This year, Hollywood actually may have a genuine race on its hands. Too often, by the time the fall trifecta of Venice-Telluride-Toronto has come and gone, the advance pundit brigade declares an awards season frontrunner. And then, there’s nothing left except for, five months later, the preordained winner to be finally confirmed.
But this year, not only is there an unusually strong crop of movies emerging to critical acclaim, there has yet to be a consensus as to which likely will ultimately prevail. It’s almost as if there’s something for every mood. Certainly, Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, which debuted in Venice before waltzing on to Telluride and Toronto, charmed, with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone kicking up their heels. But for those of a more somber mind, there also was Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea – cheered when it first appeared at Sundance, it got another round of applause at Telluride – with Casey Affleck playing a man in retreat from the world around him who is slowly drawn back in. And, in terms of discovery, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, which arrived on the scene without much in the way of advance buzz, proved to be a revelation, a meditation on black masculinity that took the festival circuit by storm.
With several intriguing titles – Martin Scorsese’s Silence, Denzel Washington’s Fence s – still to be unveiled, it’s impossible to say how it all will play out. But in the meantime, one thing’s guaranteed: There’s sure to be plenty of suspense.