The 2018 lineup is all said and done; The Shape of Water, Get Out and Call Me By Your Name are out of the game. Now it’s down the Oscar panels to judge the next round of big art movies, be they action, adventure, thriller or romance. Not all is as it once was, however. With the introduction of a brand new category to the event, the ‘popular film’ category, another golden trophy is up for grabs and it comes from a completely new direction. Loved by some, hated by others, the Oscars are trying to adapt with the times. Regardless, here are our top five picks for contenders in the coming year, blockbuster popular or not.
1. A Star is Born
Alright: A Star is Born. Here are the basics. Lady Gaga is in the spotlight once again, acting this time rather than performing, although still with a guitar in hand. She plays the up and coming music star while Bradley Cooper plays the ageing, guiding hand. He helps her take the first steps and from there success begins – but at the potential cost of their relationship. So what kind of Oscars are we talking here? Best Film? Best screenplay? Could be. The costume queen herself could even be a shoe-in for a lead award, should the stars align for this ultimately inspiring pic.
2. Black Panther
Black Panther burst onto the Marvel Universe to much applause, and much profit, too. The film purportedly made over $1.3 billion at the box office, rocketing to success at the very heights of the Marvel franchise. The soundtrack was solid. The acting was solid. The plot was… alright. The real possibility here is the receipt of the controversial ‘popular film’ award, with Black Panther standing tall as one of the true pop culture giants to grace our screens so far this Oscar calendar year.
It’s been a while since a Steve McQueen movie took off in any real way. He’s been away from the big lights and major red carpets for a while, but his next title looks set for greatness all the same. Widows follows on from his previous films (Oscar-winning Hunger and Twelve Years a Slave), focusing in on the lives of a group of Chicago women. Inheriting the criminal debt of their husbands, they plan a robbery to make up the cash in a last-ditch bid for freedom. Widows is about poverty. It’s a genre film, a social realism film and it’s a film about class and race. Another heavy hitter soon to step up to the Oscar plate.
4. Mary Queen of Scots
The plot’s in the name. Set in royal Britain, the traditional style movie follows the life, fight and death of Mary, Queen of the Scots – cold coloured as the highlands themselves, there’re serious names involved in this one. Two 2018 Best Actress nominees take the opposing lead roles of Queen Elizabeth and the titular lady, set to clash once again upon the screen.
5. Boy Erased
‘Sounds hard to watch’ about sums up the premise Boy Erased. A Baptist preacher’s son is put through gay conversion therapy at a young age, much to the expense of himself and his future. Topical, difficult and painful above all else, the film prepares to challenge the remaining sects of this vile procedure in the very public eye.
The Oscars have always been about good film, about recognizing the best in all of its aspects. Here’s hoping 2019 follows on with that pedigree and promise.