1,000 screens, good for ninth place at the box office in its nationwide debut weekend.
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
Plot: An adaptation of the 1975 James Baldwin novel of the same name, “Beale Street” concerns a young woman named Tish (KiKi Layne) attempting to free her wrongfully imprisoned husband, Fonny (Stephan James). Directed by Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”), the film boasts a strong supporting cast including Regina King, Brian Tyree Henry, and Roxbury native Michael Beach (who played Gov. Deval Patrick in “Patriots Day”) as Fonny’s father, Frank.
Nomination Odds: Excellent. “Beale” is in line for Golden Globe nominations for Best Drama (second-best odds), Best Screenplay (third-best odds), and Supporting Actress for King (top odds). Oscar-wise, the film has fifth-best odds for Best Picture and Best Director, second- and fourth-best for Adapted Screenplay and Cinematography, respectively, and King once again tops the field in the Supporting Actress category.
Plot: It’s been less than a decade since former President George W. Bush left office, but already we have a darkly comic take that portrays Vice President Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) as essentially running the country from the shadows, while Bush (Sam Rockwell) makes the requisite public appearances. This isn’t the first time McKay has mined recent history for inspiration, as evidenced by “The Big Short,” his 2015 film about the 2008 financial crisis. “Vice” reunites McKay with two “Big Short” stars: Bale, who is unrecognizable as Cheney, and Steve Carell, who plays former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
Nomination Odds: Solid. Gold Derby likes “Vice” to land Globe nominations for Best Picture (Musical/Comedy), Original Screenplay, Actor in a Musical/Comedy (Bale), Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), and Supporting Actor (Rockwell), while it predicts the film will land Oscar nominations in all of those categories except for Best Picture.
The Middleweight Contenders
Plot: Acton native Steve Carell plays real-life writer David Sheff, who struggles to help his son Nic (Timothee Chalamet) through a seemingly endless cycle of addiction. The cast also features Boston native Maura Tierney (“ER,” “The Affair”) as Nic’s stepmom.
Nomination Odds: Great for Chalamet; not so great for everything else. For the most part, the awards hopes of the films in the “Middleweight Contenders” section rest on one performer — Chalamet, in this case. He has the second- and fourth-best odds for Golden Globe and Oscar Supporting Actor nods, respectively, but the film isn’t expected to earn much else in the way of nominations.
Plot: Hamilton native Bo Burnham’s directorial debut is a character study of a 13-year-old named Kayla (Elsie Fisher) as she navigates uncomfortable crushes, scornful popular girls, and an embarrassing dad (Josh Hamilton) during her last week of middle school.
Nomination Odds: A fighting chance for Fisher and a handful of other awards. “Eighth Grade” has landed nominations from awards bodies more geared toward independent and small-budget films, but its biggest shot appears to be a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Fisher. It also has an outside shot at a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture (Musical/Comedy) and an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
“Mary Poppins Returns”
Plot: It’s been 54 years since Julie Andrews captured hearts as magical nanny Mary Poppins. Now, Disney attempts to rekindle the magic of the 1964 original with Emily Blunt playing the titular role. Though Blunt’s husband, Newton native John Krasinski, probably could have matched Dick van Dyke’s amiable aw-shucks nature as Bert the chimney sweep, it’s hard to argue with the casting of “Hamilton” mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda in what appears to be a similar role.
Nomination Odds: Mostly Golden. “Mary Poppins Returns” is the kind of movie the Hollywood Foreign Press Association loves to nominate for Golden Globes, a justification for keeping the “musical” half of the “comedy/musical” categories. In terms of comedy/musical specific awards, “Poppins” has the fifth-best odds for a Best Picture nomination, Blunt has the second-best odds for Best Actress, and Miranda has the fourth-best odds for Best Actor. In terms of Oscars, “Poppins” is more likely to grab lower-profile nominations like Costume Design and Production Design, though Blunt has an outside shot at a Best Actress nomination, an award Andrews took home when she played Poppins in the original.
“Old Man and the Gun”
Plot: Based on a true story, “Old Man” follows the exploits of Forrest Tucker, an aged bank robber and prison escape artist who robbed dozens of banks with the help of two fellow senior citizens (Danny Glover and Tom Waits), earning them the moniker of “The Over-the-Hill Gang.” Casey Affleck plays John Hurt, the real-life police detective who spent years chasing Tucker down.
Nomination Odds: Rad for Redford — and Redford only. Gold Derby thinks Redford has the second-best odds for a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy, but that’s it. While the film received positive reviews, the veteran actor’s final performance (or so he says) may not be the awards bonanza some had hoped for.
The Long Shots
“A Quiet Place”
Plot: In real-life couple Emily Blunt and Newton native John Krasinski’s first onscreen lead roles together, the couple and their children must navigate a silent postapocalyptic hellscape ruled by grotesque monsters with supersonic hearing.
Nomination Odds: Not great for the big awards, but pretty good for a couple of technical ones. Krasinski and Blunt are unlikely to earn awards for their performances — or, in Krasinski’s case, his writing and directing — but as can be expected for a horror film about monsters attracted to sound, “A Quiet Place” has a good chance at landing Oscar nominations for Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.
“Leave No Trace”
Plot: A father (Boston native Ben Foster) and teenage daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) live off the grid in an Oregon forest until authorities find them and force them to integrate into society. “Leave No Trace” is the first film for director Debra Granik, a Cambridge native, since 2010’s Oscar-nominated “Winter’s Bone.”
Nomination Odds: Low. Though the film has had awards success on the indie circuit, garnering nominations from the Gotham Awards and Independent Spirit Awards, recognition from the HFPA or the Academy seems unlikely.
“Welcome to Marwen”
Plot: “Welcome to Marwen” is based on the true story of Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell), a man whose life was shattered in 2000 after he was beaten within an inch of his life outside a bar for being a cross-dresser. Hogancamp later awoke from a nine-day coma with no memory of who he was or how to perform basic human functions. To cope with the overwhelming trauma, Hogancamp built an elaborate 1/6-scale model of a World War II village he called Marwencol (shortened to Marwen in the film), populated by doll versions of people he knew in real life.
Nomination Odds: Bad. Despite early awards season hopes, buzz has not been strong for the Robert Zemeckis film. Gold Derby doesn’t see it in contention for any awards.