The big fall film festivals have come and gone, which means that award season is officially here. Oscar nominations won’t be announced until the end of January, but film studios will spend the next few months rolling out their biggest and best films, right up to the final days of 2018.
We don’t have to wait for the official nominations to arrive, however. A whole set of great films are already getting serious Oscar buzz — these eight movies will be some of the big contenders for Hollywood’s biggest awards.
A Star is Born
Bradley Cooper has been nominated three times for an Academy Award but has yet to take home a statue. He’ll have two chances with A Star is Born, however, as the film is also his directorial debut. This musical is a new version of the story that has been at the center of three great films already and follows a troubled country music artist who gets involved with a talented young singer/songwriter. With Cooper and Lady Gaga in the lead roles, both performing all of their own music, A Star Is Born is a shoo-in for several nominations. (Opens on October 5)
Director Damien Chazelle’s last film, La La Land, almost won Best Picture in 2017. Now Chazelle and Ryan Gosling will go for gold again with First Man. The biographical film is based on the novel First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, by James R. Hansen. Gosling plays Armstrong, the first astronaut to walk on the moon. The cast features a long list of incredible talent (including Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Ciarán Hinds, and Christopher Abbott) to complement Gosling. (Opens on October 12)
One of last year’s standout young stars, Timothée Chalamet, could be punching his ticket for a second straight awards season with Beautiful Boy. The movie, directed by Felix Van Groeningen (The Broken Circle Breakdown), focuses on Nic (Chalamet), a young man trying to recover from severe drug addiction. Steve Carell plays Nic’s father, who tries to help Nic face his demons. With a script based on two memoirs by a father and son, this drama packs a powerful punch. (Opens on October 12)
Joel Edgerton wrote, directed, and co-stars in this coming-of-age story about a young man forced into a gay conversion therapy program. Lucas Hedges plays the son of a pastor who is outed to his parents (Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe). He’s pushed into conversion therapy so that his family and community will accept him once again. (Opens on November 2)
Widows might seem like an action-packed popcorn flick, but this is something much heavier and more ambitious. Steve McQueen (Shame, 12 Years a Slave) directs the story of four women who set out to finish a heist after their husbands are killed trying to pull off the same job. With a cast that includes Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo we expect to see competing Best Actress nominations for this one. (And since the supporting cast also features Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, Daniel Kaluuya, Jacki Weaver, Carrie Coon, Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson) there’s someone for everyone here. (Opens on November 16)
Emma Stone has become an awards season, er, favorite, and she’ll almost certainly get a nod for her work in this new movie from provocative director Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer). The Favourite is set during the early 18th century, during the reign of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), and follows the politics and drama related to two of her closest peers. An intense rivalry develops between Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) and her cousin (Stone) as they fight to be the Queen’s court favorite. (Opens on November 23)
If Beale Street Could Talk
Director Barry Jenkins returns with a follow-up to Moonlight. This film follows Clementine “Tish” Rivers, who tries to prove her husband’s innocence so she can clear his name before their child is born. It’s based on the novel of the same name by author James Baldwin. With the success of Moonlight in 2017, we’re eager to see the new work from Jenkins, and wonder if he’ll bring home the industry’s biggest accolade once again. (Opens on November 30)
Mary Queen of Scots
Last year, Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie went head to head for the Best Actress award. Now they could be recognized for the same project. The historical drama directed by Josie Rourke is based on the biography My Heart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots, written by John Guy. Ronan plays Mary, while Robbie is the face of Queen Elizabeth I, Mary’s cousin and the Queen of England and Ireland. The film focuses on the tension between the two women and the conflict among their countries. (Opens on December 7)
The 91st Academy Awards is scheduled for February 24, 2019.