It’s only mid-June and I know very little for sure, but 2016 is seeming more and more like a relatively weak year for Best Picture contenders. The more I hear, the more I talk things over, the more I sniff the room, the less intrigued I feel. Gut feelings, insect vibrations, hairs on the back of my neck. A guy who’s seen some of the fall films told me the other day, “I hope things get better.”
I’m sounding like a broken record, I realize, but there appear to be six or seven hotties at best — Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea (I’ve seen it — a sad near-masterpiece), Martin Scorsese‘s Silence (maybe, maybe not — allegedly a difficult sit in terms of gruesome subject matter but who knows?), Ang Lee‘s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (maybe — a modern-day Catch-22), Nate Parker‘s The Birth of a Nation (probably but troubles await), Denzel Washington‘s Fences (based on a respected play but much of it is set indoors in a single home — probably more of a Viola Davis-for-Best Actress opportunity than anything else), and Jeff Nichols‘ Loving (a good film but more of a ground-rule double than a triple or a homer — Ruth Negga vs. Viola Davis for Best Actress trophy?) and Clint Eastwood‘s Sully (maybe, seems thin).
I’m sensing different kinds of weakness (uncertainties, vulnerabilities, head-scratchings) from all of these except for Manchester by the Sea, Fences, Silence and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and even these four might run into problems down the road.
I should just shut up and wait for the fall festivals, but I have a special long-throw ability to detect little tingly vibes from certain films, and so far I’m not sensing the possible presence of serious electricity or extra-ness in the wings except for Manchester, which I know has serious heft.
Maybes: David Michod‘s War Machine, Damien Chazelle‘s La La Land (Venice, Telluride), Peter Berg‘s Patriot’s Day, Ben Younger‘s Bleed For This, Garth Davis‘s Lion, Denis Villeneuve‘s Arrival, Pablo Larrain‘s Jackie, Mel Gibson‘s Hacksaw Ridge (WWII version of Sgt. York).