When The Dark Knight missed out on a Best Picture nomination, it sure seemed like The Academy panicked. Expanding the category to ten nominees was clearly meant to open the door for bigger films to crack the lineup. We saw things like Avatar, District 9, Inception, Toy Story 3, and Up get in. Then, when it became a sliding scale of Oscar nominees in Best Picture, Arrival, Black Panther, Gravity, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Martian were cited. So, Academy members seem to have, at least to a mild degree, embraced some mainstream entertainment. This year? They may have a tougher time. As I updated my predictions here at the end of June, that was on my mind…
The contenders so far this year that fit the blockbuster category have not set themselves up to even sniff Best Picture. Elemental, The Flash, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, they’ve all debuted, with the exception of the James Gunn helmed Marvel sequel, to underwhelming reception, more or less eliminating them from above the line Oscar contention. The same goes for more of a long shot like The Little Mermaid (don’t even get me started on Fast X). Of this sort of lot, the best positioned is Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, but until it rakes in major precursor love, that has to seem more like wishful thinking. It puts a lot of pressure on a trio still to come in Barbie, Dune: Part Two, and Oppenheimer. If it’s not them, it probably will be none, especially since Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One isn’t going to do for Tom Cruise what Top Gun: Maverick did last year.
Last year, we had more than our usual share of huge films competing in Best Picture. Avatar: The Way of Water and the aforementioned Top Gun: Maverick were certified blockbusters, while Elvis made a bunch of money. We also had Black Panther: Wakanda Forever an eyelash away from cracking the lineup, with another moneymaker in The Batman competing for major nominations. A year prior, Dune was there, so one could be forgiven for thinking that there’s almost a slot now for these kind of flicks. Maybe it’s Dune: Part Two that gets a spot? Perhaps Oppenheimer plays more like a blockbuster than a biopic? Could Barbie do it? We shall see, but so far, the contenders of this ilk have fallen short.
Even without most of these blockbusters, there’s still plenty of contenders. There’s obviously the ones I’ve listed in my predictions, but the thing is…there’s so much that we don’t know yet. So, while it’s fun to get excited about early year releases or a ton of blockbusters crashing the party, we’ll almost assuredly love some great nominees. We’re just not there yet.
Remember, it’s still early. My prior predictions article (found here) from right after the Cannes Film Festival may look similar to this new one, but that’s the nature of the beast right now. I’m remaining very conservative, though still trying to tell a story with my nominees. That certainly can change, in terms of being conservative, but it won’t be for a bit, since nothing concrete, Oscar-wise, usually happens in the summer. This article mostly proves that point, too.
As always, you can see my newest crack at advance Oscar predictions here at Awards Radar. We shall see, but this list is sure to change once again when I give it another update, likely in a month or so. Until then, the usual suspects from the initial ranking still loom fairly large, give or take the little movements here and there…
Stay tuned for an update to these Oscar predictions as the summer continues!