Once again we find ourselves on the edge of award season where some of the best films of the year will be released with the goal to make an impact at the various award shows over the next few months. However this year already has been a big year for movies and possible award candidates with numerous films impressing me and ending up on my shortlists for the Buttered Popcorn Movie Awards which will be returning in early 2019. As we enter award season I wanted to highlight 10 of these possible nominees that I believe should be in the discussion for various awards. Here are my 10 early picks for the 91st Academy Awards!
Won't You Be My Neighbor-Best Documentary Feature
Alexander Dynan-Best Cinematography
First Reformed was one of the most precisely films I have ever seen, specifically in its cinematography. From the first scene where the camera perfectly zooms in on the church to the amazing placing of each shot after. This movie is one of my favorite looking films I have ever seen. It feels unique and its unique aspect ratio allows the cinematography the freedom to try new things and not worry about filling the whole screen, it is allowed to be specific and only show what is important. I don't like to call winners this early on but it would take something truly special to overthrow this as my favorite cinematography of the year.
Avengers: Infinity War-Best Visual Effects
The MCU has already delivered amazing visual effects in past movies and have redefined the standard of visual effects in superhero movies, yet they have never received an award for this. Avengers: Infinity War built incredible world and once again created stellar cgi scenes and absolutely deserves to bring the award home for the MCU.
Adam Driver-Best Supporting Actor
BlacKkKlansman was a movie filled with great performances and an engaging story and Adam Driver really stood out to be not just with his character but also with his performance. Driver has an interesting and layered role as he has to be subtle and calm yet also show the presence of strong emotion deep down. This is a difficult role yet Adam Driver excelled in it and created one of the more underrated elements of the entire movie that should absolutely be remembered deeper into awards season.
Cory Finley-Best Original Screenplay
Thoroughbreds was one of the biggest shocks of the year for me, what I expected to be a perfectly fine film early on into the year ended up being one of my favorites of the year that still is within my top 10 films from the entire film. One of the major highlights of the film for me was the script which was amazingly put together. It built two amazing characters with depth and had a natural progression into them turning to murderous ways. It was intriguing and sucked me in from beginning to end leaving a memorable shot of emotions by the end. My one issue is the final 5 minutes that feel so unneeded and bugged me so much that it costed the film an A+ rating, but despite that I can't help but feel like the first hour and 28 minutes of this film deserves to be rewarded this award season.
Lakeith Stanfield-Best Lead Actor
Sorry to Bother You was easily one of the weirdest films of the year and a side effect is it being one of the most precisely made films of the year. Every little part of the film is perfectly and carefully constructed, including the performance of Lakeith Stanfield. You can tell just in the way that he carries himself that he is constantly thinking and is constantly aware of his performance which easily makes one of the most impressive performances of the year. He gets absorbed into his role and does an amazing job with fitting into this quirky world and story which easily could of missed the mark, but due to the stellar script and fantastic performances it connects perfectly to the audience and the skill shown by Stanfield in this movie should be rewarded.
Lady Gaga-Best Lead Actress
There has been some great debut performances before and early reviews for A Star is Born raved for Gaga's performance, but still there was that moment in the movie where it hit me that her performance was actually a great performance from an acting standpoint. She gives an amazing emotion filled performance that even has hints of experience showing in some more subtle moments despite her being so new to the acting scene. She steals the show from Cooper and provides not just an amazing voice for the soundtrack and a big name to get people into the theater, but also honestly one of the best performances of the year.
Isle of Dogs-Best Animated Feature
I will be honest and say that Isle of Dogs has lost a ton of award steam since its release earlier in the year, but none the less it remains one of my favorite films of the year. Not only does it have amazing animation and Wes Anderson's iconic directing style but it also told an interesting story that felt unique and really connected on an emotional level. Even after multiple rewatches I still have 0 major issues I can find with this movie and not only is it easily my favorite animated film of the year so far (despite Masaaki Yuasa giving 2 amazing runner ups) but also one of my favorite films of the year in general.
Bradley Cooper-Best Director
A Star is Born should not have worked, not only did you have the unexperienced Lady Gaga in a lead role but it was also Bradley Cooper's directoral debut. It also was adapting a story that had been told multiple times before to astounding success making the possibilities of another boring retelling highly possible, but instead of being another bland reboot it ended up being one of the best films of the year. Just like with Gaga showing signs of experience despite being new on the scene Cooper shows a tremendous strength as a director, instead of playing it safe he tries new things and gives the film his own personal touch. Instead of just showcasing the musical performances and making the viewing audience an audience member to the concert he brings the theater on stage engulfing them into the performance itself. He takes risks with the editing of major emotional moments and blends subtleness with moments of extreme raw power perfectly. Bradley Cooper proves himself as a director and absolutely should be rewarded for making one of the best films of the year in his directoral debut.
Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal-Best Original Screenplay
Just like with Thoroughbreds I expected to enjoy Blindspotting, I heard good things about it and fully expected it to be a good film earlier in the year, but it ended up being my current top film of the year. This film deep dives into the racial tension facing america today, but instead of having big impactful monologues they tell their big moments through rap scenes which are some of the best scenes I have ever seen. They are amazing at connecting with the audience and are extremely unique. They took a chance with these scenes and it 100% payed off, leading to one of the best screenplays of the year.
So that is my list of 10 major awards contenders that I hope to see get awarded come this award season. I can't guarantee that the dozens of films being released over the next few months won't surpass some of these in their respected categories but as of right now these are 10 locks I have in for award season 2018-19!