“The Circle” and “The Lost City of Z”: Which potential 2016 contenders got bumped to 2017?

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As with most years, 2016 has seen its share of awards season contenders that take their sweet time revealing themselves. Things on the fence that we now know are hitting this year include Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, Jackie, Live By Night, Rules Don’t Apply, and Silence, to name a half dozen of this ilk. Of course, that still leaves a handful of things that opted to sit this one out, for one reason or another. I’ve collected some of those in order to give you an idea what to make of the bumped titles. Consider this an exercise in speculation about what might have been…

These are some of the would be contenders that got bumped to next year:

The Circle – Always a longer shot, this adaptation mainly seemed like a player due to the presence of Tom Hanks in the cast and up comer James Ponsoldt at the helm. Starring Emma Watson, it probably is mainstream entertainment as much as anything, but there’s no way to fully know right now. A release date in late April doesn’t provide any clues in that regard either, sadly.

The Lost City of Z – Having seen this one as the Closing Night Selection at the New York Film Festival, I can vouch for it being quite good. James Gray has never managed to attract real Oscar attention, which is a shame, but at least in the technical categories, he has a shot here. It has an early release date, but with the NYFF reviews and Netflix in its corner, you can’t quite count it out.

The Promise – Reviews for this drama have been middling, though the cast certainly gave it hope. Terry George has Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac leading this cast, and that rarely is a bad thing. I suspect that the awards season isn’t in the cards for it, but once a 2017 release date is set, we’ll have a more thorough idea of what the powers that be think of it.

Thank You For Your Service – For a bit, this PTSD drama seemed poised to be a very late 2016 release. Starring Miles Teller, it could very much be in play, depending on when it comes out. This seems like a Toronto debut next fall to me, but anything is possible. Of this group though, it feels like the most likely to wind up contending seriously for some Academy Award attention.

A United Kingdom – Very recently, this was bumped to 2017 when it got picked up for distribution. This removed both David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike from the race. Neither seemed poised to crack the competitive lineups in 2016, going by the tame yet positive reviews, but next year could be a whole other story…

The Zookeeper’s Wife – Mainly notable for containing another Jessica Chastain performance, this also is a World War II centered tale. That’s been crack in the past to voters, so if Chastain gets even closer to being “due” for a win, this could be one to watch out for in Best Actress. The late March release date isn’t amazingly promising for it, but we shall see how it fares next year.

Now, will these wind up being players in 2017? The answer is maybe at best. Frankly, none of these contenders seemed poised to really upend the race in any real way this year, though they all could potentially be players to one degree or another next year. Surely some will just fade away, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that The Lost City of Z, Thank You For Your Service, or The Zookeeper’s Wife make Oscar plays. We won’t know for over a year what the Academy thinks, but it’s fun to guess, right? Until then, it’s time to focus back on the films we know are 2016 hopefuls…

Stay tuned to see how these films do next year!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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