Blockbusters Return to Best Picture Race

The heartfelt sci-fi comedy Everything Everywhere All at Once leads the Oscars race with 11 nominations, followed by The Banshees of Inisherin and All Quiet on the Western Front, which earned eight nominations each in Tuesday’s announcements.

All three films are up for Best Picture, a category that includes the two top-grossing films of the year: Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick. That may expand the audience for an awards show that has struggled to retain its once-immense ratings and cultural resonance. Other Best Picture nominees include Elvis, The FabelmansTár, Women Talking, and Triangle of Sadness. Here is the complete list of Oscar nominees.

The Way of Water has earned over $2 billion in global box office, while Maverick has earned about 1.5 billion. They swamped the box office take of every 2022 Best Picture nominee: Dune, the highest-grossing of last year’s nominee, scored $400 million, and no other 2022 Best Picture nominee even cracked $100 million. CODA, the Best Picture winner last year, earned less than $2 million at the box office because the Apple film, like many of the nominees, was seen primarily on streaming services as the world slowly bounced back from pandemic lockdowns.

If Everything Everywhere All at Once wins — and its 11 nominations make it the favorite — it will be the highest grossing Best Picture winner since Parasite, which won in 2020 and has earned $263 million globally. Everything Everywhere has earned $104 million so far. Elvis was another solid box office performer, bringing in $287 million.

Last year’s show, best remembered for Will Smith’s slap of Chris Rock, avoided the all-time low ratings of the 2021 ceremony, after a year in which COVID almost completely snuffed out theatrical releasing.

The return of theatrical blockbusters may throw a lifeline to the ceremony — viewers can look forward to the prospect of Tom Cruise duking it out with James Cameron for Best Picture, even if neither of their films are favored to win. The Oscars long for a return to the days when movies were the most culturally resonant art form, and the tens of millions of people who tuned into the ceremony had at least a passing familiarity with the films in contention. As streaming has split of audiences, and comic-book movies that rarely win top awards have taken over the box office in the last decade, it has become increasingly rare to see a bona fide blockbuster competing for Best Picture.

Main image: Stephanie Hsu, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All at Once.