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The Early Oscars Picture


Forecasting the Oscars and the film awards season as a whole is already a bit tricky heading into the holidays. As always, there are lists of likely contenders to think about, but given that most award-worthy movies tend to come out in November and December, we usually have to wait until the last possible moment to get a good feel for who might be taking home the golden statues.

Even when we get a little closer there can be major surprises. For instance, a few years ago Lincoln was a strong favourite to win Best Picture. It had received nothing but rave reviews from critics, and with heavyweights like Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis attached it appeared to be tailor-made for the Oscars. But it was upset by Argo.

A year later there was pretty much an open competition for Best Picture, with films like Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, and The Wolf of Wall Street all generating significant buzz heading into awards night. In the end it was 12 Years A Slave—not so much an underdog as one of many contenders—that rose above the pack to claim the Academy Awards' most prestigious honour.

Then again, sometimes things go more or less as expected. Using other recent examples, Birdman's triumph in the Best Picture category was all but a foregone conclusion by the time the 2015 show rolled around. And while Spotlight was not a prohibitive favourite earlier this year, it was a popular pick over the likes of The Revenant, The Big Short, and Room. Sometimes we more or less know what to expect, and sometimes it's an open contest or there's a total surprise.

Of course, right now we don't even know which films will be nominated for the 2017 Best Picture category. But with so-called awards season projects starting to emerge at the cinema and more and more critics weighing in and predicting Oscars contenders, here are some of the titles to keep your eye on in the coming months.

La La Land - A modern musical about two artists falling in love in Los Angeles, La La Land is already an extremely popular pick for Oscar glory. We'll have to wait and see how well it's received, but the starring duo of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone has charmed audiences before.

Silence - Silence is the mystery film of the year. Despite Martin Scorsese directing and Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield, and Liam Neeson starring, we just don't know a whole lot beyond a basic synopsis in line with the book upon which it is to be based. According to a recent write-up of what little we do know, Scorsese has considered this a passion project for 30 years, and that's saying something. The Academy is unlikely to ignore that kind of effort from one of the greatest living directors.

Moonlight - Moonlight had been a little bit quieter before its release. But since it came out earlier this month, critics (and probably some of your Facebook friends) have been raving about it. The film tells a coming of age story about a young, gay African American in Miami, and does so through looks at three different parts of his life.

Loving - You won't find too many actual odds posted for the Oscars just yet, but where you can find them, Loving is sometimes out in front. It tells the true story of a 1950s interracial couple in America who were essentially persecuted for marrying. The early word is that Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton are outstanding in the lead roles.

Manchester By The Sea - Perhaps an early fan favourite, Manchester By The Sea has been advertised about as heavily as the rest of these films combined. It's expected to be a career-defining role for Casey Affleck, who plays a Massachusetts man forced to care for his nephew after his own brother's unexpected death.

Other films will undoubtedly come up, but at this early stage these appear to be the ones to watch. We'll call them the contenders to contend as we head into the winter film season.

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The Movie Bit: The Early Oscars Picture
The Early Oscars Picture
The Movie Bit
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