An Early Look at This Year’s Oscar Contenders

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Namir Khaliq, News Editor

The 2016 awards season is just around the corner… Not really, but it’s never too early to start thinking about it, especially because of the number and caliber of Oscar worthy movies that have been and are expected to be released this year. The film industry has seen such a large volume of top-notch movies recently that The Academy of Motion Pictures was forced to increase the number of spots available for best picture nominees from five to ten in 2009, and that still may not be enough. Therefore, let us take a look at some of this year’s movies that have a chance at making the cut.

A Pixar film has not been nominated for the best picture Oscar since Toy Story 3 got the nod back in 2010, but it seems the dry-streak may end with Inside Out, a meticulously built and emotionally complex animated movie about what exactly goes on inside our brains. It is thus far one of the highest rated films of 2015 and has a good chance of possibly being the first ever animated film to win best picture.

This year’s biggest surprise success story has been Mad Max: Fury Road. Director George Miller returns for the fourth and by far the best entry in this Australian-based post-apocalyptic series. Audiences and critics alike were stunned by the incredible special effects and moved by the deep seeded themes of survival and redemption. If this movie doesn’t get at least a couple nomination The Academy can expect a series of angry letters from this writer.

Leonardo DiCaprio will be back on the big screen this year with The Revenant. Due for release this Christmas, the film chronicles the life of legendary game trapper Hugh Glass in the uncharted territories of early 19th century America. The Revenant was written and directed by Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu, whose previous movie Birdman took home a slew of Academy Awards last year including Best Director and Best Picture. Will Leo finally win his first Oscar? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Many heavy weight directors will be coming off hiatuses this winter with films like Bridge of Spies, The Hateful Eight, Joy, and Snowden directed by Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarentino, David O’ Russell, and Oliver Stone, respectively. Ridley Scott will be making a return to science fiction with his new space drama The Martian, while Academy award winner Ron Howard adapts Herman Melville’s famed novel Moby Dick for the up-in-coming movie In the Heart of the Sea.

2015 will also be the year of the bio-pics, which always make for good Oscar bait. Michael Fassbender will play Steve Jobs in Steve Jobs, Meryl Streep portrays feminist Emmeline Pankhurst in Suffragette, Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston stars as screenwriter Dalton Trumbo in Trumbo, and Johnny Depp returns swinging in a stunning role as mob boss Whitey Bulger in Black Mass.  Another hot contender is defending Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne who won the coveted award for his portrayal of theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in 2014. This year he is set to play transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl, a movie that is sure to generate some Oscar buzz later on in the season.

Obviously this year is set to go down in film history as one of the best, possibly up there with years such as 1941 and 1994 that gave us classics like Citizen Kane and Pulp Fiction (neither of which won best picture). Though we are still months away from the Academy and other award ceremonies, the categories are already stacked with worthy contenders, and we haven’t even mentioned films like Carol, Everest, The End of the Tour, or Me Earl and Dying Girl, all of which are all but guaranteed to have their names in the running. This awards season is likely to be one of the most exciting of our lifetimes, so be sure to watch it closely and enjoy as many movies as you possibly can.