Paramount Pictures had a banner year at last year’s Oscars, reaping 18 nominations across seven films: eight for “Arrival,” four for “Fences,” two for “Florence Foster Jenkins” and one apiece for “Allied,” “Silence,” “Star Trek Beyond” and “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi .”
This year, the studio has a strong technical contender with the final “Transformer” film (“Transformers: The Last Knight”). It could well pick up a bookend for its 2006 Documentary Feature Oscar winner “An Inconvenient Truth” with “An Inconvenent Sequel: Truth to Power.” And Paramount can boast of a trio of titles by filmmakers who are academy favorites: Alexander Payne‘s “Downsizing,”; Darren Aronofsky‘s “mother!”; and George Clooney‘s “Suburbicon.”
“Downsizing” just landed the prestigious opening slot at the Venice Film Festival that kicks off awards season on Aug. 30. It is a sci-fi film with Matt Damon as a man who decides his life would be better if he shrinks himself. Co-starring are Oscar nominees Kristen Wiig and Laura Dern and two-time Oscar champ Christoph Waltz. The plot sounds like an unusual concept for an Oscar contender, but no more so than “Her,” which was about a man who falls in love with his computer’s operating system. Payne, who crafted the script with Jim Taylor, has two Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay (2004’s “Sideways” and 2011’s “The Descendants”) and has been nominated seven times total.
The studio just moved “mother!” forward by a month to Sept. 15, which points to a premiere at one of the festivals, be it Telluride, Toronto or Venice. Aronofsky who reaped a 2011 Oscar bid for helming “Black Swan,” also wrote this psychological thriller in which Oscar winners Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”) and Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”) are a couple whose tranquil life is disrupted by uninvited guests.
Clooney was nominated for directing “Good Night, and Good Luck” (2006) and could return to that race with “Suburbicon.” This quirky crime drama was written by Oscar darlings Joel and Ethan Coen (“No Country for Old Men,” “Fargo”) and stars Damon, Julianne Moore, Josh Brolin, and Oscar Isaac.
Below, detailed listings of each of these Oscar contenders, including release dates, creative types, cast lists, running times, plot summaries, and receptions both critical and commercial.
“Downsizing” (Paramount Pictures/Annapurna Pictures) – Dec. 22
Director: Alexander Payne
Writers: Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor
Cast: Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Sudeikis, Alec Baldwin, Margo Martindale
Summary: In Alexander Payne’s social satire, a man realizes he would have a better life if he were to shrink himself.
“mother!” (Paramount Pictures) – Sept. 15
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Writer: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Domhnall Gleeson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Ed Harris, Jovan Adepo
Summary: Darren Aronofsky’s latest drama centers on a couple whose relationship is tested when when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.
“Suburbicon” (Paramount Pictures) – Nov. 3
Director: George Clooney
Writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, George Clooney, Grant Heslov
Cast: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin
Summary: George Clooney directs this Coen Brothers scripted crime mystery about a home invasion in the 1950s town of Suburbicon that turns a family towards blackmail, revenge, and betrayal.