Fall movie awards season: Top Oscars contenders of 2022 – Sarasota Herald-Tribune

The fall season marks many changes, including the transition from summer blockbusters to acclaimed movies that may show up on the next Oscar nominations list.
Actually, it looks to be an unusually blockbuster-friendly movie awards season this year, with summer hits “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Elvis” potential contenders in top Oscars categories. That could continue into the fall, as “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” — both sequels to box office hits and Best Picture Oscar nominees — head to theaters.
However, there’s still plenty of more typical awards season movies coming off recent premieres at Venice, Telluride and Toronto International Film Festival (or earlier this year at Cannes Film Festival.) To help narrow it down, we’ve highlighted around 20 of the top movies to see this fall, and when and where to watch them, including those set to stream on Netflix.
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The mystery comedy follows three friends (Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington) who become murder suspects in the 1930s. With a star-studded cast also including Chris Rock, Robert De Niro and Taylor Swift, and David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook,” “American Hustle”) as writer-director, “Amsterdam” seems like a sure-fire awards season movie, but it skipping film festivals suggests maybe not.
Where to watch: Wide release in theaters Friday
“In the Bedroom” and “Little Children” writer-director Todd Field returns with his first film in 16 years, following the fictional, world-renowned conductor/composer Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett.) “Tár” premiered at Venice where it earned highly positive reviews and the Volpi Cup for Best Actress, which suggests Blanchett — already a two-time Oscar winner for “The Aviator” and “Blue Jasmine” — may be looking at her third statue.
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Friday
Swedish filmmaker Ruben Östlund’s English-language debut is this satire about a luxury cruise for the uber-rich, with a Marx-quoting captain (Woody Harrelson) leading the ship, that goes terribly awry. “Triangle of Sadness” won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes, Östlund’s second time winning the festival’s top prize following his Best International Feature Film Oscar-nominated 2017 movie “The Square.”
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Friday
This drama centers on the infamous 1955 lynching of 14-year-old Black boy Emmett Till, and how his death turned his mother Mamie Till-Mobley (Danielle Deadwyler) into an activist in the civil rights movement. “Till” is director/co-writer Chinonye Chukwu’s follow-up to her 2019 movie “Clemency,” which won Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, with Whoopi Goldberg also producing and acting in this new film.
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Oct. 14
Oscar-winning “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” writer-director Martin McDonagh, whose debut feature was 2008’s “In Bruges,” reunites with that film’s two stars for this dark comedy about an 1920s Ireland resident (Brendan Gleeson) who abruptly decides to stop being friends with another man (Colin Farrell.) “The Banshees of Inisherin” premiered at Venice, where it won Best Screenplay and Actor for Farrell.
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Oct. 21
Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel about a German soldier’s traumatic experiences in World War I, made into a Best Picture Oscar-winning film the following year, receives its latest onscreen adaptation from German filmmaker Edward Berger. “All Quiet on the Western Front” could find itself competing at the Oscars once again, with Germany already selecting it as the country’s International Feature Film submission this year.
Where to watch: Netflix on Oct. 28
Writer-director James Gray’s film inspired by his own upbringing follows a young boy (newcomer Banks Repeta) in 1980s New York, co-starring Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong as his parents and Anthony Hopkins as his grandfather (with Jessica Chastain making an appearance as Maryanne Trump.) Gray has largely been overlooked by the Oscars, but hopefully that will change with this film, particularly given its cast.
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Oct. 28
Oscar-winning “Birdman” and “The Revenant” director/co-writer Alejandro G. Iñárritu returns to his native Mexico for this film following a journalist and documentarian (Daniel Giménez Cacho) living in Los Angeles who himself returns to Mexico. “Bardo” has received decidedly more mixed reviews than Iñárritu’s previous films, but if nothing else, it’s still an International Feature Film and Cinematography Oscar contender.
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting in November, Netflix on Dec. 16
Marvel’s latest film is this sequel to 2018’s “Black Panther,” with director/co-writer Ryan Coogler returning along with most of the original cast — though sadly, not star Chadwick Boseman, who died in 2020. “Black Panther” proved to be a critical success as well as commercial, earning seven Oscar nominations including Best Picture and winning three, which perhaps its sequel can match if it maintains the quality of the original.
Where to watch: Wide release in theaters Nov. 11
Steven Spielberg’s new movie, inspired by his own early life, follows an aspiring young filmmaker (whose love of cinema is launched by seeing the Sarasota-shot Best Picture Oscar winner “The Greatest Show on Earth” in theaters), with Michelle Williams and Paul Dano playing his parents. “The Fabelmans” premiered at Toronto, where it won the People’s Choice Award, and is considered by many the film to beat for Best Picture.
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Nov. 11
Hugh Jackman stars in this drama as a man whose son (Zen McGrath) from a previous marriage leaves his mother (Laura Dern) and moves in with his father and his new partner (Vanessa Kirby.) “The Son” is directed and co-written by Florian Zeller, adapting his own play, and follows his 2020 film “The Father,” which won Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins (who reprises his role in this film.)
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Nov. 11
“Pier Kids” documentarian Elegance Bratton makes his narrative feature debut with this film following a young gay Black man (Jeremy Pope) who experiences homophobia both from his mother (Gabrielle Union) and when he enlists in the Marine Corps. Being released by A24 and recently premiering at Toronto, don’t be surprised if this becomes a sleeper awards season title in the vein of A24’s earlier film “Moonlight.”
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Nov. 18
Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan star as New York Times journalists Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor as they report on sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, which won them a Pulitzer Prize. Directed by Maria Schrader (Netflix’s “Unorthodox,” last year’s film “I’m Your Man”), “She Said” looks to be a journalism procedural in the vein of 2015’s “Spotlight,” which won the Best Picture and Original Screenplay Oscars.
Where to watch: Wide release in theaters Nov. 18
“Marriage Story” writer-director Noah Baumbach reunites with Adam Driver for this adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel, about a professor who must contend with an “Airborne Toxic Event.” Co-starring Baumbach’s partner and fellow filmmaker Greta Gerwig, Don Cheadle and Outkast’s André Benjamin, Baumbach may earn an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination for bringing the long-thought unfilmable novel to screen. 
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Nov. 25, Netflix on Dec. 30
Actress-turned-director Sarah Polley’s first film in nearly a decade is this adaptation of Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel, about a group of women who must decide what to do after learning they have been drugged and raped by men in an isolated religious community. Starring Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley and Frances McDormand, “Women Talking” earned highly positive reviews following its Telluride and Toronto screenings.
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Dec. 2
Sam Mendes’ (“1917,” “American Beauty”) new film follows an English coastal cinema in the 1980s. “Empire of Light” only received mildly positive reviews following its Telluride and Toronto screenings, but don’t be surprised if star Olivia Colman, who won an Oscar for “The Favourite” and was nominated for “The Father” and “The Lost Daughter,” is nominated again along with two-time-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins.
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Dec. 9
Brendan Fraser stars in this adaptation of Samuel D. Hunter’s 2012 play as a severely obese man who tries to reconnect with his young daughter (Sadie Sink.) Directed by Darren Aronofsky, whose “Black Swan” won Natalie Portman her first Oscar and “The Wrestler” earned Mickey Rourke his first nomination, “The Whale” has earned praise for Fraser’s performance, with many suspecting he will earn his first nomination for this film.
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Dec. 9
After more than a decade since 2009’s smash box office hit “Avatar,” James Cameron returns to the world of Pandora and the Na’vi species for this sequel. While the Best Visual Effects Oscar already seems like a lock, at least based on the stunning, sea-set preview scene shown during the recent “Avatar” theatrical re-release, don’t be surprised if the sequel replicates the original’s Best Picture and Director Oscar nominations too.
Where to watch: Wide release in theaters Dec. 16
The latest addition to the recent revival of the musician biopic is this film about Whitney Houston, played by Naomi Ackie. “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” is written by Anthony McCarten, who also penned the screenplay for the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” that won four Oscars, with talented director Kasi Lemmons (“Eve’s Bayou,” “Harriet”) hopefully making it stand out in the musical biopic genre as well.
Where to watch: Wide release in theaters Dec. 21
Writer-director Rian Johnson returns for this sequel to his 2019 film “Knives Out,” as does Daniel Craig as detective Benoit Blanc, with an otherwise new cast including Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Ethan Hawke and Janelle Monáe. Reviews were highly positive following its Toronto premiere, suggesting “Glass Onion” may earn Oscar attention even beyond the first film’s Original Screenplay nomination.
Where to watch: Netflix on Dec. 23
Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and newcomer Diego Calva lead the ensemble cast for this movie, following 1920s Hollywood’s transition from silent film into “talkies.” “Babylon” is written and directed by Damien Chazelle (“La La Land,” “Whiplash”), a past Oscar winner, and movies about Hollywood are catnip to the Academy Awards, though — based on its trailer — this film is taking a decidedly R-rated and irreverent approach.
Where to watch: Limited release in theaters starting Dec. 25, wide release Jan. 6
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