Director Vivek Agnihotri has been tweeting about his movie, The Kashmir Files, making it to the Oscars 2023 shortlist.
With the nominations for this year’s Academy Awards coming out on January 24, the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences has just announced that 301 feature films are eligible for the 2023 ceremony. This list which will be trimmed down in categories of five with the final nominations, includes some Indian favourites like SS Rajamouli’s RRR and Rishab Shetty’s Kantara.
Out of the 301 chosen ones, 11 films are Indian productions. However, the chances of either of these Indian films making it to the final list are still not that certain.
What are the Indian films that have qualified? Kantara and RRR are also joined by quite a mixed bag from India including the Hindi biopic Gangubai Kathiawadi, the Gujarati coming-of-age drama Chhello Show (which is also running to get a spot on Best International Feature), Marathi films Me Vasantrao, Tujhya Sathi Kahi Hi, the R Madhavan-fronted Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, Tamil thriller Iravin Nizhal.
Even Vivek Agnihotri’s polarising Hindi drama The Kashmir Files and the Kannada adventure flick Vikrant Rona (which opened to mixed to negative reviews) have made it to the list.
We are overjoyed to share that 'Kantara' has received 2 Oscar qualifications! A heartfelt thank you to all who have supported us. We look forward to share this journey ahead with all of your support. Can’t wait to see it shine at the @shetty_rishab #Oscars #Kantara #HombaleFilms— Hombale Films (@hombalefilms) January 10, 2023
Even though the list mostly includes feature films, the Indian documentary All That Breathes has also made the cut.
What is this list? The 301 films announced now will be in contention in ALL THE Oscar categories related specifically to feature films. As expected, box-office hits and critical darlings like Everything Everywhere All At Once, Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, The Fabelmans, and many more have made the cut.
Again, let us remind you that this is just the list of qualifiers, so expect a lot of critical duds and “non-Oscar bait” films too. This would explain the inclusion of films that drew mixed reviews such as The Kashmir Files, Vikrant Rona, and even Hollywood features like My Policeman, The Adam Project, The 355, Thor: Love and Thunder and so on.
In this context, Kantara has made it to two Oscar qualifications with the production studio Hombale Films having submitted the Kannada blockbuster for the Best Picture and Best Actor (Rishab Shetty) categories. While it’s a major achievement for an Indian film to even qualify among the plethora of others that are submitted for consideration, this still does not guarantee a final nomination.
Details regarding what categories the other Indian films qualified for are still unknown.
India has already made it to four shortlists: The announcement by the Academy comes a few days after it announced its shortlists for a few categories, with India making it in four categories. Let’s have a recap.
What is the next step for the Academy? The jury of the awards will start voting from January 11 with the voting process going on till January 17. As mentioned earlier, the final nominations will be out by January 24 with the award ceremony taking place on March 12.
Will any Indian film make it to the final nominations? Every year, the Academy comes out with an ambitious list mostly including 200 to 300 films. Last year, the count was 276; while 2020 reached a record high of 336 films. The list is mostly a fat-trimming exercise with the Oscars finally settling for the acclaimed favourites that have also won acclaim in other major international film festivals and awards.
So, what are India’s winning chances? While Kantara is definitely one of the most acclaimed 2022 Indian films, its lack of recognition on other global platforms might serve as a hindrance. As for All That Breathes, the Sundance-winning documentary seems to be locked for a Best Documentary slot in the final noms, given that its reputation got boosted further with appearances on several critics’ and publications’ year-ender lists of best films.
Chhello Show also has chances in the race with director Pan Nalin and producer Siddharth Roy Kapur pushing the Gujarati feature to get as much global recognition as possible. But given the intense competition in the Best International Feature shortlist (of 15 films) itself with festival giants like Germany’s All Quiet On The Western Front, and Pakistan’s Joyland, it might be a miracle if Chhello Show makes it to this category alone (leave alone the general categories like Best Picture).
RRR arguably took the whole world by storm with even Western audiences pleasantly amused with Rajamouli’s over-the-top theatrics. And even though Rajamouli has himself earned acclaim in the West with a recent win for Best Director at the New York Film Critics Circle last December, it is unlikely for RRR to get in for Best Picture. If we are to go with the general Oscar trends, RRR will have to get some nominations in major categories like Director, Screenplay, or Acting to get a Best Picture slot; a probability that seems unlikely with this year’s competition.
It is also worth noting that RRR has bagged two nominations for this year's Golden Globes in the Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Song categories. The results of the Globes will be announced on January 11.
The good news, however, is that RRR does have a high potential to not only get an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song (Naatu Naatu) but even win it! The song is a strong contender at the Golden Globes currently and if it wins here, chances of its Oscar win would only rise. While Lady Gaga’s Hold My Hand from Top Gun: Maverick and Rihanna’s Lift Me Up from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are also expected favourites, Naatu Naatu is definitely a populist choice of equal weight, grabbing noms at the Critics Choice Awards and several other American critics’ circles.
From Disney songs like Let It Go to James Bond tracks like Billie Eilish’s No Time To Die, awarding the popular song the top prize is not new to Best Original Song. So, yes, right now, the highest chances for India to secure an Oscar nomination or even win it might rest on Ram Charan and NTR Jr’s footsteps!
And finally, before you go, here's a lowdown on how to win an Oscar.