Oscars 2024: Donald Clarke predicts next year’s best-picture nominees

Let’s stick with the regular suspects, that way we’re sure to get somewhere near 50% right – right?

It’s that time of year. As we move into the two-week hiatus before Oscar season starts again, we spread out the tarot and predict the 10 films that will be nominated for best picture in 2024.

It says something – maybe not something good – about the academy that we have had some success at this in previous years. Our predictions for 2022 were 50 per cent correct. Disorder was, however, re-established with a poor result in guessing this year’s contenders.

We got just three right: The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans and Women Talking. Babylon, White Noise and Amsterdam (then called Canterbury Glass) and She Said felt like reasonable contenders right up until release. Poor Things, Killers of the Flower Moon and Beau is Afraid (then called Disappointment Boulevard) failed to open.

So there were no mad picks there. Still, one film was hiding in plain sight. Everything Everywhere All At Once had just premiered in the US when we made our list, but nobody sane felt it was going to compete for the top prize. What made us think Avatar: The Way of Water wouldn’t make it? Blah, blah, never bet against James Cameron, blah, blah.


We’re missing a foreign-language title below. One such release has made it in over recent years. But where might it come from? It would be wasting a guess to take a punt on Luc Besson’s Dogman or Michel Gondry’s Book of Solutions. Let us stick with the regular suspects. That way, we’re sure to get somewhere near 50 per cent correct. Right?

In no particular order ...


Directed by Christopher Nolan

Well, duh! Nolan stumbled with critics and the academy on his last outing. Tenet was just too muddled (and too unintelligible) to much register outside the director’s committed fan base. But all the awards-season stars are aligned for his study of J Robert Oppenheimer. Cillian Murphy plays the father of the atomic bomb himself. Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon are among a stuffed cast list. It worked for Dunkirk – eight nominations including the big one.

Killer of the Flower Moon

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Were we saying something about “duh” above? Certain to premiere this year – perhaps as early as Cannes – the great man’s epic adapts David Grann’s non-fiction book concern murders among the Osage Nation community in 1920s Oklahoma. Leonardo DiCaprio and Jesse Plemons star in a film that is alleged to sprawl well over three hours. Fully six of Scorsese’s films have got a best picture nominee in this century. All signs point to “yes”. As the magic eight-ball says. Apple and Paramount distribute.


Directed by Bradley Cooper

In the olden days we would – most unfairly for something unseen – already be labelling this as “Oscar bait”. Bradley Cooper directs himself as the great conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein. Oscar has never quite got over its predilection for biopics. Cooper’s A Star is Born was nominated up the kazoo. Might controversy about an Italian-Irish-American playing a Jewish personality (complete with prosthetics) derail its chances? Far too early to say.

Dune: Part Two

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

“Sure they liked the first one,” I imagine you saying. “It won more Oscars than anything else last year. But do they abide sequels?” This year’s nominations for Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water put those fears to rest. Florence Pugh, Austin Butler and Christopher Walken join surviving members of an already stuffed cast. It may not be the only blockbuster sequel here. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is looming.

Past Lives

Directed by Celine Song

CODA’s victory last year confirmed the continuing strength of Sundance as a force at the Oscars. Past Lives, a romantic drama set among the US’s Korean community, received genuine raves at this year’s event. “Song modulates the delicate tonal balance of this wise, wistful film perfectly,” Tim Grierson of Screen International raved. Song’s debut feels almost as nailed down here as Scorsese’s 26th narrative feature.

Flora and Son

Directed by John Carney

We have to have an Irish film here. We are now as good at Oscar nominations as we are at rugby football. Seriously though, Carney’s latest musical went down a storm at Sundance, where it sold to Apple for $20 million. Two of his films have scored best song nominations – Once, of course, won in 2007. With Apple behind him, Carney looks set to step up to the boss categories. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Eve Hewson and Orén Kinlan star.

The Killer

Directed by David Fincher

Fincher’s name walks the film straight into our predictions. The academy runs hot and cold on the director, but, in recent years, Mank, surely far from his best film, clocked up 10 nominations. Michael Fassbender stars as the eponymous assassin in an adaptation of a French graphic novel. Netflix are sure to put their massive financial weight behind a vigorous campaign. Feels as if the director is back in his ideal milieu.


Directed by Ridley Scott

We were torn between this and Michael Mann’s Ferrari (the biopic of the Italian automotive pioneer feels like a cert for Venice), but Scott has, in recent years, had a better record with the academy. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Napoleon Bonaparte. Vanessa Kirby is Josephine. Scott works fast so there seems little doubt it is ready and could play Cannes in two months. Yet another Apple joint.


Directed by Todd Haynes

After a stumble with the messy Wonderstruck and the already forgotten Dark Waters, Haynes, among the best directors of his generation, looks to be returning to familiar territory. Natalie Portman plays an actress researching the murky past of an older performer played by Todd regular Julianne Moore. When he’s properly ticking, as in Carol and Far From Heaven, the academy comes calling. Cannes would be a good fit for a premiere. Awards-season release on the cards.


Directed by Sofia Coppola

I am willing to bet no biopic has received a best picture nomination one year after a biopic of that subject’s spouse was so honoured. But Priscilla really could follow Elvis. The rising Cailee Spaeny takes on the role of the King’s still present widow. Jacob Elordi, alumni of the TV series Euphoria, plays the man himself. The subject is, apparently, an executive producer. So she should be as supportive as she was of this year’s Presley epic. The powerful A24 distribute.

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist