It's September, which means Summer 2016 is well and truly over. And with a disappointing few blockbuster months behind us (although not without some unsung hits), it's time to start looking towards the latter third of the year. And you know what that means: Oscar hopefuls.
Yes, while the Oscar 2017 race has technically been running for some films since Sundance in January, it's around about now when things really begin to hot up. Venice is in full swing, Toronto's just over a week away and many hot contenders are gearing up to make their bow. Expect a lot of smiling stars making talk show appearances, explosions of controversy and maybe just a little bit of focus on the movies themselves.
Unlike some recent years, however, the field seems rather sparse (partly because of so many blockbusters getting in the way), with a noticeable dearth of movies from iconic names and instead a lot of newer break-outs leading the pack. Beyond that, it's also hard to gauge just what an awards movie will be in 2017; recent years have seen a shift from classical Oscar bait, and the #OscarSoWhite controversy means we'll see a not-so-subtle push for diversity too.
Still, there are some frontrunners out there who are safe bets to make the Best Picture shortlist. Here's the fifteen films we're most likely to be talking about come February 2017.
What Is It? C-Pratt and J-Law alone in space. Two of the hottest actors around lead a sci-fi with a really strong hook alongisde its flashy star power; the pair wake up from cryosleep in the middle of a cross-galactic voyage and are stuck awake 90 years out from their destination. It's like the perfect inverse of a claustrophobic thriller.
Why Could It Be A Contender? Normally this is the sort of film you'd discredit from Oscar hype (for reasons we'll look at in a minute), but coming from Morten Tyldum, who got (somewhat unfair) praise for The Imitation Game, Passengers has got a real leg-up and could easily sneak it. It's also got a release date that places it as a run-in for consideration, which means Columbia certainly think they've got potential here.
What Might Stop It? It's sci-fi. Boom. Done. Not gonna happen. No sci-fi film has ever won Best Picture (and the only fantasy film was The Return Of The King, and that was only because The Lord Of The Rings was an achievement too big to ignore), and given the other options here for the Academy that's unlikely to change in 2017. Especially as, at this point, it's unclear just how cerebral the film will go.