The Golden Globes have been won, the BAFTA nominees have been announced and Oscars voting is about to close. The annual New Year awards frenzy, which actually kicks off in December with a glut of lesser-known critics and guild awards ceremonies, is well and truly underway.
If you've been watching closely, you may have spotted that a lot of films you haven't seen in UAE cinemas yet have been picking up the trophies, with the likes of Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and The Shape of Water all picking up multiple nominations at both the Globes and BAFTAs.
In part, that’s because this part of the world quite often gets films a little later than the bigger US and European markets, and in part it’s because the kind of films that pick up awards buzz tend not to be the kind of high-octane, blockbuster fare that make up the bulk of multiplex content. That said, a few bits of shiny metal at the turn of the year are usually enough to result in at least a limited local release if one wasn’t planned already.
So here’s our guide to when, or if, you can see this year’s most talked about movies in UAE cinemas. While we don't know which cinemas these films will be shown in yet, it's likely some might only get a limited release (Vox Cinemas in Mall of the Emirates has a good track record of showing more alternative movies).
*Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Thursday February 22
Martin McDonagh’s black comedy was the big winner at the Globes, with statues for Best Drama, Screenplay, Lead Actress and Supporting Actor in a Drama. The story of Frances McDormand's grieving mother, struggling to bring her daughter's murderer to justice in a seemingly apathetic small town will come to UAE screens next month on Thursday February 22.
*The Shape of Water – Thursday February 1
Guillermo Del Toro’s typically fantastical tale of a mute cleaner in a government research facility who develops a strange relationship with an aquatic test specimen landed the director the Globe for Best director, and it picked up Best Original Score too. It’s in cinemas on the first of next month.
*Lady Bird – no release as yet
Greta Gerwig took a turn behind the camera to write and direct this sweet comedy drama about the trials and tribulations of growing up. The film is carried by the performance of Saoirse Ronan as the titular Lady, so it’s fitting that she picked up the Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical for her effort at the Globes. As yet none of the major local distributors have picked the film up, and the main cinema chains had no information on release when we checked, but a good awards season should surely ensure it makes it here at some point, and we will most certainly keep you updated.
*Darkest Hour – released on January 11
You wait ages for a Winston Churchill biopic, then two come along in a year. The better of the pair, which also included Brian Cox in Churchill, was undoubtedly Joe Wright's Gary Oldman version, as evidenced by the British veteran's Globe for Best Lead in a Drama, with a possible BAFTA to follow. The movie is in cinemas now.
*I, Tonya – Thursday March 1
Margot Robbie stars as America’s-sweetheart-turned-public-enemy-number-one Tonya Harding in Craig Gillespie’s biopic of the disgraced figure skater. It will hit cinemas here at the start of March (just before the Oscars).
*Phantom Thread - Thursday February 1
Daniel Day-Lewis bows out with this final film before he retires (well, that's his claim), starring as a glamorous dressmaker in post-war London. It seems inevitable that celebrities will come out of retirement, but if this one was a ruse to soften up the Globes judges, it didn’t work – Day-Lewis had to settle for a Best Actor nomination.
*All the Money in the World – Thursday February 1
Ridley Scott’s latest received an unexpected burst of publicity when the director opted to take on a seemingly impossibly tight reshoot, recasting Christopher Plummer in all of Kevin Spacey’s scenes following Spacey’s abuse disgrace, while sticking to the movie’s December release date. It worked – Plummer was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Globes.
*The Florida Project – Thursday January 25
Sean Baker takes a poignant look at the life of poor American families in the budget motels that sit in Disneyland’s shadow. Seen largely through the eyes of six-year old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) and her mum (Bria Vinai), there’s also a widely prized supporting role for Globe nominee Willem Dafoe as motel manager Bobby.
*The Post - Thursday January 18
Awards panels love a good newspaper movie, from Citizen Kane via The Killing Fields to Spotlight, and now Steven Spielberg gets on board with the critically acclaimed The Post. Katharine Graham and Ben Bradley are the hacks in pursuit of a huge government cover up. See it from January 18.