Directed by Thomas McCarthy and written by McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlgiht follows the “Spotlight” team, the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative unit in the United States, and their coverage of the Massachusetts Catholic sex abuse scandal, for which The Globe won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Spotlight was shown at the Telluride Film Festival, the Out of Competition section of the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, as well as the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
The film is scheduled to be released on November 6, 2015, by Open Road Films. Spotlight stars Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, among others in an ensemble cast. It has been one of the biggest hits from the Toronto International Film Festival and has been generating tons of award buzz.
7. Summertime (La Belle Saison)
Cécile de France, Izïa Higelin and Noémie Lvovsky star in this French-Belgian period piece directed and co-written by Catherine Corsini. The film first premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival, where it won the Variety Piazza Grande Award. Summertime was shown in the Special Presentations Section of the Toronto International Film Festival.
The plot follows a young french girl from a rural family who moves to Paris and begins a life-changing affair with a feminist activist. In a review for Variety, Peter Debruge called it a “luminous, golden-hued period piece” and a “beautifully realized tearjerker”. A golden-tint in every shot, the French countryside is captured beautifully and everything looks gorgeous. It was released on August 19th before it premiered at TIFF.
Winner of the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, Room stars Brie Larson, Joan Allen, William H. Macy, Sean Bridgers and Jacob Tremblay. Larson is Joy Newsome, also known as Ma who is being held captive with her five-year-old son in a garden shed. She is being kept there by Old Nick, who tricked them into helping find a lost dog. Seven years later, Ma and her son, Jack are still trapped in the room, itching to get out.
The film was written by Emma Donoghue and it is based on her book of the same name. Brie Larson is really the one to look at here. She seems like a likely Best Actress nominee or at least get considered for her work. She is receiving a lot of praise. As is Jacob Tremblay who plays Jack her son, his performance has been described as “layered and textured”. The film is scheduled to be released in a limited release on October 16, 2015, before being released nationwide on November 6, 2015, by A24 Films.
5. The Witch
Every festival needs a little bit horror. Director and writer Robert Eggers gives us the story of a Puritan family encountering forces of evil in the woods beyond their New England farm. It won the Directing Award in the U.S. Dramatic category at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered to critical acclaim.
Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, and Kate Dickie, The Witch was also shown at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on July 7, 2015, and the Melbourne International Film Festival on August 6, 2015.
In the review from Variety “A fiercely committed ensemble and an exquisite sense of historical detail conspire to cast a highly atmospheric spell in ‘The Witch’, a strikingly achieved tale of a mid-17th-century New England family’s steady descent into religious hysteria and madness”. It was acquired by A24 Films for a 2016 theatrical release.
4. Son of Saul
Shown as part of the Special Presentation portion of the Toronto International Film Festival, Son of Saul was one of the darlings of the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Grand Prix du Jury among three other prizes.
The film follows Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig), a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner in Auschwitz who works as a Sonderkommando member, burning the dead. One day he finds the body of a boy he takes for his son. He tries to salvage the body from the flames, and finds a rabbi to arrange a clandestine burial.
Meanwhile other members of the Sonderkommando learn about their impending extermination, rise up and destroy the crematorium. Saul keeps focused on his own plan to pay the last honours to a son he never could take care of before.
Co-written and directed by László Nemes, Son of Saul has received widespread acclaim in each festival it’s been presented and will be Hungary’s submission for the 2016 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
3. The Danish Girl
Based on the 2000 novel of the same name by David Ebershoff, The Danish Girl has received the most buzz among the films on this list since its casting.
The casting of Eddie Redmayne, right off of his Oscar win, and being a cisgender man playing a transwoman, has had people talking. In the film, Redmayne plays Lily Elbe, one of the first known recipients of gender reassignment surgery. Alicia Vikander stars as Gerda Wegener, along with Matthias Schoenaerts and Ben Whishaw.
It was screened in the main competition section of the 72nd Venice International Film Festival, and it has been selected to be shown in the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Since those showings Redmayne has received even more award buzz and this film itself has gotten strongly positive reviews. The film is scheduled to be released in a limited release on November 27, 2015 by Focus Features. Look out for this one this award season.
2. Black Mass
Is this the comeback moment that Johnny Depp needs? From the initial response from audiences and critics alike, it might be. In Black Mass, Depp plays Irish-American mobster Whitey Bulger. Directed by Scott Cooper and written by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth, the film is based on the 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill.
The film had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival and was released by Warner Bros. on September 18th worldwide. The cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Julianne Nicholson, and Kevin Bacon, among others. Black Mass has received generally positive reviews, particularly for Depp’s performance. Johnny Depp’s portrayal of infamous Boston mobster Whitey Bulger could put him back into the category of top actors in the business. A Best Actor Oscar nomination is a good bet.
1. The Martian
Ridley Scott returns to space and he brought Matt Damon along. Damon stars as an astronaut who is presumed dead and left behind on the planet Mars, and he fights to survive the situation. The film also features Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Donald Glover in supporting roles. It is based on the novel of the same name by Andy Weir. The film premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2015.
On Rotten Tomatoes, The Martian has a 97% score, with the consensus reading: “Smart, thrilling, and surprisingly funny, The Martian offers a faithful adaptation of the bestselling book that brings out the best in leading man Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott.” James L. Green, the Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA, worked as an adviser for the film and praised the filmmakers’ dedication to accuracy.
With such acclaim already under its belt, The Martian could play a role in the award season. 20th Century Fox will release the film in theaters in the United Kingdom on September 30, 2015. It will release the film in theaters in the United States on October 2, 2015.
Author Bio: Ryan Anderson is a sophomore at Miami University in Oxford Ohio, where he is studying Zoology and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. His love of classic cinema and film history keeps his love for film strong and ever-present in his life.