Oscars 2023: Harry Styles has two films hoping for awards glory

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By Lizo Mzimba
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

Harry StylesImage caption,

Harry Styles stars in two films premiering during festival season – My Policeman and Don’t Worry Darling

The Oscars are still almost eight months away, but film awards season is already taking shape. Most serious contenders tend to cluster towards the back half of the year, and three films festivals in particular.

Venice, Telluride (in Colorado) and Toronto all take place within a few days of each other in late August and September, and compete to host the very best movies.

Even though it doesn’t get all of the major films which play at the other events, Toronto is a reliable Oscar predictor.

For the last decade, the winner of the festival’s People’s Choice Award, voted for by filmgoers, has consistently landed a best picture nomination, with a couple of films – Green Book and Nomadland – going on to win.

“It is the greatest testament to our audience,” says Cameron Bailey, CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). “They’re often the first public audience in the world to see some of these films. They follow their own enthusiasms and passions and excitement.

“It’s a city that I think has a unique film audience. A city of filmgoers that are very informed about movies, but never snobbish about film. And they’re willing to follow what they get excited about. They’re not embarrassed about falling in love with movies.”

Here are 23 films, the majority of which haven’t been seen by audiences yet, that could be in contention for the 2023 Academy Awards.

Allelujah

What’s it about: A hospital fights plans to close its geriatric ward, and organises a concert to honour its most distinguished nurse.

Who’s in it: Jennifer Saunders stars alongside Judi Dench and Derek Jacobi.

Early Oscars buzz: Sometimes the Academy does fall for intimate British films.

Where’s it premiering: Toronto (world premiere).

Babylon

What’s it about: A 1920s tale of the golden era of Hollywood as the silent era ended and talkies began.

Who’s in it: Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt, who play actors.

Early Oscars buzz: Babylon marks the return of Academy favourite Damien Chazelle, who directed La La Land.

Where’s it premiering: Unknown.

The Banshees of Inisherin

Image source, Searchlight

What’s it about: Two lifelong friends whose relationship is broken when one of them ends their friendship.

Who’s in it: Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.

Early Oscars buzz: Director Martin McDonagh’s last film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri earned two of its stars, Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell, golden statuettes.

Where’s it premiering: Venice (world premiere) before travelling to Toronto.

Bardo

What’s it about: A Mexican journalist returns home to find the country has changed as have the people he once knew.

Who’s in it: It stars Daniel Giménez Cacho.

Early Oscars buzz: Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s last film The Revenant won Leonardo DiCaprio a best actor Oscar, his previous film Birdman won best picture.

Where’s it premiering: Venice (world premiere).

Blonde

What’s it about: A fictionalised biopic of Marilyn Monroe.

Who’s in it: Ana de Armas plays the actress during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Early Oscars buzz: De Armas is popular with critics and audiences but she hasn’t yet had an Oscar nomination. Playing Marilyn Monroe is the kind of role that could change that.

Where’s it premiering: It’ll have its world premiere at Venice

Bones & All

What’s it about: A cannibal romance about people on the margins of society.

Who’s in it: Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell.

Early Oscars buzz: Chalamet has rapidly built a strong reputation in Hollywood, and the last time he and Luca Guadagnino worked together (on Call Me By Your Name) he earned a best actor nomination.

Where’s it premiering: Venice (world premiere).

Causeway

What’s it about: A soldier suffers a traumatic brain injury in Afghanistan, and struggles to adjust to life back home.

Who’s in it: Jennifer Lawrence.

Early Oscars buzz: Lawrence has already been nominated four times, winning once, and she’s still in her early 30s.

Where’s it premiering: Toronto (world premiere)

Don’t Worry Darling

Image source, Warner Bros.

What’s it about: A 1950s housewife living in a utopian experimental community begins to worry that her husband’s glamorous company may be hiding disturbing secrets.

Who’s in it: British stars Florence Pugh and Harry Styles lead the cast.

Early Oscars buzz: Florence Pugh could be looking at a best actress nomination, and after her well-received directorial debut Booksmart, Olivia Wilde could nab a nomination too.

Where’s it premiering: Venice (world premiere).

Empire of Light

Image source, Searchlight

What’s it about: Set in the 1980s, it’s a romance story set in and around an old cinema.

Who’s in it: Olivia Colman and Colin Firth.

Early Oscars buzz: It’s awash with Oscar favourites from writer/director Sam Mendes to previous acting winners Colman and Firth.

Where’s it premiering: Toronto is its Canadian premiere, implying it will have its world premiere at Telluride.

The Fabelmans

Image source, Getty Images

What’s it about: A semi-autobiographical tale from Steven Spielberg about his own childhood, set in 1950s Arizona.

Who’s in it: Four-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play Spielberg’s parents, alongside Seth Rogen and newcomer Gabrielle LaBelle.

Early Oscars buzz: The sheer pedigree of its cast

and crew mean that it’s already being talked about for best picture.

Where’s it premiering: Toronto (world premiere).

The Greatest Beer Run Ever

What’s it about: A man travels from New York to Vietnam to deliver beer to his friends fighting in the war there.

Who’s in it: Zac Efron, Russell Crowe, Bill Murray.

Early Oscars buzz: Director Peter Farrelly’s last film Green Book won best picture.

Where’s it premiering: Toronto (world premiere).

I Wanna Dance With Somebody

What’s it about: It’s a biopic of legendary singer Whitney Houston.

Who’s in it: Naomi Ackie plays Houston.

Early Oscars buzz: Oscars voters often love portrayals of real life figures, so Ackie could be in the best actress conversation.

Where’s it premiering: Unknown, but it will be released just before Christmas.

The Lost King

What’s it about: The true story of amateur historian Philippa Langley and how her work led to the discovery of the remains of Richard III in a Leicester car park.

Who’s in it: Sally Hawkins plays Langley, Steve Coogan plays her husband. And Harry Lloyd is Richard III.

Early Oscars buzz: Hawkins is a double nominee, and many of the team from the multi-nominated Philomena are also involved.

Where’s it premiering: Toronto (world premiere).

The Menu

Image source, Searchlight

What’s it about: A dark comedy about a couple travelling to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant that hides more than a few secrets.

Who’s in it: Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult play the couple, Ralph Fiennes plays the chef.

Early Oscars buzz: Taylor-Joy won acclaim and was Emmy nominated for The Queen’s Gambit, so it could be time to transfer to the Oscars.

Where’s it premiering: Toronto (world premiere).

My Policeman

What’s it about: Policeman Tom (Harry Styles), teacher Marion (Emma Corrin), and museum curator Patrick (David Dawson) embark on an emotional journey in 1950s Britain.

Who’s in it: Harry Styles, Emma Corrin and David Dawson.

Early Oscars buzz: Styles is the man of the moment in the entertainment world, while Corrin’s Princess Diana in The Crown has won them huge numbers of fans.

Where’s it premiering: Toronto (world premiere).

She Said

Image source, Universal Pictures

What’s it about: The story of the two New York Times journalists who first broke the Harvey Weinstein story.

Who’s in it: Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor.

Early Oscars buzz: The Academy loves honouring significant stories, and She Said follows one of the most important and far-reaching investigations of the last decade.

Where’s it premiering: Right now nothing’s been confirmed, but the film about two New York Times writers might well feel it should debut at the New York Film Festival in late September/early October.

TÁR

What’s it about: It’s the story of Lydia Tár, the first female chief conductor of a major German orchestra.

Who’s in it: Cate Blanchett plays the lead role.

Early Oscars buzz: Blanchett is a seven-time nominee, with two wins.

Where’s it premiering: Venice.

The Son

What’s it about: The story of a fractured family, and a teenager’s relationship with his divorced mother and father.

Who’s in it: Zen McGrath plays the son, he’s joined by Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby and Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Early Oscars buzz: Director Florian Zeller’s last film The Father saw Sir Anthony take home the best actor statuette.

Where’s it premiering: Venice (world premiere), before travelling to Toronto.

The Whale

What’s it about: A teacher who suffers from severe obesity tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter.

Who’s in it: Brendan Fraser and Sadie Sink.

Early Oscars buzz: Fraser is already being talked about as a potential best actor nominee.

Where’s it premiering: Venice (world premiere) before travelling to Toronto.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Image source, StudioCanal

What’s it about: Not a remade Tina Turner biopic, this is a cross-cultural romantic comedy set in London and Lahore.

Who’s in it: It stars Lily James, Shazad Latif and Emma Thompson.

Early Oscars buzz: Director Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth was nominated for seven Academy Awards including best picture.

Where’s it premiering: Toronto (world premiere).

White Noise

What’s it about: A college professor and his family are forced to deal with an “airborne toxic event” that threatens their town following a train crash.

Who’s in it: Adam Driver plays the professor, the ensemble cast also includes Greta Gerwig and Jodie Turner-Smith.

Early Oscars buzz: When director/producer Noah Baumbach and Adam Driver last teamed up, for 2019’s Marriage Story, Driver got a best actor nomination and the film was also up for best picture.

Where’s it premiering: It’ll open the Venice Film Festival.

The Woman King

Image source, Ilze Kitshoff

What’s it about: The story of an all-female military unit in the kingdom of Dahomey in west Africa in the 1800s.

Who’s in it: Viola Davis plays the group’s leader Nanisca.

Early Oscars buzz: The Academy has nominated Davis four times, and she’s won once.

Where’s it premiering: Toronto (world premiere).

Women Talking

What’s it about: A group of women in a Bolivian religious colony dealing with a series of sexual assaults.

Who’s in it: Frances McDormand, Ben Whishaw, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley.

Early Oscars buzz: McDormand already has three performance Oscars, while Mara and Buckley have previously been nominated.

Where’s it premiering: It has its International premiere at Toronto where it was filmed, implying that it will have its world premiere at Telluride.

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