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fall awards season movies 2018
Left to right: Universal; Annapurna; A24; Warner Bros.; Netflix; Amazon; Fox Searchlight; 20th Century Fox; 20th Century Fox
The complete guide.
FALL MOVIE AGENDA

36 awards season movies to watch for in fall 2018

By Adam Epstein

As the summer winds down and you put your beach towels and flip flops back in storage, it’s time to turn the page to autumn, the season of foliage, pumpkins, and, most importantly, prestige cinema.

That’s right folks, it’s awards season. Over the next four months, Hollywood will churn out dozens of star-studded feature films, all jockeying for the big prize: the Oscar. Or at least a Golden Globe.

Quartz picked out 36 films that should be on your radar before the calendar turns to 2019 and grouped them by how Oscar-y they are (the big favorites, other major contenders, dark horses, and then the usual blockbusters—some of which may or may not break through into the awards races).

Start making plans now. This is your 2018 fall movie agenda:

The early favorites

A Star Is Born

Release date: Oct. 5

Elevator pitch: The directorial debut of actor Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born stars Cooper as a washed-up country musician who discovers—and falls in love with—a young, struggling singer played by Lady Gaga (in her first feature film role). Gaga and Cooper co-wrote most of the film’s original songs, which, judging by the trailer, are going to be catchy as all hell.

First Man

Release date: Oct. 12

Elevator pitch: Ryan Gosling re-teams with La La Land director Damien Chazelle to tell the inspiring, harrowing true story of Neil Armstrong’s path to becoming the first man to set foot on the Moon. The film is already earning rave reviews after screening at the Venice Film Festival on Aug. 29. And it’s already causing controversy: Some people are apparently worried that it won’t be “American” enough.

Beautiful Boy

Release date: Oct. 12

Elevator pitch: A father, played by Steve Carell, helplessly watches as his son (played by Call Me By Your Name breakout star Timothée Chalamet) struggles with a meth addiction. Acting nominations for everyone!

Widows

Release date: Nov. 16

Elevator pitch: 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen directs an all-female heist crew, led by the inimitable Viola Davis, as they try to finish a job started by their now-deceased husbands. It also stars Daniel Kaluuya, Michelle Rodriguez, Brian Tyree Henry, Carrie Coon, Colin Farrell, Jacki Weaver, Liam Neeson, Robert Duvall, and more. I mean, come on. If that doesn’t do it for you, then I’m not sure what else to say.

The Favourite

Release date: Nov. 23

Elevator pitch: It’s the early 1700s. Olivia Colman is Queen Anne. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are rivals vying to become the queen’s “favourite.” Hijinks ensue. Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos (The Lobster) directs. Like First Man, it’s getting great reviews out of Venice.

If Beale Street Could Talk

Release date: Nov. 30

Elevator pitch: Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to his 2017 best picture winner Moonlight is an adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel of the same name, about a black man in Harlem (Stephan James) who’s set up by a corrupt police officer and falsely accused of rape. Some of the images in the trailer are just incredible. There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the performance of Kiki Layne, who plays the pregnant girlfriend of the man falsely accused, who’s desperately trying to exonerate him. Oh, and Regina King plays her mother.

Roma

Release date: Dec. 14

Elevator pitch: Alfonso Cuarón’s first feature film since Gravity five years ago, Roma is the director’s semi-autobiographical story of a middle-class family in the Roma neighborhood of Mexico City. Early festival reviews are glowing; one such review called the film Cuarón’s “masterpiece.” Pretty much everything this guy makes is a masterpiece. So you should probably see this one however you can—Netflix is planning a limited theatrical release before it hits the streaming service.

Vice

Release date: Dec. 14

Elevator pitch: Prolific weight fluctuator Christian Bale packed on the pounds and shaved his head to play former US vice president Dick Cheney in The Big Short director Adam McKay’s account of Cheney’s rise to power. Amy Adams plays Cheney’s wife, Lynne, while Steve Carell plays former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and 2018 best supporting actor winner Sam Rockwell plays former US president George W. Bush. It’s a throwback to, you know, the good old days.

Major contenders

The Old Man & the Gun

Release date: Sept. 28

Elevator pitch: The heist thriller will allegedly be cinema legend Robert Redford’s final role before retiring.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Release date: Oct. 19

Elevator pitch: In a dramatic turn, the acclaimed comedian Melissa McCarthy plays the infamous real-life forger Lee Israel.

Boy Erased

Release date: Nov. 2

Elevator pitch: This coming-of-age drama stars Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird) as a 19-year-old sent to gay conversion therapy by his mother (Nicole Kidman!) and father (Russell Crowe!), a Baptist pastor.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Release date: Nov. 2

Elevator pitch: It’s Freddie Mercury, for goodness’ sake.

The Front Runner

Release date: Nov. 7

Elevator pitch: Hugh Jackman is American politician Gary Hart, the front runner for the Democratic nomination in the 1988 US presidential election before a sex scandal accusation derailed his plans; Jason Reitman (Thank You for Smoking) directs.

Mary Queen of Scots

Release date: Dec. 7

Elevator pitch: Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart, Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I? That’ll do.

The dark horses

White Boy Rick

Release date: Sept. 14

Elevator pitch: Matthew McConaughey, in what looks like a classic McConaughey role in the making, is the father to a 16-year-old FBI informant and drug kingpin in 1980s Detroit.

The Sisters Brothers

Release date: Sept. 21

Elevator pitch: John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix play Eli and Charlie Sisters, a sibling hitman team pursuing none other than Jake Gyllenhaal in this dark comedy western.

22 July

Release date: Oct. 16

Elevator pitch: Captain Phillips and United 93 director Paul Greengrass returns to the realm of real-life tragedies to tell the story of the 2011 Norway terrorist attacks, which killed 77 people (most of them children), and the aftermath.

Mid90s

Release date: Oct. 19

Elevator pitch: Actor Jonah Hill’s directorial debut follows a bunch of skate kids around Los Angeles in the 1990s. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are composing the film’s original score.

Wildlife

Release date: Oct. 19

Elevator pitch: Yet another actor giving directing a go, Paul Dano makes his directorial debut in this period drama about a disintegrating marriage between acting stalwarts Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Suspiria

Release date: Nov. 2

Elevator pitch: Call Me By Your Name director Luca Guadagnino enlists Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton in his remake of the 1977 horror cult classic by Dario Argento about a German dance company that harbors a sinister secret.

Outlaw King

Release date: Nov. 9

Elevator pitch: Chris Pine and Hell or High Water director David Mackenzie attempt to rehabilitate the image of Scottish warrior-king Robert the Bruce, after Mel Gibson’s 1995 film Braveheart (erroneously) made him out to be a traitor.

Peterloo

Release date: Nov. 9

Elevator pitch: Continuing our historical theme, here we have Mike Leigh’s depiction of everyone’s favorite unsolicited attack on peaceful protestors, the Peterloo Massacre!

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Release date: Nov. 16

Elevator pitch: This western anthology film by the Coen Brothers was supposed to be a Netflix series until it was revealed that, no, in fact, it’ll be a two-hour feature film comprised of different chaptered stories.

At Eternity’s Gate

Release date: Nov. 16

Elevator pitch: Willem Dafoe is Vincent Van Gogh. Oscar Isaac is Gauguin. Mads Mikkelsen is a character called “the Priest.” Look at that hat!

On the Basis of Sex

Release date: Dec. 25

Elevator pitch: The Year of Ruth rolls on as Felicity Jones plays legendary US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in this legal drama directed by Mimi Leder (The Leftovers).

Destroyer

Annapurna Pictures

Release date: Dec. 25

Elevator pitch: Nicole Kidman will continue her big year in this stripped-down performance as an Los Angeles police detective haunted by that time she went undercover with a gang in the California desert. Just in time for Christmas!

The potential blockbusters

The Predator

Release date: Sept. 14

Elevator pitch: Reboot.

Venom

Release date: Oct. 5

Elevator pitch: Spin-off.

Halloween

Release date: Oct. 19

Elevator pitch: Sequel.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Release date: Nov. 2

Elevator pitch: Disney fairy tale.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Release date: Nov. 18

Elevator pitch: Sequel of a prequel spin-off.

Creed II

Release date: Nov. 25

Elevator pitch: Sequel of a spin-off.

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Release date: Nov. 21

Elevator pitch: Disney sequel.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Release date: Dec. 14

Elevator pitch: More Spider-Man.

Mary Poppins Returns

Release date: Dec. 19

Elevator pitch: Why?

Aquaman

Release date: Dec. 21

Elevator pitch: God have mercy on us.

Bonus: great films from earlier this year to catch up on

  • Black Panther
  • BlacKkKlansman
  • Eighth Grade
  • Crazy Rich Asians
  • A Quiet Place
  • First Reformed
  • Leave No Trace
  • Hereditary
  • Mission: Impossible – Fallout
  • The Death of Stalin
  • Incredibles 2
  • Annihilation
  • You Were Never Really Here
  • The Rider
  • Sorry to Bother You