2025 Oscar predictions: 20 incredibly early contenders to know for next year

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With the 2024 Oscars in the rearview mirror, it’s time to start looking toward 2025. It’s early, but not too early to start making predictions about what movies might contend for the Oscars next year.

The 97th Academy Awards may wind up dominated by an unusual number of blockbuster sequels to films that won big previously. There are also some period pieces, some comeback vehicles, and some movies that were featured on last year’s list that got held back for this year.  

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Here are 20 films to know for the 2025 Oscars. Some of them are locks, some of them are long shots, and all of them are worth keeping an eye on throughout 2024 as their Academy Awards chances rise and fall. 

A Real Pain

One of three films on this list that have screened publicly as of publication time, road dramedy “A Real Pain” was the buzziest title out of Sundance this year. Writer-director Jesse Eisenberg and Kieran Culkin play cousins traveling through Poland in honor of their grandmother. Eisenberg could factor into the Best Original Screenplay race, while Culkin is already being positioned by some as an early Best Supporting Actor favorite. 

“The Apprentice” 

This drama about Donald Trump’s relationship with the infamous attorney Roy Cohn during the early years of Trump’s business career is likely to premiere at Cannes. Until then, it will be hard to say for sure whether or not awards voters will cotton to this politically provocative movie in an election year. But Jeremy Strong as Roy Cohn is a combination of actor and role that’s designed to compete for awards, so consider him a Best Supporting Actor frontrunner. And prior Best Supporting Actress nominee Maria Bakalova could get the nod again for her performance as Ivana Trump. (We’re not seeing it happen for Sebastian Stan as Donald Trump, though.)


There isn’t much information on what “Bird” is about publicly available right now. But we do know it’s an A24 drama starring man of the moment Barry Keoghan in his first solo headlining role, and it’s directed by due-for-a-nomination filmmaker Andrea Arnold, and that’s enough for it to make this list. 


As of right now, “Blitz” is the frontrunner in many of the major categories, including Best Picture, Best Director (Steve McQueen), and Best Actress (Saoirse Ronan). It’s a historical drama about British people keeping calm and carrying on during the Blitz of London during World War II. McQueen is an Oscar winner for “12 Years a Slave” (he lost Best Director but won his Oscar as a producer of the film), and Ronan is a four-time Best Actress nominee looking for her first win.


Director Edward Berger’s follow-up to “All Quiet on the Western Front” is a juicy thriller about succession and palace intrigue, starring Ralph Fiennes as a cardinal leading the process of picking the next church leader after the Pope’s death. Focus Features has scheduled this one for November, indicating that it will be getting an award-season push. Fiennes hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar since “The English Patient” and has never won, so he might be the beneficiary of a “he’s due” narrative. Former Oscar nominees Stanley Tucci and John Lithgow are among the film’s co-stars.

Dune: Part Two

The first “Dune” dominated below-the-line categories in 2022, winning six Academy Awards including Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, and Best Sound, and it will again be a frontrunner in many of the 10 categories for which it was nominated then. But the sequel will face stiffer competition in the form of “Furiosa” and “Gladiator 2,” so we’ll see if it wins as many Oscars as its predecessor, and if any of its actors manage to snag nominations (if anyone does, it’ll be Austin Butler). 

“Flint Strong”

Boxing dramas historically perform well at the Academy Awards (“Rocky,” “Raging Bull,” “Million Dollar Baby,” etc.), and this one comes with some interesting hooks. It’s the feature debut of Oscar-nominated “Mudbound” cinematographer Rachel Morrison and has a screenplay by “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins. It’s based on an inspiring documentary called “T-Rex,” about Olympic gold medal winner Claressa “T-Rex” Shields as she trains for the 2012 Olympics. Ryan Destiny is poised for a breakout as Shields, and “Causeway” nominee Brian Tyree Henry will be back in the Best Supporting Actor conversation for his performance as Shields’ coach Jason Crutchfield. 

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

“Mad Max: Fury Road” won six technical Oscars in 2016 (and should have won Best Picture; sorry, “Spotlight,” you’re great, but it’s true). Will its prequel “Furiosa” capture guzzoline in a bottle again? Warner Bros. also has blockbuster contenders “Dune: Part Two” and “Joker: Folie à Deux,” so there might not be resources to give “Furiosa” a big push. It will probably pick up a lot of below-the-line nominations regardless.

Gladiator 2

This one really could go either way. “Gladiator” is a beloved Best Picture winner, but Ridley Scott has not made a movie that’s won any Academy Awards since 2001’s “Black Hawk Down.” “Napoleon” seemed like Oscar bait, but then people saw it. That being said, bet against Denzel Washington (and costume designer Janty Yates) at your own risk. Paul Mescal, a Best Actor nominee for “Aftersun,” leads the film this time around; for the original, Russell Crowe won Best Actor.

Inside Out 2

The original “Inside Out” is one of Pixar’s best. It won Best Animated Feature in 2016 and as of now is the most recent Pixar film to score a Best Original Screenplay nomination. The sequel is a lock for a Best Animated Feature nomination, and we’ll see if it manages Screenplay again. 

Joker: Folie à Deux

Joaquin Phoenix returns to the role that won him an Oscar in 2020. If it’s anything like the first “Joker,” it will compete in above-the-line and below-the-line categories. It could even break the original’s record for most nominations for a comic book movie, thanks to Best Actress contender Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn and whatever original songs Gaga and Hildur Guðnadóttir come up with. 


Angelina Jolie is set to make her awards season comeback with this biopic of opera singer Maria Callas from Pablo Larraín, who has directed Natalie Portman (“Jackie”) and Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”) to Best Actress nominations. Jolie and Larraín are both looking for their first win in that category, and there’s perhaps no better path to Oscar gold than by playing a legendary musician with a tragic life story.  


Francis Ford Coppola’s self-financed sci-fi epic is the biggest wild card of next year’s award season. It could be the magnum opus of one of cinema’s greatest directors after many years in the wilderness, or it could be a fiasco. Either way, it will be fascinating to see it unfold. If it works, this could compete in numerous categories, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Adam Driver), Best Actress (Nathalie Emmanuel), and of course Best Director. 


The latest from director Paolo Sorrentino is an early frontrunner for Best International Feature. Sorrentino is a two-time Best Foreign Language Film nominee and one-time winner (for “The Great Beauty” in 2014), and he’ll be in the mix again for this decades-spanning drama set in his hometown of Naples. And based on these gorgeous black-and-white first-look photos, it will be a contender for Best Cinematography, too.  

“The Piano Lesson”

This drama based on the 1987 play by legendary playwright August Wilson could contend in acting categories, especially in supporting categories for Samuel L. Jackson and Danielle Deadwyler, who earned praise for their performances in the 2022 Broadway revival. It’s a family affair, as Denzel Washington produces, his son Malcolm directs, and his other son John David stars.  


Daniel Craig has never been nominated for an Oscar. He’s trying to change that with this Luca Guadagnino-directed adaptation of a novel by William S. Burroughs. Craig plays an American in 1940s Mexico City who falls in love with a much younger, drug-addicted Navy veteran (“Outer Banks” star Drew Starkey, who could be this year’s Charles Melton). It could also compete in Best Supporting Actress (Lesley Manville) and Best Costume Design (superstar fashion designer Jonathan Anderson). 

“Sing Sing”

Colman Domingo is following up his Oscar-nominated performance in “Rustin” with a movie that’s even more likely to win him Best Actor. In this TIFF breakout, Domingo plays an inmate who participates in a healing original theatrical production inside the titular New York prison. “The Sound of Metal” nominee Paul Raci co-stars, along with several formerly incarcerated people.


Yet another sequel to a blockbuster that competed for below-the-line Oscars when it came out. “Twister” was nominated for Best Sound and Best Visual Effects, losing to “The English Patient” and “Independence Day,” respectively. “Twisters” could very well earn nominations in the same categories, where it will likely lose to “Dune: Part Two.” 


Director Jon M. Chu’s adaptation of the beloved musical will be the most talked about movie of the fall, and it will likely turn some of that buzz into Oscar nominations. We could see it getting nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and maybe even Best Actress for Cynthia Erivo. It’s going to compete for the Golden Globe for Musical or Comedy, that’s for sure. 

“The Wild Robot”

“Inside Out 2” has name recognition, but don’t sleep on DreamWorks’ “The Wild Robot” in the Best Animated Feature category. The sci-fi adventure is basically “Cast Away” with a robot as Tom Hanks and a bunch of cute creatures as Wilson, which is a winner of an idea, and comes from director Chris Sanders, a proven hitmaker who previously made “Lilo & Stitch” and “How to Train Your Dragon.” 

PREDICT the 2024 Emmy nominees through July 17

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