The Vancouver International Film Festival will always be in the shadow of that other Canadian film festival halfway across the country.

But while it doesn’t always attract the biggest stars on the red carpet, VIFF is no slouch, and it’s constantly getting better with each passing year.

Take 2019, for example. The festival saw some of the bigger movies on the planet showcased at places like the Cinémathèque and the Playhouse.

And while this article isn’t meant to shame you (yeah, you) for not checking out some of the offerings at VIFF, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to tell your friends how great Parasite is some two months before they’d even have a chance to see it?

Film snobbery can be yours. Remember that next September. 

Here are the films from VIFF that we think could get some recognition when the nominations for the 92nd Academy Awards come out on Monday, January 13. The ceremony will be held February 9 in Los Angeles.

The No-Brainers

Parasite

A mortal lock to take home the Best International Feature Film statue in February, Bong Joon-ho’s film about the class struggle between two Korean families is an absolute revelation. It takes special foreign language films to challenge for other categories (see Roma last year), but Parasite will almost certainly be recognized in the Best Picture grouping as well. And look for the writer/director to challenge for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director.

Usually, we’d say he’d be hard-pressed to score victories in those categories (and we think a Best Picture win is probably a stretch, given the crowded field), but this movie is special enough to pull it off.

Marriage Story

Noah Baumbach’s portrayal of parents (Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, both in excellent form) going through a divorce scored a Supporting Actress victory for Laura Dern (who basically turned her Big Little Lies character into a divorce lawyer) at the Golden Globes. And she’s the heavy favourite to take the same award at the Oscars.

But Marriage Story will have other irons in the fire, too. Driver lost out to Joker’s Joaquin Phoenix at the Globes, but he’ll definitely be nominated for an Oscar and is probably Phoenix’s strongest competitor. Johansson will be nominated for Best Actress (though Renée Zellweger seems destined to take that one for Judy) and the film should get a Best Picture nod as well.

Baumbach is known for crafting intense family dramas, and this might be his best work yet. It’s a very tough Best Director field, but he’s currently one of the favourites to take home the Best Screenplay trophy. He’s never won an Academy Award.

Pain and Glory

In any other year, legendary Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar would be a shoo-in for his second Oscar, this one for Best International Feature. Alas, Parasite’s rise will mean that he’ll have to settle for being nominated for this semi-autobiographical film about an indie director reflecting on his past. In the lead role, Antonio Banderas is a decent bet to snag a Best Actor nom as well.

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The Contenders

Ford v Ferrari

Christian Bale was nominated for a Golden Globe in the Best Actor - Drama category for his performance as British racecar driver Ken Miles, and rightly so. The always-excellent Aussie doesn’t let viewers down in the entertaining flick. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get recognition here, but again, it’s a crowded field. There’s also an outside chance the film gets a nom for Best Picture, but that’s a bit harder to see.

The Two Popes

Both actors in this papal drama about—you guessed it—two popes with distinctly different ideas on how the role should be carried out going forward are firmly in the race. Jonathan Pryce is considered a bit of an outsider in a stacked Best Actor field, while Anthony Hopkins has a good chance of snaking a Best Supporting Actor nod.

Jojo Rabbit

Momentum has come and gone for Taika Waititi’s dramedy about a young boy embracing the Nazi life in war-torn Germany. 12-year-old Roman Griffin Davis was nominated at the Globes, but that’s not going to happen at the Oscars. The Best Director race is too stacked, but maybe Jojo Rabbit can slide in as the eighth or ninth entry into the Best Picture category.

Les Miserables

After beating out the much more acclaimed Portrait of a Lady on Fire for the right to represent France at the Oscars, it feels like Les Miserables will find its way into the Best International Feature race.

The Cave

Oscar nominee Feras Fayyad (Last Men in Aleppo) is angling for a second nomination in the Documentary category. The tale of an underground hospital operating during the Syrian war should have no trouble gaining a nod.

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The Underdogs

The Lighthouse

Willem Defoe has been nominated both of the past two years and he has a chance to sneak into the Best Supporting Actor category for his portrayal of a crusty lighthouse operator. His co-star Robert Pattinson also has a shot, but the competition in Best Actor will likely shut him out.

Harriet

Up-and-coming star Cynthia Erivo will probably be nominated for her performance as Harriet Tubman. If she wins, she’d be the youngest person in history to earn an EGOT.

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The Longshots

Just Mercy

This true-story about a wrongly convicted man (Jamie Foxx) and the case to get him acquitted hasn’t had a lot of buzz lately. But Foxx still has an outside shot at getting a Supporting Actor nomination.

Motherless Brooklyn

Nineteen years after making his directorial debut with Keeping the Faith, Edward Norton’s second feature stars him as a troubled detective. The film hasn’t had much love from critics, but it did get nominated in the Best Score category at the Globes. Stranger things have happened.

See how much you missed out on?