‘Call Me By Your Name’: From Toronto film festival opener to Oscars?

Luca Guadagnino‘s “Call Me By Your Name,” which was a sensation at both Sundance and Berlin, just confirmed its Oscar potential with a boffo screening on the opening night of the Toronto film festival. The film charts the stormy course of a 1983 summer romance between Elio (Timothee Chalamet), an Italian teenager, and Oliver (Armie Hammer), an American academic seven years his senior who has come to stay at his parents’ villa. Oscar nominee James Ivory adapted Andre Aciman‘s 2007 bestseller of the same name.

Sony Classics Pictures, a savvy awards campaigner, will release this red-hot Oscar contender on Nov. 24, just as the race is heating up. Expect the film to figure in the year-end critics awards. It currently merits a perfect score at Rotten Tomatoes (which grades on a pass/fail basis) and a jaw-dropping 98 at MetaCritic (which assigns a numerical score to each review).

Buoyed by these rave notices, the film is sure to inspire passion from some Oscar voters when they are ranking Best Picture contenders. That core support is key to reaping a bid under the preferential ballot system. A small but significant number of first-place votes would be enough to make the cut during the complicated counting process.

While Chalamet could break into the Best Actor race for his breakthrough performance, that category tends to recognize more seasoned performers. And while there are rumblings that Hammer should go lead as well, that would be a mistake as it would mean that the two men split the vote. Better that he follow the example of the likes of Viola Davis (“Fences”) and Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) and stay in supporting. There he would be all but assured of a nomination and perhaps even the win. However, he might face competition from Michael Stuhlbarg who plays Elio’s father and has several scene-stealing moments, including a lengthy monologue, that make the movie.

Guadagino could parlay a Best Picture bid into one for Best Director. He helmed the 2009 Italian language “I Am Love,” which contended at both the Golden Globes and BAFTA, as well as 2015’s “A Bigger Splash,” which featured Ralph Fiennes in a supporting turn that generated some pre-Oscar buzz. The adapted screenplay race at the Academy Awards is relatively light this year, and would be a way to finally reward Ivory, a three-time Oscar also-ran for Best Director (“A Room With a View,” 1985; “Howard’s End,” 1992; “The Remains of  the Day,” 1993). And cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, best-known for films in his native Thailand such as 2010’s “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” is also a possibility.

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.

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