NCFCA Midyear Poll
Is it time to start thinking about Black Panther as an awards contender?
The Marvel superhero film led the NCFCA’s midyear straw poll asking critics which 2018 films released so far have impressed them so far. Conventional wisdom holds that prestige films are released in the Fall, but recent years have bucked this trend. Get Out, the NCFCA’s pick for Best Narrative Film of 2017 was released in February. Grand Budapest Hotel, another previous NCFCA winner, dropped in March. Is it possible we have already seen the best film of the year? Below are the five films that NCFCA members cited most frequently in its midyear poll.
Black Panther — Ryan Coogler
Marvel films have dominated the box office over the past few years, but that hasn’t yet translated into awards considerations. Still, NCFCA members cited Black Panther more than twice as often as any other film yet released in 2018. The film’s racial themes also go a long way towards getting viewers to look at it as serious social commentary rather than simply an entertainment vehicle.
Positive Sign: The NCFCA gave a Best Adapted Screenplay nod to Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, so comic book movies are taken seriously.
Possible Problems: Infinity Wars threatens to divide the MCU into “before” and “after” segments. By the time the year ends, will the film feel like part of another era?
A Quiet Place — John Krasinski
Horror is another genre that often thrives at the box office but fails to garner critical accolades. The opening night film at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival has received praise as a pro-life allegory, a formally inventive genre piece, and a flat-out scary experience. At 90 minutes and boasting a lofty 95% “Fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes, the film feels tighter and more efficient than most bloated Spring and Summer fare.
Positive Sign: Last year’s win for Get Out shows the NCFCA has some horror lovers among its voting members.
Possible Problems: Will it get replaced by Hereditary as the film that horror lovers want to champion? Is there enough room for more than one entry? Will the silent movie gimmick hurt it when it comes to nominations for acting and writing?
Isle of Dogs — Wes Anderson
Dogs appeared to come and go pretty quietly given Wes Anderson’s stature, but never underestimate critics’ fidelity to favorite auteurs. Will it be judged in comparison to Anderson’s other films or on its own?
Positive Sign: Grand Budapest Hotel snagged four NCFCA nominations in 2014, winning for Best Narrative Film and Best Original Screenplay. Anderson’s fans are as devoted as they are patient, and Fox Searchlight is usually liberal about screeners and links come awards time.
Possible Problems: Does anyone remember The Fantastic Mr. Fox? Does the film get relegated to a less prestigious animation category to duke it out with The Incredibles 2 and Wreck-It Ralph?
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? — Morgan Neville
While it is surprising to see a documentary this high on the list, the presence of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham each April helps NCFCA members get a jump on the year’s prestigious documentaries. This retrospective of Fred Rogers is getting a strong early buzz and appears, unlike RBG (the other documentary popping up on midterm lists) to have appeal on both sides of the political aisle.
Positive SIgn: The NCFCA likes documentaries about media and media personalities — O.J.: Made in America and Life Itself have both won in this category in years past.
Possible Problems: Sample size is always an issue in the documentary category. Will Focus give it enough of a push to get it in front of viewers who aren’t festival attendees? Given the contentious nature of our current political climate, will RBG or Dark Money feel more urgent?
Also getting votes: Annihilation, Hereditary, First Reformed, Avengers: Infinity War, RBG, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Paddington 2, Ready Player One.