I’ll say it again for the fourth time — 2016 is looking like a relatively weak year in terms of potential review-driven, award-calibre features, particularly those destined to open over the last three months (10.1 to 12.31). I’ve previously posted a raggedy rundown of the films that appear to have the horses to compete, but now that this list is set to post tomorrow morning in the new 2016 Oscar Balloon I’d like another appraisal about what’s missing, what needs to be discounted, etc.

Highest Expectations (in order of confidence or expectation): Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester-by-the-Sea [Best Actor nomination LOCK for Casey Affleck]; David Gordon Green‘s Stronger; Martin Scorsese‘s Silence; Steven Gaghan‘s Gold (Matthew McConaughey, Bryce Dallas Howard, Edgar Ramírez); Ang Lee‘s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk; Tom Ford‘s Nocturnal Animals; David Frankel’s Collateral Beauty (Will Smith, Keira Knightley, Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, Edward Norton); Clint Eastwood‘s Sully (Tom Hanks, Aaron Eckhart, Laura Linney) (8)

Very Interesting, Slight Hedging of Bets (random order): John Hancock‘s The Founder (biopic of McDonald’s kingpin Ray Kroc); Charlie McDowell‘s The Discovery w/ Rooney Mara, Nicholas Hoult (a love story set one year after the existence of the afterlife is scientifically verified or a more thoughtful version of The Leftovers); Wim WendersSubmergence (Alicia Vikander, James McAvoy); Woody Allen‘s 1930s period dramedy (Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively); David Michod‘s War Machine; Jeff NicholsMidnight Special; James Ponsoldt‘s The Circle (Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, John Boyega), Pablo Larrain‘s Jackie (Natalie Portman, Greta Gerwig, Peter Sarsgaard). (9)

Highly Refined Horror: Juan Antonio Bayona‘s A Monster Calls. (1)

Probably Solid/Decent/Interesting/Approvable, etc.: Damien Chazelle‘s La La Land; John Cameron Mitchell‘s How To Talk To Girls at Parties, Morten Tyldum and John SpaihtsPassengers; Ron Howard‘s Inferno; Niki Caro‘s The Zookeeper’s Wife; Justin Kurzel‘s Assassin’s Creed; Ben Wheatley‘s Free Fire; Tate Taylor‘s The Girl On The Train; Nicolas Winding Refn‘s The Neon Demon. (9)

Overpraised at Sundance: Nate Parker‘s The Birth of a Nation.

Beware of defaulting, post-Boyhood, possibly-too-cocky-or-slacking Linklater, especially if its’ about college-age stoners: Richard Linklater‘s Everybody Wants Some.

Worrisome: Jodie Foster‘s Money Monster (political thriller);

This Year’s Animated Pixar Wonder-Package for the Whole Family: Andrew Stanton‘s Finding Dory. (1)

Spare Me: Zack Snyder‘s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice; Terrence Malick‘s Weightless; Derek Cianfrance‘s The Light Between Oceans; Gary Ross‘s Free State of Jones; Benedict AndrewsUna (Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn). (5)

Genres Have Their Rules: Paul Greengrass‘s Jason Bourne w/ Matt Damon (political action thriller); Shane Black‘s The Nice Guys (darkly humorous mystery thriller); Peter Berg‘s Deepwater Horizon (real-life disaster action-thriller); Antoine Fuqua‘s The Magnificent Seven (western remake); Gavin O’Connor‘s The Accountant (action thriller); Ed Zwick‘s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (thriller); Matthew Vaughn‘s I Am Pilgrim (murder thriller); Michael Grandage‘s Genius (biopic about esteemed book editor Maxwell Perkins); Todd PhillipsArms and the Dudes. (10)

A Little Worried But Maybe: Robert ZemeckisWorld War II-era romantic spy drama w/ Brad Pitt, Marion Cotillard; Oliver Stone‘s Snowden; Warren Beatty‘s still-untitled Howard Hughes film; Ariel Vroman‘s Criminal; James Gray‘s The Lost City of Z; The Secret Scripture w/ Jessica Chastain, Vanessa Redgrave, Eric Bana; Greg McLean‘s The Belko Experiment. (7)

Who Knows?: Alex Garland‘s Annhiliation. (1)

Seen, Praised, Genre Classic: Robert EggersThe Witch.

Somewhat Lowered Expectations, Written Down: A Bigger Splash; Demolition; John Hillcoat‘s Triple Nine. (3)