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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

2024 Oscars: Snubs and Dubs

Senior writer, Ally Werstler, unpacks this year’s Academy Awards
“Oppenheimer” dominated the 2024 Academy Awards with an impressive seven wins. (Courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter)

2024 was one of the best years for film in recent memory. The Cannes Film Festival in May released several incredible pictures, including Todd Haynes’ underrated “May December” and one of my favorites of the year, “Anatomy of a Fall” by Justine Triet. In July, the infamous “Barbieheimer” was not only a historically successful box office weekend for movie theaters but also gifted audiences with two completely different yet excellent films. In the fall, Alexander Payne’s heartwarming Christmas tale “The Holdovers” and Martin Scorsese’s epic “Killers of the Flower Moon” debuted to overwhelming positive reviews. How could the Academy of Motion Pictures assemble a sufficient awards lineup and pick the category winners with so many great movies to choose from?

In this article, I will break down my opinions regarding the biggest 2024 Academy Awards wins and losses. Just like my “2023: Oscar’s Snubs and Dubs” recap from last year, I will not discuss my opinions regarding the nominee selection for simplicity’s sake. Without further ado, the Oscar goes to…

Actor in a Leading Role

Winner: Cillian Murphy, “Oppenheimer”

Who deserved the award: Paul Giamatti, “The Holdovers”

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Cillian Murphy was a crowd favorite for playing the titular character in renowned director Christopher Nolan’s three-hour-long historical epic drama “Oppenheimer.” While I agree that Murphy’s performance was incredible, it was not as emotionally powerful as Paul Giamatti’s staunch yet hilarious Mr. Hunham in The Holdovers.” By the end of “The Holdovers,” I felt like I personally knew Mr. Hunham, whereas with “Oppenheimer,” I felt like there were still some pieces of the main character’s puzzle missing. Some may argue that these shortcomings demonstrate the complexity of Oppenheimer himself. However, I would point out that it is the job of the actor to fully embody the character, so that the audience knows them on a deeper level, and I think that Murphy almost achieves this feat, but Giamatti crushes it.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Winner: Robert Downey Jr., “Oppenheimer”  

Who deserved the award: Robert Downey Jr., “Oppenheimer”  

Robert Downey Jr. without a doubt had the best performance out of the Actor in a Supporting Role category nominees. Whereas Cillian Murphy’s performance in “Oppenheimer” left some unanswered questions, Downey’s role as Lewis Strauss was fully realized. Downey Jr. is one of the best actors of his generation, and his performance as the controversial Strauss solidifies his talent. I truly cannot wait to see what Downey does next. 

Actress in a Leading Role

Winner: Emma Stone, “Poor Things”

Who deserved the award: Lily Gladstone, “Killers of the Flower Moon” 

While I was not a fan of “Poor Things” myself, I can still recognize the acting achievements of Emma Stone’s portrayal of the bizarre yet charming Bella Baxter. However, Lily Gladstone as Mollie Burkhart in “Killers of the Flower Moon” was far more emotionally moving than Stone’s portrayal and should therefore have won her the award. Gladstone’s loss was easily the biggest shock of the night, and the controversy is valid, as her groundbreaking performance is deserving of every imaginable praise. Simply put, Gladstone was robbed. 

Actress in a Supporting Role

Winner: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, “The Holdovers”

Who deserved the award: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, “The Holdovers”One of my favorite performances of the year was Da’Vine Joy Randolph as the caring and kind Mary Lamb in “The Holdovers.” In every scene, Randolph demands the attention of the audience through her authenticity. In other words, the viewer only sees Randolph as a grieving mother trying to move forward, not an actress playing a fictional character. She embodies Lamb’s endearing persona perfectly and even learned how to smoke cigarettes to prepare for the part. Talk about commitment!

Senior Staff Writer Ally Werstler deems Randoplh’s performance as Mary Lamb in “The Holdovers as a “tour-de-force”.(Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly)

Animated Feature Film 

Winner: Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki, “The Boy and the Heron”

Who deserved the award: Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki, “The Boy and the Heron”

This year’s animated feature film category had two significant contenders: “The Boy and the Heron” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse.” While I very much enjoyed the sequel to the excellent “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse,” a film I gave high marks to, it falls short in comparison to “The Boy and the Heron’s” complete narrative arc. As such, “The Boy and the Heron’s” beautiful hand-drawn animation, wonderful score and accomplished narrative make this picture the deserving winner of this year’s Academy Award for Animated Feature Film. 

Costume Design

Winner: Holly Waddington, “Poor Things” 

Who deserved the award: Jacqueline West, “Barbie”

“Barbie” costume designer Jacqueline West brought hundreds of the iconic titular doll’s clothes to life. While Barbie’s costumes were coherent and imaginative, the outfits in “Poor Things,” the winner of this year’s category, were just mismatched spectacles with no substance. “Barbie” deserved this year’s golden statuette not only because the film included 2023’s most iconic outfits but also demonstrated the utmost excellence in costume craftsmanship.  

Production Design

Winner: “Poor Things”

Who deserved the award: “Barbie”

“Barbie” brought Barbie’s plastic and fantastic dreamland to life. When constructing the set, the Barbie production crew literally created a worldwide pink paint shortage because of the gargantuan amount of supplies needed to bring the iconic Dreamhouses to life. From the plastic sand to the discombobulated Weird Barbie’s home, the biggest and the smallest details in the production design are perfect. The inventive “Barbie” set proves how physical set designs are far more visually powerful than computer-generated production designs. That being said, I was incredibly disappointed to see “Poor Things,” a film that heavily relies on computer-generated imagery, win this year’s Academy Award for Best Production Design. If “Barbie” was snubbed of anything, it was easily its loss in the production design category. 

The incredible construction of Barbie’s dreamland should have won “Barbie” the award for Production Design. (Photo courtesy of Dezeen)

Writing (Original Screenplay) 

Winner: Justine Triet, “Anatomy of a Fall” 

Who deserved the award: Justine Triet, “Anatomy of a Fall”

“Anatomy of a Fall” was one of my favorite films of the year, as its sharp dialogue had me on edge throughout its many twists and turns. Triet is a force to be reckoned with and someone I am looking forward to seeing more of in the near future.  

Best Picture 

Winner: “Oppenheimer” 

Who deserved the award: “Oppenheimer”

“Oppenheimer” is an incredible feat in every single aspect of filmmaking. Hopefully, the film’s critical and financial success will set a new precedent for Hollywood that will allow for more original movies to dominate the silver screen once again. Christopher Nolan is showing Hollywood that it’s time to bring back magic to movies, and for that alone his magnum opus “Oppenheimer” deserves the 2024 Academy Award for Best Picture. 

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    Stephanie GurwinMar 30, 2024 at 1:55 pm

    Appreciated your opinions regarding the movies and actors. Will use your comments to choose the movies I see this year. Thank you.