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Why You Should See These Five Movies This Awards Season (2024)


Every fall lists upon lists upon lists come out trying to predict what movies will be the biggest award contenders of the season. Every year it is an almost impossible question to answer all over again. And despite the historic writers and actors strike that was finally resolved in December, this year creators provided us again with many titles, actors and scripts with great potential to land the big prizes. Some have even already proven their prowess by picking up some major festival awards along the way.

It is at these major film festivals – most recently at the Toronto International Film Festival – where I put on my cinema-sleuth-goggles and go under. Because, there I try to watch as many movies as I possibly can (37 is my current record!) to discover trends, new talent and the movies that can go the distance to the end of the season in March. All so I can, now here, present you with the five must-watch movies of the season: the ones that certainly come with several nominations. Plus one with wild card potential.

Past Lives

Director: Celine Song

Cast: Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro and others

In Past Lives two childhood friends are torn apart when one of their families emigrates from South Korea. Twenty years later Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) are reunited for one week where they get to confront notions of love and destiny. This relatively small A24 movie has, since its release in January at Sundance, been heralded as one of the best of the year, making Past Lives one not to miss. Audiences’ passion has since been able to sustain the most important thing for awards campaigns: buzz. Though Past Lives is not mentioned in every prediction list, last year’s big winner, Everything Everywhere All at Once, proved longevity and word of mouth are some of the most important ingredients–and this one has both. It would surprise me if Past Lives doesn’t get at least two nominations in major categories.

Poor Things

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Cast: Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe and others

Emma Stone is Bella Baxter, a woman who is brought back to life by scientist Ramy Youssef (Dafoe) with the use of the brain of her unborn child. In a sort of feminist Frankenstein film, “no shame” is lifted to a whole new level and probably the reason it has divided audiences. Red cheeks and horrid shrieks galore. But after winning the Golden Lion in Venice and leaving audiences and critics in Telluride in awe of the production, Poor Things is on track to be one of those not-to-be-ignored movies. Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Actress are definitely on the table.

Killers of the Flower Moon

Director: Martin Scorsese

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Lily Gladstone, Robert De Niro and others

Whenever Scorsese teams up with DiCaprio and De Niro, consider everyone’s interest piqued. This combo alone makes Oscar potential a given, but definitely don’t sleep on Lily Gladstone. It is actually the Native American actress that has everybody talking about bringing in Oscar gold. Killers of the Flower Moon is set in 1920s Oklahoma, when oil is discovered under Osage Nation land. One by one their people are getting murdered, until the FBI steps in to unravel the mystery. The film is an interesting watch, especially knowing Scorsese hired many people from the Osage Nation to contribute and represent, from cultural and language consultants to wardrobe advisors, Osage cooks and actors to play opposite some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. If you’re still not really interested, it might be the Osages’ politically correct–and sometimes coy–ways of answering red carpet questions that should make you want to see Killers of the Flower Moon. Do they actually like the end product and feel represented?

The Zone of Interest

Director: Jonathan Glazernnn

Cast: Christian Fiedel, Sandra Hüller and others

Disclaimer: The Zone of Interest is a hard one to swallow. But if you don’t do it, you’ll miss out on some life-changing historical context, knowledge and empathy. In The Zone of Interest two people try to build their dream life, with their family, just feet away from a concentration camp. And I won’t give away more than that, because I don’t want you to go in biased. The movie will leave you speechless and you’ll have to remind yourself: this actually happened. The Zone of Interest already won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in May and is expected to be a front-runner for nominations in the Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress and International Feature Film Oscar categories. 

American Fiction  

Director: Cord Jefferson

Cast: Jeffrey Wright, Skyler Wright, Issa Rae and others

Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Wright) is an author with a bone to pick. His latest publication didn’t perform as hoped while a book with the title We’s Lives in Da Ghetto from newcomer Sintara Golden is becoming a bestseller. He takes his revenge on the literary world the only way he knows how: by jokingly writing a book with what he deems the worst and most exploited clichés of Black representation. It, of course, becomes a huge success. And with that the movie shines a satirical light on racism and representation. Which could make some think: enough with the woke-ness, but American Fiction is much more than that and also just a lot of fun. It moved the audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival so much they awarded it the prestigious People’s Choice Award. In the last 15 years, 14 of the winners of that award scored a Best Picture nomination at the following Oscars. So, this movie has some serious wildcard potential.


Images source: IMDB

January 31, 2024


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