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What films shown during the Disney CinemaCon panel could have awards buzz?

Disney Cinemacon Panel Films

To close out our CinemaCon coverage, we will take a look back at the Disney titles showcased during their panel. 

The Disney panel included films from 20th Century Studios, Pixar, Searchlight Pictures, Marvel Studios, and Walt Disney Pictures. No new Lucasfilm projects were announced or even mentioned during the presentation.

As seen in previous years, Disney spent a good chunk of their presentation focusing on films that would hit cinemas within the next few months. Between the introduction and the actual footage, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes and Inside Out 2 got the most stage and screen time. This wasn’t a surprise, given both films are likely to generate lots of money at the box office and some awards buzz to boot. 

While it’s highly unlikely that either film will be nominated for Picture, Screenplay, or Director, I do think it’s safe to say that Inside Out 2 will be a top three contender for Best Animated Feature, not only at the Oscars but at all awards bodies that celebrate or recognize animated films. While there aren’t a lot of guilds or organizations that honor voice performances, I can see Inside Out 2 getting nominated by the groups that do. 

Switching over to the Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, I strongly believe a Visual Effects nomination will happen. The last few Ape titles have all been visually stunning, and this franchise continues to up the ante when it comes to visual effects, so it seems very likely the film will be recognized in that category. With so many other films already gunning for the below-the-line categories, it’s hard to say whether or not this latest installment in the Apes franchise will see any additional nominations. Yes, there is a world where it might get sound, but with Disney’s Mufusa also hitting theaters this year and during the holiday season, I feel like the two films will go head to head for similar categories. Mufasa may end up getting more nominations simply due to the prime release date. 

Speaking of Mufasa, based on what I saw, a visual effects nomination seems incredibly likely. While Barry Jenkins didn’t mention who would perform the songs in his Lion King origin story, he did note that all the music would be original. We all know that Disney has a long history with the Academy and being nominated for Original Song. However, like with Apes gunning for a visual effects nomination, Disney has several titles competing in similar categories. 

This leads me to Moana 2, which, I’m not going to lie, looks pretty damn good, but I am very concerned about Lin-Manuel Miranda not returning to do the music. In the footage shown, Moana was returning home, which featured a big musical number. While the animation looked stunning, something about the music just felt off. It felt like Disney was trying to mimic a Lin-Manuel Miranda song, but it didn’t have the same punch we all expect from his music. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, but I didn’t feel the same way I did when I first heard songs from the original film. 

All that aside, Moana 2 is another film gunning for a Best Animated Feature slot at the Oscars and all award bodies. I think the Thanksgiving release date will help, and it will certainly have way more box-office traction than Wish did last year. Will a song from the film also receive a nomination for Best Original Song? Possibly, but I would need to hear more of the songs before I bet on them. Voice performance nominations also could happen, similar to Inside Out 2.

This brings us to Searchlight Pictures, which I felt got lost in the shuffle during the Disney presentation. While I completely understand that Searchlight Pictures doesn’t exactly scream big box office returns, their films tend to be in the awards conversation, and with Poor Things over-performing at the box office, I thought they would shine a bit more light on their upcoming slate. 

Given that no footage was shown, except for a short trailer for Yorgos Lanthimos’ Kinds of Kindness, I can’t talk specifics on their titles regarding awards buzz. Still, my gut tells me all three films will be pushed for awards season. That being said, Yorgos Lanthimos has had two films back to back that ended up being major awards players, so unless Kinds of Kindness is a massive misfire, I feel like it is kind of impossible to discount Lanthimos when it comes to awards.

Jesse Eisenberg’s A Real Pain, which I saw at Sundance, will likely be a major awards player. I can see the film getting nominated in the acting categories, one for Kieran Culkin and the other for Eisenberg, possibly screenplay and Best Picture. I wonder, however, if the subject matter might turn off some people, considering what is happening now in the world. I never thought I would say that A Real Pain would be divisive. Still, considering how divided Hollywood is right now on the Gaza vs. Israel war, I can sadly see this film being something that people might pause on seeing after hearing what it is about.

Lastly, having seen nothing besides a still image, I think Nightbitch, given Marielle Heller’s track record, will also generate awards buzz, but I am unsure what categories it will be in. Amy Adams is overdue for another nomination, but we won’t know until some screening occurs. I predict Nightbitch will premiere in Venice or Telluride. Searchlight loves premiering their films that those films so I wouldn’t be surprised if they show up there in late August or early September.

Well, that wraps up our coverage for this year’s CinemaCon. Let us know what you think about our predictions, and check back often, as we will have new content uploaded daily.


  • Scott Menzel

    Born and raised in New Jersey, Scott Menzel has been a life-long supporter of all things entertainment. At age five, he fell in love with film and television and was inspired by the work of Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, John Hughes, and Tim Burton. Scott grew up in a mixed-race household with six adopted brothers. His career as a critic began in 2002 when he started writing reviews for IMDB. Scott is autistic and has dedicated most of his career to supporting and elevating underrepresented voices within the entertainment industry. He serves as the Editor-In-Chief of We Live Entertainment, the CEO of the Hollywood Creative Alliance, and is a Television Academy and BAFTA member.

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