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Awards Update: Final Oscar Predictions

March 8, 2024
By:
Hunter Friesen
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Welcome to an ongoing series where I cover the 2023/2024 awards season. Regularly, I will update my Oscar predictions, taking into account the new information that has been received since the last update. Full predictions in every category can be found on the Home and Awards page.


After six months of updates (and many more months of patiently waiting), it’s time to close out the 2023/2024 awards season. Honestly, it’s probably for the better, as this season proved to be a little too vindictive for my tastes. There’s only so much vitriol that can be thrown toward people/films that don’t deserve it (Bradley Cooper) before you start to wish this whole awards apparatus would change for the better. But that’s a discussion for another day, as I’m too tired of talking about these films and would like to put them to rest.


Fortunately for me (and anyone else predicting the Oscars), the majority of these categories have already been sewn up. Just as I mentioned in my nominations predictions update, the key to the Oscars is focusing your attention on what matters. So you’re going to see little analysis in categories with clear frontrunners and more in tighter races. Notable precursors that will be used to determine likely winners are the Golden Globes (GG), Critics Choice Awards (CCA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), BAFTAs, and any category-specific guild award. Precursor win totals have been sourced from Next Best Picture, whom I’d like to thank for compiling this data.


I’d also like to point out that I will be predicting the three short categories, but won’t be producing analysis since I have none to offer. I’ll just be going with the GoldDerby consensus.

 

BEST MOTION PICTURE

  1. Oppenheimer

  2. Poor Things

  3. American Fiction

  4. The Holdovers

  5. Anatomy of a Fall

  6. Killers of the Flower Moon

  7. Barbie

  8. The Zone of Interest

  9. Maestro

  10. Past Lives


Everyone has had time since July to take down Oppenheimer as the frontrunner, but no one ever got close. I guess that’s the kind of protection nearly $1 billion at the box office and widespread enthusiasm buys you. Oppenheimer has won the GG, CCA, BAFTA, SAG, and PGA. No film has ever won all those prizes and lost Best Picture, and this will definitely not be the first time it happens.

 

BEST DIRECTOR

  1. Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer)

  2. Yorgos Lanthimos (Poor Things)

  3. Martin Scorsese (Killers of the Flower Moon)

  4. Jonathan Glazer (The Zone of Interest)

  5. Justine Triet (Anatomy of a Fall)


I’m not even going to waste your time telling you why this is the biggest lock of the night. You and I both know it’s going to be Christopher Nolan walking up that stage.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  1. Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Triet & Arthur Harari)

  2. The Holdovers (David Hemingson)

  3. Past Lives (Celine Song)

  4. Maestro (Bradley Cooper & Josh Singer)

  5. May December (Samy Burch)


This has been one of the more interesting races all season. Past Lives started as the favorite out of last year’s Sundance and continued all through the summer. Then The Holdovers muscled its way to the top after the fall festivals. And all this time, Anatomy of a Fall has been quietly building steam since its triumphant debut at Cannes back in May.


We thought the win for Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes was just a fluke, but the film’s dominance at the European Film Awards and recent win in this category at the BAFTAs proves that it’s been the strongest contender the entire time. It also can’t be denied that the presence of Messi the Border Collie on the awards circuit has certainly helped push the film's profile. Let’s hope he gets some extra treats for all his hard work!

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  1. American Fiction (Cord Jefferson)

  2. Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan)

  3. Barbie (Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach)

  4. Poor Things (Tony McNamara)

  5. The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer)


Despite its sole nomination at the BAFTAs being for Best Adapted Screenplay, American Fiction was able to pull off the upset against much heavier competition in Oppenheimer and Poor Things. It also won the CCA over those two films and seems poised to win at the post-Oscar WGA awards. The true wild card is Barbie, which hasn’t competed in this category all season. But it hasn’t been able to pick up the necessary wins to convince me it will win here. We also have to consider the threat of Oppenheimer going full Birdman and sweeping up every above-the-line prize it can get.

 

BEST LEAD ACTOR

  1. Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer)

  2. Paul Giamatti (The Holdovers)

  3. Bradley Cooper (Maestro)

  4. Jeffrey Wright (American Fiction)

  5. Colman Domingo (Rustin)


It's been a back-and-forth battle between Cillian Murphy and Paul Giamatti all season. The former took the Golden Globe (Drama), BAFTA, and SAG; while the latter has the Golden Globe (Comedy/Musical) and the CCA. The ball is over on Murphy's side of the court thanks to the perpetual surging of Oppenheimer and his more important precursor wins.

 

BEST LEAD ACTRESS

  1. Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon)

  2. Emma Stone (Poor Things)

  3. Sandra Hüller (Anatomy of a Fall)

  4. Annette Bening (Nyad)

  5. Carey Mulligan (Maestro)


SAG has proven to be one of the most valuable precursors for the acting categories, which is why I'm going with Lily Gladstone in this incredibly tight race. The sentiment seems to be in the right place for her to win, even if Emma Stone won the also influential BAFTA. In an age where the Academy likes to spread the wealth, it's hard for me to predict someone getting their second acting Oscar over someone getting their first.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  1. Robert Downey Jr. (Oppenheimer)

  2. Ryan Gosling (Barbie)

  3. Mark Ruffalo (Poor Things)

  4. Robert De Niro (Killers of the Flower Moon)

  5. Sterling K. Brown (American Fiction)


If there was an award for best Oscar campaigner, Robert Downey Jr. would be a serious contender to win it. He’s gone viral for every victory speech he’s made at the televised awards and has become one of the most beloved faces on the awards circuit. It’s his time to claim Oscar gold, and there seems to be no chance of any other outcomes.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  1. Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers)

  2. Emily Blunt (Oppenheimer)

  3. Jodie Foster (Nyad)

  4. Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple)

  5. America Ferrera (Barbie)


Let’s add some perspective to this category, shall we? Da’Vine Joy Randolph has won 50 awards across the entire season, including every major critics’ prize and televised award. The next closest person is Rachel McAdams (Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.)... with 6. And she’s not even eligible for the Oscar! Forget what I said about Christopher Nolan in Best Director being the biggest lock of the night, THIS is the most undeniable lock.

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  1. Oppenheimer

  2. Killers of the Flower Moon

  3. Poor Things

  4. Maestro

  5. El Conde


Despite only having two Oscar nominations to his name, Hoyte Van Hoytema is one of those people who feel like they should already have an Oscar by now. Rodrigo Prieto (Killers of the Flower Moon) is another one of those individuals, but this just isn’t his year. Van Hoytema has the CCA, BAFTA, and ASC, so there’s no stopping him now.

 

BEST FILM EDITING

  1. Oppenheimer

  2. Killers of the Flower Moon

  3. Anatomy of a Fall

  4. The Holdovers

  5. Poor Things


A Christopher Nolan film (Dunkirk) has already won in this category for its manipulation of time, which means it's time for another one to achieve that feat. Editor Jennifer Lame has been awarded the CCA, BAFTA, and ACE this season, which makes this ceremony just a formality.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  1. Oppenheimer

  2. Killers of the Flower Moon

  3. Poor Things

  4. American Fiction

  5. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny


With wins at the Golden Globes, CCA, and BAFTA, there’s no denying the fact that Ludwig Göransson will nab his second Oscar for his work on Oppenheimer. The posthumous Robbie Robertson (Killers of the Flower Moon) would have been his closest competition, but it never amounted to more than a theory.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  1. What Was I Made For? (Barbie)

  2. I’m Just Ken (Barbie)

  3. It Never Went Away (American Symphony)

  4. The Fire Inside (Flamin’ Hot)

  5. Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People) (Killers of the Flower Moon)


You could say things are split down the middle between the two Barbie songs, “What Was I Made For?” and “I’m Just Ken,” after the former won the Golden Globe and the latter won the CCA. But this branch is not set up for comedic songs to succeed, and Billie Eilish has proved to be an awards magnet over the past few years, which includes an Oscar for No Time to Die. The real victory for “I’m Just Ken” will be seeing it performed live on stage.

 

BEST SOUND

  1. Oppenheimer

  2. The Zone of Interest

  3. Maestro

  4. Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One

  5. The Creator


Unfortunately for The Zone of Interest, its win for Best Sound at the BAFTAs only confirmed its place as runner-up to Oppenheimer, which has since solidified its position as the frontrunner with dominant victories at the Cinema Audio Society and Motion Picture Sound Editors awards.

 

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  1. Poor Things

  2. Barbie

  3. Oppenheimer

  4. Killers of the Flower Moon

  5. Napoleon


Barbie has dominated this category all season with 23 total wins, with Poor Things in a distant second with 4. But 2 of those 4 wins come from important precursors in the Art Directors Guild and BAFTAS, both instances where it won over Barbie. The momentum is surging with Poor Things now, so I’m going to see it through to the end. Any combination of outcomes is likely to occur between Barbie and Poor Things in this category and Best Costume Design, so I won’t be surprised to only get 1 of those 2 categories correct.

 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  1. Poor Things

  2. Barbie

  3. Killers of the Flower Moon

  4. Oppenheimer

  5. Napoleon


Poor Things (BAFTA, CDG - Period Film) and Barbie (CCA, CDG - Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film) both have equal footing in this race, so there’s no easy way to pick between the two. I’ve flipped my coin and it landed on Poor Things, so I’m going to double down on Lanthimos’ film in the craft categories.

 

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

  1. Maestro

  2. Poor Things

  3. Oppenheimer

  4. Golda

  5. Society of the Snow


Maestro has been the de facto frontrunner for the entire year, but its path to victory has not been as smooth as one would expect. It lost the CCA to Barbie (which isn’t eligible here) and the BAFTA to Poor Things. But it did win the awards for Period and/or Character Make-Up and Special Make-Up Effects at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards. The Oscars do love their biopic transformations, especially from branch favorite Kazu Hiro (Darkest Hour, Bombshell), so I think Bradley Cooper’s film has just enough juice to cross the finish line first.

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  1. The Creator

  2. Godzilla Minus One

  3. Napoleon

  4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

  5. Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One


As one of the craziest categories all year long, it only seems fitting that the unpredictability carries all the way to the finish line. First, it appeared that Dune: Part Two would walk away with a repeat win. But the SAG-AFTRA strike pushed that inevitable outcome to the next ceremony. Oppenheimer took its place atop the tower, only to be fully absent from the 20 film shortlist. Christopher Nolan’s film would end up winning at the CCAs for its effects, and so would Poor Things at the BAFTAs, another film not nominated at the Oscars.


So, the best evidence we have to go off of is the Visual Effects Society Awards, where The Creator won five awards and beat out the majority of its Oscar competition. Godzilla Minus One has the compelling narrative of its minuscule budget and small team, and Napoleon feels the most like the recent winners in this category. There’s no safe answer here.

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

  2. The Boy and the Heron

  3. Elemental

  4. Nimona

  5. Robot Dreams


Contrary to what most of us thought at the start of awards season, we actually have a race in this category. Now, that doesn’t mean that both Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and The Boy and the Heron have equal footing. The former seems to be in the stronger position given its dominance at the Annie Awards, and more reliable wins at CCA and PGA. Either way, the winner of this award will have truly deserved it.

 

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE

  1. The Zone of Interest (United Kingdom)

  2. Society of the Snow (Spain)

  3. Perfect Days (Japan)

  4. The Teacher’s Lounge (Germany)

  5. Io Capitano (Italy)


No film has ever been nominated for both Best International Feature and Best Picture and lost the former award. This year would have been the first instance of that stat breaking had France decided to submit Anatomy of a Fall instead of The Taste of Things. But they didn’t, so their rival Brits will secure their first win in this category through The Zone of Interest.

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  1. 20 Days in Mariupol

  2. Four Daughters

  3. Bobi Wine: The People's President

  4. The Ternal Memory

  5. To Kill a Tiger


There was a time that, had it been nominated, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie could win this category due to its immense popularity and subject matter. But the documentary branch stuck to their taste, and so it seems that 20 Days in Mariupol will take this pretty easily. Director Mstyslav Chernov recently won the DGA award for Documentary Directing, and the film itself won at the BAFTAs.

 

Best Animated Short Film: WAR IS OVER! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko

Best Documentary Short Film: The ABCs of Book Banning

Best Live-Action Short Film: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

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