Academy Awards 2024: Which Nominees Should and Will Win Oscars?

Editorials, Movies, Oscars, Television

Forget what that Christmas song says! Here at TV Fanatic, we think award season is the most wonderful time of the year.

And in terms of both television ratings and general global interest, award shows don’t get any bigger than the Academy Awards.

The stakes are higher than usual this year, as some major blockbuster films with some very devoted fan bases appear to be neck-and-neck in some of the major categories.

The race between Barbie and Oppenheimer (two quite different films that hit theaters on the same day) might be getting the most attention, but there’s always a chance that a dark horse could sneak up from behind and snatch Best Picture away from both front runners.

Meanwhile, several of the acting categories are anyone’s game and certain to create controversy no matter the outcome.

So without further ado, here are this year’s predictions and hot takes from two of TV Fanatic’s editors:

Best Picture Nominees:

American Fiction
Ben LeClair, Nikos Karamigios, Cord Jefferson and Jermaine Johnson, Producers

Anatomy of a Fall
Marie-Ange Luciani and David Thion, Producers

Barbie
David Heyman, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley and Robbie Brenner, Producers

The Holdovers
Mark Johnson, Producer

Killers of the Flower Moon
Dan Friedkin, Bradley Thomas, Martin Scorsese and Daniel Lupi, Producers

Maestro
Bradley Cooper, Steven Spielberg, Fred Berner, Amy Durning and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers

Oppenheimer
Emma Thomas, Charles Roven and Christopher Nolan, Producers

Past Lives
David Hinojosa, Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler, Producers

Poor Things
Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone, Producers

The Zone of Interest
James Wilson, Producer

Who Will Win

Tyler: Barbie’s wildly successful run at the box office might have left some observers with the mistaken impression that this year’s race for the night’s top prize is as close as can be.

In reality, Christopher Nolan’s atomic epic has been the leader of the pack since the day of its release, and the Barbie snubs in major categories are enough to cement Oppenheimer’s place as the odds-on favorite.

Sure, films have won Best Picture without receiving a nomination for Best Director. In fact, Argo, Green Book, and CODA have all pulled it off fairly recently.

But Barbie was always a candy-coated David battling a world-destroying Goliath, and the fact that voters respectively shut out Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie in the acting directing category should be taken as a sign that the poetry-quoting physicist will trump the iconic doll.

Carissa: Oppenheimer should and will win. As a cinematic achievement, it’s impossible to beat. Christopher Nolan created a masterpiece about a subject that is hard to stomach on the best days, and impossible to consider on the worst.

As nuclear threats surround us daily, there’s not a more important topic on the map than the discussion of why this came to be and the cost to those involved.

That’s why Zone of Interest is also held in such high regard. History is imperative to the present, and if people are finally willing to weigh its importance via film, then all the kudos should go to such films.

Who Should Win

Tyler: I wouldn’t mind terribly if some understated underdog like American Fiction or The Holdovers pulled off a stunner here, but Oppenheimer deserves Best Picture more than any film released in the past decade.

That’s not to say that it’s the best film of the past decade. It’s just that it’s the sort of grandiose historical epic that’s clear enough in its message to please crowds but ambiguous enough in its morals to invite debate.

In other words, it’s likely to stand the test of time, which should always be a consideration when deciding which film deserves the Academy’s biggest seal of approval.

Plus, this is the flick that rescued Robert Downey Jr. from the depths of MCU hell, so it deserves our undying gratitude.

Carissa: Let’s get this out there right now — there are too many movies in this category, especially when best picture nominees are then snubbed in all other categories. It makes no sense.

I’ve already stated why Oppenheimer should win, and why I wouldn’t be upset if Zone of Interest took the prize. Past Lives was one of my favorite movies of the year, showcasing love so beautifully that I wept. This girl with the email moniker of Barbielover wouldn’t be at all upset if Barbie pulled it out in the end, either.

I don’t think every film on this list deserves to be on the list, but that comes down to our personal tastes. One thing is certain — the admiration for Oppenheimer for Nolan’s stunning achievement is across the board, which is why it should and will win.

Best Director Nominees:

Anatomy of a Fall
Justine Triet

Killers of the Flower Moon
Martin Scorsese

Oppenheimer
Christopher Nolan

Poor Things
Yorgos Lanthimos

The Zone of Interest
Jonathan Glazer

Who Will Win:

Tyler: Christopher Nolan. Folks, if betting apps are legal in your state, and you’re looking to supplement your income this month, you might want to put your next paycheck on Oppenheimer and Nolan.

(Important Note: I’m kidding; don’t actually do that.)

It’s been a long time since the Best Picture and Best Director races have been this predictable, and seems unlikely that this year’s inevitable “Anonymous Oscar Voter Spews Some Hot Nonsense” articles will change that fact.

Carissa: Christopher Nolan. There is a lot of competition, but there really is no competition, which is why I’m certain Nolan will take the prize.

Jonathan Glazer worked miracles with Zone of Interest, and much of why the film works is based on his direction.

Poor Things comes down to a performance, and Killers of the Flower Moon gets accolades for touching a story untold. Anatomy of a Fall is also more performance-driven than direction-driven, which are all more reasons Nolan should win the award.

Who Should Win: Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer)

Tyler: I’m not one of those people who always agrees with the Academy. In fact, I think they’ve flubbed the major categories more often than not in recent years.

But Oppenheimer is the movie that Nolan was born to direct, and rarely, in recent memory, has a filmmaker delivered such prime Oscar bait without seeming like he shot it with the Academy in mind.

For the first time in a few years (since … Chloe Zhao for Nomadland?) the voters will get it right the directing category right this year.

Carissa: How much love can we give Oppenheimer? Much love. More love. All the love. What a rare accomplishment that an intelligent movie can also be so beautiful and heartwrenching while packing people into Imax theaters, to boot.

It’s the best movie we will see in years, so we must take the time to award it well.

Best Actress 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:

Tyler: Lily Gladstone. Gladstone is locked in a dead heat with Stone, and such an amazing level of talent in the category this year, that no matter who takes home the prize, it’ll be a win for movie lovers.

This one could go in a different direction, but since Killers will probably be shut out in every other major category (and the Academy loves ’em some Scorsese), expect

And Gladstone already beat out the other nominees at the SAG Awards, making her the clear frontrunner ahead of Oscar night.

Carissa: I agree that Gladstone will win. She’s holding Flower of the Killer Moon up with her inclusion and performance.

The academy will want to honor the film in some way, and this is the only way to do it. I’m not a fan of the movie, so I’m more eager for what Gladstone does next. Hopefully, this attention will open more doors for her talent.

Who Should Win:

Tyler: Look, Gladstone was perfectly cast; she’s undeniably a major talent, and I’ll be the first to stand and applaud when she becomes the first Native American woman to win an Oscar.

But Emma Stone’s work in Poor Things was unlike anything we’ve seen before.

Bella Baxter might be too weird a character for some traditionalists within the Academy, but Stone’s performances will be studied by aspiring thespians for decades to come.

Carissa: Let me just say that I hated Killers of the Flower Moon and greatly disliked Poor Things, so this is hard for me. Yet while I also believe Gladstone will win, I too think Stone should win.

Emma Stone has been taking risks most actresses don’t take. She’s on a path like Nic Cage, Colin Farrell, and Johnny Depp, feeling her way with unexpected roles that don’t automatically come with general accolades.

She was transcendent in Poor Things, which says a lot, given how much I disliked the film. You couldn’t take your eyes off of her. Every move she made was like a small celebration for female performances. She should win, but I will not forsake Gladstone for taking the prize.

Best Actor Nominees:

Bradley Cooper
Maestro

Colman Domingo
Rustin

Paul Giamatti
The Holdovers

Cillian Murphy
Oppenheimer

Jeffrey Wright
American Fiction

Who Will Win: Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer)

Tyler: Yes, we’re back to Oppenheimer domination for this one.

It might be a boring night for folks who didn’t connect with the saga of Murphy’s physicist-philosopher, but like the Michael Jordan-led Bulls or the Brady Era Patriots, there’s no denying that this film deserves all of its success.

That said, there are some upset possibilities here.

Giamatti has already taken home a Golden Globe and a Critic’s Choice Award. Cooper dedicated years of his life to mastering the mannerisms of the legendary Leonard Bernstein — and the Academy loves a good method performance.

It’s impossible to imagine anyone else in the lead role — and it’s almost as tough to fathom anyone else taking home this year’s top acting prize.

Carissa: What Tyler said. There’s something to be said for getting your thoughts out first. Following in his footsteps is hard!

As much as I enjoyed the other films, nothing comes close to Murphy’s performance in Oppenheimer. He was carrying the literal weight of the world on his shoulders, and his performance was sublime.

If this were any other year, I’d say the others had a better shot, but this is Oppenheimer’s year, so they don’t.

Who Should Win:

Tyler: Cillian Murphy. Folks, the 2024 Oscars will likely be remembered as Oppenheimer’s night, and you can’t honor the film without paying proper tribute to the guy who’s in damn near every frame of it.

This was the perfect pairing of actor and material, and Murphy deserves the gold for rising to the occasion.

Carissa: Murphy all the way. The other movies just didn’t call on their actors to do what Murphy did in Oppenheimer. The competition is almost unfair in that regard. It’s so rare when a movie so perfectly crafted drops, but when it does, everyone else struggles in its wake.

Best Supporting Actress

Emily Blunt
Oppenheimer

Danielle Brooks
The Color Purple

America Ferrera
Barbie

Jodie Foster
Nyad

Da’Vine Joy Randolph
The Holdovers

Who Will Win

Tyler: Da’Vine Joy Randolph. The Holdovers is a small film in a year loaded with big-budget blockbusters, and Randolph delivers an appropriately understated performance and brings a level of quiet devastation to her scenes.

In a year like this one, a movie like The Holdovers could easily wind up overshadowed and forgotten, but the Academy will likely show it some love with a much-deserved Supporting Actress nod for Randolph.

Carissa: Da’Vine Joy Randolph has proven she’s the one to beat here, and I see no reason for her winning streak to stop.

She was a highlight in the three-person show The Holdovers, and it’s no surprise that she’s cast in two Oscar-nominated films, including Rustin.

We’re just beginning to see what her dramatic chops can do, and this win will help steer her toward more dramatic roles.

Who Should Win

Tyler: Da’Vine Joy Randolph. Randolph’s performance was the most poignant and heartfelt in a movie that relied almost entirely on heart.

The Holdovers might be the kind of movie we’ve seen before, but it was a masterful spin on a familiar recipe.

Director Alexander Payne knows better than anyone that low-budget character studies demand a wildly talented cast, and Randolph and newcomer Dominic Sessa rose to the challenge of sharing scenes with a seasoned master like Giamatti.

Expect this to be another situation in which the most deserving nominee wins the prize.

Carissa: As much as I enjoyed Randolph in The Holdovers, I’m also torn about Jodie Foster in Nyad and America Ferrara in Barbie.

Jodie Foster doesn’t play light and breezy roles, so her Nyad part was unexpected. She’s been in this business since she was a child, and it’s not since she was a child that she’s had such a carefree and unencumbered role. She was there to support Annette Bening, and she did it beautifully.

America Ferrara, though, was the heart of Barbie. Her character inspired Barbie to step outside of Barbieland and find her place in the world, and Ferrara represented those of us who grasped Barbie early and had a hard time letting her go with care and clarity.

Barbie deserves a win, and this is the category to do it. I think America Ferrara should win, even if I don’t believe she will.

Best Supporting Actor

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

Tyler: Robert Downey Jr. It’s not really appropriate to use words like “underdog” and “upset” when discussing blockbusters like Oppenheimer or mega-stars like RDJ.

But in a way, Downey embodies the sort of comeback story Hollywood loves — and I’m not talking about his well-publicized substance abuse and legal issues.

Downey overcame all that decades ago, and now he’s pulled off a second resurgence by escaping the superhero pigeonhole to show that he’s still got what it takes to swap lines with the big boys.

As the villainous Lewis Strauss, Downey stole just about every scene he was in, and you can expect the Academy to reward his efforts.

Carissa: Robert Downey Jr. Have we said enough about Oppenheimer? Well, if not, this is your reminder that a perfect film doesn’t come around very often, and Downey’s performance helped earn that adjective.

Sterling K Brown wasn’t in enough of American Fiction for him to be a serious contender. Rober De Niro played an absolute toad and clown in Killers of the Flower Moon. Mark Ruffalo played Mark Ruffalo in Poor Things. He does that a lot.

Ryan Gosling worked wonders as Ken, but I can imagine him doing that again. Oppenheimer is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement, as is Downey’s performance as Lewis Strauss.

Who Should Win

Tyler: Ryan Gosling. This is another situation where I’m completely fine with the likely winner taking home the prize, and the honor will be completely well-deserved.

But agreeing with the Academy all the time is for nerds, so I’m gonna make an argument for Gosling.

His talents as a comedic actor have been under-appreciated for years (go watch the modern masterpiece that is The Nice Guys, if you don’t believe me), and he took full advantage of the rare opportunity to display his funny man chops in a billion-dollar blockbuster.

Both Gosling and Downey managed to stand out in casts that were absolutely loaded with talent, and it’s a shame that only one of them will be delivering an acceptance speech on Sunday.

Carissa: Don’t be shocked. Robert Downey Jr.!

The only other person up for the award that, if Oppenheimer wasn’t in the picture, should win would be Gosling. He gave that role his all, and he did things many men wouldn’t do, and he did it with charm and charisma.

But not enough to knock Downey out of the running. Oppenheimer will and should sweep the night.

Best Original Screenplay

Anatomy of a Fall
Justine Triet, Arthur Harari

The Holdovers
David Hemingson

Maestro
Bradley Cooper, Josh Singer

May December
Samy Burch, Alex Mechanik

Past Lives
Celine Song

Who Will Win

Tyler:  Anatomy of a Fall. This is another case in which voters will likely seize their opportunity to reward a small, deserving film.

Most of the year’s high-profile contenders are duking it out in the Adapted Screenplay category, thus clearing the way for a lesser-seen film like Anatomy to have a moment.

Carissa: We finally diverge! My bet is on The Holdovers. For all the love it’s getting, it cannot be shut out because of Oppenheimer.

I’m still not sure how Maestro got on any of these lists when so few seem to hold it in high esteem. May December was a great TV movie, but I wouldn’t consider it in the same vein as the others.

Who Should Win:

Tyler: May December. The Academy has a long tradition of nominating films that are too brilliant to be ignored entirely but too weird to take home any major prizes (see also: Poor Things).

May December is that kind of film, and the controversial premise will likely be enough to scare off many voters.But the bold, innovative script is the kind that could wind up be studied by film students decades from now.

The Holdovers would be another welcome winner here, but the screenplay is less impressive than the manner in which the cast brought it to life.

Carissa: Again, divergence. Past Lives was a tour de force. I felt so much while watching it. It didn’t take the safe route to its destination and presented a truly honest look at love, loss, and moving on. If you get the chance to see it, please do.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

American Fiction
Cord Jefferson

Barbie
Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig

Poor Things
Tony McNamara

Oppenheimer
Christopher Nolan

The Zone of Interest
Jonathan Glazer

Who Will Win

Tyler: Oppenheimer. This one might not be as much of a lock as it would seem to be.

There’s a chance that Barbie or even American Fiction (which has been surging in this category in recent weeks) could pull off the upset.

But thus far, the year’s award juries have demonstrated that they really, really dig Oppenheimer, and the fact that it’s adapted from the most highly regarded source material (Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s acclaimed 2005 biography) might help Nolan’s magnum opus edge out the competition.

Carissa: Oppenheimer will win. Barbie would have had a chance with an original screenplay, but not here. The magic of Oppenheimer starts with the script, and it has to be honored.

Who Should Win:

Tyler: The Zone of Interest. This is a tricky one, as Jonathan Glazer’s film couldn’t have been much more tonally different from the Martin Amis novel that served as its inspiration.

But both are unforgettably haunting in distinct ways, which, for my money, makes Zone the year’s most compelling adaptation.

Glazer abandoned much of what made his source material so effective and fashioned the core elements of the story into something entirely new and, somehow, even more upsetting.

Zone gets my vote for that reason, but also because Amis, who passed away last year at the age of 73, was one of the literary world’s brightest lights, and it would be a delight to see him celebrated on Hollywood’s biggest night.

Carissa: Since I haven’t had the opportunity to read the book, I can’t comment on The Zone of Interest adaptation, but since I do believe the movie deserves attention, and for that reason alone, it should win adapted screenplay.

Sometimes, you vote for a category because you couldn’t squeeze in a vote elsewhere, and this is where I would place my vote if I could.

What do you think, movie fans?

Who deserves to take home the night’s top prizes? Hit the comments section below to share your thoughts.

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