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Marc Glassman’s 2024 Oscar Predictions

Arts Review2024-3-8By: Marc Glassman


And the Oscar goes to… 2024 Academy Awards

My predictions

By Marc Glassman


With the 96th Academy Awards being broadcast globally on March 10, it’s a great time to see and talk about movies. There’s something special about looking back over the past year’s films that excites many people, especially since they get to express themselves by picking their favourites. Depending on the year and the amount of freedom they’ve had to pursue cultural activities, the films they’ve loved—or dismissed—can say a lot about who they are and how fruitful their time has been.

It’s always a fine period for your resident film critic. I’ve spent a considerable amount of my waking hours looking at and assessing films for you—and, quite frankly, for myself—which makes the awards seasons a pleasurable period. I get to offer my assessment of the best films of the year—and complain when some favourites don’t make “best of” awards lists.  

This is a good year for the Oscars and Hollywood as a new version of normalcy has descended on the world, post-COVID. Audiences are returning to cinemas—selectively—and some undeniable successes have entranced filmgoers this year. Now, some of them will emerge as Oscar winners.


Best Picture 

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

Yikes! That’s a lot of choices. Let’s start by knocking off a few that aren’t going to win, which includes Past Lives, a nice but small set of character studies; Maestro, an over-the-top portrait of Leonard Bernstein; The Holdovers, a dark evocation of nerds in the Sixties; Poor Things, a genuinely weird and disturbingly sexy dystopian fantasy and American Fiction, a literary satire which appeals to me but hardly the mainstream. That leaves us with Scorsese’s overly long but heartfelt Killers of the Flower Moon; the brilliant French courtroom drama Anatomy of a Fall; and our summertime favourites Barbie and Oppenheimer. 

Although they all have much to recommend them, the winner for me is the film that deals movingly and brilliantly with one of the most important subjects facing the world, the nuclear bomb. Oppenheimer confronts the moral dilemmas caused by the bomb and the growth of big governments that can destroy the world. It’s a story of a man who tried to face up to those consequences and his tragic loss of power and prestige—which he only wanted to use for good. Ultimately, there is only one winning film this year.

My choice is Oppenheimer.


Best Director

Nominees: Justine Triet—Anatomy of a Fall; Martin Scorsese—Killers of the Flower Moon; Christopher Nolan—Oppenheimer; Yorgos Lanthimos—Poor Things; Jonathan Glazer—The Zone of Interest

Tough category! May I say that they’re all deserving? The only American, Scorsese, could win in a “lifetime achievement” moment: despite all the violent movies he’s made, “Marty” has become a beloved figure, in part for his great work in restoring vintage Hollywood films and classic world cinema. But Killers of the Flower Moon is too long and diffuse; ultimately, it’s hardly his best directed film. You can’t say that about The Zone of Interest or Poor Things or Anatomy of a Fall—all brilliantly conceived and executed—but they may be too off putting and foreign to win. (Of course, after Parasite, anything is possible.) Still, I’m going with a director with a great body of work, who has created his important film: Christopher Nolan, whose stylish and brilliant Oppenheimer is a truly deserving winner.

My choice: Christopher Nolan


Best Actress in a Leading Role

Nominees: Annette Bening—Nyad; Lily Gladstone—Killers of the Flower Moon; Sandra Huller—Anatomy of a Fall; Carey Mulligan—Maestro; Emma Stone—Poor Things

They’re all worthy choices. These women are at the top of their craft and gave remarkable performances. Two of them—Annette Bening and Carey Mulligan–are unlikely to win because their films aren’t major critical or box-office successes. That leaves Sandra Huller, who is mesmerizing as the novelist accused of killing her husband in Anatomy of a Fall, Emma Stone as the bizarre, compelling Frankenstein creature brought back to life in Poor Things and Lily Gladstone as the Osage heiress married to Leonardo Di Caprio’s corrupt conman in Killers of the Flower Moon

My choice: Lily Gladstone, for a persuasive portrayal of a woman willing to risk her life for the man she has chosen to love. If she wins, and I believe Gladstone will, she is going to be the first Indigenous woman to get the Best Actress prize. And about time, too.


Best Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees: Bradley Cooper—Maestro; Colman Domingo—Rustin; Paul Giamatti—The Holdovers; Cillian Murphy—Oppenheimer; Jeffrey Wright—American Fiction

I live in fear that the Academy will decide to give Paul Giamatti’s over-the-top performance in The Holdovers the Oscar because what he does looks like great acting, and he’s been hanging around Hollywood long enough that he seems to deserve some sort of prize. Maybe, but not this year when Colman Domingo was charismatic as the bedeviled civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, Cillian Murphy quietly dominated a complex three-hour film with his enigmatic presence as Oppenheimer and Bradley Cooper was flashily persuasive as a tormented Leonard Bernstein. They were wonderful but best of all was the brilliant Jeffrey Wright, a consummate actor, who made us laugh and cry and totally identify with a wrong-headed novelist named Thelonious “Monk” Ellison in American Fiction.

My choice: Jeffrey Wright


Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Nominees: Emily Blunt—Oppenheimer; Danielle Brooks–The Color Purple; America Ferrera—Barbie; Jodie Foster–Nyad; Da’Vine Joy Randolph–The Holdovers

All of the performers in this category were excellent—kudos especially to Emily Blunt for her withering stare at one of her husband’s opponents in Oppenheimer—but the Academy must give the award to America Ferrera for her extraordinary speech about being a woman in Barbie. In part, she says: “You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you!” Thank you, America Ferrera and scriptwriter Greta Gerwig. 

My choice: America Ferrera


Best Actor in a Supporting Role

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

Although Brown and Ruffalo give fine support in their films, this is a year where only outstanding performances will win. In my opinion, De Niro is too perfectly cast in Flower Moon; despite his attempts at charm, it’s obvious that he’s the villain of the piece. That’s leaves Downey and Gosling, who represent a face-off between the summer’s two blockbusters Barbiehammer. No one is likely to forget Gosling’s witty interpretation of Ken in Barbie, but Downey gives a charismatic, almost hypnotic portrayal of Lewis Strauss, the Salieri to Oppenheimer’s Mozart in the field of nuclear weaponry.

My Choice: Downey Jr—truly deserving of the honour. 


Best Animated Feature
Nominees: The Boy and the Heron—Hayao Miyazaki; Nimona (Troy Quane & Nick Bruno); Elemental (Peter Sohn); Robot Dreams (Pablo Berger); Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson, Kemp Powers)

Only three are deserving of this award: Robot Dreams, The Boy and the Heron and Spider-Man, which despite having three directors and a hyperbolic plot, is a genuinely funny and moving animated film. In comparison, Robot Dreams is a small, moving achievement; it’s a weird love story that actually works. But the winner has to be the amazing Hayao Miyazaki’s hand drawn, gorgeously wrought fantasy, The Boy and the Heron. Who can deny the great Japanese master another Oscar?

My choice: Hayao Miyazaki.


Best Documentary Feature

Nominees: Bobi Wine: The People’s President; The Eternal Memory; Four Daughters; To Kill a Tiger; 20 Days in Mariupol

This category, which most know that I love, has really improved in the last few years, with the candidates being increasingly diverse and artistic. Two films are personal favourites: Four Daughters, a meta-doc set in North Africa that involves actors, multiple identities and ISIS, and, of course, the one we all should root for: To Kill a Tiger, a Canadian made feature about sexual abuse and family empowerment in India. But to be realistic, 20 Days in Mariupol, a sharp, incisive film about the war in Ukraine, shot with courage and conviction, is the clear favourite.

My choice: 20 Days in Mariupol (though I will be rooting for To Kill a Tiger!)


Best International Feature

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

The oddity here is two-fold: the French choice in this category, The Taste of Things, a wonderful film about love and haute cuisine in the 19th century, didn’t make the final five and—worse—the obvious but rejected candidate from France, Anatomy of a Fall, has picked up other nominations including Best Director and Original Screenplay! You have to say that the French committee made the wrong choice. 

Ok—back to the five actual nominees. As good as they are—and they’re fine films—Io Capitano, Society of the Snow and The Teachers’ Lounge really can’t compete with The Zone of Interest and Perfect Days, which are, quite frankly, masterpieces—and I don’t overuse that word. So, what’s the difference between the two? The Zone of Interest is profoundly unsettling in its depiction of the banality of evil under the Nazis while Perfect Days is a beautiful expression of Zen culture through the eyes of someone who is theoretically at the lowest ebb of society—a toilet cleaner. Yet Perfect Days wins you over with its charm and positivity; it’s the best narrative film by Wim Wenders in decades. 

My choice: Perfect Days


Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Anatomy of a Fall; The Holdovers; Maestro; May December; Past Lives

There are three good scripts here and two, which baffle me. How did Maestro, a film that doesn’t cover West Side Story in a biographical portrait of Leonard Bernstein and May December, a film in which a mysterious sexual attraction between an older woman and a younger man is never truly explored, get nominated for best scripts? Best direction, maybe? Acting, perhaps. But scripts?

The other three actually do tell good stories and would make fine reading without seeing the film. Of those, one does stand out: Anatomy of a Fall. Justine Triet and her partner Arthur Harari have crafted a brilliant script, which describes the disintegration of a marriage, the moral quandaries of a boy nearing adolescence and the limitations of the French legal system, all within the framework of an extraordinarily well depicted mystery. Truly brilliant.

My choice: Anatomy of a Fall


Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Cord Jefferson—American Fiction; Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach—Barbie; Christopher Nolan—Oppenheimer; Tony McNamara—Poor Things; Jonathan Glazer—The Zone of Interest

This is another outstanding category. Cord Jefferson’s script for American Fiction is decidedly witty though a bit uneven while Tony McNamara has nearly achieved the impossible in adapting Alasdair Gray’s Poor Things from a novel of ideas into a sexy black comedy and Jonathan Glazer has transformed Martin Amis’ The Zone of Interest into a nightmarish art film. But, once again, we’re seeing another fight between those Barbiehammer monster hits. The script for Barbie is by equal measure, funny and sincere, an odd combination, while Oppenheimer is overwhelmingly serious about the bomb and its effect on American society. Ultimately, it’s stronger.

My choice: Christopher Nolan


Best documentary short film

The ABCs of Book Banning
The Barber of Little Rock
Island in Between
The Last Repair Shop
Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó


My choice: John Hoffman &Christine Turner, The Barber of Little Rock

It’s rare to see a documentary that covers economics but that’s what this New Yorker commissioned film does exceedingly well. Arlo Washington is the quintessential “wealthy barber,” someone who has figured out how to make a lot of money, which, in his case, he has used for the greater social good. “Banking while Black” is as bad as driving or nearly anything else when you’re part of a minority that the rich establishment instinctively opposes. This doc shows Washington’s project, the People’s Trust, at work, helping to make a difference by giving loans to budding Black entrepreneurs who want to make capitalism work in America despite being denied by the White establishment. 


Best cinematography

Killers of the Flower Moon

El Conde
Poor Things

My choice: Hoyte van Hoytema, Oppenheimer 


Best costume design

Killers of the Flower Moon
Poor Things

My choice: Jacqueline Durran, Barbie


Best film editing

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

My choice: Jennifer Lame, Oppenheimer


Best makeup and hairstyling

Poor Things
Society of the Snow

My choice: Poor Things


Best original score

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

My choice: Ludwig Göransson for Oppenheimer


Best original song

The Fire Inside – Flamin’ Hot
I’m Just Ken – Barbie
It Never Went Away – American Symphony
Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People) – Killers of the Flower Moon
What Was I Made For? – Barbie

My choice: What Was I Made For? from Barbie


Best production design

Killers of the Flower Moon
Poor Things

My choice: Shona Heath and James Price for Poor Things


Best animated short film

Letter to a Pig
Ninety-Five Senses
Our Uniform
WAR IS OVER! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko

My choice: Dave Mullins & Brad Booker for War is Over!


Best live action short film

The After
Knight of Fortune

The Wonderful World of Henry Sugar
Red, White and Blue
My choice: Wes Anderson & Steven Rales for Henry Sugar


Best sound

The Creator
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One
The Zone of Interest

My choice: Richard Nash, Oppenheimer


Best visual effects

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

My choice: Godzilla Minus One



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