- “Woman in Gold”: All in all a rather enjoyable movie. Helen Mirren could potentially get a nod, but I guess we’ll have to see whatever contenders pop up.
- “Me & Earl & the Dying Girl”
- “Irrational Man”
(21st – NEW CONTENDER) “Grandma”: Lily Tomlin stars as Elle who has just gotten through breaking up with her girlfriend when Elle’s granddaughter Sage unexpectedly shows up needing $600 bucks before sundown. Temporarily broke, Grandma Elle and Sage spend the day trying to get their hands on the cash as their unannounced visits to old friends and flames end up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets. (Trailer – Oh how I love Lily Tomlin!).
(15th – Fantastic Fest) “High-Rise”: Based on the 1975 J.G. Ballard novel of the same name; Life for the residents of a tower block begins to run out of control. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, and Elisabeth Moss.
(18th) “Black Mass”: Scott Cooper directs the biopic of Whitey Bulger (played by Johnny Depp), the brother of state senator, Bill Bulger (played by Benedict Cumberbatch). Whitey is the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, but when other mob families began invading his turf he became an FBI informant to agent John Connolly (played by Joel Edgerton) in exchange for immunity. Supporting cast includes: Dakota Johnson, Adam Scott, Sienna Miller, Jesse Plemons, Julianne Nicholson, and Rory Cochran. (Trailer ~The release of the trailer is getting me REALLY excited about this movie!)
(25th) “Everest”: edited and directed by Baltasar Kormákur; A story based on the real events of 1996 Mount Everest disaster which led to the deaths of several climbers. Starring Jason Clarke as Rob Hall and Jake Gyllenhaal as Scott Fisher (the expedition leaders) with a supporting cast consisting of Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Sam Worthington, Clive Standen, and Keira Knightley as Rob Hall’s pregnant wife. (Clips released on imdb.com)
(2nd) “The Martian”: Directed by Ridley Scott; During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Also starring: Kate Mara, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig. (Trailer).
(2nd) “Freeheld”: New Jersey car mechanic Stacie Andree (played by Ellen Page) and her police detective girlfriend Laurel Hester (played by Julianne Moore) both battle to secure Hester’s pension benefits after she was diagnosed with a terminal illness. (Trailer – Well, I teared up watching the trailer, so I can only imagine the tissues I’ll need for this one. I’ve never been a huge Julianne Moore fan, but I love Ellen Page. Unfortunately, I doubt if there’s “room” for more than one “lesbian-themed” movie on the Oscars list, and the Cate Blanchett/ Rooney Mara pairing might hold a bit more promise – only time will tell though. I’ve wanted Ellen Page to win an Oscar since she was nominated for “Juno” and I would LOVE to see that happen this year.)
(2nd) “Legend”: Identical twin gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray (Tom Hardy plays both twins) terrorize London during the 1950s and 1960s. Taron Egerton and Emily Browning also star. (Trailer – If Tom Hardy can pull off the duel roles with individuality he will definitely deserve a spot on the Oscar Nominee list).
(2nd – NEW CONTENDER) “Sicario”: An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico. Starring Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, and Josh Brolin. (Trailer).
(9th) “The Walk”: Robert Zemeckis directs the story of Philippe Petit (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the French high-wire artist who attempts to cross the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. (Trailer)
(9th) “Steve Jobs”: Director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin pair up to pay tribute to one of the greatest minds of our time, Steve Jobs (played by Michael Fassbender). Though based on the biography by Walter Isaacson, what part of his life the film will focus on remains a mystery… imdb blurb reads, “His passion and ingenuity have been the driving force behind the digital age. However his drive to revolutionize technology was sacrificial. Ultimately it affected his family life and possibly his health. In this revealing film we explore the trials and triumphs of a modern day genius, Steven Paul Jobs.” Seth Rogan will play Steve Wozniak (hoping this roll does for Rogen what “The Wolf of Wall Street” did for Jonah Hill) and Kate Winslet will play Joanna Hoffman (one of the original members of Macintosh and NeXT). (Trailer – Based on the trailer, I’m most excited about the performances by Kate Winslet and Seth Rogan).
(10th) “Miles Ahead”: Don Cheadle directs and stars in this exploration of the life and music of Miles Davis. Ewan McGregor co-stars
(16th) “Bridge of Spies” changed from “St. James Place”: From director, Steven Spielberg – a film based on the true story of American lawyer, James Donovan (played by Tom Hanks), who is recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to negotiate the release of Francis Gary Powers, a pilot detained in the Soviet Union after he was accused of espionage when his plane was shot down over Russia in 1960. Co-starring Alan Alda, Amy Ryan and Eve Hewson. (Trailer – You had me at Tom Hanks!).
(16th – NEW CONTENDER) “Room”: A modern-day story about the boundless love between mother and child; young Jack knows nothing of the world except for the single room in which he was born and raised. Starring Brie Larson, Joan Allen, and William H. Macy. (Trailer – Oh the feels! I cannot wait to see this!).
(16th – NEW CONTENDER) “Truth”: A newsroom drama about the controversy surrounding the 2004 CBS 60 Minutes investigation of then-President George W. Bush’s military service in the Texas Air National Guard. Starring Robert Redford, Cate Blanchett, and Elisabeth Moss.
(23rd) “Suffragette” (UK): Written by Abi Morgan (“The Iron Lady”) and directed by Sarah Gavron, “Suffragette” centers on the members of the British Women’s Suffrage Movement of the late 19th Century and everything they risked to confront a corrupt government that denied their input and demands for representation. The story revolves around Maud (Carey Mulligan)—“The story of her fight for dignity is as gripping and visceral as any thriller, it is also heart-breaking and inspirational.” Meryl Streep co-stars as Emmeline Pankhurst, who is regarded as the leader of the British suffragette movement and has come to be seen as one of the most influential people of the 20th century. The supporting cast includes seasoned professionals as well as some talented “new-comers”: Helena Bonham-Carter, Romola Garai, Anne-Marie Duff, Geoff Bell, Natalie Press, Ben Whishaw and Brendan Gleeson. (Trailer – Ahhhh! Definitely on my “most anticipated” list)
(23rd – NEW CONTENDER) “Burnt”: Adam Jones (played by Bradley Cooper) is a Chef who destroyed his career with drugs and diva behavior. He cleans up and returns to London, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars. Also starring: Sienna Miller and Alicia Vikander. (Trailer – looks like Bradley Cooper at his finest).
(30th) “Our Brand is Crisis: Based on the documentary of the same name, starring Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton. (Trailer – not sure where, but I feel this will get a nod in at least one category).
(6th) “Brooklyn”: In 1950s Ireland and New York, young Ellis Lacey (played by Saoirse Ronan) has to choose between two men (played by Domhnall Gleeson and Michael Zegen) and two countries. (Trailer)
(6th – limited) “Trumbo”: Directed by Jay Roach—this biopic tells the story of Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo (played by Bryan Cranston), when he’s blacklisted in the 1940s for being a Communist and struggles against gossip columnist, Hedda Hopper (played by Helen Mirren) in a war over words and freedom that entangled virtually everyone in Hollywood during the “Red Scare”. Other stars include: Elle Fanning, Diane Lane, Alan Tudyk, Louis C.K., and John Goodman. (Trailer -Mark my words, Bryan Cranston will be on the Oscar list for this one.)
(6th) “Spotlight”: The true story of the Boston Globe’s uncovering of the child molestation scandal that rocked the Catholic Church. Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, and Michael Keaton. (Trailer – I’m not sure who will be the breakout star will be, butit shows so much promise as an ensemble).
(13th) “The Lady in the Van”: A man forms an unexpected bond with a transient woman (played by Maggie Smith) living in her car that’s parked in his driveway. (Trailer)
(13th – NEW CONTENDER) “By the Sea”: Set in France during the mid-1970s, Vanessa, a former dancer, and her husband Roland, an American writer, travel the country together. They seem to be growing apart, but when they linger in one quiet, seaside town they begin to draw close to some of its more vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner. Starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
(20th) “Carol”: A British-American romantic drama based on the novel, The Price of Salt (a.k.a. Carol) by Patricia Highsmith— directed by Todd Haynes, and screenplay written by Phyllis Nagy. In 1950s New York, Therese Belivet (played by Rooney Mara), a young woman working in a department store who dreams of a better life falls for an older, married woman named Carol Aird (played by Cate Blanchett) who longs to leave her loveless marriage but fears losing her daughter in the process. (Official release at Cannes, May 17th) (Trailer – I have one word: ecstatic!).
(27th) “The Danish Girl”: Inspired by the true story of Danish artists Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) and his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander), this tender portrait of a marriage asks: What do you do when someone you love wants to change? It starts with a question, a simple favor asked of a husband by his wife on an afternoon chilled by the Baltic wind while both are painting in their studio. Her portrait model has canceled, and would he mind slipping into a pair of women’s shoes and stockings for a few moments so she can finish the painting on time. “Of course,” he answers. “Anything at all.” With that, one of the most passionate and unusual love stories of the twentieth century begins. Amber Heard plays Oola. (Trailer – the trailer is stunning! I can’t wait!).
(27th – NEW CONTENDER) “I Saw the Light”: Hank Williams Biography (need I say more?). Starring Elizabeth Olsen and Tom Hiddleston.
(4th) “Macbeth”: Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard star in this film based on the play by Shakespeare. (Trailer – I feel Shakespeare portrayals often get overlooked by the academy, but Cotillard and Fassbender might be the duo that can get it done).
(4th – NEW CONTENDER) “Youth”: Fred and Mick, two old friends, are on vacation in an elegant hotel at the foot of the Alps. Fred, a composer and conductor, is now retired. Mick, a film director, is still working. They look with curiosity and tenderness on their children’s confused lives, Mick’s enthusiastic young writers, and the other hotel guests. While Mick scrambles to finish the screenplay for what he imagines will be his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. But someone wants at all costs to hear him conduct again. Starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, and Rachel Weisz. (Trailer).
(11th – NEW CONTENDER) “In the Heart of the Sea”: Based on the 1820 event, a whaling ship is preyed upon by a sperm whale, stranding its crew at sea for 90 days, thousands of miles from home. Directed by Ron Howard; starring Chris Hemsworth & Cillian Murphy. (Trailer).
(18th – NEW CONTENDER) “Son of Saul”: In the horror of 1944 Auschwitz, a prisoner forced to burn the corpses of his own people finds moral survival upon trying to salvage from the flames the body of a boy he takes for his son.
(23rd) “45 Years”: Five days before their 45th wedding anniversary party, Kate and her husband, Geoff, receive a letter that the body of his first love was found preserved in the icy glaciers of the French Alps. Starring Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, and Geraldine Jones.
(25th) “Snowden”: Oliver Stone directs; CIA employee Edward Snowden leaks thousands of classified documents to the press. (Trailer).
(25th – limited) “The Revenant”: This year’s Oscar winning filmmaker, Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Birdman”) teams up with Oscar winning cinematographer, Emmanuel Lebezki (“Gravity”) to tell true story of Hugh Glass (played by Leonardo Dicaprio), an 1800s frontiersman and fur trapper who sets out into the wilderness with his three companions (played by Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, and Domhnall Gleeson). While on the hunt, Glass is mauled by a bear, so his companions rob him and leave him for dead. He somehow survives the 200+ mile trek back to civilization to exact revenge on the men that abandoned him in the wilderness. (Trailer).
(25th) “Joy”: Director David O. Russell teams up [again] with leading lady, Jennifer Lawrence to tell the story of Joy Mangano—the single-mother of three who became a multimillionare with her invention of the “Miracle Mop”. Throw in Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro as co-stars and a screenplay by Annie Mumolo (“Bridesmaids”) and “Joy” sounds like it has the potential to be thoroughly entertaining even if it doesn’t end up in Oscar contention… but if the past two Russell/Lawrence pair-ups are any prediction, it just might stand a chance. (Trailer).
(25th – limited) “The Hateful Eight”: Quentin Tarantino directs this post-Civil War Western set in Wyoming. Traveling by stagecoach, bounty hunter John Ruth (played by Kurt Russell) and his fugitive, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) are trying to stay ahead of a blizzard when they encounter Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) a former union soldier turned infamous bounty hunter and Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) a southern renegade claiming to be the new town Sheriff. The four seek refuge at Minnie’s Haberdashery, where they aren’t greeted by Minnie, but by four more strangers: Bob (Demian Bichir) who is taking care of Minnie’s in her absence, Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) the hangman of Red Rock, Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) the cow-puncher, and Confederate General Sanford Smithers (Bruce Dern). As the storm overtakes the mountainside, the eight travelers begin a plot of betrayal and deception that just might end their journey and their lives. (Trailer – Here we go!).
2015 (No Release Date as of yet):
“The Program” (was “Icon”): Irish sports journalist, Bill Stapleton (played by Lee Pace) becomes convinced that Lance Armstrong’s performances during the Tour de France victories are fueled by banned substances. With this conviction, he starts hunting for evidence that will expose Armstrong. Ben Foster plays Lance Armstrong. No US Release Date.
“The Sea of Trees”: Directed by Gus Van Zant—The film follows Arthur Brennan (played by Matthew McConaughey) an American man who has found the perfect place to kill himself in The Aokigahara Forest (aka “The Sea of Trees”). Located at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan— also called “The Suicide Forest” due to the high number of suicides committed there every year. In the forest Arthur encounters Takumi Nakamura (played by Ken Watanabe), a Japanese man who has also come to the forest to kill himself. The two men begin a journey of self-reflection and survival, which affirms Arthur’s will to live and return to his wife (played by Naomi Watts). (Released in May at Cannes, No US release date so it may not make a 2015 Oscar Run)
“The Light Between Oceans”: A lighthouse keeper (Michael Fassbender) and his wife (Rachel Weisz) living off the coast of Western Australia raise a baby they rescue from an adrift rowboat. Alicia Vikander also stars.
“Genius”: A chronicle of Max Perkins’s (played by Colin Firth) time as the book editor at Scribner, where he oversaw works by Thomas Wolfe (Jude Law), Ernest Hemingway (Dominic West), F. Scott Fitzgerald (Guy Pearce), and others… Aline Bernstein played by Nicole Kidman.
“Queen of the Desert”: Written and directed by Werner Herzog; A chronicle of Gertrude Bell’s life (played by Nicole Kidman), a traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the twentieth century. Also starring: James Franco, Robert Pattinson, and Damian Lewis. (Trailer).
“Nina”: The story of the late jazz musician and classical pianist Nina Simone (played by Zoe Saldana) including her rise to fame and relationship with her manager Clifton Henderson. David Oyelowo also stars.
IF they make the 2015 release date:
“The Big Short”: Based on the non-fiction book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis about the build-up of the housing and credit bubble during the 2000s. Actors attached: Brad Pitt (also a producer), Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carrell.
“A Tale of Love and Darkness”: A drama based on the memoir of Amos Oz, a writer, journalist, and advocate of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Written and directed by Natalie Portman who will also play Fania Oz. (Released at Cannes in May, but no US release date yet).
“The Secret Scripture”: Based on the 2008 novel by Sebastian Barry; A 100-yr old woman named Roseanne McNulty who has spent 50+ years of her life in a mental institution writes her autobiography. Rooney Mara plays young Roseanne while Vanessa Redgrave plays old Roseanne. Eric Bana and Theo James co-star.
“Tulip Fever”: Set in early 17th-century Holland, during the period of the Tulip mania, an artist (played by Dane DeHaan) falls for a married young woman (Alicia Vikander) while he’s commissioned to paint her portrait by her husband (Christoph Waltz). The two invest in the risky tulip market in hopes to build a future together.
“The Untitled Terrence Malick Project”: Two intersecting love triangles. Obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas. Starring Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, & Cate Blanchett.
Release Date Moved to 2016
“The Zookeeper’s Wife”: The Zookeeper’s Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Jan and Antonina (played by Jessica Chastain) Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the Nazi invasion.
“Silence”: Martin Scorsese directs the screenplay adapted from the 1980 novel of the same name written by Shusaku Endo. The film follows two 17th Century Jesuit priests (played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor, Father Ferreira (played by Liam Neeson) who has been missing for 10 years and may have renounced his faith under torture during the severe persecution of Christian missionaries and converts.
“Knight of Cups”: Terrence Malick; A screenwriter (played by Christian Bale) living in LA tries to make sense of the strange events occurring around him. Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman co-star. (Trailer)
“Demolition”: An investment banker (played by Jake Gylenhaal) struggling to understand his emotional disconnect after the tragic death of his wife begins to tear apart his life in a effort to see where he went wrong, is ultimately rescued by a woman (Naomi Watts) he meets in a chance encounter. (Trailer).