AWARDS SEASON: What films to look out for

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NOTE: This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of the rest of the writers at TheMovies.co.za.

BRENTWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Nate Sanders displays the collection of Oscar statuettes that his auction company will sell online to the highest bidder on February 24, 2012 in Brentwood, California. (Photo by Toby Canham/Getty Images)

I’m not one for awards ceremonies, as I tend to find what critics deem a good movie is not necessarily always the most entertaining (which is the purpose of movies in the first place), so I don’t think it’s always a fair reflection of the industry. They also tend to descend into one big popularity contest with films trying to garner for votes, which oftentimes leaves strong films and performances being sidelined for others that were better campaigned.  While I do think awards like the Oscars get it right more often than not, there have been far too many snubs to trust them entirely and I prefer to make up my own mind.

It’s difficult being in South Africa where a wide majority of movies nominated tend to not be released here by the time nominees and even awards start streaming in. This is something which is changing though and most of the strong contenders this year have already been shown in South Africa, with only a few arriving to our shores after the awards season.

With the Golden Globes taking place this Sunday, kicking off the big awards shows (Oscars, BAFTAs and Guild Awards), I thought it a fitting time to have a brief look at some of the big movies getting most of the award notice at this time.

My list might not match the Golden Globe nominees exactly or be trying to predict nominees in other categories (perhaps we can leave that for another post before the actual Oscar ceremony) but is simply trying to predict who I think the big winners will be across all award shows. It is difficult to put a list together when I haven’t seen some of the movies, so I am basing some of my opinions on feedback I’ve seen trending the industry. This is not my list of best movies of the year, its my list of movies I think will be getting awards attention.

  • The Big Short

This movies takes a less flamboyant look at the financial crisis than last years Wolf on Wall Street and is told simultaneously through 3 different groups of people rather than focusing on 1 person. It is a comedy drama that has been given strong reviews on the back of a solid performance by its ensemble cast and meticulous direction by Adam McKay who handles the script and subject matter with seriousness, but humour in equal births. It’s a slow burner, but the more I hear about it – the better it sounds.

  • Brooklyn

Not a movie I would’ve initially been following, but one that the critics certainly love (98% on Rotten Tomato) and has all the makings of a strong awards contender – a period drama with a strong cast and a powerful lead performance. It’s not my personal cup of tea looking at the trailer and synopsis – but these type of movies tend to get a lot of love come awards season.

  • Carol

This film received a standing ovation at the Cannes film festival earlier this year and received strong critical praise for Todd Haynes direction, the acting pair of Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara and what is apparently an engaging score and strong cinematography and costume design. It’s another one of those movies which doesn’t engage my interest, but I have no doubt is well-made and will be up for a lot of awards.

  • Creed

Creed was a phenomenal movie, perhaps even better than the first Rocky movie – which is iconic in its own right. It hasn’t received a lot of attention in some of the early nominations, but on the back of strong performances by Michael B. Jordan and especially, Sylvester Stallone who gives a career best performance – I expect it to pick up some steam. The story line and script is captivating and it hits all the right emotions with the audience.

  • Inside Out

While Pixar standards have dropped over the past few years – this was one movie which put them back again at the forefront of animation. While perhaps not as good as some other Pixar classics, I found the script really clever and I think this film will be in line for at least a few awards outside of the Animation category, which it is the favourite to win.

  • Mad Max: Fury Road

This George Miller thriller has been getting a lot of attention for all the right reasons and while its light plot probably won’t put in in the running for any best picture awards; its unique style, inventive direction and brilliantly paced editing are likely to win awards. It’s not your typical Oscar fare, but the most visually stylish film released all year that had action by the bucket loads. It deserves attention.

  • The Martian

We loved it and personally I thought it was incredibly entertaining – and a welcome return to form from Ridley Scott, who balanced the tension with strong doses of humour to good effect. I think it is certainly a movie which is popular with the majority of movie goers and critics alike, though probably not exceptional enough to win any awards. I do expect several nominations though, especially in the big categories and some of the technical ones.

  • The Revenant

A movie that is heading to our shores soon and one that I am really keen to see. Critics are raving about the movie – especially the performance from Leonardo DiCaprio who may finally have a solid shot at taking home that coveted Oscar. From the trailer it looks beautiful filmed and I expect several nods for cinematography, art direction and for director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who won several awards for last year’s Birdman.

  • Spotlight

This movie is perhaps the most favoured by the critics to take home the best picture awards and with a solid ensemble cast and a compelling story exploring the sexual abuses of the Catholic Church in and around Boston and subsequent cover-ups, it sounds like a strong plot and may be tough to beat. I’m interested to see how the film fares with its acting nominations, as it appears the entire cast gives a strong performance with no one performer standing out – which could hinder nomination prospects, but will make it more desirable for the bigger Best Picture prizes.

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This movie was not in the running for some of the earlier awards show like the Golden Globes as it was released too late in their nomination cycle, but I do expect it to still play a role in the latter awards shows. While it wasn’t perfect, it’s a well-crafted and fun return to the Star Wars universe that is re-writing box office history. It’s what people wanted from a Star Wars movie and which should win awards in several of the technical categories for visual effects, sound and the amazing score by John Williams.

Read  The Oscars has come to their senses and put the Best Popular Film Award on hold for now

Honorable Mentions:

There are a lot of movies that were really stellar this year and are getting strong critical reviews, but the following are ones that I feel will not be big contenders for awards, though may spring surprises: Bridge of Spies, Joy, Sicario, Steve Jobs, Straight Outta Compton, The Danish Girl, Trumbo

I know the Golden Globes and some of the other guild awards also look at the TV and documentary categories, but as I seldom watch TV and haven’t watched anything on their list of nominees in years, I prefer not to comment. Don’t hate me for having a life.

Who do you think will be the big winners come the end of awards season?

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.

Last Updated: January 8, 2016

Craig Risi

A man of many talents, but no sense how to use them. I could be discovering the cure for aids or finding ways to achieve world peace, but I'd rather be watching movies and writing here instead.

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