Films with Oscar hype

Eddie Redmayne plays Lili Elbe, one of the first known people to undergo male-to-female sex reassignment surgery.
Eddie Redmayne plays Lili Elbe, one of the first known people to undergo male-to-female sex reassignment surgery.PHOTO: UIP
Brie Larson and Jason Tremblay (both above).
Brie Larson and Jason Tremblay (both above).PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION
The cast of Spotlight includes (from left) Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery and Brian d'Arcy James.
The cast of Spotlight includes (from left) Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, John Slattery and Brian d'Arcy James.PHOTO: SHAW ORGANISATION
Leonardo Di Caprio.
Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen(both above).
Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen(both above).PHOTO: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
Bryan Cranston.

In the weeks leading up to the Oscars, which will be held on Feb 28, the film schedule is always filled with Oscar bait, or movies that make an obvious stab at Oscar nominations and wins.

As usual, weighty dramas involving actors who undergo major physical transformations (see Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant) dominate next year’s slate of Oscar bait.


Director: Tom Hooper

Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Whishaw

What: This year’s Oscar winner for Best Actor, Eddie Redmayne, plays Lili Elbe, one of the first known people to undergo male-to-female sex reassignment surgery when she did it in the mid-1920s. Before she becameLili, she was male landscape artist Einar Wegener, who subsequently said he had identified as a woman his whole life.

Why: With Oscar voters’ penchant for actors who undergo major physical transformation, Redmayne could score another Best Actor Oscar after snagging the trophy this year for The Theory Of Everything (2014). If he wins, it would be the first time an actor has won two consecutive Best Actor awards since Tom Hanks did it in 1993 for Philadelphia and 1994 for Forrest Gump.

Opens: Jan 7


Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Stars: Brie Larson, Jason Tremblay, William H. Macy, Joan Allen

What: Based onthe best-selling book byEmma Donoghue, this story follows a kidnapped woman (Larson) who is forced to raise her son (Tremblay) in captivity until he is five.When they escape, he discovers the world beyond the tiny room that he has known his entire life.

Why: Larson has been hailed as the front runner for Best Actress this Oscar season for her sensitive portrayal, while Tremblay will likely be nominated for Best Supporting Actor. He is apparently so good in the role that supporters are championing for him to be nominated in the Best Actor category.

Opens: Jan 14


Director: Tom McCarthy

Stars: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery

What: Based on true events, this drama-thriller centres on a team of Boston Globe investigative journalists who seek to expose a widespread child abuse scandal by Roman Catholic priests in and around Boston.

Why:Spotlight has been picking up Best Picture awards at numerous critics’ choice awards, including the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and NewYork Film Critics Online Awards, and is likely to score a nomination for Best Picture at the Oscars. Also, almost every major American media outlet has listed Spotlight as one of its Top 10 films of the year.

Opens: Jan 21


Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Stars: Leonardo Di Caprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson

What: Set in 1823, frontiersman Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is mauled in a brutal bear attack and left for dead by his hunting team. With meagre resources, he battles the harsh wilderness in an epic journey to return home.

Why: Could this finally be the project that wins five-time Oscar nominee DiCaprio his long overdue golden statuette for Best Actor? And with this gory, atmospheric film being directed by Inarritu– this year’s Oscar winner in the major Director and Motion Picture categories for Birdman– The Revenant looks set to nab an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.

Opens: Feb 4


Director: John Crowley

Stars: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters

What: Based on Colm Toibin’s novel with a screenplay by Nick Hornby, this coming-of-age tale follows 1950s Irish immigrant Ellis Lacey, who is torn between her new life in America and the longing for her hometown. In both places, she develops close ties with eligible men.

Why: Much like Sundance-turned- Oscar favourites Whiplash (2014) and Boyhood(2014), this film that also premiered at Sundance is considered one of the biggest wild card choices for Best Picture at the Oscars. Ronan, 22, is also almost certain to snag a nomination for Best Actress for her performance as a woman torn between countries,men and cultures.

Opens: Feb 18


Director: Jay Roach

Stars: Bryan Cranston, Helen Mirren, Diane Lane, Louis C.K.

What: About legendary Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo,who was blacklisted for his political leanings in the 1950s.He nonetheless continued to write and even won two Academy Awards for screenwriting while being blacklisted–one for the Audrey Hepburn romantic comedy Roman Holiday (1953) and the other for The Brave One(1956).

Why: Cranston and Mirren are up for several acting awards, including at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild, and are thus likely to get Oscar nominations in the same categories. Given that the film’s subject matter is so close to the hearts of Hollywood industry players, the movie will likely snag a Best Picture nomination.

Opens: Feb 25

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2015, with the headline 'Films with Oscar hype'. Print Edition | Subscribe