Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Oscars Update: “Manchester” and “La La Land” Are Still in the Lead, with Scorsese’s “Silence” a Question Mark


Yes, it’s time to catch up with the Oscars. Many movies have been seen, but several haven’t yet– at least by the public. And some no one’s seen– meaning Martin Scorsese’s “Silence.” And some were good to talk about but they weren’t as rich as their elements.

My thoughts for mid November:


La La Land, Manchester by the Sea, 20th Century Women, Sully and Lion all seem like they’re in. Fences has had one great screening in Los Angeles. We’ll see it in New York shortly. That makes six. Now what? Moonlight looks very certain, and its growing box office is helping the cause. Nocturnal Animals is very strong. That’s eight. My guess is Silence has a strong shot. Also out there: Hidden Figures.

That’s a very nice group of films, by the way.


A toss up category. Casey Affleck in “Manchester” is the front runner. Tom Hanks as “Sully” is not far behind. I’m hearing Denzel Washington for “Fences,” which makes sense. And then what? Ryan Gosling could make it in with “La La Land.” I really love Warren Beatty in “Rules Don’t Apply.” We don’t know yet what Liam Neeson does in “Silence.”


This is the year of the actress! Emma Stone in “La La Land.” Annette Bening in “20th Century Women.” Amy Adams in “Arrival” or “Nocturnal Animals.” And then we have Meryl Streep, so good in “Florence Foster Jenkins,” Helen Mirren rocking “Eye in the Sky” and Taraji P. Henson in “Hidden Figures.” I really think Viola Davis should have stayed in this category. But she went Supporting. For now. Plus Isabelle Huppert is a killer in “Elle.” Lots of choices. Very hard. If it had done better, Woody Allen’s “Cafe Society” might have opened a slot for Kristen Stewart. Excellent work.


Mahershala Ali in “Moonlight” just jumps out at you. Dev Patel — not sure if he’s lead or supporting, but he’s integral to “Lion.” Billy Crudup is terrific in “20th Century Women.” Hugh Grant very strong in “FFJ.” And then who? Lucas Hedges and Kyle Chandler are magnificent in “Manchester.” Hard to choose between them. Jake Gyllenhaal is outstanding in “Nocturnal Animals” but so is Michael Shannon. (He may be the surprise of the year.) We’re waiting to see what Andrew Garfield does in “Silence.”


Viola Davis is already getting raves for “Fences,” and frankly, you can see this coming from a mile away. But there are other terrific turns. Nicole Kidman has a speech in “Lion” that ensures a spot. Michelle Williams has her own amazing moment in “Manchester.”  Naomie Harris is profound in “Moonlight.” Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning are each stunning in “20th Century Women.” Margo Martindale is sensational in “The Hollars,” which I hope Academy members will watch on DVD. And then there’s Janelle Monae in both “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures,” and former winner Octavia Spencer in “Hidden Figures.”

So stay tuned, there’s more to come…

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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