It’s safe to say that 2016 has not been the brightest year for American cinema. Big summer movies not only fell short of expectations commercially, but also were probably the worst, artistically, in years. Can the last few months of the year make up for that? If it’s up to the actors on this list, they just might.
Each and every one of them has had at least two great movies released this year, and most of them are still to come. They’re probably going to be big presences in the upcoming Oscar season, too, so it’s more than recommended to keep an eye on them.
Here are 10 actors who have two great movies coming out in 2016
1. Amy Adams
The movies: Arrival (November 11), Nocturnal Animals (November 23 – limited; December 9 – wide)
You can practically count with that sixth nomination for Mrs. Adams’ resume this year. The 42 year-old actress partnered with two highly praised directors for a pair of films that are bound to make an impact on the 2017 Oscars. First, Denis Villeneuve’s cerebral sci-fi Arrival, which puts Adams as a linguist trying to establish contact with aliens.
Then, in the more traditional wheelhouse of the Academy, she plays a woman haunted by the new manuscript penned by her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the viscerally stylish adaptation of Nocturnal Animals by Tom Ford. Like Ford’s previous film, A Single Man, its glossy exterior hides a plethora of emotions that are ably expressed by Adams and her castmates.
2. Michelle Williams
The movies: Certain Women (October 14), Manchester By the Sea (November 18)
Another young multiple-nominee who’ll probably get another one this year is Michelle Williams, be it for her brief but unforgettable appearance in the great Manchester By the Sea or for her lead role in Certain Women. At the hands of great directors (Kenneth Lonergan and Kelly Reichardt), the 36 year-old star shines through in scathing and honest portrayal of everyday roles.
Unlike her almost supernatural mimicking of Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, these roles showcase Williams’ strength for thoughtful, subtle performances, elevating the already great material to a level where most spectators can relate to the character.
3. Rooney Mara
The movies: Una (October 9), Lion (November 25)
The insanely talented younger Mara sister is having a spectacular couple of years, and 2016 is no exception. Though it still didn’t arrive in American commercial theaters (the date above is for the debut in the Hamptons International Film Festival), Una seems like the powerhouse for her, an intimate and complicated drama in which she plays a woman confronting her past abuser (Ben Mendelsohn) for the first time.
In Lion she plays more of a supporting role. The lead is played by Dev Patel, a young man that travels back to India, where he’s from, to find her biological parents. Mara plays his supportive girlfriend, and he film has been getting high praises in the festival circuit, so don’t be too surprised if it becomes an Oscar contender.
4. Adam Driver
The movies: Silence (December 23 – limited), Paterson (December 28)
Another young star who’s been on a roll recently, Adam Driver has two big roles lined up for the last months of 2016. He’s in Martin Scorsese’s Silence, the story of a trio of Jesuit priests trying to propagate the Christian faith through Japan. Originally slated for 2017, Silence’s been swiftly advanced for a limited release in December, so it can have chances on the Oscar ballot.
Meanwhile, Driver’s been praised for his performance as a bus driver with a knack for poetry in Paterson, the newest film by Jim Jarmusch. Through Jarmusch films normally don’t make much of an impact on the awards season, this one seems like a stronger contender for the simplicity of its plot, devoid of the director’s usual flair for the eccentric.
5. Andrew Garfield
The movies: Hacksaw Ridge (November 4), Silence (December 23 – limited)
Andrew Garfield plays another one of the priests in Scorsese’s Silence, but that’s not the role for which he’s been most praised. In Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge, he plays a soldier that refuses to carry a gun and actively fight on the war, a moving true story that has struck a chord with critics and festival goers.
At 33, Garfield is due for some recognition – the issue was he was not finding the right projects after a failed stint at A-list stardom with the Spider-Man movies. Now, it seems, he found himself in a pair of quality projects that showcase his talent properly.