If we know one thing about the Hollywood’s biggest film awards, it’s that they just can’t catch all of the great work that comes out over the course of a given year. Even in recent years the Oscars have missed a number of commendable films that ought to have gotten some consideration. But this year, the Oscars season might just be strange enough to allow some unconventional projects to get some notice.
Naturally, because of the coronavirus, the film industry around the world is experiencing unprecedented difficulty. Countless releases have been delayed, some have gone right to streaming services, and 2020 will come and go with — ultimately — very few new films. The Accordingly, the Oscars have been pushed back to allow for more releases. But even so there might not be all that much material to work with.
With that in mind, we’re taking a look at some unusual (but very good or promising) films that may just have a chance to be involved.
1. On The Rocks
On The Rocks is a charming comedy/drama that has just released on Apple TV+. In an ordinary year, it would be likely to blend in with a number of other pleasant, low-key autumn releases. But this year it stands out as one of the most interesting new American films to have come out.
It would be quite something for Apple to immediately earn Oscars attention with its new streaming service. But this film was also produced by A24 — an emerging force on the production scene — and was directed by none other than Sofia Coppola. It stars Bill Murray and Rashida Jones as a father/daughter duo tracking the daughter’s suspicious husband (played by Marlon Wayans). As for which Oscars it could be in contention for, it will ultimately depend on the competition. But a Best Supporting Actor nod for Murray doesn’t seem out of the question.
2. Blow The Man Down
Blow The Man Down was first screened at the Toronto Film Festival in 2019, and was ultimately acquired by Amazon Studios for digital release this year. It’s a sort of dark comedy about murders, cover-ups, and vengeance in an otherwise cold and quite fishing town. And it’s one of those films that just has a certain special tone to it that elevates it above what you might expect it to be.
From an Oscars perspective it’s a particularly interesting film because of Hollywood’s penchant for recognizing up-and-coming young actresses in recent years. From Jennifer Lawrence and Alicia Vikander, to Emma Stone, Lupita Nyong’o, and Brie Larson, a lot of young women have achieved high honors. There’s a chance Morgan Saylor of Blow The Man Down could join that company.
3. Bill & Ted Face The Music
Bill & Ted Face The Music may be the biggest long shot on this list. But it was a well-reviewed, instantly lovable sci-fi comedy that actually got an American release, and was also made available on demand. That at least puts it in the mix as one of the few films a lot of people will have seen.
It’s also important to understand that this film is part of a series with something of a cult following in the West. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is considered to be something of a quintessential ‘80s film, and is still talked about and referenced today. It comes up in conversations about how Keanu Reeves got started, and Gala Spins even recognizes it as one of a handful of films that have inspired their own online slot games. Basically, through Keanu’s legacy, pop culture adaptations like the slot game, and now this 2020 sequel, the series has lived on for almost 30 years! An Oscar is still a long shot, but the point is there’s a lot of love for this project, it’s one people have actually seen, and the critics liked it.
Kajillionaire premiered at Sundance before the pandemic really took hold, and following it debut Vulture referred to it as the best film yet from director Miranda July (a respected director, but not a terribly prolific one). Given how few significant films have really gotten the festival treatment in 2020, this alone may position it for some surprise attention.
An oddball comedy about cons and heists, Kajillionaire stars Evan Rachel Wood (of Westworld fame), as well as Gina Rodriguez, Debra Winger, and the always excellent Richard Jenkins, who seems to be incapable of choosing a bad project. It’s another comedy that isn’t your typical Oscars material, though a nomination for Wood isn’t too difficult to imagine.
5. The Green Knight
The Green Knight is more of a wish here than a prediction. Entering 2020, it was one of the most promising anticipated films — a gritty and inventive project from the aforementioned A24 studio, and a retelling of the Arthurian tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Unfortunately, coronavirus wiped out its release, and it’s now in a state of limbo.
This film may well not make it out in time to be considered for the Oscars. But if it does, it has the look of a heavyweight. Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, and Joel Edgerton star, and David Lowery — the man behind excellent indie projects like A Ghost Story and The Old Man & The Gun — directs. This one could get significant Oscars buzz if it’s release in time.