It’s one of the most anticipated events in the film industry and Oscars 2024 promises plenty of action. Taking place on 10 March, the 96th Academy Awards will see big-hitting blockbusters such as Oppenheimer, Poor Things and Killers of the Flower Moon going head to head with smaller indies including Past Lives and The Zone of Interest. Here are the key Oscar contenders you can (mostly) watch at home. All you need is popcorn.
Oscars 2024 Nominated Films
Christopher Nolan’s epic, three-hour-plus biographical thriller has a whopping 13 nominations (just shy of the all-time record of 14) this Oscars 2024, including the big hitters Best Motion Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. But then again, the film has been one of the most talked about of the year since its release last July (and not just because it came out on the same day as Barbie).
Cillian Murphy (up for Best Actor) plays the gaunt, fedora-wearing American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who was appointed to work on the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II, and subsequently played a significant role in the development of the atomic bomb. Beautifully acted and critically-acclaimed, the biopic has grossed more than $950million worldwide. The film also stars Robert Downey Jr. – who is in the running for Best Supporting Actor – and Emily Blunt, nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
Available to watch on Amazon Prime
Yorgos Lanthimos’s wonderfully bizarre and eccentric Poor Things has always been predicted as a major contender in awards season and indeed it is, with two Golden Globes (beating Barbie), a clutch of BAFTA nominations and now 11 Oscars nominations. Based on Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel of the same name, the film is set in steampunk-styled Victorian era London and tells the story of Bella Baxter (played by Emma Stone, who is up for Best Actress Oscar, her fourth nomination), a woman who is brought back from the dead by a madcap scientist (Willem Dafoe).
As her brain develops, she is whisked off on a world tour by the dashing but debauched lawyer Duncan Wedderburn (Mark Ruffalo, nominated for Best Supporting Actor) where she tries to make sense of life, despite all its twists and turns. Lanthimos is nominated for Best Director and the film is in the running for Best Motion Picture.
Currently in cinemas
Celine Song’s beautifully understated yet emotionally charged Past Lives – which is vying for the Best Motion Picture and Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars 2024 – follows two childhood friends over the course of 24 years. Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) are good friends – their connection deepening as they walk back from school together – but this bond is suddenly ripped apart when Nora’s family emigrate from South Korea to first Canada, then New York.
Both go their separate ways and two decades later, we find Hae still living in Korea, while Nora is a well-known playwright and happily married. Though they’ve kept in touch, when Hae visits Nora in New York for a week, the emotional floodgates are opened, as both are forced to confront notions of destiny and love. Arm yourself with tissues.
Killers of the Flower Moon
It’s all about the number ten at the Oscars 2024 for Martin Scorsese and his film Killers of the Flower Moon. The film has received ten Academy Award nominations, including Scorsese’s tenth nomination in the Best Director category – the most of anyone alive. It’s little wonder, his film is a truly epic Western crime drama. Based on the 2017 non-fiction book by David Gann, it tells the heart wrenching story of the Osage murders in 1920s Oklahama, which were fuelled by greed and saw members and relations in the Osage Nation killed after oil was discovered on tribal land.
Robert De Niro also stars (indeed, this is the tenth time the legendary film actor – who is nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar – has worked with the director), as does Lily Gladstone who is the first Native American nominated for Best Actress. The film, which has grossed millions at the box office and been nominated for awards ad infinitum, is also in the running for Best Motion Picture.
It’s 1970 and a no-nonsense (read: strict and cranky) classics teacher by the name of Paul Hunham, who works at a remote New England prep school, remains on campus during the Christmas break to supervise a handful of students with nowhere to go. After only a few days, only one of his charges remains – the trouble-making but equally brilliant and bright Angus (played by screen newcomer Dominic Sessa).
Paul Giamatti is excellent in the role of Hunham – so brilliant in fact he is in the running for a Best Actor Oscar. The duo befriends cafeteria administrator Mary, an African American woman who caters to sons of privilege and whose own son was recently lost in Vietnam. She is portrayed by actress Da’Vine Joy Randolph who is up for Best Supporting Actress, with Best Original Screenplay and Best Achievement in Film Editing taking The Holdovers Oscar nominations to five.
Available to rent on Amazon Prime
Bradley Cooper directs and stars in this moving film about Leonard Bernstein. Cooper’s performance as the legendary conductor, composer and pianist has been widely acclaimed, and has seen the actor nominated for every award going this season, including the Best Actor Oscar. Rather than being a straight biopic, the film centres on Bernstein’s extraordinary – and at times complex – 30-year relationship with his wife, the Chilean-American actress Felicia Montealegre, portrayed by Carey Mulligan, who is in the running for a Best Actress award.
The film has been nominated for a further five Oscars, including Best Motion Picture. “It’s not a biopic, strictly speaking, it doesn’t tell the story of Leonard Bernstein from birth to death. It’s not that kind of a film at all,” Bernstein’s son Jamie said of the film, one of three children the maestro had with Felicia. “It’s a portrait of our parent’s marriage so it’s about something very specific and very personal for us.”
Available to watch on Netflix
Anatomy of a Fall
Cannes Palme d’Or winner Anatomy of a Fall is well and truly on a winning streak. The film already has 62 awards under its belt including Césars, Golden Globes and a Critics Choice Award – and, now it looks set to add more to its collection, with five Oscar nominations. The film – written and directed by Justine Triet – is a gripping story about a German novelist called Sandra whose husband is found dead in the snow at the foot of their isolated chalet in Grenoble. Accused of killing him, Sandra must defend herself, facing public scrutiny about her life, her relationship, everything. The main witness? Their partially-sighted son Daniel, whose loyalties are tested to the extreme.
The French courtroom drama is up for Best Motion Picture, while Sandra Hüller (who also stars in another Oscars contender The Zone of Interest) has a Best Actress nomination for her gripping performance as Sandra (confusingly, she and her character share the same name). Triet is only the eighth woman to ever earn a Best Director nomination; she’s also up for Best Original Screenplay, while the film is shortlisted for Best Editing too.
Two acting greats star in Nyad – Annette Bening and Jodie Foster – so it’s little surprise that both are up for an Oscar this year. Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi’s spellbinding film recounts the remarkable true story of athlete and marathon swimmer Diana Nyad (played by Bening, who has scored a Best Actress nomination, her fourth) who, at the age of 60 years old, decides to fulfil her lifelong (and near-on impossible) dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida across more than 100 miles of open ocean.
Nyad is helped by her best friend and coach Bonnie Stoll, who guides the swimmer – along with a sailing team – on her extraordinary four-year journey to become the first person to complete the swim without the help of a shark cage. Foster’s performance as Stoll has seen her garner a nomination for Best Supporting Actress, her first nod from the Academy for almost 30 years. Rhys Ifans also stars in this story of tenacity, friendship and triumph over adversity.
Available to watch on Netflix
The Zone of Interest
Jonathan Glazer has scored five Oscar nominations for his haunting film, the German- and Polish-language feature The Zone of Interest, which he wrote and directed loosely based on the novel by Martin Amis. It is set in 1943 and stars Christian Friedel as Nazi Auschwitz commander Rudolph Höss, who strives to build an idyllic home life with his wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller) and children, separated only by a wall from the horrors that are taking place in the concentration camp next door.
As Höss climbs up the career ladder, his family continues to remain blissfully unaware of the utter atrocities of the holocaust just next door and indeed, the role that Höss is playing in one of the darkest chapters in human history. The powerful acting and storytelling have resulted in nominations for Best Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Sound and Best International Feature Film, the UK’s first appearance in the category in 24 years.
Available to stream soon
Cord Jefferson’s comedy-drama has scored five nominations at the Oscars 2024 including Best Motion Picture, Best Actor for Jeffrey Wright and Best supporting Actor for Sterling K. Brown. Not bad for his feature directorial debut. The film is based on the 2001 book Erasure, by Percival Everett, and sees Wright star as Monk, a novelist who is fed up with “Black” entertainment being stereotypical and relying on offensive tropes. So he decides to write an outlandish ‘Black’ book of his own as satire. But what he doesn’t expect is the high sales and even higher praise, propelling him into the world of hypocrisy of which he was so disdainful.
First premiering at the Toronto Film Festival last September, and with an initial limited theatrical release, American Fiction has quickly met with widespread acclaim and multiple accolades – can Jefferson add an Oscar to his growing number of awards? We’ll just have to wait until 10 March.
Available to rent on Amazon Prime
Who would have thought a plastic doll, not much more than 11.5 inches tall, would be 2023’s biggest movie star? But then again, anything that involved Greta Gerwig as director and starred Margot Robbie was always going to be a smash hit. Though Gerwig and Robbie themselves missed out on nominations, the Oscars 2024 is still likely to be a vision in pink. The fantasy-comedy is up for Best Motion Picture and a further seven awards including two best-song candidates in What Was I Made For by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, and Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt’s I’m Just Ken.
The film tells the story of the eponymous Mattel doll (Robbie), who has an existential crisis and embarks on a voyage of self-discovery through Barbieland and the big wide world beyond. Ryan Gosling who plays Ken is up for Best Supporting Actor, with a cast that also includes America Ferrera, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Will Ferrell, Nicola Coughlin, Issa Rae and Kate McKinnon – and some rather more unexpected cameos, including Dua Lipa’s Mermaid Barbie and Rob Brydon as Sugar Daddy Ken.
Available to watch on Amazon Prime