The 89th Academy Awards came and went on Sunday night, with an evening full of surprises and upsets. The evening began with Hacksaw Ridge winning Best Editing and Sound Mixing, then ratcheted up the weirdness when Suicide Squad won Makeup and Hairstyling, and peaked with Moonlight‘s momentous Best Picture win. The night was full of deserving winners, including Kevin O’Connell, the Hacksaw Ridge sound mixer who won on his 21st nomination, as well as Viola Davis’ win for Fences and Mahershala Ali’s win for Moonlight, both in supporting acting categories. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was Jimmy Kimmel, who proved his worth as an Oscars host in spite of a painfully awkward tour bus segment. The event ended with some amazing and heartfelt words from the producers behind both La La Land, which won six awards, and Moonlight, which won Best Picture, Supporting Actor, and Adapted Screenplay. As I posited might happen in my Oscar predictions, the night was similar to the 2014 ceremony when 12 Years a Slave won three awards while Gravity won mostly below the line awards.
With the 89th Academy Awards over and the awards season winding down, I have already made a list of my 50 most anticipated films for 2017. Some of them have already been viewed and might not be so anticipated anymore, but I thought it might be fun to look ahead at some films that still have plenty of potential not only be major successes, but to be talked about in this year’s awards conversation. I won’t try and make complete predictions in every category, but I will focus in on what categories I think each film might do well in. There will be some films here that I put on my most anticipated list, and some that I may have overlooked or that I did not know about when I published that article. If there are any films missing feel free to comment below with your future awards contenders. Here is my top ten list for the most likely films to pop up at the 90th Academy Awards ceremony:
Directed by Alex Garland, the director of Ex Machina, and starring Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Oscar Isaac, expect a crazy sci-fi adventure with great acting and a stylish look. Like with Ex Machina this film should be something weird, new, and out of this world.
The first film from Todd Haynes since Carol, Wonderstruck takes place in 1927 and 1977, and brings back Haynes’ frequent collaborators DP Ed Lachman and composer Carter Burwell, and stars Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams. Williams will be looking to make a comeback after her Supporting Actress loss for Manchester by the Sea.
Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve’s streak of Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, and Arrival has made him one of the most respected directors in Hollywood. Now he’s taking the helm of one of Hollywood’s most beloved sci-fi dramas with Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and Robin Wright starring, along with Oscar-nominees Jóhann Jóhannsson composing, Joe Walker editing, and Roger Deakins DPing.
It’s been four years since Steven Soderbergh’s last directing job for Side Effects, and his latest is a heist film starring Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, and Hilary Swank. Soderbergh is also editor and cinematographer for the film, which is hitting theaters on August 18th.
The Top Ten:
10) Call Me By Your Name
The only film on this list to already have been viewed in its entirety, Call Me By Your Name premiered a month ago on January 22nd at Sundance and already is on track to make a bigger splash than any of director Luca Guadagnino’s previous films. Based off of an André Aciman novel of the same name, Call Me By Your Name is set in the 1980s and follows the budding romance between an academic named Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, and a potentially star-making turn by Timothée Chalamet as his lover Elio Perlman. Michael Stuhlbarg also stars as Elio’s father, and the film is generating buzz for Hammer and Chalamet for the acting categories. Guadagnino’s work as the film’s director and co-writer has also received much praise, and coming off the back of a beloved and acclaimed film about two young gay men, this film could fit neatly into the Academy’s wheelhouse. The film’s technical achievements haven’t been talked about so much, but with Moonlight‘s success getting into those categories this might not be too difficult.
9) Darkest Hour
When Joe Wright does right, the Academy tends to take notice. Wright’s previous works like Pride & Prejudice, Atonement, and Anna Karenina have all been products of Wright’s passion for artistic period pieces, and there’s still plenty of room in the Academy for films like that. Wright is now working on Darkest Hour, a period drama set in the beginning of World War II, starring Gary Oldman in another transformative role as Winston Churchill (see above photo), along with Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, John Hurt as Neville Chamberlain, and Kristin Scott Thomas as Churchill’s wife Clementine. If the actors and director involved don’t make this film scream Oscar just yet, Theory of Everything writer Anthony McCarten is penning the script, while Oscar-winning composer Dario Marianelli and Oscar-nominated cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel is shooting the film. Expect consideration in acting, directing, writing, and numerous technical categories upon its release. The film is already slated for a November 24th release date, deep in the heart of awards season releases.
8) Molly’s Game
Until his snub for Steve Jobs I would have said the one name that made it easiest to guarantee an Oscar nomination besides Meryl Streep would have been Aaron Sorkin. The writer behind The West Wing and The Social Network is now fulfilling a lifelong ambition to sit in the director’s chair in Molly’s Game. Based off of the memoir of the same name by Molly Bloom, the film stars Jessica Chastain as Bloom, a member of Hollywood’s elite who becomes involved in the world of underground poker. In addition to Chastain, the film also stars Idris Elba, Kevin Costner, and Brian d’Arcy James with numerous well known industry artists assisting Sorkin behind the camera. Production concluded February 9th so expect this film by the end of the year, and considered for writing, directing, and acting, as well as some likely nominations in fields like editing. Chastain especially is starting to become overdue for a second Best Actress nomination and an Oscar win, so perhaps this could be her ticket to Oscar gold.
Alexander Payne has grown from an indie darling with the film Election to a writer-director with three Best Picture nominees in a row under his belt with Sideways, The Descendants, and Nebraska. With The Descendants especially, Payne was just short of Best Picture and Best Director, but managed to snag Best Adapted Screenplay as a consolation prize. Never the kind to worry about winning awards, Payne has consistently turned out innovative screenplays, interesting characters, and hilarious plots and I expect Downsizing to be no different. The film stars Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig as a married couple who decide to voluntarily shrink themselves down when life gets out of hand, only for Wiig’s character to back out at the last minute. In addition to Damon and Wiig, Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz is in the film, as is Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jason Sudeikis. Payne is both directing and writing the film with frequent collaborator Jim Taylor, with DP Phedon Papamichael, nominated for Nebraska, also returning. The film is slated for a December 22nd release date, so expect consideration in all of the top categories.
Of all the actor-directors working today, George Clooney has had some of the most interesting ups and downs with films like Good Night and Good Luck, The Ides of March, and, unfortunately, The Monuments Men. After that latest flop Clooney is back directing Suburbicon, a crime comedy penned by his friends, Joel and Ethan Coen, and starring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Josh Brolin, and Oscar Isaac. With a cast like that I expect there to be plenty of consideration for this film’s acting, and the story will revolve around a home’s quiet existence until an unpleasant crime destroys that tranquility forever. In addition to the amazing cast and writers, Oscar-winner Robert Elswit will be cinematographer for the film and Oscar-winning editor Stephen Mirrione will be cutting the final product. No release date is known yet, but expect it towards the end of the year and with plenty of hype.
Another film about a tranquil home upset by an unknown crime, mother! is the latest film from the directorial talent that is Darren Aronofsky. After proving he can do just about anything with the biblical epic Noah, Aronofsky is returning to the more grounded psychological dramas that he is known for, with stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem taking the lead. In addition to these two, Michelle Pfeiffer, Domhnall Gleeson, and Ed Harris will also play big roles in the film, as well as composer Jóhann Jóhannsson and cinematographer Matthew Libatique. mother! already has a release date set for October 13th, around the time Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream premiered which went on to receive an Oscar for Best Actress at the beginning of Aronofsky’s career. Expect mother! to make the rounds in numerous acting categories, as well as for the technical brilliance that Aronofsky has become known for.
4) Untitled Detroit Riots Project
One of the films that I overlooked in my most anticipated list was the return of Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow with an Untitled Detroit Riots Project. Set in the aftermath of the 1967 police raids that set off one of the most destructive riots in US history, the film will star upcoming Star Wars leading man John Boyega, as well as Jack Reynor, Will Poulter, Anthony Mackie, John Krasinski, and many more. The film will be written by The Hurt Locker scribe Mark Boal, with cinematography by The Hurt Locker and Captain Phillips vet Barry Ackroyd and Argo editor and Oscar-winner William Goldenberg. The film has a relatively early release date on August 4th, but that didn’t stop The Hurt Locker from netting six Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture in 2010. The film is also being distributed by Annapurna Pictures, a first for the Megan Ellison-led company, which bodes well for the film. Expect it to fight for nominations in Directing, Picture, and acting, as well as writing, cinematography, editing, and sound.
3) The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara
It’s hard to think of a more beloved director in all of Hollywood nowadays than Steven Spielberg. Even with family-friendly fare like The BFG, Spielberg manages to find his audience, and when he does history right like with Bridge of Spies and Lincoln, he usually manages his way into the awards conversation pretty easily. Set in 1858 and based on true historical events, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara will follow the story of a young Jewish boy who, thought to be deathly ill, is secretly baptized by a family servant, only to be taken away by the Catholic Church upon his recovery. The real life story became a media sensation and the film has all of the elements of a media sensation itself. Pulitzer Prize-winner and Oscar-nominee Tony Kushner is writing the screenplay, while recent Oscar-winner and Bridge of Spies star Mark Rylance will return alongside Oscar Isaac in what is shaping up to be his banner year. Usual Spielberg suspects like Janusz Kaminski as DP, Michael Kahn as the editor, and John Williams as the composer will return for this film, and expect it to compete all across the board after a late 2017 release.
2) Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Movie
Paul Thomas Anderson is on the forefront of great contemporary directors with a streak of films that include There Will Be Blood, The Master, and his most recent film, Inherent Vice. Now Anderson is exploring the world of London fashion in the 1950s with There Will Be Blood star and three-time Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis in the leading role. Anderson is drawing on lesser-known actors like Lesley Manville, Richard Graham, and Vicky Krieps for the film, as well as composer and Radiohead member Jonny Greenwood, who created the pitch-perfect score for There Will Be Blood. Although the movie is currently filming in England, expect it by the end of the year, and its production photos have even given it a possible title: Phantom Thread. Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance will be up for Best Actor almost immediately, and Anderson might finally find himself on stage as well accepting for writing or directing.
Few films are as hyped this year on the level of Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan’s name alone is enough to excite a sizable portion of the Internet, including yours truly, and Dunkirk is Nolan’s latest film since the good but somewhat underwhelming Interstellar. Nolan might have overshot the moon on that one, but Dunkirk is something that Nolan has never tried his hand at before, a war drama set at the onset of World War II. On the beaches of Dunkirk 330,000 Allied soldiers were evacuated over the course of about nine days while surrounded by the Nazis on a beach in northern France. According to a recent interview, Nolan wants to portray the actions of the war from each angle, on land, sea, and air, and the film will star Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, and Harry Styles as soldiers engaged in various parts of the operation. Nolan is both writing and directing the film, while frequent collaborators Hans Zimmer and Hoyte van Hoytema will be returning as composer and DP, respectively. The film is set to be released on July 21st, similar to when Inception premiered seven years ago, which is a very good sign for the film’s financial prospects. If Dunkirk can stick the landing, it already has the hype and the potential to compete in almost every category at the 90th Academy Awards.