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Oscars 2016: ten movies that could win an Academy Award

We have to wait until February for the Oscars, but the Academy Awards buzz has already begun. These are the movies we think are the strongest contenders to win gold

The Oscars don’t happen until February 28, when Chris Rock will be hosting the ceremony in Los Angeles. We won’t know the nominees until January 14. But as we move towards the end of the year, it’s becoming clearer which films are – and aren’t – seriously in the running for prizes. Here are ten films we believe are likely to be nominated and will be in the running to pick up at least one prize. You’ll be hearing a lot more about them over the next four months.

RECOMMENDED: Read more of our predictions in our guide to the Oscars 2016

10
Room
1/10

Room

What is it?
An adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel about a woman (Brie Larson) kept in captivity in the American suburbs by a stranger who kidnapped her off the streets as a teenager. She also has a five-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay) – born as a result of her being repeatedly raped by her captor.

How strong are its chances?
What’s remarkable is how director Lenny Abrahamson finds an enormous amount of love and warmth in this grim story. We reckon both Brie Larson and little Jacob Tremblay (he’s still only nine!) could be nominated – but Larson is a strong bet to win Best Actress. The film must be in with a chance of winning Best Adapted Screenplay, too.

When can I see it?
January 15.

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9
Steve Jobs
2/10

Steve Jobs

What is it?
An unconventional biopic of Apple founder Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) tackling his ‘difficult’ personality by dramatising his life in the half-an-hour or so immediately before three key product launches. Honestly, it’s more exciting than it sounds.

How strong are its chances?
‘Steve Jobs’ bombed at the US box office – which may dent its Oscar chances. But maybe Academy voters will find the subject more endearing than the Average Joe. And there’s a lot of love for the core filmmaking team of Fassbender, director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin (‘The Social Network’). The film is most likely to get a sniff of the acting and writing prizes.

When can I see it?
November 13.

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8
Spotlight
3/10

Spotlight

What is it?
The story of how a group of journalists at The Boston Globe exposed the local Catholic Church’s systemic cover-up of paedophilia over several decades.

How strong are its chances?
Strong. It’s an important subject, shot with sensitivity at a brisk pace. The ensemble cast – Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, John Slattery, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber – all deliver top work. It’s very moving.

When can I see it?
January 29.

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7
The Hateful Eight
4/10

The Hateful Eight

What is it?
It’s the latest movie from Quentin Tarantino, and it’s another western. Expect swear words. And blood. And swear words.

How strong are its chances?
Nobody’s seen it yet, so it’s an unknown. Tarantino has yet to win an Oscar beyond the writing categories. But he’s been nominated twice for Best Director (‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Django Unchained’), so he has a foot in the door already and this has to be a contender.

When can I see it?
January 8.

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6
The Revenant
5/10

The Revenant

What is it?
This is the new film from Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu, who last year won Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for ‘Birdman’. It’s an adaptation of a novel by Michael Punke, with Leonardo DiCaprio starring as an 1820s frontiersman trekking across wild territory to take violent revenge on a man (Tom Hardy) who has wronged him.

How strong are its chances?
This hasn’t been seen yet (they were still shooting in late summer), but is it too soon after ‘Birdman’ for Iñárritu to woo Oscar voters? We reckon the strongest chances are for DiCaprio – who has been nominated for an Oscar four times and never won. Could 2016 be Leo’s year?

When can I see it?
January 15.

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5
Joy
6/10

Joy

What is it?
This is the new movie from ‘American Hustle’ and ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ director David O Russell – and he makes it a casting hat-trick by again bringing on board Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Lawrence plays Joy Mangano, the single-mother inventor of the Miracle Mop. Robert De Niro also stars.

How strong are its chances?
Lawrence is only 25, but she’s already been Oscar-nominated three times – winning in 2013 for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’. Will Russell deliver her a second golden statuette? Let’s not rule this out for a Best Picture win. Russell has been creeping in that direction with his last few films.

When can I see it?
January 1.

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4
Bridge of Spies
7/10

Bridge of Spies

What is it?
A Cold War thriller directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance. This is right in Academy Awards territory.

How strong are its chances?
Spielberg’s last film, ‘Lincoln’, gathered 12 Oscar nominations and two wins, including Best Actor for Daniel Day-Lewis. The critical reception has been strong, if not ecstatic, and the US box office has been good. It’s a solid option for voters – but they might be looking for something a little more exciting.

When can I see it?
November 27.

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3
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
8/10

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

What is it?
Do we really need to tell you?

How strong are its chances?
Remember when Peter Jackson won for the third ‘The Lord of the Rings’ film? That was the film industry acknowledging game-changing creativity and box office might. We may see ‘Star Wars’ winning a Best Picture nomination – but its strongest chances of a win are definitely in the special effects and other technical categories.

When can I see it?
December 17.

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2
Brooklyn
9/10

Brooklyn

What is it?
Set in New York and Ireland in the 1950s, this adaptation of Colm Tóibín’s much-loved novel is the story of a young woman (Saoirse Ronan) caught between a new life in America and the pull of home.

How strong are its chances?
This is a well-performed, accessible weepie with universal significance. Don’t rule it out. Especially as its focus on historical emigration will resonate strongly with many American voters. Saoirse Ronan will surely be nominated. As will Nick Hornby for his script.

When can I see it?
‘Brooklyn’ is in cinemas now.

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1
Inside Out
10/10

Inside Out

What is it?
Disney-Pixar had a smash-hit with this charming animation about what goes on in the mind of an 11-year-old girl who moves with her family from the Mid West to San Francisco.

How strong are its chances?
It’s likely to nab a Best Picture nomination – and is surely all but guaranteed to win in the animation category.

When can I see it?
On DVD from November 23.

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And what about the actors?

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