At the end of December, the ‘Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ will officially stop accepting entrees for their esteemed “Academy Awards”. Like 2015, this year has been an incredible journey, and audiences have been given a wide range of films to view and ponder for their own enjoyment, with many people no doubt already thinking about what nominees to expect at next year’s Oscars.
However, despite its prestigious nature, the Academy has unfortunately earned a reputation for being predictable. Not only when it comes to the winners, but also to the individual contenders, most notably those competing for “Best Picture”. Thus, while we have not seen every single movie released this year, we at “Taste of Cinema” have compiled a list anticipating what films you can expect to see in the Best Picture category. Tell us what you think!
8. La La Land
What do “West Side Story”, “My Fair Lady”, “The Sound of Music”, “Oliver!” and “Chicago” have in common? They are all musicals that swept the Oscars in their respective year. It is no secret that the Academy loves them, and the rules they have laid out are simple: you can be as bombastic as you want so long as there is great production value and vibrant energy, as Les Misérables proved in 2012.
“La La Land”, which debuted at Sundance and comes out December 9, has all of that, and then some. Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in their third outing as a movie couple (following “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “Gangster Squad”), “La La Land” tells of two aspiring artists that fall in love, yet find themselves struggling to balance their growing careers with their social lives. Directed and written by the genius behind the Oscar-nominated “Whiplash”, “La La Land” is sure to continue his streak as a distinct talent.
7. Live by Night
Crime novelist Dennis Lehane has seen past adaptations of his works score Oscar nominations, and even some gold in the case of Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River”. His 2012 book “Live by Night” attracted the attention of Ben Affleck, who not only helmed the “Gone Baby Gone” adaptation, but also previously won the ‘Academy Award for Best Picture’ for “Argo” the same year.
Reviving the gangster genre in what appears to look like a stylish neo-noir ride, Affleck may end up making up for his ‘Best Director’ snub, and then some, continuing LeHane’s Hollywood streak in the process.
6. Manchester by the Sea
Kenneth Lonergan is an American playwright that has, over the course of the 20th century, begun a very slow transition into one of the best indie filmmakers of our time. You may remember his debut “You Can Count on Me” in 2000, which gave Laura Linney her first Oscar nomination, or his more recent work “Margaret” in 2011, starring Anna Paquin as a guilt-ridden student.
Five years since then, we now have “Manchester by the Sea”, a drama focused a man’s return to his hometown of the same name in Massachusetts. Featuring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams in the lead roles, “Manchester By the Sea” has already won rave reviews with an average rating of 8.7/10 on Rotten Tomatoes and 91/100 on Metacritic. Having secured multiple nominations at the Gotham Awards, and it is sure to do the name for the Academy Awards next year.
It seems strange that interracial marriage was only legalized 49 years ago, but such was the situation in the aptly named Supreme Court case ‘Loving v. Virginia’ in 1967. Now writer/director Jeff Nichols, of “Midnight Special” fame, has beautifully adapted the events of the trial to the big screen, nearly snagging the Palme d’Or at Cannes this year.
With such a sensitive subject reportedly handled with grace, it seems fitting that a film about fulfilled love end up attracting the highest award show in the country.