Oscars 2024: Barbenheimer, Lily Gladstone & More Predictions For This Year’s Big Wins

With less than two weeks away from the Oscars, Access Hollywood is breaking down the predictions in every category! Will your faves come out on top?

BEST PICTURE

ON LOCK: Oppenheimer
ON THE SIDELINES: Poor Things
DON’T SLEEP ON: Anatomy of a Fall

If there ever was any doubt another film would be a formidable opponent to “Oppenheimer” in this race, that film would have won the PGA. However, Christopher Nolan’s opus to J. Robert Oppenheimer’s life has a clear line to victory after taking that top honor at PGA, as well as SAG, the Globes, Critics Choice and the BAFTAs. It also has the year’s most Oscar nominations at 13. Though that statistic doesn’t always equate to a trophy, it proves there’s significant backing across the whole of the Academy. And since this is the only category that has rank-choice voting, it’s likely “Oppenheimer” will be number one for most voters, securing its win. That is, unless everyone assumes “Oppenheimer” will win, so they throw their number one slot to another favorite.

Its summer blockbuster counterpart “Barbie” has some weight here after winning the Globes’ inaugural award for Cinematic and Box Office Achievement, and boasting more than a billion dollars and some premium red carpet fashion in the process, but missed key category nominations for actress and director. In the queue here, however, are “Anatomy of a Fall” and “Poor Things” – both of which won Golden Globes, the latter of which has 11 nominations, and has taken home multiple awards across categories. For “Anatomy,” don’t undervalue the power of Messi (the border collie who stars in the film, that is).

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

ON LOCK: Cillian Murphy
ON THE SIDELINES: Paul Giamatti
DON’T SLEEP ON: Bradley Cooper

Cillian Murphy In 'Oppenheimer'
Cillian Murphy In ‘Oppenheimer’

This has been a two-man race since “The Holdovers” star Paul Giamatti and “Oppenheimer’s” Cillian Murphy each won Golden Globes for their performances. Murphy has a slight edge here, having taken home both the BAFTA and the SAG award. Though after a perceived Oscar snub for 2004’s “Sideways” and charming the internet with his late night In-N-Out, Giamatti’s been part of the zeitgeist for too long NOT to have an Oscar,and the Academy might make up for that here.

However, keep an eye on “Maestro” star and director Bradley Cooper. Though he hasn’t picked up any hardware yet, his complete transformation into famed composer Leonard Bernstein falls in line with a pattern in this category that awards actors who play real-life people (i.e. Will Smith for “King Richard, Rami Malek for “Bohemian Rhapsody”). Lead actor/actress also often go hand-in-hand with the makeup and hairstyling Oscar (i.e Brendon Fraser for “The Whale,Jessica Chastain for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” in recent years). If the Academy votes “Maestro” for this category, it’s possible that throws some votes in Cooper’s direction, meaning Rob Lowe can correct his viral text mishap.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

ON LOCK: Robert Downey Jr.
ON THE SIDELINES: Mark Ruffalo
DON’T SLEEP ON: Ryan Gosling

“Oppenheimer” star Robert Downey Jr. has been scooping up awards all season – starting at the Golden Globes through SAG. The veteran actor is one of the few to play both sides of the box office – with a successful Marvel franchise and dramatic roles, and this is his to lose. It’s fitting Downey Jr.’s biggest competitor is his fellow Marvel hero, “Poor Things” star Mark Ruffalo, who is up for his fourth nomination in this category. But don’t forget about “Barbie’s” Ryan Gosling who might ride that Kenergy wave to victory. Sublime!

 ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

ON LOCK: Lily Gladstone
ON THE SIDELINES: Emma Stone
DON’T SLEEP ON: Sandra Hüller

Lily Gladstone & Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Killers of the Flower Moon'
Lily Gladstone & Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

Lily Gladstone was voted “Most Likely to Win an Oscar” in high school and it looks like the prophecy is about to come true. The Academy isn’t going to lose out on the opportunity for a historic win in Gladstone, who would become the first Indigenous actor to take home an Oscar, nor should they. Recently taking home the SAG award, Gladstone has been supported by her “Killers of the Flower Moon” co-star Leonardo DiCaprio, and recently shared she and fellow nominee Emma Stone have matching Infinity Stone rings. The two both won Golden Globes for their roles, and with “Poor Things” star Stone also winning the BAFTA and Critic’s Choice award, it’s possible Stone pulls out the Oscar win. However, Stone did just win this category in 2017, which might make voters want to spread the wealth elsewhere.

On the receiving end of that might be German actress Sandra Hüller. The Academy’s international arm has only grown over years and made clear there is lots of love for both the French film “Anatomy of a Fall,” which she is nominated, and the British film “Zone of Interest” where she has a supporting role.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

ON LOCK: Da’Vine Joy Randolph
ON THE SIDELINES: Jodie Foster
DON’T SLEEP ON: America Ferrera

Credit: Seacia Pavao / © 2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC
Da’Vine Joy Randolph stars as Mary Lamb in director Alexander Payne’s THE HOLDOVERS, a Focus Features release.
Credit: Seacia Pavao / © 2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC

Like Robert Downey Jr., Da’Vine Joy Randolph has won every single award in the race thus far. Her role as grieving mother Mary in “The Holdovers” has captured just about every voting body out there, and it’s doubtful anything would change for the Oscars. Two-time Academy award winner Jodie Foster has stirred the audience in “Nyad,” putting her in a good position for an upset.  But no one has conjured emotions quite the same way as America Ferrera, whose rousing “Barbie” monologue went viral (even Jennifer Aniston got in on the trend) and moving speech at the Critic’s Choice have found their way into voters hearts.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

ON LOCK: Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse
ON THE SIDELINES: The Boy and the Heron
DON’T SLEEP ON: Nimona

Though Hayao Miyazaki – the filmmaker behind “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro,” among other beloved films – was an early frontrunner with “The Boy and the Heron,” “Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verseis predicted to prevail. Though losing the Globe to “Heron,” “Spider-Verse” won a number of guild awards, the key being the PGA (Producers Guild Award), which has overlapped with the Oscar win eight out of the last ten years. Team “Spider-Verse” does come up against a few challenges – namely that it is a sequel, and sequels are not often rewarded here. It is also the first half of a two-part story where in the Academy tends to award the final installation, and the first film already won in this category recently (2019), where Miyazaki – who has been making films for nearly five decades – has not won a competitive Oscar since “Spirited Away” in 2003. Keep an eye out for a potential vote splitter in “Nimona,” which had a strong showing at various guild awards and is easily accessible to view on Netflix.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

ON LOCK: Oppenheimer

“Oppenheimer” is expected to dominate in craft categories with little opposition. Hoyte Van Hoytema has already won the BAFTA and is slated to win at the American Society of Cinematographers, making him the one to beat. But if there’s someone who might do that, it would be Rodrigo Prieto, who was responsible for both the simmering darkness beneath “Killers of the Flower Moon,” for which he’s nominated, and the candy-coated world of “Barbie,both of which are revered by the Academy.

COSTUME DESIGN

ON LOCK: Poor Things

Ramy Youssef and Emma Stone in POOR THINGS. Photo by Yorgos Lanthimos. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.
Ramy Youssef and Emma Stone in POOR THINGS. Photo by Yorgos Lanthimos. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

Both “Poor Thingsand “Barbie” took home top honors at the Costume Guild Awards, a key precursor for the Oscar. This category often rewards period pieces, which would give the edge to “Poor Things,which also won the BAFTA. Two-time Academy Award winner Jacqueline Durran’s recreation of Barbie’s legendary wardrobe makes it a worthy runner-up. It’s also possible “Killers” could take root here for its traditional Osage attire that is not only authentic, but crafted by the Osage community, highlighting the vibrant culture. However, don’t underestimate the power of a well-made hat.

DIRECTING

ON LOCK: Christopher Nolan
ON THE SIDELINES: Justine Triet
DON’T SLEEP ON: Martin Scorsese

Of the awards that are near-certain, a Christopher Nolan win here is the most secure. He has won every single precursor award – Golden Globe to DGA – and though Murphy is the face of the film, Nolan is the story. In 95 years of Oscar history, Director and Best Picture have aligned 69 times, which means if “Oppenheimer” is predicted to win Best Picture – it is – then expect it to prevail here as well.

Though “Barbie’s” Greta Gerwig did not get a nod in this category, there’s still potential to reward a female director. A win for “Anatomy of a Fall’s” Justine Triet would be the fourth woman to do so in this category (the others are: Kathryn Bigelow, Jane Campion, and Chloe Zhao).

Don’t forget about “Killers” auteur Martin Scorsese – at 81, he’s the oldest director to be nominated in this category. He’s a 10-time nominee here with one win, and is an easy favorite.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

ON LOCK: 20 Days in Mariupol
ON THE SIDELINES: Eternal Memory
DON’T SLEEP ON: Bobi Wine: The People’s President

 “20 Days in Mariupol” is a harrowing documentary that follows an AP team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in Mariupol as war breaks out around them and it garnered positive reviews out of Sundance where it premiered last year and won an Audience Award. The film is also only one on this list that was up for a PGA – though it lost to “American Symphony” which missed out on a nom here – and for an Eddie, proving its strength. This category also tends to awards documentaries backed by a news outlet – which fits the bill with AP.

Don’t count out “Eternal Memory” by filmmaker Maite Alberdi who has been nominated in this category in the past, and “Bobi Wine: The People’s President,” a galvanizing film available on Disney+.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM

ON LOCK: Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó

Director Sean Wang captures the vivacious spirit of his grandmothers, who happen to be best friends, in “Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó,” or “Grandma & Grandma,” – the favorite in this category. Though don’t ignore the timeliness of “The ABCs of Book Banning,” nor “The Last Repair Shop” directed by category-alumni Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers.  

FILM EDITING

ON LOCK: Oppenheimer

Of the three nominees in this category that are over two-and-a-half hours,Oppenheimer” has the lead. Film editing often goes hand-in-hand with Best Sound – both categories tend to prefer war movies and “Oppenheimer” is the closest option here. It also won the BAFTA.

“Anatomy of a Fall” might make a move, because the editing has so much to do with the story and the protagonist’s perspective, but don’t count out 84-year-old Thelma Schoonmaker for her work on “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Going on almost six-decades of collaboration, where there’s love for Scorsese there’s love for Schoonmaker.

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

ON LOCK: Zone of Interest
ON THE SIDELINES: Society of the Snow
DON’T SLEEP ON: Perfect Days

The Zone of Interest

British entry “Zone of Interest” has the most nominations of any other film in this category, signaling support from the Academy. It also made history by being the first film to win both outstanding British Film and film not in the English language at the BAFTAs. It’s likely “Zone” takes it here, but the late surge of “Society of the Snow” could sneak up behind, and it’s likely “Perfect Days” from stalwart director Wim Wenders will garner some votes.

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

ON LOCK: Poor Things

Be on high alert for this category to help predict lead actor or actress – but since both lead actor and lead actress races are so close, that brings it down to chance for predicting this category. Since “Killers of the Flower Moon” was not recognized here, there’s a high chance the winner will align with Best Actor – giving “Oppenheimer” and “Maestro” a fighting chance. However, “Poor Things” is leading by a hair, because of Emma Stone’s praised performance, and its win in this category at the BAFTAs. Though that voting body is not a significant crossover to the Academy, it does have the laurels to back it up.

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

ON LOCK: Oppenheimer

Ludwig Göransson won this category in 2019 and after taking home the Globe, BAFTA, and Critic’s Choice this year, he’s likely to return to the stage in a win for “Oppenheimer.” “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” gave 92-year-old John Williams his 54th Oscar nomination and it’s possible voters will want to reward the composer for his decades of work that have scored generations of cinephiles. One could also make the case for “Killers of the Flower Moon” which also received a nod for Best Original Song, showing a wider support for the film’s music.

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

ON LOCK: “What Was I Made For?”

Billie Eilish and FINNEAS accepts the award for Best Original Song Motion Picture for “What Was I Made For?” Barbie Music & Lyrics at the 81st Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Golden Globes 2024/Golden Globes 2024 via Getty Images)

In this “Barbie”-fronted category, Billie Eilish and Finneas’ ballad “What Was I Made For?” is the frontrunner, after an ecstatic Globe win and two Grammys. Though “I’m Just Ken” won the Critic’s Choice, a win here for this song should be shared with Ryan Gosling’s daughters, who coached him through the performance. Like most years, it’s wise to keep songwriter Diane Warren in the conversation, who received her 15th nomination in this category with “The Fire Inside” from Eva Longoria’s “Flamin’ Hot.”

PRODUCTION DESIGN

ON LOCK: Poor Things

Though “Barbie” was an early favorite here, after winning Art Director Guild awards, “Poor Things” and “Oppenheimer” are the films to beat. “Poor Things” has the frontrunner status, as it also won the BAFTA.

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

ON LOCK: War is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko

“War is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko” is the only film in this category that crossed over with the Annie Awards, and won, making it likely to do so again at the Oscars. “Letter to a Pig” explores generational trauma from a holocaust survivor’s bond with a pig who saved their life – the moving subject matter, though heavy, speaks to multiple age groups. Plus, there is an appeal to voting for a film with “pig” in the title.

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

ON LOCK: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

Almost every film here has a fair chance, though Wes Anderson’s inviting adaptation of Roald Dahl’s “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” will likely give Anderson his first Oscar. This comes after the premiere at the Venice Film Festival where is received rave reviews, and the overall love for Anderson’s eccentric style, which has received a cult following throughout his career. Voters may also want to reward Anderson in part for his 2023 film “Asteroid City which was well-reviewed but not recognized by the Academy.

SOUND

ON LOCK: The Zone of Interest

Like film editing, this category tends to favor films about wars and cars. Without any automobiles to pull ahead in the race, Oppenheimer and holocaust drama “Zone of Interest” are neck and neck. Though this category often goes with best film editing, which we’ve predicted will go to “Oppenheimer,” “Zone of Interest”might ride the high of its BAFTA win all the way to the Oscar. “Maestro” has the potential to be awarded here, as Bernstein’s music cradles the film by, well, sound.

VISUAL EFFECTS

ON LOCK: Godzilla Minus One

“Godzilla Minus One” was a runaway hit late last year and made waves with its visual effects done by Takashi Yamazaki, who also directed and wrote the film. “The Creator” did earn the top prize at the Visual Effects Awards where Godzilla was not recognized, but it’s more likely that the buzz around “Godzilla” – which got two theatrical releases – will roar it to Oscar gold. There could be a surprise win for “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” as the beloved franchise – and Tom Cruise – once again thrilled audiences with its death-defying action sequences.

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

ON LOCK: Barbie

All the discourse around the “Barbie” snub might help the film pull out a win here. It’s hard to vote against two Hollywood favorites – and husband-wife-duo – Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach who have been in the industry for so long that many likely assume they already have an Oscar, though they don’t. Here, they were able to bring childhood nostalgia to life and make it resonate to both domestic and international audiences. No small feat (or, no flat feet).

Ryan Gosling, Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach during the EE BAFTA Film Awards 2024 Dinner at The Royal Festival Hall on February 18, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Lia Toby/BAFTA/Getty Images for BAFTA)
Ryan Gosling, Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach during the EE BAFTA Film Awards 2024 Dinner at The Royal Festival Hall on February 18, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Lia Toby/BAFTA/Getty Images for BAFTA)

Though don’t be surprised if this award goes to “Poor Things” screenwriter Tony McNamara, who has been nominated for his writing before.  Yet, the Academy sometimes likes to award a fresh face; in this case, BAFTA-winner Cord Jefferson, who also won Toronto International Film Festival’s People’s Choice Award for his work onAmerican Fiction.”

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

ON LOCK: Anatomy of a Fall

It’s possible both writing categories will go to couples – with Justine Triet’s “Anatomy of a Fall” in the lead, which she wrote with her partner Arthur Harari. Seeing as she won the Globe and the BAFTA, this gives her the edge over Celine Song’s “Past Lives” and David Hemingson for “The Holdovers,” both of who are nominated for their feature screenwriting debuts. Though historically this category likes to be a megaphone for new writers, (i.e. Jordan Peele for “Get Out,” Emerald Fennell for “Promising Young Woman”), Triet has the track record to win here.

 The Oscars will air live on Sunday, March 10th at 4pm PT/7pm EST on ABC.

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