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See super early 2025 Oscar contenders to watch, from Zendaya to Lady Gaga and “Dune: Part 2”

See super early 2025 Oscar contenders to watch, from Zendaya to Lady Gaga and “Dune: Part 2”

Angelina Jolie, Regina King, and a movie about Donald Trump could be major Academy Awards contenders next year.

With the "Barbenheimer" duel and the Best Actress Battle of the Stones finally laid to rest, it's time to look ahead to who might take the podium next year with our super early preview of top 2025 Oscars contenders.

Before Oppenheimer triumphed as this year's big Best Picture winner, high-profile Oscar hopefuls had already aligned in January at Sundance, with all eyes on several mid-to-late-year blockbuster sequels (Dune: Part Two, Joker: Folie à Deux) to potentially repeat the Academy Awards success of their respective predecessors.

<p>Paramount; Netflix; Warner Bros; Getty Images</p> Early 2025 Oscars contenders include Regina King, Angelina Jolie, 'Dune: Part 2,' Lady Gaga, Kingsley Ben-Adir, and Zendaya

Paramount; Netflix; Warner Bros; Getty Images

Early 2025 Oscars contenders include Regina King, Angelina Jolie, 'Dune: Part 2,' Lady Gaga, Kingsley Ben-Adir, and Zendaya

Though we're still just under a year out from the 2025 Oscars — and with the awards-positioning Cannes film festival just around the corner — stoke your thirst for golden glory in Hollywood with Entertainment Weekly's top contenders to watch out for in the months ahead.

Zendaya in Challengers

Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures Mike Faist, Zendaya, and Josh O'Connor in 'Challengers'
Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures Mike Faist, Zendaya, and Josh O'Connor in 'Challengers'

Remember when we all (okay, okay, some commentators with taste) thought Zendaya was a contender for her sublime work in 2021's Malcolm & Marie? The awards machine mostly failed the Euphoria star when it came to honoring arguably her best dramatic work to date in the little-seen Netflix drama, but her year is shaping up to be too big for the Academy to ignore. Between her strong supporting role in Dune: Part Two (more on that later) to her leading part in Luca Guadagnino's buzzy love triangle drama/tennis epic Challengers, the former child star could finally step into the Oscars spotlight not because of her status as a bankable A-list star, but because she's a respectable actress who can front both blockbusters and — pardon the pun — challenging parts fit for a performer of her caliber.

Lady Gaga and Joaquin Phoenix in Joker: Folie á Deux

<p>Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images</p> Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn in 'Joker: Folie á Deux'

Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn in 'Joker: Folie á Deux'

In hindsight, maybe Lady Gaga's widely predicted nomination for House of Gucci — which never materialized, despite the Oscar-winning A Star Is Born performer bagging every relevant precursor — was never meant to happen. Now, with a buzzy new album in the works adding to her celebrity profile, the 38-year-old pop icon heads into the current Oscar race standing on more solid ground than she did in 2021 as she joins Joaquin Phoenix for Joker: Folie à Deux, a sequel to the Best Picture-nominated 2019 blockbuster that became the first R-rated movie to gross over $1 billion globally. Despite being an adaptation of characters from the DC Comics universe, Joker defied all statistics and earned critical and awards accolades beyond just the technical categories — including a Best Actor victory for Phoenix. With Gaga taking center stage as villainess Harley Quinn in the 2024 continuation, all bets are on her to rise through the season doing what she does best: tapping into her wild-child eccentricities, belting her brains out (Folie á Deux is rumored to be a musical), and making this year's Best Actress race a wickedly good (and weird) time.

Dune: Part Two in multiple categories

<p>Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures</p> Timothée Chalamet and Austin Butler in 'Dune: Part Two'

Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros. Pictures

Timothée Chalamet and Austin Butler in 'Dune: Part Two'

Those, uh, stimulating popcorn buckets aren't the only trophy the Dune: Part Two family might take home following the film's standout run at the box office so far. Director Denis Villeneuve's follow-up to his 2021 masterpiece has a big spice rack to fill, as the first film won six Oscars for technical elements — in addition to scoring a huge Best Picture nomination in the process. Part Two is off to a stellar start, as it has earned just under $600 million globally to date, and is likely to push well past that number by the time it hits VOD services. Oppenheimer and Barbie proved last year that the parameters around the Oscar race are less rigid, and that early-season releases have just as much (if not a better) standing in the hunt for Academy Awards as those that drop in November and December. With critical raves and golden dollar signs on its side, expect Dune: Part Two to ride off into the desert on a sandworm with multiple Oscars in tow.

Sebastian Stan in The Apprentice

<p>Andreas Rentz/Getty</p> Sebastian Stan; Donald Trump

Andreas Rentz/Getty

Sebastian Stan; Donald Trump

Likable Hollywood stars playing polarizing politicians can be a golden ticket to the Oscars (Vice, anyone?) or a middling affair that doesn't make it through the primaries (remember Josh Brolin's W.?). Both films might pale in comparison to the potential cultural impact of The Apprentice, which stars Sebastian Stan as a young Donald Trump attempting to start his real estate business in 1980s New York. With no confirmed release date just yet, it's wise not to go all in on the film's chances just yet, but there's enough real-world implication and talent involved (Oscar nominee Maria Bakalova, Succession's Jeremy Strong) to land this one on our long-range docket.

Angelina Jolie in Maria

Pablo Larraín Angelina Jolie in 'Maria'
Pablo Larraín Angelina Jolie in 'Maria'

Angelina Jolie is a bit of an enigma in Hollywood, having evolved from A-list leading lady (with tabloid drama to boot) into a reclusive director (First They Killed My Father is sublime) who peppers her current career with a few starring turns in blockbusters aimed at children (Maleficent, Kung Fu Panda) for good measure. Regardless of what she does, the media — and audiences — usually take note, and buzz continues to build for her performance as famed opera singer Maria Callas in Pablo Larraín's Maria. The Oscar-winning Girl, Interrupted star scored a follow-up nomination for her 2008 film Changeling, but she's endured an Oscars dry spell for the last 16 years. Her ticket to the Academy podium, however, feels somewhat destined now that she's partnered with Larraín, who previously directed Natalie Portman (Jackie) and Kristen Stewart (Spencer) to Best Actress nominations for their work in portraying real-life women as well.

Regina King in Shirley

<p>Glen Wilson/Netflix</p> Regina King in 'Shirley'

Glen Wilson/Netflix

Regina King in 'Shirley'

History. Politics. Biographical drama. Regina. King. Netflix's Shirley has all the makings of an Oscar contender on paper. King's tale of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman elected to Congress and, eventually, a major party's first-ever Black candidate for the presidency, also scored positive reviews from critics upon its release as well, and should have long enough legs to carry through the year on good will.

Kingsley Ben-Adir in Bob Marley: One Love

<p>Chiabella James/Paramount Pictures</p> Lashana Lynch and Kingsley Ben-Adir in 'Bob Marley: One Love'

Chiabella James/Paramount Pictures

Lashana Lynch and Kingsley Ben-Adir in 'Bob Marley: One Love'

Middling-to-decent critical reviews meant nothing to the trajectories of other mid-tier musical biopics that struck a chord with Oscar voters in the recent past, and Bob Marley: One Love looks to sustain that streak after raking in nearly $100 million during its run as a box office hit at the top of the year. Money talks when it comes to Hollywood's leading men honoring entertainers of bygone eras, whether it's the aforementioned Phoenix as Johnny Cash, Austin Butler in Elvis, or Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody — all scored Oscar nods and/or victories for their portrayals in commercially successful projects, and with Kingsley Ben-Adir hitting the ground running with One Love's stellar ticket sales, expect him to keep up that streak once the awards cycle starts churning.

<p>Universal Pictures/ Youtube</p> Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande in 'Wicked'

Universal Pictures/ Youtube

Cynthia Erivo and Ariana Grande in 'Wicked'

Other potential 2025 Oscar contenders (listed alphabetically):

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Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.