We wouldn’t necessarily say it’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s Oscar race; in fact, the day after the ceremony feels like the right time to start. Or maybe even sooner: This year’s Best Picture winner, “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” actually premiered before last year’s Best Picture winner, “CODA,” was even announced.
With that in mind, find 20 films currently scheduled for release in 2023 that will potentially be in the conversation for awards at the 2024 Oscars. The list below is a mix of large-scale epics from folks who have been going to the Oscars forever and up-and-comers who the academy may want to anoint as the next generation. Some of these films are sure things, some of them are long shots, all of them are worth keeping tabs on as the next awards season moves forward.
One of two Wes Anderson movies slated for 2023 (the other is “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”), this romantic dramedy is set at a Junior Stargazer convention in a desert town in 1955 and follows an ensemble cast that’s large even by Wes Anderson standards. Anderson regulars Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, and Edward Norton are all there, as are newcomers Margot Robbie, Maya Hawke, and Tom Hanks. Also Scarlett Johansson, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, and about two dozen other very famous people. Anderson’s last film, 2021’s “The French Dispatch,” was his first to not earn any Oscar nominations since 2007’s “The Darjeeling Limited.” If “Asteroid City” is a return to form, expect him to get his Oscars mojo back. It’s out on June 16.
Based on how viral every piece of news related to this movie has gone so far, “Barbie” is going to be one of the biggest movies of the year. If Greta Gerwig’s movie lives up to the hype, it could take some of the populist entertainment slots at the Oscars next year. Margot Robbie stars as the titular doll, who escapes from the plastic “Barbieworld” and enters the human world, where she learns to embrace her imperfections. In the best case scenario, it gets a Best Picture nomination, Gerwig gets Best Director, and she and Noah Baumbach get a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for their script, and it dominates Hair & Makeup, Costumes, and Production Design. Maybe Ryan Gosling even gets a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance as Ken? After the success of “Top Gun: Maverick” at the Oscars this year, why not?
“Beau Is Afraid”
It’s a long shot, but if there’s any horror movie coming out in 2023 that might break through Academy voters’ aversion to the genre, it’s the latest from Ari Aster. “Beau Is Afraid” (formerly known as “Disappointment Blvd.”) is the acclaimed writer-director’s A24-distributed follow-up to “Midsommar,” the acclaimed movie that made Florence Pugh a star. Aster is the most awards-worthy horror filmmaker since Jordan Peele, and he could develop enough momentum to sneak into Best Original Screenplay if a narrative coalesces around “Beau Is Afraid.” It stars recent Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix, with an ensemble that includes Nathan Lane, Patti LuPone, and Parker Posey. It might be too weird – it’s described as “a surrealist horror film set in an alternate present” – and the April release date doesn’t scream “awards contender.” But A24 just pushed the multiversal sci-fi comedy “Everything Everywhere All at Once” to a Best Picture win, so the old rules of what counts as an “Oscars picture” don’t really apply anymore.
Jeff Nichols (“Mud”, “Loving”) writes, directs, and produces this crime drama about a 1960s motorcycle club that gradually turns into a biker gang, as the hippie dream of freedom and equality gets curdled by crime and capitalism. It’s an interesting premise, and Nichols has assembled a very strong cast that includes Jodie Comer, Austin Butler, Tom Hardy, and his frequent collaborator Michael Shannon.
This one has “major Oscar contender” written all over it. It’s a World War II drama about Londoners enduring the Blitz in 1940. It’s produced, written, and directed by Steve McQueen, a Best Picture winner for “12 Years a Slave,” and stars four-time Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan and rising star Harris Dickinson (“Triangle of Sadness”). It’s being distributed by Apple, and could get moved to 2024 to avoid competition with “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Napoleon,” but whenever it comes out, expect many to pencil Ronan in for her fifth nomination.
This musical is slated for December 20 of this year, so Warner Bros. clearly has high hopes for it as an awards contender and a blockbuster. It’s the second adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-winning novel about a Black family in early 1900s Georgia; the first was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Oprah Winfrey. Spielberg and Winfrey are both on-board as producers of this production along with Quincy Jones and Scott Sanders. This film is technically based on the 2005 stage musical adaptation. It’s directed by Blitz Bazawule (“Black Is King”) and has an accomplished ensemble cast that includes Fantasia Barrino, Colman Domingo, Taraji P. Henson, and Danielle Brooks. Spielberg’s movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and acting nominations for Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, and Margaret Avery.
“Dune: Part Two”
Director Denis Villeneuve’s epic science fiction sequel could potentially get all the nominations and wins that 2021’s first chapter got – it dominated in the technical categories and was nominated for Best Picture – while adding at least one more, since Villeneuve somehow wasn’t nominated for Best Director last time. The cast features a large percentage of Hollywood’s rising generation of movie stars: Timotheé Chalamet, Zendaya, Florence Pugh, and Austin Butler to name a few. “Part Two” continues the tale of chosen one Paul Atredies (Chalamet) torn between his love for Chani (Zendaya) and his duty to save his planet. It’s scheduled for November 3.
Director Michael Mann is in the driver’s seat for his first film since 2015’s “Blackhat.” Oscar attention has eluded him since “Collateral” earned two nominations in 2004, but that could change with this period piece biopic. Adam Driver stars as Ferrari founder Enzo Ferrari, who is dealing with family problems as he prepares his team for the 1957 Mille Miglia, which motorsports fans will know is a particularly infamous edition of the notoriously dangerous road race. Driver will be in the Best Actor conversation for his performance, which marks his second time playing a famous Italian businessman (the first was “House of Gucci”). The cast also includes Penelope Cruz and Shailene Woodley.
Past Best Supporting Actress winner Alicia Vikander stars as Katherine Parr, the outspoken sixth and final wife of Henry VIII (Jude Law), in this historical biopic from Karim Aïnouz. Aïnouz is a rising director from Brazil whose 2019 film “The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao” received the Un Certain Regard at Cannes. The independent film doesn’t have a distributor yet, but if an awards player picks it up, Vikander could be a major Best Actress contender.
Alexander Payne’s keenly observed dramedies have gotten him Oscars gold more than once – he’s won Best Adapted Screenplay twice, and been nominated for Best Director three times. This one reunites him with Paul Giamatti, his “Sideways” star, and tells the story of a very unpopular boarding school teacher (Giamatti) who has been tasked with taking care a smart but poorly behaved student (Dominic Sessa) over Christmas break because the boy can’t travel home. The thing is, Payne didn’t write the script – it comes from writer David Hemingson – so we’ll see what happens when Payne directs something he didn’t write when it comes out on November 10.
“Killers of the Flower Moon”
Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited period crime drama is finally coming out sometime this year. Based on the bestselling nonfiction book by David Grann, the film is set in Oklahoma in the 1920s, where lawman Tom White (Jesse Plemons) is investigating a string of murders of Osage people after oil was discovered on tribal land. Its complex themes and big-budget sweep make it a heavyweight contender in all categories. It’s the first time Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio have been in a Scorsese movie together.
Kate Winslet stars in this historical biopic that could get her back on the Oscars podium. She plays Lee Miller, a fashion model-turned-war photographer who captured indelible images of World War II while working as a correspondent for Vogue. She was present for the liberation of Paris and the concentration camps Buchenwald and Dachau and was one of the first journalists to visit Hitler’s private apartment after the fall of Munich. The cast also includes Marion Cotillard, Andrea Riseborough, and Andy Samberg(!). It’s the feature debut of acclaimed cinematographer Ellen Kuras. This is another one that could contend in a lot of categories.
Bradley Cooper is doing everything he can to win an Oscar for this Netflix picture he’s co-writing, directing, producing, and starring in. He’s playing a recognizable musical figure (composer Leonard Bernstein), making himself unrecognizable under layers of prosthetic makeup, writing the script with “Spotlight” Oscar winner Josh Singer, and enlisting Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg to produce it with him. If Cooper and Carey Mulligan, who plays Bernstein’s wife Felicia Montealegre, go home empty-handed, it would be a shock.
Jonathan Majors is already getting major buzz for this Sundance hit. He plays a bodybuilder in mental, physical, and spiritual crisis in this intense drama from writer-director Elijah Bynum. Majors already has a major Marvel role, and adding an Oscar nomination to his resume would show how well-rounded he is. He transformed his body for the role and gives an intensely committed performance.
“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”
Savior of movies Tom Cruise is coming back with another blockbuster this summer. The “Mission: Impossible” franchise types itself every time, so the seventh and penultimate entry in the series will surely be an incredible stunt spectacle. Maybe it will finally get “Mission: Impossible” some Oscar love for Visual Effects and Sound, categories for which the franchise has somehow been consistently overlooked. If Cruise got “Top Gun: Maverick” into the conversation, maybe he can do it again with this one.
Joaquin Phoenix and Ridley Scott reunite for the first time since “Gladiator” for this historical epic in which the past Best Actor winner plays Napoleon Bonaparte. The cast also includes Vanessa Kirby and Tahar Rahim. Scott’s filmography is hit-or-miss when it comes to Academy Awards attention, but if it’s good, his epic film could be in the conversation across many categories, from Best Picture on down.
Christopher Nolan is going for the gold with this epic biopic of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project’s weapons laboratory. Cillian Murphy plays Oppenheimer, leading a gold-plated ensemble cast that also includes Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Florence Pugh, and Kenneth Branagh. It’s slated for release on July 21, and will become the summer’s most downbeat blockbuster before it picks up some Oscar nominations. Nolan’s films always contend in technical categories (“Tenet” won Best Visual Effects), so expect some nominations there even in the extremely unlikely case it doesn’t crack the Big Five categories.
A potential Best Picture contender in the “Nomadland”/”CODA” mold, this A24-distributed Sundance hit stars Greta Lee and Teo Yoo as childhood friends from South Korea who reunite 20 years after one of them moved to America and contemplate other ways their lives could have gone. Writer-director Celine Song makes an assured debut. With the right campaign, this could be a major awards contender.
Director Yorgos Lanthimos and star Emma Stone reunite for this black comedy that’s Lanthimos’ first film since “The Favourite.” Stone plays a woman who drowns herself to escape from her abusive husband, but then her father brings her back to life by replacing her brain with that of her unborn baby. It seems a little too weird and dark for an Oscars film, but “The Favourite” picked up nine Academy Awards nominations and won Best Actress for Olivia Colman, so don’t count this one out, no matter how weird it sounds.
Colman Domingo, who already has an Emmy for his performance on “Euphoria,” gets his much-deserved first major starring film role in this historical biopic from director George C. Wolfe (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”). Domingo plays Bayard Rustin, a gay, Black, socialist civil rights leader who helped organize the March on Washington with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1963. Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”) co-wrote the screenplay.
PREDICT the 2023 Emmy nominees through July 12
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