Excitement is in the air as movie lovers anticipate the release of the best films of the year. Studios schedule these releases in the fall to keep the films fresh in people’s minds during awards season, which kicks off with the Golden Globes on Jan. 6. It’s still fairly early to predict any best picture winners, but the films on this list are certainly in the running.
To be more inclusive, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been busy inviting more women and people of color to be voting members this year, so we’re excited to see how that translates into Oscar nominations.
While the majority of the movies on this list have yet to be released, there are a couple huge award contenders that have already been in theaters, such as Black Panther and First Reformed. Both were hands-down excellent movies and loved by critics.
Get ready to see the best costume dramas, biopics and one very famous remake hoping to rake in the statuettes in 2019.
1. A Star Is Born
Bradley Cooper directs, co-writes and stars in this beloved romance, which has seen three wildly popular previous incarnations. With Lady Gaga in the mix, it’s sure to be nominated for numerous awards. Look for A Star is Born to be in the best picture categories with Bradley Cooper getting best actor noms. The film is set to be released Oct. 5.
2. First Man
Award shows love biopics about famous Americans. Throw in one who went to the moon, and you have a best picture nominee for sure. Directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land) and starring Ryan Gosling as astronaut Neil Armstrong and Claire Foy (The Queen) as Janet Armstrong, expect First Man to dominate all awards categories. Look for it in theaters Oct. 12.
3. Can You Ever Forgive Me?
This film is based on the true story of Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy), who became known for writing profiles about famous actors and celebrities in the 1970s and ’80s. When her career wanes and she goes broke, she begins forging letters by literary figures and selling them. What’s exciting is that McCarthy gets to show her true acting chops in a dramatic role that will no doubt turn heads and earn her a best actress nomination. Look for Can You Ever Forgive Me? in theaters Oct. 19.
4. Bohemian Rhapsody
This biopic about Queen frontman Freddy Mercury (Rami Malek) is likely to have the best music of any movie this year. The movie is a sonic, emotional journey full of nostalgia, wit and tragedy. Look for it in the best picture category, and Malek will likely earn a best actor nomination. Bohemian Rhapsody will be in theaters Nov. 2.
5. Boy Erased
Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe star in Boy Erased, based on a true story about a teenage boy (Lucas Hedges) who’s sent to conversion therapy after coming out to his preacher dad. Joel Edgerton writes, directs and also stars in this film about the breakdown of an American family. Look for it Nov. 2.
When four women — Veronica (Viola Davis), Alice (Elizabeth Debicki), Linda (Michelle Rodriguez) and Belle (Cynthia Erivo) — discover their husbands are criminals and have all died, leaving them with a huge financial debt, they try to pull off a huge heist. With a script by Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn, 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen and Prime Suspect writer Lynda La Plante, look for Widows to be nominated in the best adapted screenplay category and Viola Davis to be nominated for best actress. The film is in theaters Nov. 16.
7. The Front Runner
American Senator Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman) has his eyes on the White House as he runs for president in the late 1980s. When his affair with Donna Rice (Sarah Paxton) gets leaked to the public, his campaign is derailed. This is a story of political and moral corruption. Look for Hugh Jackman to be nominated for best actor and costar J.K. Simmons as best supporting actor.
8. The Favourite
It’s the 1700s, and Britain is at war with the French. While Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) should be focusing on the war, her mental stability is deteriorating. Luckily, she has Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz) to run the country for her — but when a new servant (Emma Stone) shows up, a power struggle ensues as jealousy and bad behavior run rampant. Look for The Favourite in the best picture category, and Olivia Colman (The Crown) will certainly be nominated for best supporting actress, if not Stone or Weisz. The movie will be out Nov. 23.
9. Mary, Queen of Scots
Mary, Queen of Scots is the true story of Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) and her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I (Margo Robbie), as they battle for control of England. These two powerhouse actors will no doubt stun audiences, and both may earn best actress nominations. The film opens Dec. 7.
This is the true tale of a black Colorado policeman, Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), who infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan in the 1970s with the help of his Jewish colleague (Adam Driver). The movie’s director, Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing), has been nominated for two Oscars previously. He’ll certainly be nominated in the best director category, but whether or not three times is a charm for him, we’ll just have to wait and see. BlacKkKlansman is currently playing in theaters.
11. Black Panther
We know what you’re thinking: Superhero movies never get celebrated during awards season, and now that the Academy has postponed its “popular movie” category, there’s no hope for Black Panther to take home a statuette. But the movie was so well-received, it’s likely to show up in the best picture category, especially with Hollywood being pushed toward inclusivity this season. Black Panther is currently available on DVD and various streaming platforms.
12. First Reformed
Unless you’re an indie film buff or a giant Ethan Hawke fan, it’s likely you’ve never even heard of First Reformed, which was released last May. Written and directed by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver), this movie is about an emotionally burdened priest (Hawke) who begins to unravel as the state of the world, and the religious institution he works for, seem to be falling into depravity. Look for this film to be nominated for best picture, best screenplay, best director and best actor for Hawke. The film is currently available for streaming.