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25 Awards Contenders to See This Season, From ‘Roma’ to ‘The Favourite’ to ‘First Man’ and More

As the summer gives way to another slammed festival season that will breed yet another nutty awards season, IndieWire tries to suss out the most likely contenders.

This week, IndieWire is rolling out our annual fall preview, including the very best indie movies coming out this year, all the awards contenders you need to know about, and even some blockbuster fare that will please the most discerning viewers. Check back every day for a new look at the best the season has to offer. Be sure to check out our list of indie gems and festival favorites to see this season, plus our look at blockbusters worth your movie-going buck.

“White Boy Rick” (September 14)

Hollywood has been courting British TV vet Yann Demange ever since Film Four’s war drama ”’71,” which broke out Jack O’Connell at Berlin 2014 (and went on to play some 33 festivals). Some wondered if Demange was having way too much fun to get serious, as he flirted, took meetings, hung out. Finally after four years of false starts at the likes of Annapurna, Plan B, and New Regency, he’s delivering his follow-up. It’s a true ’80s crack era father-son story starring Matthew McConaughey as Rick Wershe, the single hard-scrabble parent of Rick Wershe, Jr. (discovery Richie Merritt) who at age 14 rises in the ranks of local Detroit drug dealers to become the unlikely youngest ever kingpin and FBI informant. Sony’s rip-roaring trailer bears some resemblance to “The Fighter,” which isn’t a bad comp — but count on Demange to be intense. -AT

“Colette” (September 21)

“Colette”

If the thought of Keira Knightley in an expertly-tailored tuxedo doesn’t raise your blood pressure, you may as well just quit while you’re ahead. Knightley has held a certain fascination for the Sapphic set ever since her breakout in 2002’s “Bend It Like Beckham,” and “Colette” is sure to fulfill the long-awaited promise of the more androgynous side of the charming Brit. The latest feature from “Still Alice” director Wash Westmoreland, who is openly gay, “Colette” is the perfect tale for the Time’s Up era. The film tells the story of Gabrielle Sidonie Colette, a writer who publishes under a pen name — Willy — for which her controlling husband Henry (Dominic West) takes credit. After the smashing success of her first novel makes them the toast of Bohemian Paris, Henry pressures Colette to continue writing for him. Her growing resentment sends her into the arms of the gender-defying Mathilde de Morny (Denise Gough), who inspires her to break free. Produced by Christine Vachon’s Killer Films, “Colette” premiered at Sundance to largely positive reviews. —JD

“The Sisters Brothers” (September 21)

“The Sisters Brothers”

Jacques Audiard becomes the latest European auteur to make his English-language debut with “The Sisters Brothers,” which finds the Palme d’Or winner teaming up with John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix as the eponymous siblings opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed as two men who find themselves at odds with them. Audiard — who won the Palme for “Dheepan” and a host of other prizes for the likes of “Rust and Bone” and “A Prophet” — has adapted Patrick deWitt’s western novel for his Annapurna production, which looks just as dark as his previous work but more comically absurd as well. -MN

“The Old Man & the Gun” (September 28)

"Old Man and the Gun"

“The Old Man & the Gun”

Fox Searchlight

Robert Redford, at 81, returns to the genre that made his career — romantic outlaw drama — think “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Sting.” Based on real-life criminal Forrest Tucker, this old man is juggling two loves, robbing banks and a beautiful woman (Sissy Spacek). He’s a 17-time bank robber who has escaped from prison 17 times too. He could go back in the slammer if the determined detective on his trail (Casey Affleck) catches him. Affleck is back for his third go-round with David Lowery, while Redford starred in the filmmaker’s “Pete’s Dragon.” Redford has declared that this could be his final screen performance. (We shall see.) Fox Searchlight took the film off the market when it was in prep. —AT

“A Star Is Born” (October 5)

“A Star Is Born”

Warner Bros.

After earning three Oscar nominations for his acting, Bradley Cooper steps into the director’s chair for the first time with his country music spin on “A Star Is Born.” Cooper also stars in the film as a legendary country singer who falls in love with an aspiring musician, played by Lady Gaga in her feature film debut. Cooper and Gaga worked on the film’s original music and performed its concert scenes live at festivals like Coachella and Glastonbury. Cooper is adamant about bring a visceral realism to his “A Star Is Born,” and fortunately he’s got help from veteran cinematographer and Darren Aronofsky regular Matthew Libatique. -ZS

“First Man” (October 12)

First Man

“First Man”

Expectations are high for Damien Chazelle and Ryan Gosling after Oscar winner “La La Land,” so it’s no surprise that Universal landed the opening slot in Venice for their Neil Armstrong mission-to-the-moon movie (which is also expected in Telluride and Toronto). Chazelle bridges the intimate and the epic with this astronaut-on-a-mission movie, using a cinema verite feel to take viewers inside a human drama that starts in 1966 Houston, Texas and by 1969 sends human beings hurtling in a tin can into the stratosphere, heading for a walk on the moon and the enigmatic line, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Gosling as Armstrong is joined by Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin and Lukas Haas as Michael Collins, with “The Crown Star” Claire Foy as Janet Armstrong, whose husband died in 2012. -AT

“Beautiful Boy” (October 12)

"Beautiful Boy"

“Beautiful Boy”

IMdB

Less than a year after becoming the youngest best actor nominee in eight decades, Timothée Chalamet returns to the big screen with one of those roles that is destined for Oscar buzz. “Beautiful Boy,” directed by Felix van Groeningen, casts Chalamet in the role of teenager who becomes addicted to pills. The teen’s addiction causes a riff between him and his father, played by Steve Carell. Both actors are prior Oscar nominees and are expected to be contenders this year. The film is based on the true story of Nic Sheff and his father, David Sheff. -ZS

“The Hate U Give” (October 19)

“The Hate U Give”

Fox 2000

Directed by George Tillman, Jr. (“Soul Food,” “Notorious”), this heart-tugging inner-city father-daughter drama is adapted by Audrey Wells (“Shall We Dance?”) from Angie Thomas’ young adult bestseller, which has sold over 1 million copies to date. Rising star Amandla Stenberg (“Hunger Games”) is Starr Carter, a bouncy achiever with two personas, one for her family and neighborhood, and another for her mostly white private high school. One night, her 18-year-old childhood friend (newcomer Algee Smith) drives her home from a raucous party and is shot point blank by a white cop. A lawyer-activist (Issa Rae) tries to talk Starr’s grocery-store-owner father (“Fences” star Russell Hornsby) and mother (Regina Hall of “Girls Trip”) into letting her testify to what she saw, and her drug-running uncle (Anthony Mackie) also wants her to stay quiet. Hornsby steals the movie as a tender dad looking out for his kids; he could score a Supporting Actor nod. -AT

“22 July” (October 19)

July 22, 2011 is the date of a devastating two-pronged terrorist attack in Norway that was carried out by a lone right-wing extremist, who read aloud from his 1,500 page manifesto against European immigration and liberalism at his eventual trial. The first attack was a homemade bomb placed in a vehicle parked near the office of the Prime Minister that killed eight and injured hundreds. Shortly after, the killer, dressed as a police officer, infiltrated a youth summer camp on a nearby island and killed 69 more. While little is known about the reported $20 million dollar Netflix production, that it is being directed by Paul Greengrass says quite a bit. The director who brought a handheld intensity to three of the Bourne franchise films is a master of recreating real life violent attacks: “Bloody Sunday,” “United 93,” and “Captain Phillips.” With “United 93,” Greengrass went to painstaking lengths to bring a documentary realism to the story of the passengers who brought down the fourth plane on 9/11, which might be what we should expect from this new film, which features a Norwegian cast. -CO

“Wildlife” (October 19)

"Wildlife"

“Wildlife”

IFC Films

Adapted from Richard Ford’s 1990 novel of the same name, Paul Dano’s directorial debut is a tender, gorgeous, and exquisitely understated drama about a family that loses its faith in itself. Set in an idyllic Montana town circa the early 1960s, and told from the perspective of a 14-year-old boy whose world is falling apart, “Wildlife” tells the all-American survival story of a rudderless man (Jake Gyllenhaal) leaving his distressed young wife (Carey Mulligan) to fend for herself. Working from the spare and beautifully observed script he co-wrote with Zoe Kazan — and directing with all the confidence you might expect from someone who’s spent the last two decades living the best film school imaginable — Dano crafts an unsparing drama that’s harsh and humane in equal measure. Mulligan is particularly brilliant; supported by a script that understands her character’s challenges and approaches them with rare empathy, her frayed performance resolves into a sad and immensely affecting portrait of reinvention. —DE

“Burning” (October 26)

“Burning”

Fantastic Fest

Eight years had passed since Korean filmmaker Lee Chang-dong brought another movie to Cannes. Lee, a precise filmmaker whose patient character studies are among some of the richest in world cinema today, doesn’t need to rush. Of course it was worth the wait: Combining forces with Haruki Murakami by adapting his short story “Barn Burning,” Lee develops a haunting, beautiful tone poem about working class frustrations, based around the experiences of frustrated wannabe writer Lee (a superb, understated Ah-in Yoo) who thinks he’s found an escape from his loneliness when he encounters Haimi (energetic newcomer Jean Jong Seo), a lively woman from his past with whom he sees romantic possibilities. That situation gets complicated by the arrival of Ben (Steven Yeun), a wealthy and assertive stranger with an American name who represents everything Lee wants in life. The filmmaker develops a fascinating, allegorical mystery around these circumstances as the drama builds to a shocking confrontation that asks as many questions as it answers. “Burning” is at once a social parable for lower class struggles and an intimate portrait of struggling for companionship and assertiveness in an indifferent world. That’s typical Lee Chang-dong territory, and it’s a thrill to have him back. —EK

“Boy Erased” (November 2)

"Boy Erased"

“Boy Erased”

Focus Features

Focus Features moved up sophomore director Joel Edgerton’s “Boy Erased” from September 28 into award-season primetime on November 2. (It’s debuting at the fall festivals.) Word is that 21-year-old Lucas Hedges (who landed his first Oscar nomination in “Manchester by the Sea”) is superb as a southern high school basketball star whose attraction to men leads his Baptist parents (Australian Oscar winners Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman) to give him an ultimatum: go into conversion therapy or move out. Edgerton (“The Gift”) discovered Garrard Conley’s memoir, “Boy Erased,” and decided to adapt it himself; he plays the conversion program’s lead therapist. Finally, the conversion comes for the parents. -AT

“The Other Side of the Wind” (November 2)

“The Other Side of the Wind”

Netflix

Today, Orson Welles is a towering figure in film history, but during his lifetime he was the famous 20-something wunderkind Hollywood discarded and who struggled to make films. Late in life, his magician-like qualities were applied to low-budget filmmaking innovation (“F Is for Fake” being a prime example), but his perfectionism and unwillingness to compromise didn’t allow him to cut corners and he became a tragic figure who struggled to finish films. “The Other Side of the Wind” was one of the most troubled of these late-career efforts. Welles filmed (and raised funds) in spurts over a number of years and sometimes without his lead (director John Huston). Welles also faced an expected tax bill (the U.S. government rejected that it was a European production) and and the film was kept in legal limbo for years following the fall of the Shah of Iran (whose brother-in-law had financed a good portion of the production). A film-within-a-film, Huston plays a film director based on Ernest Hemingway (a Welles acquaintance), plotting his Hollywood comeback after being exiled in Europe (so, there’s a little Welles himself mixed in with Hemingway). “The Other Side of the Wind,” like the film Huston is making in the film, was shot and edited in a highly experimental way. Welles hadn’t finished editing it, nor recorded the musical score or narration when he died. The efforts to rescue the film have been numerous over 30 years (remember the Indiegogo campaign?), but ultimately the combination of producer Frank Marshall and a reported $5 million from Netflix (which includes an order for a documentary about the film’s fascinating backstory) is what led to it finally being finished and ready to be released. -CO

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