It feels like only yesterday Envelope Gate came out of nowhere to stun the world, redefining Oscar history and setting a new high watermark for awards season flubs. But in fact, we’re midway through the summer and before you know it, fall festival season will be upon us, with this year’s slate of awards season contenders premiering at Toronto, Telluride, NYFF and more. And that means it’s time to start making some early predictions for 2018’s Best Picture race. Here are 13 front runners for the 2018 prize.
1 ‘The Current War’
Benedict Cumberbatch. Michael Shannon. Sparks. What more do you need? The pair star respectively as rivals Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, who engaged in a vicious and increasingly dirty battle throughout the late 19th century, each determined to be the first to bring a working electricity system to America. The prospect of watching these two actors face off is compelling enough by itself, and the film also has an intriguing director in Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, best known for 2015’s Sundance fave Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
In theaters December 22
2 ‘Battle of the Sexes’
Chronicling the legendary 1973 tennis match between former champ Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell) and new World #1 Billie Jean King (Emma Stone), this sports drama is already fascinating on the page. Early trailers promise a whole lot of juicy sparring between Stone’s sharp feminist and Carrell’s chauvinist pig, who goads King into a match with lines like, “I’m not saying women don’t belong on the court—who’d pick up the balls otherwise?”
In theaters September 22
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3 ‘Get Out’
Jordan Peele’s savagely smart and timely horror movie about race in modern America stunned at Sundance this year and snowballed into an overnight phenomenon when it hit cinemas shortly after. While it’s very, very unusual for a movie released this early in the year to sustain any Oscar buzz—most contenders are released in fall to be fresh in Academy voters’ minds—Get Out has already defied so many expectations, there’s no reason to expect it won’t buck the trend.
Released in theaters February 24
4 ‘The Papers’
This. Cast. Though. Steven Spielberg’s movie about the Pentagon Papers was always going to attract top-drawer talent, and this ridiculously stacked ensemble (Alison Brie! Carrie Coon! Sarah Paulson! Matthew Rhys! Bradley Whitford!) is led by Meryl Streep as the USA’s first female newspaper publisher Kay Graham, and Tom Hanks as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, whose publication of the Papers sparked an unprecedented war between media and government. For obvious reasons, this is a story modern America could stand to revisit.
In theaters December 22
Darren Aronofsky’s latest really got our attention with a poster showing its star, Jennifer Lawrence, ripping out her own heart. This psychological thriller sees a couple’s relationship pushed to its limits when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their quiet lives. Lawrence and Javier Bardem play the besieged couple in question, and while it’s not clear how “uninvited guests” leads to “heart-gouging horror,” we’re pretty intrigued to find out.
In theaters October 13
6 ‘Phantom Thread’
AKA “Daniel Day-Lewis’s Last Oscar,” which may as well be the title. If reports of Day-Lewis’s early retirement are to be believed, this reunion with There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson will be his final performance on film. He’ll play a fashion designer in 1950s London who is commissioned to design clothing for members of the royal family and other high society types.
In theaters December 25
While Christopher Nolan isn’t necessarily an Oscar favorite, he did earn a Best Picture nomination for Inception in 2011, and his World War II epic feels more awards-friendly than anything else on his resume to date. Told from three perspectives—land, sea and air—this Nolan-scripted drama follows the fraught evacuation of allied soldiers at Dunkirk during a brutal battle. Best of all? It clocks in at a thrillingly pacy 107 minutes, making this Nolan’s shortest film since his debut. At a time when every blockbuster seems to be chasing the three-hour mark, brevity is worth some buzz alone.
In theaters July 21
8 ‘Darkest Hour’
Gary Oldman stars in this biopic as Winston Churchill, who faced a momentous choice during his first days as Prime Minister in 1940: negotiate peace with Nazi Germany, or stand firm and take the United Kingdom to war against the Axis Powers. Directed by Atonement’s Joe Wright, the film follows that decision and the subsequent period which Churchill himself dubbed “the darkest hour.” There’s a lot to look forward to here, not least seeing how Oldman’s Churchill compares to John Lithgow’s in The Crown.
In theaters November 22
Kathryn Bigelow’s first film since Zero Dark Thirty sees her reunite with that movie’s screenwriter Mark Boal for what promises to be a similarly impactful and trenchant true story. Set during the 12th Street Riot of 1967, Detroit centers on an incident at a motel in which three black men were killed and several others beaten by a riot task force composed of police and the National Guard.
In theaters August 4
10 ‘The Beguiled’
Sofia Coppola became the second woman ever to win the Best Director award at Cannes this year for this Southern Gothic drama set at a Virginia girls school during the Civil War. The school’s sheltered inhabitants are thrown into chaos by the arrival of Colin Farrell’s wounded soldier, and the psychosexual tension boils over in unexpected ways. The Beguiled does come with some baggage—Coppola cast Kirsten Dunst as a character described as biracial in the book, drawing accusations of whitewashing—but given the Oscars’ history, that may not hurt the film’s chances.
Released in theaters June 30
11 ‘The Big Sick’
Written by Silicon Valley’s Kumail Nanjiani and his wife, writer Emily V. Gordon, heartfelt character comedy The Big Sick has become one of the year’s unexpected breakout hits. The movie draws heavily on Nanjiani and Gordon’s real-life relationship to depict the struggles of cross-cultural romance, which in their case coincided with Gordon (played by Zoe Kazan) becoming seriously ill. An indie rom-com might be a long shot for Oscar attention, particularly one released so early in the year, but this is an easy underdog to root for.
Released in theaters June 23
12 ‘Last Flag Flying’
Richard Linklater’s latest is a Bush-era road movie following three aging Vietnam vets—played by Bryan Cranston, Steve Carrell and Laurence Fishburne—who reunite for a somber, sacred task. Though it’s billed as a comedy-drama, the task at hand is giving Carrell’s character’s son a proper burial following his death in Iraq. Despite being relatively new to the original movie game, Amazon Studios has already proven its ability to mount a successful Oscar campaign, with Manchester By The Seataking home two major awards and a further four nominations this year.
In theaters November 17
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George Clooney’s sixth film as director is scripted by the Coen brothers and centers on a quiet town rattled by a local home invasion. Not much is known beyond that, but on the basis of the behind-the-camera pedigree and the cast—Matt Damon, Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac—this already feels like a contender.
In theaters November 3
From: Harper’s BAZAAR US