We have barely let the dust settle after the 2016 Oscars and we are already looking ahead as to which movies and performances may be the runners and the riders during the awards season next year.

Manchester By The Sea

Manchester By The Sea

There are some really exciting movies on the horizon and there are some performances that I cannot wait to see - there's no doubt that some of them will be battling it out to get their hands on this prestigious prize.

While it may be months and months until the 2017 Oscar nominations are announced, we take a look at some of the films that could well be in the mix.

- The Light Between Oceans - released 6th January 2017

The Light Between Oceans is already a movie that I cannot wait to see - it is such a shame that we are going to have to wait until January of next year before it hits the big screen.

The movie sees two of this year's Oscar stars Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender join forces for the first time; Vikander won Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl while Fassbender was nominated for Best Actor for Steve Jobs. They are two of the best actors around and I cannot wait to see them in action.

The Light Between Oceans is a big screen adaptation of the novel of the same name by M.L. Stedman and sees Fassbender and Vikander play married couple Tom and Isabel Sherbourne. The film marks the return of Derek Cianfrance to the director's chair - he has also penned the film's screenplay.

This is the fourth feature film of Cianfrance's career and comes after Brother Tied, Blue Valentine, and The Place Beyond the Pines. He is one of the most exciting directors around and I cannot wait to see what he delivers with this latest film project.

On a remote Australian island in the years following World War I, lighthouse keeper Tom Sherbourne (Fassbender) and his wife, Isabel (Vikander), discover a boat washed ashore carrying a dead man and a two-month-old baby. Rescuing the infant, they make the decision to raise her as their own but the consequences of their choice prove to be devastating.

This is promising to be a captivating film and Vikander and Fassbender could find themselves in the Oscar mix again for their central performances.

The Light Between Oceans

- Birth Of A Nation - released 20th January 2017

Nate Parker is an actor turned filmmaker who is set to make his feature film directorial debut at the beginning of 2017 with Birth of a Nation.

Birth of a Nation is set to be another powerful slave movie and is already being tipped as a major player for the upcoming awards season. Are we already looking at the Best Picture Oscar winner?

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, where it won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition. It would not be the first time that Sundance has uncovered a gem of a film that has gone on to enjoy critical and awards success.

As well as being in the director's chair, Parker also takes on the central role of African-American slave Nat Turner. He is joined on the cast list by Armie Hammer, Mark Boone Junior, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Dwight Henry, and Aja Naomi King.

Set against the antebellum South, The Birth Of A Nation follows Nat Turner (Nate Parker), a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), accepts an offer to use Nat's preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities - against himself and his fellow slaves - Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.

There was a huge controversy at this year's Oscar at the lack of diversity within most of the categories - particularly these acting nominations. Birth of a Nation could deliver that diversity in many of the categories.

Birth Of A Nation

- Free State of Jones - released 9th September

We haven't seen too much of Matthew McConaughey on the big screen since he won his Best Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club... but Free State of Jones is just one of the movies that we are going to see him star in going forward.

Free State of Jones is a movie that I am really looking forward to as McConaughey is set to take on the central role of Newton Knight, a farmer who leads a group of rebels against the Confederate army during the Civil War.

This is another incredibly meaty role of McConaughey to get his teeth into, so don't be surprised if he is in the Best Actor Oscar mix once again for his performance. He is joined on the cast list by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Keri Russell, Sean Bridgers, and Mahershala Ali.

Free State of Jones marks the return of Gary Ross to the director's chair for what is his first feature film since The Hunger Games back in 2012. As well as being in the director's chair, Ross has also penned the film's screenplay.

Free State of Jones is not the only film that we are going to be seeing McConaughey star in over the coming months; The Sea of Trees and Gold are two other movies to watch out for as we head towards the awards season.

Free State of Jones

- Manchester By The Sea

Casey Affleck is one of the most exciting actors around and he is set to return in new drama Manchester By The Sea. The movie has yet to receive an official release date here in the UK, but it is set to be a powerful film about family.

The movie sees Kenneth Lonergan back in the director's chair for the third feature film of his career. The movie comes after Margaret and You Can Count on Me and will mark the first time that he has teamed up with Affleck.

As well as being in the director's chair, Lonergan has also penned the film's screenplay. He has brought together an impressive screenplay as Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Gretchen Mol and Tate Donovan are also on board.

The movie follows Lee Chandler (Affleck) who has been named the legal guardian of his nephew after the sudden death of his older brother. Lee returns to the community where he was born and raised to take care of the teenage boy.

Manchester By The Sea premiered at the Sundance Film Festival back in January and is another of the films that has already been tipped to do well this year on both the festival and awards circuit.

Manchester By The Sea

- Silence

When you are talking about potential award winning movies, any film that has been directed by Martin Scorsese has to be considered. Scorsese is set to return to the director's chair with Silence; his first feature since the success of The Wolf of Wall Street.

Silence is a big screen adaptation of the book of the same name by Shusaku Endo. The novel has been adapted for the big screen by Jay Cocks, who wrote the screenplay for Gangs of New York.

Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, and Adam Driver take on the central roles of Father Cristóvão Ferreira, Father Sebastião Rodrigues, and Father Francisco Garrpe and are joined on the cast list by Tadanobu Asano, Ciaran Hinds, and Shinya Tsukamoto.

Set in the seventeenth century, Silence follows two Jesuit priests who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and propagate Christianity.

Scorsese movies have featured heavily at the Oscars over the years so don't be surprised if Silence ends up in the Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Bes Director race.

Silence

- The Founder

Ever since starring in Birdman in 2014, Michael Keaton really has seen a resurgence in his career; following Birdman's success with a role in the equally critically acclaimed Spotlight.

Now the Oscar-nominated actor is set to return to the big screen in biopic film The Founder. He will take on the role of Ray Kroc, the founder of MacDonalds. This movie is set to chronicle his journey of establishing the most iconic fast-food chain in the world.

The Founder is the latest film for director John Lee Hancock and the first time that we have seen him in the director's chair since the success of Saving Mr. Banks back in 2013.

Hancock is no stranger to the biopic movie with the likes of Saving Mr. Banks and The Blind Side already under his belt. The Wrestler and Turbo screenwriter Robert D. Siegel is on board having penned the screenplay.

The director has brought together a terrific cast as Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, Nick Offerman, Laura Dern, John Carroll Lynch, and B.J. Novak will all star alongside Keaton.

We know how much the Academy loves a biopic movie and The Founder could well see Keaton pick up another Best Actor Oscar nomination. Could this be the movie and the performance that finally sees him triumph?

The Founder

- The Girl on the Train - released 7th October

The Girl on the Train is the thriller movie that follows in the footsteps of Gone Girl and be the surprise package of the awards season.

Directed by Tate Taylor, The Girl on the Train is a big screen adaptation of the novel of the same name by Paula Hawkins and sees Emily Blunt in the central role of Rachel Watson.

We have already been treated to the first trailer for the film... and it really is promising to be a tense and edge of your seat thriller. I have to say, it is already one of the autumn movies that I am looking forward to the most.

Blunt is joined on the cast list by Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramírez, Justin Theroux, Allison Janney, and Lisa Kudrow.

In the movie, Rachel (Blunt), who is devastated by her recent divorce, spends her daily commute fantasising about the seemingly perfect couple who live in a house that her train passes every day, until one morning she sees something shocking happen there and becomes entangled in the mystery that unfolds.

In the last couple of years, we have seen a few more mainstream movies break into the Oscar race and The Girl on the Train could well be the film to lead the way this year.

The Girl on the Train

- Zootropolis - out now

Sadly, the animation genre is one that tends to get overlooked when it comes to the Best Picture nominations. Beauty and the Beast, Up, and Toy Story are the only three animated films to make it onto the Best Picture list. No animated feature has ever won this award.

Could Zootropolis become the fourth film to be nominated? Zootropolis is the fifty-fifth feature film from Disney and is the animated feature that has been whipping up a storm so far this year.

Not only has the film opened to critical acclaim, but it has grossed over $900 million at the global box office and is - at the moment - the highest grossing film of the year so far. It will certainly end 2016 as one of the most successful films in this genre.

While there's no doubt that this film will be in the mix for Best Animated Feature - you could argue that it will be one of the favourites to win - it would be fantastic to see it in the mix for Best Picture.

In a city of anthropomorphic animals, a rookie bunny cop and a cynical con artist fox must work together to uncover a conspiracy.

Zootropolis is not afraid to deliver a very moral lesson about intolerance and prejudice - this message is beautifully delivered by showing that all these animals have learned to live together in peace and harmony. This film really is a sharp examination of lessons of intolerance and prejudice and the movie should be applauded for tackling these issues in such a great way.

Zootropolis

Other movies to watch out for include La La Land, Passengers, Nocturnal Animals, Sully, Jackie, A United Kingdom, and Collateral Beauty.


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