All The Films You’ll Need To Name Drop This Coming Awards Season

From Olivia Colman's OTHER royal role to Lady Gaga's awards chances, consider this your Oscars cheat sheet

if beale street could talk film

by Katie Rosseinsky |
Updated on

It's the most wonderful time of the year, for Hollywood at least. Not Christmas, but the four or so months we fondly refer to as awards season which, after an autumn of buzz-worthy film festivals in Venice, Toronto and London (to name just a handful), gets into its stride around the time the clocks go back, when a clutch of new films chasing Oscars glory begin to arrive in the cinemas. Things then step up a gear come January, when the awards circuit becomes a grueling endurance test for hopeful actors, actresses, directors and writers as they trek from one red carpet to another. They’ll tick off the Golden Globes, the SAGs, the BAFTAs and finally, the Academy Awards (which will take place on 24th February 2019) - before starting the whole interminable process again a few months later at Cannes. It's a hard life, we imagine.

So, what does this mean for film fans? Just when you'd finally got to grips with 2018's crop of Oscar favourites (Lady Bird__, Get Out and I, Tonya, you'll always have a place in our hearts), there's now a whole new class of hopefuls that have already managed to generate buzz in critical circles, whether that's because of a rapturous reception at one of the aforementioned festivals, a transformative lead performance, all-out box office domination or a mixture of the three, but with singing (we're looking at you, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga...) Luckily, as the nights draw in, it's arguably the perfect time of year for cinema-going. Start planning your viewing schedule accordingly...


Awards hopefuls 2018 - Grazia

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CREDIT: Fox Searchlight

The Favourite

Before Olivia Colman stepped into Claire Foy's shoes as The Crown's new Queen Elizabeth, the British actress and national treasure took on a very different royal role. In The Favourite, the latest from The Lobster director Yorgos Lanthimos, she plays the eccentric Queen Anne, with Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone co-starring as rival courtiers viciously striving for a place in her affections. This central trio is already generating serious awards buzz for their work (it's thought that Colman will compete in the Best Actress category) and Lanthimos's trademark pitch black humour and surrealist flourishes will make this a period drama like no other.Released 1st January 2019

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Move over, Ocean's 8: Widows, the female-fronted thriller from Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen, can arguably boast the most A-list line-up of any film released this year. It's based on the '80s ITV series that fascinated McQueen as a child, and stars Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo as four women who find themselves drawn together when their husbands die in a failed heist. Soon, they're stepping up to finish the job and avenge their late partners. Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn shares writing duties with McQueen, meaning a Best Original Screenplay nomination is practically a dead cert (and don't sleep on Viola Davis' chances of adding another Oscar to her mantlepiece, either). Released 5th November

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Can You Ever Forgive Me?

She won us over with scene-stealing comic turns in the likes of Bridesmaids and Ghostbusters, but Melissa McCarthy plays against type to devastating effect in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, which is based on the memoirs of celebrity interviewer Lee Israel. It's the '90s, and Israel's biographies of fading Hollywood stars aren't selling; falling on hard times, she embarks on a get-rich-quick scam that hinges upon a knack for forging 'lost' celebrity letters. Written by Nicole Holofcener and directed by Marielle Heller (her follow-up to 2016's under-appreciated The Diary Of A Teenage Girl), it's also a showcase for some of the film world's most exciting female talents. Released 1st February 2019

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CREDIT: Shutterstock

Black Panther

Is Black Panther the film that will finally break Marvel's Oscar curse? Quite possibly. Not only did its release mark a major watershed moment in pop culture (it's the only film in the superhero studio's cinematic universe to feature a predominantly black cast), it also easily holds its own amongst this year's best releases, thanks in no small part to a compelling supporting performance from Michael B. Jordan and deft direction from Ryan Coogler. Now that the Oscars have (thankfully) nixed their ill-fated Academy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film, Black Panther could very easily make history as the first superhero movie to receive a nomination for Best Picture. Available on DVD and digital download now

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CREDIT: Netflix


If Black Panther could be the first superhero movie to swoop into the Best Picture category, Roma is just as likely to pull off the same feat for Netflix. The Academy is notoriously sniffy when it comes to streaming (last year, the platform's main awards hopeful Mudbound failed to live up to its early promise, despite landing a handful of nominations) but if anything could change its collective mind, it's the latest project from Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón. Shot in black and white, his follow-up to 2013's Gravity is his most personal film yet. Drawing on his childhood in Mexico City, it's a love letter to the women who raised hit set against the political turmoil of '70s Mexico.Released 14th December

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CREDIT: Annapurna Pictures

If Beale Street Could Talk

After Moonlight's dramatic Best Picture win at last year's Oscars, Barry Jenkins announced he'd be adapting If Beale Street Could Talk, the 1974 novel from the prodigiously talented writer, critic and civil rights activist James Baldwin. The film – Jenkins' third to date – tells the story of Tish (Kiki Layne) and Fonny (Stephan James), a young couple whose relationship is placed under strain when Fonny finds himself wrongfully accused of rape. With a similarly dreamy, elegiac feel, Beale Street looks perfectly poised to replicate Moonlight's awards season success. Name-drop Regina King (who plays Tish's mother) as a major player for Best Supporting ActressReleased 18th January 2018

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CREDIT: Shutterstock

A Star Is Born

At this (admittedly early) stage in the awards game, A Star Is Born remains the one to beat. Bradley Cooper's re-telling of Hollywood's favourite fable, which this time tracks the ill-fated romance between a washed-up stadium rock singer (Cooper) and a prodigiously talented unknown (Lady Gaga in her first major film role) as their respective careers wax and wane, has only gained more momentum since its first screening at Venice – the huge box office numbers, and the fact that you're probably streaming the soundtrack right this moment, certainly won't hurt its chances either. But will Gaga pick up an Oscar? Surely she deserves multiple statuettes just for that howl in ShallowOn general release

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CREDIT: Shutterstock

First Man

Ryan Gosling re-teams with his La La Land director Damien Chazelle for a new biopic that's stratospheres away from his love letter to the musicals of Old Hollywood. First Man follows astronaut Neil Armstrong (Gosling) as he prepares to make the first landing on the Moon. The Crown's Claire Foy joins him as Janet, Armstrong's put-upon wife, in what will doubtless be her most awards-friendly role since Queen Elizabeth II. Though reviews haven't been quite so rapturous this time around, its sweeping cinematography and breath-taking special effects mean that First Man can't be discounted from the Oscar race (side note: why are awards bodies still so obsessed with angsty wife roles?)On general release

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Mary, Queen of Scots

At this stage, every move from three-time Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan (she's just 24 years old, if you fancy feeling inadequate) generates Oscar buzz, not in the least her newest role: in this, the first screen effort from former Donmar Warehouse creative director Josie Rourke, Saoirse plays the ill-fated Mary Stuart, the Scottish queen who became embroiled in brutal intrigue when she made a play for the British throne. Margot Robbie, meanwhile, has donned ashy white make-up and a terrifying red wig to play Elizabeth I, Mary's cousin, former confidante and eventual rival.Released 1st January 2019

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The Hate U Give

Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give is the latest hit Young Adult novel to make its way onto film, but this story is more pressing, troubling and resonant than much of the Hunger Games-lite fare that's come to be associated with teen drama. Actress-slash-activist Amandla Stenberg plays 16-year-old Starr as she juggles her double life, acting one way with family and friends in her predominantly black neighbourhood and presenting a different self entirely to affluent classmates at her private school. When her childhood friend becomes a victim of police brutality, those worlds collide. Amandla's performance has gained rave reviews, and its timely subject matter could put this outlier on track for Oscars success.On general release

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Keira Knightley? In a period drama? Groundbreaking. The more cynical among you might be tempted to paraphrase Miranda Priestley after seeing posters for Colette, but this exhilarating film is far more than the sum of those parts. For one, Knightley gives one of her best performances yet as Sidonie-Gabrielle 'Colette,' the French author of the Belle Epoque whose husband (a gleefully awful Dominic West) steals all the credit for her blockbusting Claudine series of schoolgirl novels. And with its focus on a woman finding and owning her voice, Colette buzzes with contemporary resonance - which will certainly work in its favour come awards season. And did we mention the costumes?Released 11th January 2019

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Nicole Kidman is back in the Oscar race with Destroyer, a noirish thriller from director Karyn Kusama. She plays a troubled LA cop who finds herself drawn back into the case that has cast a dark shadow over her police career, seeking vengeance along the way. Unless you've managed to avoid the headlines entirely, it's a role that has required one of Kidman's most extreme transformations to date, but don't let the prosthetics distract you from the quality of her performance. Released 25th January 2019

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CREDIT: Shutterstock

The Wife

It might have flown under your radar so far, but the big screen adaptation of Meg Wolitzer's novel has been quietly gaining major Oscar buzz thanks to a standout performance from six time nominee Glenn Close in the title role. Her turn as Joan, the inscrutable wife of a Nobel prize-winning author (played by another veteran of stage and screen, Jonathan Pryce) is undisputedly among the year's best, while those six previous nominations are only going to help give her campaign yet more momentum. Sorry, Gaga. Close is joined by her daughter, Annie Starke, who plays a younger Joan in flashback. On general release

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Beautiful Boy

The Internet's boyfriend and last year's awards season breakout star (thanks to indelible – and wildly dissimilar – performances in two of 2017's most talked about films, Call Me By Your Name and Lady Bird) is back with another Oscar-worthy turn in Beautiful Boy. Based on a set of memoirs written by a father (played by Steve Carell) and son (Chalamet), it charts the latter's addiction to crystal meth and the long, long recovery process. Wear waterproof mascara. Released 18th January 2019

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