Oscars Watch: 'Boy Erased' and 'Suspiria' Are Ones to Watch This Weekend
By John Boone
Courtesy of Amazon Studios / Focus Features
It's officially Oscar season. Between now and the 91st Academy Awards, on Feb. 24, 2019, ET will keep you updated on which films are most likely to land on Academy voters' ballots, breaking down each movie's Oscar odds and predicting where it will be nominated.
Boy Erased is one of two conversion therapy movies that will be campaigning come awards season. (The other being The Miseducation of Cameron Post.) This one -- for reasons both fair and not -- is the more likely to crack the Oscars race, however, a based-on-a-true-story drama (the film is an adaptation of Garrard Conley's memoir of the same name about being outed to his Baptist parents and sent to a conversion program) boasting a powerhouse cast and a message-driven campaign.
Still, nothing is guaranteed in such a crowded year. Lucas Hedges delivers a sensitive, yearning performance as Jared (the film version of Garrard) worthy of Best Actor consideration. And he isn't locked out, by any means -- only two of the five slots seem like sure things -- but he won't do himself any favors submitting himself as Best Actor for Ben Is Back as well and risk splitting votes. (That said, Hedges has starred in Oscar-nominated films two years in a row now, so clearly he knows what he's doing.)
Similarly, there are two strong performances vying for Best Supporting Actor: Russell Crowe as Jared's minister father and Joel Edgerton as the leader of the conversion therapy program. Crowe has a Big Oscar Scene, so I have a feeling he will be the main push, while Edgerton vies for Best Director and/or Best Adapted Screenplay. (The latter has better odds in my estimation.)
I predict the movie's best bet is Nicole Kidman for Best Supporting Actress, especially seeing as her character's real-life counterpart, Garrard's sweet-as-pie mama, Martha, is actively out and about supporting her and stealing the show everywhere she goes. (Kidman also has a second role in Oscar consideration, in Destroyer, though that would be lead.) The other nomination I would wager is Troye Sivan and Jónsi's stirring collaboration, "Revelation," for Best Original Song. It may be Gaga's year, but there's still room for Troye.
This year marks the return of directors responsible for many recent Best Picture contenders: Alfonso Cuarón, Barry Jenkins, Damien Chazelle. Luca Guadagnino -- who's Call Me by Your Name earned four nominations -- is similarly back in the mix, although his latest, Suspiria, a brutal, mad retelling of Dario Argento's Italian horror classic about a dance academy run by witches, could not be further from the swooning, sun-soaked love story of Elio and Oliver.
Suspiria may be a tough pill for Oscar voters to swallow; however, should they manage, it's a film they won't soon forget. Though the Academy seems more willing to consider genre fare of late, it's easier to imagine it popping up in a few technical fields, recognized for Cinematography or Costume Design or Best Original Score. Historically, the Academy loves a rock star composer -- Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor won for The Social Network, Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood was a nominee for Phantom Thread -- and Thom Yorke (also of Radiohead) crafts something hauntingly evocative here.
The big question mark is Tilda Swinton, already an Academy Award winner and perhaps a dark horse contender for Best Supporting Actress this year. As Madame Blanc, the grande dame of the academy, she is domineering and sensual and, of course, witchy. But would a nomination consider all of her roles in the film? After all, with the help of some heavy prosthetics, she plays three in total, including an elderly German man, Dr. Josef Klemperer, and an as-yet-undisclosed third role that completes the human psyche tryptic of the id, the ego and the superego. Guadagnino himself says he can't separate the performances. Anyway, at the very least, the movie has a strong shot at Makeup and Hairstyling.
Also in Theaters: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY may make a convincing case for Rami Malek to be considered for Best Actor for his fully committed turn as Freddie Mercury, though it will need quite a showing at the box office this weekend to overcome gloomy reviews; THE HATE U GIVE, meanwhile, got off to a modest but impactful start -- could all of that early love for the movie and its increasing timeliness (about police brutality and modern racism) propel it to the Oscar stage?