21 Movies To Watch To Get A Head Start On Awards Season

We're about to enter into the most exciting time of year. And no, I'm not talking about the holiday season. I'm talking about awards season — a time of going to the movies, having fervent debates over which film deserves Best Picture, and narrowing down Oscars bets.

Unless you're a member of the Academy, you can't take an active role in determining which of these films will walk away from the ceremony on March 4, 2018 with a gold statuette. However, you can still be an active participant in the Oscars, simply by watching the movies. The three hour-long ceremony is about a million times more exciting if you've seen the films, and have favorites in the running. The victories are sweeter when you've been rooting for them for months; the losses, more bitter — I'm still angry about Boyhood losing to Bird Man in 2014.

All of the following movies, already in theaters, are likely to garner Oscars nominations. These are all the movies currently available to watch before nominations come out on January 23.

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The Breadwinner

The Gist: Parvana is an eleven year old girl living under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. When her father is killed, she cuts her hair and disguises herself as a boy to help support your family.

Nominated For: Best Animated Feature
Coco

The Gist: Miguel is an aspiring musician who has the misfortune of being born in a family that bans music. He travels to the land of the dead to speak with his relative, a famous musician, and lift the curse. Coco is a lively, moving exploration of family and the legacies we leave on others' lives.

Nominated For: Best Animated Film
Icarus

The Gist: A filmmaker looks to get to the bottom of the Russian doping scandal. It leads him into unexpected and dangerous waters, and a conspiracy dating back to 1968. Icarus is the perfect documentary companion to the Olympics.

Nominated for: Best Documentary Film
Last Men in Aleppo

The Gist: This documentary film centers on the White Helmets, brave civilians in Aleppo who rescue people after each strike and raid. Instead of running away from danger, they run toward it. Last Men in Aleppo is an eye-opening portrait of a crumbling city and human resilience.

Nominated For: Best Documentary Feature
The Post

The Gist: This Spielberg movie, out December 22, follows the Washington Post's efforts to uncover the Pentagon Papers. Katharine Graham, the first-ever female publisher of an American newspaper, is going to be your new hero. Meryl Streep plays her in the film.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Actor (Tom Hanks), Best Original Screenplay
Dunkirk

The Gist: In two shocking, visually spectacular hours, Christopher Nolan recreates the rescue of 300,000 British, French, Belgian, and Dutch troops from the beaches of Dunkirk, France in May 1940. There might be a lot of women, but Harry Styles is amazing.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Christopher Nolan), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Rylance), Best Original Screenplay
Call Me By Your Name

The Gist: Over the course of five weeks in a small town in Northern Italy, a 17-year-old boy falls madly, irrevocably in love with his family's summer guest, and the guest falls in love back.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Luca Guadagnino), Best Actor (Timothée Chalamet), Best Supporting Actor (Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg), Best Adapted Screenplay
The Shape of Water

The Gist: Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute woman, works as a maid in a mysterious government facility in 1960s Baltimore. She develops a deep kinship with the merman creature being held in a tank there. Read our full review here.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Guillermo del Toro), Best Actress (Sally Hawkins), Best Supporting Actor (Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins), Best Original Screenplay
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Gist: A mother (Frances McDormand) is enraged with her town's police inaction after her daughter's murder goes unsolved. So, she takes action by renting the small Missouri town's three billboards bordering the highway, and plastering them with controversial messages directed at the police chief. Three Billboards was hailed as being timely during the #MeToo movement, but has also garnered controversy for its redemption of a racist character.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Martin McDonagh), Best Actress (Frances McDormand), Best Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson), Best Original Screenplay
Get Out

The Gist: After a few months of dating, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is taking the next step with his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams): Visiting her parents. On the way over, Rose drops that she hasn't told her parents that Chris is Black. More weirdness is to come. Chris is deeply unsettled by the Armitage family – and by their strangely mechanical Black hired help.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Jordan Peele), Best Actor (Daniel Kaluuya), Best Original Screenplay
Wonder Woman

The Gist: She's an Amazon princess, and she's here to save humanity from its worst traits. Or at least those are Diana's (Gal Gadot) intentions when she leaves the enchanted island of Themyscira to kill Hades, stop WWI. Instead, Diana learns from her human companions, just as they learn from her.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Patty Jenkins)
The Big Sick

The Gist: At first, the biggest challenge Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani) faces with his new girlfriend, Emily (Zoe Kazan), is his Pakistani parents' reluctance for him to be with someone outside their culture. Then, Emily falls into a coma. The Big Sick is based on Nanjiani and his wife's real history.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Holly Hunter), Best Original Screenplay
The Florida Project

The Gist: Seven-year-old Moonnee (Brooklynn Prince) lives with her single mother (Bria Vinaite) in a fairy tale-themed motel near Walt Disney World. As Mooonee goes on care-free summer adventures with other motel kids, her mother struggles to keep them afloat.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Sean Baker), Best Supporting Actor (Willem Dafoe), Best Supporting Actress (Brooklynn Princes), Best Original Screenplay
Lady Bird

The Gist: Before Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) can bust out of Sacramento and move somewhere "interesting" people live, she has to go through her final year of high school, complete with first loves, dirtbag boyfriends, prom dress shopping, fights with her mom, and spurts of goofing off with her best friend.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Greta Gerwig), Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Best Supporting Actress (Laurie Metcalf), Best Original Screenplay
Darkest Hour

The Gist: Almost immediately after being appointed as Prime Minister in May 1940, Winston Churchill, played by Gary Oldman, has to decide whether to submit to peace talks with Nazi Germany, or hold true to democratic ideals and potentially subject the British people to invasion.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Gary Oldman), Best Director (Joe Wright), Best Supporting Actress (Kristin Scott Thomas)
I, Tonya

The Gist: Tonya Harding was a rising star in the competitive ice skating world, until she became embroiled in a scandal during the National Figure Skating Championships in 1994. Nancy Kerrigan was Harding's biggest competitor, and her leg was broken during the competition. Harding and her boyfriend were found responsible for the career-ending injury.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Margot Robbie), Best Supporting Actress (Allison Janney), Best Original Screenplay
Mudbound

The Gist: Two veterans — one Black, one white — return from the WWII front to their families in a small Mississippi Delta town. Ronsel Jackson's (Jason Mitchell) family works the land of Jamie McAllan's (Garrett Hedlund) family. Three members of both the Jackson and McAllan families narrate this American epic. Warning: It will make you cry.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Director (Dee Rees), Best Actress (Carey Mulligan), Best Supporting Actor (Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell), Best Supporting Actress (Mary J. Blige)
The Disaster Artist

The Gist: Things are about to get meta. In 2002, the so-called "Citizen Kane of bad movies" was released. It was called The Room, and it became a cult classic. The Disaster Artist is about the unconventional creation of The Room, which the mysterious Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed, and starred in.

Potential Nominations: Best Actor (James Franco), Best Adapted Screenplay
Stronger

The Gist: Jake Bauman was waiting at the Boston Marathon finishing line for his ex-girlfriend the bomb exploded. He lost both of his legs. Jake Gyllenhaal gives a wrenching performance of Bauman's brutal recovery process.

Potential Nominations: Best Actor (Jake Gyllenhaal), Best Supporting Actress (Tatiana Maslany)
Battle of the Sexes

The Gist: In 1973, Billie Jean King faced off against self-pronounced "male chauvinist pig," former tennis champ Bobby Rigg, in a highly televised matched called the Battle of the Sexes. King's triumph would symbolize a victory for the feminist movement.

Potential Nominations: Best Picture, Best Actress (Emma Stone), Best Supporting Actor (Steve Carell), Best Original Screenplay
mother!

The Gist: An unnamed woman (Jennifer Lawrence) lives with her husband (Javier Bardem) in a large house. She tries to work on the renovations, but he's busy entertaining many, many uninvited guests. Also, the house may or may not be alive. mother! scarred one of our writers for life.

Potential Nominations: Best Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Best Director (Darren Aronofsky)
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