Oscars: Will Hereditary’s Toni Collette be this year’s Daniel Kaluuya?

Hereditary photo courtesy A24 via EPK.tv
Hereditary photo courtesy A24 via EPK.tv /

As Hereditary continues to chug along in theaters, critics are beginning to solidify their early and fairly strong contender for one of next year’s Best Actress nominees: Toni Collette. Is it too rash to believe this or is this another Get Out situation?

Hereditary can best be summed up as a curious success as a horror film. Curious because although the film’s D+ Cinemascore firmly establishes the film as an unlikable nightmare for general audiences, the film’s $13 million opening weekend proved that Hereditary had some serious power at the box office (at least for its opening weekend). Critics love it, audiences are more mixed, but either way, Hereditary has been one of the biggest talking points in cinema over the past couple of weeks.

In particular, Toni Collette has received special attention for her commanding and frightening performance as the daughter of a recently diseased woman who comes from a long and complicated family tree. It is generally believed to be her best performance since M. Night Shyamalan’s classic thriller, The Sixth Sense, which garnered her first Oscar nomination. Now, there have been rumblings about Collette possibly being on her way to a second nomination after Hereditary, which is understandably seen as brash as the Oscars are still a ways away (Oscar season typically starts in the Fall). However, if last year proved anything, it’s that just about anything is fair game at this point.

Performance of the year?

It’s no secret that Hereditary created a wave of strong opinions on both ends of the spectrum, but no matter which side one might ask, it is more than likely that they’ll agree on one positive aspect of the film: the performance of lead star, Toni Collette, is utterly terrifying and worthy of attention. Collette’s strong performance has not only garnered her critical acclaim, but there’s even talk of her adding another Oscar nomination to her resume. Her turn in the horror-drama A24 sensation has won her over to both fans and critics of the film, hyping up the idea of Collette being rewarded for her efforts.

Despite the love for Toni Collette’s performance, the idea of her, or the film in general, being nominated for an Academy Award is a little far-fetched, seeing as how it’s way too early in the year to truly tell. Films with the intent of dominating awards season often release at the end of August and going onward to stay fresh in critics’ minds. There’s only so many movies to consider for the Oscars, after all. Hereditary‘s release date may be the deal-breaker when it comes to Oscar love, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely out-of-the-question.

Genre bias dying?

For any avid viewers of the Oscars and all of its festivities, it’s easy to notice the lack of inclusion of horror films in the mix, often being relegated to a few minor appearances, if even. Horror tends to be seen as something of a ‘lesser’ art form by Academy voters. That’s not to say it isn’t completely understandable as to why they would adopt this attitude. Horror can best be classified as uncomfortable art, emphasizing something we fear and making the viewer confront whatever it is they fear, which doesn’t sound like a fun time at the theater. A lot of people can say this about Hereditary, whose chilling and incredibly brutal depiction of family issues consuming both the guilty and the innocent members of a family isn’t exactly something one can happily munch on popcorn to. To put it simply, it’s not a happy movie.

However, as 2018 rolls around, the bias against horror may slowly be dying, to put it in horrific terms. The best example of this is the massive success of last year’s horror satire, Get Out. The Jordan Peele-directed skewering of racial tensions in America took a sensitive topic and turned it into a full-blown nightmare, complete with grisly violence and a complete lack of anything the Academy would normally consider to be ‘quality’. Now, as I’m writing this, the film can be classified as an Oscar darling, winning Best Original Screenplay and being nominated for Best Picture, Director and Actor, as well.

Get Out film
Daniel Kaluuya Photo: Justin Lubin. Via Universal Pictures /

The most important aspect of this to consider for Hereditary and Toni Collette’s chances at Oscar gold is the Best Actor nomination. Though he lost out to Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour, Daniel Kaluuya’s similarly praised performance in Get Out still managed to score a surprising Oscar nomination, helping in shattering the bias for horror films at the Oscars. This was also for a film released in early February last year, which made the nomination even more surprising. Though he wasn’t as lucky as Peele, Kaluuya’s nomination could potentially be a game-changer for horror films, allowing horror to be seen in the same vein as any other film at the Oscars.

This, in turn, could be the boost Collette needs to secure a spot on next year’s lineup. Sure, Hereditary doesn’t have the monster success of Get Out under its resume, but its surprisingly strong legs at the box office and positive reviews from critics could force the film industry to take a second glance at the art-horror film. Its grim subject matter and lack of a happy ending (which Peele’s film had in spades) could turn some voters off from Ari Aster’s feature-length debut, but as it stands, Toni Collette has a genuine chance at becoming this year’s Daniel Kaluuya with a possible nomination.

Next: 2019 Oscar predictions

If this happens, maybe she’ll even win? Do you think Collette stands a chance? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Hereditary is out now in theaters everywhere.