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Oscars 2024 predictions: Who will win and who should win at this year’s Academy Awards

Gold rush: Cillian Murphy, Ryan Gosling, Lily Gladstone and Emma Stone are all competing at this weekend’s Oscars (Universal/Warner Bros/Apple/Searchlight/iStock)
Gold rush: Cillian Murphy, Ryan Gosling, Lily Gladstone and Emma Stone are all competing at this weekend’s Oscars (Universal/Warner Bros/Apple/Searchlight/iStock)

A sure sign that the 2024 Oscar nominees are pretty good is that the civil wars brewing between their fans are sillier than usual. Twitter has been anticipating a battle between supporters of Best Actress rivals Emma Stone and Lily Gladstone – but they’re both mutually brilliant, so who cares? People raged over Greta Gerwig’s snubbing from the Best Director category – but the five actual nominees are sort of extraordinary, so what’s the issue? Yes, it’s a bit uninteresting if Robert Downey Jr prevails in Best Supporting Actor – but what kind of monster would take issue with Robert Downey Jr finally getting an Academy Award?

For the most part – or, more specifically, if you pretend Nyad doesn’t exist – this year’s nominations are an embarrassment of riches. Even the more middle-range films making appearances here, such as Barbie or Maestro, at least feature dazzling technical prowess or a handful of strong performances.

It means this Sunday’s Oscars should be a whole lot of fun, rewarding deserving people and what was, overall, a surprisingly great year in film.

Ahead of the ceremony, we’ve cast an eye over the major categories and decided who will win, who should win, and who really should have got a look in.

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

Will win Oppenheimer

Should win Oppenheimer

Shoulda got a look in May December

In any other year, at least six of these movies would have been deserving – and probable – Best Picture winners. I’m not sure it’s quite as open a field as it may seem, though. Since it made an absolute tonne of money, and in a way that remains slightly flabbergasting, Oppenheimer feels like a tailor-made victor here. As for a missing movie that should have been invited to the party, I do think the absence of May December – Todd Haynes’s biting age-gap melodrama – is a bit perplexing.

Bombs away: Cillian Murphy and Christopher Nolan on the ‘Oppenheimer’ set (Melinda Sue Gordon)
Bombs away: Cillian Murphy and Christopher Nolan on the ‘Oppenheimer’ set (Melinda Sue Gordon)

Best Director

Jonathan Glazer, The Zone of Interest

Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things

Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer

Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon

Justine Triet, Anatomy of a Fall

Will win Christopher Nolan

Should win Christopher Nolan

Shoulda got a look in Alexander Payne, The Holdovers

This was seemingly a very, very tight category, with each of the five directors richly deserving of their nomination. Each would be worthy of a win here, too, if only for their careers as a whole. But Christopher Nolan seems set to take it home, both because Oppenheimer is a masterpiece, and because his lack of previous Best Director wins feels so confusing. As for someone I’d have liked to see here, why not The Holdovers’ Alexander Payne? With its winter scenery and pretty Christmas lights, it was certainly the most beautiful film of last year at the very least.

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper, Maestro

Colman Domingo, Rustin

Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers

Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer

Jeffrey Wright, American Fiction

Will win Cillian Murphy

Should win Cillian Murphy

Shoulda got a look in Jason Schwartzman, Asteroid City

Paul Giamatti could end up the vaguely surprising winner of this category – and it would be a great win! – but this feels like Cillian Murphy’s to lose. It’s also a sign of the overall quality of these nominees that the least likely to scoop the prize are the men leading Maestro and Rustin, two more traditional Oscar-baiting biopics. Either performance could have easily been swapped out for Jason Schwartzman’s lovely tragicomic turn in Wes Anderson’s quirky sci-fi Asteroid City, a great film that has inexplicably been completely forgotten this awards season.

Cold shoulder: Sandra Hüller and Swann Arlaud in ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ (Lionsgate)
Cold shoulder: Sandra Hüller and Swann Arlaud in ‘Anatomy of a Fall’ (Lionsgate)

Best Actress

Annette Bening, Nyad

Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon

Sandra Hüller, Anatomy of a Fall

Carey Mulligan, Maestro

Emma Stone, Poor Things

Will win Lily Gladstone

Should win Sandra Hüller

Shoulda got a look in Natalie Portman, May December

This will be one of the night’s biggest battles, with no one particularly sure whether Lily Gladstone or Emma Stone will prove victorious. I’m inclined to believe Gladstone will prosper, but – if I’m being totally honest – neither performance can hold a candle to Sandra Hüller’s chilly, brilliantly inscrutable work as a murder suspect in Anatomy of a Fall. And while it’s a bit of a cliché to call out Annette Bening’s nomination here, wouldn’t it have been nice to see Natalie Portman’s (maybe career-best?) performance in May December be included instead?

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

Will win Robert Downey Jr

Should win Robert De Niro

Shoulda got a look in Many, many young men

The total wipeout of Robert De Niro from awards wins this season is sort of wacky – his performance as one of the slipperiest, most unambiguously ghastly figures behind the Osage Nation killings is among the best of the year. It’s certainly the best in this category. That said, Downey Jr is a sure thing. Missing here are an abundance of young men – a demographic to which the Oscars seem perpetually allergic. May December’s stunted husband Charles Melton, Anatomy of a Fall’s blind witness Milo Machado-Graner and – whisper it – Priscilla’s Jacob Elordi, all warranted some attention here. And where art thou Dominic Sessa of The Holdovers? Practically everyone else involved in the film has drawn accolades this season – why not him?

Likely winner: Da’Vine Joy Randolph in ‘The Holdovers’ (Seacia Pavao)
Likely winner: Da’Vine Joy Randolph in ‘The Holdovers’ (Seacia Pavao)

Best Supporting Actress

Emily Blunt, Oppenheimer

Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple

America Ferrera, Barbie

Jodie Foster, Nyad

Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

Will win Da’Vine Joy Randolph

Should win Da’Vine Joy Randolph

Shoulda got a look in Many, many other women

This category is the only slight disappointment this year, with the Foster and Ferrara nominations particularly egregious. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who has been hoovering up wins across awards season so far, will comfortably and deservedly take home the prize – but you wish she had a stronger line-up to compete against. The last year was stacked with perfect Best Supporting Actress contenders, too, from Penelope Cruz’s electric work in Ferrari to Julianne Moore’s broad and strange performance in May December. Then there’s Rachel McAdams being divine in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and – because I love a curveball – what about Patti LuPone in Beau Is Afraid? A calamity of a movie, sure, but what a powerhouse of a performance.

Best Original Screenplay

Samy Burch, May December (story by Samy Burch and Alex Mechanik)

Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer, Maestro

Arthur Harari and Justine Triet, Anatomy of a Fall

David Hemingson, The Holdovers

Celine Song, Past Lives

Will win Anatomy of a Fall

Should win Anatomy of a Fall

Shoulda got a look in Emma Seligman and Rachel Sennott, Bottoms

I sense this will be a face-off between Anatomy of a Fall and The Holdovers, two films that proved the industry is still interested in sharp, engrossing character studies. As for a winner? I feel like Anatomy of a Fall may have the edge. A film I’d have loved to see here is the Ayo Edebiri/Rachel Sennott teen movie Bottoms. With its cartoon violence, unapologetic queerness and unhinged female leads, this was a nutty, chaotic spin on the high school comedy. A Best Original Screenplay nod would, of course, never have actually happened, but we can dream, can’t we?

Chilling: Jonathan Glazer’s ‘The Zone of Interest' (A24)
Chilling: Jonathan Glazer’s ‘The Zone of Interest' (A24)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, Barbie

Jonathan Glazer, The Zone of Interest

Cord Jefferson, American Fiction

Tony McNamara, Poor Things

Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer

Will win Oppenheimer

Should win The Zone of Interest

Shoulda got a look in Kelly Fremon Craig, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

While this category is probably the best chance Barbie has at an award outside the technical categories, I think it’s likely going to go to Nolan. That said, it would be gratifying to see Jonathan Glazer scoop the prize for his work on The Zone of Interest, crafting a script that radically reshapes and reimagines its Martin Amis source material. And while I may be guilty of ringing the bell for Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret at every possible opportunity, wouldn’t it have been lovely to see Kelly Fremon Craig’s gorgeous adaptation of Judy Blume’s novel get a nod here?