It’s been a terrific year for movies. While superhero movies took a step back, original stories and animation dominated the box office in 2023. Barbenheimer became a cultural phenomenon as fans stormed the theaters to see Barbie and Oppenheimer. Many renowned directors released films in 2023, including Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, Greta Gerwig, Yorgos Lanthimos, and David Fincher.
With the year coming to a close, awards season is about to kick into high gear. Many critics groups and associations have already handed out awards. The Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards recently announced their nominations. However, the Oscars remain the top awards show for the film community.
While some films are still in theaters, there are Oscar-worthy films available to watch at home. Check out these five 2024 Oscar contenders that you can watch right now.
In 2018, Bradley Cooper proved he could be a serious filmmaker with A Star Is Born. The musical romance grossed over $400 million and received eight Oscar nominations, winning for Best Original Song for “Shallow.” In 2023, Cooper returns to the director’s chair for the second time with his passion project, Maestro, a biopic about composer Leonard Bernstein.
Cooper, who co-wrote the film with Josh Singer, stars as Bernstein, the famous American composer who became one of the most decorated and prestigious musicians ever. While the film depicts seminal moments in Bernstein’s career, Maestro focuses on his relationship with his wife, Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan). Early reviews have praised Cooper and Mulligan for their performances along with Cooper’s direction. Maestro will be nominated for multiple Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Cooper, Best Actress for Mulligan, and Best Makeup and Hair. If there’s one nomination Cooper wants to receive, it’s Best Director, one of the more competitive categories this year.
Stream on Netflix
What was the last good Christmas movie released in theaters? Unfortunately, the answer may be a pair of movies from 2003: Elf and Love Actually. It’s still early, but Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers has a chance to become a Christmas classic. Set in 1970, Paul Giamatti, who reunites with Payne for the first time since 2004’s Sideways, stars as Paul Hunham, an unlikable professor at a New England prep school forced to remain on campus during Christmas break and supervise the "holdover" students, the kids with nowhere to go for the holidays.
During the break, Paul forms an unlikely friendship with Angus (Dominic Sessa), a 15-year-old in danger of expulsion, and Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), the school’s African-American cook who recently lost her son in Vietnam. The Holdovers has been praised for the performances of the three leads, with Giamatti and Randolph expected to receive Oscar nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.
How can you go wrong with a romantic drama from A24 set in New York City that features three great performances, an excellent script, and a bittersweet ending? The film in question is Past Lives, written and directed by Celine Song in her directorial debut. The film follows two childhood sweethearts — Nora Moon (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) — and their evolving relationship over 24 years.
After spending decades apart, Nora and Hae Sung reunite in New York City and spend a few magical days together as they reevaluate their lives and contemplate their future. Past Lives is a beautiful drama about saying goodbye to our younger selves and embracing who we’ve become. Past Lives could be in contention for some nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Lee. However, the film’s best chance of winning an Oscar will come in Original Screenplay for Song.
When Universal released the first teaser trailer for Oppenheimer in July 2022, the footage came with a countdown to the release date and the notice that the “world will forever change.” The trailer was accurate. The world did change because Oppenheimer became a smash hit over the summer.
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who helped create the first atomic bomb during World War II. The film follows Oppenheimer’s complicated life, chronicling his meteoric rise as an American hero to his subsequent downfall and disownment by the government.
Oppenheimer is arguably Nolan’s magnum opus, highlighting his strengths as a brilliant storyteller and technical genius. Oppenheimer will likely be nominated for double-digit Oscars and remains the favorite to win Best Picture.
Killers of the Flower Moon
The world is a better place when Martin Scorsese releases a movie. Four years after The Irishman, Scorsese directed and co-wrote the highly-anticipated Killers of the Flower Moon. Based on the 2017 book by David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon is a story of murder, betrayal, and heartbreak as ruthless crime bosses murder members of the Osage Nation to gain their oil and wealth in 1920s Oklahoma.
At the center of the story is Ernest Burkhart (Leonardo DiCaprio), a war veteran who returns to home to work for his uncle William Hale (Robert De Niro), the central figure behind the murders. Despite being used by his uncle for financial gain, Ernest falls in love with and marries Mollie Burkhart (Lily Gladstone), a member of the Osage Nation who watches her tribe suffer and tries to put an end to the suffering.
Don’t let a three-and-a-half-hour runtime scare you. Killers of the Flower Moon is a masterpiece as Scorsese treats an unspeakable tragedy with care, grace, and respect. Killers of the Flower Moon should garner close to 10 Oscar nominations, with Gladstone being a favorite to win Best Actress.
The “Bar” in Barbenheimer belongs to Barbie. The iconic Mattel character received the live-action treatment in Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig from a screenplay she co-wrote with Noah Baumbach. Margot Robbie stars as Barbie, the tall, blonde, and beautiful doll who lives a perfect life in Barbieland. Barbie lives in harmony with different versions of Barbies and Kens, with the lead Ken (Ryan Gosling) doing everything in his power to win Barbie’s heart.
One day, Barbie experiences an existential crisis, turning her perfect world upside down. To fix her problems, Barbie travels with Ken to the real world, where she discovers the joys and harsh realities of human life.
Barbie is a smart and witty film that has as much laughs as it does heart. Barbie won over audiences around the world as it currently holds the title of the highest-grossing film of 2023 with $1.4 billion. Barbie just set a record with 18 Critics Choice Awards, so it will undoubtedly receive quite a few Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Robbie, Best Supporting Actor for Gosling, and Best Original Screenplay for Gerwig and Baumbach.
Stream on Max
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
In 2018, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse became the first animated film in the Spider-Man franchise. The film centered around Miles Morales (Shameik Moore), a Brooklyn teenager who transforms into Spider-Man after being bitten by a radioactive spider. Into the Spider-Verse was universally praised by critics and won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. This past summer, Miles returned to theaters with the sequel, Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse.
After reuniting with Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Miles is transported into the Multiverse, where he meets hundreds of Spider-People who fight to protect their respective worlds. Led by Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac), these Spider-People form the Spider Society.
When a new enemy threatens the fate of the Multiverse, Miles takes matters into his own hands to do what he feels is right, even if it pits him against the Spider Society. Across the Spider-Verse had a high bar to clear, but it passed with flying colors. Thanks to a heartfelt story and dazzling visuals, Across the Spider-Verse is the favorite to win Best Animated Feature and has a legitimate chance at a Best Picture nomination.
Stream on Netflix
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Dan is a talented content creator who specializes in pop culture, entertainment, and sports. His entertainment interviews have been featured on Digital Trends, where he has spoken with various actors and entertainers, including Brendan Fraser, Alison Brie, and James Cameron. Additionally, Dan is a sportswriter with The Sports Daily, breaking down the top news in the NFL and NBA while providing picks and predictions for each league. Other bylines include ComingSoon.net, Unafraid Show, Fansided, and WatchMojo. When he’s not working, Dan enjoys rooting for his favorite New York sports teams and watching the latest movie from Christopher Nolan or Martin Scorsese.