Oscar Race Sees Major Shift as ‘Dune 2’ Release Pushed to 2024, Bolstering Prospects for ‘Oppenheimer’ and Christopher Nolan

In a startling turn of events this week, Warner Bros. has officially rescheduled the release of “Dune: Part Two” to the year 2024. This strategic move is expected to significantly impact the ongoing Oscar race, potentially enhancing the prospects of the summer’s second-highest-grossing blockbuster, “Oppenheimer.” The two cinematic powerhouses seemed poised for a showdown at the upcoming Academy Awards, vying for recognition in various technical categories.

The decision to delay “Dune 2” is met with widespread agreement, particularly considering the artistic vision of director Denis Villeneuve, who was conspicuously overlooked during the initial installment’s nomination process. The move aims to spare Villeneuve from competing against several other master filmmakers head-on. It’s worth noting that previous franchise sequels, like 2002’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” missed out on directing nominations, only to witness the final installment sweep the subsequent awards ceremony.

Could ‘Oppenheimer’ Spell Victory for Christopher Nolan, Cillian Murphy, and Robert Downey Jr. at the Oscars?

The first installment of “Dune” garnered six Oscars for its achievements in production design, cinematography, film editing, sound, visual effects, and original score. Based on the anticipation generated by the trailer and early buzz, the second installment is poised to compete once more in these same categories, potentially with even greater success. Meanwhile, with “Oppenheimer,” Christopher Nolan has assembled another exceptionally talented team of artists, all of whom are contenders in the same technical categories.

But what’s the significance of these developments?

For Universal Pictures, this alteration carries substantial weight, as the studio seeks to secure the coveted Best Picture award after narrowly missing it with films like “1917” (2019) and “The Fabelmans” (2022). The studio is undoubtedly eager to claim its first Best Picture trophy since the victory of “Green Book” in 2018. Furthermore, the strategic move to focus on “Oppenheimer” aligns with the narrative that it’s finally Christopher Nolan’s time to shine—a storyline that gains credibility when a film amasses multiple technical awards.

Throughout cinematic history, the movies that have received the most Oscars tend to be period pieces or films driven by technological innovation. Examples include James Cameron’s “Titanic” (1997) and Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003). Since the expansion of the Best Picture nominee pool from five to ten films in 2009, there have been instances where movies dominated their respective ceremonies but fell short of the top prize—such as “Gravity” (2013), which won seven awards but lost to “12 Years a Slave” in the Best Picture category.

The shift in “Dune 2″‘s release date grants “Oppenheimer” an opportunity to make its case before the technical branch of the Academy. While nominations in each category are determined by the respective branches, the final winners are chosen by the entire membership eligible to vote.

Barring unforeseen challenges—inevitable in the competitive Oscar season—current projections place “Oppenheimer” in contention for an impressive 12 Oscar nominations. These include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Cillian Murphy), Best Supporting Actor (Robert Downey Jr.), Best Supporting Actress (Emily Blunt), Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Sound, and Original Score. If “Oppenheimer” can secure additional nominations in categories such as makeup and hairstyling, visual effects, or even potentially with a double nomination for Matt Damon in supporting actor, it would solidify its position as a formidable contender.

It’s important to remember that it’s still early in the race, with the fall festival circuit about to kick off with events like Venice and Telluride. Upcoming films such as Bradley Cooper’s partially monochrome “Maestro” and Yorgos Lanthimos’ sci-fi period dramedy “Poor Things” could introduce competitive dynamics. Moreover, Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” the latter expected to become a global box office hit, promise to make the awards season journey even more intriguing.

With a remarkable global box office earnings of $777 million, coupled with critical acclaim and a “Dune”-free competition, “Oppenheimer” emerges as an early frontrunner in the race for Oscar gold.

Post Disclaimer

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Info Streamline journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.