A24 is opening Greg Kwedar and Clint Bentley‘s Sing Sing, a spiritual rehab prison drama, on Friday, 7.12 — less than two weeks hence. A fair-sized crowd saw it in Toronto last September, but I’m not hearing about upcoming local screenings.

Oscar! Sing Sing has Oscar written all over it! It’s an Oscar movie, especially in the case of presumed Best Actor nominee Colman Domnigo.

Hotshot critic #1: “I haven’t seen it yet, but I think it looks vaguely terrible. Like some outdated gritty-but-facile-black-dude-saint movie from 1993. Who knows, right? I only know that every time I see the trailer, I cringe. And I love Colman!”

Hotshot critic #2: “Who says it’s a Best Actor slamdunk for Colman?”
HE: “The chorus of praisers who saw it in Toronto last September…no?”
Hotshot critic #2: “I don’t know if they know what they’re talking about. If it was that great, or even just better than Rustin, why didn’t they put it out last fall? And why put it out now in July?”
HE: “Good question. Beats me.”
Hotshot critic #2: “I love Colman and hope it’s great, but these hosannas seem suspicious.”

Posted on 6.9.24: I somehow hadn’t watched the Sing Sing trailer when I tapped out last Friday’s Best Picture projection piece, but now I’ve seen it and am persuaded…well, certainly that Colman Domingo will be right at the top of the Best Actor nominees list but also that Greg Kwedar and Clint Bentley‘s allegedly spirit-lifting prison drama, about a wrongfully imprisoned guy putting on a play alongside other cons, will probably end up with a Best Picture nom. Maybe.

Based on a true story about the Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA) program at New York’s Sing Sing prison, pic follows the friendship of two RTA alumni, John “Divine G” Whitfield (Colman Domingo) and Clarence “Divine Eye” Maclin (Clarence Maclin himself) as they work together to stage an original production. Vulnerability, trust, integrity, pride, etc.

Sing Sing will open limited on 7.12.24. Pic will expand in August.

I speculated on 5.7 that 2025’s strongest Best Picture contenders will probably be those that don’t feel especially woked-up or agenda-driven (i.e., POC narrative, #MeToo-assertive, LGBTQ- or trans-promotional).

That doesn’t mean there won’t be any agenda-driven nominees. Emilia Perez (Netflix) will almost certainly be nominated upon the shoulders of musical fans as well as gay and trans celebrationists.

I’m actually not detecting anything especially wokey about Sing Sing. Okay, it focuses on a mostly black cast with two or three white guys (including Sound of Metal‘s Paul Raci) on the side, and given the setting it has to be a little bit gayish…no? But mostly I’m sensing soulful and heartwarming.

Plus it automatically earns an extra five points for presenting itself within a 1.66:1 aspect ratio.

Over the years Academy and guild members have been trained like dogs to focus only on award-season releases (Labor day to Christmas) for potential Oscar contenders, but exceptions pop up every so often. Sing Sing may be one of them.

I am therefore projecting that the following eight films have the best chances of being nominated for Best Picture:

Todd PhillipsJoker: Folie à Deux (Warner Bros., 10.4)
Jacques Audiard‘s Emilia Perez (Netflix)
Steve McQueen‘s Blitz (Apple, undated but surely opening during award seaeon)
Sean Baker‘s Anora (Neon, 10.18)
Greg Kwedar and Clint Bentley‘s Sing Sing
Edward Berger‘s Conclave (Focus Features, 11.15)
Ridley Scott‘s Gladiator II (Paramount, 11.22)
Robert ZemeckisHere