10 Academy Award Contenders from 2023 That You Can Already Watch
The 2024 Oscars telecast may still be 10 months away, on Sunday, March 10, 2024, but that certainly doesn't stop Hollywood from thinking about the prestigious awards. And especially since last year's eventual Best Picture winner Everything Everywhere All At Once premiered in March, film lovers are looking around asking themselves, "Is this year's Academy Awards darling already out?"
Every film released theatrically between Jan. 1, 2023 and Dec. 31, 2023 is eligible for a little gold man. Plenty of contenders have already emerged and predictions are being made. Massive blockbusters are in the hunt for Sound and Visual Effects Oscars, indie documentaries are hoping to slowly gain momentum and actors are already schmoozing voters and building buzz. Nominations morning will be here before you know it!
To aid you in choosing which movies to watch and keep you up-to-date on the Oscar race, here's a list of all the films released to date (April 27, 2023) that have some Oscar buzz.
I'll be updating this post as we progress through the season.
The 2023 Oscar Movie Contenders are:
What it's about: The Nike executives who came up with the idea for Air Jordan sneakers and then convinced Michael Jordan (and his mom) to sign on to one of the most lucrative sports endorsement deals of all time.
Why it has buzz: Not only has the film done well in the box office and with critics (it has a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes), but it's also from the Matt Damon/Ben Affleck dream team who have seven nominations and three wins between them.
Potential nominations: Air could be the "dad movie" contender of 2023 scooping up a slot in the Best Picture lineup (previously occupied by the likes of Top Gun, King Richard and Ford v. Ferrari). Viola Davis, an Oscar favorite, could also sneak into the Best Supporting Actress race for a couple of excellent scenes as Michael Jordan's mom. Original Screenplay and Film Editing are also within reach.
Related: Everything to Know about Air
2. Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
What it's about: Ant-Man and his family get sucked into the quantum realm (aka they shrink real small) and then do battle against an evil guy named Kang.
Why it has buzz: MCU films have racked up 26 Oscar nominations since its debut in 2009, and have only been snubbed twice in years they were eligible. It's likely that at least one MCU film gets nominated for an Oscar this year, and it could be this one.
Potential nominations: Most of the MCU's Oscar nominations have come in the Best Visual Effects category, so if this shows up on nomination morning, it will most likely be in that category.
3. Beau Is Afraid
What it's about: A chaotically epic fever dream about a middle aged man who traverses many bizarre and somewhat magical encounters on a journey to his mother's funeral.
Why it has buzz: It's a bombastic, beautifully shot feature from Ari Aster, whose Hereditary and Midsommar received unanimously rave reviews despite missing out at the Oscars. This could be the Academy's chance to reward Aster, and even though the film is polarizing, it has done extremely well with critics. Plus, it's got top notch acting talent including Joaquin Phoenix and Patti LuPone.
Potential nominations: The most tantalizing nomination is Patti LuPone for Best Supporting Actress. She has several tremendous scenes, and despite having won three Tonys, two Grammys, and been nominated for two Emmys, she's never entered the Oscar race. Joaquin Phoenix will also be in the conversation for Best Actor. The crafts here are also breathtaking so nominations for Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, Screenplay, Score and Editing are all up for grabs. If this film doesn't get a nomination for Best Production Design, I will send a roving hoard of vagrants to the Academy Museum to write graffiti on the walls.
What it's about: A biopic about a Black French violinist and composer who was BFFs with Marie Antoinette and rivals with Mozart.
Why it has buzz: The Oscars love a period piece. They love a biopic. And they love powdered wigs.
Potential nominations: The main play here would be Costume Design and/or Makeup and Hairstyling. The film has gotten middling reviews, so it would be hard for it to sneak into the bigger categories, but it looks expensive. If it's a week Best Actor year, you could also see Kelvin Harrison Jr. sneak in, as he's been turning out consistently good work for several years.
Related: The Complete List of 2023 Oscar Winners
5. Creed III
What it's about: Another Rocky/Creed movie where our hero, Adonis Creed, faces off against a new opponent while also sparring with some demons of his own.
Why it has buzz: The Rocky/Creed franchise has scooped up a number of Oscar wins and nominations over the years so you can never count it out. It's also got a 89% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Potential nominations: Michael B. Jordan is one of those beloved actors who feels overdue for an Oscar nomination. While I'm not sure he'll get in for either Best Actor or Best Director here, it could bolster his chances if he's got a strong performance in a fall film. The soundtrack is also top notch, so I could see a Best Original Song nomination. I would have said Jonathan Majors for Best Supporting Actor, but with the assault litigation, that now seems unlikely.
6. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
What it's about: A live action rendering of the famed role-play game with a posse of explorers tackling an epic mission in a magical land.
Why it has buzz: It was a surprise hit with the critics and at the box office, and a few of those sneak into the Oscars every year.
Potential nominations: Best Visual Effects seems like the safest bet as there are a lot of magical creatures and such in the film. Costume Design and Sound could also happen if the Academy really loves this one.
7. Little Richard: I Am Everything
What it's about: It's a documentary about Little Richard where you learn that "Tutti Frutti" was originally written about anal sex and they changed the lyrics from "Tutti frutti Good Booty" to the cleaner "Tutti frutti, oh rootie."
Why it has buzz: It's a well made documentary about a very interesting subject that brings some new information to light.
Potential nominations: Unfortunately, documentaries have a hard time breaking out of their category so probably just Best Documentary Feature.
8. Showing Up
What it's about: A group of Pacific northwest artists are making art and putting on gallery exhibitions.
Why it has buzz: Two of last year's acting nominees, Michelle Williams and Hong Chau, deliver fantastic performances in this indie darling thats received strong reviews on the festival circuit.
Potential nominations: This feels like an acting play. Best Actress for Williams and Best Supporting Actress for Chau. If it's in the conversation enough, perhaps a Best Original Screenplay nomination.
9. The Super Mario Bros. Movie
What it's about: Mario, Luigi, and Peach are out to save the world from the evil dragon Bowser.
Why it has buzz: It was the first film of the year to earn a billion dollars internationally, and that sets it as the frontrunner in the usually sparse field of Best Animated Feature.
Potential nominations: Best Animated Feature would be the nom to get here.
10. 80 For Brady
What it's about: Four senior citizens obsessed with the New England Patriots go to the Super Bowl and help Tom Brady win.
Why it has buzz: There is an original song from 14-time nominee Diane Warren, who has never won in the category. Warren has been nominated eight of the last nine years, and the music branch seems intent on nominating her over and over until the Academy finally decides to give her the win. She's been nominated for worse songs and worse movies.
Potential nominations: Best Original Song for "Gonna Be You." Plus the song is sung by Dolly Parton, Belinda Carlisle, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan and Debbie Harry. So who doesn't want to see that performance live on the Oscar telecast?
Next, Read Everything We Know About the 2024 Oscars