Greta Gerwig had one of the greatest solo directorial debuts in history with 2017's Lady Bird, which earned near-unanimous critical praise and five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. She's returning in 2019 with a different kind of film, but one that should be right up the Academy's alley. Gerwig is helming the latest adaptation of Little Women, the famous coming-of-age story about the March sisters. It will be a period piece, set in the 1860s. And while this marks the eighth time Little Women has been made for the screen, there are plenty of reasons to be excited by this one.
Related: Read Screen Rant's Lady Bird Review
For starters, Gerwig herself is more than enough to sell cinephiles on Little Women. She demonstrated a sharp directorial eye on Lady Bird, which was also a showcase for her screenwriting prowess. Gerwig is also guiding an amazing cast that includes Saorise Ronan, Emma Watson, Timotheé Chalameth, and the Oscar queen Meryl Streep (among others), so there should be plenty of powerhouse performances to admire. Remakes can have tough luck with the Academy (this year saw A Star is Born go from favorite to also-ran in a flash), but Little Women looks like it could at the very least be a nominee.
Speaking of stellar 2017 directorial debuts, few filmmakers had more success than Jordan Peele did with Get Out. The satirical and horrifying exploration of racism in America broke all the Oscar rules and found itself in the Best Picture field. Ultimately, Peele won Best Original Screenplay, setting expectations very high for his followup. Us is one of the first awards hopefuls to hit the scene in 2019, and it'll debut in theaters after a SXSW premiere in March.
It remains to be seen how far the Academy is willing to go to embrace horror films. For now, Get Out is a (welcome) exception, but demonstrates voters have a more open mind about genre fare. For a while, Us was billed as an "Untitled Social Thriller," so Peele promises to deliver some healthy substance to go along with the scares and thrills. While the movie isn't about race, there should be something deeper at play than just watching a family battle evil doppelgängers during their not-so-peaceful vacation. There's an outside chance Peele hits a sophomore slump, but Us looks very promising and the Oscars have already shown they like Peele. He was also a producer on BlacKkKlansman, indicating he's in the early stages of becoming an Academy favorite.
Just when one might think the World War II sub-genre is played out, in comes Taika Waititi to mix things up. Jojo Rabbit follows Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis), a young boy living in Nazi Germany, who discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is secretly sheltering a Jewish boy in their home. To complicate things further, Jojo's closest companion is his imaginary friend, an ethnically inaccurate version of Adolf Hitler (Waititi). The director's described this film to be tonally similar to Hunt for the Wilderpeople in how it balances drama and comedy to touching effect. It doesn't have a confirmed release date yet, but Waititi expects it to be ready for the fall in time for awards season.
Waititi actually has one Oscar nomination under his belt (Best Live-Action Short), but none of his features have had much luck with the Academy. That could change here. Not only is the material something voters might go for (World War II is a favorite of theirs), Jojo Rabbit is a Fox Searchlight release. The studio is frequently a player on the Oscars circuit and usually sees their films do very well. The Favourite scored 10 nominations and won Best Actress. The Shape of Water won Best Picture and Best Director. Jojo Rabbit sounds a little outside-the-box to go all the way, but the Academy is getting a little more creative with the kinds of films they recognize (contrary to what the Green Book win would indicate). Who would have thought Mad Max: Fury Road or Get Out would be Oscar players? Maybe Jojo Rabbit fits that mold.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name, The Goldfinch is shaping up to be one of the more promising offerings of the year. Its story follows Theodore Decker (Ansel Elgort), who survives a terrorist bombing of an art museum at the age of 13. Losing his mother in the attack and taking a painting called The Goldfinch with him in the aftermath, Theodore is taken in by a wealthy family, and he soon finds himself deep in the criminal underworld.
Elgort signed on for The Goldfinch following his turn in Baby Driver, wishing to work on something prestigious. Goldfinch certainly checks a lot of boxes. Not only is the source material acclaimed, the film adaptation is directed by John Crowley, who is coming off of 2015 Best Picture nominee Brooklyn. Plus, the crew includes none other than legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, so at the very least viewers know The Goldfinch is going to look incredible. Hopefully this one can live up to its potential and be another breakout for Elgort as he gears up to appear in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.
Star Wars: Episode IX
No Star Wars movie has been nominated for Best Picture since the 1977 original, but Episode IX may change that. There's potential here for a Return of the King situation, where the last installment of a beloved series gets showered with accolades and love as a sign of appreciation for what it meant for the film industry. This isn't exactly an apples-to-apples scenario, because The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were not nominated for Best Picture, but it's still a tantalizing possibility. After all, even the most die-hard Black Panther fans were probably surprised by the amount of success that film had on the awards circuit. If Episode IX is critically acclaimed, the conversation will be had.
With J.J. Abrams at the helm, Episode IX should be an emotional and heartfelt cinematic experience, and co-writer Chris Terrio is a former Oscar winner himself (Best Adapted Screenplay for Argo). The combination of their talents could deliver something truly special that ends the Skywalker saga on a high note. In reality, Episode IX is probably a long shot to pull this off, though Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy are well-known and respected industry professionals with friends in high places. It's not that farfetched to see Disney go all out with a Best Picture campaign in the hopes of scoring some awards for Star Wars.
Here are a few other films to keep an eye on in regards to Oscar consideration. It's important to note some of these may not be ready in time for a 2019 release.
- 1917 (no odds)
- Avengers: Endgame (no odds)
- Cats (+2,500)
- Gemini Man (no odds)
- Harriet (+1,400)
- Knives Out (no odds)
- Rocketman (+6,600)
- Untitled Roger Ailes Project (no odds)
- The Trial of the Chicago 7 (no odds)
- West Side Story (no odds)
- The Woman in the Window (+4,000)