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  • Nate Adams

Oscar predictions: 'Oppenheimer' set to ignite


Courtesy of the AMPAS

 

What feels like the most predictable Oscar race since 2020’s “Nomadland” or going back as far as 1993’s “Schindler’s List." In those races, the films ran virtually unopposed for an entire awards cycle and the 96th Academy Awards seem destine to laud Christoper Nolan’s biographical epic “Oppenheimer” (nominated for a near record 13 trophies) with an arsenal of gold. It makes perfect sense. It comes from the “old school” of traditional studio-backed Oscar films, and it was a smash hit that managed to get masses of people to sit inside a dark movie theater for three hours and, essentially, watch people talk (sometimes in black and white). Some of those people even went out of their way to see the film in Nolan’s preferred format: 70mm IMAX film (guilty as charged) and then went back multiple times.

 

That’s no easy feature to accomplish in the post-pandemic theatrical landscape and the same goes for “Barbie” the $1.5 billion dollar grosser from last year that is up for 8 statues. In many ways, this year’s crop of nominees, everything from major blockbusters to small indies, represents what the Oscars used to be about: nominating films people have seen while also putting a spotlight on lesser-known flicks that could use the extra buzz (“The Zone of Interest," arguably the best movie about the Holocaust since “Schindler’s List," fits that bill).


That’s not to say this season hasn’t had its ups and downs: there was an outcry when Greta Gerwig, the director of “Barbie,” was snubbed in Best Director, or the recent surge Emma Stone (nominated for Best Actress in “Poor Things”) has been having that might be enough to steal the moment from fellow Best Actress nominee Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) who would be the first indigenous native to win the prize. Stone would be vying for her second Oscar.

 

In any case, the Oscars, which smartly made the move to push the start of the ceremony back an hour to 7pm EST, likely won’t yield any major surprises, though part of me is secretly hoping Paul Giamatti (outstanding in Alexander Payne’s seasonal gem “The Holdovers”) has enough juice to snatch Best Actor from “Oppenheimer’s” Cillian Murphy.

 

Here are my predictions in all 24 categories.

 

BEST PICTURE: OPPENHEIMER

Few movies have had the type of unscathed Oscar run that “Oppenheimer” has had. Usually when a movie starts racking up precursor trophies so early in the season (ask Martin Scorsese how that went for “The Irishman”) it spells doom and gloom. There was even a moment where you started to wonder if something like “The Holdovers” might “Coda” it’s way into the race. Not this time. “Oppenheimer” is as much as a sure thing as you can get. Sorry “Barbie.”

 

BEST DIRECTOR: CHRISTOPHER NOLAN – OPPENHEIMER

You can make a fuss all you want about Gerwig missing in this category (and she was nominated as a writer in the Adapted Screenplay field) but even if the filmmaker did make the cut, she was never going to beat Nolan, who is now all but destine to take home his first competitive Oscar for his incredible work behind the camera with “Oppenheimer.” I, however, am just going to call this a make-up Oscar after the Academy failed to nominate “The Dark Knight” for both Picture and Director back in 2009.

 

BEST ACTOR: CILLAN MURPHY – OPPENHEIMER

Up until the SAG awards last weekend, this one was closer than you’d think. It seemed that, with all the accolades “Oppenheimer” was set to receive, maybe voters would recognize other worthy nominees in their respective categories. It would’ve been the perfect coup for the Giamatti campaign who has been all over the map getting their guy in front of people (either via talk shows or magazine articles). Alas, it appears Murphy has this one all sealed up, but I wouldn’t be shocked to hear someone else’s name called when the envelope in unsealed.

 

BEST ACTRESS – LILY GLADSTONE – KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

This is where it could get interesting. Emma Stone won the BAFTA and Critics Choice Award, but Gladstone has won the oft-predictive SAG (plus the Golden Globe for Best Actress – Drama) and thus it makes it easier to predict she’ll be the winner. Plus, she gave an amazing performance and Stone has already been here before. Gladstone should have this in the bag, but crazier things have happened, and I am still putting Stone on upset alert.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – ROBERT DOWNEY JR. – OPPENHEIMER

Sorry Marvel fanboys, but Robert Downey Jr. was never going to be nominated (let alone win) for his work as Tony Stark/Iron-Man. But he’s pretty much a lock to take home the gold for his portrayal of real political figure Lewis Strauss. The actor’s career has been all over the place with many highs and lows, and, of all his tremendous work, this does stand among his best, which will make hearing his name called all the sweeter. We still love “Iron Man” though.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – DA’VINE JOY RANDOLPH – THE HOLDOVERS

At least someone from “The Holdovers” is going to win, and I’m so grateful it’s Da'Vine Joy Randolph who is sensational in the film playing a grieving mother just trying to make it through the holidays. Randolph has cleaned up on the awards circuit (all the way down to the local and regional guilds) and should cruise to an easy victory on Sunday night.

 

HERE ARE MY PREDICTIONS IN ALL THE REMAINAING CATAGORIES:

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: SPIDER-MAN: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE (Upset alert: THE BOY/HERON)

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: OPPENHEIMER 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: BARBIE

BEST DOCUMENTARY: 20 DAYS IN MARIUPOL

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM: THE ABCs of BOOK BANNING

BEST FILM EDITING: OPPENHEIMER

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM: THE ZONE OF INTEREST

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: MAESTRO

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: OPPENHEIMER

BEST ORGIINAL SONG: “What Was I Made For?” – BARBIE

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: BARBIE

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM: WAR IS OVER!

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: THE WONDERFUL STORY OF HENRY SUGAR

BEST SOUND: OPPENHEIMER

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: GODZILLA: MINUS ONE

BEST ADAPATED SCREENPLAY: AMERICAN FICTION

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: ANATAOMY OF A FALL


The 96th Annual Academy Awards are set for Sunday, March 10th at 7pm EST on ABC.

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