“Oppenheimer” poised for a big night at the Oscars

by | Mar 10, 2024 | Arts and Entertainment | 1 comment

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This is one of those years when there’s not much doubt about most of the so-called “major” Academy Awards — in fact, the only real question is how many “Oppenheimer” will collect. (My guess: eight.)

So, this year, your Oscar pool will rise and fall on the basis of how good your predictions are in the so-called “minor” categories — all the shorts, for example, or the international feature.

If you’re using my predictions below to give some final guidance to your Oscar pool, you should know that in a typical year, I’ll get 17 or so right — enough to put you on the leaderboard, but maybe not quite enough to win. I have tried to suggest in some categories where an upset might loom.

In any event, here are my predictions — guesses, really — for all 23 Oscar categories:

Film: “Oppenheimer.”

Director: Christopher Nolan, “Oppenheimer.”

Actor: Cillian Murphy, “Oppenheimer.” I mean, really — the guy had to learn serviceable Dutch over a weekend for a scene in the flick.

Actress: Maybe the closest race of the evening. Emma Stone is certainly deserving of the win here for “Poor Things,” but my sense is that enough voters are aware that a win for the equally deserving Lily Gladstone, the heart of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” would be historic — the first best actress victory for a Native American — and that will put Gladstone over the top. Besides, Gladstone was partially raised in Montana, so I’ll be rooting for her.

Supporting actor: Robert Downey Jr., “Oppenheimer.” You start to see how the evening is likely to go.

Supporting actress: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, “The Holdovers.”

Adapted screenplay: Cord Jefferson’s “American Fiction” has the edge, but Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” could surprise.

Original screenplay: In this, the category in which “Barbie” should have been placed, “Anatomy of a Fall” (by Justine Triet and Arthur Harari) is the favorite, but David Hemingson’s “The Holdovers” could surprise.

Cinematography: “Oppenheimer,” Hoyte van Hoytema.

Editing: “Oppenheimer,” Jennifer Lame, for weaving together Nolan’s story strands into a coherent — and consistently exciting — whole. The editing Oscar often (but not always) goes to the best picture winner.

Costume design: Jacqueline Durran has the edge for “Barbie,” but Holly Waddington could surprise for “Poor Things.”

Makeup: “Maestro,” Kazu Hiro, Kay Georgiou and Lori McCoy-Bell.

Score: “Oppenheimer,” Ludwig Göransson. I feel bad, though, that the score for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” by the late Robbie Robertson, hasn’t gotten more love.

Song: “What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie.” This will mean that Billie Eilish and her brother, Finneas, will be the youngest two-time Oscar winners in history. Martin Scorsese, meanwhile, has won once. Some observers think “I’m Just Ken” could surprise, but there’s a lot of momentum behind “What Was I Made For?” Meanwhile, my favorite track from “Barbie” is “Dance the Night,” but what do I know?

Production design: “Poor Things,” with production design by James Price and Shona Heath and set decoration by Zsuzsa Mihalek, has the edge. But if “Oppenheimer” completely dominates the proceedings, it could win here.

Sound: I suspect “Oppenheimer” (Willie Burton, Richard King, Gary A. Rizzo and Kevin O’Connell) will win. But sound is such a particularly important part of “The Zone of Interest” that it could surprise here.

Visual effects: The interesting thing about this category this year is that the award likely will go to a movie that had a relatively small budget — but which still produced spectacular work. “Godzilla Minus One” is the favorite to win, and the movie had a budget of just $15 million. “The Creator,” which drew mixed reviews but was shot for about $80 million (a small budget for a sci-fi spectacular), could surprise — but I’d put my money on the big guy. (No, not “The Creator,” Godzilla.)

International feature: It should be a lock for “The Zone of Interest.”

Animated feature: The smart money says “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” will win, but my heart says Oscar voters would be insane not to recognize “The Boy and the Heron,” which could be the final feature from legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki. My pick here is “Spider-Man,” but I’m not going to be upset at all if “The Boy and the Heron” wins.

Documentary feature: “20 Days in Mariupol,” the film about the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, should win.

Documentary short: The smart money is on “The ABCs of Book Burning,” but I have to think that “The Last Repair Shop,” focused as it is on a Los Angeles effort by craftspeople to repair musical instruments for schoolchildren, will pull off a mild upset.

Animated short: “War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko.” But “Letter to a Pig” could surprise.

Live-action short: “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” nets Wes Anderson his first Oscar.

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