This post was updated May 11th.
With Guardians of the Galaaxy Vol. 2 kicking off the summer and the Cannes lineup having been announced, it’s that time again where folks start to concern themselves with awards season. It’s still very, very early. Release dates will be shuffled, festival lineups will set the real stage, and some films nobody has even heard of yet will emerge. So this is little more than a speculative look at upcoming films that figure to factor into the discussion.
1) Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson fasion drama
Distributed by Focus Features (Dec. 25th), Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
PTA returns, and reunites with Daniel Day-Lewis no less, in this highly anticipated drama set in the 1950’s fashion world. Little else is known but it’s been shooting for a couple months now and anytime a PTA film comes out it factors into awards discussion.
2) Darkest Hour
Distributed by Focus Features (Nov. 22nd), Directed by Joe Wright
Gary Oldman plays Winston Churchill and Ben Mendelsohn plays King George VI in this wartime drama from Atonement director Joe Wright. Seems to have Oscar DNA.
Distributed by Annapurna Pictures (Aug. 4th), Directed by Kathyrn Bigelow
Bigelow returns with what figures to be a tense look at the 1967 Detroit riots. The first trailer looks great, but this is Annapurna’s first film as a distributor so it’ll be interesting to see if they can keep an August release in the hunt.
4) The Post
Distributed by 20th Century Fox (Date TBD), Directed by Steven Spielberg
Spielberg tackles the pentagon papers with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in the leads. Fox has fast-tracked the film hoping to get it done in time for this awards season.
5) The Current War
Distributed by The Weinstein Company (Dec. 2nd), Directed by Alfonso -Gomez-Rajon
This film from the director of hit indie Me and Earl and the Dying Girl chronicles the rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon, respectively.
Distributed by Netflix (Date TBD), Directed by Dee Rees
This period drama sparked a ton of Oscar buzz at Sundance and started a bidding war. Netflix won out. We’ll see how they roll out the film.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (Oct. 13th), Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Aronofsky’s first feature since Noah has a loaded cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Little is known about the story, but Oscar has gone for Aronofsky’s weird brain in the past.
Distributed by Amazon/Roadside Attractions (Oct. 20th), Directed by Todd Haynes
Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Carol) is back with Julianne Moore in tow and buzz is palpable. The film will screen in competition at Cannes, by no means a historical indicator of Oscar success, but Carol did the same and went on to six nominations.
9) Mary Magdalene
Distributed by The Weinstein Company (Nov. 24th), Directed by Garth Davis
Lion helmer Garth Davis tackles this religious drama with Rooney Mara in the title role. Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Peter round out an outstanding principle cast.
10) The Snowman
Distributed by Universal (Oct. 20th), Directed by Tomas Alfredson
This crime mystery based on the popular series of novels stars Michael Fassbender and has received strong buzz from the beginning. Universal hopes it proves both a box office hit and awards darling.
11) Call Me By Your Name
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics (Nov. 24th), Directed by Luca Guadagnino
Along with Mudbound, this coming-of-age drama is the other Sundance film that sparked real awards buzz. The critics are already behind it and Sony Pictures Classics is of course capable of taking a Sundance darling all the way, as they did with Whiplash a few years ago.
12) The Shape of Water
Distributed by Fox Searchlight (Dec. 8th), Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo’s latest fantasy creation is set during the Civil War and features a loaded cast. Awards-friendly release from Searchlight helps.
13) Blade Runner 2049
Distributed by Warner Bros (Oct. 6th), Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Buzz is high for Villeneuve’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic. It should at least be in play all over the techs and with Arrival Villeneuve was welcomed by the Academy both in Picture and Director.
14) The Mountain Between Us
Distributed by 20th Century Fox (Oct. 20th), Directed by Hany Abu-Assad
Abu-Assad is a two-time foreign language nominee and his English-language debut is a romantic survival story starring Idris Elba and academy favorite Kate Winslet.
15) The Greatest Showman
Distributed by 20th Century Fox (Dec. 25th), Directed by Michael Gracey
This musical biopic stars Hugh Jackman as famed circus pioneer P.T. Barnum. Everyone loves Jackman in musicals and Fox held what could’ve been a summer film back to compete this awards season. How did first-time director Michael Gracey handle the big chair?
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (Date TBD), Directed by Alex Garland
Garland’s follow-up to Ex Machina has the makings of another smart sci-fi thriller. His artistic team is all back and Natalie Portman is in the lead fresh off her Jackie nomination.
Distributed by Warner Bros (July 21st), Directed by Chrisotpher Nolan
Nolan’s first attempt at a war film figures to be a summer smash and if it’s truly great Warner Bros will have no problem running a campaign as eyes will be on it already. Now we wait on reviews…
18) The Beguiled
Distributed by Focus Features (June 23rd), Directed by Sofia Coppola
Sofia is always in the discussion but Focus is giving this Cannes drama a summer release. Do they see it as an awards film? They have other horses in the race that could command more attention.
19) The Glass Castle
Distributed by Lionsgate (Aug. 11th), Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Brie Larson reteams with her Short Term 12 director for this film about famed memoirist Jeannette Wells. Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson round out the main cast, and the film will be cut by the Moonlight duo (Nat Sanders & Joi McMillon)
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (Dec. 22nd), Directed by Alexander Payne
Oscar loves it some Alexander Payne and his latest has a loaded cast hangling what appears to be a quirky sci-fi family drama about shrinking. Very intriguing on the surface.
Distributed by Open Road Films (Oct. 13th), Directed by Reginald Hudlin
This film about a young Thurgood Marshall stars Chadwick Boseman in the title role. Open Road Films proved themselves capable by taking Spotlight all the way. This seems a safe bet to make festival rounds.
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (Nov. 3rd), Directed by George Clooney
Clooney’s crime comedy features script work from his good pals the Coens and a loaded cast including Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Josh Brolin, and Oscar Isaac. Very few other details of the film are known right now.
23) Goodbye Christopher Robin
Distributed by Fox Searchlight (Nov. 10th), Directed by Simon Curtis
Domhnall Gleeson plays Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne, Margot Robbie plays his wife. Simon Curtis has proven himself a very capable director of actors.
24) Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Distributed by Disney (Dec. 15th), Directed by Rian Johnson
The Force Awakens was probably a lot closer to a Best Picture nom than people think, given the PGA and tech noms it scored. If Rian Johnson’s film is an improvement, why can’t it make noise?
25) Molly’s Game
Distributed by STX Entertainment (Date TBD), Directed by Aaron Sorkin
Acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin finally makes his directorial debut with this poker drama featuring Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba, and Kevin Costner.
Get Out (Universal), Wind River (The Weinstein Company), Lean on Pete (A24 Films), Wonder Wheel (Amazon), Granite Mountain (Lionsgate), The Killing of a Sacred Deer (A24 Films), War Machine (Netflix), Hostiles (No distribution yet)