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  • Writer's picturePerrin Faerch

2024 Oscar Predictions

2023 was an outstanding year for films. Not only were we treated to pure quality from all over the place, but the cinematic experience was at its grandest and most fun it has been years. The Barbenheimer sensation alone effectively “saved cinema” for so many of us as it gave us another reason to get excited about going to the movies again, with both Gerwig and Nolan pulling the mainstream and arthouse crowds in droves. So it’s with no surprise that both films racked up a ton of nominations, and although Gerwig and Robbie were denied acting and directing nods (calm down they still got nominations for producing and writing), the overwhelming love from audiences, critics and industry people shows how important and brilliant the work was. 


But it wasn’t just Barbie and Oppenheimer that were the highest indicators of quality in, 2023.  As evident in so many year-end lists, including my Favourite 50 Films of 2023 (self-plug in my article soz), 2023 was STACKED with great films. So it’s no surprise that regardless of who did or did not get nominated, there were always gonna be snubs. There were notable, surprising snubs but it’s just too full of quality this year that someone deserving was going to be left out.


I know what you’re thinking: the Oscars are lame, hell, any kind of awards is lame. Sure. There’s no way they could recognize and award every piece of fine work that came out over the year. And not having Oscars, as we all know, doesn't mean the work is lacking quality. And yes, the Academy has gotten it wrong on numerous occasions (both from subjective and objective points of view). But over the past decade or so, they’ve actually gotten it mostly right. And it's cool when your favourite things win.


Kimmel hosts again, Ryan Gosling will perform “I’m Just Ken” with a massive team of dancers, Lily Gladstone will likely be the first Native American Oscar winner ever, but unfortunately, Anatmoy of a Fall’s star Messi the Dog won’t be in attendance. Bummer. Here’s hoping we get a controversy-free night for a second year in a row, but most importantly, please don’t be boring.


Anyways, how we are determining these picks is based on award season wins thus far, buzz, the norms in each category, sometimes a personal gut instinct and in very rare cases, a feeling based on what the often depressing (but not always, thankfully) anonymous Oscar ballots are telling us about what voters are feeling. As usual, I’ve listed who I think will win, could win, and who I think should, and sometimes, who should’ve been nominated.


ADDITIONAL NOTES: I have watched a large majority of the films except for one documentary, one animated film, and unfortunately a number of the short films as none are readily available to the public or are geo-locked (even picking up on VPNs – boooooo).

Off we go.


Best Picture


The Nominees

American Fiction

Anatomy of a Fall

Barbie

The Holdovers

Killers of the Flower Moon

Maestro

Oppenheimer

Poor Things

The Zone of Interest


What will win: Oppenheimer

What could win: Poor Things

What should win: Oppenheimer


At the beginning of the race, I thought it was going to be a tight battle between Oppenheimer, Barbie and Killers of the Flower Moon based purely on the records broken, popularity (critically and commercially) and eventual importance of the work (hence Killers). But things have shifted. All season, it’s been a battle between Oppenheimer and Poor Things, with the momentum swinging rapidly from one to the other. But as it stands, the momentum for Oppenheimer is just too big, taking the drama category at the Golden Globes (although Poor Things took comedy there), best picture at the BAFTAs, Critic’s Choice Awards (just to name a few). All of those have a major influence on taking home the top prize, with the BAFTAs having a surpassingly large overlap into the academy voters. But the biggest indicator in the Best Picture race, one that has predicted its winners on most occasions, is the Best Ensemble award at the Screen Actors Guild. It has determined 6 of the last ten Best Picture winners (and a lot more before that). Poor Things could have a fighting chance: Winning Best Film at Venice gives you a massive boost going forward (Nomadland, Parasite and The Shape of Water all won at Venice and at the Oscars). But as said before, Oppenheimer’s momentum, praise and significance for the future of the movie-going experience is just too big for voters to go any other way.


Best Director


The Nominees

Justine Triet (Anantomy of a Fall)

Martin Scorsese (Killers of the Flower Moon)

Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer)

Yorgos Lanthimos (Poor Things)

Jonathan Glazer (The Zone of Interest)


Who will win: Christopher Nolan

Who could win: Jonathan Glazer

Who should win: Christopher Nolan/Jonathan Glazer

Who should’ve been here: Greta Gerwig (Barbie)


Once again, this a stacked category with its most welcome surprise coming in the form of Justine Triet’s phenomenal work on the twisting and turning courtroom drama/thriller Anartomy of a Fall (#2 on my best of 2023 list). But once again, the momentum is in favour of Nolan. Having been due his first Oscar, he has taken a massive percentage of the directing awards leading up to here, notably that of the Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critic’s Choice and the Director’s Guild, which is once again, the biggest determining factor, although it hasn’t been a guarantee in the past when Bong Joon-Ho beating Sam Mendes at the Oscars despite the latter taking the DGA. Nolan’s ability to take a 3-hour historical biopic of mostly conversations and make it so absorbing, thrilling and important in breaking down, understanding (but thankfully not glorifying or excusing) its subject is so impressive, making it his finest work to date. 


It’s unlikely, but Glazer’s important and incredible work on The Zone of Interest could sway voters. But that work is so niche, subtle and even experimental in what is already a very subversive arthouse film. Those fine details might be too subtle for the more average voter to see (I’m not trying to make these people sound stupid, apologies, but it can be true). I’ll be very happy with whoever wins here, as they're both deserving of it.


Greta Gerwig’s ability to take a movie that most would (and still, unfortunately) dismiss Barbie as just a movie about a doll, and turn it into something that means so much more than just its silliness. She's also the only filmmaker who has had all of her directorial efforts nominated for Best Picture (Lady Bird, Little Women). She managed to combine the weird with the mainstream so effectively, sparking a box office sensation that, along with Oppenheimer, was able to bring both the arthouse Gerwig-heads and the mainstream moviegoers together seamlessly.


Best Actress in a Leading Role


The Nominees

Annette Bening (Nyad)

Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon)

Sandra Hüller (Anatomy of a Fall)

Carey Mulligan (Maestro)

Emma Stone (Poor Things)


Who will win: Lily Gladstone

Who could win: Emma Stone/Sandra Hüller

Who should win: Lily Gladstone/Emma Stone/Sandra Hüller

Who should be here: Greta Lee (Past Lives)/Margot Robbie (Barbie)

 

I’m torn here, although Gladstone blew me away in Killers, Emma Stone gave my favourite performance of the year with Hüller falling closely behind. If we’re being technical, maybe Gladstone should’ve been put in the supporting actress category seeing as it is a supporting role, but it’s hard to deny a great performance, especially the importance of what it means for the first Native American to ever win an Oscar (not just the acting award). Representation is important and this would be huge. Gladstone’s win at the Golden Globes was important, with the momentum swinging between her and Emma Stone throughout the season, but the SAG has pushed her right to the front. Although we have seen surprises in the past, most notably Glenn Close winning the SAG but then losing on Oscar night to Olivia Coleman, I can’t see voters going any other way. And regardless of which category she was placed under, Gladstone would still win. I will be happy with either three of these performers as they’re all incredible.


Margot Robbie’s omission is odd here as her work in Barbie is phenomenal. Whilst most of her cast mates are allowed to be in full silly mode the entire film, she has to hold the film’s themes and tonal shifts on her shoulders, creating a character from the ground up with no backstory - developing the fine line on when to be silly and when to be introspective and nuanced. A nod for Greta Lee also would’ve been most welcome in an exhausting performance of putting on a brave face of certainty while a battle of uncertainty brews underneath.


Best Actor in a Leading Role


The Nominees

Bradley Cooper (Maestro)

Colman Domingo (Rustin)

Paul Giamatti (The Holdovers)

Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer)

Jeffrey Wright (American Fiction)


Who will win: Cillian Murphy

Who could win: Paul Giamatti

Who should win: Cillian Murphy

Who should’ve been here: Koji Yakusho (Perfect Days)


This is another category whose momentum has been shifting between two performers: Giamatti and Murphy. Giamatti is someone who is so highly revered by his peers and adored by audiences. He should’ve grabbed an Oscar nomination (and won) for Sideways back in 2005. So this could finally be his year. His characters in The Holdovers and Sideways are very similar, sharing similar levels of grumpiness, stalled ambitions and the inability to allow others in. It’s a wonderful performance both funny and touching and I would be chuffed with him winning. But Murphy’s take on J. Robert Oppenheimer is a performance for the ages. Subtle changes in body language and personality separated over different time periods as well as different perspectives make it a performance that reveals more every time you revisit. Also, the fact that he had to do this with a screenplay that was written in the first-person perspective of Oppenheimer makes it that much more daunting. And he pulls it off brilliantly. After taking home the SAG, Murphy is most likely going to take the biggest award of the circuit as well.


Best Actress in a Supporting Role


The Nominees:

Emily Blunt (Oppenheimer)

Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple)

America Ferrera (Barbie)

Jodie Foster (Nyad)

Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers)


Who will win: Da’Vine Joy Randolph

Who should win: Da’Vine Joy Randolph

Who could win: Danielle Brooks


This category is a lock with Da’Vine Joy Randolph winning at every one of the major awards. And well deserved. It’s a heartbreaking but ultimately heartwarming performance of grief and empathy, focusing The Holdover’s messages of empathy and understanding into crystal clear clarity.

The Academy love musicals, especially performances in them, so maybe Brooks could pull off an upset for her stellar work in The Color Purple, but as said before, Randolph is pretty much guaranteed this award.


Best Actor in a Supporting Role


The Nominees:

Sterling K. Brown (American Fiction)

Robert De Niro (Killers of the Flower Moon)

Robert Downey Jr. (Oppenheimer)

Ryan Gosling (Barbie)

Mark Ruffalo (Poor Things)


Who will win: Robert Downey Jr.

Who could win: Ryan Gosling

Who should win: Robert Downey Jr.

Who should be here: Charles Melton (May December), Milo Machado-Graner (Anatomy of a Fall)


The supporting categories are always the earliest locked categories in the awards season, and it’s no different here as RDJ will also pick up an Oscar people feel is long overdue as well. It’s a massive performance for RDJ not just in terms of scope, but also what it means for him as a respected actor. Having lived exclusively in the MCU bubble for so long creating what will forever be an iconic turn as Tony Stark AKA Iron Man, it’s a bubble that is so hard to break out from (Ruffalo in this category will attest to that), forming habits associated with playing one character for so long. Here, he was challenged by not only Nolan but himself – holding back on his usual (and excellent) improvisational skills as an actor and keep it grounded to the text, creating a Salieri-like villIain to Murphy’s Oppenheimer (in reference to the film Amaedeus here). It's a phenomenal performance that, like Randolph as well, has picked up every award it has been nominated for.


Charles Melton is the notable omission for me here. He genuinely blew not just me away, but critics as well in May December. He grounds the film from being a trashy melodrama, showcasing a childlike vulnerability as the film’s focal point, a performance that needed to be in May December. One which he does effortlessly and should've been nominated. Milo Machado-Graner is the heart of his film: a child at the center of a collapsing marriage as well as being a key witness to the swift conclusion of it. Faced with moral dilemmas, Machado-Graner gives one of the great performances of the decade that should've been on the final ballot.


Adapted Screenplay


The Nominees

American Fiction

Barbie

Oppenheimer

Poor Things

The Zone of Interest


What will win: American Fiction

What could win: Barbie

What should win: Barbie/Oppenheimer/American Fiction

 

This is a hard category to pick as its major precursor, the Writers Guild Awards, is taking place after the Oscars, which is the first time I’ve ever experienced this happening. But it seems that the buzz is pointing toward Cord Jefferson’s fantastic American Fiction, a meta-comedy that critiques thematic narrative trends as well as (intentionally) falling victim to them. It’ll actually be perfectly in line with what the film is saying if it wins as well: a film making fun of America’s obsession with black suffering has its African American protagonist having to settle and do the same. It’ll be a worthy winner but Barbie could upset the cards in another brilliant screenplay that feels entirely original despite being based on existing characters. How Gerwig and Baumbach managed to make a doll movie with such thematic and emotional depth should be celebrated as such even if it doesn't win. But voters might feel compelled to show American Fiction some well-deserved love as this will likely be the only category for them to truly do so. Its win at the Indie Spirit Awards is also a big step in the right direction for it. Nolan’s unusual but impressive use of first-person writing in a screenplay is unheard of as well, which might sway voters as its unlike any screenplay they may have seen before. But Oppenheimer is expected to dominate elsewhere, so I feel the voters will spread the load here as Nolan will most likely grab two Oscars on the night already.


Original Screenplay



The Nominees

Anatomy of a Fall

The Holdovers

Maestro

May December

Past Lives


What will win: Anatomy of a Fall

What could win: The Holdovers

What should win: Anatomy of a Fall


Justine Triet and co-writer (and partner) Arthur Harari’s dazzling screenplay will be only the third film not in the English language to win a screenplay award at the Oscars following Almodóvar’s Talk to Her and Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite. Its Palm d’Or win at Cannes pushes it right to the front of the queue, but it’s also become a beloved piece of cinema not just amongst industry folks, but audiences as well, creating parallels of an accident/murder to that of a divorce drama. An outstanding work worthy of the win.

Alexander Payne’s future Christmas classic The Holdovers is also very much beloved and is the only one I can picture causing an upset. But that won’t happen, this’ll be the sole award Anatomy will likely get.


International Feature Film


The Nominees

Io Capitano (Italy)

Perfect Days (Japan)

Society of Snow (Spain)

The Teachers’ Lounge (Germany)

The Zone of Interest (UK)


What will win: The Zone of Interest

What could win: Society of Snow (Spain)

What should win: The Zone of Interest

What should've been here: Monster (Japan), Anatomy of a Fall (France)


The Zone of Interest is such an intense work of art with such a powerful message. It may leave some viewers cold in what it shows (and doesn’t show), but what it does is show us just how readily we are able to accept and ultimately embrace the evils that surround us. It’s an extremely relevant work of art that reminds us how insane it is to accept such horrors happening in the world today as normal and acceptable, as well as showing us that the evils committed by its subjects mean absolutely nothing to them. It’s extremely disturbing and extremely important, making it one of the most frighteningly relevant and original Holocaust film I have ever seen. It will take this category easily.

I'm surprised that France didn't submit Anatomy of a Fall. Instead, they opted for food-centric drama The Taste of Things. And although it's great to see that Anatomy didn't need this category to be taken seriously, if competing in this category, it would've been close with The Zone of Interest


Animated Feature Film



The Nominees

The Boy and the Heron **not seen**

Elemental

Nimona

Robot Dreams

Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse


What will win: The Boy and the Heron

What could win: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

What should win: **abstaining**


I have yet to see Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron (believe me, I have tried), so I’m abstaining from picking who I would prefer to win. Although The Boy and the Heron pulled off an upset at the Golden Globes, Spider-Verse is still the favourite here. But I’m picking The Boy and the Heron out of pure gut instinct. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is an incredible work, one that is even more intensive (and bigger) than the first, but its cliff-hanger ending setting up the sequel might be enough for voters to save their vote for the next one, or leave a bitter taste in their mouth. Also, the first one won this category so I wouldn’t be surprised if voters opt for something else: possibly giving a living legend in Hayao Miyazaki his second Oscar, 22 years after Spirited Away.


Documentary Feature Film


The Nominees

Bobi Wine: The People’s President

The Eternal Memory

Four Daughters

To Kill a Tiger **not seen**

20 Days in Mariupol


What will win: 20 Days in Mariupol

What could win: Four Daughters

What should win: 20 Days in Mariupol


This one all appears to be locked as well for the terrifying 20 Days in Mariupol, one that will resonate with voters as the war in Ukraine is ongoing. It’s a brutal on-the-ground report of what is happening, and without the work of its filmmakers, footage of the actual war would never have reached worldwide news. It’s an important piece of documentary filmmaking that showcases the frightening realities of a world most of us will hopefully never get to experience firsthand, but unfortunately so many go through every day, and not only in Ukraine.


Cinematography


The Nominees

El Conde

Killers of the Flower Moon

Maestro

Oppenheimer

Poor Things


What will win: Oppenheimer

What could win: Poor Things

What should win: Poor Things


Hoyt van Hoytema is the runaway favourite for this category following his ASC win (American Society of Cinematographers), and would very much be a worthy winner. Interchanging between intimate handheld work, sweeping cinematic “big picture” shots, as well as having a black and white IMAX film stock invented just for the film, will be enough evidence for voters to pick him as their winner. It’s sterling work which I loved, but Poor Things’ highly inventive use of lenses and colour really makes me feel like a child seeing the world for the first time, letting me inside the head of Bella Baxter as she starts making sense of both the beautiful and ugly of the world.


Production Design


The Nominees

Barbie

Killers of the Flower Moon

Napoleon

Oppenheimer

Poor Things


What will win: Barbie

What could win: Killers of the Flower Moon

What should win: Barbie


The production design in Barbie really feels like the toy sets coming to life, a huge job that even led to a worldwide shortage of pink paint. Its candy-coloured world will get one of the few awards on the night.


Editing


The Nominees

Anatomy of a Fall

The Holdovers

Killers of the Flower Moon

Oppenheimer

Poor Things


What will win: Oppenheimer

What could win: Anatomy of a Fall

What should win: Oppenheimer


Once again, another firm favourite is Jennifer Lame’s work on Oppenheimer. Regardless of the “no room to breathe” structure of its screenplay, Lame’s ability to control the pace so expertly with Oppenheimer is immense. It’s a breathless, structurally and thematically dense piece of work that keeps us in a chokehold as we race against the clock toward Oppenheimer’s morality as well as our inevitable doom. It may be 3 hours long, but not one moment is wasted and it never feels boring.


Costume Design


The Nominees

Barbie

Killers of the Flower Moon

Napoleon

Oppenheimer

Poor Things


What will win: Barbie

What could win: Poor Things

What should win: Poor Things


The fact that they managed to bring all of Barbie and Ken's (and Allen's) most iconic (and some not) outfits to life is just so cool and fun to see. Voters will eat that up. But I would love to see Poor Things win as I feel the originality is more evident here, whereas Barbie had clearer, more definitive reference points to draw from.


Makeup and Hairstyling


The Nominees

Golda

Maestro

Oppenheimer

Poor Things

Society of Snow


What will win: Maestro

What could win: Society of Snow

What should win: Maestro


Shnoz-gate aside, Maestro’s makeup and hairstyling are phenomenal, allowing characters to immerse themselves convincingly in the skins of the characters they’re growing with. Society of Snow’s gruesome but highly realistic make-up work could blindside the favourites here, but I doubt it. It’s a lock.


Sound


The Nominees

The Creator

Maestro

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

Oppenheimer

The Zone of Interest


What will win: Oppenheimer

What could win: The Zone of Interest

What should win: The Zone of Interest


Like in the editing category, Academy voters tend to go with whatever is the most “showy” in these disciplines. Oppenheimer features the best mixing I’ve heard in a Nolan film in quite some time, and when you pair that with the bombastic HUGE CINEMA sounds of it all, it’ll have voters automatically picking that. But The Zone of Interest’s entire sound design is what allows that film to be so damn powerful, effective and truly terrifying. It’s a densely, but carefully calibrated collage of the world happening around the film. It’s not what is shown that is so disturbing in The Zone of Interest, but what you hear, turning what appears to be a domestic drama into a full-blown horror film set on the doorsteps of unimaginable horrors.


Visual Effects


The Nominees

The Creator

Godzilla Minus One

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One

Napoleon


What will win: The Creator

What could win: Godzilla Minus One

What should win: Godzilla Minus One

What should be here: Oppenheimer


Although I didn’t like The Creator at all, it’s hard to deny just how visually gorgeous it is as it utilizes photo-realistic CGI throughout. I’d love to see Godzilla Minus One win though, and considering that the entire production was done for less than $15 million, the director heading the VFX department as well as Minus One being a runaway domestic and international hit both critically and commercially, might might convince voters to give it to the biggest, baddest lizard around.


Original Score


The Nominees

American Fiction

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Killers of the Flower Moon

Oppenheimer

Poor Things


What will win: Oppenheimer

What could win: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

What should win: Oppenheimer


Ludwig Göransson is poised to win his second Oscar (after Black Panther), taking home all the major awards he has been up for this awards season. Poor Things’ extremely weird score was a big surprise here, one that is very welcome, but as mentioned before, will be far too strange and non-traditional for voters. John Williams has one of the longest non-winning streaks in Oscar history, one where he still hasn’t won. Voters might give this to him as a bit of a legacy award, but I can’t picture this happening as Göransson’s jaw-dropping score of rising internal and external intensity will take it home.


Original Song


The Nominees

The Fire Inside from Flaming Hot

I'm Just Ken from Barbie

It Never Went Away from American Symphony

Wahzhazhe (a Song for my People) from Killers of the Flower Moon

What Was I Made For? from Barbie


What will win: What Was I Made For?

What could win: I'm Just Ken

What should win: Wahzhazhe (a Song for my People) from Killers of the Flower Moon/I'm Just Ken


Billie Eilish and brother Fineas are pretty much locked for this category, the only somber song of Barbie that brings all its ideas together so well. 


Thanks to Gosling's rendition and hilarious performance of it, the pop culture sensation of I'm Just Ken might be enough to push it over the line. And it would be fun for the Academy to pick something much sillier than what they normally go for. It's also the song that pushes Ken towards his character arc, one that shows Greta Gwerwig believes in Ken just as much as she does Barbie. Wahzhazhe (a Song for My People) to win though as it is a very real song about the very real suffering of the Osage as shown in Killers of the Flower Moon. But it's not just about suffering, but about survival, a chant celebrating its culture and perseverance in the face of evil. If it does win, Scott Geroge will officially become the first Native American to win an Oscar before Lily Gladstone becomes the second.


Live Action Short Film


The Nominees

The After

Invincible **not seen**

Knight of Fortune **not seen**

Red, White and Blue **not seen**

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar


What will win: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

What could win: The After

What should win: **abstaining**


Unfortunately, it’s been impossible for me to watch all these films based on location and availability, so an estimated guess is all I can provide. Normally what wins in these shorter categories is what is easily available for voters. If it’s on a major streaming service a la Netflix, they tend to get easy votes because it's so accessible to them. Seeing as The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is by Wes Anderson, one of the most recognizable names (and stylists) in cinema, as well as being on Netflix, might push voters to go for it. It's also an excuse for them to award Anderson with his first Oscar. In saying that, a lot of voters may not feel so obliged as these short film categories are often a great stepping stone for up-and-coming filmmakers. So they might give it to the other film available on Netflix that stars a familiar name in David Oyelowo. Not to dunk on any films here, but I sincerely hope it doesn’t win as its riddled with pandering clichés about grief as well as a laughable inciting incident that made me not take the film seriously at all.


Animated Short Film **not seen any of these**


The Nominees

Letter to Pig

Ninety-Five Senses

Our Uniform

Pachyderme

War is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko


What will win: War is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko

What could win: Letter to Pig


Again, unfortunately, I have not seen any of these. But from what I’m seeing in anonymous voters and general odds, War is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko is the favourite. From the sounds of Letter to Pig, which follows Holocaust survivor’s tale about how a pig saved their life, could resonate with voters. But gathering from the trailer and consensus may be too weird for voters.


Documentary Short Film


The Nominees

The ABCs of Book Banning **not seen**

The Barber of Little Rock

Island in Between **not seen**

The Last Repair Shop

Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó


What will win: The Last Repair Shop

What could win: The ABCs of Book Banning

What should win: **abstaining**


I haven’t seen two based on location and availability reasons, but based on general availability and rumblings, my pick is for The Last Repair Shop. Its story about regular people repairing kids’ instruments for free might strike a chord with voters. It being available on Disney+ is a huge bonus as well. My favourite of what I’ve seen here is Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó, which is a sweet story about two elderly women, both grandmothers to the filmmaker, are the best of friends who live and do everything together. It’s also on Disney+ and is so very wholesome.


There ya go...

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