22 Best Picture contenders for the 2024 Oscars

22 Best Picture contenders for the 2024 Oscars

As awards season shapes up, festival favorites like Poor Things and Priscilla are among the films that could join Barbie and Oppenheimer in the race for gold

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Greta Lee and Teo Yoo in Past Lives; Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer; Emma Stone in Poor Things; Jeffrey Wright in American Fiction
Greta Lee and Teo Yoo in Past Lives; Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer; Emma Stone in Poor Things; Jeffrey Wright in American Fiction
Image: Images courtesy A24, Universal Pictures, Searchlight Pictures, Orion

Now that the big film festivals in Toronto, Telluride and Venice are all wrapped up, it’蝉 time to start getting an early read on race for best picture at the 2024 Academy Awards. The caveat, of course, is that nobody really knows how this year’蝉 awards season will play out, given the ongoing strikes by writers and actors. While this has been a difficult year for the industry, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of worthy films in the mix for this year’蝉 Oscars.

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That includes star-studded summer blockbusters like Barbie and Oppenheimer, indie darlings like Past Lives and Poor Things, and films from acclaimed directors like Sofia Coppola, David Fincher, Michael Mann, and Martin Scorsese. Here’蝉 a rundown, in alphabetical order, as we’re not playing favorites. At least, not until we get a little closer to the awards.

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2 / 24

All Of Us Strangers

All Of Us Strangers

Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal
Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal
Photo: Parisa Taghizadeh/Searchlight Pictures

Director: Andrew Haigh

Cast: Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Claire Foy, and Jamie Bell

Written and directed by British filmmaker Andrew Haigh (Weekend, 45 Years), All Of Us Strangers stars Andrew Scott as a troubled Londoner who starts up a relationship with his mysterious neighbor, played by Paul Mescal. Soon after, he finds himself drawn back to his childhood home, where he’蝉 able to have conversations with his dead parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell). Based on the caliber of talent alone, this dreamy meditation on love and loss should be one to keep an eye on.

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3 / 24

American Fiction

American Fiction

Jeffrey Wright
Jeffrey Wright
Photo: TIFF/Orion Releasing

Director: Cord Jefferson

Cast: Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Sterling K. Brown, Issa Rae, and Adam Brody

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Winning the People’蝉 Choice award at Toronto isn’t a guarantee of a best picture nomination at the Oscars, but based on recent history it’蝉 a pretty safe bet (The Fabelmans, Belfast, Nomadland, and JoJo Rabbit are among the films that have parlayed a Toronto trophy into an Academy Awards invite). This year’蝉 winner, American Fiction, is likely to continue that streak. Jeffrey Wright could also be in the running for best actor for his role as a professor who submits an intentionally exploitative manuscript to prove a point and is forced to deal with the unexpectedly positive response. Cord Jefferson, whose writing credits include Succession, Watchmen, and Station Eleven, adapted the screenplay from Percival Everett’蝉 book Erasure and makes his directing debut here.

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4 / 24

Anatomy Of A Fall

Anatomy Of A Fall

Anatomy of a Fall - Official Trailer

Director: Justine Triet

Cast: Sandra Hüller and Swann Arlaud

Part mystery, part legal drama, Anatomy Of A Fall is generating buzz, particularly for the riveting performance of its lead actress, Sandra Hüller, who plays a famous author put on trial for murder after her husband falls from their attic to his death. Director and co-writer Justine Triet uses the framing of the criminal case to examine a failed marriage (the title works both literally and metaphorically) and the complex personalities at the center of it. We’ve seen films like All Quiet On The Western Front and Parasite nominated in the best picture category in recent years, so it wouldn’t be a shock if the French-language Anatomy Of A Fall, which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, landed there this year as well.

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Barbie

Barbie | Main Trailer

Director: Greta Gerwig

Cast: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrara, Will Ferrell, and Kate McKinnon

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So much has already been said and written about the year’蝉 biggest film, including its Oscar prospects, but we can’t close the book on the story of Barbie until we get through the final chapter—awards season. We already know how popular the film is with audiences, now we’ll see how it’蝉 perceived by the Academy. Is the blockbuster just a populist phenomenon, or is it culturally significant enough to be Oscar worthy? Are the two mutually exclusive? We’ll have to wait and see.

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6 / 24

The Bikeriders

The Bikeriders

The Bikeriders | Official Trailer

Director: Jeff Nicols

Cast: Jodie Comer, Austin Butler, Tom Hardy, Michael Shannon, Mike Faist, and Norman Reedus

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Inspiration can come from anywhere, and in the unusual case of The Bikeriders it comes from Danny Lyon’蝉 photo book of the same name documenting Midwestern motorcycle culture in the late ’60s. Director Jeff Nicols (Loving, Mud) brings that culture to the screen with cool confidence and a big assist from charismatic actors who know how to disappear into their roles. Jodie Comer serves as the audience’蝉 way into the insular world of biker clubs, relating the story of her tumultuous relationship with a reckless gang member, portrayed by Austin Butler.

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7 / 24

The Burial

The Burial

The Burial - Official Trailer | Prime Video

Director: Maggie Betts

Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tommy Lee Jones, Jurnee Smollett, Alan Ruck, and Mamoudou Athie

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Oscar winners Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones join forces in this legal drama based on the true story of unlikely allies fighting a system of capitalistic exploitation. Jones plays the director of a funeral home trying to keep a big corporation from taking away his family business. Foxx plays his hotshot personal injury lawyer, Willie E. Gary, who refuses to accept he’蝉 way in over his head. It’蝉 the kind of David vs. Goliath story the Academy eats up, with a side of racial solidarity thrown in for good measure.

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8 / 24

Evil Does Not Exist?

Evil Does Not Exist?

Ryo Nishikawa
Ryo Nishikawa
Photo: TIFF

Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Cast: Hitoshi Omika and Ryo Nishikawa

Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi follows up his Oscar-nominated Drive My Car with this ecological-themed drama about a father and daughter living in a rural village outside Tokyo and fighting to protect it from encroaching gentrification. Evil Does Not Exist is a very different kind of film for Hamaguchi, but it has Drive My Car-like momentum coming out of Toronto and Venice, where Evil won the Grand Jury Prize, so we may see him in the Oscar conversation once again.

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Ferrari

FERRARI - Official Teaser Trailer - In Theaters Christmas

Director: Michael Mann

Cast: Adam Driver, Penélope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Gabriel Leone

Stylish is one word that might come to mind when you think of Ferrari, in reference to both the car and the film. We wouldn’t expect anything less from Michael Mann, who was nominated for the Academy Award for best director for The Insider. Mann may find himself back in the competition for this Italian-flavored biopic headlined by Adam Driver, whose casting as race car driver-turned-entrepreneur Enzo Ferrari might be a little too on the nose.

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10 / 24

The Holdovers

The Holdovers

THE HOLDOVERS - Official Trailer [HD] - In Select Theaters October 27, Everywhere November 10

Director: Alexander Payne

Cast: Paul Giamatti, Dominic Sessa, Da’Vine Joy Randolph

Paul Giamatti and Alexander Payne made magic together in Sideways, and it seems like the spark is still there in their latest project, The Holdovers. Giamatti stars as an irritable professor at a prestigious New England prep school who stays on as caretaker during winter break, forming an unexpected bond with the single student left behind (Dominic Sessa) and the school’蝉 cook (Da’Vine Joy Randolph). The throwback comedy set a festival record at TIFF in 2022 when Focus Features acquired it for $30 million, and the studio held onto the film for a year in order to find the right timing for distribution (to maximize exposure prior to awards season, no doubt).

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11 / 24

The Killer

The Killer

THE KILLER | Official Teaser Trailer | Netflix

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Michael Fassbender, Arliss Howard, Charles Parnell, and Tilda Swindon

The deceptively simple title may lead you to think The Killer is just another action film about an elite assassin, and while that is certainly part of it, it’蝉 a David Fincher film, so you can reasonably expect some complexity in between all the killing. The film relies heavily on Michael Fassbender’蝉 narration and performance as the cold, precise, unnamed lead character who’蝉 forced to go on the run after uncharacteristically botching a job. Between his steely presence, Fincher’蝉 sleek visual style, Erik Messerschmidt’蝉 stark cinematography, and the driving score by frequent Fincher collaborators Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross there’蝉 plenty for Academy voters to latch onto here.

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12 / 24

Killers Of The Flower Moon

Killers Of The Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon — Official Trailer 2

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, and Jesse Plemons

Martin Scorsese knows how to build suspense, and not just on the screen. His latest film, Killers Of The Flower Moon, has been delayed for so long that anticipation for it had reached epic heights by the time it premiered at Cannes in May. The heat could climb even higher when it finally opens in theaters in October, with an expected streaming premiere on Apple TV+ not long after. The sweeping crime drama set in 1920s Oklahoma stars heavy hitters Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, but the surprise could be Lily Gladstone’蝉 breakthrough performance as an Osage woman who becomes a target for exploitation by greedy white men.

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Lee

Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet
Photo: Sky Cinema

Director: Ellen Kuras

Cast: Kate Winslet, Alexander Skarsg?rd, Andy Samberg, Andrea Riseborough, Josh O’Connor, and Marion Cotillard

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Nearly 15 years after winning her first Oscar for best actress (for The Reader, of all things), Kate Winslet may have a chance to add another statue to her mantle. In the biopic Lee, a passion project which Winslet also produced, she portrays ex-model turned war photographer Lee Miller, who documented the horrors of World War II and even famously took a nude self portrait in Hitler’蝉 bathtub. The film is also a confident directing debut from former cinematographer Ellan Kuras, who worked with Winslet on Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and was hand picked by her for this project.

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Maestro

Maestro | Official Teaser | Netflix

Director: Bradley Cooper

Cast: Bradley Cooper, Carey Mulligan, Matt Bomer, Maya Hawke, and Sarah Silverman

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One of the delights of the Venice Film Festival this year was seeing Leonard Bernstein’蝉 three children conducting along to the closing credits during the standing ovation of Bradley Cooper’蝉 biopic based on their father’蝉 life. It was enough to distance the film from comparisons to last year’蝉 罢á谤 and all that discourse surrounding Bradley Cooper’蝉 prosthetic nose. Since then, most of the talk has centered around the quality of the direction and performances, especially Carey Mulligan’蝉 as Bernstein’蝉 wife, Felicia Montealegre.

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15 / 24

May December

May December

May December | Official Social Tease | Netflix

Director: Todd Haynes

Cast: Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton

Todd Haynes gives Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore plenty of material for their sizzle reels in May December. The two camp it up as a suburban mom struggling to overcome her tabloid-scandal past (Moore) and an ambitious actress preparing to play her in an upcoming movie based on her life (Portman). Haynes juggles elements of melodrama, thriller, and dry satire as only he can, and the result is a potent cocktail that got the attention of critics when it premiered in Cannes back in May and could conceivably sustain the film through awards season.

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Memory

Peter Sarsgaard and Jessica Chastain
Peter Sarsgaard and Jessica Chastain
Photo: Cinetic

Director: Michel Franco

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Peter Sarsgaard, Brooke Timber, Merritt Wever, Elsie Fisher, Jessica Harper, Josh Charles

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Jessica Chastain was one of the few big-name stars on the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival this year after being granted a waiver by SAG-AFTRA to appear in support of Memory, a romantic indie drama from Mexican director Michel Franco (After Lucia). Still, it was her co-star, Peter Sarsgaard, who went home with a trophy for his performance as a man dealing with dementia. Chastain’蝉 character is a social worker and recovering alcoholic who is drawn to him despite not being sure whether he’蝉 connected to a traumatic incident in her past. The film itself also had a strong showing, receiving an eight-minute standing ovation at the premiere, usually a good measure of awards potential.

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17 / 24

Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer | New Trailer

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr., Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, and Florence Pugh

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We’ve already speculated about Oppenheimer’蝉 Oscar prospects, now it’蝉 just a matter of waiting to see how the race shapes up in the coming months and which new releases will be competing against Christopher Nolan’蝉 epic (and its fraternal twin Barbie). The Academy loves a historical biopic, and Oppenheimer feels like it caters specifically to that kind of a prestige audience.

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Origin

ORIGIN - Official Teaser Trailer - Coming Soon

Director: Ava DuVernay

Cast: Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, Jon Bernthal, Vera Farmiga, Audra McDonald, Niecy Nash-Betts, Nick Offerman, and Blair Underwood

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Director Ava DuVernay took an innovative approach to adapting the nonfiction book Caste: The Origins Of Our Discontents for the screen. With actress Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor standing in for the book’蝉 author, Isabel Wilkerson, DuVernay’蝉 latest film, Origin, depicts the process of researching and writing the book, interspersed with anecdotal interludes set in Nazi Germany, the Jim Crow South, and India, illustrating the threads of institutional inequality woven into the fabric of American society. The film is already sparking conversations, some of which has been awards related, among those who got a chance to catch it in Venice and Toronto.

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19 / 24

Past Lives

Past Lives

Past Lives | Official Trailer HD | A24

Director: Celine Song

Cast: Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, and John Magaro

Some award-worthy films peak too early and miss their chance at recognition when it comes time for Oscar nominations, getting lost in the crowd of fall and winter releases. Others, like last year’蝉 best picture winner Everything Everywhere All At Once, are memorable enough to stay on voters’ minds for months after their initial release. Past Lives may have come out in June, but it kept humming along in the background through the summer movie hype. The affecting and emotional story of two kindred souls (Greta Lee and Teo Yoo) separated as children in Korea who reconnect as adults in the U.S. has topped many lists for best films of the year so far, and even with all the awards-focused releases due this fall, that may continue to be the case by the time we close out 2023.

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20 / 24

Poor Things

Poor Things

Poor Things | Official Trailer | Searchlight Pictures

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Cast: Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, Christopher Abbot, Jerrod Carmichael, and Margaret Qualley

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After wowing critics in Telluride and Venice (where it won the Golden Lion), Poor Things is emerging as a frontrunner in this year’蝉 Oscar race. Director Yorgos Lanthimos reunites with Emma Stone after working with her on 2018’蝉 The Favourite, which received nine Oscar nominations, including one for Stone for best supporting actress. Stone may be looking at her second Oscar win in the category of best actress this year (her first was for La La Land) as a woman brought back from the dead in this highly stylized feminist reimagining of Frankenstein.

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21 / 24

Priscilla

Priscilla

Priscilla | Official Teaser HD | A24

Director: Sofia Coppola

Cast: Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi

Last year the Academy embraced Elvis. Now it may be time for Priscilla to take the spotlight. Although there is some obvious overlap, the two films couldn’t be more different. While Baz Luhrmann turned the story of Elvis into a kaleidoscopic fever dream, Sofia Coppola’蝉 take on his lady love is more understated and down to Earth. Which is interesting, considering all the thematic comparisons to Coppola’蝉 2006 film about a woman trapped in a gilded cage, Marie Antoinette, a candy-coated romp that has way more in common visually with Luhrmann’蝉 film than Priscilla does. Star Cailee Spaeny has also been singled out for her performance in the title role.

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Rustin

RUSTIN | Official Teaser Trailer | Netflix

Director: George C. Wolfe

Cast: Colman Domingo, Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Aml Ameen, Johnny Ramey, CCH Pounder, Jeffrey Wright, and Audra McDonald

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Another biopic you’ll likely be hearing a lot about is Rustin, from director George C. Wolfe (Ma Rainey’蝉 Black Bottom). It’蝉 the story of Bayard Rustin, the man behind the historic March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Though Rustin’蝉 organizational skills and dynamic leadership should have made him a powerful figure within the civil rights movement, his identity as a gay man limited his influence. Colman Domingo, who stars as Rustin, has already been identified as an Oscar frontrunner, but the film, which was executive produced by the Obamas, could also secure a slot in the best picture category.

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23 / 24

Woman Of The Hour

Woman Of The Hour

Image for article titled 22 Best Picture contenders for the 2024 Oscars
Photo: Netflix

Director: Anna Kendrick

Cast: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Zovatto, Nicolette Robinson, Tony Hale, and Pete Holmes

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Anna Kendrick takes on double the responsibility as both the star and director of Woman Of The Hour, a thriller based on the true story of a woman who was set up on a date with a serial killer (played by Daviel Zovatto) when they both appeared on the late ’70s game show The Dating Game. Kendrick has garnered praise for her debut behind the camera as a director with an unapologetically feminist point of view working in a genre that so often centers the male gaze. Coming off of a successful premiere at TIFF, the film may prove to be a dark horse worth tracking into awards season.

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