The 96th Academy Awards, which will take place on Sunday, March 10, recently received its nominations for all categories, hailing lots of predictable nominees but quite a few surprises as well. It’s been a huge year in film, as the COVID-19 pandemic has almost completely subsided, allowing movie theaters to bounce back and return in full swing for this year’s blockbusters. “Oppenheimer” leads the pack with 13 nominations, followed by “Poor Things” with 11 nominations and “Killers of the Flower Moon” with 10. The Best Picture nominees include many critically acclaimed films of the year, including “American Fiction,” “Barbie” and “The Zone of Interest.” Incredible cinematography, directing and a stacked cast make “Oppenheimer” a strong candidate for Best Picture. It also received nominations for Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing and Film Editing, among others. Leading man Cillian Murphy, and Emily Blunt, who plays Murphy’s on-screen wife, received their first ever Academy Award nominations for Best Lead Actor and Best Supporting Actress. The blockbuster film has received numerous accolades already, including five Golden Globes.
Up against Murphy for Best Actor includes the familiar names of Bradley Cooper for “Maestro” as well as Paul Giamatti for “The Holdovers,” who is favored to win. For Best Leading Actress, out of a strong lineup of candidates including Emma Stone and Carey Mulligan, Lily Gladstone is favored to win for “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Gladstone is the first Native American to be nominated for any Oscar and recently became the first to win a Golden Globe for Best Performance by a Female Actress in a Motion Picture. For Best Actor in a Supporting Role, veteran Robert de Niro is in line for his ninth nomination for “Killers of the Flower Moon,” up against a talented lineup: Mark Ruffalo, Ryan Gosling, Robert Downey Jr. and first time nominee Sterling K. Brown. Vying for Best Supporting Actress, Jodie Foster for “Nyad” racks up her fifth nomination while the rest are first time nominees.
Two frontrunners emerge for Best Animated Film: “The Boy and the Heron”, which won this respective category at The Golden Globes, as well as “Spiderman: Across the SpiderVerse.” Surprisingly, “The Super Mario Movie” was not nominated, despite being the second-highest grossing movie of 2023. Best International Feature Film features frontrunner “The Zone of Interest,” which has received five other nominations, including Best Picture, Directing and Writing. The Visual Effects category features nominees that weren’t recognized for other categories, including “Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” “Godzilla Minus One” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.” The Best Original Song category features the Grammy winning Song of the Year, “What Was I Made For,” from “Barbie” and is predicted to win this Oscar as well, while Best Original Score features “Poor Things,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Oppenheimer” and “American Fiction,” movies nominated for multiple Oscars this year. Also nominated was “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” a nod to the iconic theme song and soundtracks featured in the older movies.
There were a few other surprises this year, the most controversial being the fact that neither Margot Robbie nor Greta Gerwig received nominations for their work on “Barbie.” Barbie was the most successful movie of 2023, grossing $636 million in the US and $1.4 billion worldwide, so many are upset about Gerwig’s lack of recognition. Actor Ryan Gosling, who was nominated for his supporting role of Ken in the film, expressed his own surprise at this, saying “there is no Ken without Barbie. No recognition would be possible for anyone on the film without their talent, grit and genius.” However, it was great to see America Ferrera nominated for her first Oscar as Best Supporting Actress for “Barbie.” Another snub was Greta Lee and Celine Song for Best Leading Actress and Best Director, respectively, for “Past Lives,” which was also nominated for Best Picture. “The Color Purple” also received just one nomination–Danielle Brooks for Best Supporting Actress–but its original songs, directing and costumes were not recognized. A pleasant surprise, however, was Justine Triet’s nomination for Best Director for “Anatomy of a Fall,” the only woman to be nominated in this category against bigger names like Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan.
There were also films that were snubbed altogether, not receiving nominations for any category. While films “The Iron Claw” and “Priscilla” hailed outstanding performances from Zac Efron and Cailee Spaeny (who received a Golden Globe nomination and won the best actress prize at the Venice Film Festival this year), respectively, neither received Oscar recognition. “Asteroid City,” like many other Wes Anderson films, featured remarkable costume and set design, yet didn’t receive a nomination either. “May December” received critical acclaim for a short time and hailed outstanding acting performances yet was forgotten, while “All Of Us Strangers” received six BAFTA nominations yet had a quieter box office release, which may not have helped its case. “Can’t Catch Me Now,” a beautiful yet ominous song from “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” as well as many of the fast-paced upbeat tunes from “Spider-Man: Across the SpiderVerse” deserved nominations for Best Original Song yet fell short. All the triumphs, let-downs and predictions will make this year a very interesting show.