Awards Chase

Each Wednesday through the week of the 2018 Academy Award nominations on Jan. 23, Take 2 is handicapping the Oscar rush with The Award Chase.

It’s hard to believe that this marks Take 2’s third edition of The Award Chase, and although it started a little later than usual, it’s still keeping an eye on what titles are gaining momentum during awards season.

Frances McDormand in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"

Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

In the closing weeks of fall film festival runs, the jury awards have been handed out and movie fans are taking note of performances to watch come January and February. However, more and more each year, award campaigning can begin at any moment. This holds true for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Starring Frances McDormand, the dramedy earned the People’s Choice Award at last month’s Toronto International Film Festival. Such an honor has served as a predictor for future awards, having worked for recent best picture winners “The Hurt Locker” and “Slumdog Millionaire.” Yet, “Three Billboards” could suffer the same fate as not-nominated musical “Where Do We Go Now?” Well, it has one factor going for it, and it has not nothing to do with the festival circuit.

Trailers for “Three Billboards” began to appear in March, including screenings for the sci-fi flop “Life.” It may not have been one of the most splashy trailer debuts of recent history, but the early drop gave movie audiences a chance to consider it. By the time it had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in early September, critics were paying attention McDormand’s performance as the tough-talking, grieving mother who wants justice for her murdered daughter. A few days later, Toronto audiences fell hard for this film. Look for its wide release Nov. 10.

Meryl Streep in "The Post."

Meryl Streep in “The Post.”

While March may be an early campaign start, it pales in comparison to the Steven Spielberg-helmed thriller “The Post.” Starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, the film was already up for Oscars when the script topped the annual Black List for best unproduced screenplays in December 2016 and when production was announced in March. Much of the attention has been on the Academy Award-winning leads and director and the subject matter – the government versus the Washington Post. It hasn’t been to any film festivals, no trailer is out and less than five stills have been released. Perhaps it may debut this weekend with the release of “The Mountain Between Us” or later this month with “Thank You for Your Service.” “The Post” will have an Academy-qualifying run starting Dec. 22 and will open wider in January.

Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening in "American Beauty."

Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening in “American Beauty.”

But nothing beats the earliest campaign start in recent memory. Without a trailer or a still, DreamWorks entered the awards race in 1999 when the previous year’s season was taking place. At the 1999 Golden Globes, actress Annette Bening was introduced to the audience as the star of “American Beauty.” The next year, the Sam Mendes-directed film would win three Golden Globes and five Oscars.

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