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On the Oscars: 2024 Winners Predictions

Oscars Sunday is here and truly, after the week I’ve had, I am surprised that this article got written. I am hiring ghost writers for next year. Please apply to chat with me about movies forever and ever. 


For whatever it’s worth, here it is at the nth hour. I tried to keep this as brief as possible, considering I am predicting every category. I wish I could write at length for so many of these, but alas. Maybe I’ll vow to write more regularly about films that stick with me this year to make this less of a ~task next year. 


Big hits for the 96th Oscars:

  • Expect an Oppenheimer sweep.

  • Biggest races to watch: Best Actress (for the second year in a row!), Sound, both the Screenplay awards, Production and Costume Design awards, and Animated Feature.

  • Ryan Gosling will be singing "I'm Just Ken" while sibling duo Billie and Finneas will be performing their award-sweeping "What Was I Made For?, marking their third Oscars performance in five years. Barbie's predicted win for Original Song might be the only win for the film.

  • History will be made in many categories, including first-time wins for many key artists. In fact, if my predictions are correct, all four acting winners will be first-time winners, with three being first-time nominees, too.

One last thing I will say before I get right to it: I watched most of these films prior to Oscar Nominations Tuesday morning. I have watched a few more since then, but have mostly been watching new films releasing this year. Except where noted, assume I have watched all films in each category.

  


BEST PICTURE


Back in October or November, I was betting on Killers of the Flower Moon for this award, citing the Academy’s general dismissal of Christopher Nolan over the years as the primary reason for Oppenheimer losing. Since then, I have also watched American Fiction, which in many ways, checks a lot of the historical boxes for this award. But, at the end of the day, it is a comedy. And comedies usually don’t win Best Picture. Same reason why Poor Things will probably also not win this category, despite it being a good balance of both comedy and ~drama. As the awards circuit has proved, Oppenheimer is Nolan’s magnum opus. And I am predicting that it will finish on top on Sunday. 


Oppenheimer


Prediction: Oppenheimer

Underdog Winner: American Fiction

Add to your watchlist: Honestly, all. What a treat to have 10 wonderful films to choose from.



BEST DIRECTING


This was the most exciting pool to bet on for my nomination predictions, but isn’t as fun to predict the winner.


Prediction: Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer

Underdog Winner: Jonathan Glazer, The Zone of Interest

Watch for directing: Jonathan Glazer, The Zone of Interest



BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE


It feels like 2023 again with Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett being replaced with Lily Gladstone and Emma Stone this time around. I had predicted a tie last year, which is not unnatural, especially for this exact category, as the 1969 Oscars race for Best Actress resulted in a tie between Katherine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand. I won’t make the same prediction this year, because I feel like the Academy will want to make cultural history with this category, just as they did with Yeoh in 2023. 




Lily Gladstone for Killers of the Flower Moon vs. Emma Stone for Poor Things


Additionally, however, I will note that Stone delivers a more this-is-acting! performance… think, Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady. Meanwhile, Gladstone’s performance is more nuanced and understated… think, Viola Davis in The Help. Streep won her third acting Oscar over Davis in 2012 when both were nominated for these roles. Stone could repeat this with her win, possibly making her the youngest actress to have two acting Oscars. And if she does, she will win for her best performance yet, particularly one that highlights her strengths as a comedic actor alongside her comfort with the more tragic. And that, in its own way, is also growth on the Academy’s part. And I am tempted to follow this Meryl over Viola rule to put Stone over Gladstone. I will not be upset if Emma Stone takes home her second statuette as she is equally deserving. But tonight, I am rooting for Lily Gladstone. She has been my frontrunner throughout.


Prediction: Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon

Underdog Winner: Sandra Hüller, Anatomy of a Fall

Watch for acting: Sandra Hüller, Anatomy of a Fall (and The Zone of Interest)



BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE


As much as I loved The Holdovers, it doesn’t highlight its leading man quite as brilliantly as Oppenheimer. Whoever wins in this category, it will be their first Oscar ever. Isn’t that crazy?


Prediction: Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer

Underdog Winner: Jeffrey Wright, American Fiction

Watch for acting: Andrew Scott, All of Us Strangers, one of the biggest snubs this year



BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE


There is only one clear winner in this pool.


Da’Vine Joy Randolph for The Holdovers


Prediction: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

Underdog Winner: Jodie Foster, Nyad

Watch for acting: Honestly, Da’Vine Joy Randolph.



BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE


Once again, the awards circuit has predicted this winner, too. What a comeback.


Prediction: Robert Downey Jr., Oppenheimer

Underdog Winner: Sterling K. Brown, American Fiction

Watch for acting: Milo Machado Graner, Anatomy of a Fall, another big snub



BEST WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)


Usually, the winners of the screenplay and directing categories are directly tied to the Best Picture winner, which makes Nolan’s Oppenheimer the obvious choice here. But Cord Jefferson has won practically every award he has been eligible for this season for American Fiction. And for good reason. It is a masterful adaptation of a brilliant book, exquisitely bringing out the comedy alongside the serious themes it tackles. And this is Jefferson’s first screenplay ever. Can you imagine? My underdog prediction is for obvious reasons, but I think the world has calmed down since nominations morning.


Prediction: Cord Jefferson, American Fiction

Underdog Winner: Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach, Barbie

Watch for writing: Jonathan Glazer, The Zone of Interest



BEST WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)


Sad for Barbie because this would have been their category to lose. But yay for Anatomy, because this might be their only win on Sunday. Just know in my heart that I want Celine Song to win under all circumstances.


Prediction: Justine Triet & Arthur Harai, Anatomy of a Fall

Underdog Winner: Celine Song, Past Lives

Watch for writing: Celine Song, Past Lives



BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY


Clear winner from the beginning. And as Oppenheimer is not nominated for Visual Effects, this is where it will be recognized for that glorious Trinity Test sequence. Nothing quite like it.


Prediction: Hoyte van Hoytema, Oppenheimer

Underdog Winner: Rodrigo Pieto, Killers of the Flower Moon

Watch for cinematography: Oppenheimer


*I have not watched El Conde, and hence cannot vouch for Edward Lachman’s work.



BEST FILM EDITING


This award is usually aligned with Cinematography, and this year, for good reason. Jennifer Lame makes understanding an incredibly complex and complicated film relatively easier. It isn’t perfect, but her task is so difficult. If I were the Academy, though, I would hand this category to Laurent Sénéchal for highlighting the complexities of the film through his craft. I will not be upset if he wins.


Prediction: Jennifer Lame, Oppenheimer

Underdog Winner: Laurent Sénéchal, Anatomy of a Fall

Watch for film editing: Oppenheimer and Anatomy of a Fall



BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN


For both this and Costume Design, it’s between Poor Things and Barbie (stop pitting women against each other, god!) Poor Things has won all the precursor awards for this category, so my money’s on them.



Prediction: James Price, Shona Heath, and Zsuzsa Mihalek, Poor Things

Underdog Winner: Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer, Barbie

Watch for production design: Poor Things and Barbie



BEST COSTUME DESIGN


LAST-MINUTE CHANGE IN PREDICTION FOR THIS CATEGORY


Initially, I thought there was no way that Barbie did not take home this award. Remember when that specific shade of pink was out of stock worldwide? Not to mention the countless Barbies and Kens we’ll see on Halloween night for years to come. Butthe Academy has a penchant for rewarding a certain niche of design in this category, and a win for Poor Things is not only a nod for the creativity in comfort that Bella Baxter discovers through her adventures but also a bigger win for feminism than Barbie.



Prediction: Holly Waddington, Poor Things

Underdog Winner: Jacqueline Durran, Barbie

Watch for costume design: Poor Things, Barbie, Killers of the Flower Moon



BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING


The Academy usually recognizes the best transformation, so Maestro will take home the award this year, despite all the controversy. The win will also make Kazu Hiro the first Asian artist to have three Oscars, his previous wins being for Bombshell and Darkest Hour. If the Academy does feel like growing this year, though, they’ll give it to Poor Things.


Prediction: Kazu Hiro, Kay Georgiou, and Lori McCoy-Bell, Maestro

Underdog Winner: Nadia Stacey, Mark Coulier, and Josh Weston, Poor Things

Watch for makeup and hairstyling: Maestro and Poor Things


*I have not watched Society of the Snow, hence cannot vouch for Ana López-Puigcerver, David Martí, and Montse Ribé’s work.



BEST VISUAL EFFECTS


Godzilla Minus One


I had the best time watching Godzilla Minus One and was elated for their nomination here. I hope they take home this Oscar.


Prediction: Takashi Yamazaki, Kiyoko Shibuya, Masaki Takahashi, and Tatsuji Nojima, Godzilla Minus One

Underdog Winner: N/A

Watch for visual effects: Godzilla Minus One


*I have not watched The Creator or Mission Impossible and don’t intend to.



BEST SOUND


The Zone of Interest should win this. If Oppenheimer does, it will make me very mad.


Prediction: Tarn Willers and Johnnie Burn, The Zone of Interest

Underdog Winner: Tarn Willers and Johnnie Burn, The Zone of Interest 

Watch for sound: The Zone of Interest


*I have not watched The Creator or Mission Impossible and don’t intend to.



BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)


I have to thank the eventual winner of this category for providing me a new soundtrack for doing work that I hate. It’s quite perfect, actually. And it helps get the job done. Meanwhile, I think Robbie Robertson’s score for Killers drives the entire film so well that it doesn’t feel like three and a half hours. (Sorry, but Oppenheimer actually does feel like three hours.) Special shoutout to Felix Jerskin for making the weirdest soundtrack that perfectly supports an even weirder film. I listen to these three in rotation now.


Prediction: Ludwig Göransson, Oppenheimer

Underdog Winner: Robbie Roberston, Killers of the Flower Moon or Felix Jerskin, Poor Things

Listen for score: Oppenheimer, Killers, Poor Things



BEST MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)


It’s Barbie vs. Ken here. Barbie will prevail, marking the sibling duo’s second win and making Billie Eilish the youngest person to win two Oscars.


Prediction: Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, “What Was I Made For?” from Barbie 

Underdog Winner: N/A

Listen for song: The entire Barbie soundtrack. I have it on vinyl. It is quite iconic.



BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM


Truly a wonderful pool to choose from. I just caught an early access screening of Robot Dreams this week after trying to for months, and am happy to report that it is a perfect film. As much as I love Miyazaki, my vote has to go to Spidey. I am just so glad that we’re not defaulting to the Disney/Pixar option this year. Growth!


Prediction: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Underdog Winner: The Boy and the Heron

Add to watchlist: Robot Dreams



BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM


This is usually my favourite category to watch in the days leading up to the Oscars, but the past three weeks have been absolute hell for me during the week, so I did not get around to it. And last night I checked and only two of the five are actually available for me to stream online, so I won’t bother this year. I’ll just make an educated guess.


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

Underdog Winner: N/A

Add to watchlist: N/A


*I have not watched any of these films, and probably never will.



BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

From the three films in this category that I have watched, The Zone of Interest is the clear winner.


The Zone of Interest


Prediction: The Zone of Interest, United Kingdom (it’s in German, though)

Underdog Winner: N/A

Add to watchlist: Besides The Zone of Interest, The Teachers’ Lounge, Germany, and Monster, Japan (which I enjoyed more than the nominee Perfect Days)


*I wasn’t able to watch Io Capitano, Italy or Society of the Snow, Spain before making this list, but plan to eventually!



BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT


I cannot believe I have watched all of these. This is a first, even for me. Each is so nuanced in its own way, but my predicted winner probably ranks at the bottom of that list.


Prediction: The Wonderful Life of Henry Sugar 

Underdog Winner: Red, White, and Blue

Add to watchlist: 



BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM


I have not watched any of these because I just don’t enjoy watching documentaries. The biggest celebration for this category is noting that all of the nominees are foreign film submissions. Good for the Academy! Only one of these has the awards circuit buzz ramping them up for their win on Sunday, plus the Academy probably inclined to recognize a film about the Russia-Ukraine War for the second year in a row (Navalny took home the Oscar for this category last year) as proxy for a stance (?) against several ongoing conflicts on the global front, most particularly the one between Israel and Hamas.


Prediction: 20 Days in Mariupol

Underdog Winner: To Kill a Tiger (gotta support India)

Add to watchlist: N/A


*I have not watched any of these films. I plan to watch To Kill a Tiger eventually.



BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT


Contrary to what I just said above, I tried to like documentaries this year by watching all of these. I had some fun. I like trying new things in small doses, so I might do this again next year. Stay tuned.


Nai Nai & Wài Pó is the one I enjoyed most. It’s about the filmmaker’s two grandmothers who now live together and are documented during one of his visits home. It is adorable. The Last Repair Shop and The ABCs of Book Banning are also adorable because they both feature kids as the primary lenses. The former is set in LA and is definitely a much better film than the latter, set in Florida, but probably the most political of all. Both The Barber of Lilttle Rock and Island in Between have great intention, but poor execution. As the Academy does with the documentary categories, the most timely political film will take the cake.


Prediction: The ABCs of Book Banning

Underdog Winner: The Last Repair Shop

Add to watchlist: Nai Nai & Wài Pó



Happy Oscars Sunday!




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