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Our 2024 Oscars Predictions

After one of the best cinematic years in recent memory, here are our best guesses in some of the closer races.

by Ben Boddez

Already being celebrated by film fans everywhere for having one of the better Best Picture lineups in years, the nominations for the 2024 Academy Awards continue to show that the boundaries of what people consider “Oscar bait” are expanding. 

With recent victors including spring and summer releases like CODA or Everything Everywhere All At Once, opening out of awards season but having enough passion to last throughout the year, and increasing love for international contenders that led to Parasite’s landmark win, this year’s crop is equally exciting. It features three non-English films, three films directed by women, both touchstones of this summer’s Barbenheimer phenomenon, auteurs like Martin Scorsese and Yorgos Lanthimos pushing their styles to their limits, a heartwarming Christmas tale, Bradley Cooper’s six-year passion project, and the first Best Picture nominee (American Fiction) that actively disses the Oscars – and the kind of art they’ve historically decided to celebrate – itself.

Predicting the way that the golden statuettes will fall can often be a little easier than most award shows due to the vast number of precursors, like the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards, that predictors can tune into. Almost every major city in North America announces its own yearly award winners, voted on by local critics and Academy members, so it can be clear to see where the tides are shifting. It’s why many are already confident that Christopher Nolan will finally walk away with a Best Director trophy, the awards for supporting performances will go to Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers) and Robert Downey Jr. (Oppenheimer), and that a raft of below the line and technical awards, like costumes, sound, score and production design, will go to one half of the Barbenheimer tag team – though Poor Things is making a case to steal some of them in a late surge. 

That being said, there are always a couple surprises on the actual night. We’ll find out on March 10, but until then, here are our best guesses for who will prevail in some of the races that are still too close to call.

Best Picture 

  • American Fiction

  • Anatomy Of A Fall

  • Barbie

  • The Holdovers

  • Killers Of The Flower Moon

  • Maestro

  • Oppenheimer

  • Past Lives

  • Poor Things

  • The Zone Of Interest

After a year where Everything Everywhere All At Once deservingly sucked all of the intrigue out of the room, becoming only the fifth movie in the Oscars’ long history to sweep all four top prizes of the most important precursors – the Screen Actors, Writers, Directors and Producers’ Guilds – it’s starting to appear that we might have another runaway champ on our hands. While only the Directors’ trophy has been announced and awarded to the film so far, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer has already picked up victories at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice Awards and BAFTAs, and seems to be building an impressive winning package that could include Best Director, Actor, Supporting Actor, and even Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound, Score and Editing. Its 13 nominations at the Oscars stand only one short from tying the all-time record. Topical and well-crafted, it would be a fantastic winner – but a more intriguing question is which film might be set to play spoiler in case the classic “frontrunner fatigue” sets in. Barbie, The Holdovers, Killers of the Flower Moon and Poor Things have all picked up some big wins in near-equal measure, rounding out the rest of the top half of contenders. Could The Holdovers’ all-around likability and warmth – plus its two strong acting contenders – see it prevailing with the Oscars’ preferential ballot system, where all voters rank their choices from first to last? Or could the Barbie cult following turn the Oscars pink?  

Will Win: Oppenheimer

Should Win: Oppenheimer

Should Have Been Here: The Boy and The Heron


Best Actor

  • Bradley Cooper (Maestro)

  • Colman Domingo (Rustin)

  • Paul Giamatti (The Holdovers)

  • Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer)

  • Jeffrey Wright (American Fiction)

For all the predictions and precursors in the world, sometimes the Oscars champs are all about the people who, for whatever reason, have the most good will aimed their way – like when CODA’s lesser-known Troy Kotsur willed his way to a golden statue by making people cry happy tears just about every time he got on stage. Most people envisioned this year’s Best Actor race to be a battle between Bradley Cooper, who spent six years learning conducting skills to best emulate Leonard Bernstein but has received derisive comments online about “trying too hard” to get an Oscar, and Cillian Murphy, the star of what is now the most successful biopic of all time. Instead, Cooper has mostly fallen by the wayside while a new contender has risen up with some key televised wins: Paul Giamatti, who many perceive as being long overdue and who brings a heartwarming and hilarious speech each time. Despite the Oscars’ ongoing biopic love – and the fact that a scenario where Oppenheimer takes home an armful of awards, but its star leaves with nothing, is a strange one – Giamatti’s turn as an awkward but caring boarding school teacher had all the momentum on its side until Murphy swung things back with a BAFTA win on UK home turf. In a dead heat, all eyes will be on the Screen Actors Guild Awards. 

Will Win: Paul Giamatti

Should Win: Cillian Murphy

Should Have Been Here: Zac Efron (The Iron Claw)


Best Actress

  • Annette Bening (Nyad)

  • Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon)

  • Sandra Huller (Anatomy of a Fall)

  • Carey Mulligan (Maestro)

  • Emma Stone (Poor Things)

Last year’s too-close-to-call race between Cate Blanchett in TÁR and Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All At Once (who ultimately prevailed) had many movie fans in dismay that one of their two stellar achievements would leave empty-handed. Once again, we have two extremely deserving stars who have emerged in what seems to be an equally close two-horse race. Emma Stone’s transformative turn as a woman-turned-science-experiment with a rapidly developing brain, beginning in infancy and moving through the stages to adulthood, has been heavily praised – and has already seen her give three televised victory speeches, in comparison to competition Lily Gladstone’s one. Gladstone, playing Osage woman Mollie Kyle, a real-life survivor of systematic genocide against her people, has been dominating amongst critics’ circles, however. A couple narratives are in play here: with Gladstone as the first Native American woman to ever be up for Best Actress, you have to imagine that the incredible moment of the award’s first Asian winner handing the trophy to its first Native American winner has crossed voters’ minds. Despite Stone’s lead at the moment, her recent win for La La Land might come into play as well if voters want to spread the love. 

Will Win: Lily Gladstone

Should Win: Emma Stone

Should Have Been Here: Greta Lee (Past Lives)


Best Original Screenplay

  • Anatomy Of A Fall

  • The Holdovers

  • Maestro

  • May December

  • Past Lives

This category was going to be one of the biggest slam-dunks of the night, until a controversial decision from the Academy turned it into a wide-open race. Moving Barbie to the Adapted Screenplay race – on the basis that the story is built around an existing character, despite the originality with which the story is flipped by husband-and-wife duo Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach – means that when the film picks up Original Screenplay wins everywhere else, it’s hard to know who the runner-up (and presumed Oscar champ) could be. The Holdovers appears to be the strongest film overall – and does contain quite a few juicy scenes of dialogue that could only originate from a film where three compelling characters are essentially trapped in one location together – but the biggest indicator might actually be a surprise Golden Globe victory for French courtroom drama Anatomy of a Fall, which triumphed at a ceremony where both screenplay categories are combined before picking up a BAFTA win as well. Between the two, a highly deserving screenplay is going to win no matter what – we still have the kitchen fight scene between Sandra Hüller and her on-screen husband on our minds. 

Will Win: Anatomy Of A Fall

Should Win: The Holdovers

Should Have Been Here: Dream Scenario


Best Adapted Screenplay

  • American Fiction

  • Barbie

  • Oppenheimer

  • Poor Things

  • The Zone Of Interest

In terms of below-the-line awards that are most reliable in making up a winning film’s total package, a screenplay win and Best Editing are some of the most reliable. With most of the major contenders vying for Best Adapted Screenplay this year – though Killers of the Flower Moon shockingly missed out – whoever emerges victorious could create a big swing. While it would be easy to add this one to the potential Oppenheimer sweep, after the widespread backlash to Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig missing out on their respective Actress and Director slots on Oscar nomination morning, you’d have to think that an Oscars ceremony without a speech from Gerwig is becoming increasingly unlikely. Despite all of the Barbenheimer love, however, a surprise contender has risen up, and almost seems to be an all but sure thing. American Fiction was looked at with the potential to play spoiler after its victory at the Critics’ Choice Awards, but picking up the BAFTA win – at a ceremony that’s typically ignored films about the American sociopolitical landscape – seems too unprecedented to ignore. 

Will Win: American Fiction

Should Win: Barbie

Should Have Been Here: Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse


Best Editing

  • Anatomy Of A Fall

  • The Holdovers

  • Killers Of The Flower Moon

  • Oppenheimer

  • Poor Things

The other below-the-line tool that’s often critical to add to a winning package, there are two contenders in this category that truly deserve a win just for having a runtime that spans over three hours in length and still staying completely engaging throughout – Oppenheimer and the even longer Scorsese epic Killers of the Flower Moon, which never feels like its 206-minute runtime. With the rest of the category populated by Best Picture nominees, look for this one to go to the strongest of the bunch overall – and for voters to continue to celebrate what’s quite clearly been their favourite film of the year wherever they can. 

Will Win: Oppenheimer

Should Win: Oppenheimer

Should Have Been Here: The Zone Of Interest


Best Visual Effects

  • The Creator

  • Godzilla Minus One

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

  • Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One

  • Napoleon

Many expected the expansive sci-fi epic Dune: Part Two to take this one easily, but after it got delayed to March 2024 due to the simultaneous writers’ and actors’ strikes in Hollywood, it left the year curiously without a truly huge, effects-driven blockbuster. With both of the massive summer blockbusters of Barbenheimer using effects that were refreshingly practical, building a massive pink set and even detonating a (non-nuclear) bomb out in the real world, the remaining contenders include the Mission: Impossible franchise picking up its first ever nomination, a beloved Japanese-language Godzilla film, and a historical epic with some expansive battles. Major televised awards shows haven’t given us much clarity, with voters less in the know about VFX intricacies awarding more prominent films like Poor Things and Oppenheimer instead. Despite its middling reviews, the frontrunner for this category at the moment is actually Gareth Edwards’ futuristic space saga The Creator.  There have been times in the past, however, when the Academy’s VFX branch has diverted from the pack to award the efforts of smaller-scale studios, teams and budgets that still created something spectacular – and how great would it be if a lovable 164-foot kaiju stomped all over the competition? 

Will Win: The Creator

Should Win: Godzilla Minus One

Should Have Been Here: Society of the Snow


Best Animated Film 

  • The Boy And The Heron

  • Elemental

  • Nimona

  • Robot Dreams

  • Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Since not every award show opts to include a separate category for animated films, there aren’t as many precursors when it comes to predicting this award – which is why the race that’s been set up is very exciting. While many expected a landslide victory for the Spider-Verse sequel, which picked up a win at the Critics’ Choice Awards and which many perceive to be an improvement on the series’ first award-winning film, the Golden Globes opted for the legendary Hayao Miyazaki’s swan song The Boy and The Heron instead. The dead heat continued when the animation-centric Annies went for the spiders, while the BAFTAs chose Miyazaki. With no major precursors left on the horizon, all are left to wonder whether The Academy’s general distaste for sequels might swing things in the iconic Japanese animator’s favour. While a win for Studio Ghibli would be a truly show-stopping moment that could be seen as celebrating Miyazaki for his entire body of work – he’s only won previously for 2002’s Spirited Away – it’s also unclear whether the 83-year-old filmmaker, who famously rolls his eyes at the entire notion of awards, will even turn up to collect if he emerges victorious. In any case, a masterpiece will walk away with the title. 

Will Win: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Should Win: The Boy And The Heron

Should Have Been Here: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem


Best Documentary

  • 20 Days In Mariupol

  • Bobi Wine: The People’s President

  • The Eternal Memory

  • Four Daughters

  • To Kill A Tiger

Watching this year’s slate of Best Documentary nominees is not for the faint of heart – the subject matter when it comes to all five of them is pretty bleak, but they all have an importance that transcends the medium of film itself. Taking viewers across the globe to Uganda, Chile, Tunisia, India and Ukraine, some of the topics covered include democracy and dictatorship hanging in the balance, the effects of dementia, underage sexual abuse, ISIS, and the ongoing horrors of war in Eastern Europe. Although the presumptive winner, Ukrainian Pulitzer champion journalist Mstyslav Chernov, has already called the awards attention he’s received from his documentary 20 Days In Mariupol “bittersweet,” seeing his acceptance speech for the unrelenting, unflinching account of the first few weeks of the Russia-Ukraine war and the senseless loss of innocent lives after his hometown became a primary target should be one of the most powerful moments of the evening. As Chernov states in the documentary, “This is hard to watch – but it must be hard to watch.” 

Will Win: 20 Days In Mariupol

Should Win: 20 Days In Mariupol

Should Have Been Here: Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie


Best International Film

  • Io Capitano (Italy)

  • Perfect Days (Japan)

  • Society of the Snow (Spain)

  • The Teachers’ Lounge (Germany)

  • The Zone of Interest (United Kingdom)

One thing that many don’t know about the Best International Film category is that the film industries of each country worldwide must actually make the choice of just a single film to submit for consideration. With two international films in the Best Picture race – The Zone of Interest and Anatomy of a Fall – it would have been intriguing to see an actual race play out in a category that’s been easy to predict in recent years (the winner is often the only Best Picture nominee of the bunch). Instead, France made a huge misfire in submitting The Taste of Things, which didn’t even earn a nomination – some speculate that the reason is because Anatomy of a Fall director Justine Triet criticized her nation’s government in her speech after winning the prestigious Palme d’Or Award at Cannes Film Festival. Regardless, France’s oversight still creates a fantastic scenario where we’ll get to see director Jonathan Glazer, master of all things deeply unsettling, accepting an award for his striking and innovative The Zone of Interest – a Holocaust picture where the focus rests solely on the mundane lives of those perpetrating it, the horrors experienced by the audience only through distant sounds of screams and gunfire. 

Will Win: The Zone Of Interest

Should Win: The Zone Of Interest

Should Have Been Here: Fallen Leaves (Finland) 


The 96th Academy Awards will air on March 10 at 4 p.m. PST on ABC | MORE INFO