It's the beginning of December, which means Oscar season is well and truly under way. All the supposedly best movies of the year will be making their way to cinemas over the next few weeks in America as they vie for attention in the increasingly crowded competition to be named Best Picture.

The onslaught is more spread out here in New Zealand, with Oscar movie releases being staggered between December and February. However, that doesn't mean every movie that gets Oscar buzz is going to make it here. While most do, there are several movies still without release dates. Here are just the top five biggest contenders that apparently aren't good enough for us yet.

Moonlight

Starring

: Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes

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RottenTomato Rating

: 98 per cent

Metacritic Rating

: 99

Perhaps the biggest snub,

Moonlight

has racked up critical praise since it debuted at the Telluride Film Festival in September, and has already claimed several awards in the precursor ceremonies.

Moonlight

tells the story in three parts of a black man's experience growing up gay in America, and has been seen as the ultimate antidote to the #OscarsSoWhite issue. Stars Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali are expected to get acting nominations, and the movie won the top prize at the Gotham Awards on Monday, yet there is no hint of when this powerful movie will get released here.

20th Century Women

Starring

: Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning

RottenTomato Rating

: 95 per cent

Metacritic Rating

: 76

The latest film from

Beginners

director Mike Mills,

20th Century Women

stars Annette Bening as a single mother trying to raise her son, and gets assistance from fellow women. Mills' last film won an Oscar for Christopher Plummer, and his latest is hoping to do the same for Bening. However, the movie is currently set for an unknown date in April next year, according to Flicks, putting it well after the Oscars.

Fire at Sea

RottenTomato Rating

: 93 per cent

Metacritic Rating

: 87

While most of New Zealand is holding out hope for David Farrier and the team behind

Tickled,

there's a refugee documentary that has high chances of claiming that top prize.

Fire at Sea

is going for a double entry, as it is both the Italian submission for Best Foreign Language Film and has a chance at Best Documentary. The doco is set on the island of Lampedusa and focuses on the refugee crisis from the perspective of those lives affected by migrants moving through. It won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and is being touted as a strong contender for the top prize, but no details yet as to when it will reach our shores.

American Honey

Starring

: Sasha Lane, Shia LeBeouf

RottenTomato Rating

: 81 per cent

Metacritic Rating

: 79

Most people aren't really expecting much from Shia LeBeouf these days, and after all his antics he isn't the first actor who comes to mind for high-class films. However, the latest movie from director Andrea Arnold is giving the star a second chance.

American Honey

stars first-time actor Sasha Lane as a teenager who joins a group of travelling magazine salesmen and stumbles into a life of hard partying. That may not sound like stellar Oscar material, but the film got a premiere at Cannes and won the third most prestigious award, the Jury Prize. It is up for a number of awards at the British Independent Film Awards and is a potential nominee for writing. If only we could judge for ourselves...

Christine

Starring

: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall

RottenTomato Rating

: 84 per cent

Metacritic Rating

: 72

Forget

Game of Thrones

or

The Walking Dead

: this was the shocking scene of violence that really changed television. In 1974, American reporter Christine Chubbuck pulled out a gun committed suicide live on television. It's an event that will never be forgotten, and a new biopic starring Iron Man 3's Rebecca Hall tells the story of Chubbuck's life and what led to her final moments. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival all the way back in January and has earned Hall plenty of acclaim, but anyone eager to see it will have to wait even longer.