12 Academy Award Contenders for 2025 You Need to Watch

If you try hard enough, all seasons are awards season, and even though the 2024 Oscars were given out only two months ago, we're already thinking about 2025. While most of next year's Academy Awards nominees won't arrive in theaters until he fall, that doesn't mean that some 2025 hopefuls haven't already premiered.

Every movie released theatrically between Jan. 1, 2024 and Dec. 31, 2024 is eligible for a little gold man. Plenty of contenders have already emerged and predictions are being made. Massive blockbusters are on the hunt for Sound and Visual Effects Oscars, indie documentaries are hoping to gain momentum and actors are already schmoozing voters and building Oscar buzz. Nominations morning (Jan. 17, 2025) will be here before you know it and the statuettes will be passed out on March 2, 2025.

Related: Everything You Need to Know about the 2024 Oscars, Including the Winners

To aid you in choosing which movies to watch and keep you up-to-date on the Oscar race, here's a list of all the films released to date (through April 2024) that have some Oscar buzz, and where you can stream them.

I'll be updating this post as we progress through the season.

Related: The Best Movies of 2024 (So Far) 

2025 Oscar Movie Contenders



1. Challengers

What it's about: A horny trio of professional tennis players in a love triangle for a decade navigate their relationships on and off the court.

Why it has buzz: Luca Guadagnino's last few movies haven't been Oscar favorites, Call Me By Your Name's success will make anything he directs seem like an Oscar contender. Plus all three actors have been in previous awards favorites.

Potential nominations: With an April release date and Dune: Part Two already snatching up the spring Best Picture nominee slot, you wonder if Challengers will be able to hang on for nearly a year when it comes to buzz. That said, it's gotten rave reviews and will certainly remain in the zeitgeist, especially since Zendaya will also be on the awards circuit for Dune. Does the combination mean she could land a Best Actress nom for this? It's certainly possible, especially given how much awards bodies love the two-time Emmy winner. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross also certainly deserve an Original Score nomination and Justin Kuritzkes could follow up wife Celine Song with an Original Screenplay nomination. If Challengers holds on, it could also snag Best Picture, Cinematography and Editing noms. While both Mike Faist and Josh O'Connor are superb in the movie, I think they'll have a hard time both getting in for equally strong work.

How to watch: Currently in theaters

<p>Focus Features</p>

Focus Features

2. Drive-Away Dolls

What it's about: A pair of lesbians decide to go on a roadtrip to escape their problems only to realize the car they rented contains a package belonging to the mob. The mob of course decides to track them down.

Why it has buzz: The movie is directed by Ethan Coen, who currently has 15 Oscar nominations and four wins, so there is plenty of Oscar pedigree here.

Potential nominations: Since comedies don't tend to get nominated, it may be a bit of a stretch, but Beanie Feldstein's supporting performance is certainly worthy of some awards attention.

How to watch: Streaming on Peacock

<p>Warner Bros.</p>

Warner Bros.

3. Dune: Part Two

What it's about: An intergalactic lord becomes the messiah to a bunch of sand people on a desert planet. He rides worms, kills bald Austin Butler and cheats on blue-eyed Zendaya.

Why it has buzz: Dune: Part One received 10 Oscar nominations and won six of those. With strong reviews, Part Two is likely to be a heavy hitter at this year's Oscars as well.

Potential nominations: Basically copy and paste the lineup from 2022. Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Costume Design, Sound, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Cinematography, Production Design and Visual Effects. Part Two should also get Denis Villeneuve a Best Director nomination. While Austin Butler seems like a potential Best Supporting Actor contender, I think the massive ensemble will probably mean none of the actors get in.

How to watch: Video on demand

<p>Courtesy of NYFF</p>

Courtesy of NYFF

4. Evil Does Not Exist

What it's about: Rural Japanese people wage a very slow, very beautiful battle against real-estate developers who want to ruin their pristine natural landscape.

Why it has buzz: Ryusuke Hamaguchi's most recent movie Drive My Car earned four Oscar nominations and won Best International Feature.

Potential nominations: A much quieter movie than Drive My Car, Evil Does Not Exist seems unlikely to break through in a massive way. However, if Japan submits it for Best International Feature, it could snag a nomination.

How to watch: Currently in theaters

<p>Apple TV+</p>

Apple TV+

5. Girls State

What it's about: Teenage girls attend government camp in this documentary.

Why it has buzz: It received rave reviews coming out of Sundance and is the companion to 2020's Boys State which was overlooked by the Oscars. This could be a chance to rectify that oversight.

Potential nominations: It's very rare for American documentaries to earn nominations beyond Best Documentary Feature, so that's its best shot.

How to watch: Streaming on Apple TV+

<p>Warner Bros. Pictures</p>

Warner Bros. Pictures

6. Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire

What it's about: Godzilla and Kong fighting other monsters.

Why it has buzz: Never forget that Kong: Skull Island nabbed a Best Visual Effect nomination.

Potential nominations: While this seems to be a fairly competitive year for Best Visual Effects given Dune: Part Two and Furiosa in the lineup, The New Empire could snag a slot especially if Marvel continues its underperforming streak.

How to watch: Currently in theaters



7. Love Lies Bleeding

What it's about: A lesbian who works at a gym and a lesbian body builder go on a homicidal spree.

Why it has buzz: Strong reviews and some impressive spray tans have made this an unlikely crafts contender.

Potential nominations: While Katy O'Brian's brawny body is 100% real, there are plenty of hair pieces, orange bronzers and Hulk-like enhancements to make this a Makeup and Hairstyling nominee. Not to mention there is gore. The sound here is also disgusting if the Academy takes notice.

How to watch: Video on demand

<p>Paramount Pictures</p>

Paramount Pictures

8. Mean Girls

What it's about: Cady Heron and the Plastics, you fugly cow.

Why it has buzz: Gay twitter won't shut up about it. JK, but kind of not...

Potential nominations: Since Mean Girls is in fact a musical, it does include an original song from Renee Rapp and Megan Thee Stallion that is eligible for Best Original Song (and dare I say better than several of last year's nominees).

How to watch: Streaming on Paramount+



9. Orion and the Dark

What it's about: A little boy who becomes besties with his worst fear, the Dark.

Why it has buzz: Its a well reviewed animated movie with a script from the lauded Charlie Kaufman.

Potential nominations: With Disney and Pixar's continued fumbles, the Best Animated Feature category has been blown wide open in recent years. With largely sequels coming from the major studios, Orion could be a dark horse contender.

How to watch: Streaming on Netflix



10. Problemista

What it's about: A dorky aspiring toy designer becomes the assistant to a nightmarish artist.

Why it has buzz: Tilda Swinton is in it.

Potential nominations: This movie is so weird that it probably doesn't stand much of a chance BUT Tilda Swinton is PHENOMENAL here and deserves a Best Supporting Actress nomination. I'd personally learn FileMaker Pro just to give it to her.

How to watch: Video on demand

<p>Bleecker Street</p>

Bleecker Street

11. Sasquatch Sunset

What it's about: Just a bunch of big foots hanging out in the woods.

Why it has buzz: Take a look at those big foots and tell me a Makeup and Hairstyling nomination isn't in the works.

Potential nominations: Just Makeup and Hairstyling

How to watch: Currently in theaters



12. Shirley

What it's about: Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to be elected to Congress and run for president.

Why it has buzz: It's Oscar-winner Regina King in a meaty biopic.

Potential nominations: The best bet would be Regina King for Best Actress given that she is catnip for awards bodies.

How to watch: Streaming on Netflix

Next, Everything We Know About the 2025 Oscars, Including Important Dates