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The top 10 Oscar nominated movies you must see in theatres

Now that the Oscar nominations have been announced, it's time to start catching up with what the Academy considers the year's best films. In case you haven't yet seen all of these buzzed-about movies, now's your chance to play armchair voter! While the Academy can be unpredictable and awards prognosticating can be difficult, it's still fun to speculate; and it's easier to bet on what you think will win when you've seen the nominated films and have a personal opinion on the race. 

Luckily, many of these movies are still playing in theatres, and we've made a list of the top 10 movies you absolutely need to see to win that Oscar pool.  And also, simply to have an amazing time at the movies. Seeing any of these ten films would guarantee it!

La La Land

Nominated for: Everything! But actually: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Song x2, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Film Editing

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Tying with All About Eve and Titanic for the most nominations in Oscars history, we can pretty much say that La La Land was the biggest movie of 2016. This old Hollywood musical that's set in the present day reminds us of why we love movies so much. It's a joyous, nostalgic ode to cinema, with two incredibly charming lead performances from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and it'll make your heart soar. We have no qualms with this being the Best Picture front-runner, and if you want to either feel good about life, or simply win your Oscar pool, La La Land is the film to bet on.

Moonlight (Limited Release)

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography

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The only film this year that might be more critically acclaimed than La La Land, is this personal independent film that chronicles the life of Chiron from childhood to adulthood through three defining chapters of his life. Moonlight almost plays like three short films, woven together seamlessly as we get to know this young boy living in poverty in Miami, who is grappling with his identity. From childhood Chiron is confronted with the idea of being gay, being bullied and tormented not just by his peers but also by his drug addict mother. It's his evolution and the stunning direction from Barry Jenkins that makes Moonlight unlike any other film before it. This is a singular piece of cinema that is definitely the biggest threat to La La Land's predicted Best Picture win.

Manchester by the Sea (Limited Release)

Nominated for: ​Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay

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Kenneth Lonergan
's Manchester by the Sea is by far the most affecting film you'll see this year. While tragic, this story is injected with humour and humanity. It's a portrait of grief that isn't one-sided but instead shows the various ways people deal with loss and guilt. Casey Affleck's performance in this film will go down as one of the great leading male performances of all time, and he's a sure-fire bet for the Oscar. After Lonergan's last film Margaret suffered lawsuits and distribution problems, barely anyone saw the masterpiece that it was. Manchester by the Sea's success makes up for this in a way, and is a film of equal mastery. While it's a dark horse in the Best Picture race, it has the good chance of winning the Original Screenplay and Best Actor prizes.


Nominated for: ​Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay

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This film based on the true story of Saroo Brierly, a young boy who went missing when he got on the wrong train at five years old, is an incredible ode to family lost and found. We follow young Saroo, alone on the streets of a city he doesn't know where everyone speaks a language he can't speak, until eventually he is adopted by a Tasmanian couple who give him a new life that he never would have afforded from his biological family. But Saroo still wants to find those he lost, and today's modern technology gives Saroo that opportunity. Lion is a film that will for sure make you cry, and it's an incredibly touching portrait of diverse families and our notion of home. In the Oscar race, it's a bit of a dark horse, but it's a film you'll want to check out regardless.


Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay

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August Wilson's play Fences has already won multiple Tony awards and a Pulitzer Prize. It's amazing how much this story has resonated with audiences since it first premiered back in 1983. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis have both won Tonys for their stage performances, which are revived for this movie version, also directed by Washington. Fences probably won't sweep the Oscars like it did the Tonys, but there is one safe bet here, and that's that Viola Davis will win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar this year. It's an incredibly strong year for both actress categories, but Davis has honed this role like no other, and she's absolutely magnificent, as well as overdue. Denzel is also a dark horse for the Best Actor Oscar; if anyone is threatening Casey Affleck's near-inevitable win, it's him.

Hidden Figures

Nominated for: ​Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay

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This uplifting film tells the story of the three African-American woman whose work was integral to NASA's Space program back in the 1960s. It's crazy to think that nobody had any idea about this story until the year 2016. Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer give wonderful performances in the film, which manages a delicate balance between depicting the harsh racism these three women endure while highlighting their strength and perseverance. Spencer just became the first African-American woman to receive another Oscar nomination after a previous win (she won for The Help back in 2012), so even if Hidden Figures goes home empty handed, its mission continues to be on the right side of history.


Nominated for:​ Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Cinematography

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While many were upset by the snub that was Amy Adams missing out on a Best Actress nomination for this film, it's still astonishing to see a sci-fi film get this much love from the Academy. Typically genre films don't go far beyond the tech awards, but Arrival managed to also get nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. In recent memory, only a few sci-fi films have managed this honour (films like Gravity and The Martian), which means that the Academy is slowly steering towards encompassing more than just "Oscar bait." Arrival is smart science fiction that is not just a visual spectacle, but also layered and incredibly humane. It's not something you see often from a movie about aliens. 


Nominated for: ​Best Animated Feature, Best Original Song

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If anything is going to take the Best Original Song Oscar away from La La Land, it'll be Moana. With "How Far I'll Go" written by the man of the hour, "Hamilton" helmer Lin-Manuel Miranda, this talented songwriter may be one step closer to becoming an EGOT member (meaning a winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony). With La La Land having two songs in this category, the vote could easily split, making way for this powerhouse to win. Not only that, if anything might take the Animated Feature Oscar away from frontrunner Zootopia, it could be this, the other original Disney film in the race. Moana is about a Polynesian princess who goes against her family's wishes and sets sail across the ocean to return a precious artifact to the Goddess Te Whiti. It breaks the classic Disney mold by giving Moana no love interest, but portraying her as a strong and independent woman who works hard to serve her people.

Toni Erdmann (Limited Release)

Nominated for: Best Foreign Language Film

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If you have any interest in international cinema, and honestly, even if you don't, Toni Erdmann is a movie that you definitely want to see. Out of film festivals across the world last year, this three-hour German comedy was the most talked about movie for film aficionados. Surprising, hilarious, and heartfelt, this film that depicts the bizarre relationship between a grown woman and her prankster father is the favourite to win the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and we'd frankly be shocked if it didn't. The film will inevitably be remade in English and given the Hollywood treatment, so you can be way ahead of the pack by watching the original (before it becomes a diluted version of what is being called a modern classic.) Watching Toni Erdmann would also be a great way to champion female filmmakers, and Maren Ade is one of the finest working today.

Elle (Limited Release)

Nominated for: Best Actress

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Elle won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, but it didn't even make the shortlist for the same prize at the Oscars. We're going to assume that voters for that category simply didn't watch, possibly for its controversial subject material, but clearly the rest of the Academy did as they still nominated actress Isabelle Huppert. Huppert won the Golden Globe for her performance here, and we have a funny feeling that she may repeat this at the Oscars. While many believe it to be Emma Stone's year (she was fantastic in La La Land), and others are championing Natalie Portman's work in Jackie, Isabelle Huppert is a legendary, fearless actress who has never been recognized by the Academy before. Anyone who has seen Elle would know that her performance is on a whole other level, and it's career-best work from an incredibly accomplished performer. We would love to see Huppert finally take home this coveted trophy so late in her career.

For all of our 2017 Awards Race coverage, click here!