6 movies that will prep you for the Oscars race

With the Golden Globe Awards arriving Sunday, it's officially red carpet season. That means designer dresses are being FedEx'd from Paris, A-list seating charts are being sorted, and Oscar voters are starting to make their choices. Which movies should you make sure you've seen? Here's a must-watch list.

'MOONLIGHT'

Why it's gaining steam: This is the coming-of-age movie that could, with director Barry Jenkins focusing his lens on a young boy named Chiron growing up gay in the projects of Miami. The film is up for six Golden Globes.

Look for: Standout performances from Mahershala Ali as a compassionate drug dealer named Juan and Naomie Harris, who harrowingly depicts the effects of crack addiction.

 

'LA LA LAND'

Why critics fell so hard:La La Land is a remarkable melding of Hollywood old and new, dazzling choreography and daring lead performances by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling that feel accessible and modern, no matter if they're fighting in traffic or dancing under the stars. La La Land leads the Globes nominations with seven.

Look for: Impressive direction from Damien Chazelle (who last helmed Whiplash) and music from his longtime collaborator (and college roommate) Justin Hurwitz.

 

'MANCHESTER BY THE SEA'

Why you keep hearing Casey Affleck's name: This devastating drama comes into focus because of Affleck's powerful performance of a grief-stricken janitor who returns to his hometown to care for his nephew following his sibling's death. Many believe Ben's younger brother is finally getting his due.

Look for: An emotional turn from Michelle Williams, who plays his ex-wife. Both she and Affleck are Globes-nominated, with five total nods for Manchester.

 

'FENCES'

Why this drama could rock several categories: Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning August Wilson play (which earned Tony Awards for Denzel Washington and Viola Davis when they starred in the Broadway revival), the critical hit homes in on an embittered ex-baseball player (Washington) grappling with his life and status in 1950s Pittsburgh. Washington directs, too.

Look for: Davis, who plays Troy's wife, Rose, is a force to be reckoned with, giving her strong odds in the best supporting actress category. Both she and Washington will be at the Globes with acting nominations.

 

'JACKIE'

Why it's a game changer: The Kennedy biopic, which focuses on the four days after JFK was shot, was a late entry to awards season, snapped up by Fox Searchlight on the festival circuit in September. Portman has been showered with attention for her hushed-yet-firm take on Jackie and the first lady's control of her husband's legacy.

Look for: Hints of producer Darren Aronofsky. Aronofsky, who directed Portman to an Oscar in 2011 for Black Swan, selected Chilean director Pablo Larraín to helm Jackie, which boasts faintly similar dark undertones.

 

'20th CENTURY WOMEN' 

Why the best actress race could be tight: In short, Annette Bening. The actress has been nominated for four Oscars but walked away empty-handed each time. Many believe the '70s drama could propel Bening to seriously challenge contenders such as Stone and Portman. Bening plays Dorothea, an eccentric single mother struggling to connect with her teenage son, who enlists her feminist boarder (Greta Gerwig) and her son's best friend (Elle Fanning) to assist her in "raising" him. Both the film and Bening are Globes-nominated.

Look for: Richly written women and a charming performance by Billy Crudup, who plays Dorothea's resident handyman.


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