Over the next few months, our list of ‘films to see’ will grow exponentially with some of the year’s best films. Released in preparation for the Awards Season between November and February, the list is so packed with diverse titles that it may be difficult to choose just what to see. With many of these films making the circuit at Venice and Toronto Film Festivals, the immediate futures of these films after release is generally nominations. I’ve put together a list of my own most anticipated upcoming films which are gaining so much “Oscar Buzz” that it’s virtually deafening.
Directed by Barry Jenkins, Moonlight is a portrayal of growing up African-American and homosexual. A story as untold as it is important, the central character Chiron is played by three separate actors (Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders and Alex Hibbert) during multiple stages in the character’s life. Not only is the premise of the film’s production intriguing, but quality LGBTQ+ media is few and far between, especially in mainstream media. With the two previous Academy Awards being #sowhite, this film has the potential to break the mold with a strong demonstration of diversity.
Moonlight is yet to receive an Australian release date.
The much anticipated follow-up to his directorial debut A Single Man, Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals is said to be a visual and stylistic masterpiece. It stars Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal and a star-studded ensemble cast which includes Michael Shannon (with whom I am mildly obsessed) and Aaron Taylor-Johnston. The psychological thriller follows a gallery owner (Adams) whose ex-husband (Gyllenhaal) torments her through the writing of his novel. Having won the Grand Jury Prize at Venice Film Festival, Nocturnal Animals is said to be visually stunning, with cinematography by Academy Award nominee Seamus McGarvey (Atonement, We Need to Talk About Kevin). I am electrified to see this film, and will expect nothing less than a stylish freak-fest.
Nocturnal Animals is out November 10.
Directed by Garth Davis and based upon Saroo Brierley’s novel, Lion is said to be a captivating drama, hitting close to home with critics and audiences alike. Lion follows a boy from Calcutta who is adopted by an Australian family, only to seek them out 25 years later. Starring Dev Patel, Rooney Mara and Nicole Kidman, Lion is partially funded by Screen Australia, with a large portion of the production taking place in Oz. The prospect of another Aussie film (following of Mad Max: Fury Road) being featured during Awards Season is very exciting. It seems like Australia is well on the way to being placed on the map of Hollywood cinema. Supposedly, Lion is an emotional rollercoaster, leaving not a single eye dry.
Lion is out January 19.
Probably the most exciting release of Awards Season, Theodor Melfi’s Hidden Figures has “Oscar” written all over it. Also breaking the mould of last year’s #oscarssowhite campaign, Hidden Figures is the true story of three African-American women who aided NASA in its first successful space mission. Starring Taraji P. Henson (queen), Octavia Spencer (queen) and Janelle Monáe (queen), the telling of this story is incredibly well-timed in the discussion of diversity and the roles of women. The fact that this story (based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s novel) is only hitting mainstream media now is total substantiation of black women’s stories going untold, and the over-valuing the stories of white man’s ‘strength’. One of the biggest issues raised by last year’s #oscarssowhite campaign was that quality representation and diversity were not present. This was clearly due to the under-valuing of diverse stories and experiences, which are now being better told by films such as Hidden Figures. We should not, however, see this as enough. As consumers of media, it is important to seek and support diversity, making it clear that there’s always room for more. Otherwise, important stories go untold.
Hidden Figures is out February 23.
La La Land
Absolutely my most anticipated non-Star Wars film of this year, La La Land is a romantic musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling (the best fake couple of a generation). La La Land is written and directed by Damien Chazelle whose previous film is Whiplash is one of my favourite movies of all time. Although Whiplash was not technically a musical, it’s musicality was remarkable, as the visual composition matched and enhanced that of the music. I can only imagine the kind of virtuosity Chazell will bring to La La Land, added to the fact that the guy is only thirty-one and just in the formative years of his career. Already raking in remarkably high praise from critics and audiences alike, La La Land received the People’s Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival. As a fan of the musical genre, I have been saddened with the lack of musicals in media (save for Hamilton and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) and am thrilled at the prospect of La La Land’s potential to revive the genre for cinema. Additionally, after the proverbial dumpster-fire of 2016, La La Land could be just what we need right now.
La La Land is out December 26.
Also look out for:
Manchester by the Sea (26/1)
This year, I am excited to be covering all the ins and outs of the Awards Season, including the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild Awards and, of course, the Academy Awards. I will be reviewing as many of the upcoming films as humanly possible in order to make informed predictions come time for nominations and awards. Nominated films are by no means the best movies, as they are seen as noteworthy by a specific group of people. The Awards Season is highly politicised and strange at times, but interesting in terms of its attempt to reflect culture. That being said, the Awards Season is a good time, albeit a tad cringe. It’s extremely gratifying seeing a filmmaker or actor that you admire win for a piece of media that you love, which I hope every year happens.