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10 Great 2023 Movies The Oscars Shouldn’t Ignore (But Probably Will)


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Summary

  • Genre films struggle to gain recognition from the Academy, as they often prefer more conventional dramas.
  • Several outstanding films from last year may not receive the level of attention they deserve.
  • Despite being overlooked, films like “The Boy and the Heron” and “The Killer” deserve consideration for categories beyond their genre.

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The nominations for the 96th Academy Awards are to be announced on January 23, but several great films from last year will not be present. While Oscar nominations do not affect the quality of a film, it is always a pleasure when great art and artists are awarded and given their moment. Films like Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon, and Poor Things are among the favorites going into award season, and while those films deserve the praise they are receiving, several terrific films won’t receive the same level of attention.

Genre films are often a tougher sell for the Academy, as they prefer to reward more conventional dramas, and many of the best movies of last year broke the mold of what an Oscar movie should be. Releasing earlier in the year can also be a disadvantage, as recency bias will always be a factor, and some of the spring releases may have a harder time getting votes. With an extra crowded field this year it would be hard to nominate every film that deserved it, but these films shouldn’t go unrecognized by the Academy.

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10 The Boy And The Heron

Anything Outside Animated Feature

The Boy and the Heron

Release Date
July 14, 2023

Cast
Soma Santoki , Masaki Suda , Aimyon , Shōhei Hino , Kô Shibasaki , Takuya Kimura , Yoshino Kimura

Runtime
124 Minutes

Studio(s)
Studio Ghibli

For a while, it seemed that The Boy and the Heron was to be the final film by legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki, and while recent comments have thrown that into question, it is still a late-period masterpiece by one of the best filmmakers of all time. The film is basically guaranteed a nomination for Best Animated Feature, but the movie deserves a lot more than that. A staggering piece about legacy, grief, and art, The Boy and the Heron should be in serious consideration for Best Picture, Best Score, and Miyazaki for Best Director. Sadly, since it is an animated film, it will most likely be contained in that category.

9 Beau Is Afraid

Actor and Screenplay

Beau Is Afraid

Release Date
April 21, 2023

Cast
Joaquin Phoenix , Nathan Lane , Patti LuPone , Amy Ryan , Kylie Rogers , Parker Posey , Stephen McKinley Henderson , Hayley Squires

Rating
R

Runtime
179 minutes

Studio(s)
A24

Due to its spring release and divisive reaction, Ari Aster’s Beau is Afraid has been absent from most awards conversations, and while the film may be a little strange for most voters, it is still a technical marvel that deserves some recognition. Aster’s screenplay is beyond creative, managing to build tension throughout the film, despite the surreal tone. The most impressive part of the film, however, is Joaquin Phoenix’s dedicated and uncomfortable performance at the center of it. Phoenix did manage to get a Golden Globe nomination for Comedy/Musical, but that was a less competitive category, and he should be considered for an Oscar nomination.

Beau is Afraid is now available to stream on Paramount+

8 The Killer

All Categories

The Killer (2023)

Release Date
November 10, 2023

Cast
Michael Fassbender , Tilda Swinton , Kerry O’Malley , Charles Parnell , Lacey Dover , Monique Ganderton , Sala Baker

Rating
R

Runtime
118 Minutes

Writers
Andrew Kevin Walker

Story By
Alexis Nolent, Luc Jacamon

Distributor(s)
Netflix

Netflix is often a major player in the awards season. Their massive campaigns, along with the availability of their movies, make it easy for voters to see the films. However, sometimes the lack of a theatrical run hurts a movie’s reputation, such is the case for David Fincher’s The Killer. On the surface, The Killer is a straightforward revenge film, but under its cold, calculated exterior is a darkly funny meditation on life in late-stage capitalism. Like most Fincher films, The Killer will be appreciated more years after its release, but it is a shame it will be absent from this year’s Oscars, especially for its immaculate cinematography and sound.

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Why David Fincher’s The Killer Took 20 Years To Make

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7 Ferrari

Supporting Actress, Director

Ferrari

Release Date
December 25, 2023

Director
Adam Driver , Shailene Woodley , Jack O’Connell , Sarah Gadon , Penelope Cruz , Patrick Dempsey

Cast
Michael Mann , Brock Yates

Runtime
130 Minutes

Writers
Troy Kennedy-Martin , Michael Mann , Brock Yates

Distributor(s)
Neon , STXfilms

Michael Mann made a triumphant return to the big screen with the biopic Ferrari, and while the film seems like a textbook Oscar player, it is fighting to get any nominations. Unlike Oscar favorite Ford vs. Ferrari, Mann’s look at the life of Enzo Ferrari is not a triumphant underdog story, as it is a dour look at masculinity and grief. The film just isn’t fun or flashy enough to get awards attention, but it is a technical beast, as Mann fires on all cylinders as a director. Penélope Cruz also delivers one of her best performances as Laura Ferrari, a scorned wife who demands she has control.

6 Priscilla

Actress

Priscilla

Release Date
October 1, 2023

Director
Sofia Coppola

Cast
Cailee Spaeny , Jacob Elordi , Dagmara Dominczyk

Runtime
110 Minutes

Writers
Sofia Coppola , Priscilla Presley

Distributor(s)
A24

Sadly, Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla will always live in the shadow of Baz Lurmahn’s Elvis. Both films are thoughtful explorations of the legacy of Elvis Presley, but while Elvis was one of the most nominated films of last year, Priscilla will most likely be left out of this year’s ceremony. There is so much to love about Coppola’s marriage drama, but Cailee Spaeny’s central performance as the titular character is one of the most thoughtful and fully realized performances of the year, and she should be in the conversation not only for the nomination but for the win.

Related

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5 Bottoms

Screenplay

Bottoms

Release Date
August 25, 2023

Director
Emma Seligman

Cast
Rachel Sennott , Ayo Edebiri , Havana Rose Liu , Kaia Gerber , Nicholas Galitzine , Dagmara Dominczyk , Marshawn Lynch

Rating
R

Runtime
92 Minutes

Writers
Emma Seligman , Rachel Sennott

Distributor(s)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer , Warner Bros. Pictures

Genre films always have a hard time getting Oscar attention, and while there were many thoughtful dramas and historical epics this year, no script was as funny or as quotable as Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott’s Bottoms. The Sapphic teen sex comedy is purposefully absurd and unrealistic and is one of the best studio comedies in years. A movie this silly always had a hard time breaking through to academy voters, but with Best Original Screenplay seeming somewhat uncompetitive this year, a nomination for Bottoms would be a well-deserved recognition of some of the funniest women working in Hollywood today.

Bottoms is now on Prime Video

4 Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

Supporting Actress, Screenplay

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

Release Date
April 28, 2023

Director
Kelly Fremon Craig

Rating
Not Yet Rated

Writers
Kelly Fremon Craig

Story By
Judy Blume

Cinematographer
Tim Ives

Producer
James L. Brooks, Julie Ansell, Richard Sakai, Kelly Fremon Craig, Judy Blume, Amy Lorraine Brooks, Aldric La’Auli Porter

One of the most underrated movies of last year was Kelly Fremon Craig’s adaption of the beloved Judy Blume novel Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Focusing on the changing life and desires of a middle school girl, the film is one of the sweetest films about growing up and a much-needed female perspective on the genre. Craig’s screenplay perfectly adapts the “unfilmable” book, translating the awkwardness of publicity to the big screen, but Rachel McAdams steals the show as Margaret’s mother. McAdams takes what could have been a thankless mother role, and turns her into a three-dimensional character, and the heart of the movie.

3 John Wick: Chapter 4

All Tech Categories

John Wick: Chapter 4

Release Date
March 24, 2023

Director
Chad Stahelski

Cast
Hiroyuki Sanada , Clancy Brown , Scott Adkins , Keanu Reeves , Ian McShane , Bill Skarsgard , Laurence Fishburne , Rina Sawayama , Donnie Yen , Lance Reddick , Shamier Anderson

Rating
R

Runtime
169 minutes

Writers
Shay Hatten , Michael Finch

Studio(s)
Lionsgate

It makes sense that the fourth installment in a brutal action franchise wouldn’t be an Oscar frontrunner, but John Wick: Chapter 4 took every element of the series and improved upon it, making it one of the best American action films of all time. Sadly, the film has already missed out on several categories, as it did not make the shortlists for either Sound or Visual Effects. A Cinematography nomination would be very much deserved, but the Academy will most likely go with more conventional picks.

2 The Iron Claw

All Categories

The Iron Claw

Release Date
December 22, 2023

Director
Sean Durkin

Cast
Zac Efron , Jeremy Allen White , Harris Dickinson , Maura Tierney , Holt McCallany , Lily James

Runtime
132 Minutes

Everything about Sean Durkin’s sports drama feels like it should be a surefire Oscar favorite. The Iron Claw is an emotional gut punch, with beautiful cinematography, an incredible ensemble of performances, and an ending that won’t leave a dry eye in the house. Unfortunately, its Christmas release, along with a lack of festival appearances, has left The Iron Claw out in the cold as most categories seemed filled up by the time the movie came out. Hopefully, there is still a chance the film could get some recognition, especially the knockout performance of Zac Efron.

1 Asteroid City

All Categories

Asteroid City

Release Date
June 16, 2023

Rating
PG-13

Runtime
104 Minutes

Distributor(s)
Focus Features

Outside The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson has been mostly ignored by the academy, and Asteroid City looks like it will be the director’s latest film to get no love from the Oscars. While Anderson has stuck to his cinematic style and voice, he is constantly improving and pushing the boundaries of what he can do. It often feels as though critics and the industry take Anderson for granted, as Asteroid City has some of the best cinematography, production design, and music of any film released last year, but because it is so in line with what Anderson has done before, it will be ignored.

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