Could Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu be back at the Oscars only a year after sweeping his three nods for Birdman? His followup The Revenant -- adapted by Inarritu and Mark Smith from the novel by Michael Punke -- is already generating huge hype as its principle photography continues in Calgary.
While most films contending are nowhere close to finished, one has already been completed, screened, and slated for a November release date by the awards-savvy distributor Fox Searchlight. Sundance hit Brooklyn -- written by Nick Hornby based on the novel by Colm Toibin -- could give the writers branch an opportunity to make amends for snubbing the Wild scribe this past season (although if he gets nominated, that's probably not the reason why).
The Patricia Highsmith novel Carol (adapted for the screen by Phyllis Nagy) has many cinephiles shivering with anticipation on account of being Todd Haynes first feature since I'm Not There in 2007. But will Harvey Weinstein put any of his campaign muscle behind a lesbian romance when he has Tarantino's more testosterone-heavy The Hateful Eight in play? Maybe the writers branch, which used to have a rep for going their own way, will go for it either way.
The last time Aaron Sorkin tackled the subject of a modern computer pioneer, the result was one of the best films of the new decade so far, bringing him a much deserved Oscar for his troubles. He's back in similar territory for penning the Steve Jobs biopic directed by Danny Boyle, based on the biography by Walter Isaacson. Will lightning strike twice, or will it feel too old hat?
One fall release that has me very interested is Robert Zemeckis' The Walk. He and Christopher Browne have fashioned their script out of Philippe Petit's autobiographical account of his famous tightrope-walking stunt between the World Trade Centre towers in 1974 -- the subject of James Marsh's Oscar-winning doc Man on Wire. If the film is a hit, Zemeckis could be looking at his first nomination since Forrest Gump!
Beasts of No Nation
In the Heart of the Sea
Me & Earl & the Dying Girl
Silence (if Scorsese finishes it in time)