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Oscars 2018: Watch Out For These Movies

By JACOB TRASK

The fall of 2016 was an interesting season for film, and capped off a lackluster, somewhat disappointing start to the year. From September to December, we saw all kinds of impressive films, ranging from the most artistic to the most cinematically appealing. Films like Moonlight and La La Land dazzled audiences and broke new ground in the industry. Performances by Denzel Washington in Fences and Casey Affleck in Manchester By The Sea blew away critics. It was an exciting time, with the best movies of the year rolling out every few weeks.

The culmination of this season was Oscar night on Feb. 26. In an exciting turn of events, the announcement was botched, and Moonlight won best picture. It was a crazy night for film, and was one of the most exciting Oscar shows ever, which leads some to question: how could next year’s Oscars possibly match up? It’s hard to imagine there could be the same amount of controversy, but the quality of films this year should be an interesting match-up to last year come award season.

Assistant Professor of communications Aaron Walker says the Academy Awards revolve around acting performances, and that the Academy likes to award young, popular, up-and-coming actors. “You want to look for films with emerging or credible casts,” Walker says. “You’ll want to see combinations of good performers and Academy Award type directors.”

Already, fall 2017 is expected to shake things up. Many talented directors are expected to release films in the second half of the year, such as Christopher Nolan, Kathryn Bigelow and Paul Thomas Anderson. Although it’s only April, and it’s far too early to tell what films will get nominations for Best Picture, here are a handful that are the most likely to make the mark.

Dunkirk

Dunkirk is easily one of the most anticipated films of 2017, and rightfully so. The film is directed by Christopher Nolan and is his first film since the highly-regarded, mind-blowing space epic Interstellar. The war film is definitely new ground for Nolan, who has spent most of the last two decades doing sci-fi and superhero films. Regardless, they are some of the best movies in their genre, and Nolan has made his mark as one of the best filmmakers of this generation.

Dunkirk will tell the true story of the Battle of Dunkirk in World War II, when thousands of British soldiers tried to flee a beach that was surrounded by Nazi forces. A story with this historical background is likely to get more attention from the Academy come Oscar season, which is likely why Nolan is making it his next film. Interstellar did not receive as much attention as it should’ve, possibly due to its science-fiction based drama and challenging story lines, so it makes sense that Nolan would be gunning for the award this year.

Many fans are excited about the film, but some are a bit weary.

“I think some people are going to like it, but I think a lot of people might not enjoy his style doing a World War II movie,” said Nolan fan and senior advertising and public relations major Tyler Okkonen. “His last couple movies were crazy, so I don’t know how he’s going to turn this story into something with as many twists and turns.”

The cast of the film is exciting. Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy are classic co-workers of Nolan’s, and will star in the film. English actors Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh will also make appearances. The lead singer of One Direction, Harry Styles, will make his acting debut in as a young soldier in the film. It is likely that Hardy and Murphy will take leading roles, as their experience with Nolan could really benefit the film. Established actors like Rylance and Branagh are sure to establish a strong secondary cast, and all eyes will be on Styles in his acting debut.

“The cast is going to be solid. Murphy and Hardy are really good,” said Okkonen. When asked about the addition of Styles, Okkonen wasn’t too negative. “I trust Nolan. He won’t cast a guy who’s going to give a bad performance, so I think it’ll be fine.”

The trailer that has been released so far is very promising. It’s gripping, it looks beautiful, and it’s making fans incredibly excited to see what Nolan has in store. The film will hit theaters on July 21.

Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name is a film that is much more under the radar, but certainly could blow up similar to Moonlight or La La Land toward the end of the year. The Luca Guadagnino film debuted this year at the Sundance Film Festival, and has garnered nothing but positive reviews early on. It currently holds an 8.2/10 rating on imdb.com and an approval rating of 100 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

The movie takes place in 1980, when an Italian-American teen named Elio (Timothee Chalamet) meets a 24-year-old American exchange student named Oliver (Armie Hammer). A relationship builds between them as Elio is living life as a teenager, questioning his sexuality and his attraction to Oliver. The story is based off of the Andre Aciman novel.

This film will be a dire opportunity for Hammer to redeem himself after the lackluster Lone Ranger reboot. This is a serious and dramatic role for Hammer to take on, and if he really outdoes his previous work, he just might be in store for his first Oscar run.

 “I like Armie Hammer a lot,” said Okkonen. “He’s been in some rough movies, but I liked him in Social Network and Nocturnal Animals. I just think he’s gotten kind of a bad wrap, so it’s nice to see him getting a chance at something bigger.”

Call Me By Your Name will be released on November 24, which is prime time for the biggest Oscar contenders of the year.

Untitled Detroit Project

Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal are teaming up for a very exciting new film, currently labeled as Untitled Detroit Project. The movie is based on the 1967 Detroit riot, in which 43 people were killed. Bigelow has gained most of her directing prowess from her two militiary-centered films Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker, which are easily two of the best war movies of the 2000s. Her style could make this story incredibly interesting and cinematically intense, and could definitely make this film a contender for Best Picture. Mark Boal also wrote and produced her two previous films, so their continued partnership is extremely promising.

The cast of this movie is littered with both rising stars and veterans, including John Krasinki, Will Poulter, Tyler James Williams, Anthony Mackie and John Boyega. It has a really solid African American cast and should be a strong representation of black Hollywood for award season.

With Star Wars Episode VIII coming in December, John Boyega could make 2017 his year to shine if he breaks out with his role in this film.

“The Academy likes to award people who are huge mainstream stars, especially in diversity situations,” said Walker. “We have an emerging mega-star in John Boyega, who’s sharpened his teeth on some pretty great movies so far, and he’s going to be in two majors projects this year.”

The film will be produced by Annapurna Pictures, and it will be released on August 4.

Mudbound

Mudbound is a period drama that was also debuted at Sundance earlier this year. This film is directed by Dee Rees, who directed the HBO TV film Bessie, and the Sundance darling Pariah. The script is written by Virgil Williams, and is based on the novel Mudbound by Hillary Jordan. The film takes place shortly after World War II, when a family relocates to Mississippi, and faces numerous problems fueled by racism. It will likely tackle themes based around racial divide, and could be another strong vehicle for black actors trying to earn Oscar nominations.

“Dee Rees has a great filmography and I don’t see a reason for it not to be successful,” Walker said about the film.

The star-studded cast is sure to deliver. Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Mary J. Blige,  Jonathan Banks and Jason Mitchell all star in the film. “The cast is phenomenal, so assuming it’s written well and I assume it’s written very well, I think it’s going to be successful,” Walker said.

The film made it’s official release at Sundance and it does not currently have another release date, but it will likely release again later in the year to ensure it’s consideration for Oscar nominations.

Jacob Trask can be reached at jacob.trask@spartans.ut.edu

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