Zendaya courts Oscars buzz as first Challengers reviews roll in

Los Angeles, California - Could Zendaya score her first Oscar nomination with her buzzy new movie, Challengers?
Critics have hailed Zendaya's leading turn in Challengers as a standout performance, courting buzz that the role could score the star her first Oscar nod.
Critics have hailed Zendaya's leading turn in Challengers as a standout performance, courting buzz that the role could score the star her first Oscar nod.  © IMAGO / Landmark Media

On Friday, reviews for the anticipated tennis flick, directed by Luca Guadagnino, began to roll in, earning Challengers a 100% debut on Rotten Tomatoes before slipping to an admirable 96%.

A clear theme amid the glowing reviews is the 27-year-old Euphoria star's standout performance as shrew tennis pro Tashi, whose complex character remains at the heart of the movie.

"Zendaya is the linchpin," David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter wrote. "Her work here, on the heels of Dune: Part Two, cements her status as a born Movie Star."

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"Challengers is the ultimate example to date of what has become a distinctively Zendaya screen energy," Vulture staff writer Matt Zoller Seitz said.

"When she raises up her racket hand to serve, you believe she could break your nose with the force of her swing and also that her character is driven, after all these years, by diverted rage at having the world and losing it.

Naturally, fans have gone into a total frenzy over the positive response, and many have volunteered to lead the campaign to earn Zendaya her first Oscar nod.

Will Zendaya earn a Best Actress nod for Challengers?

Zendaya plays former tennis star Tashi in Challengers, which hits theaters later this month.
Zendaya plays former tennis star Tashi in Challengers, which hits theaters later this month.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Though Zendaya hasn't been recognized at the Academy Awards just yet, she's already made history with her accolades from the small screen.

Her starring turn as Rue Bennett on HBO's Euphoria earned her two Primetime Emmy Award wins and made her the youngest winner in the Drama Lead Actress category at the age of 24.

While it may be too soon to hail her a front-runner for a nomination, the Disney alum's role in Challengers is sure to at least enter the conversation as the 2025 awards season chatter gets underway later this year.

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Either way, it's sure to be far from the last acclaimed performance from the twenty-something starlet.

Challengers premieres in theaters on April 26.

Cover photo: IMAGO / Landmark Media

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