×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Big Three Fall Film Festivals Dominate Awards Season

Once again, the Oscar race is being dominated by the Big Three fall film festivals: Venice, Telluride and Toronto. Should we congratulate this as a successful partnership between these three and Oscar? Or do we lament the fact that the fest circuit has turned into the schoolyard bully, knocking down quality movies that opened between January and August, and trying to block the path of November-December openers?

In nine of the past 10 years, the best picture winner debuted at one of the Big Three. The lone exception: “The Artist,” which had premiered at Cannes in May. In addition, 15 of the 19 feature-film Oscar winners this year had also debuted at one of the Big Three fests.

In other words, most of the categories (including best picture) had been seen, handicapped and virtually sealed by mid-September.

That’s one reason why the end-of-February Oscar ceremony seems so late: It arrives more than five months after pundits have declared the winner.

The 2018 Oscar contenders arrive in three basic categories.

The first grouping deserve to be remembered: Films that debuted in the first eight months of the year. That includes “BlacKkKlansman,” “Black Panther,” the surprise hit “Crazy Rich Asians,” as well as “The Rider,” “Leave No Trace,” Glenn Close’s vehicle “The Wife,” the Ethan Hawke-starrer “First Reformed,” “Paddington 2” and “Eighth Grade.”

The second group is, of course, the festival movies. Some debuts lived up to advance buzz, including “First Man,” “A Star Is Born” and “Widows.” There were also below-the-radar movies that appeared “suddenly” to wow critics and audiences: “The Favourite,” the Nicole Kidman vehicle “Destroyer,” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” with Melissa McCarthy, Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Beautiful Boy,” “Roma” and three excellent films: Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book,” Paul Greengrass’s “22 July” and “The Front Runner” with Hugh Jackman.

Also arriving with less fanfare but still plenty of fans: Joel Edgerton’s “Boy Erased,” the Coen brothers’ “Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” Julia Roberts in “Ben Is Back” and “A Private War,” with Rosamund Pike.

The fest trio also offered films that the Oscar pundits are still mulling: Willem Dafoe in “At Eternity’s Gate,” “Outlaw King,” “The Old Man & the Gun” and movies that split people, including “Suspiria” and “Peterloo.”

In terms of 2018 Academy Award hopefuls, the third calendar group includes films that arrived after the Toronto fest, such as “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Mary Queen of Scots,” “On the Basis of Sex,” “Vice,” and “Stan & Ollie.”

And every year brings films that are in post-production until the last minute. Many of them gain some Oscar attention, but it feels as if they might have scored more if they’d been more widely seen, including “Hidden Figures,” “Silence,” “Fences” and “Selma.”

It’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy: The festivals recently have offered the hot Oscar contenders, so distributors now center their campaigns around festivals. Pundits start making predictions, without having seen the films, and toss aside their once-cherished early-in-the-year films.

There are solutions. When the Oscar ceremony moves even earlier, starting Feb. 9, 2020, studios and strategists will need to rethink their campaigns. And digital screeners are a long-time-coming inevitability. So this is a good opportunity to tone down the over-reliance of the fall fests. Journalists and “taste-makers” also need to rethink their rote actions.

The fall festivals can be a tool in building Oscar buzz, but they have become the tail wagging the dog. They should be a factor, but not the deciding factor.

More Film

  • Playwright Mark Medoff author of "Children

    Mark Medoff, 'Children of a Lesser God' Playwright, Dies at 79

    Mark Medoff, the playwright who wrote Tony Award-winning play “Children of a Lesser God,” died Tuesday in Las Cruces, N.M. He was 79. His daughter Jessica Medoff Bunchman posted news of his death on Facebook, and the Las Cruces Sun-News attributed the cause to cancer. “Children of a Lesser God” starred John Rubinstein and Phyllis Frelich [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Interscope Films Relaunches With Full Slate at Tribeca (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Interscope record label’s interest in film/music crossover isn’t exactly a secret: With hit companion albums for “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther” and “La La Land,” they’ve seemed to own the soundtrack space at times in recent years. And the company hasn’t completely made a secret of its desire to move into film production. [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame': Fans and Theaters Assemble for Biggest Marvel Movie Ever

    For San Diego resident Shawn Richter, “Avengers: Endgame” is more than the conclusion to a monumental period in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As the West Coast branch chair of Avengers Initiative, a cosplay charity that raises money for causes like the Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charities, the comics of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are [...]

  • Jillian Bell appears in Brittany Runs

    Amazon's 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Sets Summer Release

    “Brittany Runs a Marathon” will be rushing to theaters on Aug. 23. Amazon Studios dated the comedy on Wednesday. The pic, starring Jillian Bell (“Rough Night,” “22 Jump Street”), won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. The flick follows the titutal Brittany, who decides to run around New York City in order to [...]

  • Lionsgate Hires Lynn Whitney in Marketing

    Lionsgate Hires Former Warner Bros. Exec Lynn Whitney

    Lionsgate announced Wednesday that Lynn Whitney will become head of worldwide paid media, partnerships, promotions and consumer products. Whitney was formerly the executive VP of worldwide media at Warner Bros.   In her new role, Whitney will build out media campaigns for movies like Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron’s romantic comedy “Long Shot.” “I am [...]

  • El silencio de otros

    Film Review: 'The Silence of Others'

    “Forgiven but not forgotten” is a platitude we routinely use to end disputes both petty and grievous, but it’s the reverse outcome — the mass forgetting of crimes and conflicts never truly resolved — that itches away at a post-Franco Spain in “The Silence of Others.” Soberly chronicling the ongoing legal battle of General Franco’s [...]

  • A Womans Work-The NFLs Cheerleader Problem

    Tribeca Documentaries Explore Gender Issues in Sport

    Up until recently, what it meant to be a professional female athlete in a world dominated by men wasn’t an issue that garnered high volumes of public interest, let alone national headlines. But that all changed in October 2017 when stories from the New York Times and the New Yorker detailing sexual allegations and improper [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content