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Spielberg’s The Fabelmans becomes early Oscar front-runner

Steven Spielberg's highly personal memoir The Fabelmans becomes Oscar front runner after winning the People's Choice Award at TIFF

The Fabelmans

Fall festival season is in full swing, with Venice and Toronto recently coming to an end, and New York and London about to pick up the baton. And festival season marks the beginning of awards season. The September and October festivals are when studios like to debut their awards contenders, which are mainly drama movies, meaning that we’re in for a good six months of Oscar discourse (if you follow that kind of thing).

Several movies and actors are already being considered “shoe-ins” for nominations, before the vast majority of people have even seen most of these movies. Brendan Fraser seems set for at least an nomination for The Whale, taking over from Austin Butler for Elvis who was a prime contender earlier in the year.

Michelle Yeoh still seems a front-runner for Everything Everywhere All At Once, but festival movies such as TAR (Cate Blanchett), The Woman King (Viola Davis), and Empire of Light (Olivia Colman) could prove threatening. Women Talking is more of ensemble movie, so whether any one actress will be campaigned as Lead remains to be seen.

In terms of Best Picture, TIFF has provided a strong indication that Steven Spielberg’s personal memoir The Fabelmans is now the front-runner. The People’s Choice Award at Toronto has long been a significant precursor in determining an Oscar nomination or win. Since 2010, four movies – The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, Green Book, and Nomadland won both the People’s Choice Award and Best Picture at the Oscars. A further seven movies became Best Picture nominees.

Considering Spielberg’s over-all status as a legend of the silver screen, his Oscar success probably isn’t as high as you think. He finally won Best Picture and Best Director in 1994 for Schindler’s List, and won Best Director again (but not Best Picture) in 1999 for another war movie – Saving Private Ryan. While his movies have been nominated several times since, he hasn’t won – not even for last year’s West Side Story.

Therefore, with The Fabelmans being Spielberg’s most personal movie yet, and many probably considering him over-due for another Oscar, 2023 could be his year. Our TIFF review said that it “feels celebratory – full of humour, warmth and compassion” and that “there’s no other way that Spielberg could possibly have told this story….Spielberg could only have conveyed his own life via the magic of the movies. It has been his life’s work.” The Academy has always loved movies about movie-making, so that’s another huge factor that The Fabelmans has going for it.

Our TIFF review also singled out Michelle Williams for praise, and she is considered a front-runner for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. It’s going to be a long old road from here until March 2023, which is when we’ll find out the winners and losers. A lot could change before then.

In the meantime, check out our guide to the best movies based on a true story.