With the nominations just out, we think it’s fair to say that it’s officially Oscar season. While we love the awards season, and the Oscars especially, it can be hard to keep up with what you need to see with very few of us having the time, money or patience to watch all of the big hitters – especially since the Academy decided to up the quota for Best Film nominations last year! With that in mind, we’ve compiled our list of the top 5 ‘must-see’ films before the 89th Academy Awards on 26th February.

5 Films to Watch Before the Oscars 2017

Manchester By The Sea

It may not have the glitz of a La La Land but one of the absolute must-sees this Oscar season is Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester By The Sea. Having been big-screen AWOL since 2011’s brilliant Margaret, Lonergan is back with an expectantly gritty drama about a brooding loner, played by Casey Affleck, who returns to his hometown after he’s suddenly named the legal guardian of his 16 year old nephew. But if losing his only sibling and raising a teenager weren’t difficult enough, his return to the past re-opens an unspeakable tragedy. Expect Affleck and the always brilliant Michelle Williams to both be firmly in the driving seat when it comes to individual awards, with the film and Lonergan also in with a shout. As for the cinema experience itself, expect tears.

Nominations: Best Film, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor.

Moonlight

Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight follows the story of a young man dealing with his dysfunctional home life as well as his sexuality during Miami’s ‘War on Drugs’. It’s not an easy watch by any means but we’d defy anyone to come out of a screening of Moonlight and not take something profound away. Unsurprisingly, Moonlight is one of the bookies’ frontrunners for Best Picture.

Nominations: Best Film, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor.

Arrival

It’s hard to be original when it comes to alien films these days – just ask the makers of Independence Day: Resurgence – but up and coming director Denis Villeneuve delivered something as innovative as it was beautiful in Arrival. The director once again uses a female protagonist to create a genuinely unique narrative as twelve mysterious Pringle-shaped alien spaceships appear across the globe, a linguist played by Amy Adams is tasked to communicate with the aliens alongside a mathematician played by Jeremy Renner. You’d usually expect chaos and warfare to ensue – instead Arrival delivered one of the most heartfelt and genuine movies of 2016.

Nominations: Best Film, Best Director.

Fences

From the stages of Broadway to the screens of Hollywood, Fences stars Denzel Washington as Troy Maxson, a sanitation worker in 1950s Pittsburgh. Bitter over his missed opportunity as a pro baseball player, Maxson creates further tension in his family when he squashes his son’s opportunity to meet a college football recruiter. Fences will probably fall just short with most nominations, with the exception of Denzel who’s got as good a chance as anyone of picking up his second Best Actor award.

Nominations: Best Film, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress.

La La Land

Whiplash was 2015’s indie darling and writer/director Damien Chazelle was back this year with another jaw-dropper in La La Land. The pair of films couldn’t be any more different with La La Land taking a pastel-filled, nostalgic look at the magic of Old Hollywood through the eyes of young love with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. This quintessential boy-meets-girl fairy tale is one of the most refreshing films we’ve seen in a good few years, and we expect it walk away with the Best Picture. Chazelle should also have a good shot at the Best Director.

Nominations: Best Film, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, Cinematography.

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