Here’s your (very early) first look at 2017’s Oscar contenders
The red carpet at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater has barely been rolled up yet, but Tinseltown is already buzzing about next year’s Oscar race.
Prognosticating about Best Picture contenders this far out isn’t for the faint of heart.
One thing’s for sure: After this year’s “diversity crisis,’’ there will almost certainly be more non-caucasians among the nominees next January. And there might even be a female director nominated.
Here, in no particular order, is a selection of films on the horizon that would seem to be contenders based on the talents involved or their subject matter:
- “Birth of a Nation’’: This film is the current front-runner after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival last month. Writer-director Nate Parker (who appropriated the title of D.W. Griffith’s racist silent classic) stars as Nat Turner, a slave who led a short-lived rebellion in Virginia in 1831.
- “Manchester by the Sea”: Another one that wowed ’em at Sundance, it stars Casey Affleck as a tortured New England handyman picking up the remains of a broken past. The film was written and directed by playwright Kenneth Lonergan and has been compared to the Oscar-winning “Ordinary People.’’
- “A United Kingdom”: David Oyelowo, who was snubbed by Oscar when he played Martin Luther King in “Selma,’’ is cast as Prince Seretse Khama, heir to the throne of Botswana who was exiled to London after marrying a white Englishwoman (Rosamund Pike) in the late 1940s.
- “Queen of Katwe”: Oyelowo also co-stars in this biopic of Ugandan-born world chess champion Harriet Mutesi, played by Lupita Nyong’o, Oscar winner for “12 Years a Slave.’’
- “The Zookeeper’s Wife’’: Best Actress nominee Jessica Chastain has the title role in this fact-based story of a woman who helped shelter hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust.
- “Silence”: Martin Scorsese’s first film since “The Wolf of Wall Street’’ is an adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel about two Jesuit priests who face violence when they travel to Japan in search of their mentor. Starring Liam Neeson, Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield.
- “The Founder”: Michael Keaton stars in this biopic of Ray Kroc, who turned the McDonald brothers’ South California hamburger restaurant into an international empire.
- “Sully’’: Director Clint Eastwood brings the 2012 “Miracle on the Hudson” tale to the big screen in this biopic starring Tom Hanks as hero airplane pilot Chesley “Sully’’ Sullenberger.
- “The Girl on the Train”: This adaptation of Paula Hawkins’ best-seller revolves around a divorcée (Emily Blunt) who believes she may be connected to the disappearance of a neighbor. It is directed by Tate Taylor (”The Help’’).
- “LBJ”: Two-time Oscar nominee Woody Harrelson stars in this decades-spanning biopic of the 36th president of the United States. It’s the first major film in years from director Rob Reiner, nominated as a producer of “A Few Good Men,’’ and co-stars Jennifer Jason Leigh.
- “Money Monster’’: George Clooney plays a bombastic TV personality who is taken hostage during a live broadcast by a man (Jack O’Connell) irate after one of his bad stock tips. Co-stars include Julia Roberts. Jodie Foster directs.
- “Florence Foster Jenkins”: Much-nominated Meryl Streep plays the woman widely regarded as the worst singer of all time in this biopic directed by Stephen Frears and co-starring Hugh Grant.
- “American Pastoral”: Ewan McGregor makes his directing debut and stars in this adaptation of a Philip Roth novel about a man whose life is wrecked by his daughter’s terrorist activities in the late 1960s.
- “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’’: Two-time Oscar winner Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain”) directs this satire set in Texas during the Iraq war starring Vin Diesel and Kristen Stewart.
- “La-La Land”: Ryan Gosling plays a jazz pianist who falls for an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) in director Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated “Whiplash.’’
- “Free State of Jones”: Matthew McConaughey stars as Newton Knight, a Mississippian who led an armed rebellion against the Confederacy during the Civil War. Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays his black wife. Gary Ross (“Seabiscuit’’) directs.
- “Genius’’: A biographical drama about legendary book editor Maxwell Perkins (Colin Firth), co-starring Nicole Kidman, Jude Law (as Thomas Wolfe), Dominic West (Ernest Hemingway) and Guy Pearce (F. Scott Fitzgerald)