Fall Movie Preview: The Oscar Hopefuls

Drew Dietsch

With the autumn months upon us, the start of Oscar season has begun. Tons of movies will be battling for recognition as the year comes to a close. We’ve already had a few contenders such as Sully and Hell or High Water. So, what other Oscar hopefuls are on the horizon for the fall months?

The Queen of Katwe

Release date: September 30

This uplifting biopic adapts the story of Phiona Mutesi, a young Ugandan woman who was hailed as a chess prodigy and went on to compete at the international level. Critics are already comparing Queen of Katwe to Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire. With powerhouse actors like David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o headlining, it’s likely this will be getting the Academy’s attention.

Deepwater Horizon

Release date: September 30

Peter Berg’s take on the infamous oil rig explosion that caused the largest environmental disaster in American history looks to be less focused on the effects of the accident. The film highlights the men and women working on the Deepwater Horizon as they struggle to survive. The cast is top notch and the direction looks awe-inspiring. Depending on how the message of the movie is received, this one could surprise.

The Birth of a Nation

Release date: October 7

It’s unfortunate that the controversy around The Birth of a Nation‘s lead actor/writer/director Nate Parker has overshadowed what looks to be a powerful and well-made film about the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner. The film won loads of praise when it premiered at Sundance. Considering the tumultuous issue of race relations in this election year, it’s likely that this will be part of the conversation.

Hacksaw Ridge

Release date: November 4

Mel Gibson returns to the director’s chair after a ten-year absence. The story that brought him back is based on US Army medic Desmond T. Doss, a conscientious objector who refused to use any weapons during his service in World War II. The film recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival and received a ten-minute standing ovation. News like that quickly reaches the Academy’s ears. This one is going to get some attention.


Release date: November 4

The true story of the couple that challenged the laws against interracial marriage looks to be one of the best actor showcases of the season. Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga already received enormous accolades when the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The subject matter, much like The Birth of a Naton, feels appropriate for our current cultural climate. Plus, writer/director Jeff Nichols has always delivered solid work. Look forward to Loving.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Release date: November 11

The acclaimed novel is brought to the big screen by award-winning director Ang Lee. Billy Lynn is an Iraq veteran who is hailed as a national hero and given a big celebration during the halftime show of a Dallas Cowboys game. The film has already been getting rave reviews, especially for Lee’s decision to shoot the film at 120 frames per second. It’s possible this could clench some technical awards as well as another nomination for Lee as Best Director.

Manchester by the Sea

Release date: November 18

This family drama centers around a man, Lee, who is made his nephew’s legal guardian after the boy’s father dies unexpectedly. This causes him to return to his hometown and deal with his ex-wife as well as the community he grew up in. Manchester by the Sea is the kind of uplifting family drama the Academy can’t get enough of. It also looks like another instance where the actors are going to be front and center. This could be Casey Affleck’s break into the big time.

Nocturnal Animals

fall preview oscar hopefuls oscars nocturnal animals jake gyllenhaal

Release date: November 18

Amy Adams portrays an art gallery owner who is terrified that her ex-husband, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, has written a new novel that works as a symbolic threat to her life. This dramatic thriller won over audiences at the Venice Film Festival, and both lead actors are two of the best thespians currently working in film. This won’t be one to miss. We only wish there was a trailer out!

Rules Don’t Apply

Release date: November 23

This glamorous biopic revolves around two employees of the famed Howard Hughes. Naturally, the two are forbidden to fall and love but they do so anyways. This is classic Oscar bait. Between the time period, the star-studded cast, and the congratulatory tone towards old Hollywood, it’s impossible not to see this as a bid for Warren Beatty. Could be good, but this is the only one on the list that feels a little shallow.

La La Land

Release date: December 2

As the fall transitions into winter, we’ll be getting one of the most hyped movies of the season. Writer/director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) crafted this musical romance about two young people looking for love and fame in the City of Angels. The response to this has been overwhelmingly positive, with many calling it a serious contender for Best Picture. If the teaser is any indication, this could be one for the books.

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