Awards Update: The Eye of the Awards Season Hurricane
October 26, 2023
Welcome to an ongoing series where I cover the 2023/2024 awards season. On a regular basis, I will update my Oscar predictions, taking into account the new information that has been received since the last update. Full predictions in every category can be found on the Home and Awards page.
We’re at a fascinating lull in the awards season, past all the fall festival premieres and before the onslaught of precursor nominations. Of course, we still had the Gotham Awards nominations Tuesday morning. Always the first precursors of the year, the Gothams don’t possess much influence over the trajectory of the race, but they still provide a nice opportunity for several smaller contenders to let their voices be heard. Both Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once) and Troy Kotsur (CODA) effectively started their Oscar-winning campaigns at the Gothams.
The organization decided to do away with its $35 million budgetary cap this year, opening up the field to any movie that wishes to submit itself for consideration. Fortunately, several blockbusters (Killers of the Flower Moon, Oppenheimer, The Color Purple, Napoleon) chose not to put their hat in the ring. Ryan Gosling (Barbie) and Penélope Cruz (Ferrari) were the only two nominees from tentpole productions.
Leading the nomination totals was Andrew Haigh’s All of Us Strangers, followed closely by Past Lives and A Thousand and One. All of Us Strangers and Past Lives are decent contenders in their respective screenplay categories when it comes to the Oscars, so this should further solidify their status. It’s hard to glean anything else out of these nominees because the Gothams have their unique tastes and nominating processes, which can be illustrated by Reality being nominated for Best Feature and nothing else.
One thing that can be said is that Cord Jefferson’s American Fiction is proving that its victory at TIFF was no fluke. Jeffrey Wright picked up a nomination at the Gothams and the film won the Audience Award at the Middleburg Film Festival. I have it currently on the outside looking in, but I’ll be quick to add it to Best Picture and Best Lead Actor once more precursors occur.
We’re also getting to the point in the season where many of these awards contenders are beginning their theatrical rollouts. A film’s box office haul doesn’t make or break its awards chances, but it certainly is one of the major variables. The Oscars are a game of expectations and perception, and a film that makes a lot of money is seen as a deserving winner that should be rallied around, while a box office bomb is left with an odor of failure. Last year was a prime example of both ends of the spectrum. Everything Everywhere All at Once and Top Gun: Maverick had their awards narratives drastically strengthened after their theatrical rollouts, while other contenders like Till, She Said, Armageddon Time, and The Fabelmans had their legs cut out from under them. Again, the box office is only one piece of the puzzle, so don’t treat it as causation.
Killers of the Flower Moon had a good, but not great, haul this past weekend. A lot was working against the film between Taylor Swift and the 206-minute, so a decent chunk of change was all that was needed to stave off any injuries that might have stagnated awards chances. Napoleon and The Color Purple will be the next big tests as both historical epics and musicals have been very hit-or-miss within this new box office era.
My next update will come in late November. By then we’ll have reviews or early buzz on every title and a few more precursors will have announced their nominations.