10 Oscar Contenders You Need To Watch Over The Holidays
No one can stop talking about these films.
No one can stop talking about these films.
Text: Megan Kasselberg
For some, the holidays are a time to rest and restore, while for others the break is full of family drama. Whether your tradition is eating turkey or ordering Chinese, we've got you covered with ten films that stand out as the year's best and are more than worth your time. Escape the family, or cuddle up close, and prepare to be blown away by the thrillers, historic dramas and coming-of-age films that everyone is raving about. You'll be ready for all of the Golden Globes, Oscar and actress drama that will inevitably accompany red carpet season, and maybe you'll finally relate to the entire Twitterverse freaking out over Timothée Chalamet.
Call Me By Your Name
Already being heralded as one of the best movies of the year, Luca Guadagnino's stunning narrative follows a 17-year old's summertime exploration of his sexuality in 1983, and the passionate bonds that ensue. Sunny shots of Italian landscapes allow audiences to escape into the foreign fantasy, while the soundtrack is composed by none other than indie-darling Sufjan Stevens, making the film worth seeing for the sake of beauty alone. Timothée Chalamet is particularly noteworthy in the role of Elio, and he's garnered more attention for best actor than almost anyone else in the game, including a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor (Drama), and winning acclaim from six associations, including the Chicago Film Critics Association (CFCA), the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) and the New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC). Armie Hammer, who plays Oliver, also scored a Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Get Out, the directorial debut of Jordan Peele (yes, that Peele), brilliantly confronts racial tensions in America head-on. With eery sci-fi elements and plenty of action, it will keep you entertained from beginning to end, and many have claimed that it redefines the entire genre of horror. At a time of year when young adults return home and introduce their families to romantic partners, this may be a poignant representation of the racism in middle America many have tried to forget. Get Out has seven Best Picture wins from various critic associations, making it a top contender in the category. If it doesn't win there, it can bank on Best Screenplay, with fourteen wins thus far. If there weren't enough reasons to expect to see the film at the Oscars, it is currently up for two Golden Globes in the major categories of Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) and Best Actor (Musical or Comedy), with Daniel Kaluuya nominated for a breathtaking performance. Commercial success has been known to bolster nominees, and after selling more than $30 million in tickets during its first three days at the box office, we'd call Get Out a surefire winner.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, the WWII drama is short on words, and long on drama. Men stranded near Dunkirk scramble from one horrible situation to the next, contemplating their deaths and the violent battles they have seen. Repetitive imagery and costuming leave a deep impact, and it is certainly one to keep you thinking long after you leave the theater. It also features Harry Styles' surprisingly well-received acting debut, garnering quite a bit of press from the get-go. Dunkirk is now the highest-grossing World War II movie of all time, surpassing Saving Private Ryan. It is up for Golden Globe nominations in the areas of Best Motion Picture (Drama), Best Director and Best Original Score.
The Florida Project
Directed by Sean Baker, The Florida Project details the trials and tribulations of 6-year-old Moonee, who lives in a motel outside of Disney World with her young mother, Halley. The little girl runs around unsupervised with friends from nearby motels, stirring up mischief. When her mother is unable to provide for their meals, she relies on prostitution and stealing to make end's meat. The ending scene is a major tear-jerker, so prepare yourself. Willem Dafoe gives an excellent performance as the motel manager, Bobby, who parents both Moonee and her mother, landing him a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe Nomination. The National Board of Review and American Film Institute have ranked The Florida Project as one of the top 10 films of the year.
Greta Gerwig's comedy-drama Lady Bird explores the complications of mother-daughter relationships and growing up. Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) disobeys her parents, switches friends, and loses her virginity (to none other than Timotheé Chalamet's Kyle) over the course of the narrative, reminding everyone how hard high school really is. The film gets crazy real, so don't expect a lighthearted family comedy. Lady Bird has grossed over $26 million at the box office so far, compared to its $10 million budget. It has four Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Actress (Musical or Comedy) for Ronan, Best Supporting Actress for Laurie Metcalf, her mother, and Best Screenplay.
Battle of the Sexes
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Battle of the Sexes depicts the epic 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Robert Larimore Riggs (Steve Carell), and the interpersonal events that lead up to the meeting. If you are forgetting your women's history, Riggs claimed that men would always be superior to women in tennis, agreeing with sports leagues everywhere that female players should be paid less than men. We are particular to the costuming in the film, which offers the perfect amount of 70's flair coupled with nostalgic athletic gear we're dying to wear. Both Stone and Carrell have Golden Globe nominations thus far, and who doesn't want to see these Hollywood A-Listers at their best?
Another historic drama, I, Tonya follows the events leading up to the end of Tonya Harding's figure skating career, when her ex-husband hired a man to break the leg of her competitor Nancy Kerrigan. The dramatic 1994 story played out in the news across the world. I, Tonya attempts to give a voice to those involved in the saga, entertaining audiences with whirling spins and spectacular costumes in the process. Margot Robbie serves up a breathtaking performance, making her one to watch for Best Actress. I, Tonya is nominated for Best Picture (comedy or musical), Best Actress (comedy or musical) for Robbie, and Best Supporting Actress for Allison Janney, who plays Harding's mother.
Political and dramatic, The Post is a historic thriller directed and produced by Steven Spielberg. Set in the early 70's (noticing a late 20th century theme here?), it revolves around The Washington Post and New York Times journalists who published the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. Meryl Streep stars as the country's first female newspaper publisher, navigating truth, morality, and the government while releasing the secret documents. Tom Hanks is incredible and complex as her editor, earning both Streep and Hanks nominations at the Golden Globes. Other accolades include Globe nominations for Best Picture (drama), Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Original Score.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Dark comedy and crime film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri depicts a mother's grieving after losing her daughter to violent rape and murder. When the sheriff has yet to find a suspect after seven months, she takes matters into her own hands and rents out three billboards, polarizing the town and changing her life forever. Written, produced, and directed by Martin McDonagh, it won the top prize at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, and garnered six Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture (Drama), Best Director and Best Actress (Drama). It is particularly relevant as Hollywood begins to fully recognize and appreciate strong women able to act outside of patriarchal pressures.
The Shape of Water
Set in 1961 Baltimore, The Shape of Water is a fantastical drama detailing the love a mute custodian (Sally Hawkins) develops for an amphibian creature, titled the Asset, who the government has captured and hidden at a secretive high-security laboratory. When the Asset is scheduled for dissection, Sally acts with haste. The realistic sci-fi film has seven of the most distinguished Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture (drama), Best Actress, Best Director and Best Screenplay.