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Welcome back to Oscar land, everyone. Hope you enjoyed the offseason. This year we’ve got a big surprise for you! The first three festivals – Venice, Toronto and TIFF – are finally over and we barely have a frontrunner. That’s right, it’s the third week of September and we can only crown Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” as a pseudo-frontrunner. If you’re a fan, don’t take that the wrong way. The Netflix film is phenomenal, but it’s simply not a slam dunk when it comes to taking the Best Picture Academy Award. Well, at least not yet and that’s the topic of conversation for our first Contender Countdown column of the season.
The good news is that “Marriage Story” played great at Telluride – the festival where actual AMPAS members see movies – but it was Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” that was the talk of the picturesque Colorado town. Baumbach’s movie then walked away from the Venice Film Festival empty-handed while Todd Phillips‘ polarizing “Joker” took the prestigious Golden Lion. Toronto saw more strong reviews from the second-tier North American media, but Taika Waititi’s crowd-pleasing “Jojo Rabbit” won the People’s Choice Award, even after TIFF tried to add more screenings of “Marriage” and “Parasite” to help those movies win.
Course - Marriage - Lot - Performances - Stars
Of course, “Marriage” does have a lot going for it. It features incredible performances from stars Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as well as an ensemble featuring nomination worthy turns from Laura Dern, Julie Hagerty, Alan Alda, and Ray Liotta. It will also play superbly on screener or Netflix itself which wasn’t exactly the best medium for Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” last season. It’s still a relationship movie, though. It, arguably mind you, feels small. There is no underlying political, historical or social cause powering it. The movie is slightly about the Hollywood industry, per...
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