With the award season soon coming along, I think the time is right to take a look at some of the favourites for the biggest awards – the Best Picture and its equivalents. Sure, there will be some differences between the awards, and most likely we’ll have different winners, but this article is simply meant to offer a general overview of the contenders. And here, I’ve organised them from the likeliest to win to the least likely to win – taking into account odds, expert predictions as well as my own subjective take.
As things stand, Oppenheimer is the firm favourite to win Best Picture. It’s definitely a cinematic masterpiece from Christopher Nolan, and a masterclass in acting as well. Plus, in a year that has seen several conflicts around the world, it serves as a cautionary tale. Summer releases traditionally have not done very well at major awards, but the last couple of years – including last year – have broken away from this unwritten rule. Then again, early firm favourites have sometimes gone on to lose the big award, so there’s no certainty that ‘Oppenheimer’ will indeed win big – but it’s by far the likeliest of the bunch at this stage.
If it were up to me, Yorgos Lanthimos would already have a Best Picture win under his belt – naturally, for The Lobster. And while I also regard ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’ and ‘Doogtoth’ as superior to ‘The Favourite’, he did also recently learn a lot about how to make films a bit more markeatable for big awards. Therefore, ‘Poor Things’ is quite well positioned in this regard, and many consider it to be the dark horse for the Best Picture awards. Most likely, it will end up with a Bafta or Golden Globe for Best Picture, and will lose the Oscar to Oppenheimer – but let’s wait and see.
If we completely forget about ‘Downsizing’, then Alexander Payne has rarely put a foot wrong. And I’m very excited to watch his first feature film (again, not counting Downsizing) since 2013’s excellent ‘Nebraska’. The Holdovers has been received very well so far, and while I sort of doubt that a movie centred around Christmas in 1970 would win Best Picture, I certainly hope that it would at least have a fighting chance!
I must say, I’ve been trying to watch ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ for quite a long time. I almost went to the cinema to watch it three times, but every time I was put off by the fact that, considering travel time and waiting for the trailer previews, it would be a 4h 30 min committment. I know it’s a Scorsese film, and almost every opinion I hear about it is positive, and I will be sure to watch it… sometime. I will watch it the very next day if it wins Best Picture, but I doubt it will – I think it will receive the same treatment that ‘The Irishman’ did a few years ago.
It’s been a few years since we’ve had a Korean entry in the Best Picture category, ever since Parasite actually ended up winning in 2020. So, it’s great to have one again, and ‘Past Lives’ is suppsedly a great film, touching upon childhood and coming of age, cultural differences and many other themes. However, romantic dramas haven’t generally excelled at the big awards (and when they did, they were actually awful, such as ‘The Shape of Water’). Thus, the odds are not in Celine Song film’s favour, but again, we’ll have to wait and see.
Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut back in 2018 was the remake of ‘A Star is Born’, and his second film as director this time around is also related to the music world. In ‘Maestro’, he plays the famous conductor Leonard Bernstein, while Carey Mulligan plays his wife, Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein. It’s been on Netflix for a few weeks now, but the rather lukewarm reception pretty much takes it out of contention for the biggest awards. It might end up winning some minor ones, but let’s see what happens.
Finally, I wanted to end this list with a more subjective choice, one that I am pretty sure will not even get too close to winning Best Picture. It might as well triumph in the Best International Feature category, however, given that it’s spoken in German and Polish. Interestingly, it’s a WWII centred drama looking at the life of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höss. More interestingly, it’s directed by Jonathan Glazer, who had made quite an impression on me with its very atmospheric horror ‘Under the Skin’ back in 2013, and since then hadn’t worked on any other feature film.