Movie fans are excited for the possibility to hear their favorite movie announced at the Oscars.
Movie fans are excited for the possibility to hear their favorite movie announced at the Oscars.
Ella Wachtel

96th Academy Awards preview: who’s favored to win?

With the 96th Academy Awards ceremony right around the corner, predictions for all 23 categories have already been released by many large publications and movie fans alike. Here are the front-runners to win every major category come Mar. 10.

Beginning with the most revered and prestigious category, Best Picture. The leading favorite to take home Best Picture is “Oppenheimer.” While a few other films have a shot to win, including “The Holdovers” and “Poor Things,” “Oppenheimer” collected the most total Academy Award nominations at 13. “Oppenheimer” was one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year, which makes its front-running to win Best Picture not very surprising. “Oppenheimer” seems to be a lock to win this category.

“‘Oppenheimer,’ Nolan, The G.O.A.T. Obviously, that’s the one I’m pulling for,” said FVHS history teacher Jonathon Bushhouse. “I do think it’ll win. It does a great job of showing something people don’t realize about history. So much of history is just petty drama between two individuals that becomes a big deal. And I appreciate that part.”

Venturing outside of the United States, Best International Feature is another stacked category, with “The Zone of Interest” as a heavy favorite. This is largely due to the fact “The Zone of Interest” picked up a Best Picture nomination as well, which usually secures an international award. There are numerous other films in this category that are deserving of praise. “Society of the Snow” and “Perfect Days” are a couple of the most memorable films of the year. However, “The Zone of Interest” is seen as another lock to win.

Shifting focus towards directing, the front-runner to take home the Academy Award for Best Directing is Christopher Nolan for his work on the aforementioned “Oppenheimer.” Nolan has been nominated several times over the years for his past work on films including “Memento” and “Inception,” but has yet to win an Academy Award himself. Nolan is looking like a lock to win Best Directing.

“This is the best movie he’s made,” noted Bushhouse. “It’s a mix of his art style and yet also is something that the Academy would like. They get the chance to award him and then be done with it.”

Transitioning towards performances, the award for Best Actor is a little more up in the air. Currently the front-runner for Best Actor is Paul Giamatti for his work on “The Holdovers.” However, it’s been an exceedingly close race between Giamatti and Cillian Murphy for his role in “Oppenheimer.” This award will likely come down to the wire, and it’s going to be interesting to see who the Academy ends up going with.

“I have not seen ‘The Holdovers,’” explained Bushhouse, “I have not heard anything negative about Paul Giamatti’s performance. But I think anyone watching ‘Oppenheimer’ went, yeah, that’s the performance of the year. The race will be close. Shout out to Paul Giamatti. I’m still gonna go Cillian though.”

Mirroring the competition of Best Actor, the race for Best Actress is very tight. The two front-runners for the award are Lily Gladstone for her work in “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Emma Stone for “Poor Things.” Both star in equally critically acclaimed roles. Best Actress is currently the most unpredictable award of the night. Most people seem to be leaning towards Emma Stone as the favorite, however not by much of a margin.

Shifting gears towards supporting performances, the race for Best Supporting Actor seemed to be much closer in the beginning; however, as award season progressed, Robert Downey Jr. quickly emerged as a favorite to take the award for his work in “Oppenheimer.” Many people initially predicted Ryan Gosling to pull off an unprecedented upset for his role in “Barbie,” however that seems like a longshot at this point.  Downey Jr. seems to be the obvious lock to win this award.

Turning our attention towards actresses, the current front-runner for Best Supporting Actress is Da’Vine Joy Randolph for her performance in “The Holdovers.” Randolph has been favored to win for a majority of award season, and it’s definitely looking like she’ll be the one taking this one home. Randolph seems like another lock to win this category; however, Danielle Brooks in “The Color Purple” and Emily Blunt in “Oppenheimer” both deserve recognition for their performances.

The next award is a little more predictable. The front-runner for Best Original Screenplay is “Anatomy of a Fall” written by Justine Triet and Arthur Harari. “Anatomy of a Fall” has been praised continuously throughout award season and is heavily favored to win this category. “The Holdovers” written by David Hemingson clocks in at second place in many predictions. “The Anatomy of a Fall” is again viewed as a lock to win its category.

Following Best Original Screenplay, the front-runners for Best Adapted Screenplay include “Barbie” written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, “American Fiction” written by Cord Jefferson, and again “Oppenheimer” written by Christopher Nolan. Out of these three nominees “American Fiction” seems to be picking up the most steam; however, it’s not by a large margin whatsoever. It’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top.

Shifting more towards animation, the favorite to win Best Animated Feature is “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” Its monumental box office performance and critical praise is unmatched by the other nominees. However, Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron” is seen as a sneaky pick to pull off the upset. This one could go either way.

Next up, the race for Best Cinematography is a bit less competitive. As of right now, “Oppenheimer” is heavily favored, but “Poor Things” and “Killers of the Flower” are relatively close to each other coming in at second and third. Ultimately, “Oppenheimer” is once again predicted to win. This seems to be another lock to win its category.

The award for Best Production Design is another close race. “Poor Things” has continued to pick up momentum for this award; however, “Barbie” is a close second choice. While “Poor Things” is often seen as the front-runner for this category, this is another one of those categories that could really be a toss-up between the two top films.

Wrapping up the list of predicted winners, there are a few other notable categories and front-runners to mention. Best Costume Design (“Barbie”), Best Film Editing (“Oppenheimer”), Best Sound (“Oppenheimer”), Best Makeup and Hairstyling (“Maestro”), Best Visual Effects (“Godzilla Minus One”), Best Original Score (“Oppenheimer”), Best Original Song (“Barbie”), Best Documentary Feature (“20 Days in Mariupol”), Best Animated Short (“War Is Over!”), Best Live Action Short (“The Wonderful Life of Henry Sugar”) and Best Documentary Short (“The ABC’s of Book Banning”).

“This feels like growth,” concluded Bushhouse. “This is probably the first normal year of movies post-COVID.”

No matter what films end up taking home their very own Academy Award, movie fans everywhere can sit peacefully knowing they witnessed one of the most enjoyable and refreshing years of cinema in recent history. Ultimately, that’s really what matters most.

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    Jack KellyFeb 27, 2024 at 12:16 pm

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