Fall is (almost) here! Sure we're excited for cooler weather, sweaters, and pumpkin spice everything but let's be honest. Mostly it's a relief to head into a season of movies that aren't blatant franchise continuations, remakes, or any of the other much-hyped and underwhelming releases we've been subjected to all summer.
Bring on the hard-hitting dramas, the cinematic visual feasts, the heartwarming historicals and anything else that might as well be pre-stamped with a "For your consideration" sticker over its title. Fall is the time for actor transformations, brand name directors, and Oscar buzz.
The heavy hitters of the season are always the established Hollywood aristocracy and this season's movie release line-up reads like a who's who of award-winners. Here's a list of the VIP directors presenting new films this fall and winter. After all, new movies from our favorite directors feel like a better bet than the pre-packaged offerings the rest of 2016 has provided us.
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- 2016: Horror Movies Win In A Year Of Bad Blockbusters
- 6 Oscar-Worthy Films That Have Already Been Released This Year
1. Martin Scorsese - Silence
- Film: Silence
- Oscars Won: Best Director for The Departed (and 8 other nominations)
- Movie Release Date: Unsure, may be early 2017
Talk about a power player. Scorsese is one of the directors true lovers of film will always perk up at the mention of and it's been three years since The Wolf of Wall Street where Scorsese saw nominations for both Best Picture and Best Director. He lost out that year (12 Years a Slave and Alfonso Cuaron won instead) but will soon present us with Silence, a film about Portuguese priests in 17th century Japan persecuted for their faith. Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson head up what sounds like a soul squeezing kind of epic.
2. Stephen Gaghan - Gold
- Film: Gold
- Oscars Won: Best Adapted Screenplay for Traffic (2000)
- Movie Release Date: December 25
Matthew McConaughey stars in this film about a real-life gold mining scandal in the '90s. McConaughey is pulling off a Dallas Buyers Club-type transformation in this one, gaining 40 lbs. and appearing bald and — at one point in the trailer (below)— unflattering in tighty whities.
Gaghan got our attention as a director and not just a writer with 2005's Syriana for which he was nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar. His latest also stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramirez, and Corey Stoll and looks a bit like The Wolf of Wall Street meets The Big Short.
3. Ang Lee - Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
- Film: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
- Oscars Won: Best Director for Life of Pi, Best Director for Brokeback Mountain
- Movie Release Date: November 11
Ang Lee has to be one of the most diverse directors in existence. The way he can jump from a Jane Austen period piece one year, a Chinese action fantasy another, and a cowboy love story a few years later and then continue to choose projects completely dissimilar from each other is just awe-inspiring. It's one thing to jump around in genres, it's another to do them all equally well.
This time he's taken on Ben Fountain’s award-winning novel of the same name about a soldier returned from Iraq who faces life after being at war and the overwhelming response of troop supporters in America. The film stars Joe Alwyn, Kristen Stewart, Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, and Chris Tucker.
4. Clint Eastwood - Sully
- Film: Sully
- Oscars Won: Best Picture for Million Dollar Baby, Best Picture/Best Director for Unforgiven, and the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
- Movie Release Date: September 9
Starring Oscar heavyweight champion Tom Hanks, Eastwood's latest film is based on the true story of Chesley Sullenberger who safely crash-landed a commercial jet in 2009 in New York City's Hudson River.
The film should be equal parts action (for the actual crash landing) and social study of heroism in America and the way the media picks and chooses its saints. After American Sniper's huge box office success for mixing realistic humanity and heroism, this could be another major winner.
5. Robert Zemeckis - Allied
- Film: Allied
- Oscars Won: Best Director for Forrest Gump
- Movie Release Date: November 23
Zemeckis gave us a serious case of vertigo with last year's The Walk and it was shamefully unnoticed by too many audiences but he's grabbing our attention full stop with a World War II-set picture starring Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard. Allied is about a U.S. intelligence officer (Pitt) who meets a French resistance fighter (Cotillard) and the two navigate a relationship in the midst of war and espionage.
The film looks full of meaningful glances, period-appropriate costuming, and explosions. Your basic ingredients for an Oscar nomination.
6. Warren Beatty - Rules Don't Apply
- Film: Rules Don't Apply
- Oscars Won: Best Director for Reds and Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award
- Movie Release Date: November 23
Warren Beatty directs and stars in this film about Howard Hughes (whom he plays), the young actress he hires (Lily Collins) and the ambitious young driver who falls for the girl (Alden Ehrenreich). By far a lighter look at the highly eccentric billionaire, inventor and filmmaker with a power cast that includes Matthew Broderick, Ed Harris, Annette Bening, Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen.
It's got that touch of period and maybe it's just because Ehrenreich stars but there's a distinct feel of Hail, Ceasar! lightheartedness as well.
7. Oliver Stone - Snowden
- Film: Snowden
- Oscars Won: Best Director for Born on the Fourth of July, Best Director for Platoon, Best Adapted Screenplay for Midnight Express
- Movie Release Date: September 16
Oliver Stone surprised younger audiences who may not be especially aware of this directorial giant by showing up at San Diego Comic-Con this year to promote his new film, Snowden. It was a pretty smart move, though, considering millennial audiences will be most likely to sympathize with the film's real-life protagonist, played in the film by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, a whistle-blower calling attention to governmental data mining and spying. The iPhone generation should certainly feel intrigued by the young man who tells them they are being constantly observed.
Runners Up: Always a Nominee, Never A...
Here's a few honorable mentions for directors with upcoming films who are, at least, Oscar-nominated:
- Tim Burton - Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, September 30
- Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester By The Sea, November 18
- Damien Chazelle - La La Land, December 16
- Morten Tyldum - Passengers, December 21
- Ben Affleck - Live By Night, January 13
Coming Up Next Year
- Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk
- Paul Thomas Anderson's Untitled Fashion Project Film with Daniel Day Lewis
- Alfonso Cuarón's Untitled ’70s Mexico City Project
Think these power directors be adding gold men to their shelves at the 2017 Academy Awards? Anyone else you're looking forward to?