It wasn’t until last fall’s Venice and Telluride film festivals that eventual Best Picture contenders “Moonlight” and “La La Land” premiered and made their way onto everyone’s radar. As the next round of fall contenders are just emerging, it’s too early to make many bets on next year’s race for the Academy’s top prize. What we do know: some of the best filmmakers working today have new movies coming out in 2017, which Oscar watchers are tracking closely.
Sundance debuted Luca Guadagnino’s critically hailed “Call Me By Your Name,” which Sony Pictures Classics will push hard with audiences and voters this fall. The other darling of the Sundance Film Festival, true romance “The Big Sick,” is a well-mounted summer crowdpleaser with an impressive cast. So is Dee Rees’ “Mudbound,” but it remains to be seen if Netflix can drive a non-documentary Oscar campaign.
Hitchcockian sleeper hit “Get Out” from writer-director Jordan Peele could go the distance despite its horror genre.
Cannes broke out Best Director-winner Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” starring prize-winner Nicole Kidman, Sean Baker’s slice of poverty row “The Florida Project,” starring discovery Brooklynn Prince and veteran Willem Dafoe, and Todd Haynes’ ambitious silent/sound tapestry “Wonderstruck,” starring Julianne Moore, along with Lynne Ramsay’s hardboiled hitman drama “You Were Never really Here,” starring Best Actor-winner Joaquin Phoenix.
On June 2, Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” opened to $103 million with rave reviews and instantly entered the Oscar race for strong performances from Gal Gadot and Chris Pine as well as multiple technical achievements. The Academy directors could lean into Jenkins’ accomplishment; Warner Bros. is mounting a major campaign with more than technical nods in their sights.
Previous Oscar contenders Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Kenneth Branagh, and Alexander Payne are all releasing new efforts. And indies Joe Wright (“Darkest Hour”) and seeking to join the club.
Photo Credit: James Mangold
While fans of “Deadpool” were disappointed when it failed to register with Oscar voters, they have a second chance with another R-rated Marvel breakout, “X-Men” spin-off “Logan,” marking the end of Hugh Jackman’s incarnation of “Wolverine.” The Academy can be snobby about these things, but director James Mangold brought depth, storytelling and style to the comic-book superhero genre. Going in, who thought “Mad Max: Fury Road” would score ten nominations and six wins?
Another strong studio entry may be the one to beat: Christopher Nolan’s lauded World War II original blockbuster “Dunkirk,” featuring a strong cast of newcomers along with supporting veterans Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance and Ton Hardy to manages to carry deep emotion even while wearing a pilot’s mask.
A list of early possibilities is below. No film will be deemed a frontrunner until I have seen it.
“The Big Sick”
“Call Me By Your Name”
“Battle of the Sexes”
“The Current War”
“The Florida Project”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri”
“Victoria and Abdul”