Movies you need to see before awards season
WE'RE on the cusp of entering the most exciting time of the year in Hollywood: awards season.
It's that period where the best films of the year will be nominated, recognised and debated to within an inch of their lives.
And while dozens of awards hopefuls are either in theatres now or will be opening soon, there are plenty of films that are already streaming to help give you a leg up.
Here are the top ten movies you should watch to stay up-to-date this season.
Directed by: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, LilRel Howery
The sky may very well be the limit for Get Out's Oscar hopes.
While opening in the beginning of the year is often seen as a detriment (gives voters all that time to forget you), Get Out made great use of its moment as the only Important Film that mattered. Now that we're at year's end, everybody is quite familiar with the film, its virtues, and what rewarding it would say about the industry.
Plus, it's simply a great film, enjoyable on multiple levels, and featuring some shockingly assured work from Jordan Peele behind the camera. In a just world, Daniel Kaluuya would be a major contender for Best Actor. Maybe his just-announced Independent Spirit Award nomination will help push that bandwagon along.
Likely nominations in play: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay
Long-shot nominations in play: Best Supporting Actress
THE BIG SICK
The darling of this year's Sundance Film Festival, The Big Sick initially seemed like it might be too small to play with the more bombastic Oscar players. But as Amazon Studios' major Oscar plays by Todd Haynes, Richard Linklater, and Woody Allen have fizzled, The Big Sick stands alone as the movie that delivered. It's $US42 million domestic box-office take essentially makes it the Avatar of indie rom-coms, and Lord knows Avatar got its share of Oscar nominations.
A smart campaign could absolutely land it a Best Picture citation. Expect it to show up on a bunch of Top 10 lists, it's a shoo-in for the Golden Globe comedy categories (Picture and Actor), and Holly Hunter is poised to make a run at Best Supporting Actress.
Likely nominations in play: Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress
Long-shot nominations in play: Best Picture, Best Actor
Directed by: Dee Rees
Starring: Jason Clarke, Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, Garett Hedlund, Mary J. Blige, Jonathan Banks
"Can Netflix land a Best Picture nomination?" will be one of the big questions this awards season. They certainly deserve one for Dee Rees's sprawling tale of post-WWII racial entanglements in the rural south. Netflix appears to be serious about playing the Academy's game, premiering the film in 17 theatres nationwide rather than just the cursory one or two they usually do.
Mudbound has been recognised by both the Gotham and Independent Spirit nominations, with both giving the film an award for its ace ensemble. Which is nice, but it's worth keeping in mind that the Oscars don't have an ensemble category, and honouring the entire Mudbound ensemble has (thus far) kept individual actors like Jason Mitchell from getting momentum for a Supporting Actor campaign of his own.
Likely nominations in play: Best Supporting Actor, Best Picture, Best Cinematography
Long-shot nominations in play: Best Director, Best Supporting Actress
Directed by: Josh and Benny Safdie
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barkhad Abdi
In 2014, brothers Josh and Benny Safdie broke through on the indie scene with the heroin-addict drama Heaven Knows What. That film, while acclaimed, was exceedingly hard to watch, though it got the brothers a lot of credit for gritty, street-level filmmaking. They came back this year - with a Cannes debut, no less - with Good Time, starring the eminently watchable Robert Pattinson, though not without that street-level grit. Pattinson plays an ex-con who risks his freedom to keep his mentally handicapped brother (Benny Safdie) safe.
The result has been another critically lauded indie gem, one which has people talking up Pattinson as a "should-be" contender for a Best Actor nomination.
Likely nominations in play: Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor
Long-shot nominations in play: Best Supporting Actor
BEATRIZ AT DINNER
Directed by: Miguel Arteta
Starring: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass
Critically appreciated out of Sundance, this one didn't do the blockbuster indie business that The Big Sick did, but it's no less worthy of year-end recognition.
Salma Hayek's lead performance got a Spirit Awards nomination, and her star power puts her in line for e Golden Globe nomination as well. That should keep her in the conversation, though Best Actress is wildly competitive this year, so it's a long shot. Also deserving of attention is Mike White's insightful, humane screenplay, one of two year's-best screenplays he's written this year (with Brad's Status).
Likely nominations in play: n/a
Long-shot nominations in play: Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress
Directed by: Eliza Hittman
Starring: Harris Dickinson
Eliza Hittman's teeny-tiny film about a gay teen navigating his way through secretive hook-ups and a rough group of friends stands almost certainly no chance at Oscar recognition.
But expect this to show up on some top 10 lists and every roundup of the year's breakthrough queer films. This will be a good one to see when people ask you what should have been nominated.
Long-shot nominations in play: Best Actor
THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES
Directed by: Noah Baumbach
Starring: Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Marvel, Emma Thompson
It will be a crying shame if Noah Baumbach's superlatively enjoyable and affecting The Meyerowitz Stories ends up fully overlooked this awards season.
At the very least, can we get Adam Sandler a Golden Globe nomination? Is that too much to ask? Dustin Hoffman was already looking like a long-shot (inexplicably so, given what a plum, Oscar-friendly role he has in the film) and that was before sexual harassment allegations put him on the Hollywood shit list.
Still, it's streaming on Netflix and it's one of the best movies of the year. Surely some critics group or another will recognise it as such.
Nominations in play: Best Actor
Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee
Starring: Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish
In a more perfect world, Girls Trip (and lead actor Regina Hall) would be big contenders for the Golden Globes' musical/comedy categories. But Universal Pictures doesn't seem to be putting a whole lot of oomph into that possibility.
Instead, it's the grassroots rumble of support for Tiffany Haddish's supporting performance that stands as this film's only shot at a nomination. It looks like a long-shot now, but if some brave critics group decided to give her their supporting-actor prize, momentum could pick up in a hurry.
Nominations in play: Best Supporting Actress
FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER
Directed by: Angelina Jolie
Starring: Sareum Srey Moch
Angelina Jolie's Cambodian-set movie about the Khmer Rouge genocide marks her best work as a director, but it would have been a tough sell in the general Oscar categories.
But submitted as Cambodia's entry into the Foreign Language Film race, it looks like it might be a contender.
It's hard to say how far Jolie's star power will take her among the foreign-film voters, but at the very least it puts her film at the top of most screener piles.
Nominations in play: Best Foreign Language Film
Directed by: Ceyda Torun
The Best Documentary race is wide open as of right now, but what if I told you there was one about the thousands of free-roaming cats in Instanbul? One that focuses on seven of those cats, named Sari, Duman, Bengü, Aslan Parçasi, Gamsiz, Psikopat, and Deniz? DENIZ THE CAT! Could this be the March of the Penguins but for cats that we have all been waiting for? It's currently streaming on YouTube Red and available to rent elsewhere, so you should probably see for yourselves.
Nominations in play: Best Documentary Feature
This story originally appeared in Decider.