Oscars 2024 Predictions: Who Will Win Best Picture and Other Categories?

Movies
oscars-2024-predictions:-who-will-win-best-picture-and-other-categories?

It’s been a good year for movies. As a film critic, it’s easy to fall into the  reflexive trap of stating that every December/January. Yet while looking at the nominees for Best Picture at the 2024 edition of the Oscars, there is (almost) not a bad apple in the lot: Anatomy of a Fall, American Fiction, The Holdovers, Past Lives, Killers of the Flower Moon, and of course the unlikely double act of Barbie and Oppenheimer provide arguably the strongest lineup we’ve yet seen in the 2020s.

There were of course snubs and surprises, which we unpacked at length here—including how the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seems increasingly allergic to nominating Greta Gerwig for Best Director—but overall the Academy has demonstrated measured taste. They’ve clearly moved away from the institution’s longstanding and generational aversion to foreign films, with The Zone of Interest and Anatomy of a Fall (plus the largely subtitled American release of Past Lives) no longer looking like outliers in the Best Picture race the way that Parasite or Triangle of Sadness did not too long ago; and they also aren’t balking at nominating populist entertainment that really is spectacular, as the Academy has generally been prone to do for the last 20 years. Indeed, as you’ll see in a moment we suspect one-half of the so-called “Barbenheimer’ phenomenon is going to sweep this awards season.

So with that in mind, we will offer our exceedingly early and bullish-to-a-fault predictions of what will probably win in the major categories on Oscar night below. Each section will feature who we think should win in italics, and who we suspect will win in bold. More than a few times, they might even be one and the same. So please enjoy, and come back here on the morning of March 11 to tell us how wrong we were!

Best Picture

American Fiction
Anatomy of a Fall
Barbie
The Holdovers
Killers of the Flower Moon
Maestro
Oppenheimer
Past Lives
Poor Things
The Zone of Interest

As we noted a month ago when surveying the awards frontrunners, it is difficult to think of a recent year with a more dominant frontrunner than Oppenheimer. The King’s Speech way back in 2010, maybe? And like that film, Oppenheimer is a bracing true story set around a subject matter near and dear to many an older Oscar voter’s heart: World War II. Additionally, Oppenheimer is the rarest of things in the 2020s; it’s a beloved box office hit made exclusively for adults. Despite making a three-hour, talkie drama about the potential end of the world, Christopher Nolan somehow turned Oppenheimer into a blockbuster and reminded the industry of the type of movies it used to make and is probably desperate to make again.

We think it truly is the best film of 2023—a picture that synthesized all of Nolan’s muses and fixations about obsessive, brilliant men surrounding themselves with like-minds, who then do something that destroys their souls. That it plays like a riveting thriller instead of beleaguering biopic is an astonishing magic trick, and it will be gratifying to see Nolan finally welcomed “into the club” after his more popcorn-adjacent films like The Dark Knight or Inception (which incidentally lost to The King’s Speech) were sniffed at.

There is an argument to be made that The Holdovers could upset Oppenheimer, especially if it winds up taking home Oscars for Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Actor (all possible, and downright likely in the first two cases). Actors are the Academy’s largest voting bloc, and it seems plausible The Holdovers will become that wing’s favorite film. But when Alexander Payne, the director of The Holdovers, cannot even get into the Best Director category, we think this scenario is more wishful thinking among awards watchers who are desperate for a horse race.

Best Director

Justine Triet
Martin Scorsese
Christopher Nolan
Yorgos Lanthimos
Jonathan Glazer

To briefly continue the Nolan lovefest, if Best Picture looks like a win for Oppenheimer, then Best Director is going to be a slam dunk. For all the reasons enumerated above, Nolan is the favorite in this category. Furthermore, there is the strong narrative that this is Nolan’s year. That narrative might even be called the Steven Spielberg trajectory, because Nolan, like Spielberg, made his name on populist entertainments that the Academy might grudgingly nominate for Best Picture, but infamously snub for Best Director. Spielberg was passed over for Jaws, as Nolan was for The Dark Knight, Inception and Interstellar. Yet when both went into the more respected subject matter of World War II tragedy, indifference transformed into recognition.

And if Oppenheimer’s biggest competitor in Best Picture isn’t even nominated for Best Director, you see how much of a foregone conclusion this is.

Best Actress 

Annette Bening, Nya
Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon
Sandra Huller, Anatomy of a Fall
Carey Mulligan, Maestro
Emma Stone, Poor Things

Here is the first difficult category to call. While Annette Bening getting into the Best Actress category over Margot Robbie is a surprise, the race is entirely between Emma Stone’s spellbinding work in Poor Things and Lily Gladstone’s haunting revelation in Killers of the Flower Moon. The truth is either could win, and personally we lean slightly more toward Stone, who gave the performance of a lifetime as Bella Baxter, a Frankenstein-like creation that is nonetheless a total original. This is a performance that will be admired for decades to come.

Yet that subversively weird movie is divisive with some more conservative viewers, and that would include older members of the AMPAS. While Stone is obviously admired throughout the Academy, the fact she also has an Oscar already for La La Land will make it easier for some voters to award a hitherto unknown Indigenous woman who drew an intimate portrait of the centuries-long oppression endured by Native Americans. The lack of nominations in other categories suggests there is some coolness toward Killers of the Flower Moon as a whole, but Lily Gladstone appears to be the exception to that rule. That the win might mean more for her career, as well as the Academy’s self-image as an industry that for a century has done notoriously little for Indigenous actors, could be enough to put her over the top.

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper, Maestro
Colman Domingo, Rustin
Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers
Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer
Jeffrey Wright, American Fiction

Marking another nail-biter, the Best Actor category will most probably come down to Paul Giamatti and Cillian Murphy. Both took home Golden Globes due to that awards body’s tradition of separating “comedy” and “drama,” but there will be no such distinction at the Oscars. While both performances are deserving, Giamatti is a long-working and beloved character actor who inexplicably had only one Oscar nomination to his name before this morning. While Murphy held a three-hour epic together by the lines of his face, and the chilled blue of his eyes, the Irish actor is perhaps not as popular with Academy voters as Giamatti, who gave a layered and brittle turn as a history teacher in need of a vacation.

Still, personally, we think it would be pretty great if another character actor who has been overlooked at awards ceremonies took this prize. Jeffrey Wright is every bit as good as Monk Ellison in American Fiction, and his turn is a slightly subtler and more subversive piece of work. Wright channels the universal pain of aging parents and career frustrations while also recreating a unique, and pointed, exhaustion that comes from navigating an industry which trades in Black pain. A win would also make American Fiction’s ending even funnier.

Best Supporting Actress

Emily Blunt, Oppenheimer
Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
America Ferrera, Barbie
Jodie Foster, Nyad
Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

The easiest acting category to call is also one of the most satisfying. Da’Vine Joy Randolph has been sweeping the whole awards season with wins at the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards, and numerous other groups like the New York Film Critics Circle. Expect her to safely add an Oscar to those prizes on her mantle, because her turn as Mary Lamb—a cafeteria chef at an elitist private school where she can never truly belong, even after her son was a student there–is beautifully bittersweet. In a category that is a little bit of a weak field this year, Randolph’s Holdovers performance stands doubly tall.

Best Supporting Actor

Sterling K. Brown
Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon
Robert Downey Jr., Oppenheimer
Ryan Gosling, Barbie
Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things

Robert Downey Jr. seems poised to continue his awards season sweep for a Salieri-like turn in Oppenheimer. After spending more than a decade trapped in blockbuster franchises like Marvel and Sherlock Holmes, it was something of a revelation to see Downey do work this subtle and layered. It also might be the most riveting, if chilling, turn in a movie filled with great acting. A cynic might also say this prize is a thank you for getting that extraordinary talent out of the Marvel bubble.

Best Original Screenplay

Anatomy of a Fall
The Holdovers
Maestro
May December
Past Lives

David Hemingson’s screenplay for The Holdovers has all the momentum and will more than likely take home the Oscar. Yet while we found his script touchingly funny and heartfelt, it treaded on cinematic ground that was fairly familiar, if comfortingly so. Meanwhile the slow and meticulous way Justine Triet and Arthur Harari lay the table for a courtroom drama that turns into both an indictment of the French legal system and a metaphor for the inexplicable elusiveness of marriage remains an extraordinary achievement in our mind. Anatomy of a Fall would have our vote.

Best Adapted Screenplay

American Fiction
Barbie
Oppenheimer
Poor Things
The Zone of Interest

Yes, the Academy’s directorial branch showed further disinterest in Greta Gerwig by snubbing her work on Barbie, just as they did Little Women four years ago. However, the whole Academy votes on the final nominees, and we suspect that directorial slight might actually be a boon for Gerwig in the Adapted Screenplay category. The race is incredibly tough with deserving work from most of the nominees, but the fact that Barbie was so embarrassingly ignored might cause most voters to rally around the cleverly written film where possible.

Still, we’d personally love to see Tony McNamara win for Poor Things. The film is such a cagey and bold reworking of Alasdair Gray’s novel of the same name, and features brutally cutting dialogue that still leaves a mark months later. Bella Baxter’s intellectual growth being tracked through dialogue, prose, and fluidity makes Poor Things’ script something special.

Best International Film

Io Capitano
Perfect Days
Society of the Snow
The Teachers’ Lounge
The Zone of Interest

When in doubt, expect the only film nominated for Best Picture in the International Film category to win that kids table prize by default. Not that Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest isn’t deserving. We personally found it to be the scariest film of the year, and one which forces you to take a long look in the mirror.

Best Animated Feature Film

The Boy and the Heron
Elemental
Nimona
Robot Dreams
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

An argument can be made that Hayao Miyazaki will or should win due to The Boy and the Heron (possibly) being his final film, as well as a massive metaphor for his career and Studio Ghibli. But that may assume that most Academy voters are invested in the lore and mythology around Ghibli. It’s easier to assume they lean toward American films, including sequels to animated films they already awarded this prize to. And Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is a visual marvel that mixes styles, aesthetics, and even mediums to make for an animated fantasia like no other.

Best Cinematography

El Conde
Killers of the Flower Moon
Maestro
Oppenheimer
Poor Things

Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema pioneered filming on black and white IMAX film stock for Oppenheimer. He also famously turned Cillian Murphy’s face into a landscape as grand as any mesa in New Mexico. This is open and shut.

Best Editing

Anatomy of a Fall
The Holdovers
Killers of the Flower Moon
Oppenheimer
Poor Things

Film editor Jennifer Lame and Christopher Nolan turned a three-hour drama about men sitting around rooms talking into a breathless symphony of non-chronological dread, despair, and exhilaration. Enough said.

Best Production Design

Barbie
Killers of the Flower Moon
Napoleon
Oppenheimer
Poor Things

This is a category where the Academy can pay homage to the most popular movie of the year. While we think Barbie is very deserving, Poor Things’ steampunk flights of fancy are a one of a kind wonder.

Best Costume Design

Barbie
Killers of the Flower Moon
Napoleon
Oppenheimer
Poor Things

This could be one where Barbie triumphs again, but those choking collars around Emma Stone’s neck giving way to liberated cloaks are characters unto themselves.

Best Original Score

American Fiction
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Killers of the Flower Moon
Oppenheimer
Poor Things

Ludwig Göransson’s Oppenheimer score is as haunting and memorable piece of work as any this year.

Best Visual Effects

The Creator
Godzilla Minus One
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
Napoleon

An odd category, this. In theory it should be another one that Oppenheimer dominates, but its omission is a reminder too many Academy voters confuse best Visual Effects with the most expensive landscapes made of CGI. For that reason, we suspect Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will win (or Mission: Impossible 7), even though the seamless blending of prosthetics and digital effects in The Creator is truly astonishing.

The post Oscars 2024 Predictions: Who Will Win Best Picture and Other Categories? appeared first on Den of Geek.

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