2025 Oscars: Best Picture Predictions

Nominations voting is from January 8-12, 2025, with official Oscar nominations announced January 17, 2025. Final voting is February 11-18, 2025. And finally, the 97th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 2 and air live on ABC at 7:00 p.m. ET/ 4:00 p.m. PT. We update our picks through awards season, so keep checking IndieWire for all our 2025 Oscar predictions.

The State of the Race

If the previous decade saw a trend of Best Picture winners that felt esoteric to the greater public (i.e. “The Artist”), then the new trend shaping what is pegged to win the most prestigious category at the Academy Awards is much more focused on what resonates with a wider crowd. Think about it as films we did not realize would unite us going in, given whatever unconventional elements they are offering.

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“CODA” was something to watch with the whole family, and was a new take on depicting disabilities on screen. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” was an action comedy that put the spotlight on Asian American characters like we have rarely seen before, and packed a wallop of emotion. And then “Oppenheimer,” of course, was proof that biopics could be done on a greater scale, with audiences hooked by the thriller-like intensity of what the characters are trying to accomplish, and left pondering all these philosophical ideas. With the latter two films, their awards appeal can be summed up more simply as the box office successes that proved audiences were still open to original stories.

Unfortunately, this year hasn’t yet seen much in the way of box office success. A film like “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” the follow up to a franchise film that won 6 Oscars in 2015, came and went without much fanfare from the general public. The current 2025 Oscar race has pretty much been bookended by “Dune: Part Two” and “Inside Out 2,” the top two films of the year so far, which are also sequels to major Oscar winners. But again, sequels tend to get nominated, but have an extremely uphill battle toward a Best Picture win.

The non-IP-focused titles that did end up impressing upon audiences and critics alike were “Civil War” from A24, “Challengers” from Amazon MGM Studios, and “Hit Man” from Netflix. While the latter being primarily available via streaming is a separate issue for its campaign, the films helmed by Alex Garland and Luca Guadagnino, respectively, are the first to fit that model of an arthouse film that is still a box office draw. But March 2, 2025 is a long ways away, so there would be a lot of campaigning to do for either to maintain enough momentum to lock in a Best Picture nomination. The recent winners mentioned above though had all premiered before the fall.

Sundance and Cannes, the two major annual film festivals to occur in the first half of the year, accounted for nearly half the 2024 Best Picture nominations, so it is important to keep track of what resonated there. Sundance, the January festival, had a lighter year, where even an Audience Award winner like “Dìdi” would seem too small, despite a push from Focus Features. Competition title “A Real Pain,” which was acquired by Searchlight Pictures, seems to be the breakout, with a tight script, and a performance from Emmy winner Kieran Culkin that re-establishes him as a movie lead.

Meanwhile, the back half of the 2024 Cannes Film Festival premieres in May felt like a tall glass of water after a drought of films with Best Picture potential. For the fifth year in a row, Neon will be distributing the Palme d’Or winner, Sean Baker dramedy “Anora,” while Netflix bought the U.S. rights to Jacques Audiard’s crime drama musical “Emilia Pérez,” which got the Jury Prize and Best Actress for its female ensemble. Plus, though it did not win any awards, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Megalopolis” made enough of a splash to become a film that voters are likely to want to seek out, regardless of how they will eventually feel about it.

But everyone is ultimately looking to the fall to fill the current need for a wider variety of films that can rise up to Best Picture standard. As has now become a norm, both “Gladiator II” and “Joker: Folie à Deux” are blockbuster sequels looking to score nominations across the board, given how well their preceding films did at the Oscars, and the addition of new cast members like Denzel Washington, Paul Mescal, and Lady Gaga, who all had recent acting nominations.

There are also the return of newer respected filmmakers like “All Quiet on the Western Front” director Edward Berger, back with a papal election drama titled “Conclave,” and “Blitz” from filmmaker Steve McQueen, the first Black producer to win Best Picture.

One big final thing to note is that even though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has become more international, leading to much more films that are not in English receiving Best Picture nominees, they usually need the boost of becoming a Best International Feature Film contender, which unfortunately will not likely be the case for Cannes favorites “All We Imagine as Light” and “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” which are seen as too critical of the countries they are set in to be selected to represent them in the Oscar category. Look out for more Venice premieres to fill in that international gap.

Potential nominees are listed in alphabetical order; no film will be deemed a frontrunner until we have seen it.

“A Real Pain”
“Dune: Part Two”
“Hit Man”
“Sing Sing”

“Civil War”
“Emilia Pérez”
“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga”
“Gladiator II”
“Inside Out 2”
“Joker: Folie à Deux”
“Kinds of Kindness”
“The Nickel Boys”
“The Piano Lesson” 
“Wicked Part I”

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