18 movies coming out soon that are major Oscar contenders

The shape of water fox searchlightFox Searchlight‘The Shape of Water.’

The Toronto International Film Festival starts on Thursday, which means it’s time for awards season to begin.

That’s right, with all of Hollywood heading to our neighbours in the north, it’s already time to start building the hype for those movies that we’ll be rooting for (or will be tired of hearing about) come Oscar night.

Some of those TIFF titles getting a lot of talk already include the Sundance hit “Call Me By Your Name,” Emma Stone as tennis legend Billy Jean King in “Battle of the Sexes,” and Guillermo del Toro’s latest unique fantasy, “The Shape of Water.”

Here are 18 movies playing at TIFF this year that will be contenders come Oscar time (and coming to a theatre near you soon):

'Battle of the Sexes' (Release date: September 22)

Fox Searchlight

Coming off a best actress win for 'La La Land' at the most recent Oscars ceremony earlier this year, Emma Stone is looking to return to the big night for a second straight year with her portrayal of Billy Jean King.

Stone plays the tennis legend in this look back at King's historic match against male tennis pro Bobby Riggs (played by Steve Carell, who might get some Oscar buzz, too).

'Breathe' (Release date: October 13)

Bleecker Street

For the directorial debut of Andy Serkis (Caesar in 'The Planet of the Apes' movies), he takes on the inspiring love story of Robin (played by Andrew Garfield) and Diana Cavendish (Claire Foy from Netflix's 'The Crown').

At 28, Robin was diagnosed with polio and given only three months to live. However, he would go on to live into his 60s and become an advocate for the disabled.

Garfield has had a knack, of late, for choosing movies that get award attention, and we'll see if that continues with this one.

'Call Me By Your Name' (Release date: November 24)

Sundance Institute

An Oscar contender since having its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, this drama starring Armie Hammer as an American student who falls for the son of the teacher he's staying with abroad in Italy, comes into TIFF with a lot of hype. That hype is likely to only build.

'Darkest Hour' (Release date: November 22)

Focus Features

Despite a career that includes playing some of the most memorable (and unique) characters in movie history, Gary Oldman has never won an Oscar and was only nominated once (2012's 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'). He's certain to get another nom playing Winston Churchill in what looks to be another top performance by Oldman.

'The Disaster Artist' (Release date: December 8)

Warner Bros

Distributor A24 pulled off one of the most shocking Oscar wins of all time earlier this year when 'Moonlight' took home the best picture prize. And now the company is trying to make a film focused on one of worst movies ever made into a contender.

A24 is releasing James Franco's behind-the-scenes look at the making of Tommy Wiseau's 'The Room,' which is so bad it has become a cult classic. Franco plays Wiseau in the movie, which also stars Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, and Sharon Stone.

If the movie can pull off a mix humour and sincerity, Franco may find himself busy Oscar night.

'Downsizing' (Release date: December 22)


Alexander Payne's ('Sideways') latest movie mixes a little fantasy with his usual brand of real-life dramedy. In it, Matt Damon plays a guy who believes he would enjoy life better if he were to shrink himself.

Payne could find Oscar attention, as well as Damon and costar Kristen Wiig.

'First They Killed My Father' (Release date: September 15)


Netflix is behind Angelina Jolie's latest directing effort, and it could lead to both getting the Oscar attention they crave. Jolie recounts the troubling life of activist Loung Ung, who grew up during the Cambodian genocide in the late 1970s.

Jolie, who has already won an Oscar as an actress ('Girl, Interrupted'), has been focusing more on directing of late, and this one may bring her major recognition. Meanwhile, Netflix continues to try to get the attention of the Academy with its original films beyond documentaries. Maybe this is the one.

'In the Fade' (Release date: TBD)


Diane Kruger delivers the best performance of her career playing a wife and mother whose life is suddenly shattered when a bomb kills her husband and son. This leads to her seeking out revenge both legally and illegally.

Kruger has already won the best actress honour at this year's Cannes Film Festival for the role and she's got her sights set on more acclaim.

'The Killing of a Sacred Deer' (Release date: October 27)


Following a best original screenplay Oscar for 2015's 'The Lobster,' Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos returns with another unique story. Starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman, this twisted drama that follow's the actions of a surgeon (Farrell) after taking in a teenage boy could bring Oscar attention once more.

'Lady Bird' (Release date: November 10)


Written and directed by actress Greta Gerwig ('Frances Ha'), her look at a young woman's adventures while living in Northern California is building buzz for her work behind the camera as well as the performance of the movie's lead, Saoirse Ronan ('Brooklyn').

'Molly's Game' (Release date: November 22)

STX Entertainment

In the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin, Jessica Chastain looks like a best actress frontrunner as she plays Molly Bloom, a one-time Olympic-class skier who becomes the head of the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker games.

'mother!' (Release date: September 15)


Darren Aronofsky's latest is hyped to be another disturbing tale from the guy behind 'Black Swan' and 'Requiem for a Dream,' which you will either love or hate. The performance by Jennifer Lawrence as a woman who is suddenly visited by unwanted guests could lead to her once more landing an Oscar nomination.

'Mudbound' (Release date: November 17)

Steve Dietl/Sundance Insititute

Another drama Netflix has high hopes for come award season is Dee Rees' ('Pariah') latest, which looks at life for two World War II vets in rural Mississippi. This is another title Netflix is trying to get in the Oscar race.

If all goes right, Rees would become the first black woman ever to be nominated in the best director category.

'The Shape of Water' (Release date: December 8)

Fox Searchlight

Built up to be Guillermo del Toro's best movie since 'Pan's Labyrinth,' this fantastical story is set during the Cold War. Sally Hawkins and Octavia Spencer play two workers at a top secret government laboratory who discover a secret experiment.

It could be a good Oscar night for del Toro.

'The Square' (Release date: October 27)

Magnolia Pictures

Ruben Östlund found instant acclaim with his previous movie 'Force Majeure,' and now he's followed that up with another unique satire, using a posh art exhibit to look at how society really treats one another.

Look for this one to be in the best foreign language film race.

'Stronger' (Release date: September 22)

Roadside Attractions

Jake Gyllenhaal once more delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as Jeff Bauman, a survivor of the 2013 Boston Marathon who tries to cope with life without legs and and being the face of 'Boston Strong.'

But don't sleep on Gyllenhaal's costar, Tatiana Maslany ('Orphan Black'), who gives an incredible performance as the girlfriend of Bauman.

'Suburbicon' (Release date: October 27)

Paramount Pictures

With George Clooney directing and the Coen brothers screenwriting, expect a twisted drama with this one. Matt Damon stars as a father who, after suffering a home invasion, finds his life spiraling out of control.

Oscar voters love everyone involved in this movie, so it has potential for a big Oscar night.

'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri' (Release date: November 10)

20th Century Fox

With an all-star cast that includes Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, and Sam Rockwell, this drama about a mother (McDormand) who reacts to the police not finding the killer of her daughter after months of investigating could have some of the best acting of the year.

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