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The must-see movies of 2024 sliding under the radar this awards season

By Swingers

With the 2024 awards season building to its climax, we’ve rounded up the must-see films from around the world that failed to make the cut for the Oscars this year. 

The must-see movies of 2024 sliding under the radar this awards season

What do The Big Lebowski, Before Sunrise and The Shining have in common? They’re all acclaimed, hugely popular films that were overlooked by the Academy Awards. And these are by no means the only examples; the history of filmmaking is filled with movies that failed to be nominated for major awards, only to become classics in the years after their release. 

With the 2024 awards season building to its climax, we’ve rounded up the must-see movies from around the world that failed to make the cut for the Oscars this year. From emotional family dramas to wrestling biopics, each and every one of these films is worth seeking out, even without the accompanying awards splash.

The Iron Claw

Written and directed by Sean Durkin, The Iron Claw tells the true story of the inseparable Von Erich brothers, part of a larger-than-life professional wrestling dynasty in the early 1980s. Overseen by their domineering father — who is also their coach — the Von Erichs experience equal triumph and tragedy as they chase success. The film has a stacked cast, including Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson and Lily James. Efron, in particular, has drawn praise for his powerful performance, which many critics have heralded as a career best. But despite being held up alongside the likes of Rain Man and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape as a portrait of fraternal love, the film was overlooked by Academy members. 


In this bleak but ultimately affecting film from Andrea Pallaoro, Trace Lysette plays Monica, a young trans sex worker returning home to care for her dying mother (Patricia Clarkson) and entering back into a fractured family dynamic she has long been avoiding. Impeccably crafted and nuanced, the film avoids the predictable beats, keeping the audience guessing until the final shot. Lysette’s gorgeous performance is up there with the best of the year. 


Three-time Academy Award winner Sofia Coppola is no stranger to awards season but the director’s latest film, Priscilla, was shut out from this year’s big prizes. Based on Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir, Elvis and Me, Priscilla follows the young Priscilla Presley’s relationship with music superstar Elvis Presley, played by Saltburn star Jacob Elordi. But Coppola and Elordi aside, the biggest snub belongs to Cailee Spaeny, whose quietly brilliant performance as Priscilla is at the heart of the film and won the seal of approval from the real Priscilla Presley. Considering the buzz Austin Butler (deservedly) earned for his performance in  Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic last year, Spaeny’s lack of recognition seems like a particular shame.

A Thousand and One

The critically acclaimed breakout film of writer and director A. V. Rockwell, A Thousand and One follows free spirit Inez (Teyana Taylor), who kidnaps her young son from the foster care system in New York City. The film won Sundance’s grand jury prize and received strong reviews, yet failed to pick up mainstream traction amongst the broader cinema community. Despite this, it’s worth a watch for Taylor’s fearless lead performance, which more than does justice to Rockwell’s searing script. 

All Of Us Strangers

Director and writer Andrew Haigh’s fifth film is deeply personal and intensely emotional (cinema goers across the world have confessed to leaving screenings in floods of tears). All Of Us Strangers stars Andrew Scott as Adam, a lonely, London-based screenwriter working on a script inspired by his past. A chance encounter with mysterious neighbour Harry (Paul Mescal) leads Adam to revisit the house where he grew up, where he encounters his parents (Claire Foy and Jamie Bell) living exactly as they were on the day they died thirty years before. The whole cast are outstanding, with Scott in particular showcasing his formidable talent in a challenging, vulnerable role. 


Origin is the true story of journalist and commentator Isabel Wilkerson, the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer prize for journalism for her 2020 bestseller Caste: The Origins of our Discontents. Written and directed by Ava DuVernay, the film showcases Wilkerson’s ideas about the intersection between race, inequality and injustice. Star Aunjanue Ellis puts in a charismatic performance as Wilkerson and has real chemistry with Jon Bernthal, playing her husband, Brett. Visually translating Wilkerson’s book is no easy feat but DuVernay is more than up to the challenge. Yet despite her groundbreaking accomplishments over the years, DuVernay’s work has yet again gone unrecognised by the Academy. 


If you recognise the name of Eileen screenwriter Ottessa Moshfegh, you probably read her bestselling 2018 novel My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which raced to the top of everyone’s reading list during the COVID lockdowns. Now, Moshfegh and her husband Luke Goebel have adapted her 2015 novel Eileen into the film of the same name, starring Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway. The film follows a young secretary at a boys’ prison in 1960s Massachusetts who becomes entranced by vibrant psychologist Rebecca. Described at Sundance as “Carol with a dash of Hitchcock”, Eileen is an edgy thriller with a twist. Hathaway’s performance (deemed as her finest in years) is as seductive as it is chaotic. 


Another wrestling film, Cassandro showcases the flamboyant world of Mexico’s lucha libre. Directed by Roger Ross Williams and starring the always watchable Gael García Bernal, Cassandro is the true story of one of the sport’s trailblazing exóticos — male fighters who compete in drag. It follows Saúl Armendáriz, an openly gay wrestler in the early 90s who rises through the ranks to become a national sensation. The film is heartwarming and funny, while not shying away from the reality of being a gay man in a macho sport.


A hit on the indie scene, Passages nonetheless didn’t manage to break through this awards season, despite a strong critical response and big social media buzz. The film follows a Parisian love triangle in which Tomas (Franz Rogowski), a talented but moody film director, cheats on his husband (Ben Whishaw) with a straight woman (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and then continues to pursue a relationship with both. All three performers bring their A-game to this sensual film, with director Ira Sachs using body language to bring the complex emotions to life. The film has caused quite a stir for its sex scenes — not one to watch with your parents. 

Fallen Leaves

Despite high hopes that 2024 was Finland’s year to finally get an Best International Feature Oscar nomination, Fallen Leaves only made it as far as the shortlist. Nonetheless, the latest film from renowned Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki is a beguiling, feel-good watch, combining a winning romance with deadpan dialogue and sharp political comedy. Set in Helsinki, the film follows a man and a woman who meet by chance in a karaoke bar and must overcome numerous (big and small) obstacles on their path to happiness. 


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