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Three cinephiles predict stacked Oscar nominations

Lily+Gladstone+and+Leonardo+DiCaprio+in+%E2%80%9CKillers+of+the+Flower+Moon.%E2%80%9D+The+production+worked+with+the+Cherokee+Nation+Film+Commission+on+casting+and+filmed+some+days+on+Cherokee+Nation+land.+%28Melinda+Sue+Gordon%2FApple+TV%2B%2FTNS%29
Melinda Sue Gordon
Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in “Killers of the Flower Moon.” The production worked with the Cherokee Nation Film Commission on casting and filmed some days on Cherokee Nation land. (Melinda Sue Gordon/Apple TV+/TNS)

Alexa: With the new year finally here, there are a lot of things to look forward to like making new goals, catching up with the football season and other similarly exciting things. But the new year also means award season with the 96th annual Academy Awards premiering on March 10, 2024.

Cesar: With the list of Oscars nominees just recently announced, Alexa, Diego and I will be going over some of the categories and sharing our thoughts.

Costume Design

Ryan Gosling, left, and Margot Robbie in “Barbie.” (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/TNS)

Alexa: To kick things off, I have my fingers crossed for “Poor Things.” I couldn’t stop staring at each character’s look. But I think “Barbie” is going to take the award for this. I mean, who didn’t wear Barbie’s iconic cowgirl outfit for Halloween last year?

Cesar: I’d be surprised if the award doesn’t go to “Barbie.” Every outfit worn in that movie looks like it went through three top-tier designers and, let me tell you, they cooked. The same can be said for any of the other nominees, but it’s just something about those plastic-based designs that goes hard.

Diego: To reiterate an earlier point, I think “Poor Things” takes the cake in this category. The look of the film is so stark and in-your-face, more so than the other movies in nomination. Everyone looks stylish and brings a vibe with just their physical appearance. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if “Barbie” also took the win in this category.

Sound

Carey Mulligan as Felicia Montealegre and Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in “Maestro.” (Jason McDonald/Netflix/TNS)

Cesar: The award for best sound is a toss up. I never would have thought “The Creator” would be nominated and I didn’t expect “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.” I think that the biggest competition is between “Maestro” and “Oppenheimer.” Just imagining both of those movies with Dolby sound is on a whole different level.

Alexa: Personally, I think “Oppenheimer” is going to dominate this category. I do think that “Maestro” is a strong contender as well because the sound serves as a detrimental factor for the movie, but there was no other element that stood out to me more than the sound that blew me away at the movies when watching “Oppenheimer.”

Diego: To anyone who has not had the privileged opportunity to watch “Oppenheimer” in a theater that employs Dolby Atmos, please do yourself a favor and do everything in your power to experience it. The blare of the film’s sound effects and cues and the subtle trembling in the build-ups for climatic moments is something that truly encapsulates the spirit of incredible sound design.

Film Editing

Alexa: I know I’ve been pretty set in stone for predicting the past few categories, but now I’m kind of torn between “The Holdovers” and “Oppenheimer.” “Oppenheimer” switches from both an objective and subjective perspective, and even introduces scenes both in color and black-and-white which is something I think is both interesting and works very well. It didn’t distract me at all and the pacing was perfect. As for “The Holdovers,” though, there’s something about it that really charmed me and helped me admire the characters even more. There was so much heart behind piecing these scenes together and I really hope they land the award, but I don’t think it stands a chance against “Oppenheimer.”

Cesar: “Oppenheimer” sweep. The fact that the movie kept me entertained for three hours is sensational.

Diego: “Anatomy of a Fall” had great pacing. The editing was done in a way that was engaging but also fun to follow. The film takes advantage of its pacing in a way that I feel is much more engrossing than “Oppenheimer.” “Anatomy of a Fall” has my vote.

Cinematography

Diego: If I had to pick from the nominations, “Killers of the Flower Moon” does it for me. The scenery, shots, settings and sets are a departure from what we see a lot in Martin Scorcese films, with more nature and wide landscape shots that set the stage for a tragedy in the green lands of Osage County.

Alexa: “Oppenheimer” is definitely getting the win. I don’t want to undermine “Killers of the Flower Moon” for its powerful imagery, but the other contenders don’t stand a chance against Hoyte van Hoytema’s power. Side note: I still think “The Holdovers” were snubbed for this category.

Cesar: Every single movie in this category is honestly breathtaking visually and seldom do I think an award season has this many nominations that are hard to compare. If I had to choose one though, I have to go with “Oppenheimer.”

Visual Effects

Alexa: This is the category where “Godzilla Minus One” is going to take the crown. The fact that the incredibly talented team worked with only a $15 million dollar budget compared to the hundreds of million dollar budgets its contenders worked with speaks volumes.

Plus, who isn’t happy to see the Godzilla team get nominated after watching their reaction video? Although I do think that they should’ve also gotten nominated for best sound, this is still their year to shine and I’m excited to see their name on there.

Cesar: I think Alexa’s right on this one. It seems like there are no limits to the atomic monster. I’m also rooting for “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” though. It had me shedding a tear and that’s only because of the emotions I could get from a digitally animated talking raccoon.

Diego: I have to agree with both Alexa and Cesar. “Godzilla Minus One” is a landmark of a Kaiju movie. The visual effects don’t just enhance the look of the movie, it is a catalyst with which the characters in the film interact with.

Original Screenplay

Diego: This is easily the most competitive category for me. “Past Lives,” “Anatomy of a Fall” and “The Holdovers” are all incredible films. If I had to rank them, it’d be “Past Lives” as my top pick, followed by “The Holdovers” and “Anatomy of a Fall.” Though I wouldn’t be disappointed if any of the three wins. I also enjoyed “May December” and thought it was a solid film. If “Maestro” wins, the Oscars have been rigged.

Cesar: All of the nominees definitely have the potential to win in this category. I have to keep it real, I have never seen “Past Lives,” but I have a gut feeling that it’s going to win.

Alexa: Honestly, this is super hard to decide on. I fell absolutely in love with the stories for “Past Lives,” “The Holdovers” and “Anatomy of a Fall.” They were all incredibly creative and it is impossible to not get sucked in with each character and the story they have. I think “Past Lives” is my pick though. It was hard to choose but I’m trusting my gut on this.

Animated Feature

Alexa: “Boy and the Heron” for sure. I do think “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is a strong contender but I was swept away with Studio Ghibli yet again.

Diego: Where is “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem?” Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed another classic by Studio Ghibli and thought “Across the Spider-Verse” was another fantastic addition to the Spider-Verse franchise, but no hype for the lean, green turtle team?

Cesar: “Elemental” being nominated over “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” is wild. Other than that, I have the exact same opinion as Alexa. “The Boy and The Heron” seems like the obvious answer.

Directing

Diego: When I finished watching “Killers of the Flower Moon,” I stepped out of the theater and thought to myself: “This is cinema.” Jokes aside, I really can’t praise this film and the talent behind it enough. Scorcese’s cinematic eye has seemingly become sharper with age. I would be remiss to not choose “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Cesar: Honestly, I’m surprised that “Barbie” didn’t make the list, but I don’t think it was snubbed when there were so many other great potential nominees. It’s great to see Justine Triet, Yorgos Lanthimos and Jonathan Glazer nominated. If it’s not Nolan for “Oppenheimer” or Scorsese for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” I would be surprised.

Alexa: It’s tough to say. I would say that Scorcese and Nolan both dealt with movies that deal with tough topics that not many people can replicate. I think I’m rooting for Scorcese, but I think Nolan is going to win.

Supporting Actress

Dominic Sessa stars as Angus Tully, Paul Giamatti as Paul Hunham and Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Mary Lamb in director Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers,” a Focus Features release. (Seacia Pavao / © 2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC)


Alexa: Okay, I think I have a controversial take to say about this category. I honestly don’t think America Ferrera should’ve been nominated. She’s had roles where she’s provided much stronger performances but I don’t think this would be considered one. Other than this though, I think Da’Vine Joy Randolph is going to take the Oscar. I am definitely rooting for her!

Diego: Da’Vine Joy Randolph wins this, easy. The other nominees were good, but none took hold of the narratives they were in quite like Randolph did in “The Holdovers.”

Cesar: I also think that Da’Vine Joy Randolph is winning in this category.


Supporting Actor

Cesar: Based on what I said for best supporting actress, I’m surprised that Dominic Sessa from The Holdovers didn’t make it onto the list. With the nominees that are on the ballot, however, I feel that Robert Downey Jr. in Oppenheimer is most likely to win. His performance was captivating and just interesting the entire time he was on screen.

Alexa: I feel as if out of all of these nominees, Robert Downey Jr. and Robert De Niro in Killers of the Flower Moon both gave incredibly stand-out performances. I loved Ryan Gosling as Ken and cannot think of a better actor than him for the role, but he’s playing against giants. In the end, though, I think I’m going for Robert De Niro. Sorry Robert #2.

Diego: I’m on the same boat as Alexa. Both De Niro and Downey Jr. gave damn near legendary performances in their respective films. Watching Downey Jr. have a truly profound role and playing a character with so much depth was incredibly refreshing to witness. One almost forgets that under the mediocre blanket of Marvel movies, Downey Jr. is capable of giving awe-inspiring performances in films. At the same time, De Niro’s performance was so deeply evocative in its vileness that it unsettled me to watch his character snake his way through so much tragedy. It is one thing for a film to have a villain be proud of having blood on their hands, but it is an entirely different thing to have a villain be so proud and uncaring of their cruelty. I’d be happy if either De Niro or Downey Jr. won.

Actor

Cillian Murphy stars in “Oppenheimer.” (Universal Pictures/TNS)


Diego: Cillian Murphy is easily my top candidate for this category. You know you’re a great performer if you can carry an immense amount of drama and sorrow with just the look of your face. Murphy is Robert J. Oppenheimer.

Cesar: I can only see Cillian Murphy winning Best Actor. Standout, nuanced and believable acting as he captured the complexities of a man whose decisions played such a pivotal role in a world-altering event.

Alexa: It’s hard. I have the biggest soft spot for Paul Giamatti. He’s hilarious and played his character extremely well. I have to say the same for Cillian Murphy, as well, but I think the way he performed was a little more stellar. I wouldn’t be mad if Giamatti didn’t get the award and vice versa with Murphy, but I am betting on Murphy taking the crown.

Actress

Alexa: Lily Gladstone, hands down. I have nothing, but pure faith in her.

Diego: Lily Gladstone winning an Oscar is not a want. It is a need. Her performance was harrowing, emotional and enduring.

Cesar: I really hope Lily Gladstone’s high school superlative comes to life and she wins the Oscar. Every nominee in this category is incredibly talented, but I think the winner comes down to either Gladstone or Emma Stone.

Best Picture

Cesar: The award for best picture is designed to go to the cinematic experience of the year and I think the best example of this type is “Oppenheimer,” hands down.

Alexa: This might be the toughest list we’ve had to choose from for a while. It’s refreshing to see two international movies make it on the list as well. To narrow it down, I think I’m debating between “Past Lives” and “Oppenheimer,” two movies I constantly think about post-watch. I don’t think I’d be disappointed if “Oppenheimer” wins, which I’m betting on, but I’m choosing “Past Lives.”

Diego: If you’ve been following along, you probably already know I’m picking “Killers of the Flower Moon.” However, I think that it has been a year full of incredible films. I’ve watched every film in this category except for “The Zone Of Interest” and I can say that all of them are incredible films in their own right and the people behind them deserve all the praise headed their way. Instead of choosing what film I think should win, I choose a film that should not: “Maestro.” If Oscar bait was a film, it’d be “Maestro.”

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