Some people obsess over who will win the World Series or spend days and days of time perfecting their March Madness brackets. I spend days and probably more money than I care to admit going to the movies to one day have the perfect Oscars Ballot. As of writing this, there’s still about 3 months until the Oscars air in 2017, and about a month and a half until the nominations are even announced, and already crazy people like myself are trying to guess who will take home what prizes. This article will brief you on the movies everyone is talking about, when they come out, and what I think they will be nominated for at this years show.
This is turning into the most important movie of the year, and in my opinion the most important movie to come out in several years. This gorgeous, captivating film takes place in three segments over the course of an African-American boys life from childhood to adulthood as he tries to come to terms with his sexuality. The movie is full of incredible performances and could secure nominations in most major and minor categories. What remains to be seen is if any of the other movies, as exceptional as they are, have what it takes to beat Moonlight, which is the movie to see this season. In Theaters Nationwide November 4th.
Nominations expected: Director, Best Picture, Cinematography, Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali and Andre Holland) Best Supporting Actress (Naomie Harris), and Original Score (Nicholas Brittell).
I wasn’t 100% sure what to think of this high-brow Sci-Fi alien invasion movie, but after seeing it on opening weekend I’m a believer. Amy Adams does some of her best work here as a linguistics professor who is brought in to decode the language of alien invaders and figure out why they’re here and what they want. The movie scored incredible ratings on Rotten Tomatoes from both audiences and critics, which is one ingredient in a guaranteed Oscar nominee. In Theaters November 11th
Nominations expected: Best Actress (Amy Adams), Director (Denis Villeneuve), Supporting Actor (Jeremy Renner), and Best Score (Jóhan Jóhannsson)
I had the pleasure of seeing this August Wilson play starring the exact same cast 6 years ago during a limited run on Broadway, so it might skew me slightly in its favor. The play takes place in the 1950’s, a former professional baseball player (Denzel Washington), struggles to come to terms with his son’s Football scholarship and where his life has led him and his family. The movie follows the same plot, and while it doesn’t officially come out until Christmas, the early reviews have it taking over the discussion for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress fields. Both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (How To Get Away With Murder) won Tony’s for these same roles back in 2010, and I don’t see how it would be possible for them to lose. In Theaters Nationwide December 25th
Nominations expected: Best Picture, Best Actor (Denzel Washington), Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis), and Best Supporting Actor (Mykleti Williamson)
La La Land
A rare moment happens every so often when a genre that’s been presumed dead for a long time makes a full-breathed recovery in one glorious instance. The Live Action Movie-Musical, an old genre that we cart out every two years but hasn’t made a lasting impression in any real way since Moulin Rouge! And Chicago, has found the perfect vehicle in Damien Chazelle’s love letter to Los Angeles. The love story between Emma Stones aspiring actress and Ryan Gosling’s jazz pianist is the main plot, but everyone’s talking about how LA has never looked better or more romantic. The performances by Stone and Gosling are what everyone’s talking about, but I’ve read since the first reviews starting coming out that if any movie has a chance of unhorsing Moonlight in all major categories, this will be it. In Theaters Nationwide December 16th.
Nominations expected: Best Picture, Best Director (Damien Chazelle), Best Actor (Ryan Gosling), Best Actress (Emma Stone, Best Original Song (Justin Hurwitz), Cinematography, and Production Design
Disney movies win awards. It’s a fact of life, no matter how cool or original the other animated movies that come out in a given year are, it’s pretty likely that the Disney movie will win. It helps when you get Tony Award winner and Macarthur Genius Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the music. The Rock stars alongside newcomer Auli’I Cravalho in a tale of Pacific Island lore about a young girl who enlists the help of Demi-god Maui to find a hidden island and save her village. In Theaters November 23rd
Nominations expected: Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song (Lin-Manuel Miranda)
There’s a moment early on in Jackie, the biopic about first lady Jackie Kennedy in the aftermath of the murder of President John F. Kennedy from her perspective, that both shook me to my core and made me burst into a fit of awkward laughter. There’s a few of them, and each time you realize in no uncertain terms that you’re seeing something legendary. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the perfect movie. It’s disorienting and dark, confusing when it didn’t need to be, but one thing that I’m certain people will be talking about is Natalie Portman’s incredible performance. I’ve never felt so quickly and been so sure that the performer I was watching was not only re-enacting history, but making it. Natalie Portman will win the Best Actress Oscar this year. I’d put money on it. In Theaters December 9th.
Nominations expected: Best Director (Pablo Larrain), Best Actress (Natalie Portman), Costumes, Cinematography, and Production Design
Director Park Chan-Wook’s masterful adaptation of the novel “Fingersmith” by Sarah Waters will stay with me for the rest of awards season. The movie takes place in 1930’s Korea under Japanese rule, a pickpocket is sent to be the handmaiden to a wealthy heiress, to assist a con man pretending to be a Japanese Count in defrauding her. Things get even more complicated when the handmaiden and heiress discover romantic feelings for each other. Normally foreign movies (the film is in Korean and Japanese) don’t have much of a shot at awards besides Best Foreign Film, but I think this movie could prove to be the exception. Opened Nationwide November 4th.
Nominations expected: Best Foreign Film, Costumes, Cinematography, and Production Design
I saw this movie last week and I’m still coming to terms with what I saw and if it’ll make an impact on the Oscars race. It’s a wild, brutal ride from start-to-finish that I had a hard time getting through. That’s not necessarily an insult, though. It’s beautiful and visceral, incredibly tense in some scenes and cold and brittle in others. The plot is complex on paper; A wealthy Art Gallery owner, struggling with financial woes and marriage troubles, escapes into an advance copy of her ex-husband’s new book, called Nocturnal Animals, that he dedicated to her. The movie slips between the plot of the book, flashbacks to life with her ex, and present day frequently and without warning. Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal (doing double duty in both plotlines) and Michael Shannon (in book sequences) did great work with what they had, and Tom Ford is turning into a very good director, even if his screenwriting needs work. It's worthy of some love come Oscars night, it's just a question of where and how it will be awarded. Opens Nationwide December 16th.
Nominations expected: Best Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal), Supporting Actor (Michael Shannon), Sound Mixing, Sound Design, And Original Score (Abel Korzeniowski)
This Female-driven story about the African-American women that helped launch our first astronaut into space is an incredibly important piece of American History that is generally overlooked by history books. In fact, I had no idea about any of this until the trailer came out and I was able to research it for myself. It’s an incredible story that deserves to be seen, and this year seems like a fine time to do so. Early reviews are praising Octavia Spencer, Taraji P. Henson, and Kevin Costner in particular as doing career-best work. While I think the Best Picture race is too tight for Hidden Figures to make it in, I wouldn't be surprised to see it score more than a few nominations in other categories. Opens Nationwide January 6th, 2017
Nominations expected: Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer and Taraji P. Henson), Supporting Actor (Kevin Costner, Visual Effects, Original Song (Pharrell)
See Moana above for my logic here. This Disney movie about a world of anthropomorphic Animals handles heavy issues of Xenophobia and Racism with great care and provides a really wonderful metaphor for what’s happening in the real world that we can actually show children of all ages. I think that it may have more of a chance at an Oscar nomination than it’s currently getting credit for, and once the final Oscars consideration push happens in the next month or so, we may see it come back into favor. Out on DVD and Netflix.
Nominations expected: Animated Movie, Original Song (Shakira)
Hell or High Water
I loved this movie so much, which surprised me because I don’t normally go for westerns or bank robbery movies. It’s a really well-crafted thriller about two brothers in West Texas (Chris Pine and Ben Foster), desperately robbing the bank that’s foreclosing on their childhood home, so they can repay that bank with its own money. The movie features three standout performances for Pine, Foster, and Jeff Bridges as the Texas Ranger trying to catch them, all three of which are getting buzz for awards season. For now, though, I’m keeping this movie low on my list because it came out in August, which is a long time for a lower-budget movie to remain in the minds of voters. Out on DVD and On-Demand.
Nominations expected: Best Picture, Actor (Ben Foster), Supporting Actor (Jeff Bridges)
I’ll be back with my picks for each of the major categories and any other outliers that should be discussed after the holidays. Let me know in the comments what you’re excited for and what movies you think I’ve left off. Get your butt to the movies and support local theaters!
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