Voting for nominations is January 11-16, 2024, with the official Oscar nominations announced January 23, 2024. Final voting is February 22-27, 2024. We update our forecasts throughout awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all of our Oscars 2024 picks.
The state of the breed
As usual, big-budget projects have the edge in marketing and awareness en route to the Oscars. Check out two summer movies, Christopher Nolan’s hard-hitting biopic “Oppenheimer” (Universal), whose stars Cillian Murphy, Matt Damon and Robert Downey, Jr. will be chasing Oscars, and Greta Gerwig’s pastel-pink extravaganza “Barbie” (Warner Bros.), with likely acting contenders Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Both films amassed rave reviews and high coverage as their studios avoided selling the films (and shutting down mainstream audiences) via festival credit.
Amazon and MGM to push SXSW opening film and ‘Argo’ winner Ben Affleck well received sports drama “Air,” though it was far from a box office hit given its $90 million cost. But if the Academy’s oldest male demo loves a streaming movie looking for a marketing boost, does it matter?
Naturally, many films from the festival will create enough prestige for the Oscar race. A24, which may have back-to-back Oscar winners after “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” will be pushing Sundance critic and the box-office hit “Past Lives,” by Korean-American playwright-turned-director Celine Song, about a married New York writer (Greta Lee) who is reunited with her Korean childhood sweetheart (Teo Yoo). The film will surpass $10 million at the domestic box office, a difficult feat to achieve these days.
It’s rare but possible for a film by a first-time director to win Best Picture: see stage-to-screen directors Delbert Mann (“Marty,” 1955) and Sam Mendes (“American Beauty,” 1999). “Terms of Endearment” (1983) director James L. Brooks came from television, and two movie star first-time directors, Robert Redford (“Ordinary People,” 1980) and Kevin Costner (“Dances with Wolves,” 1990), took home the Oscar for best picture. The song is running.
Cannes pushed Academy Award winner “The Departed” Martin Scorsese into the race with his Western epic “Killers of the Flower Moon” (AppleTV+/Paramount), with Best Actor winners Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”), Robert De Niro (“The Godfather Part II” and “Raging Bull”) and up-and-comer Lily Gladstone; and Todd Haynes, with the fictionalized true story “May December” (Netflix) starring Academy Award winners Julianne Moore (“Alice”) and Natalie Portman (“Black Swan”), which will open the New York Film Festival on September 29.
British author Jonathan Glazer won first prize for the German-language “Zone of Interest” (A24), a dark film about the holocaust starring German actress Sandra Hüller (Oscar nominee for the international film “Toni Erdmann”), who also did well for French director Justine Triet’s drama “Anatomy of a Fall” (Neon), half English and half French. Will France present the film? The UK is expected to submit ‘Zone of Interest’ for the International Feature Film Oscar. Either way, increasingly international Academy voters might respond to both films, as they did to All Quiet on the Western Front, The World’s Worst Person, Parasite, and Drive My Car.
This season, the big question is how the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes will impact high-profile films hoping to make a splash at the festival en route to a grand opening and Oscar campaign. Until the actors’ strike is resolved, star director Bradley Cooper will be unable to promote his second feature “Maestro” (Netflix), in which he plays New York conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein. (The film is scheduled to premiere at the New York Film Festival.) At press time, many independent companies were waiting for reports of promotional swings for the fall festivals.
Denis Villeneuve’s epic sequel “Dune: Part Two” (Warner Bros.), starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya and Javier Bardem, is among the many films to be released at the autumn festivals. (That is, if Warner Bros. keeps the 2023 date; a Variety the report suggests the studio may be pushing “Dune: Part II” and other films to a later date, when the SAG-AFTRA strike is presumably over and actors can promote the films again.) Sequels and sci-fi aren’t always accepted Oscar fare, especially if a definitive conclusion to a trilogy is anticipated, but “Dune Part One” earned 10 nominations and six wins.
As always, a host of biopics will compete in the fray at the Oscars. Early rumors are optimistic about veteran Ridley Scott’s expensive epic “Napoleon” (Apple Original Films/Sony Pictures), starring Academy Award winner Joaquin Phoenix (“The Joker”) and nominee Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”). In “Priscilla” (A24), Academy Award winner Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”) stars Jacob Elordi as Elvis opposite Cailee Spaeny (“Mare of Easttown”) in the title role.
Michael Mann (“The Insider”) will also hit the fall festivals with the racing biopic ‘Ferrari’ (Netflix), starring Adam Driver, who played the Italian in ‘House of Gucci’, opposite Penélope Cruz. Reinaldo Marcus Green’s sequel to the Academy Award-winning “King Richard” is the musical biopic “Marley: One Love” (Paramount) starring Kingsley Ben-Adir, star of “One Night in Miami”.
On the fiction side, perennial Oscar winner Alexander Payne returns with the Christmas flick “The Holdovers” (Focus), alongside his “Sideways” star Paul Giamatti. Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Favorite”) reunites with Emma Stone in the sci-fi novel “Poor Things” (Searchlight), which is expected to star in Venice ahead of its September 8 release. Following her Academy Award-winning “Promising Young Woman,” Emerald Fennell plays British socialite in “Saltburn” (Amazon Studios), opposite Rosamund Pike, Barry Keoghan and Carey Mulligan. “Challengers” (Amazon/MGM) by Italian director Luca Guadagnino is a romantic triangle between the world of tennis and protagonists Zendaya, Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist.
The festival’s reaction could determine the fate of several films. Academy Award winner Ethan Coen (“No Country for Old Men”) directs the comedy “Drive Away Dolls” (Focus) solo without regular partner Joel. The Academy’s lack of affection for certain genre genres could affect the reception of David Fincher’s thriller “The Killer” (Netflix) starring Michael Fassbender as an threatened assassin, and Jeff Nichols’ motorcycle road movie “Bikeriders” (20th Century Studios), starring Tom Hardy and Austin Butler.
Potential candidates are listed alphabetically; no film will be considered a favorite until we have seen it.
“Anatomy of a Fall”
“City of Asteroids”
“The Flower Moon Killers”
“Chase the Dolls”
“Duna: Part Two”
“Marley: One Love”
“Area of interest”