golden statues in the shape of a man holding wreath

Oscars 2024 Predictions (and the State of the Cinema)

There was a time when Oscar winners were a complete and absolute surprise. I might have watched the nominated films or not but I was certain the Academy was dealing with the purest decision-making possible.

And then I grew up.

The Voting Conundrum

Now I believe you don’t need to watch the nominees to know the score. It was all set up already through previous awards and marketing games to make The Academy aware of each film’s existence. And then all these people voted.

They also hadn’t watched all the films. The reasons are in abundance and… nobody checks this. But they vote. For whatever appealed to them, whatever was the most popular or whatever they thought should win based on whatever metric they had – corruption included, but let’s not go there.

Many of these metrics are absurd, but we accept them because there’s no other way. The nominations are picked by people from the department but the winners are chosen by the whole Academy. That’s why it’s very much a hunch rather than knowledge behind some winners. Filmmaking isn’t a singular art, it has tons of departments and each department is valid and important. Nobody expects an actor to be aware of how sound design is made but then said actor votes on the best one. That’s why often musicals get awards in this category.

This example is probably the easiest one to make. But it is very much the same in every category. Filmmakers know that, and that’s why the promotion of the film plays a crucial role in the Oscar race. I suppose you’ve noticed that most of the films are released right before the ceremony. There are rules and meticulously planned actions to gather as much appeal and recognition as possible. It is a long game and it’s already in talks during film production.

Dolby Theatre entrance

The Barbenheimer

This year was quite impressive because plenty of films were released quite soon.

Oppenheimer is not what I am talking about – Nolan’s films are always in July. But the producers know that this won’t be an issue because it’s Nolan. You accept the director who already built up a name for himself. It sells either way. No matter what the film is, they will know it’s a Nolan picture.

The commotion Barbenheimer created wasn’t exactly calculated into the idea. This was solely the mass movement. It wasn’t a given and there had been plenty of bargaining trying to move each title. But in the end, Oppenheimer couldn’t be more grateful for Barbie to be released on the same day. I’m more than certain that without the Barbenheimer movement, Oppenheimer wouldn’t get so much recognition and box office.

This also built up the recognition of both films which got Best Picture nominations even though it was more than 6 months to the Academy Awards. If it built the movement for Oppenheimer to win the main award – that we shall never know. But it didn’t hurt.

The same goes for Barbie. Although I am a fan of the film, I am certain that many of the Academy members didn’t understand the appeal of a film “about a doll”. And definitely didn’t plan on watching it or didn’t understand what it was truly about (I believe even people my age didn’t understand).

Barbie is a solid film but still, it is a fun film and it seems we are not yet ready to acknowledge that. And yet, Everything Everywhere All At Once finished its run with all the possible wins. Very different situation, though, since we can’t remove the race element from the Oscars.

The Political Correctness

And here we are. I quite understand the issue here and that Hollywood still mostly tells stories by “old white men”. The guidelines The Academy made to force production to involve more people of colour, gender and all that is controversial but not stupid.

People have their “Oscars so white” lines and criticism, but the fact that there aren’t any productions popular enough or rich enough to score a nomination – is not a problem (I believe you’ve read the upper part of the article). So Academy tries to protect itself by forcing producers to hire a more diverse cast and crew.

Is it fair for people who do a better job and “unluckily” aren’t people of colour? It isn’t. But without making changes from the top down, we won’t get any change whatsoever. The process of filmmaking is long and problematic. It concerns a lot of people, a lot of departments and even more changes. We still live in a world of white families on top of the food chain who care only about income. If we want to change something, we need to give a voice to different people. Of course, there will be sacrifices. But there will also be hope for a change. For more diverse stories and more diverse people being accepted.

A similar to an Oscar golden statue and a piece of film clap behind it

The Strikes

If you don’t see how it currently works, I shall remind you about last year’s strikes. For months actors and writers – who are the most recognized names in the industry – walked the streets for changes that can’t be just hoped for.

They aren’t the only departments that are violated. But for they hold a voice that can’t be unnoticed. Actors after all are the faces of the industry and you know their faces by simply walking down the street or – in the new media – scrolling down your social pages. Although these faces are barely ~2% of the actors’ guild, they hold way more power than the rest. And they will make a difference if they unite.

The strike’s endgame wasn’t all they hoped for but it was acceptable to continue the work. The work which all want to continue but can’t because the industry isn’t what it should be.

The strikes slowed down, changed or cancelled a lot of projects. For the counting money individuals, it was a proper backlash. There were literal calculators of how much money each company lost due to the strikes and the worst part was – they weren’t so eager to accept the guilds’ offer. They all knew it would lose them even more money, however small amount it was.

How many films had their premiere and promotion postponed to adjust for the next year? We know about The Challengers and Dune, but I’m quite sure there are more titles. The strikes surely blocked plenty of films from getting to the right ears or eyes. Perhaps more than the press can determine. Some films may score better or worse because of this. This is why the usual window of premieres happened to be inaccessible.

I’m quite sure the subject of strikes will turn up in Oscar speeches or gags. It is funny to see if you know that The Academy came to be to stop the artists from such moves. They started as a mediator between big companies and the actual workers. In a way. But it is a long story and there are plenty of sources telling that story.

a blue building with SAG-AFTRA name on it

The Actual Predictions

And after you know all that, you can determine the winners. There’s only one more step you should do: check the previous awards. Go through all the winners and the people who gave the awards. Speculate. Count probability (just instinctively, it is more than enough). Throw your dice and look into the crystal ball. It’s all there. And you don’t need to watch any films.

This year was quite simple to determine because a lot of awards were given to the same people. And although it is always a gamble, The Academy isn’t as complicated to determine. At least from the history data.

The full ballot is in the bottom

So my crystal ball says that Oppenheimer will score the most: Best Picture, obviously, but also director, actor, supporting actor, cinematography, music, editing, sound. 8 in total.

The production design, costumes and make-up will go to Poor Things. Mainly because these aspects are quite excessive, but I don’t mind. I think Poor Things is almost perfection.

But the best actress title will go to Lily Gladstone. Again, in my opinion there’s no comparison to Emma but I’m quite sure now Lily will get it. For the record, Molly is a really well done character so it’s not “only because she’s Native American”.

Da’vine Joy Randolph in The Holdovers will take home supporting actress and it will be the only Oscar for this film, especially since there was a plagiarism accusation announced in media yesterday.

Barbie will get the best song because I don’t think there’s other way (especially since Billie already got one).

The screenplays will go to Anatomy of a Fall and American Fiction because they give a fresh take. It is not exactly a comfortable choice but nevertheless.

The Zone of Interest will surely get international because it has no chance for any other (and we need it to have something because of the subject). Again: Glazer would never get a nomination if it wasn’t a film with a major historical subject (he’s just too weird). (He’s fascinating and I really like him btw)

Oh, and obviously 20 Days in Mariupol gets the documentary. I truly don’t believe it will be any other way. (Last year Navalny got it.)

The other awards… Barely anyone cares. That’s why they are kind of fun. Last year I watched the live-action and animated shorts and that gave me massive joy at the gala. This year it is a little less fun because we all know Wes Anderson’s Henry Sugar… will grab it.

In the animated it was quite often easy due to the money put in each (and popularity of some productions). This year is different… Almost. All of the nominated films don’t have a major studio behind them but one of them is inspired by “War is over” thus produced by Yoko Ono and company. So it’s obvious. It’s not a bad one, it’s simply quite basic. Just as the previous year The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. The rest are low-budget indie with more or less interesting take. My favourite was The Ninety-Five Senses because it hits where it should.

And well, that’s it. My choices are below in the official Oscars 2024 ballot. I hope you will enjoy the gala and/or the results. Remember that Academy isn’t the guru we all need to listen to. It’s an aggregator. And like all agregators, it gives an opinion of certain people. It doesn’t have to be yours!

The important part is: to watch films. Enjoy them. Enjoy everything there is about them. Ignore things you don’t. Because truly, there’s more than enough to discover.

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