Oscar season unofficially begins with today’s release of A Star Is Born. Starting with the Bradley Cooper-Lady Gaga drama, a rush of intriguing movies that will define 2018 is about to hit theaters. Whether it is buzz on Opening Weekend or a long term box office takeover, each of these movies will shape a year where Black Panther has been the only memorable film:
A Star Is Born – October 5
After Black Panther, A Star Is Born will be the most memorable film of 2018. Even though this is the third remake of A Star Is Born, the movie is far from a ho-hum regurgitation. Sam Elliott, Dave Chapelle, and Andrew Dice Clay fill out a cast that is headlined by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (who also directed).
Gaga stars as a young singer who is elevated into stardom by an established musician she is in a relationship with. If the film is half as good as the trailer, both the movie and its music will be an enduring part of the career of both leads.
Prediction: A Star Is Born will be nominated for at least six Oscars. Not only will it be represented in each of the four major categories, but also Original Song, and a supporting nod to Dave Chappelle or Sam Elliott.
The Happy Prince – October 5
Like the 2014 drama The Imitation Game, The Happy Prince unravels the tragedy of a man who is punished for homosexuality by a society that he has performed great services to. Unlike Benedict Cumberbatch’s film about Alan Turing, Oscar Wilde’s achievements were widely known at the time of his trial.
Wilde (played by Rupert Everett) is a natural subject for a biopic. The playwright lived with such flamboyance (and his fall from grace was so painful) that it will be easy for audiences to sympathize with the character.
Prediction: It is unfortunate that the release of The Happy Prince will be overshadowed by A Star Is Born, but this still has the potential to be a long term draw that is propped up by critics.
First Man – October 12
A movie engineered for award shows, First Man is the first film by Damien Chazelle since La La Land. The director also re-teamed with a lead from the Best Picture Nominee, Ryan Gosling. The actor will portray Neil Armstrong during the years preceding the Apollo 11 moon landing.
First Man is not a slam dunk to be a success. Despite his high-level accomplishments, Armstrong was such a reserved figure that he is a challenging choice for a biopic. Another obstacle lies within the journey surrounding the moon landing. The success of Apollo 11 may not be as cinematically compelling as the successful failure presented in Apollo 13.
Prediction: There have not been many historical dramas about NASA. There are a few that have done very well: Hidden Figures, Apollo 13, and The Right Stuff. First Man will have a big opening weekend, but how Chazelle portrays Armstrong as will determine if First Man measures up to those films or flames out.
Stan & Ollie – October 21
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy are two of the most recognizable names in comedy. They starred in 106 movies together and their legacy has endured 68 years after their last film.
Previous Academy Award Nominees Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly will star as the duo in Stan & Ollie. During the film, the pair clash on a tour of Europe as they struggle with the back end of their career. Stan & Ollie appears to have an uplifting tone as they realize their value to each other.
Prediction: With intense movies like First Man and A Star Is Born in the fold, Stan & Ollie will be a warm family-friendly title like The Greatest Showman.
Bohemian Rhapsody – November 2
Music biopics often follow a tired formula. The band hits it big. Success leads to excess. Challenges ensue. As excited as I am for the fictional story of A Star Is Born, the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody will be a bust.
Rami Malek looks like the Queen singer, but the film has an unusual caveat: Mercury’s bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor produced Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie has been in different stages of production since 2010 and experienced multiple casting and directorial changes. It is unlikely that the pair distanced themselves from the project to make an interesting film.
Prediction: Like Ray and Walk The Line, the comparison between Mercury and Malek will create a lot of short term buzz that drives the film into the forefront. Malek may earn praise for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury, but ultimately the movie will fall flat.
The Front Runner – November 6
A now-dated concept that an extramarital affair could derail a political career was a legitimate concern not that long ago. In 1987, the revelation of an affair brought down the presumptive Democratic nominee for president: Gary Hart.
Hugh Jackman stars as Hart, a politician that I know little about. Prior to The Front Runner, my only awareness of Gary Hart was his appearance on Cheers. His downfall has not become as notorious as similar scandals.
Given that the film is going to be released on Election Day, pundits will mundanely declare The Front Runner “relevant.” Like The Post, the casting of familiar faces like Bob Woodward, David Axelrod, and Ben Bradlee in the film promotes the relevancy narrative, although Hart’s story feels tired amidst the deluge of current events.
Prediction: The Front Runner will find some box office value, but not enough to push it into the upper echelon of films.
Green Book – November 21
Aside from A Star Is Born, Green Book is my most confident Oscar prediction. Staring Viggo Mortenson and Mahershala Ali, the movie explores an esteemed jazz pianist’s tour of the deep south in the 1960s. Ali plays the high society musician. Mortenson is Shirley’s very blue-collar security guard and driver.
As they proceed on the tour, the pair encounter racism and class differences. The setting of Green Book has its own powerful narrative. The relationship between the main characters will be the lasting aspect of the story.
While watching the trailer, I was struck by the chemistry between Mortenson and Ali. Both actors appear at the top of their games, especially during scenes teased as memorable “buddy” moments as they learn from each other.
Predication: With two talented leads in play, the powerful story of Green Book will wind up as a front runner in the Best Picture category.
Creed II – November 21
Despite being descended from the 1976 Best Picture Winner, none of Rocky’s sequels have ever (or likely will ever) see Academy Award glory. That does not mean that the recent Rocky sequels have been without merit.
If you stopped watching after Rocky V, you have been missing out. Rocky Balboa is an implausible, but well-written epilogue for the Italian Stallion. Creed is the perfect reboot to the series: the son of Apollo Creed carves out his own career under Rocky’s tutelage.
Michael B. Jordan plays the young Adonis Creed with the veracity of his Black Panther character. That determination elevates the second act of the Rocky franchise. Jordan will return in Creed II with the most alluring opponent possible: Vitor, the son of Ivan Drago.
Prediction: Creed II will be a sports classic that is unsung by award shows. Michael B. Jordan will end the year as the most accomplished actor of 2018. He is the right script away from being honored by the Motion Picture Academy.
Cover photo courtesy of Pixabay