16 for ’16: Oscar Contenders

The Academy Awards honoring the best of 2015 aired just over a week ago. So what does that mean? Well, it means that it’s time for incredibly early Oscar speculation on the films and performers that could factor into next year’s ceremony.

This evening on the blog, I take a look at 16 pictures that may find themslves in contention a year from now. Obviously, this is about as premature as it gets and there will be LOTS more speculation as the year rolls along. Yet here’s a first look at 16 for ’16 Oscar potentials:

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Release Date: November 11

Ang Lee has directed four Best Picture nominees over the past two decades and received two wins for his direction (Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi). This Iraq War themed drama (based on a well received novel) featuring newcomer Joe Alwyn and familiar faces Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Vin Diesel, Steve Martin, and Chris Tucker is highly likely to receive some chatter.

The Birth of a Nation

Release Date: October 7

Focusing on the true story of the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner, this passion project from Nate Parker (who stars and directs) received glowing reviews out of the Sundance Film Festival and picked up an Oscar friendly release date.

Collateral Beauty

Release Date: December 16

The Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel helms this comedic drama with an all-star cast that includes Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Edward Norton, and Jonah Hill.

Finding Dory

Release Date: June 17

Pixar has found itself in the Best Picture mix before with both 2009’s Up and 2010’s Toy Story 3. This sequel to 2003’s beloved Finding Nemo may follow suit and it should at the least be a major contender in Best Animated Feature.

Florence Foster Jenkins

Release Date: TBD

Put Meryl Streep in anything and she might be a possibility for an Actress nomination. So it is with Stephen Frears’ comedy/drama, which casts the 19 times nominated and 3 time winning Streep as the opera singing title character.

The Founder

Release Date: August 5

Michael Keaton has found himself featured in the last two Best Picture winners (Birdman, Spotlight). Could it be a three-peat with this biopic, which finds Keaton as McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc? John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks) directs with Laura Dern costarring.

Free State of Jones

Release Date: May 13

2013 Best Actor winner Matthew McConaughey headlines this Civil War drama from Seabiscuit and Hunger Games director Gary Ross.

The Girl on the Train

Release Date: October 7

The Help‘s Tate Taylor directs this psychological thriller that could provide an Oscar friendly role for star Emily Blunt.

La La Land

Release Date:December 16

Damien Chazelle follows up his 2014 Oscar nominee Whiplash with this comedic musical drama starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and J.K. Simmons.

Nocturnal Animals

Release Date: TBD

Fashion designer Tom Ford follows up his acclaimed 2009 debut A Single Man with this drama featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Adams, Kim Basinger, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Michael Shannon.

Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said?

Release Date: TBD

Lee Daniels directs this biopic of the legendary comedian with Mike Epps in the starring role and Oprah Winfrey and Eddie Murphy among the supporting cast.

Silence

Release Date: TBD

Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson headline this historical drama from Martin Scorsese, who has seen five out his last six movies nominated for the big prize.

Sully

Release Date: September 9

Clint Eastwood follows up his 2014 nominee American Sniper with the true life tale of the title character pilot who pulled off the “Miracle on the Hudson” (which I like better as a title, by the way). Tom Hanks is Sully with Aaron Eckhart and Laura Linney backing him up.

A United Kingdom

Release Date: TBD

The period piece interracial romance features two stars who could be ripe for recognition – David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike.

War Machine

Release Date: TBD

Release Date: This Afghanistan war comedy is likely to garner more attention than the last one, Tina Fey’s Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Based on a bestselling novel, it stars Brad Pitt, Ben Kingsley, and Topher Grace.

The Zookeeper’s Wife

Release Date: TBD

This Holocaust themed drama (based on a bestseller) could be a factor in Picture and in Actress for Jessica Chastain’s lead role.

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