It’s been just over a month since the 87th annual Academy Awards, and you know what that means: It’s time for my obnoxious year-in-advance predictions for the 2017 ceremony! As always, the films are ranked based on the likelihood that they receive a Best Picture nomination, not who I expect to actually win the thing. I’m holding off on trying to guess the entrants in any other category because this exercise is ridiculous enough already without trying to tap the five Sound Design nominees before anything has even come out. Without further ado, here are my undoubtably accurate projections for next year’s Oscars!
Sure, the hyper-serious subject matter (priests spreading catholicism in seventeenth century Japan) and the impressive cast list (Liam Neeson, Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield) are helpful and all, but this film sits on top for one reason and one reason only; Martin Scorsese movies released near the end of the year literally never miss out on a Best Picture nomination.
Easily the most talked-about movie coming out of this year's Sundance film festival, the reportedly electric directorial feature debut of lead actor Nate Parker offers the Academy a chance to both shame the original Birth of a Nation, and make some headway against #oscarsowhite.
Slience and Nation feel almost assured already; the rest of this list is where the real fun starts. Damien Chazelle made waves a couple years ago with his debut feature Whiplash, and in a season that will undoubtably skew very, very serious, I like the odds of a romantic lark starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
4. War Machine
A satire of America's war with Afghanistan, War Machine will be debuting on Netflix later this year, and there's little doubt that the streaming giant will crack into Hollywood's biggest night sometime soon. Having up-and-comer David Michôd behind the camera and Brad Pitt in front of it doesn't exactly hurt.
This movie practically has Best Picture Nominee written across its forehead, but after years of waiting for its completion, I'm less than confident it will ever see the light of day. If it does, please kindly move it up to my #3 slot.
6. Manchester By the Sea
Though the eternal stalling and ultimate commercial flame-out of Margaret has kept him from receiving any Oscar attention of late, Kenneth Lonergan is a beloved craftsman of small scale drama, and Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams feel like a perfect pair of actors for his brand of storytelling.
7. The Zookeeper's Wife
Niki Caro's career never really took off like Whale Rider fans predicted, but if she's ever going to crack the line-up, it'll be this year. It doesn't get much more Oscar friendly than Jessica Chastain starring in a movie about the Holocaust.
Outside of some TV work, Stephen Gaghan has been silent ever since winning an Oscar for his Traffic screenplay, and writing and directing its spiritual sequel Syriana. The guy's got talent, and this tale of the search for gold in the Indonesian jungle (starring Matthew McConaughey) might be his ticket back to the big kids' table.
This tale of repression set amidst the Korean War, Indignation lacks both the stars and directing resume that I tend to look for when compiling this list, but it has one huge feather in its cap; people have actually seen it already, and the reviews are fantastic.
Having already released Midnight Special earlier this year to great critical acclaim, eternally-rising director Jeff Nichols will be back with Loving, a period drama that depicts the struggles of an interracial couple, and might just give Joel Edgerton his first shot at Oscar glory.
11. Robert Zemeckis Untitled WWII Romance
Robert Zemeckis has yet to make the big Oscar comeback that I personally still see in the cards, and crafting a period drama starring Tom Hanks and Marion Cotillard strikes me as a good bet.
12. The Light Between Oceans
Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, Place Beyond the Pines) concocts a specific brand of melodrama that seems right in Oscar's wheelhouse. A cast featuring Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz, and reigning Best Supporting Actress Alicia Vikander ensures it will get at least some attention.
13. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
Ang Lee directing a film about the emotional tolls of the Iraq war should be one of the safest bets on this whole list, but is the Academy really going to embrace a movie starring Vin Diesel and Kristen Stewart? I have my doubts.
14. Free State of Jones
He might not be a household name of anything, but director Gary Ross has already been nominated four times. A civil war drama starring Matthew McConaughey could lead to his fifth.
I can't believe I have an alien invasion flick this high up in my Best Picture predictions, but director Denis Villeneuve is frankly too impressive for voters to keep ignoring, and I love the thought of this being Amy Adams' Oscar winning performance.
Also on the Radar:
16. Nocturnal Animals
18. The Founder
20. Collateral Beauty
21. Arms and the Dudes
22. The Lost City of Z
24. The Girl on the Train
26. American Pastoral
27. The Promise
28. Deepwater Horizon
29. 20th Century Women
30. A United Kingdom
31. Everybody Wants Some!!
32. True Crimes
33. Finding Dory
34. The Lobster
35. Money Monster
36. Certain Women
37. The Accountant
40. Hacksaw Ridge