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Oscars 2025: 10 of the films that could win big next year

From Gladiator 2 and Nosferatu to Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, these are the films that BBC Culture predicts will win big at next year's Academy Awards.

1. Kinds of Kindness

Yorgos Lanthimos is one of the most inspired directors working today, and also an Oscar magnet. His follow-up to Poor Things – which earned best picture, director and adapted screenplay nominations along with Emma Stone’s best actress win – is typically offbeat, an anthology of three contemporary fable-like stories. The details have been guarded so far, but darkly comic snippets in the trailer include Stone careening into a motel parking lot in a purple car, Willem Dafoe looking morose, and Margaret Qualley slapping Jesse Plemons, which already makes it one of the most intriguing projects of the year. Considering Olivia Colman’s best actress win for The Favourite (2018), any new Lanthimos film almost automatically lands on a potential Oscar list, and this one – rumoured to be premiering at Cannes ­ – may be good enough to overcome the unlikelihood of a triptych film making headway for awards. (CJ)

Released on 21 June in the US

2. Moana 2

Moana is one of Disney’s most beloved cartoons – so much so that a live-action remake is already in the works, starring most of the actors who were in the original voice cast. If that weren’t enough, an animated sequel is being released in November, which is just the right moment to catch Academy voters’ attention. Could Moana 2 snag the Oscar for best animated feature? No Disney cartoons were nominated in that category either this year or last year, so the company’s bosses must be praying to the demigod Maui (Dwayne Johnson) that the ocean-loving Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) can turn the tide. (NB)

On general release from 27 November

3. Gladiator 2

In a year full of sequels, Ridley Scott’s return to the Colosseum in the follow-up to his 2000 best picture winner is already one of the most buzzed-about. Casting is a big part of that anticipation. Paul Mescal, known for poignant turns in dramas including Aftersun and All of Us Strangers, picks up a sword and puts on sandals as Lucius Verus, who in the original Gladiator was a child quite impressed with Russell Crowe’s Maximus. Pedro Pascal and Denzel Washington also star, along with two actors returning from the original, Connie Nielsen as Lucius’s mother and Derek Jacobi as a senator. Scott, whose enduring movies include Blade Runner and Thelma and Louise, has received a rocky reception for his recent historical movies, The Last Duel (2021) and Napoleon (2023), but he’s on solid ground here. “You know, I haven’t gotten an Oscar yet,” Scott told The New Yorker last year. “If I ever get one, I’ll say ‘About feckin’ time!'” (CJ)

Released on 22 November

4. Queer

Luca Guadagnino is known for his gay coming-of-age romance, Call Me By Your Name, which won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay in 2018. The Italian director’s new film, Challengers, will be released in April, and it’s due to be followed later this year by Queer, an adaptation of the novel by William S Burroughs. Daniel Craig will star as an American who flees from New Orleans to Mexico City after a drug bust in the 1950s, and becomes obsessed by a former US Navy serviceman played by Drew Starkey. An overdue reminder that there is more to Craig than James Bond and Benoit Blanc, it could put him in the frame for a best actor Oscar. (NB)

Release date TBC

5. Nosferatu

It’s not your typical Christmas movie, but it is timed for awards season. Robert Eggers, whose breakthrough was the creepy little film The Witch (2016), followed by The Lighthouse (2019), an eerie psychological dance between Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, now takes on the great Nosferatu. Bill Skarsgård plays the talon-fingered vampire Count Orlok. Lily-Rose Depp plays Ellen Hutter, the woman he is obsessed with, and Nicholas Hoult is her husband, in a cast that include Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Emma Corrin and the ever-busy Dafoe. The period film holds echoes of FW Murnau’s 1922 classic with Max Schreck and Werner Herzog’s brilliant 1979 remake with Klaus Kinski. But Eggers is sure to bring his usual audacious vision, stunning visuals and chilling tone. As he told Empire magazine, “There hasn’t been an old-school Gothic movie that’s actually scary in a while”. And just in time for the holidays. (CJ)

Released on 25 December

6. Blitz

Steve McQueen’s fifth feature film is Blitz, an account of working-class London life during the Luftwaffe’s bombing raids in World War Two. The Academy’s voters often get behind heavyweight historical dramas, including McQueen’s own 12 Years a Slave, which won the Oscar for best picture in 2014. Besides, a film about surviving in a war-blasted city is, unfortunately, especially resonant at the moment. Take into account a cast that includes such acclaimed actors as Saoirse Ronan, Harris Dickinson, Stephen Graham and Kathy Burke, and Blitz starts to look like a serious contender for best picture. (NB)

 

Release date TBC

7. The Piano Lesson

Denzel Washington has made it his mission to bring all 10 of the late August Wilson’s acclaimed American Century Cycle plays to the screen. Fences (2016), which he starred in and directed, worked out pretty well, earning four Oscar nominations, with Viola Davis winning for supporting actress. The Piano Lesson, set in 1936 Pittsburgh, is truly a family affair. Denzel produces, his son Malcolm Washington directs his first feature, and son John David Washington (Tenet) stars as Boy Willie Charles, who is ready to sell the heirloom piano with carvings by his enslaved great-grandfather. Samuel L Jackson plays his uncle and Danielle Deadwyler (Till) his sister. Their Oscar-ready roles should soar thanks to Wilson’s emotionally piercing work, with its potent themes of race, upward mobility, heritage and family. (CJ)

Release date TBC

8. Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Mad Max: Fury Road was the much-delayed fourth film in a science-fiction action series – and it didn’t even star Mel Gibson, the actor who had played the title role in the previous three instalments. It wasn’t a promising prospect. But in 2016, George Miller’s post-apocalyptic drag-racing extravaganza was nominated for 10 Oscars including best picture, and it won six of them. Now the 79-year-old writer-director has made a prequel to Fury Road, with Anya Taylor-Joy taking over from Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. It’s sure to drive off with Oscar nominations in several of the technical categories, at least. (NB)

On general release from 22 May

9. Klara and the Sun

The 2021 novel by Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day) is the source for this timely film starring Jenna Ortega (Wednesday) as Klara, the robot friend of Josie (Mia Tharia), a sickly teenager. Amy Adams also stars as Josie’s mother, who bought Klara to alleviate the girl’s loneliness, and Natasha Lyonne is the shopkeeper who sells her the lifelike robot. The project is an ambitious leap for director Taika Waititi, whose films include Jojo Rabbit and two Thor movies, and screenwriter Dahvi Waller, who created the series Mrs America, and has written for Mad Men. But if the film captures the beautiful tone of the novel, in which Klara may be more humane and empathetic than most people around her, the film could be an elegant, inspiring heartbreaker that might even give AI a good name. (CJ)

Release date TBC

10. Joker: Folie à Deux

Yes, it’s a sequel to a film about Batman’s cackling arch-enemy, but Todd Phillips’s Joker turned the superhero movie on its head in 2019. A tragic drama modelled on the gritty urban crime thrillers of the 1970s, it took the top prize at the Venice Film Festival, and went on to win two Oscars, including the best actor award for Joaquin Phoenix. The sequel is apparently a musical co-starring Lady Gaga as the Joker’s madcap sidekick, Harley Quinn. That makes it a favourite for the best score and best original song Oscars – and, if the first film is anything to go by, plenty more besides. (NB)

On general release from 3 October

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