A&E staff share Oscars 2024 predictions

Photo credit: Roberta Macedo
Photo credit: Roberta Macedo

Hollywood’s best will flock to the infamous Dolby Theater this Sunday at 7 p.m. for the 96th annual Oscar Awards. Actress Lily Gladstone looks to make history as the first-ever Native American to win an award while Cillian Murphy hopes to become the first Best Actor recipient for a Christopher Nolan film.

Will pretty-in-pink “Barbie” beat Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” or will “Killers of the Flower Moon” leave them both in the dust? Keep reading to see what the A&E staff predicts will happen at the Oscars this Sunday.

Best Picture: Oz

The biggest award of the night is split between some of the year’s biggest films — Martin Scorsese’s latest masterpiece, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Nolan’s magnum opus “Oppenheimer” and the pinkest nominee ever, “Barbie.”

There is usually much more discourse over who would win this prestigious award, but one name seems to be taking over the award season: “Oppenheimer.” Due to the giant event that was “Barbenheimer,” the Academy is more than likely going to award the second-highest-grossing R-rated film.

“Oppenheimer” was a technical achievement combining great storytelling, visual effects galore and an ensemble cast that is only matched by “Barbie.”

The only reason why “Barbie” isn’t a credible threat is the Academy’s treatment of it as a “blockbuster” instead of an “art film.” In recent history, Oscar voters have avoided rewarding blockbusters in favor of independent films.

The Academy snubbing both Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig for Best Actress and Best Director further validates that claim.

Best Director: Lucia

This year’s race for Best Director is highly competitive, with the acclaimed Scorcese and Nolan leading the race. Despite Scorcese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” the fan favorite and expected winner of this award is Nolan for his breakthrough film, “Oppenheimer.”

Arguably his best film to date, Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” explores the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer and the capacity mankind has for destruction.

A truly psychological story told in the structure of time jumps and complex character studies, “Oppenheimer” captured the attention of audiences around the world and truly cemented Nolan as one of the greatest filmmakers of this generation.

The film delivers breathtaking visuals and an overall immersive experience. Despite its nearly three-hour runtime, its entertaining, thought-provoking narrative makes three hours feel like a second.

Both Nolan and Scorcese demonstrated excellent directing, but the odds are likely in Nolan’s favor for this year’s Academy Awards.

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Best Actor: Sam

For Best Actor, the year gave us some undeniably amazing performances. However, two out of the five nominees stand out among the group.

Bradley Cooper in “Maestro,” Colman Domingo in “Rustin” and Wright in “American Fiction” were good performances, but the clear competition stands between Paul Giamatti’s portrayal of Paul Hunham in the “The Holdovers” and Cillian Murphy’s portrayal of the titular character in “Oppenheimer.”

Both performances gave us some of the rawest sense of emotion and movement that the film industry has seen in a while, leaving audiences with iconic, memorable moments and scenes.

Murphy will likely take home the award due to his iconic speeches in the film. But it would also be no surprise to see Giamatti giving the acceptance speech.

Best Actress: Lucia

This year’s race for Best Actress looks like it will be a battle of the stones between front-runners Lily Gladstone from “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Emma Stone from “Poor Things.”

Gladstone is the first-ever Native American to be nominated for Best Actress. Both women gave phenomenal performances in vastly different films, making it difficult to compare them.

Stone displayed a range of talent and dedication to her craft in “Poor Things” which took her character to another level. For this, she was awarded the British Academy Film Award for Best Actress, making people predict she would secure the Oscar easily.

But after Gladstone won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role, the outcome of this Oscars category is less clear.

Best Supporting Actor: Oz

This year’s Best Supporting Actor award is easily the most competitive of the year, featuring a stacked list of top actors. With nominees including Ryan Gosling, Robert Downey Jr., Sterling K. Brown, Mark Ruffalo and Robert De Niro, there is so much talent on display.

Downey Jr. reminded audiences in “Oppenheimer” that he can act beyond the capacity of Tony Stark as the mischievous Lewis Strauss. He’s been storming the award show scene, taking the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, BAFTA and SAG awards in the category. It would be quite a move if anyone else got the award.

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Best Supporting Actress: Samantha

Da’Vine Joy Randolph from “The Holdovers” is favored to win the award for Best Supporting Actress as her riveting performance continues to dominate the competition, earning her Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice, BAFTA and SAG awards.

Randolph’s grit and complexity shines in “The Holdovers,” which made viewers grieve alongside Randolph over a deceased character who was barely mentioned in the film. “The Holdovers” gave the spotlight to lonely characters who felt betrayed by society, making Randolph feel more relatable.

Emily Blunt’s performance in “Oppenheimer” stands as a runner-up as one glance at her character’s unwavering eyes made her the strongest person in the room. Blunt maintained a compelling on-screen presence alongside Best Actor nominee Cillian Murphy. Her ending monologue is one for the ages, but doesn’t surpass the tears Randolph made many shed.

Best Original Screenplay: Vivica

The current favorite for Best Original Screenplay is “The Holdovers,” written by David Hemingson, known primarily for his writing and producing for tv projects like “Family Guy,” “Bones” and “Black-ish.” Hemingson brought his comedic chops to the silver screen, combining humor with a more humanist perspective.

A24’s indie darling “Past Lives” has the potential to be the black sheep of this race, overtaking “The Holdovers” and surprising the Oscars audience.

Both films are intimate portraits of individuals trying to figure out the next stage of their lives and work through the traumas that they have endured in the past.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Samantha

Nolan’s powerful adaptation of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s Pulitzer-prize-winning biography stands as the likely victor for Best Adapted Screenplay. “The Zone of Interest” writer Jonathan Glazer faces major competition with blockbusters like “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” holding the reins.

Though “American Fiction” writer Cord Johnson has impressed with his adapted screenplay victories at the Critic’s Choice and Independent Spirit awards, his story didn’t move the masses like Nolan’s $959 million blockbuster.

Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach wrote Warner Bros’ highest-grossing film “Barbie,” refining feminist films’ standards with quirky and intelligent dialogue. However, with “Barbie” not being as successful in the awards circuit, its winning chances are low.

Tony McNamara’s “Poor Things” reintroduced Emma Stone to the spotlight with bizarre, yet heartfelt characters. But its exploration of life and romance holds no leverage to the dynamic re-telling of humanity’s darkest era in “Oppenheimer.”

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Best Animated Feature: Vivica

Despite the buzz surrounding “Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse” and its groundbreaking animation style, the most likely candidate to win this award is “The Boy and the Heron,” also known as “How Do You Live?”

Renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli’s return to the big screen gives the Academy a chance to award him again following his 2003 Best Animated Feature for “Spirited Away.”

Miyazaki has gained cultural relevance in the past decade since his original retirement and has become an influential figure in animated filmmaking. Although “Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse” is well-loved, it doesn’t hold the legacy of “The Boy and The Heron.”

Best Cinematography: Samantha

Hoyte van Hoytema’s masterclass in combining camera work with storytelling makes “Oppenheimer” the probable champion. Hoytema enthralls viewers through capturing scientific phenomena and emotional breakdowns with identical precision.

“Poor Things” cinematographer Robbie Ryan equips various lenses and unique filmmaking techniques to transport viewers to a whimsical world. Ryan’s work shows more style, but lacks Hoytema’s intense melodramatic substance.

Rodrigo Pietro and Matthew Libatique from “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Maestro,” respectively, equip shadows and coordinate lighting to have a character’s feelings pour onto the screen. Hoytema doubles down on this technique with his film’s powerful ending, which features intense light that symbolizes Oppenheimer’s crushing guilt.

Edward Lachlan from “El Conde” uses black-and-white imaging to highlight the film as a period piece and its undead character. “Oppenheimer” takes this technique to the next level by using B&W to represent the world’s lack of understanding of the events leading to the atomic bomb.

Best Original Song: Riley

After garnering a whopping 15 awards since its release, including two Grammys and a Golden Globe, Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie” is sure to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

The lyrics beautifully encapsulate the feelings that many girls go through as they grow up. The smooth production by her brother FINNEAS, combined with Billie’s soft, emotional voice, make for a gorgeous, yet heart-wrenching ballad.

The song fits its scene in “Barbie” perfectly, bringing audience members to tears as Barbie learns of all the tumultuous feelings girls and women endure. “What Was I Made For?” stands out among all the nominees, and viewers would be shocked if it does not win at the Oscars.

With Ryan Gosling confirmed to be singing “Barbie” hit song “I’m Just Ken” at the show, this year’s Oscars will be nothing but newsworthy.

Witness past Oscar winners like Jaime Lee Curtis and Matthew McConaughey bestow award-winning status to rising stars this Sunday at 7 p.m. on ABC. Though “Oppenheimer” stands as the leading winner, upsets have happened in prior years, so don’t count your favorite out just yet.

Osvaldo Espino, Riley Simon, Lucia Moglia and Sam Billok contributed to the writing of this article.