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The awards season which I hotly followed for the entirety of my first semester of college is over. This means that I have nothing better to do than to make predictions for the next year. Due to how far away the next Academy Award is handed out (looking at close to 11 months here), this is pretty much just an educated shot in the dark. I say educated because these are 21 movies that look like real players on paper. Now, this doesn’t mean anything at all. If you need convincing then just take a look at last year’s “Unbroken” which managed to throw together the Academy’s biggest names and proceed to fail horribly at picking up trophies. So now that I have totally delegitimized these predictions, here are the 21 movies that will make the biggest splash in the upcoming awards season.
Disclaimer: Martin Scorsese and Liam Neeson’s “Silence” will not be featured on this list due to its current 2016 release date. No animated features will feature on this list either due to the fact that I know nothing about animated films.
21st- “Beasts of No Nation”
Cary Fukunaga (True Detective) has proved that he is a serious talent right now with his critically lauded and frankly near perfect HBO miniseries. He directs this movie about a rouge state in Africa overrun by corrupt militants. Actor Idris Elba will have the perfect opportunity to showcase his more sinister acting skill. I think this one has a chance at some major categories including picture, director, actor or supporting actor, and screenplay. That being said, rumors are circulating about Netflix trying to obtain the rights to release this movie directly to their site. Without release in actual theaters it may not be possible for critics to take this too seriously.
20th- “The Danish Girl”
Eddie Redmayne may win back-to-back Best Actor wins with this film. Playing a character undergoing a sex change, Redmayne may have what it takes to pull off exactly the right amount of emotional heft required for a role like this. Early pictures of the character eerily reminiscent of Jessica Chastain show that Redmayne has once again physically devoted himself entirely to the role. His win last year may harm his ability to rally in the best actor field this year, but I think this is a very good problem to have for the talented young Brit.
A movie originally intended for Eminem to star in, “Southpaw” is a film about glorious redemption and boxing- two categories the Academy has been typically known to reward heftily. Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the lead alongside Rachel McAdams. This is particularly good vehicle for Gyllenhaal who stands to benefit from yet another ridiculous weight change. He looks a good 60 pounds or so heavier than his sickeningly slithering character from “Nightcrawler.” You may be wondering (probably not) then why is this movie not higher on the list? The short and simple answer is its release date. Academy members have bad memories, and a release date in the summer pretty much is the nail in the coffin as far as best picture prospects go. Of course there are exceptions to this early release rule (“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Inception,” other good movies probably) but I just do not see “Southpaw” joining those ranks. Gyllenhaal has a shot at a best actor nod, but there is another role later on this list that looks more promising for him. Watch the trailer for this one. It looks pretty intense. If the film cannot break into other big categories, I do believe it has a shot in “Best Original Song” because Eminem is releasing a new one for the movie.
Jake Gyllenhaal (and no, this is not the role he will get a nomination for) stars alongside Jason Clarke and Josh Brolin among others in this disaster epic directed by some person who I have never heard of. The movie chronicles the true and tragic story of a group of hikers who fight mostly unsuccessfully to scale the world’s greatest mountain. I really want to see this one. However, the not name brand director plus the fact that this could just be a cheesy disaster flick hurts its chances in the major categories. My fingers are crossed, but I think the technical categories may be friendlier.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Edward Snowden. That’s about all I know. It is directed by Oliver Stone who has tasted success previously, but I think that if there is a chance at a nomination for this movie it is with the leading man. The tortured genius routine typically gets one or two nods a year so this could be his chance. Last year’s award winning documentary “Citizenfour” is about the same topic, so it may be too a little too soon to release this film.
A Disney flick with George Clooney in the front. The trailers show it to be a Sci-Fi/Fantasy adventure which could help because of how early in the year it is releasing. Movies that open up this early in the year heavily depend on strong box office returns. But, given what looks to be an already competitive year, this one could miss out altogether in the bigger categories.
15th- “The Hateful Eight”
Another Quinten Tarantino western. Sounds like an easy one, right? Wrong. Early leaks of the script have not been too kind to put it lightly. Everyone is still going to see it and it will probably be a solid movie. But as far as the Academy goes all press definitely isn’t good press.