20 Films to Watch Come Awards Season

With only a few more weeks of Summer Blockbuster Season left, it’s time to look ahead to my favorite time of the year: awards season at the movies. Disregarding the Sundance Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival, a majority of the higher quality film festivals tend to run during September through to November. The Venice Film Festival kicks us off on September 2nd, and with the beginning of the festival, we will start to see the release of the films that will be in contention for all the big awards, including the Oscars. Here’s a list of the films I am most excited to see that may be in contention for awards:

Black Mass: Despite Johnny Depp having some poor outings recently, most notably in Mortdecai, this film looks like it could be a turn around that may see the actor reach the heights he achieved when he received an acting nomination for Sweeney Todd. With the director of Crazy Heart, which won Jeff Bridges best actor, and a supporting cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, and Siena Miller, this gangster film has all the ingredients to be a hit.

Bridge of Spies: Well, it’s Steven Spielberg as the director, Tom Hanks is the main actor, and it’s set during the Cold War. What more could you do to garner pre-Oscar attention? This will be Spielberg’s first film since the spectacular Lincoln, and it’s hard to see this Cold War spy drama going bad.

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Carol: After receiving high praise from its premier at the Cannes Film Festival, where Rooney Mara won the best actress award, this Cate Blanchett/Rooney Mara led period drama about two lesbians is sure to see some nominations.

Creed: Fruitvale Station was one of my favorite films of 2013, and in Creed we see the same director/actor combination of Ryan Coogler and the up and coming Michael B. Jordan working together on this Rocky spinoff that has me excited to see the two working together again.

The Danish Girl: Eddie Redmayne was phenomenal in his Oscar winning role of Stephen Hawking last year, and this role seems to be another platform for him to showcase his talents. This film is about the first person to undergo a male to female sex change. With the director of the King’s Speech (best picture for 2010) and Les Miserables at the helm, this film could see Redmayne repeat his best actor win.

Everest: Set to be the Opening Film of the Venice Film Festival (previously opened up by Birdman and Gravity the past two years), this survival thriller stars a strong cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Robin Wright, Kiera Knightly, and Emma Watson.

The Hateful Eight: The new film from Tarantino is another Western, just like his previous outing, that will hopefully follow Inglorious Bastards and Django Unchained in the pattern of being nominated for the Best Original Screenplay award at the Oscars. Also, when has Tarantino ever faltered from his mantle?

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In the Heart of the Sea: Originally scheduled to be released in March but moved to the heart of awards season serves as a good omen for this Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) directed epic about the story that began the myth of Moby Dick.

Joy: David O. Russel has seen great success with Jennifer Lawrence in his recent films (Silver Lining’s Playbook, American Hustle), and hopes to continue that success as he hands Lawrence the lead role in his new film about a single mom who becomes a prominent businesswoman.

Legend: Tom Hardy (one of my favorite actors currently) stars as both Ronald and Reginald Kray, two twin gangsters who ruled London during the 1950s and 60s. This movie, scripted by the writer of L.A. Confidential, sets the stage for Tom Hardy to mount a vicious attack to prevent DiCaprio from winning his first acting Oscar in The Revenant (mentioned below).

Macbeth: The next in a long line of modern (in setting or style) adaptions of Shakespeare plays sees Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender lead this dark and dramatic adaptation of the great play. Praise from the Cannes film festival along with a dark, brooding trailer means this film will stay on my radar over the coming months.

The Martian: Matt Damon is an astronaut stranded and struggling to stay alive on Mars while a team comprised of Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Jeff Daniels, and Kristen Wiig work to bring him back. Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) takes up the director’s mantle for a film that has as much promise as any of them.

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The Program: Biopic is also a strong genre to work with when trying to gain Oscar recognition, especially when it is about someone as controversial as Lance Armstrong. Add in a director who gave Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln, There Will Be Blood) his first big role as well as helped Helen Mirren to an Oscar win for The Queen and Judi Dench a nomination for Philomena, and it becomes reasonable to believe that this could be a breakthrough role for Ben Foster (Lone Survivor).

The Revenant: The movie I am most excited to see has DiCaprio taking another shot at winning that elusive Oscar statue under the strong direction of Alejandro González Iñárritu, the man who just so happened to director last year’s Best Picture winner: Birdman. The story of a man out for revenge after being left for dead following a bear attack could finally be the stage for Leo to win the Oscar he has so longingly deserved.

Snowden: An Oliver Stone (Platoon) led film about a man who went from being in the army, to the CIA, to being one of the most wanted men in the world. With actors Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zachary Quinto (American Horror Story, Star Trek) and Tom Wilkinson leading the way, this film could be a potential return to glorious form for Oliver Stone.

Son of Saul: The runner-up at this year’s Cannes Film Festival is almost guaranteed to be nominated for the Foreign Language Film award at the Oscars. It is a unique Holocaust film about a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner at Auschwitz who is in charge of the disposal of gas chamber victims. This one will be a tough film to watch for most.
Spotlight: Mark Ruffalo, Amy Adams, and newly revived Michael Keaton (Birdman) look to set director Tom McCarthy back on the right path after his miss, The Cobbler. The movie revolves around the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist team that uncovered the child molestation scandal in their local archdiocese. Could this be similar to All the President’s Men? One can only hope so.

Steve Jobs: While the Ashton Kutcher film about the same man was a massive flop, this film looks to be in much better hands as Danny Boyle (127 hours, Slumdog Millionaire) directs and Michael Fassbender plays the titular character. A movie that will apparently focus on a shorter time period than the other Steve Jobs film, this could also allow Fassbender to swipe away an Oscar from poor Leo.

Suffragette: Three of the most powerful female actors today in Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, and Carey Mulligan take to the big screen about this film regarding the Women’s Social and Political Union that is set to open the London Film Festival.

The Walk: Acclaimed director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump) leads Joseph Gordon Levitt as the two tell the story of the man who attempted to walk between the Twin Towers on a wire. This movie will certainly try to replicate the accolades garnered by the documentary about the same subject (Man on Wire).

Bonus Film – Spectre: While it may not be a film that will be in contention for any awards, this is still my second most anticipated film (behind The Revenant) for 2015. I just can’t get enough of James Bond at this moment in time. P.S. A new trailer for this was released a couple days ago

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