All those great movies you’ve been hearing about since the fall film festivals? They’re finally arriving. Here’s a top 10 list of films you’ll need to see if you want to be up on all the Oscars talk this year. The 2017 awards will be handed out Feb. 26.
“Arrival”: Denis Villeneuve’s spooky sci-fi spectacle already has its share of fans in the academy, as Paramount has been busy courting their favor at private screenings. Oscar voters have been more open to genre films of late, and this one stars five-time nominee Amy Adams. Opens Friday (Nov. 11).
“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”: Double-Oscar-winner Ang Lee’s adaptation of this story of an Iraq war hero reconciling the hoopla of his homecoming with the trauma he suffered overseas entered the New York Film Festival as one of the season’s most anticipated films. It left as one of the year’s most debated, with many complaining the technology Lee used to shoot the film made it look artificial. Opens on a limited basis Friday, with wide release Nov. 18.
“Manchester by the Sea”: Casey Affleck became the early front-runner for the lead Oscar actor when this movie screened at Sundance, and little has changed since then. Affleck’s portrayal of a working-class man barely living with unspeakable grief will break your heart. Michelle Williams makes the most of a brief supporting role. Opens Nov. 18.
“Lion”: Harvey Weinstein’s strongest shot at a best picture nomination lies with this moving story of an Indian man (Dev Patel) trying to find the family he lost as a boy. The film left many in tears when the movie premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Opens Nov. 25.
“Jackie”: Natalie Portman’s turn as Jackie Kennedy in the days immediately after her husband’s assassination floored critics at Venice and Toronto. The movie, directed by Pablo Larrain, is mesmerizing, a fascinating portrait of grief and image-making. Opens Dec. 2.
“La La Land”: Damien Chazelle’s irresistible musical follows the romance between a struggling actress and a jazz purist. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling make an appealing pair, and Chazelle has peppered the movie with nods to vintage Hollywood and Jacques Demy musicals. A delight for anyone who believes in the magic of movies. Opens Dec. 9.
“Silence”: For the past 25 years, Martin Scorsese has been nurturing this movie about two Portuguese Jesuits on a mission to spread Christianity in Japan. That’s a serious build of anticipation. Five of Scorsese’s past six films have been nominated for best picture, though voters have been cooler toward his spiritually minded movies. Opens Dec. 23.
“20th Century Women”: Mike Mills’ follow-up to “Beginners” is an eager-to-please coming-of-age story about a teen growing up in a house full of women. Even critics not completely taken with the plot-free movie extol the work of Annette Bening and Greta Gerwig, both strongly in the mix for acting honors. Opens Dec. 25.
“Fences”: Denzel Washington and Viola Davis have already won Tony Awards for the 2010 Broadway revival of this August Wilson domestic drama. Now Washington is bringing it to the screen as director-star. Given the material and the actors, it wouldn’t be surprising to see an Oscar encore for the pair. Opens Dec. 25.
“Hidden Figures”: This crowd-pleaser follows the three black female mathematicians (Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae) who helped NASA launch astronaut John Glenn into space in 1962. Fox screened scenes at the Toronto festival, and the enthusiastic reception confirmed what the studio already knew — this movie could be a hit with both audiences and the academy. Opens Dec. 25.