10 most popular 2024 Best Picture Oscar nominees, ranked

Paul Giamatti stands next to a Christmas tree in The Holdovers.
Focus Features

The 2024 Academy Awards ceremony is just around the corner; chances are, you’ve seen at least some of the nominees for Best Picture. Barbie and Oppenheimer, the two movies that defined 2023, have been seen by everyone at this point, but what about Killers of the Flower Moon? The Holdovers? Maybe Past Lives? How popular are these movies, and does it help or hurt their chances of winning the big prize?

In determining the popularity of this year’s crop of Best Picture nominees, I looked past social media mentions, YouTube views, and critic scores and used the one metric that matters to the entertainment industry: money. Using their total worldwide grosses as of February 27, I rank each Best Picture nominee from least to most popular. Unlike an M. Night Shyamalan movie, you will not be surprised at the ending.

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10. Maestro ($820,000)

An old man conducts an orchestra in Maestro.

A brief glance at Maestro‘s box office will tell you the wrong story at first. While any movie grossing less than a million dollars would be considered a failure, Maestro is a Netflix film, which means it was given a limited release for a couple of weeks before debuting exclusively on its streaming platform.

The Bradley Cooper movie only appeared once on Netflix’s top 10 most popular movies list before disappearing completely, so maybe it is a disappointment after all.

9.  The Zone of Interest ($16.2 million)

A man carries a wheelbarrow in The Zone of Interest.

It’s no surprise that The Zone of Interest is low on this list. An esoteric, almost punishing look at a Nazi family living next to the Auschwitz death camp and caring more about getting a promotion and snagging the right fur coat than the millions of Jewish people being systematically slaughtered right next door, the Jonathan Glazer film isn’t for everyone.

Yet it’s slowly finding its audience now that it’s on VOD and deserves all the attention it’s been getting. It’s an essential movie for anyone who wants to understand how the Holocaust came to be and how it can happen again.

8. American Fiction ($20.8 million)

One of two comedies nominated, American Fiction‘s scathing satire about race and the publishing industry has been an art-house hit since it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last fall. It’s bound to find an even wider audience on streaming, where its sometimes uncomfortable punchlines will play better to a more mainstream audience who doesn’t have access to indie cinemas.

7. Past Lives ($26.6 million)

Two children rest against each other in Past Lives.

The indie hit of last summer, Past Lives‘ bittersweet tale of childhood love lost, found, and (maybe) lost again, has been winning over audiences well into 2024. It’s not a surprise, as the film is romantic without being saccharine and melancholic without being depressing. Credit lead star Greta Lee, whose luminous performance still lingers in the memory.

6. Anatomy of a Fall ($29.6 million)

A boy testifies in Anatomy of a Fall.

Every year has an unexpected foreign language hit, and 2023’s was Anatomy of a Fall. A French thriller that focuses on the trial of a woman accused of murdering her husband, Fall filled the need for moviegoers longing for a good mystery.

Also, it contains one of the best performances ever given by a dog in motion pictures. That’s box office gold in any language.

5.  The Holdovers ($40.7 million)

A boy reads a book in The Holdovers.
Focus Features

If The Holdovers has been released five years ago, it would’ve probably grossed double what it did in 2023. Alas, we live in a streaming age, so while it made a respectable $40 million, it could’ve grossed far more had it not debuted on VOD less than a month (!) after it came out in movie theaters.

It doesn’t matter in the long run, as The Holdovers is already on track to becoming the next great Christmas classic that’s watched again and again over the holidays. Finally, you can watch something besides Die Hard and Love Actually.

4. Poor Things ($105 million)

A woman lies on an operating table in Poor Things.
Fox Searchlight

An erotic, brainy take on Bride of Frankenstein, Poor Things shouldn’t have worked. It was considered by some (not this author) as too weird, too sexual, and too feminist for mainstream audiences.

Yet slowly but surely, the Yorgos Lanthimos film found its devotees and has made over $100 million (and counting) against a thrifty $35 million budget.

3. Killers of the Flower Moon ($156.8 million)

A man and a woman kiss in a field in Killers of the Flower Moon.

The only nominee that’s surely lost money, Killers of the Flower Moon, is both a failure and a success. At over 206 minutes, the film is one of the longest ever released and deals with a difficult and important subject matter: the pillaging and mass murder of the Osage Nation by greedy white settlers and politicians.

That it made as much money as it did is a success story by itself, yet the movie cost a whopping $200 million (some say more). The bright side? It was funded by Apple, which doesn’t really care about turning a profit at the box office as long as they have attention-grabbing films and TV shows to populate its neophyte streaming service, Apple TV+. Well, for now, at least.

2. Oppenheimer ($960.7 million)

A man looks away in Oppenheimer.

It’s been nearly nine months since Oppenheimer was released in theaters at the end of July, and it’s still unbelievable to me that a three-hour movie about nuclear physics, shot mostly in black and white, made almost a billion dollars. That it did that well is due to a confluence of factors: the Barbenheimer social phenomenon; audiences’ enduring trust in director Christopher Nolan, who wowed them with past hits like The Dark Night, Inception, and Interstellar; and the growing weariness of cookie-cutter franchise films like Transformers, The Fast and the Furious, and almost any MCU movie nowadays.

Oppenheimer is the favorite to win Best Picture this year, but its greatest achievement might be in shifting the industry away from churning out endless IP tentpoles that have siphoned Hollywood’s creative community for the last 20 years and back to a golden age of intellectually stimulating films.

1. Barbie ($1.446 billion)

Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie smile at each other in Barbie.
Warner Bros. Pictures

What more can be written about Barbie? It was THE movie of 2023, whether you liked it or not. You couldn’t escape its pink-colored shadow; not at movie theaters, certainly, but also not on Spotify thanks to Billie Eilish’s hit song What Was I Made For?; and definitely not on the Internet, which obsessed over every little line, costume, and Ken variant.

It’s not going to win any major awards on Oscar night, but it won pop culture itself for a little while, and isn’t that a prize worth having?