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Are there any Oscar contenders from the first half of 2018?

We’ve now entered the second half of the year. 2018 so far has yet to really produce any surefire Academy Award players, but that doesn’t mean nothing will make it to the end. As we always do around this time, it’s a good moment to consider what Oscar contenders the first six months of the year could possibly produce. In some years, the Sundance Film Festival helps lead the way. This year, however, while our list will feature some Sundance alums, no movie or performance feels obvious for contention. The ones that do, more or less, are feeling safe due to being in lesser categories, like Best Animated Feature or Best Documentary Feature. Anyway, read on for more…

First up, a small bit of history. Last year, Baby Driver, Beauty and the Beast, The Big Sick, The Boss Baby, Call Me By Your Name, The Florida Project, Get Out, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Kong: Skull Island, and Mudbound were among the titles that either debuted at a film festival or came out during the first half. As you can see, it’s an eclectic mix, certainly helped by Sundance putting out some quality products. Depending on if any 2018 Park City alums make a place, this year’s list could look a lot different, as you’ll be able to see below.

Here now are a half dozen Academy Award hopefuls from the first half:

Avengers: Infinity War – This is strictly a technical category play, but that’s nothing to totally discount. Categories like Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Visual Effects will be in play. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has yet to really cross over with Oscar, but it’s possible this might finally be the time. Then again, another part of the MCU will be competing for Academy Award attention…

Hearts Beat Loud – An amazingly winning movie, this musical could be an under the radar contender. Best Original Screenplay right now is on the table for Marc Basch and Brett Haley, though Best Original Song is the play. Any of their original tunes are good enough to contend for wins, not just nominations. If enough voters agree, this does have an outside shot in Original Screenplay. More likely, Original Song will be make or break for the film. Crowd pleasers can sometimes be remembered, and few things so far in 2018 are as pleasing as this one.

Incredibles 2 – The odds on favorite for Best Animated Feature, this hit Pixar sequel may well prove unstoppable in the category. The challenge will be to see if it can show up anywhere else. Either of the Sound categories would be a nice get for this one, especially since Best Adapted Screenplay seems like a long shot.

Isle of Dogs – If there’s a challenger to Incredibles 2 in Animated Feature, this Wes Anderson offering is it. It won’t be a player anywhere else, in all likelihood, but this spot suits it well. In some ways, it can be like how Anomalisa challenged but never overcame Inside Out a few years back. At least, that’s a probable outcome, right?

RBG – One of two documentaries that caught fire in the first half, this look at Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a heavy contender for Best Documentary Feature. Ginsberg is a pop culture phenom, so there will definitely be a platform for putting the Notorious RBG front and center. It’ll be a political pick, but the Academy is certainly rather liberal, so that won’t be an issue at all. They’ll likely go for it, but its primary competition is up next.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – One of the year’s best films, this doc tribute to Fred Rogers could be the one to beat right now in Documentary Feature. Mr. Rogers is perhaps an even bigger icon than we remembered, plus this flick makes you cry like nothing else so far this year. If it could contend for a Best Picture nomination too, that would be something, but for now, it just has to look at the Documentary category as its place to really make a run.

Special Note: I didn’t include Hereditary, though there’s certainly a potential campaign to be launched for Toni Collette. Make of that candidacy what you will. Then, there’s Black Panther, which I’ve previously discussed as an Oscar contender. A follow up on that one soon…

Stay tuned to see if any of these first half releases wind up contending for Oscars!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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