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What films shown during the Warner Brothers & Lionsgate CinemaCon panels could have awards buzz?


This week, CinemaCon takes over Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The annual event celebrating the cinematic experience has been happening for twelve years. While the press is invited to attend the event to cover the panels, this convention focuses on movie theaters and their owners.

As a media member covering the event for several years, I feel CinemaCon is like Comic Con for theater owners. The five-day event features massive studio presentations while highlighting what is new in the distribution world and what is on the horizon. Yes, I walk the convention floor yearly to sample some new popcorn flavors and grab a hot dog or two. Still, with each passing year, I realize more and more that this event is truly used as a selling tool to get everyone in the industry excited about what is coming out and what the future of movie theaters will look like.

So, given that here at Awards Buzz, our focus is on award season, I have decided to evaluate the footage shown during the panels and weigh in on which films could potentially be awards contenders. This article will focus on Warner Brothers and Lionsgate Panels.

The Big Picture – Warner Brothers CinemaCon Panel

Since January, Warner Bros. Pictures has released two films, which I believe will be part of the awards season later this year. Those films are Dune: Part Two and Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire. While I can hear some readers already grumbling about how Godzilla x. Kong: The New Empire isn’t an awards movie; you must remember that when evaluating films for awards season, some films that may not be obvious awards titles end up being nominated in the below-the-line categories, which I feel could be the case with Godzilla x. Kong. Given that the critically acclaimed Godzilla: Minus One won the Best Visual Effects Oscar last year, I think it is likely that this new film could end up landing a nomination not just at the Oscars but also at the VES Awards.

Switching gears to Dune: Part Two, we already know from the first film that the film is poised to be a major player with many below-the-line categories ranging from Cinematography to Makeup and Hairstyling to Score. While it’s too early to tell whether the film will end up being a contender in major categories like Best Picture and Best Director, we know that Warner Bros. will campaign for it, including some of the performances like Austin Butler and Timothée Chalamet.

Warner Brothers showed several big titles during their Big Picture presentation. I truly believe that at least two, if not four, could potentially develop some sizable awards buzz.

Based on all the previous footage combined with the new footage at CinemaCon, I can see Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga being a major contender in several below-the-line categories this awards season. Amongst the categories I can see the film being nominated are Cinematography, Production Design, Sound, Makeup & Hairstyling. Like Dune: Part 2, I can see Warners trying to push Furiosa for nominations in Best Actress for Anya Taylor Joy, Best Director for George Miller, and potentially Best Picture. I don’t think any of those larger categories seem realistic now, but my opinion may change after seeing the film next month.

Kevin Costner’s Horizon: An American Saga, broken into two parts, feels like one of those classic Oscar movies we rarely see. While I believe these films’ success will heavily factor into whether or not the film has any play this awards season or even be pushed for consideration, I can see this one landing a potential nomination for something like Cinematography just based on how gorgeous the film looks from the footage.

While suggesting that Beetlejuice Beetlejuice potentially being an awards film might seem just as absurd as saying Godzilla x. Kong is one; Burton’s dedication to practical effects could land the film some awards attention. I wouldn’t completely rule out the Production Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, or Danny Elfman’s score. The original Beetlejuice received several nominations from BAFTA and even won the Academy Award for Best Makeup.

Closing out the Warner Brothers Panel was Joker: Folie à Deux. Now, I know that many either love the first film or despise it for whatever reason. Regardless of your thoughts about the first film, it was a major awards player, earned 11 Academy Awards nominations, and won Best Actor and Best Score. I can see the sequel receiving a similar number of Oscar nominations and being nominated at the Globes, amongst several other guild awards, where Lady Gaga and Joaquin Phoenix may win acting prizes.

The Lionsgate Entertainment Panel

While Lionsgate is not traditionally viewed as a studio that releases awards titles regularly, they have won multiple Oscars over the years and have consistently popped up at various awards shows, even if it isn’t always the Oscars. While their upcoming slate of films doesn’t have many movies that scream awards season, minus Michael, the Michael Jackson biopic, I think Borderlands and Ballerina could be part of the below-the-line conversation.

With Borderlands, it feels like something that could potentially receive an Oscar nomination for something like Visual Effects, Production Design, or Sound. Still, I can see it popping up at individual below-the-line guilds. On the flip side, Ballerina doesn’t seem like it will acknowledged outside of various stunt awards at the guilds and organizations that recognize the stunt community. However, with so many changes happening in Hollywood right now, it is possible that the Academy could have a stunts category by next year. If that is the case, I can see this being nominated there. It will also likely be nominated at the SAG Awards for Best Stunt Ensemble, similar to the John Wick films.

Lionsgate does, however, seem to have a major awards player on in its hands in 2025 with Michael. Now, I know that Michael Jackson has a multitude of controversies surrounding him, but based on the footage shown, it appears the film will be covering all aspects of his life. If I am being completely transparent, Michael is the only film during the Lionsgate panel that made me go “wow” and feel goosebumps. Don’t get me wrong, Borderlands and Ballerina will be fun films; however, Michael screams awards based on the footage shown. I can see this landing a Best Picture nomination, several below-the-line nominations, and maybe a few acting nominations. I am not talking strictly about the Oscars here but about various guilds and award bodies. I think this might be a harder sell to critics groups because, after some of the documentaries and public information, I can see how some critics and journalists may end up boycotting the film if it doesn’t tackle the controversies head-on.

I will be back in the next day or two with an another article covering the Universal, Focus Features, Paramount, and Disney panels at CinemaCon.


  • 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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