On January 23rd, the excitement of awards season kicks into high gear with the unveiling of the Academy Award nominations. Trending news share with you the potential contenders for the coveted honors.
Caryn James: Among the contenders, Oppenheimer and Killers of the Flower Moon seem poised for a head-to-head battle in the Best Picture race. The audacious Poor Things and the commercially savvy juggernaut Barbie round out the top four. The nomination itself is a significant honor for others, like The Holdovers, American Fiction, and Anatomy of a Fall, with potential nods for The Zone of Interest and Maestro. An exciting dark horse could be Celine Song’s exquisite Past Lives. However, the glaring omission might be Ava DuVernay’s impactful film on caste and race, Origin, which, despite recent PR efforts, could miss the mark.
Nicholas Barber: Departing from recent indie trends, this Oscar season appears dominated by high-profile Hollywood blockbusters. Anticipate nominations, including Best Picture, for Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon, Maestro, Barbie, and Poor Things. Among the noteworthy contenders, Jonathan Glazer’s powerful Holocaust drama, The Zone of Interest, stands out. With room for 10 nominees, keep an eye on American Fiction, The Holdovers, The Color Purple, Anatomy of a Fall, and The Boy And The Heron for potential recognition.
Caryn James: It’s all about Nolan this time. Christopher Nolan, a perpetual contender, stands out with Oppenheimer, a perfect blend of art and commerce, making this Oscar his to lose. While the revered Martin Scorsese poses strong competition, Greta Gerwig’s billion-dollar hit Barbie and Yorgos Lanthimos’s dazzling Poor Things are also formidable contenders. Alexander Payne, deftly directing The Holdovers, looks promising for the last slot, signaled by his Directors Guild Award nomination. Justine Triet’s wins at the Golden Globes for screenplay and international film with the bold Anatomy of a Fall put her and the film squarely on Hollywood’s radar, making her a strong contender for the fifth spot.
Nicholas Barber: The clash of titans, Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan, seems inevitable with their sprawling non-fiction sagas Killers of the Flower Moon and Oppenheimer. Yorgos Lanthimos is a likely addition for his inventive direction in Poor Things, alongside Bradley Cooper (Maestro) and Greta Gerwig (Barbie). While these contenders are strong, Alexander Payne (The Holdovers), Justine Triet (Anatomy of a Fall), or Celine Song (Past Lives) might surprise, with a hopeful nod to the legendary Hayao Miyazaki for his final Studio Ghibli anime, The Boy and the Heron.
Caryn James: The Best Actor category is a bit unpredictable this year. Cillian Murphy of Oppenheimer, Paul Giamatti from The Holdovers, and Jeffrey Wright in American Fiction are solid contenders. Bradley Cooper’s attention-grabbing portrayal of Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, complete with a highly-discussed prosthetic nose, could align with the type of performance Oscar voters tend to favor. The fifth spot may go to either Leonardo DiCaprio for Killers of the Flower Moon or the compelling Colman Domingo, who shines in Rustin. However, my personal choice would be Andrew Scott for his emotive and subtly powerful performance in All of Us Strangers.
Nicholas Barber: Cillian Murphy appears to be the front-runner for Oppenheimer, having already secured the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a drama. Paul Giamatti’s Golden Globe win in the comedy or musical category for The Holdovers positions him as a likely nominee. Bradley Cooper’s striking transformation as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, along with Leonardo DiCaprio’s role in Killers of the Flower Moon, are strong contenders. The final slot could go to Jeffrey Wright for his endearing performance in American Fiction, but other compelling options include Colman Domingo for Rustin, Andrew Scott for All of Us Strangers, or Barry Keoghan for Saltburn.
Caryn James: The spotlight is on two exceptional and distinct performances in this category: Lily Gladstone’s compelling yet restrained portrayal in Killers of the Flower Moon and Emma Stone’s boldly comedic and kaleidoscopic role in Poor Things. Margot Robbie earns a nod for breathing life into Barbie, while Carey Mulligan’s widely acclaimed performance in Maestro secures her a nomination. Annette Bening’s persistent campaigning for her lead role in the underwhelming Nyad, coupled with her Screen Actors Guild nomination, bodes well for her chances. However, my optimism leans towards Sandra Hüller clinching the fifth spot for her unyielding portrayal of a complex murder suspect in Anatomy of a Fall.
Nicholas Barber: While the outcome remains uncertain, four out of the five contenders in this category seem like safe bets. Lily Gladstone’s universally praised performance in Killers of the Flower Moon, Carey Mulligan’s stellar portrayal in Maestro, Emma Stone’s captivating eccentricity in Poor Things, and Margot Robbie’s impeccable turn in Barbie, a film she also produced, are strong contenders. The fifth slot could be claimed by Sandra Hüller, lauded for her magnetic and enigmatic presence in Anatomy of a Fall since its premiere at Cannes last year. Annette Bening also stands as a deserving nominee, not just for her acting but also her swimming skills in Nyad.
Outstanding supporting actor
Caryn James: The leading contender for Best Supporting Actor is Robert Downey Jr., delivering a formidable performance as the fierce antagonist in Oppenheimer. Ryan Gosling poses a strong challenge with his brilliantly tongue-in-cheek portrayal as Barbie’s boyfriend. Robert De Niro could secure another nomination for his dynamic role as the primary villain in Killers of the Flower Moon, marking one of his standout performances in recent years. While Charles Melton has garnered some critics’ awards, the momentum for May December seems limited. The remaining slots are likely to be filled by Mark Ruffalo and possibly Willem Dafoe for Poor Things. Conventional Oscar wisdom suggests that two nominees from one film could cancel each other out, but with neither likely to win, strategic voters may opt to nominate both.
Nicholas Barber: In the running for Best Supporting Actor, Ryan Gosling, despite being a co-lead in Barbie, is eligible due to the film’s submission strategy, showcasing his adorably silly performance. Robert Downey Jr. is a shoo-in not only for his spiky intensity in Oppenheimer but also for his significant contribution to Disney’s blockbuster success as Iron Man. Robert De Niro’s portrayal of the despicable villain in Killers of the Flower Moon positions him as a strong contender, and Charles Melton’s heart-rending vulnerability in May December hasn’t gone unnoticed by critics. The fifth slot is up for grabs, with actors from Poor Things potentially filling it – either Willem Dafoe, who impressed me, or Mark Ruffalo, who didn’t resonate as much.
Outstanding supporting actress
Caryn James: Da’Vine Joy Randolph has amassed numerous awards for her authentically vibrant performance in The Holdovers, making her a strong contender for the win. Danielle Brooks is expected to secure a nomination for her powerhouse role, the standout in The Color Purple, while Emily Blunt’s impactful contribution in Oppenheimer could earn her a spot. The remainder of the field is more uncertain. Jodie Foster’s SAG nomination for Nyad, coupled with her esteemed career, may propel her into the competition. America Ferrera, despite a lack of previous awards attention, deserves consideration for her grounding performance in Barbieworld, independent of her widely-discussed monologue on contemporary women’s roles.
Nicholas Barber: This category poses challenges, given that the year’s major films haven’t prominently featured attention-grabbing supporting roles for women. Emily Blunt might secure a nomination for Oppenheimer, not necessarily for her most impressive work, but because Oppenheimer is anticipated to receive multiple nominations. Danielle Brooks is a likely nominee for her role in the musical adaptation of The Color Purple, especially considering her previous Tony nomination for the same role on Broadway. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, the heart and soul of The Holdovers, and Jodie Foster, delivering a robust performance in Nyad, are strong contenders. My personal choice for the fifth slot would be Rosamund Pike, who masterfully portrays a character both pitiable and hilariously awful in Saltburn.
Best Original Screenplay
Caryn James: The screenplay category boasts three outstanding, meticulously crafted contenders: The Holdovers, Anatomy of a Fall, and Past Lives, all destined for nominations. Beyond them, the landscape is less certain, with a noticeable gap in quality and an overflowing adapted screenplay category, prompting reflection on Hollywood’s appreciation for originality. May December’s screenplay, widely admired within the film, could secure a nomination, emphasizing the delicate balance of recognition for innovative storytelling. Emerald Fennell, a previous winner in this category for Promising Young Woman, may find herself nominated again for her bold narrative in Saltburn. Notably absent from consideration, but deserving, is Barbie, as discussed below.
Nicholas Barber: In a year where many awards-friendly films are adaptations, the original screenplay category provides an opportunity for recognition of smaller films. The gripping German courtroom drama, Anatomy of a Fall (penned by Justine Triet and Arthur Harari), stands as a Golden Globe-winning favorite. Celine Song’s exquisitely bittersweet Past Lives presents a compelling chance for nomination. Emerald Fennell, an Oscar winner for her screenplay in Promising Young Woman, could secure another nod for her widely embraced Saltburn. While comedies often face Oscars oversight, The Holdovers (crafted by David Hemingson) boasts undeniable excellence that demands attention in this category.
Outstanding Adapted Screenplay
Caryn James: It’s quite amusing that the genuinely original Barbie finds itself in the adapted category, thanks to its connection to pre-existing intellectual property. Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach merit consideration, alongside the expected contenders: Scorsese and Eric Roth for Killers of the Flower Moon, Tony McNamara for Poor Things, and Nolan for Oppenheimer. Cord Jefferson is likely to secure a nomination for American Fiction, but this competitive category may overlook other noteworthy possibilities. There should be space, somehow, for Andrew Haigh’s inventive adaptation of a Japanese novel in All of Us Strangers, and for DuVernay’s captivating transformation of a non-fiction book into a personal drama in Origin.
Nicholas Barber: It’s a safe bet to include Oppenheimer and Killers of the Flower Moon in this category. Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach’s Barbie screenplay falls under “adapted” due to the pre-existence of Barbie and Ken, warranting its place on the list. Other expected choices are Tony McNamara’s dynamic interpretation of Alasdair Gray’s novel, Poor Things, and Cord Jefferson’s incisive adaptation of Percival Everett’s novel, Erasure, in American Fiction. Lastly, Jonathan Glazer’s brilliant adaptation of The Zone of Interest should be acknowledged, even though it utilized minimal material from Martin Amis’ source novel.