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The Oscar Nominations Are Here! Here Are the Biggest Surprises, Predictions, and Favorites



Whatever your opinion may be of ~Hollywood~ or the meaningfulness of award shows, if you like movies and maybe even call them “films” the Academy Awards are still the highest honor that can be bestowed on a motion picture. While Free Press Fail does have its own awards (the third annual Freedoms and Fails coming again this spring), the Oscars are still an important and often fun metric of the critically acclaimed movie world. 

The nominations have been announced and here are The Conservative Critics predictions, favorites (even if I don’t think they’ll win) and surprises. 

Biggest Surprise: America Ferrera nominated for Barbie 

Ferrera was on no one’s shortlist. Barbie has gotten loads of critical acclaim including many nominations at the Golden Globes and other major awards. But most of the attention has gone to Ryan Gosling as Ken, Margot Robbie as Barbie and Greta Gerwig directing. Ferrera played Gloria who is the real woman grappling with real life issues like being a mother to a teenage daughter and having a dead end job who helps Barbie on her adventure through the story. 

Ferrera has been in the industry since she was a teenager. She is consistently underrated as a performer. In the iconic classic, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, she delivers a performance so nuanced and heartbreaking that it has stayed with me in my heart for my entire life. She also has starred in hit sitcoms and voices Ingrid in the beloved How to Train Your Dragon franchise. 

Performers like Ferrera who come into our homes every day and bring us something we like, we can approach and we care about are so often underrated by their own industry. Ferrera’s nomination is important not only for her but for us. It is a recognition that the viewer has power and who we love is who they should also love. 

Prior to her nomination I was all in for Emily Blunt’s performance in Oppenheimer which is nominated in the same category but now I will be rooting for America Ferrera for Barbie. 

My favorite underdog: Past Lives 

My absolute favorite film of the year was Oppenheimer which seems to be everyone’s else’s favorite as well. But Past Lives is a really special film that is unique, and quiet and humble and truly very beautiful. Past Lives has been nominated in many categories including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Its best shot is in the screenplay category but so far fortune seems to be favoring the grittier stories over the relatable and beautiful ones like Past Lives. 

Past Lives is about two people from Korea who are the kind of childhood friends that translates to a profound kind of innocent first love. Nora, played beautifully by Greta Lee, moves to Canada and then America and the two lose touch and then regain touch again multiple times over decades. It’s a story of love, hope, destiny and loss and somehow of America. It takes viewers places they never thought the story was going and they never thought they could feel. It’s really a special story (not to mention visually stunning) that is worthy of recognition and I’m hoping it wins in at least one of its categories despite all the odds. See my full review here.

Prediction: Oppenheimer set to dominate 

Frankly, Oppenheimer is one of the best movies I’ve seen in my entire life. Every single element of the film mattered to Nolan. The story perspective is intentionally biased with truth sporadically revealed to the viewer to destabilize the world view the film has presented. There is no silence in the movie. There is static throughout the entire film to make viewers uncomfortable, build tension and to keep viewers’ minds on the notion of the atoms all around us. The performances are best in class. To neglect to award Oppenheimer  Best Picture would be as capricious as when they refused to award it to Maverick last year (which is the best movie made in a decade).  The difference this time is that the Academy perceives Oppenehimer as “serious” whereas Maverick was considered “entertainment.” Its a completely arbitrary measure considering Oppenheimer enjoyed broad box office success and Maverick being well liked doesn’t mean it wasn’t perfect. Either way, the perception will benefit Oppenheimer and it’s likely to take top prize as well as many other prizes. 

Biggest snub: Nothing for Saltburn 

Saltburn is a twisted tale about a young man who spends the summer with his wealthy school friend at his massive home called Saltburn. The story, written and directed by Emerald Fennell of Promising Young Woman success, is so shocking it twists around its own finger from darkness to comedy and back to darkness and maybe even back again to comedy. What starts as a satirical review of the upper class (something I am completely uninterested in visiting considering the genre is so fully explored re: White Lotus, Triangle of Sadness etc.) devolves into a thriller that is something else entirely. In my opinion, Emerald Fennell is the most ‘promising young woman’ of them all. 

The film has been a favorite on the award circuit making it very surprising that it received not a single nomination at the Oscars. Clearly, the Academy felt the film was a little boring considering that’s how all their summers always look. See the movie or read some spoilers to get what I mean. 

Most overrated: Killers of the Flower Moon and The Holdovers 

Killers is way too long and way too afraid of its own shadow to be good. With a director like the legendary Martin Scorsese, source material like the true story of the Osage murders and acting dominance like Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DiNero, Killers should have been not only fantastic but highly entertaining. Instead, its a boring history lecture with not an ounce of charm or commitment to storytelling. It’s nominated for Best Picture which it does not deserve and Robert DiNero is nominated for Best Supporting Actor despite handing in one of his hammiest, least believable performances of his career. The one exception is Lily Gladstone who is nominated for Best Supporting Actress and was truly phenomenal in the film. Additionally, the costumes for Killers were very strong. Read my full review here. 

The Holdovers is simply a tired and uninteresting story. Paul Giamati gave a fine performance but nowhere close to his best on a character that was way over written. The whole ‘rich kid at a boarding school is misunderstood but the grumpy teacher helps him’ is done absolutely to death. The Holdovers invents nothing, adds nothing new and has nothing to say. Despite this, I suspect it will win in at least one category. Read my full review here.

Here are the full list of nominations: 2024 | | Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

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