Demi Moore, Selena Gomez, “Anora”, more emerge as potential Oscar contenders out of Cannes

Demi Moore, Selena Gomez, “Anora”, more emerge as potential Oscar contenders out of Cannes

Zoe Saldaña, Jesse Plemons, and Sean Baker's drama about a New York City stripper have all amped up their awards season profiles with stunning runs at Cannes.

From the peaks of Sundance to the coast of France, major 2025 Oscar contenders are funneling into the awards race from all corners of the earth.

Though Cannes, the globally renowned French film festival, drew to a close last weekend, its legacy has only just begun. From anointing the rise of prospective acting nominees to laying the foundation for strong campaigns for its top award-winning films in the competition, Cannes produced a range of potential Oscar nominees to keep an eye on in the coming months.

<p>Courtesy Cannes Film Festival (2); Albert Watson/AMPAS</p> Demi Moore (left) in 'The Substance'; Mikey Madison (right) in 'Anora'

Courtesy Cannes Film Festival (2); Albert Watson/AMPAS

Demi Moore (left) in 'The Substance'; Mikey Madison (right) in 'Anora'

Cannes has a long history of shepherding Oscar contenders into the race, from recent acting and directing players (Isabelle Huppert in Elle, Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War, Spike Lee and Adam Driver for BlacKkKlansman) to major Best Picture winners and nominees that also won and/or competed for Cannes' top prize, the Palme d'Or (Parasite, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Drive My Car, Triangle of Sadness).

So, looking ahead, it's natural to start with this year's Palme d'Or champion, Sean Baker's universally lauded Anora. The drama — which stars Scream and Better Things actress Mikey Madison as a stripper whose marriage to the son of a Russian oligarch draws an unexpectedly harsh response from her spouse's parents — earned a glowing reception on the Croisette.

The project is the latest in Baker's increasingly esteemed filmography, following Tangerine (2015), The Florida Project (2017), and Red Rocket (2021), with Florida even earning an Oscar nod for supporting actor Willem Dafoe. Given the increasing influence of a Palme d'Or victory in the Oscars race, Anora is an automatic addition to this year's blossoming roster of potential Academy Award nominees — especially seeing as major Academy member Greta Gerwig (whose reach and influence in the industry increased exponentially after last year's Barbie) served as this year's Cannes jury president.

Related: See where 20 Academy Award winners keep their Oscars

Also in the hunt after a stellar showing at Cannes is Demi Moore's body horror drama The Substance, which reportedly received a standing ovation that lasted somewhere between 11 and 13 minutes. The film is a self-reflexive Hollywood tale that stars Moore as a veteran actress who uses a black-market drug to create a younger, better version of herself (Margaret Qualley). Actors love an industry-centered narrative (Birdman, The Artist, La La Land, etc.), but the question remains: Can budding distributor Mubi mount a big enough campaign for the film following its slated September release date? Every distributor needs to start somewhere, and this could be the company's first major film with enough goodwill to fuel a potentially successful awards season run for Moore's leading performance.

Elsewhere on the acting front, pop star Selena Gomez won one of the most prestigious acting awards in the world at Cannes, sharing the highly regarded Best Actress prize with fellow Emilia Pérez stars Adriana Paz, Karla Sofía Gascón, and Zoe Saldaña, who all appeared in the Jacques Audiard-helmed film about a transgender Mexican cartel leader. Following Poor Things star Emma Stone's Best Actress victory at the 2024 Oscars, Jesse Plemons also continued a winning streak for Yorgos Lanthimos-director actors, earning Cannes' Best Actor award for the upcoming Kinds of Kindness.

While Cannes acting honors don't cross over into Oscars territory as often as Palme d'Or winners in recent history, each of the performers' victories put them on a vital platform of visibility at this early stage.

<p>Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures</p> Margaret Qualley, Jesse Plemons, and Willem Dafoe in 'Kinds of Kindness'

Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures

Margaret Qualley, Jesse Plemons, and Willem Dafoe in 'Kinds of Kindness'

The non-Cannes jury is still out on other titles that hit the festival this year, with the biggest question marks looming over Ali Abbasi's Donald Trump opus The Apprentice and Francis Ford Coppola's polarizing big-screen return Megalopolis.

While The Apprentice might feel like a timely criticism of Trump ahead of the November election, Abbasi maintained that his project wasn't just a bunch of "liberal c--ts" painting a take-down portrait of the controversial former president — and that Trump might even come around on the film (his team is currently threatening to sue) if he sits down to watch Sebastian Stan lead the chronicle of his early years rising through the business sector in New York City.

None of that might matter in the end, however, as critics weren't enthusiastic about the project following its world-premiere screening. Its Metacritic score currently sits at 61 based on 19 reviews, hardly a strong enough reception to warrant widespread Oscars speculation right now.

<p>Profile Pictures</p> Jeremy Strong and Sebastian Stan in 'The Apprentice'

Profile Pictures

Jeremy Strong and Sebastian Stan in 'The Apprentice'

Coppola's Megalopolis finds itself in a similar position despite the pedigree of talent involved (Driver, Aubrey Plaza, Laurence Fishburne), with some reactions praising its grandiose spectacle, while others slammed it as a bloated, unfocused mess about an architect envisioning a utopian rebuild of New York City following a near-apocalyptic event.

Outside of the Cannes circuit, early buzz has already built for projects and performances in the hunt for Oscars gold, including Denis Villeneuve's blockbuster hit Dune: Part Two, Zendaya's leading performance in Challengers, and Regina King's work as Shirley Chisholm in Shirley.

Other suspected contenders on the horizon include Angelina Jolie's turn as famed opera singer Maria Callas in Pablo Larraín's Maria and Joaquin Phoenix and Lady Gaga's follow-up to 2019's Oscar-winning comic book adaptation Joker, titled Joker: Folie à Deux.

The 2025 Oscars air Sunday, March 2 on ABC. Nominations will be announced Jan. 17.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.