2016 is over, which means it's time to start narrowing down which films released last year will be in contention for Best Picture at the Oscars when the nominees are unveiled on January 24. The number of films nominated must be between five and ten, and since eight movies were nominated each of the past two years, I'll list 8 movies here for my 2017 Best Picture Oscar predictions. As per the rules of the Academy, all of the nominated films must have seen their first release in the year 2016.
As is often the case, the year's biggest movies financially and culturally are not expected to be competitive in the Best Picture race. In other words, don't expect to hear Captain America: Civil War, Rogue One, or Deadpool have their names called on the 24th. Also, films that saw release early in the year will likely have a tough time drumming up support as well, as Oscar-winning films traditionally debut toward the end of the year. That's why films that received a good amount of love from critics early in the year, like The Lobster and Everybody Wants Some!, have lost any buzz they had as awards season has wound down. So with that in mind, here are my picks for the eight films I expect to see nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.
In recent weeks, this time-hopping drama has emerged as the lead contender for the award; which would be fitting for the film's nearly all-black cast following last year's #OscarsSoWhite controversy.
La La Land
This old school musical was the favorite for months before Moonlight's late surge, and the feel-good film could easily still snag the statue.
Manchester By The Sea
Consider this New England-set drama your third frontrunner alongside Moonlight and La La Land. Outside of those three, I'm not sure any other film is a lock for a nomination.
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reprise their roles from the acclaimed 2010 Broadway revival of the original 1983 play, and both provide powerhouse performances in this first on-screen version.
Hell Or High Water
This modern take on cops and robbers didn't receive much attention when it premiered in August, but a strong showing in Golden Globes nominations has greatly improved its standing.
While on the surface Arrival doesn't seem to share much in common with 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road, they are both female-led science fiction films. And even though the genre is usually ignored by the Academy, don't be surprised to see this thinking person's sci-fi film follow in Fury Road's footsteps and earn a Best Picture nomination.
The Academy adores Martin Scorsese, and with good reason: He's one of the greatest directors of all-time. So considering that he spent 25 years developing Silence, you can bet the Academy will take notice.
Consider 2016 the year of Andrew Garfield playing religious guys in critically-acclaimed films. While director Mel Gibson's history may turn off some voters, the lauded World War II film could still sneak into the nominations.
The Academy could nominate more (or fewer) movies than this, but these eight seem the most likely to earn that Oscar love come Jan. 24, in my eyes.