Arts & Culture » Movies

Season of award contenders

by David Lamble

Willem Dafoe as Dutch master painter Vincent Van Gogh, in director Julian Schnabel's "At Eternity's Gate." Photo: CBS Films
Willem Dafoe as Dutch master painter Vincent Van Gogh, in director Julian Schnabel's "At Eternity's Gate." Photo: CBS Films  

This time of year is rich with wannabe Golden Globe and Oscar contenders, films that are looking for some box-office love and awards-season hardware. Some key dates for your awards-season calendar: Golden Globes Nominations (12/6); Oscar shortlist announced in nine categories, including Best Foreign Film (12/17); Golden Globes Awards on NBC-TV (1/6/2019); Oscar nominations announced (1/22); 90th Annual Academy Awards on ABC-TV (2/24).

Here are a dozen award candidates, followed by their tentative national release dates, as of presstime. Bay Area release dates may and will vary.

"Vox Lux" This latest version of "A Star is Born" stars "Black Swan" star Natalie Portman as a troubled pop icon in actor-turned-director Brady Corbet's second narrative. Corbet, you may recall, was one of the boys in peril in Gregg Araki's screen version of gay novelist Scott Heim's "Mysterious Skin." (National release date: 12/7)

"At Eternity's Gate" Artist Julian Schnabel, who helmed 2000's "Basquiat," about the short life of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, is back with a biopic on Dutch master painter Vincent Van Gogh, with Willem Dafoe as Van Gogh. The actor recently received an acting award at the Venice Film Festival. (11/16)

"Cold War" Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski's memoir about the post-WWII adventures of his mom and dad is a Foreign Language Oscar contender set for national release on Dec. 21.

"Destroyer" The ubiquitous Nicole Kidman returns to big screens as a world-weary LA private eye, directed by Karyn Kusama, who debuted with the 2000 boxing film "Girlfight." (12/25)

"The Favourite" A drama concerning backstage intrigue at the court of Queen Anne from director Yorgos Lanthimos, featuring performances from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone. (11/23)

"The Front Runner" A little post-election nostalgia may be stirred up by director Jason Reitman's drama about the scandal-aborted 1988 presidential bid by then-Colorado Senator Gary Hart. (November)

"If Beale Street Could Talk" The work of gay African American novelist James Baldwin gets a boost in this drama from "Moonlight" helmer Barry Jenkins. The story concerns the problems facing a young Harlem straight couple when the man is falsely accused of a crime. (11/30)

"On the Basis of Sex" On the heels of "RBG," a popular bio-doc about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Mimi Leder helms this narrative feature, with Felicity Jones as the scrappy young female attorney working her way up the legal totem pole. (12/25)

"The Mule" Clint Eastwood is back in the saddle as both actor and director, in the true-life adventure of a 90-year-old man who became a drug runner for a notorious Mexican drug cartel. Eastwood, who has a track record dating back into the 1950s, was last represented in the award-season sweepstakes by 2014's "American Sniper." (12/14)

"Green Book" Fresh off its People's Choice Award at the Toronto film festival, director Peter Farrelly presents the 1962-set road comedy about the friendship between a black pianist (Mahershala Ali) and his Italian American chauffer (Viggo Mortensen). (11/21)

"Mary Poppins Returns" Director Rob Marshall (2003's "Chicago") provides this Poppins reboot with Emily Blunt in the Julie Andrews role and Lin-Manuel Miranda filling Dick Van Dyke's shoes as a cockney song-and-dance man. (12/19)

"Mary Queen of Scots" Saoirse Ronan ("Lady Bird") and Margot Robbie ("I Tonya") are dueling monarchs in director Josie Rourke's costume drama, with a screenplay by "House of Cards" creator Beau Willimon. (12/7)

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