At the 2017 Academy Awards, A24 earned an impressive 10 Oscar nominations from a trio of films: eight for “Moonlight,” and one apiece for “The Lobster” and “20th Century Women.” While the latter two lost their sole races, “Moonlight” claimed three biggies: Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) and Adapted Screenplay. For the upcoming 2018 Oscars, this five-year-old indie studio has another powerful slate with a wide range of films, some of which have already played well at the festivals.
Greta Gerwig wrote and directed “Lady Bird,” a film inspired by her own teenage years in Sacramento, California. It played well at both the Telluride and Toronto film festivals. Third time could prove to be the charm for Saoirse Ronan at the Oscars. She earned rave reviews for her performance as the troubled teen as did Tony and Emmy winner Laurie Metcalf as her less-than-understanding mother.
James Franco‘s “The Disaster Artist,” also screened to much acclaim in Toronto after debuting as work-in-progress at the SXSW Festival in March. Franco portrays filmmaker Tommy Wiseau, who directed and starred in the roundly panned 2003 indie film “The Room.” If “The Disaster Artist” connects with awards voters it wouldn’t be the first film about a bad filmmaker to do so. Remember “Ed Wood” from 1994? Tim Burton‘s film won Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Martin Landau) and Best Makeup.
Below, detailed listings of each of this Oscar contenders, including release dates, creative types, cast lists, running times, plot summaries, and receptions both critical and commercial.
“The Disaster Artist” – Dec. 1
Director: James Franco
Writer: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber (based on the book of the same name by Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell)
Cast: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, Hannibal Buress, Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone, Jacki Weaver
Running Time – 98 minutes
Summary: A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic “The Room” with James Franco as writer/director Tommy Wiseau and Dave Franco as actor Greg Sestero.
Reception: Rotten Tomatoes – 92; MetaCritic – 82
“The Florida Project” – Oct. 6
Director: Sean Baker
Writer: Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch
Cast: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Valeria Cotto, Willem Dafoe
Running Time – 115 minutes
Summary: Sean Baker’s follow-up to “Tangerine” was a sensation at Cannes. It is the story of a precocious six year-old and her ragtag group of friends whose summer break is filled with childhood wonder, possibility and a sense of adventure while the adults around them struggle with hard times.
Reception: Rotten Tomatoes – 100; MetaCritic – 91
“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” – Nov. 3
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Writers: Efthymis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos
Cast: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Alicia Silverstone, Raffey Cassidy, Bill Camp
Summary: Yorgos Lanthimos directs this film, which debuted at Cannes, about a teenager’s attempts to bring a brilliant surgeon (Colin Farrell) into his dysfunctional family takes an unexpected turn.
“Lady Bird” – Nov. 3
Director: Greta Gerwig
Writer: Greta Gerwig
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Beanie Feldstein, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Lois Smith
Running Time – 93 minutes
Summary: Greta Gerwig wrote and directed this film inspired by her own teenage years in Sacramento, California.
Reception: Rotten Tomatoes – 100; MetaCritic – 93
“The Lovers” – May 5
Director: Azazel Jacobs
Writer: Azazel Jacobs
Cast: Debra Winger, Tracy Letts, Aidan Gillen, Melora Walters, Tyler Ross, Jessica Sula
Running Time – 94 minutes
Summary: Azazel Jacobs’ well-received romantic comedy centers on a long-married couple (Debra Winger and Tracy Letts) who suddenly find a reignited spark in their relationship.
Reception: Rotten Tomatoes – 87; MetaCritic – 76
Box Office: US – $2.5 million
Be sure to make your Oscar nomination predictions so that Hollywood studio executives can see how their films are faring in our Academy Awards odds. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.