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14 early Oscar contenders you should get excited about

What do you mean “it’s only July”?

OVER THE PAST few weeks, prestigious film festivals like Toronto International Film Festival, Venice Film Festival and New York Film Festival have begun to release their programmes in drips and drabs, providing indicators as to what films may be vying for Oscar glory next year.

And with David Fincher, Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan releasing films, it looks to be a good year.

With that in mind and because it’s never too early, we take a look at some future Oscar contenders that you should be keeping an eye on.

1. Gone Girl

Source: JoBlo Movie Trailers/YouTube

Director: David Fincher

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris

Release date: October 3rd, 2014

The trailer for Gone Girl has it all – darkness, moodiness, intrigue, AFFLECK. Based on Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name, it’s sure to make a killing at the box office and with Fincher’s credibility attached, it may well be in the Oscar hunt.

2. Mr Turner

Source: MOVIECLIPS Trailers/YouTube

Director: Mike Leigh

Starring: Timothy Spall

Release date: October 31, 2014

An understated period biopic about an artist? What would be more Oscar-friendly? Universally beloved by critics and featuring a Cannes-winning performance from Timothy Spall, who you probably know as “Oh, that guy!”, expect Mr Turner to make a splash.

3. Interstellar

Source: Warner Bros. UK/YouTube

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck

Release date: November 6th, 2014

This one’s got something to do with wormholes and travelling through space. But with a cast comprised of Oscar winners and Christopher Nolan at the helm, it’s likely to generate a whole load of buzz and headscratching à la Inception.

4. The Imitation Game

Source: The Weinstein Company/YouTube

Director: Morten Tyldum

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong

Release date: November 14th, 2014

An historical drama about the life of mathematician and WW2 codebreaker Alan Turing, who was later prosecuted for being a homosexual. Cumberbitches the world over will surely flock to it.

5. A Most Violent Year

jeschastain Source: A Most Violent Year/Facebook

Director: JC Chandor

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain

Release date: December 26th 2014

A thriller set in New York in 1981, which stands as one of the most violent years in the city’s history. Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain play an immigrant couple, who find themselves getting caught up in the criminal underworld. Expect hella grittiness.

6. Birdman

Source: Fresh Movie Trailers/YouTube

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts

Release date: January 2nd, 2015

The Michael Keaton resurgence we’ve all been waiting for is upon us. Opening this year’s Venice Film Festival, Birdman is a surreal dark comedy about a washed-up actor who once played a superhero attempting to revive his career by staging a Broadway play. Looks totally mad in the best way possible.

7. The Theory of Everything

the-theory-of-everything-felicity-jones-eddie-redmayne-399x600 Source: TIFF

Director: James Marsh

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis, Emily Watson

Release date: January 2nd, 2015

From the Oscar-winning director of Man on Wire, The Theory of Everything follows the relationship between physicist Stephen Hawking and his first wife Jane from his Motor Neuron Disease diagnosis through to this success as a physicist. Has Oscar buzz written all over it. Just look at Redmayne in character.

8. Into The Woods

55A4DDA1-ABB7-F125-8F21705C0BF6B36D Source: BroadwayWorld

Director: Rob Marshall

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp

Release date: January 9th, 2015

Like Chicago and Les Miserables before it, Into The Woods is this year’s big Oscar-friendly musical. With a cast of heavy-hitters and Stephen Sondheim’s blessing, it should be a treat for anybody who’s ever sang show tunes into a deodorant can.

9. Foxcatcher

Source: Movie Trailers/YouTube

Director: Bennett Miller

Cast: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave

Release date: January 9th 2015

Foxcatcher tells the incredible story of millionaire and athletic sponsor John DuPont, played to creepy perfection by Steve Carell, who murdered Olympic champion wrestler Dave Schultz in 1996. Bookies have already installed it as an early favourite to win Best Picture.

10. Wild

Source: MOVIECLIPS Trailers/YouTube

Director: Jean-Marc Vallé

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Gaby Hoffman, Laura Dern

Release date: January 23, 2015

Based on the bestselling memoir of the same name, Wild is about a young woman named Cheryl Strayed who embarks on a 1,100 mile hike on the Pacific Coast Trail. Expect crying, self-discovery, epiphanies and more.

11. Inherent Vice

LA Film Critics Association Awards Source: AP/Press Association Images

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro

Release date: January 30th, 2015

Adapting a Thomas Pynchon novel is an ambitious undertaking, but if anyone can do it, it’s Paul Thomas Anderson. Following a private detective (Joaquin Phoenix) investigating the disappearance of a former girlfriend, the characters are named things like Bigfoot, Sauncho and Coy. So it’s guaranteed to be interesting at the very least.

12. Rosewater

64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards - Press Room - Los Angeles Source: AP/Press Association Images

Director: Jon Stewart

Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal

Release date: TBC

In 2009, an Iranian journalist named Maziar Bahari was detained and tortured in Iran for 100 days following an interview he gave regarding the country’s election on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Rosewater tells the story of Bahari’s detention and marks Jon Stewart’s directorial debut. No trailer or imagery as of yet, but one to look out for.

13. Big Eyes

david_grossman_dave_grossman_margaret_keane_no_box_p0000013961s0002t2 Source: SuperRadNow

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Christoph Waltz, Amy Adams, Krysten Ritter

Release date: TBC

We know that Tim Burton has been a little hit-and-miss of late. (Dark Shadows was hardly Oscar fare, after all.) But Big Eyes seems like it could be a return to form.

It tells the fascinating story of Walter Keane, a 1960s artist known for his kitschy artwork, and his wife Margaret Keane, who later accused him of stealing her drawings. With Waltz and Adams in the leads, you can’t really go wrong.

14. Men, Women & Children

LA Premiere of Blended - Red Carpet Source: AP/Press Association Images

Director: Jason Reitman

Starring: Adam Sandler, Emma Thomspon, Rosemarie DeWitt, Dean Norris, Jennifer Garner

Release date: TBC

With the likes of Thank You For Smoking, Juno,Young Adult and Up In The Air to his name, it’s always worth paying attention to Jason Reitman. This ensemble dramedy follows a group of teenagers and their parents, and examines how the internet has affected their personal lives, relationships and self-image. Sandler plays a porn-addicted Dad, because of course.

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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