If you want to form an educated opinion on this year's batch of awards season nominees, here are all the movies you need to watch.
Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is in the air, which means the string of Hollywood award shows leading up to the Oscars are right around the corner.
If you're like us and are into that sort of thing, make sure your holiday season budget includes movie tickets, because there are so many films in theaters -- or coming to theaters by years end -- that will be in the running for Academy Awards, Golden Globes and the rest of the ceremonies in between.
Since the whole point of watching these shows is to root for your personal favorite, you better get to watchin' as many as you can so you know what you're talking about when debating other cinephiles about the merits of the latest masterpieces starring Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling, Viola Davis, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts and more of your favorite movie stars.
Here's TooFab's complete breakdown of all of the awards season contenders that should be on your radar before the 91st Oscars air February 24, 2019 on ABC.
"A Star Is Born" (In Theaters)
So often, filmmakers cite the 1970s as the inspiration for their movies, which they hope hearken back to grittier, more auteur-centric times when the Hollywood system had blown up and a bunch of young rebels had rushed to fill in the void. In the case of "A Star Is Born," though, director and star Bradley Cooper remade one of the few big, earnest, Hollywood-centric movies of that decade, adding a dash of modern grit to a tragic showbiz love story. The mega-hit is a lock for the music categories and likely Best Picture, and look for acting nominations for Cooper and co-star Lady Gaga.
"Can You Ever Forgive Me?" (In Theaters)
Melissa McCarthy taps deep into the audience's vast reserve of affection for her in this true story about a struggling author who starts making big bucks by forging letters from much more famous (and, importantly dead) authors. It's a dark romp through 1990s New York -- which is, sadly, very different than the modern city -- with a dressed-down McCarthy, who plays an alcoholic misanthrope so very well. Nominations for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor (Richard E. Grant) and screenplay (Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty) are all on the table.
"A Private War" (In Theaters)
A few years ago, Rosamund Pike introduced herself to American audiences with a steely, clinical, and captivating performance as Amy Dunne, the dissatisfied wife who disappears without a trace in "Gone Girl." Here, she plays a woman who instead charges head-first into the worst conflicts into the world. This biopic of war correspondent Marie Colvin gives Pike a chance to shine as a confident, brave, and brilliant woman, making for a perfect Best Actress showcase.
"First Man" (In Theaters)
Ryan Gosling and director Damien Chazelle re-teamed for a movie that could not be more different from their first collaboration. Two years ago, they danced and sang through showbiz struggles in "La La Land," a throwback musical set in modern Hollywood; this time around, they produced a muted portrait of a solitary Neil Armstrong, taking him from his days as a pilot through his history-making mission to the Moon. The film, while critically acclaimed, was too somber to be a huge hit, but expect some buzz for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay.
"Widows" (In Theaters)
"12 Years a Slave" director Steve McQueen openly admitted that he tried to make a more accessible movie this year, and with "Widows" he's done just that. Everyone loves a good heist film, especially one that features an assembly of different characters thrown together by circumstance, which is both an incredibly specific genre and a well-trod one. McQueen puts his own spin on it here, with Viola Davis leading a star-studded cast that could get several nominations.
"Beautiful Boy" (In Theaters)
Timothée Chalamet spent a year as everyone's favorite sensitive young heartthrob thanks to his breakout role in "Call Me By Your Name." Now, he's trying to add a bit of grit to that profile, deadening those twinkling hazel eyes just a bit for his role as an angsty freshman junkie in Felix van Groeningen's new film "Beautiful Boy," a suburban drug drama based on a true story. Steve Carell plays Chalamet's stunned and baffled father, and together, they figure to be in the running for Best Actor and Supporting Actor nods, though who will take the top billing remains to be seen.
"Green Book" (In Theaters)
A sort of reverse "Driving Miss Daisy," the movie stars Viggo Mortensen as a New York tough guy who becomes a chauffeur and best buddy to a famed classical pianist, played by Oscar winner Mahershala Ali ("Moonlight"). The movie has gotten solid reviews, with most of the raves reserved for the two leading men, which make them contenders for Best Actor (Mortensen) and Supporting Actor (Ali).
"The Favourite" (In Theaters)
The king of arch satire, Yorgos Lanthimos ("The Lobster," "The Killing of a Sacred Deer") teams up with an incredible roster of actresses for a very wry look at early 18th century England's royal court. Emma Stone, Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz feature in a forbidden love triangle, with each actress bringing their A-game. Raves for Colman's performance as Queen Anne suggest she could be in the running for Best Actress while her more famous co-stars could qualify as contenders for Best Supporting Actress.
"Vox Lux" (Limited Release December 7)
After taking time off to have a child and direct her debut feature, Natalie Portman returned to the big screen this year in two very different roles. In this spring's "Annihilation," she played a wife searching for her husband in a sci-fi void, while "Vox Lux" features the Oscar winner as a punk rock singer dealing with tragedy, young motherhood and her volatile career. No one plays troubled and conflicted better than Portman, so a Best Actress nomination seems like a good bet.
"Ben Is Back" (Out December 7)
Julia Roberts plays protective mother to Lucas Hedges's titular addict character, who returns home with a whole lot of baggage. Set over the course of 24 hours, Roberts has to try to keep him safe even as painful revelations about his life continue to bury their happy memories. It's a showcase for Roberts, who could be an Oscar nominee two decades after winning for "Erin Brockovich."
"If Beale Street Could Talk" (Out December 14th)
Barry Jenkins won a shocking -- though well-deserved -- Oscar for "Moonlight" in 2017 once that infamous Best Picture debacle was sorted live on stage at the Academy Awards, and now he's back on the map. His new film, "If Beale Street Could Talk," is adapted from a classic James Baldwin book and is earning rave reviews on the festival circuit. The film, with a cast of newcomers and stars like Brian Tyree Henry, Stephan James, Diego Luna and Teyonah Parris, should net Best Adapted Screenplay and potential Best Picture nominations.
"Roma" (on Netflix December 14th)
If any movie is going to break Netflix into the most prestigious Oscar categories, it's this one. Alfonso Cuaron hadn't made a movie since 2013's "Gravity" (yes, it's been that long) and he couldn't have returned with anything more different. Cuaron goes from a visually dazzling science fiction epic to an intimate, Spanish language, black and white film set in the 1970s about a maid/nanny and the family she helps raise in Mexico. Best Picture and Best Actress (for Yalitza Aparicio) nominations seem pretty likely, at least this early on.
"Boy Erased" (In Theaters)
"Boy Erased" brings Hedges into the running for his second Oscar nomination after previously being nominated in 2017 for his supporting role in "Manchester by the Sea." In this coming-of-age drama, Hedges plays Jared Eamons, the son of a small-town Baptist pastor, who is outed by his parents and is forced into a gay conversion program. Based on the memoir of the same name, "Boy Erased," shows the disturbing secrets of conversion therapy through a young man's eyes. Written and directed by Joel Egerton, who also stars in the film, "Boy Erased" could possibly bring in multiple noms, including Hedges as Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress for Nicole Kidman, who plays Jared's fierce, yet devoted mother.
"Vice" (Out December 25th)
Christian Bale dropped over 60 pounds to star in 2003's "The Machinist," which earned him his first Oscar nomination, then repeated the extreme weight loss routine for “The Fighter” so he could play a junkie boxing trainer, a role that won him an Oscar in 2011. Here, with his eyes on Oscar again, Bale goes in the opposite physical direction, gaining 45 pounds to play Dick Cheney in writer-director Adam McKay's scathing biopic of the former vice president. McKay won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for "The Big Short" and will be shooting for writing and directing nominations again. Meanwhile, Bale's co-star, Amy Adams, could finally win an Oscar for playing Lynne Cheney.
"Destroyer" (Out December 25th)
With "Aquaman" and "Destroyer," it truly is going to be the winter of Nicole Kidman, even if -- or especially because -- she's not particularly recognizable in Karyn Kusama's gritty new drama.
Kidman looks a few lifetimes older in "Destroyer," in which she plays a cop who has to retrace an undercover mission to find peace in her life -- something that has clearly been incredibly elusive. If there's one thing the Academy likes, it's when beautiful women wear prosthetics to play messed up, gritty women on the big screen.
"BlacKkKlansman" (In Theaters)
From the masterminds behind the Academy Award-winning "Get Out" and visionary director Spike Lee, "BlacKkKlansman" puts a new take on an untold true story. The crime dramedy set in the 1970s follows Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), an African-American detective, who -- along with the help from his Caucasian partner Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) -- infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan and exposed its dirty secrets. "BlacKkKlansman," based on a memoir by the real Ron Stallworth, could possibly bring a nomination for Lee for Best Director and perhaps it will score a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination.
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