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Top 10 Movies of 2016 Already Getting Oscar Buzz

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Tiffany Ezuma With awards season in full swing, film geeks and movie critics alike have gone to the screenings and are already picking out their choices for the films that will most like be taking home Oscars. WatchMojo presents the top 10 films that are already getting talked about for oscars. But what film will take the top spot on our list? Will it be Manchester by the Sea, La La Land, or Moonlight? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: WatchMojo.com Special thanks to ninou78 for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%2010%20Upcoming%20Films%20That%20Are%20Sure%20To%20Draw%20Oscar%20Buzz
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The race has already begun! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 movies of 2016 that are already generating Oscar buzz.

For this list, we’re looking at films that are already surrounded by speculation that they’ll be nominated at the 89th Academy Awards, whether for acting, directing, or any other category. We’re not saying these movies are a lock, but they’re at least in the conversation.

#10: “Arrival” (2016)

Genre films don’t tend to be major Oscar bait, but when they’re as elevated and cerebral as this one, it’s anyone’s game. Directed by Denis Villeneuve, the man behind 2015’s unexpected hit “Sicario,” this film takes a personal, more human approach to the first contact story, showing humanity’s efforts to communicate with alien beings that have arrived on Earth. Amy Adams in the starring role furthers the movie’s Oscar chances since she’s been nominated a whopping five times - without winning. With a supporting cast including Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 93%, we can surely expect this one to connect with the Academy.

#9: “Nocturnal Animals” (2016)

As the second Amy Adams movie on our list, this flick shows off a completely different side of her talent. Based on the novel “Tony and Susan” by Austin Wright, “Nocturnal Animals” tells the story of a couple, played by Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, that are at odds with one another. There’s also a story within a story, with Isla Fisher playing a fictionalized version of Adams. Other powerhouse actors including Michael Shannon, Laura Linney, and Michael Sheen round out this ensemble cast, increasing the chances of Oscar gold even further. Plus, at the helm is luxury fashion designer Tom Ford, who previously impressed critics with his first film, “A Single Man” in 2009.

#8: “20th Century Women” (2016)

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride, Annette Bening has been nominated four times combined in the Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress categories. But each time, victory has eluded her – and Hilary Swank has beaten her twice. Critics expect she’ll be nominated for her portrayal of Dorothea Fields, the single matriarch of the family at the center of this coming-of-age comedy-drama. The cast is stacked with critical darlings including Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning, and Billy Crudup, who populate the film’s world of 1979 Santa Barbara. It’s also directed by Mike Mills, the same man who helped Christopher Plummer earn his long-awaited Oscar for “Beginners,” so maybe his magic will work for Bening this time.

#7: “Jackie” (2016)

Biopics are perfect Oscar bait, especially when they’re about someone as iconic as U.S. First Lady Jackie Kennedy. And when she’s portrayed by Natalie Portman, an industry veteran who’s due for an awards season comeback, there’s no limit to what this film can achieve. “Jackie” doesn’t cover the entirety of the first lady’s life, but instead follows her time in the White House as well as the immediate days after JFK’s assassination, allowing for greater emotional depth. What’s more, it marks the English language debut of Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín, who also crafted the 2012 Oscar-nominated film “No.” Plus, “Jackie” has another powerhouse name behind it with producer Darren Aronofsky, the acclaimed director who got Portman her win for “Black Swan.”

#6: “Fences” (2016)

From the moment we saw this movie’s spellbinding trailer – which seems worthy of an award by itself! – we were intrigued. The fact that “Fences” is a theatrical adaptation of a beloved American play adds to its Oscar bait potential, but add Denzel Washington and Viola Davis to the mix and you know it’s definitely going to be in the awards conversation. After performing the play on Broadway with Davis, Washington decided to bring this story to the big screen. He tapped the original playwright August Wilson to write the screenplay and directed it himself, making the drama Denzel’s third directorial effort. Early talk has Viola Davis as a shoo-in for a Best Supporting Actress nomination, and Denzel with either an acting or directing nod.

#5: “Silence” (2016)

Sometimes a bit of mystery gets the award talk going. Little is known about this Martin Scorsese project and its trailer hadn’t even been released as of mid-November 2016, but critics are expecting a lot from this over 2 and half hour long film. Starring the talented trio of Liam Neeson, Andrew Garfield, and Adam Driver, the story focuses on a group of Jesuit priests that go on a mission to Japan but face opposition from the locals. A passion project that Scorsese had been reportedly trying to adapt for the big screen since the early ‘90s, “Silence” seems to be a departure from his usual stylized gangster films – but that risky venture might pay off big come Oscar time.

#4: “Loving” (2016)

Based on the United States Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia that struck down laws against interracial marriage, this historical drama is already being considered an important film that will resonate with the Academy. Director Jeff Nichols, the critical darling behind “Take Shelter” and “Midnight Special,” leaves the courtroom drama behind to present the intimate and romantic relationship between Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga’s characters. The film was well received at Cannes, and could gain even more momentum because of the current political climate in the U.S. thanks to the film’s ability to open up conversations about race.

#3: “Manchester by the Sea” (2016)

Streaming giant Amazon has put a lot of money into this one to get its first Oscar win, and odds are pointing in the company’s favor. The film was acquired by the online retailer after a bidding war following its Sundance premiere. Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams lead the movie, and there’s strong talk of nominations forboth . The script, written by the film’s director Kenneth Lonergan, sounds especially strong, since the story focuses on Affleck’s character moving back home after the death of his brother and becoming the legal guardian of his nephew. Expect this to be a tearjerker and an emotional rollercoaster – the perfect combination to earn Oscar votes.

#2: “Moonlight” (2016)

Earlier in 2016, this small indie flick seemed like a long shot, but a lot changed once it made its way into more theaters. Based on the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” it follows the life of Chiron, a young black man growing up in the Miami neighborhood of Liberty City. Director Barry Jenkins took an interesting approach, breaking the movie into three parts, with Chiron being portrayed by three different actors over the course of his life. The final result is brave, romantic, and quite unlike any other coming-of-age story we’ve seen before. It premiered at the Telluride Film Festival in September 2016, and it’s been quietly creeping into the critics’ best films of the year conversation ever since.

Before we unveil our number one pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Lion” (2016)
- “Sully” (2016)
- “Live by Night” (2016)

#1: “La La Land” (2016)

Does Hollywood love anything more than movies about Hollywood? But seriously, any picture starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is sure to get the buzz going. They play two young people trying to make it big as a jazz pianist and an actress, which puts a strain on their romantic relationship. The chemistry between the two leads is undeniable, and many are predicting an acting nod for Emma, who shines in her performance. Meanwhile, director Damien Chazelle, an Oscar nominee for his 2014 movie “Whiplash,” brought this lush film to life by making it both a musical and a throwback to the era of Old Hollywood glamor.

Do you agree with our list? Which movie do you expect to win big? For more award worthy Top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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