Nearing the holiday season brings with it a bounty of new film releases, among them many strong Academy contenders with impeccable female leads. From Gerwig to Robbie to Vega, this is our list of five films you won’t want to miss this awards’ season.

1. LADY BIRD

This stunning directorial debut from Greta Gerwig brings her to the forefront as a bold new cinematic voice. It follows Christine (Saoirse Ronan, BROOKLYN), a rebellious student at a conservative Catholic high school in 2002 Sacramento, in a glorious coming-of-age story that the New York Times calls “flat out wonderful.” Critics cannot stop raving about this cinematic gem, and it certainly shows in their unprecedented 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes! Rolling Stone raves, “One of the best films of the year. In telling her own coming of age story, Gerwig proves herself a blazing talent and Ronan and Metcalf should have Oscar calling. Totally irresistible.”

The film has already received Gotham Award nominations for Best Actress (Ronan) and Best Screenplay (Gerwig), as well as a Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award nomination for Greta Gerwig. Oscar buzz? Absolutely. Indiewire has it on their predictions for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress.

View the trailer:

Where to see it: 

LADY BIRD is now playing at the Angelika New York,  opens this Friday 11/10 at Angelika Mosaic, and 11/17 at Angelika Plano and Angelika Carmel Mountain.

2. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI 

Leading lady Frances McDormand is topping the shortlist for Academy Best Actress contenders, in Martin McDonagh’s film that follows a fearless mother, Mildred, who, enraged that local police have not yet solved her daughter’s murder case, paints three billboards leading into her town, with a controversial message directed at the town’s revered police chief (Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson). The critics are absolutely loving it – so much so that the review in Rolling Stone was entitled, “‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’: Give Frances McDormand the Oscar Now.

The film has received a whopping 11 British Independent Film Award nominations including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Screenplay, and the critical acclaim keeps rolling in! The New Yorker says, “Not since FARGO (1996) has [McDormand] found a character of such fibre.” Meet Mildred. See THREE BILLBOARDS. You won’t regret it.

View the trailer:

Where to see it:

THREE BILLBOARDS opens 11/17 at Angelika Mosaic and Angelika Dallas.

3. I, TONYA

When you hear the name Tonya Harding, its a safe bet to assume that the next name you think of is Nancy Kerrigan. I, TONYA centers on this iconic conflict, which grew into one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. From Director Craig Gillespie (MILLION DOLLAR ARM) and with an impeccable performance from lead actress Margot Robbie, nearly all Academy predictions have her topping the list of Best Actress contenders. With Gotham Award nominations for Best Feature and Best Actress, alongside ever-growing critical acclaim, this is certainly one to watch.

In short, this is an absurd, irreverent, and piercing portrayal of Harding’s life and career in all of its unchecked––and checkered––glory. Variety is calling it “fresh” and “wickedly enjoyable.” A true must-see.

View the trailer:

Where to see it:

I, TONYA opens 12/8 at Angelika New York and 1/5 at Angelika Plano.

4. THE SHAPE OF WATER

“A ravishing, eccentric auteur’s imagining, spilling artistry, empathy and sensuality from every open pore” – that’s how Variety describes this new work from acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro (PAN’S LABYRINTH).

THE SHAPE OF WATER is an other-worldly fairy tale starring Sally Hawkins (BLUE JASMINE) as the lonely Elisa, who is living in silence and isolation in the high-security government laboratory where she works. When she and co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) discover a secret classified experiment, their lives are changed forever.

With an impeccable 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and predictions for Best Picture and Best Actress nominations, this visually stunning film begs to be seen in cinemas. TheWrap raves, “del Toro transcends mere pastiche to craft a work that feels like the product of our collective film-going subconscious.”

View the trailer:

Where to see it:

THE SHAPE OF WATER opens 12/1 at Angelika New York and 12/8 at Angelika Mosaic and Angelika Plano.

5. A FANTASTIC WOMAN

Following in the footsteps of last year’s ELLE, A FANTASTIC WOMAN could be this year’s foreign film to break out into the mainstream Academy categories. Indiewire certainly seems to think so! Daniela Vega, a trans actress from Chile, takes the leading role in Director Sebastián Lelio’s film that is being heralded as “ravishing” by the Hollywood Reporter. It follows a trans woman, Marina (Vega), who is planning for the future with her boyfriend, Orlando. Her world is shaken when Orlando suddenly passes away, and she is treated with scorn and suspicion by Orlando’s family.

Variety says, “Chilean director Sebastián Lelio and star Daniela Vega give the growing bracket of transgender drama a new, luminous touchstone work.”

View the trailer:

Where to see it:

A FANTASTIC WOMAN opens for a special, one week engagement at Angelika New York on 11/17. Look out for its official release in early 2018!