The Best Movie Of The Year Didn’t Get One Oscar Nomination, Here’s Why

By TeeJay Small | Published

2023 was a tumultuous year for the film industry, with superhero films bombing left and right, multiple concurrent union strikes shutting down productions for months, and the Barbenheimer trend completely upending box offices around the country. Now that the Academy Awards season has begun, some industry insiders have taken notice of some alarming trends left over from the bizarre year. Many critics wonder why films such as The Iron Claw haven’t received any awards praise.

The reason the critically acclaimed A24 film went under the Oscars’ radar is simply due to it premiering too late in the season, missing the ideal window to appeal to the academy.

The Iron Claw Has All The Makings Of A Oscar Worthy Film

As detailed by many critics of the film, The Iron Claw should, by all metrics, be a dominating force at the Academy Awards, as it ticks a number of the usual boxes. The film stars big-name actors like Zac Efron and The Bear‘s Jeremy Allen White, and centers on the true story of the Von Erich family wrestling dynasty, which contains a host of dramatic and thrilling twists and turns along the way.

Some critics have compared the film to an amalgamation of Raging Bull and Ordinary People, with intense dramatic performances and tight storytelling techniques highlighting the technical proficiency of filmmaker Sean Durkin.

Barely Made The Academy’s Deadline

the iron claw ric flair

The Iron Claw was also a commercial success, taking home more than $40 million against an indie production budget of only $15 million. Unfortunately, the film didn’t premiere until late December, just barely making the deadline for Academy consideration for the year. It is also rumored that Durkin didn’t complete the final edit of the film until a few weeks before its premiere, meaning The Iron Claw couldn’t participate in the usual Fall festival circuit.

Barbie And Oppenheimer Got In The Way

While film festivals may not seem overly significant to the average viewer, these press events leave a burning memory in members of the academy. This is further evidenced by the fact that eight out of ten Best Picture nominees at this year’s Oscar Awards held festival premieres, and the two that didn’t were Barbie and Oppenheimer. Despite the success that The Iron Claw has seen since its limited theatrical run, the film stood no chance against the industry giant Barbenheimer event, which dominated 2023.

The Iron Claw Never Really Had A Chance

Due to its late editing completion, DVD screeners for The Iron Claw didn’t reach academy voters until several weeks after the earliest options, meaning the film had significantly less time to leave a mark on the small sampling of viewers who pick the nominees.

A24 could theoretically have held on to the film until the deadline closed, and released it as an early contender for next year’s Oscars, though films that premiere too early tend to perform even worse than those that premiere too late.

Still A Beloved Film Worth Watching

At the end of the day, A24 studio heads seem to have taken the gamble on The Iron Claw‘s release in hopes that the film would be a Christmas hit. This gamble paid off generously, as critics and audiences alike loved the film and turned out in droves to see it in theaters, even if the Academy failed to recognize the film.