What films are up for Oscars?

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me-and-earl-and-the-dying-girl-nick-offerman-thomas-mannIt’s time to talk about Oscars again! Kidding. I’m personally enjoying taking a nice (brief) sabbatical from thinking too seriously about awards fare, but before we get too deep into 2015 I wanted to highlight a few films that could be part of the upcoming Oscar season. We’re already seeing big studios like The Weinstein Company and Fox Searchlight stake out awards-friendly release dates for their Oscar fodder, and while it’s way to early to speak with any degree of certainty about these films’ chances, we can make a few way-too-early assumptions about some of the possibilities.

Without further ado, here are 10 films that—based on pedigree, awards-friendly subject matter, or plain old intuition—could be among the serious contenders in the 2016 Oscar race.

Release Date: June 12th

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score

While on the surface Me and Earl and the Dying Girl may not seem like prime Oscar material, we almost have to consider director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s adaptation of Jesse Andrews’ book because it—like last year’s Whiplash—was the breakout film of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. In fact, it won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the January festival, a feat that was also accomplished by Whiplash, which subsequently went on to win three Oscars. Me and Earl is an unabashedly sentimental film, though it refuses to delve too deeply into the saccharine. The story tells of a high schooler obsessed with the Criterion Collection who is forced to strike up a friendship with a female classmate who’s just been diagnosed with cancer.

steve-jobs-michael-fassbenderIt’s sad, funny, and extremely heartfelt, and if Fox Searchlight’s gamble of releasing it in the summer pays off, it could be “the little indie that could” of the 2016 race. Or it could go the way of Fruitvale Station—a previous Sundance favorite—and garner critical acclaim, yet fail to catch any awards steam due to a too-early release date.

Release Date: October 9th

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Editing

Oscar-winning director? Check. Oscar-winning screenwriter? Check. Aggressive, Oscar-winning producer? Check. Based on a true story? Check. Universal’s biopic Steve Jobs has all the hallmarks of an awards friendly prestige drama, but it also has an edge that separates it from the pack. Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay for the drama is really a performance showcase, with Michael Fassbender forced to carry most of the film on his own with a structure comprised of only three big scenes. If executed well by director Danny Boyle, that could be the thing that really takes the film over the top and solidifies it as an Oscar heavyweight.steven-spielberg-tom-hanks-bridge-of-spies The film certainly has everyone’s interest piqued (its profile was undeniably raised in the midst of the unfortunate Sony leak), and I imagine this is gonna be one of the most highly anticipated films of the fall.

Release Date: October 16th

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Actor, Original Screenplay, Score, Editing, Cinematography, Production Design

When Steven Spielberg makes a film, people pay attention. Joel and Ethan Coen scripted this Cold War spy thriller, and Bridge of Spies also features a reunion between the three-time Oscar winning director and Academy favorite Tom Hanks—though pedigree does not always equal success, as we saw with last year’s Unbroken (also scripted by the Coen Brothers). Spielberg has said his appeal in directing this film was to finally make a spy movie, so it’s possible this is more of a commercial effort than a prestige picture, but when Spielberg is on he’s on, so it’s worth consideration regardless.

The central premise (based on a true story, obviously) is Oscar-friendly as well, with the film telling the tale of a deal brokered between the CIA and Russia in the midst of the Cold War to return a downed U.S. pilot to American soil. While Spielberg came close to another win with Lincoln, could Bridge of Spies finally bring his Best Director trophy tally to three?

Release Date: November 6th

Possible Nominations: Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score, Editing, Production Design

brooklyn-saoirse-ronan eddie-redmayne-the-danish-girl david-o-russell-jennifer-lawrence-joy the-revenant-image-leonardo-dicaprio
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