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The making of a best picture film: What movie will win in 2024?

‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer,’ aka ‘Barbenheimer,’ are both on the short list

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Margot Robbie as Barbie in “Barbie.”

Margot Robbie as Barbie in “Barbie.”

Warner Bros. Pictures

What movie will win the next Academy Award for best picture? Early predictions are rolling in and, predictably, the Barbenheimer phenomenon made several lists.

Summer box office hits “Barbie” (PG-13) and “Oppenheimer” (R), which together make up the Barbenheimer nickname, are on the Oscars short lists from Vulture, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.

In particular, “Oppenheimer” appears to be the favorite among those who are forecasting the best picture winner.

The Los Angeles Times pulled together a panel of experts who have “Oppenheimer” first followed by “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Poor Things,” “The Zone of Interest,” and “Barbie.”

Other films that are frequenting these sorts of lists are “American Fiction” (R), “Maestro” (R) and “Past Lives” (PG-13).

Now that “Napoleon” (R) has reviews in, some have speculated that it’ll receive a best picture nomination, but Vulture has its odds down. “The Color Purple” hasn’t come out yet, but with names like Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg attached to the project, it could also contend for the best picture award, per Variety.

Of the movies appearing on best picture short lists, only two of them also appear on the top 30 list for the domestic box office this year.

“Barbie” holds the No. 1 spot while “Oppenheimer” is fifth, according to Box Office Mojo. By comparison, “Past Lives” is 83rd and “Killers of the Flower Moon” is 37th.

In other words, box office numbers aren’t necessarily a predictor of a best picture film. So, what makes a film a best picture contender?

What makes a film a best picture contender?

An original film typically has the edge in the best picture contest, while movies based on IP (intellectual property — think franchises) are generally more likely to draw audiences to the theaters.

“These days, the top-grossing films are usually either sequels, superhero movies, or sequels to superhero movies,” Dave Karger, Turner Classic Movies host, told CNN. “Those aren’t the kind of films, by and large, that speak to the Academy.”

Sequels and reboots aren’t Oscar favorites, according to The Guardian. “Historically sequels and remakes are rarely nominated. Recent awards have seen an increase, with four nominees last year based on previously filmed source material: ‘Dune,’ ‘West Side Story,’ ‘Coda’ and ‘Nightmare Alley.’”

Films with large budgets that fit into the broad category of drama also have a better than average shot of winning best picture, The Guardian reported.

“A whooping 93% of best picture winners are dramas,” according to Insider.

What films have won best picture in the past?

Here are the last 20 films to win the Academy Award for best picture:

  1. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (2023).
  2. “CODA” (2022).
  3. “Nomadland” (2021).
  4. “Parasite” (2020).
  5. “Green Book” (2019).
  6. “The Shape of Water” (2018).
  7. “Moonlight” (2017).
  8. “Spotlight” (2016).
  9. “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (2015).
  10. “12 Years a Slave” (2014).
  11. “Argo” (2013).
  12. “The Artist” (2012).
  13. “The King’s Speech” (2011).
  14. “The Hurt Locker” (2010).
  15. “Slumdog Millionaire” (2009).
  16. “No country for Old Men” (2008).
  17. “The Departed” (2007).
  18. “Crash” (2006).
  19. “Million Dollar Baby” (2005).
  20. “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2004).