Cate Blanchett as the brilliant-but-divisive composer-conductor Lydia Tár. Photo: Florian Hoffmeister / Focus Features
Contenders, ready! Nominations for the 2023 Oscars will be announced on January 24. But while some hot tips are available to stream – notably The Banshees of Inisherin, which arrived on Disney+ last month – there will be a steady stream of awards hopefuls opening in UK cinemas between now and the March 12 ceremony. Here are some Oscar hopefuls to sample.
Empire of Light In cinemas January 9
Sam Mendes and Olivia Colman already have an Oscar each – for American Beauty and The Favourite respectively – so you’d expect a film starring the two to generate some awards heat. This drama about a lonely cinema manager in bleak ’80s Margate even features the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire in a key scene. Advance reviews have been mixed, but Colman is an empathetic actor always worth seeing.
The Inspection In cinemas February 17
Writer/director Elegance Bratton’s low budget indie film stars Jeremy Pope as a young, homeless gay man who enlists in the marines. Will he survive the hazing and homophobia? Pope’s powerful work might nab him a Best Actor Oscar nod, while Gabrielle Union (playing against type as a bigoted mother) makes a huge impact despite limited screen time.
Tár In cinemas January 13
Over 15 years after his infidelity drama Little Children, writer/director Todd Field returns with a complex character study anchored by an astonishing lead performance. Cate Blanchett stars as (fictional) Lydia Tár, an outspoken classical superstar whose brilliance is matched only by her self-regard.
Babylon In cinemas January 20
The Academy often rewards films about movie-making so could be swayed by the latest from La La Land writer/director Damien Chazelle. Babylon is an energised Hollywood fable set in the roaring ’20s, just as silent films are becoming talkies. It features megawatt stars Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt alongside relative newcomer Diego Calva. Early reactions have ranged from “stylish” to “a dizzying cacophony of demented depravity”. Should be an experience, at least.
The Fabelmans In cinemas January 27
Steven Spielberg’s latest is a semi-autobiographical drama about a young boy falling in love with filmmaking while his middle-class Jewish parents – played by Paul Dano and Michelle Williams – fall out of love with one another. At 150 minutes long and with a cameo from one notorious filmmaker playing another famous director, it could all be seen as rather self-indulgent, but Williams has had rave reviews. After being nominated four times, could she finally get her first statuette?
Brendan Fraser’s moving performance in The Whale as a morbidly obese English teacher trying to reconnect with his daughter was lauded at the Venice Film Festival last year, kicking off a career renaissance that only seems to have gained momentum. The general feeling is that Fraser will be recognised in the Best Actor Oscar category, and since Hollywood loves a good comeback story, he may even win.
Women Talking In cinemas February 10
Actor-turned-director Sarah Polley’s drama (based on real-life events where women were repeatedly drugged and sexually assaulted in an isolated Mennonite colony) finds a group of traumatised women debating their next move. Should they accept the situation, try and reform their community or abandon it? The strength of the cast – including Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley and Rooney Mara – might make it tricky for anyone to break through but Polley should receive a Best Director Oscar nod.
Buy a Big Issue Winter Support Kit for £34.99, you’ll receive four copies of the magazine and vendors could receive immediate tools for survival plus access to vital training and employment pathways to escape poverty for good.