What’s going on L2Lers! We were so excited for the Oscars this year that we had to get ready for next year. If you haven’t read our “Best of” Oscar nominees, scroll down our home page and check it out. But, this year’s Oscars is over, and we’re already thinking about next year. Below is a list of the films we think will be Oscar contenders that are coming out in theaters this year. I hope you’re excited, because you know we are.

Note: Before we get into the films who will be contending next February, I’d like to give you a little taste of some other films who earned some of our consideration for the main list…

Honorable Mentions:

The Magnificent Seven

Starring: Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, Sean Bridgers, Matt Bomer, Haley Bennett

Directed by Antoine Fuqua

Release Date: September 23, 2016

The Academy has never really been all that enthusiastic with remakes (besides True Grit), and neither am I honestly. But, this has Denzel Washington teaming back up with Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), and to top it all off we get Chris Pratt.

The Girl on the Train

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rebecca Ferguson, Laura Prepon, Haley Bennett, Justin Theroux

Directed by Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up)

Release Date: October 7, 2016

Emily Blunt needs an Oscar. I’m obsessed with her. If you’re not, just watch this. She kills literally everything she does. I first saw her in The Adjustment Bureau and fell head-over-heels in love with her after that. I would fight Jon Krasinski in a heartbeat. But besides me being obsessed, Blunt is actually very talented. If she can pull out a noteworthy performance in this, I could see her getting some consideration for an Oscar. Also, look out for L2L to do a podcast on this film/novel sometime in October.

Free State of Jones

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Sean Bridgers, Keri Russell

Directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, Big)

Release Date: May 13, 2016

I’m a Matthew McConaughey fan. I’m just not a fan of this film so far. I love the story, I love the casting, I just hate the trailer. It was just so average, and seemed to give away a bunch of boring moments that don’t really seem that interesting. The ambush where some guy pops out the of a coffin, really? Really? The only reason I have this film on this list is because of McConaughey and that I’m hoping I’m wrong about this film. Let’s just hope this film wasn’t financed by Lincoln…

Here’s the list you’ve all been waiting for…

CAUTION: Please be aware that these are just predictions, should not be taken as Gospel (unless you’d like to, of course), and are in no particular order. These films are merely on my “Watch List” for Academy Award consideration, and also films I am interested in seeing. So if you don’t agree, just keep your opinion to yourself. So, without further adieu, I bring to you…

The Light Between Oceans

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander, Rachel Weisz

Directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines)

Based on the novel by M. L. Stedman

Release Date: September 2, 2016

Much like Flo Rida, we are going to start off this thing off with a banger. The Light Between Oceans is the new film based on the enormously popular and successful debut novel, of the same name, by M. L. Stedman. The story follows a couple who come across a row boat with an infant mysteriously still aboard. The couple decides to raise the baby on their own, and not report the found child to the police. Later on, the couple finds out some devastating information that could tear their newly formed family apart.

The film adaptation contains a stellar cast including recent Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actress Alicia Vikander, two-time Academy Award nominee Michael Fassbender, and Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz. With those names alone, this is a pretty formidable cast. To go along with these three, the directing is done by Derek Cianfrance, who has also directed Blue Valentine and, one of my favorites, The Place Beyond the Pines. Both of these films are heavy on the acting side as Michelle Williams received an Academy Award nomination for her performance in Blue Valentine. The Place Beyond the Pines had a ton of great performances as well from Ray Liotta, Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Ben Mendelsohn and newcomer Emory Cohen (who recently starred opposite Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn) in one of the most underrated films of 2013. I loved the film, other people didn’t. We can get into that another time. I would expect this film to be heavy on the acting as well, if not more so.

I would thrust this film into all of the top Oscar categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay) because of everything stated previously, and this movie has the feel of an Oscar contender. Period drama, war, morality, tragedy, etc. Check out the trailer here.

Story of Your Life

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner

Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario)

Based on the short story by Ted Chiang

Release Date: 2016

This next film is also from a director I have taken a liking to, Denis Villenueve. He has directed a couple of very good films starring Jake Gyllenhaal such as Prisoners and Enemy, as well as one of my and Erik’s favorite films from last year starring Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benecio Del Toro, Sicario. Story of Your Life also stars a few very talented actors in Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. I don’t know if you guys knew this or not, I sure as hell didn’t until I looked it up just now, but Amy Adams has five Academy Award nominations. You read that correctly, five! Her performances include nominations for Best Supporting Actress in Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter, The Master, and a Best Actress nom American Hustle. Jeremy Renner is no slouch himself, having earned two Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor in The Town and Best Actor in The Hurt Locker. Oh, and Forest Whitaker won Best Actor for The Last King of Scotland.

The story of this film is based on the short story of the same name by Ted Chiang. The short story is about an expert linguist (the Adams character) who is called in by the U.S. Government in order to create a way of communicating with the aliens after these beings have landed in various locations all around the world.

I know what you’re thinking: “Yeah, yeah. Another hokey Sci-Fi film with all of the tired and cliché plot points.” I know, I get it. I understand why you feel this way, and I don’t blame you for it. The synopsis definitely sounds like a cliché Sci-Fi film with all of the makings to be terrible. But hear me out. Just take a look at who is attached to this film. Jeremy Renner, who is a solidified movie star with a bunch of different action hits to his name including the Jason Bourne and Mission Impossible franchises as well as the award accolades to go along with it. Amy Adams, as we said earlier, is pretty well regarded herself. To top it off, we have one of the biggest up-and-coming directors in Denis Villenueve, who is known for his gritty and thrillingly realistic direction of his films. Plus, the short story won the prestigious Nebula Award for Best Novella back in 2000.

All I’m asking is that you give it a chance. (No trailer yet).

Snowden

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Nicolas Cage

Directed by Oliver Stone (Platoon, Wall Street)

Based on the novel “The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted

Man” by Luke Harding

Release Date: September 16, 2016

Well, this film is bound to be seen by the masses. I know Oliver Stone is not a very sought after or even a well-regarded film director at this point in his career with numerous flops, with a capital F, to his name (e.g., Savages, W., Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, World Trade Center, Alexander). Most directors wouldn’t be able to still have a job after this many enormous flops to their name. But, when you direct films like Platoon, Natural Born Killers, and JFK, I guess you get a pretty long leash. So, because of the source material and the fact that Hollywood and the Academy love sticking it to the US Government, we are going to give Stone a chance. So hopefully his advisors/producers keep in on the straight-and-narrow, so he doesn’t mess this up. A lot of people know this story, so there will be a lot of critical eyes, which makes the margin of error so small with a film like this. Let’s pray Stone gets this right.

But in addition the controversial aspect of this film, the main attraction, at least for me, is Shailene Woodley portraying Edward Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills. Woodley is banked by many as the next Jennifer Lawrence, following in her footsteps as the face of a very popular YA novel converted to a big movie franchise, The Divergent Series. So she will be taking a big step into some uncharted territory with this upcoming film, where most young adults will not have a firm background on the story, but their parents most definitely will. If Woodley does well, and receives recognition for her performance, expect to see her name become as big as J-Law in years to come. This could very well be her coming-out party.

But she’s not the only one in the film, of course, not even the main character. The title role of Edward Snowden will be played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Don Jon). Check out the trailer here.

Hacksaw Ridge

Starring: Teresa Palmer, Sam Worthington, Andrew Garfield, Hugo Weaving, Vince Vaughn

Directed by Mel Gibson

Release Date: 2016

Synopsis: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and becomes the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Well, the cast isn’t that exciting or Oscar noteworthy. But, this seems like it’s going to be a big year for Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, The Amazing Spider-Man, Never Let Me Go) with this film and the Martin Scorsese directed film, Silence, which is also included in this list. To go along with Garfield (not the cartoon cat), it’s directed by Mel Gibson. Now, I know most of you think Mel Gibson is a crazy, overly-religious lunatic (and he most likely is), but he is a proven film director (Braveheart, Apocalypto). Given the fact that Gibson and Garfield are attached to this, AND it’s a World War II period drama, I’m slotting this in the list.

The Academy absolutely loves period dramas, and that includes war dramas, so this is definitely one to look out for. I wouldn’t put too much in the pot for notable acting performances beyond Garfield. But hey, surprises are plenty in film, and maybe Vince Vaughn will deliver a notable performance. But hopefully he doesn’t deliver any terrible lines like this. (No trailer yet).

Tulip Fever

Starring: Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, Cara Delevingne, Jack O’Connell, Zach Galifianakis, Judi Dench, Dane DeHaan

Directed by Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl, Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom)

Release Date: 2016

This film has caught my eye as well, for a number of different reasons, but mainly because Alicia Vikander is the main character. It’s pretty impressive the run she’s on right now. She made her name with the Danish film, A Royal Affair, and has been on a meteoric rise this past year with Ex Machina, The Danish Girl, and her Academy Award nomination. Watch out, because this beautiful Swede might be taking over.

But besides Vikander, there are some other notable actors in this film including Christoph Waltz (two-time Best Supporting Actor Academy Award winner for Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained) and Jack O’Connell. O’Connell starred in one of the biggest flops of the years in 2014 in the Angelina Jolie directed Unbroken, but many critics found his performance to be the bright spot in a bad film. Also, O’Connell received a lot of acclaim for his performance in Starred Up, a film on my list to watch.

Oh, and did I mention that this film is a period piece about artists falling in love, set in Amsterdam in the 1700’s? Yeah, you know the Academy is all about it. Did you hear that? That was the Academy members moaning for more. (No trailer yet).

Come back tomorrow, 3/12, for the last 5 films in Part II.

Find Part II Here

As always, thanks for reading.

Till next time,

L2L

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