If you want to be an Oscar expert this year, you’ve got 10 films you must see.
Bradley Cooper’s “A Star is Born” is a given. But then what?
Here are 10 films that will give you that Oscar edge.
1. “A Star is Born.” The buzz this got usually fizzles before awards time. But “Star” is hanging in there, thanks to the work done by Bradley Cooper, who could get nominations in several categories, including Best Actor and Best Director. Lady Gaga, as his love interest, is expected to lead the Best Actress category and figure into the Best Song finals. Toss in Sam Elliott (as Cooper’s brother) and it’s pretty clear this “Star” shines. (Now in theaters)
2. “Black Panther.” If you didn’t catch it earlier in the year (and why didn’t you?), it’s on DVD, ready to wow at home. Because there’s so much depth in this film, it redeems all those weak superhero outings and makes you believe there’s something worth watching. Plus, Michael B. Jordan could earn his first nomination (as Best Supporting Actor) for playing a guy with plenty of issues. (Available on DVD)
3. “BlacKkKlansman.” Spike Lee got an honorary Oscar for his body of work, but this look at a black man infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan could put him back in the hunt for a Best Director prize. Based on a true story, it gave Denzel Washington’s son (John David Washington) a star-making role. And, it let Adam Driver and Ryan Eggold shine in supporting parts. (Available on DVD)
4. “Green Book.” This is the film your parents are going to say they want to see. It’s 2018’s “Driving Miss Daisy.” Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are locks for Oscar nominations as two unlikely friends. Mortensen plays a tough-talking driver; Ali is an acclaimed pianist. Together, they work their way through a racially divided South. (Now in theaters)
5. “Roma.” Although it’s a Netflix offering, the black-and-white film has been getting incredible buzz on the festival circuit. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, it looks at a year in the life of a middle-class Mexican family, circa 1970. The woman who holds everything together (first-time actress Yalitza Aparicio) isn’t the matriarch, but the housekeeper. If this scores big nominations, expect a shift in the way films are distributed. Amazon cracked the door, but Netflix could tear down the wall between television and film. (In limited release; on Netflix Dec. 14)
6. “Vice.” The big-screen look at former vice president Dick Cheney could pull an 11th hour surprise. It boasts a performance by Christian Bale that could push all pretenders aside. Bale (like Robert De Niro and so many others) gained weight to play the role and immersed himself in all things Cheney. Even better? There are strong parts for Amy Adams (as Lynne Cheney), Sam Rockwell and Steve Carell. This could run the board. (Opens Dec. 25)
7. “The Favourite.” This costume dramedy lets Olivia Colman (from “The Night Manager,” “Fleabag” and “Broadchurch”) make her presence known on the big screen. She plays Britain’s Queen Anne, a prickly sort who may or may not have been involved in a love triangle. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz vie for laughs (and the queen’s affection) in director Yorgos Lanthimos’ latest outing. Look for all three women to be Oscar contenders. One might even win. (In limited release)
8. “If Beale Street Could Talk.” Another late entry, this drama from “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins gives James Baldwin’s novel new life. KiKi Layne stars as an African-American woman seeking to clear the name of her husband before their child is born. The one to watch, though, is Regina King as the matriarch. Her work has Oscar written all over it. Jenkins should figure in for directing and writing, too. (Opens Dec. 14)
9. “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” Melissa McCarthy puts comedy aside to play Lee Israel, a writer who faked documents in order to make money. Based on a true story, this gives her plenty of “moments” and lets Richard E. Grant stretch his own boundaries as the friend who helped her sell the bogus letters. It’s one of those relationship dramas that prove truth can be strange, indeed. (Now in theaters)
10. “First Man.” Although it seemed like the film to beat, this screen biography of Neil Armstrong stalled shortly after it launched. Director Damien Chazelle did everything right, but audiences didn’t embrace it. Nevertheless, it’s a crackling good look at the space program and just how tenuous it was. Claire Foy took one giant step in her career as Janet Armstrong. Ryan Gosling, though understated, did well by Armstrong. (Now in theaters)
Also worth noting: “Mary Poppins Returns” (which could figure into technical categories), “Widows” (for Viola Davis’ lead performance), “The Wife” (for Glenn Close’s work), “Bohemian Rhapsody” (for Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury) and, possibly, “A Quiet Place” and “Crazy Rich Asians.”