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Oscars 2024: Daily Bruin staff predicts winners for 96th Academy Awards

Ingrid Leng/Daily Bruin

By Leydi Cris Cobo Cordon, Reid Sperisen, Sanjana Chadive, Ruwani Jayasekara, Graciana Paxton, and Lex Wang

March 7, 2024 1:01 p.m.

This post was updated March 7 at 9:03 p.m.

At this year’s Academy Awards, Hollywood’s shining stars will vie for statues of gold.

On Sunday night, the Oscars will return to the Dolby Theatre for another year of celebrating the film industry’s astounding achievements. From bold box office hits to poignant independent flicks, the pictures honored at this year’s ceremony guarantee fierce competition.

Read on for the Daily Bruin’s predictions for some of the night’s biggest wins.

[Related: Oscars 2024 Q&A: Composer Laura Karpman talks scoring for film ‘American Fiction’]

(Courtesy of Apple TV+)
Lily Gladstone plays Mollie Burkhart in the historical crime drama “Killers of the Flower Moon.” If awarded an Academy Award on Sunday, she would make history as the first Native American woman to win Best Actress.
(Courtesy of Apple TV+)

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Lily Gladstone – “Killers of the Flower Moon”

Lily Gladstone is poised to make history as the first Native American woman to win Best Actress.

In Martin Scorsese’s historical crime drama “Killers of the Flower Moon,” Gladstone portrays Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman whose husband (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is behind the murders of her mother and three sisters. The film depicts the true events of the Osage murders in Oklahoma, which killed more than 60 people during the 1920s as white settlers attempted to take the Osage’s oil-rich land. Gladstone’s deep, soulful performance is rife with grief and moving resilience as she goes toe-to-toe with Oscar winners DiCaprio and Robert De Niro, who appears as the corrupt mastermind William King Hale. In every scene, Gladstone honors the Osage heritage and conveys the suffering of generations of mistreated indigenous people.

Emma Stone’s eccentric performance in Yorgos Lanthimos’ absurdist epic “Poor Things” picked up British Academy Film Awards and Critics Choice trophies for Best Actress, making her Gladstone’s strongest competition. However, Gladstone’s triumph over Stone at the Screen Actors Guild Awards suggests that Gladstone is the one to beat, especially when considering that 21 of the last 29 actresses to prevail at the Oscars also won at SAG. Oscar voters tend to reward nominees who have not won before – such as Michelle Yeoh’s victory last year over past champion Cate Blanchett – and Stone already took home an Oscar for 2016’s “La La Land.” Likewise, Gladstone’s dramatic tribute to the Osage in her mainstream breakthrough is more likely to resonate with Oscar voters than Stone’s comedic romp across 19th-century Europe.

Gladstone was once named “Most Likely to Win an Oscar” in her high school yearbook, and Sunday night she has the opportunity to make that superlative a reality while rewriting Oscars history.

– Reid Sperisen

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
America Ferrera plays Gloria in Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie.” She earned her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role this year.(Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: America Ferrera – “Barbie”

Ryan Gosling may just be Ken, but America Ferrera is everything.

In Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” Ferrera plays the role of Gloria, a mother working for the Mattel corporation, who guides Stereotypical Barbie through the real world as she attempts to solve the existential crisis behind her malfunction. Gloria, who creates a more “realistic” version of the doll after feeling disconnected from her daughter Sasha while confronting misogyny in the workplace, turns out to be the reason behind Stereotypical Barbie’s problems. The speech that she subsequently gives to motivate Barbie – an impassioned monologue that sums up the contradictions of womanhood into the overarching message of the movie – has widely resonated with audiences across social media.

Despite Ferrera’s moving portrayal of an average woman facing overly-high standards within a patriarchal society, contenders Emily Blunt and Da’Vine Joy Randolph – who starred in “Oppenheimer” and “The Holdovers,” respectively – may both see the spotlight in the same category as Ferrera. But despite the well-done characterization of self-assured women in their roles, the authentic and pure emotion behind Ferrera’s performance is incomparable – and just may be the scene that clinches her first-ever Oscar award on Sunday.

With any luck, America Ferrera will have the opportunity to dance the night away with gold.

– Lex Wang

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Ryan Gosling (left) and Margot Robbie (right) wear sparkling jumpsuits in “Barbie.” Jacqueline Durran is nominated for Best Costume Design for her work on the film. (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Best Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran – “Barbie”

In the battle for costume design, Jacqueline Durran knows what she was made for.

Having designed for “Beauty and the Beast” and “Little Women,” the two-time Academy Award winner is no stranger to the demands of a cinematic adaptation. However, unlike previous projects, “Barbie” brought forth a fresh story based on the pre-established pop culture icon. From Barbie’s hallmark pastel gingham romper to her vibrant skating suit and flared Western two-piece, Durran’s creations have already become a staple of style among crafters and general lifestyle enthusiasts alike. Honoring the doll’s past lives and rich fashion history, Durran’s portfolio cements this iteration of her in Barbie’s ever-lasting fashion legacy.

Extending beyond the demands of a period piece, Durran undertook a niche subsect of historical research for the film, digging into Mattel archives to strike a balance between Barbie’s emblematic wardrobe and upscale fashion trends from its surrounding eras. Furthermore, the powerfully pink production design of “Barbie” called for an intense color palette collaboration, which ultimately elevates the film by grounding its playfulness in the newly-established reality of Barbie Land. Due to the sheer quantity of pink, the costume design was virtually conducted under the constraints of a monochromatic palette, which called for precision in the selection of specific tones to not lose the characters amid the sea of pink. Ultimately, Durran’s final lineup captures the vibrance of Barbie without feeling juvenile, underscoring instead of obscuring the poignant message at the film’s core.

After all, while award shows only have one ending, the legacy of evocative design is forever.

– Leydi Cris Cobo Cordon

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
The cast and crew of “Oppenheimer” prepare to film a scene. Christopher Nolan is nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards for his work on the biopic. (Courtesy of Universal Pictures)

Best Directing: Christopher Nolan – “Oppenheimer”

When the clock ticks to zero on Oscar Sunday, Christopher Nolan will finally have an Academy Award in his hands.

The two-time Best Director nominee is slated to take home at least one golden statue for his work on “Oppenheimer,” a historical drama that centers on the development of the atomic bomb. Despite the biopic genre often being broadly labeled as unoriginal “Oscar bait,” Nolan’s exploration of the life and psyche of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer inventively subverts the expectations of this genre, proving himself more than worthy of the Best Director prize in the process. Through entrancing visuals, dedication to quality practical effects and dynamic camera work, Nolan surmounts a tall order by translating a dialogue-heavy film about theoretical physics into an electrifying spectacle.

From his tension-fueled framing of the Trinity test – in which the film’s motley crew of scientists commence the world’s first nuclear weapon test – to striking close-ups of lead Cillian Murphy, Nolan’s filmmaking pulls off a tightrope walk of balancing tone, resulting in a meditation on guilt and legacy that is both thrilling and moving. While Jonathan Glazer and “The Zone of Interest” are possible dark horses in both the Best Director and Best Picture race, Nolan’s film spells out his Oscar fate through its firm stance on the powerful, unstoppable nature of chain reactions.

With the Golden Globe, BAFTA and Directors Guild of America Award already in his hands, Nolan’s directing Oscar is inevitable. After all, an object in motion stays in motion.

– Graciana Paxton

[Related: Film review: ‘Oppenheimer’ employs unprecedented technical brilliance to redefine biopic genre]

(Courtesy of A24)
Teo Yoo (left) and Greta Lee (right) play Nora and Hae Sung, respectively in “Past Lives.” Written and directed by Celine Song, the romantic drama is nominated for Best Picture this year. (Courtesy of A24)

Best Picture: “Past Lives”

Whether in this life or the next, Celine Song’s directorial debut deserves to win it all.

“Past Lives” follows childhood friends Nora (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) who briefly reunite decades after being separated by Nora’s emigration from South Korea. Also a contender for Best Original Screenplay, the romantic drama is one of the most memorable films to be released by A24. Swapping grandiose gestures and bold confessions for stripped-back storytelling and minimal dialogue, Song crafts a deceptively heartbreaking story that will leave viewers pondering themes of unfulfilled love and ever-changing identities long after the credits roll.

Despite the almost unanimous critical acclaim it has received since its summer release, “Past Lives” remains a dark horse candidate for Best Picture. The movie has received very little recognition during this awards season – and wrongfully so. At the moment, Nolan’s colossal biopic “Oppenheimer” is the frontrunner in the biggest category of the night, especially after winning Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the SAG Awards. However, several films have emerged as surprise winners in the past. For example, the World War I drama “1917” was poised to nab the award at the 92nd Academy Awards, but social satire “Parasite” did instead. Clearly, Nora and Hae Sung’s story could pull a similar upset this year.

“Past Lives” implores viewers to consider “what could have been?” – the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be asking the same question if Song’s film doesn’t take home the gold.

– Sanjana Chadive

(Courtesy of mk2 Films)
Sandra Hüller plays Sandra Voyter in “Anatomy of a Fall.” Co-written by Justine Trier and Arthur Harari, the French film is nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards.(Courtesy of mk2 Films)

Best Original Screenplay: Justine Triet and Arthur Harari “Anatomy of a Fall”

If “Anatomy of a Fall” is on trial for Oscars gold, there will be no objections to the Academy’s final verdict.

Nominated for five Academy Awards, the French courtroom drama solidifies its position among its fellow Best Picture frontrunners with a dissection of not only a death but also a marriage. Directed and co-written by Justine Triet, the first female French Best Director nominee, “Anatomy of a Fall” follows writer Sandra Voyter (Sandra Hüller) in and out of the courtroom, as she is suspected of her husband’s murder, leaving her partially blind son Daniel (Milo Machado-Graner) as the sole witness. Tackling themes of infidelity, domestic abuse and suicidal ideation, the psychological thriller puts the couple’s complex relationship on trial, forcing a close lens on a strained marriage with only one party present to defend themselves.

Establishing an intimate and nuanced portrayal of a courtroom feature, Triet invites viewers to take on the role of the jury as every documented flaw of the stoic, solemn widow is anatomized, acknowledging still that much remains behind closed doors. Having taken home both the BAFTA and Golden Globe for Best Original Screenplay, “Anatomy of a Fall” is poised to end the awards season with yet another accolade under its belt. Teeming with ambiguity, Hüller’s subtle yet commanding performance paired with Triet’s slow-burn commentary on the subjectivity of social perception and the tribulations of marriage will surely earn the Best Director nominee a golden statue this weekend.

In a courtroom of Academy critics, Justine Triet’s newest thriller will be far from falling this Oscar Sunday.

– Ruwani Jayasekara

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Leydi Cris Cobo Cordon
Cobo Cordon is the 2023-2024 music | fine arts editor. She was previously an Arts reporter. She is also a second-year student from northern Virginia.
Cobo Cordon is the 2023-2024 music | fine arts editor. She was previously an Arts reporter. She is also a second-year student from northern Virginia.
Sanjana Chadive | Lifestyle editor
Chadive is the 2023-2024 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts staff writer from 2022-2023. She is a third-year comparative literature student from Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania.
Chadive is the 2023-2024 lifestyle editor. She was previously an Arts staff writer from 2022-2023. She is a third-year comparative literature student from Garnet Valley, Pennsylvania.
Graciana Paxton | Music | fine arts editor
Paxton is the 2022-2023 music | fine arts editor. She was previously an Arts contributor from 2021-2022. She is also a third-year psychobiology student from Morgan Hill, California.
Paxton is the 2022-2023 music | fine arts editor. She was previously an Arts contributor from 2021-2022. She is also a third-year psychobiology student from Morgan Hill, California.
Lex Wang | Enterprise editor
Wang is the 2023-2024 Enterprise editor. Previously, she was the 2022-2023 Opinion editor, and prior to that, an assistant Opinion editor. She is Arts and Quad staff and also contributes to News, Sports on the men's volleyball beat, Copy, Design, Photo and Video.
Wang is the 2023-2024 Enterprise editor. Previously, she was the 2022-2023 Opinion editor, and prior to that, an assistant Opinion editor. She is Arts and Quad staff and also contributes to News, Sports on the men's volleyball beat, Copy, Design, Photo and Video.
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