From Aliens and Civil Rights History to Romantic Musicals, Here Are 12 Early Oscar Contenders
There’s a chill in the air, the holidays are upon us and, can you feel it? It’s the beginning of Oscar movie season! With only a few weeks left until critics groups and various creative guilds make their favorite film selections, the major studios are starting to roll out their big guns. i.e. the think pieces, the heartbreaking dramas, the 28-years-in-the-making passion projects, harrowing real-life stories, etc. With respect to the early reviews and audience reactions which have trickled in via film festival debuts and preview screenings, here are here are 12 films with serious Oscar potential.
This emotionally dense sci-fi drama that features Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner as two specialists trying to understand an alien occupation is poised to be one of the most talked-about films this year. One week ahead of its release the film has a perfect 100 percent fresh Rotten Tomatoes rating.
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Barry Jenkins's uniquely moving film — about how a poor black boy's life-altering rites of passage growing up make him a very troubled gay man — features a cast of talented newcomers (as well as a few familiar faces like House of Cards star Mahershala Ali) who will all be a part of the Oscar conversation.
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LA LA LAND
This modern-day homage to Hollywood’s golden age of musicals will be singing and dancing its way to Oscar gold, thanks to critically acclaimed performances from Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, who play two struggling artists dreaming of making it big in Los Angeles.
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That Oscar buzz precedes the release of Martin Scorsese's upcoming film is due in large part due to the award-winning director's reputation — and that the film is a passion project of his, 28 years in the making. Based on Shusaku Endo's 1966 novel, the movie stars Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver and revolves around a Portuguese Jesuit missionary who is persecuted with other Christians in 17th-century Japan.
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This film adaptation of the Tony award-winning play has much award season hype not only because of its story — about an African-American family's struggles in the 1950s — but because original stars Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are reprising their roles and Washington directed it.
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20TH CENTURY WOMEN
Leadling lady Annette Bening is earning raves for her performance as a single mom raising a teenage son in 1979 who seeks out two younger women, played by Elle Fanning and Greta Gerwig, to help teach her son valuable life lessons.
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If Dev Patel's breakthrough performance in 2008's Slumdog Millionaire brought tears to your eyes, be prepared for serious waterworks while watching his upcoming movie, Lion. In it, Patel plays a man who, after being separated from his family as a child and subsequently rescued from the streets/adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham), goes in search of his home as an adult.
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Star Natalie Portman is generating major Best Actress Oscar buzz for her stirring portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy in the harrowing days following JFK's assassination.
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While we wish Tom Hanks could somehow be Oscar-nominated for his GIF-worthy turn on Saturday Night Live ("I'm David S. Pumpkins!"), it's the beloved actor's performance as heroic U.S. Airways pilot Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger that has him in consideration for a Best Actor nod.
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MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams star in Kenneth Lonergan's (You Can Count on Me) tearjerker about loss and grief. Affleck has been named an early Oscar frontrunner for his portrayal of Lee, a handyman who is forced to return to the small Massachusetts town he fled to become his nephew's guardian and re-connect his estranged ex-wife Randi (Williams).
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Oscar loves a well-acted tale about regular folks who became historic figures and Loving is just that — the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving (played by Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), who became unlikely civil rights heroes when their quest to wed led to the historic 1967 Supreme Court decision that struck down laws banning mixed-race marriage.
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Tom Ford's second feature film is a dark, twisted and beautifully designed tale of love, loss and revenge with emotionally charged, memorable characters played by Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal (he plays two characters!). If Adams, Gyllenhaal and Ford don't wind up with nominations due to their expectedly competitive categories, the film's costume designer Arianne Phillips and composer Abel Korzeniowski surely will.