Oscar Musings 2024 by Prasad Nadhavajhala
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09 March 2024
San Francisco

Never in recent times have we seen so many great movies in the same year vying for the Best Film category. 'Oppenheimer,' 'The Holdovers,' 'The Zone of Interest,' 'Anatomy of a Fall,' 'Past Lives,' and 'Poor Things' — each of these deserves to take home the Oscar, but this is the year of Christopher Nolan and his magnum opus, 'Oppenheimer.'

Similar to Steven Spielberg, who had many blockbusters for almost 20 years before being recognized by the Academy for 'Schindler’s List,' Nolan was the darling of critics and the box office for years with movies like 'The Dark Knight,' ‘Inception,’ and 'Interstellar,' but was never nominated for an Oscar. Just when his reputation became shaky after the high-budget bomb 'Tenet,' he rebounded with the biggest hit of his career and a film that garnered 12 Oscar nominations. 'Oppenheimer,' based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book 'American Prometheus,' is the biography of the brilliant physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who built the world’s first atomic bomb during wartime. 'Oppenheimer' should win 'Best Film' and 'Best Director,' and may also win the 'Best Actor' award for Cillian Murphy. Paul Giamatti ('The Holdovers') and Geoffrey Wright ('American Fiction') also gave memorable performances this year and may spring a surprise.

Films not made in English are also making a huge splash at the Oscars in recent times. We saw 'Parasite' (Korean), 'Roma' (Mexican), and 'RRR' (Indian) winning in the main categories recently. This year saw two movies, 'Anatomy of a Fall' (in French) and 'The Zone of Interest' (in German), nominated in 'Best Film,' 'Best Screenplay,' and some other categories. The French film 'Anatomy of a Fall' is not an official entry from France, which submitted 'The Taste of Things,' but it caught everyone’s eye with its thrilling courtroom drama and the superlative performance by its lead, Sandra Hüller. German actress Sandra Hüller also acted in 'The Zone of Interest,' directed by Jonathan Glazer. This movie, filmed at Auschwitz, is a riveting Holocaust drama and is also nominated in the 'Best Foreign Film' category.

No one would believe 'Past Lives' was made by a first-time director, Canadian-Korean Celine Song. Song’s fascinating storytelling of a semi-autobiographical plot is spellbinding, raising important questions about the choices made in anyone’s life. It is a beautifully layered film that reminds one of Indian classics like 'Mouna Ragam' and '96,' following two childhood friends in Seoul who take different paths in life and later meet in New York.

Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos made great indie movies like 'The Lobster' and 'The Killing of a Sacred Deer' in the past and mesmerized with the Oscar-nominated 'The Favourite' (2018), starring Olivia Colman and Emma Stone. He is back with another Emma Stone starrer, 'Poor Things,' this year. What a colorful, bizarre riot with excellent performances by Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo, and Willem Dafoe, along with beautiful sets and dresses. The new Frankenstein story replaces the traditional monster with a beautiful young erotomaniac brought back to life by a weird scientist with the brain of an infant. Emma Stone displays a range of histrionics not seen on screen in recent times. She should get the 'Best Actress' award unless the Academy prefers to give it to Lily Gladstone ('Killers of the Flower Moon'), the first indigenous actress nominated in the category.

Martin Scorsese’s 'Killers of the Flower Moon,' Bradley Cooper’s 'Maestro,' and Greta Gerwig’s 'Barbie' have received some major nominations but may go empty-handed because of stiff competition this year.

My Predictions on Oscar Night:
• Best Picture: “Oppenheimer”
• Best Director: Christopher Nolan (“Oppenheimer”)
• Best Actor: Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”)
• Best Actress: Emma Stone (“Poor Things”)
• Best Supporting Actor: Robert Downey Jr. (“Oppenheimer”)
• Best Supporting Actress: Da’Vine Joy Randolph (“The Holdovers”)
• Best Original Screenplay: “Anatomy of a Fall”
• Best Adapted Screenplay: “Oppenheimer”
• Best Animated Feature: “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”
• Best Documentary Feature: “20 Days in Mariupol”
• Best Documentary Short: “The Last Repair Shop”
• Best International Feature: “The Zone of Interest"
• Best Cinematography: “Oppenheimer”
• Best Sound: “Oppenheimer”
• Best Editing: “Oppenheimer”
• Best Original Score: “Oppenheimer”
• Best Song: “What Was I Made For?” (“Barbie”)
• Best Production Design: “Barbie”
• Best Costume Design: “Poor Things”
• Best Makeup and Hairstyling: “Poor Things”
• Best Visual Effects: "Godzilla Minus One”

Prasad Nadhavajhala can be contacted at [email protected]

Past articles:
Oscar musings 2020
Oscar musings 2018
Oscar musings 2017

Oscar musings 2016
Oscar musings 2015
Oscar musings 2014
Oscar musings 2013
Oscar musings 2012
Oscar musings 2011
Oscar musings 2010
Oscar musings 2009


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