2024 Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win and Should Win?

It’s Oppenheimer. It’s been Oppenheimer since July.

Admittedly, I’ve been a bit dispassionate about this year’s Oscars race compared to others. I felt similarly last year, but even more so this year. That’s for a few reasons – the lack of mystery in the key categories, the length of time between the end of 2023 and the ceremony honoring its movies, my month of travels (during which I didn’t watch a single movie!), and quite frankly, my indifference towards a lot of movies this year.

Five, ten, 30 years from now, as you sit down to watch one of your favorite movies, are you going to fire up Maestro? Or Anatomy of a Fall? Or even Killers of the Flower Moon when Scorcese has so much better in his catalogue? I might be coming off a bit dismissive towards what have been labeled great films, but while I liked many of the movies that The Academy has recognized as the ten best of the year, there are few I can emphatically say I loved.

That said, I’m not one to break a tradition lightly, so for the twelfth year in a row, here are my Oscar predictions.

Best Picture

Predicted Winner: Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer Oppenheimer Movie GIF - Oppenheimer Oppenheimer movie  Oppenheimer meme - Discover & Share GIFs

Navigating from its epic Barbenheimer weekend all the way to Oscar night, Oppenheimer is as clear a frontrunner as last year’s Everything Everywhere All at Once. Beloved across the industry for its depth, ambition, humanity, performances, and technical prowess, this will hardly be the only award it wins on Sunday.

I like Oppenheimer. I’ve seen it twice. I don’t think it’s Nolan’s best, the best picture of 2023, or even the best of this crop of nominees. I struggled with the pacing and narrative structure, and can’t say it left the strongest impression on me when I walked out of the theater.

I did like it better than several of its fellow nominees – namely its Barbenheimer partner-in-crim Barbie, the muddled but funny American Fiction, the “what is he trying to do here exactly” enigma that is Maestro, and Scorcese’s imperfect Killers of the Flower Moon. Of these contenders, the only one I can see pulling a surprise upset is Barbie.

Oppenheimer‘s on par for me with France’s Anatomy of a Fall – a gripping film that was ultimately a tad unsatisfying – as well as the UK’s The Zone of Interest, a…different kind of WWII movie, which should be seen but could turn some people away with its approach. Both of these films are very good, though I expect neither of these non-English films will rally the support from the Academy the way Parasite did at the turn of the decade.

That leaves us with my three favorite of the bunch. The Holdovers was at one point considered to be the CODA-style underdog that would take the win from the darker, slower period piece – but that momentum halted as it went several award ceremonies without a major win. Past Lives is beloved, but doesn’t appear to have Academy-wide appeal, and is the smallest of the bunch. Poor Things fared pretty well across the pond at the BAFTAs, but still came short of the Best Picture prize.

So go ahead and bet your house on Oppenheimer. If I’m wrong, I’ll be pleasantly surprised, and you’ll be out of a house – not me.

AJ’s Rankings (AKA my personal preferences) 

  1. Past Lives
  2. Poor Things
  3. The Holdovers
  4. Oppenheimer
  5. Anatomy of a Fall
  6. The Zone of Interest
  7. Killers of the Flower Moon
  8. Barbie
  9. American Fiction
  10. Maestro

Should Have Been Nominated: Shortcomings; The Color Purple; Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.; Society of the Snow; The Iron Claw

Best Director

Predicted Winner: Nolan, Oppenheimer

bc what's real, is irrepleceable — Christopher Nolan acceptance speech for  his Best...

Let’s keep the train going. Christopher Nolan is going to win his first Oscar on Sunday.

Would I rather have seen him win this for The Dark Knight? Or The Prestige? Or Dunkirk? Or Inception? Yeah, I would have.

Part of me thinks this is an “it’s time” award, but I’ll concede that’s because I’m clearly not as high on this movie as Hollywood is. And as many gripes as I have with Nolan’s approach, there is vast greatness in his work this year. The Trinity Test scene? Kitty’s deposition? Come on – amazing.

My vote would have gone to Yorgos for his world-build efforts in Poor Things that pay off in one of the most insane and enjoyable films of the year. Also, much respect to Justine and Jonathan for their engrossing work in their respective international films.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Lanthimos, Poor Things
  2. Glazer, The Zone of Interest
  3. Nolan, Oppenheimer
  4. Triet, Anatomy of a Fall
  5. Scorcese, Killers of the Flower Moon

Should Have Been Nominated: Lee, Past Lives; Bayona, Society of the Snow; Fennell, Saltburn

Best Actress

Predicted Winner: Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon


At least one of these acting awards is up for grabs tonight. Emma has a prior Oscar under her belt for La La Land, alongside a BAFTA for her work in Poor Things – making this race the most competitive of the bunch following Lily’s reclaimed frontrunner status with a SAG win.

What’s working in Lily’s favor? Her performance – albeit shorter – is better than Emma’s, plain and simple. Plus, Lily is a newcomer in the A-list faction of Hollywood, and this is her peers’ chance to welcome her with open arms. Her victory would also mean something to her community, as opposed to another win for Emma Stone which may not carry as much cultural significance.

What’s working in Emma’s favor? She clearly has more international support, and gives a true lead performance – whereas Lily would have run away with the gold had the Academy nominated her as a supporting actress. Poor Things is a showcase for Emma Stone, while Killers keeps Lily writhing on a bed of two-thirds of the runtime.

It comes down to more or better, and this year, I expect quality to trump quantity.

I’ve got no complaints with the other three actresses here. Annette and Carey are long overdue and their work this year continues to showcase why they’re masters of their crafts. Sandra’s fight scene in Anatomy solidified her nomination. I could have feasibly seen a way to get Margot on this list, but her absence here isn’t the snub of the century if we’re being honest.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon
  2. Emma Stone, Poor Things
  3. Carey Mulligan, Maestro
  4. Annette Bening, Nyad
  5. Sandra Huller, Anatomy of a Fall

Should Have Been Nominated: Abby Ryder Fortson, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Best Actor

Predicted Winner: Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer (2023) : r/CineShots

Here’s a race I thought would be competitive, but believe it or not…the love for Oppenheimer is quite strong. And that’s not to take anything away from Cillian – he’s a great actor whose work has often left him in the shadows. I’m glad he’s had this moment and will win an Oscar on Sunday. The scenes of him grappling with the magnitude of what he’s done are feats of outstanding and understated acting.

But c’mon, man – Paul Giamatti! If there’s an upset, I hope this is the one. I thought this award was his until his SAG loss seems to have (mostly) sunk his chances. I don’t think his claim to gold is dead in the water, but there’s no industry-backed recognition I can latch onto here.

Looking at the other nominees, I’ll always cross my fingers for a Bradley Cooper win, but not as tightly as usual this year. I didn’t care too much for Jeffrey Wright in American Fiction, but I recognize I don’t share the majority opinion on that one. And where the hell is Andrew Scott in this category?

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers
  2. Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer
  3. Bradley Cooper, Maestro
  4. Jeffrey Wright, American Fiction
    Haven’t Seen: Colman Domingo, Rustin

Should Have Been Nominated: Andrew Scott, All of Us Strangers

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Winner: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

Rich People Davine Joy Randolph GIF by Focus Features

I…just do not understand the Da’Vine love here. Her Oscar “moment” when she cries over her dead son? I almost laughed. Her accent was eye-rolling. I truly mean no disrespect, but I just don’t get what everyone else is seeing here.

Shame, too, because this category is filled with talent. Emily Blunt overcomes limited screen time with a fierce and attention-grabbing performance in Oppenheimer. Danielle Brooks steals the show in The Color Purple and captures the spirited highs and deep lows of her character. Jodie Foster reminds us all how naturally gifted she is in Nyad. And America Ferrera, um, well – I’m sure she’s happy to be nominated.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
  2. Jodie Foster, Nyad
  3. Emily Blunt, Oppenheimer
  4. America Ferrera, Barbie
  5. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

Should Have Been Nominated: Marin Ireland, Eileen

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Winner: Robert Downey Jr., Oppenheimer

Where to, Cap? — Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer...

Another one I’m perplexed by. To me, RDJ came in and said some lines. I don’t see this turn as the defining performance of his career that challenged him to do things on screen he didn’t know he was capable of. The last hour of Oppenheimer is also its most divisive, so frankly, I’m scratching my head at the fact that an Oscar is being awarded to a performance that’s almost exclusively in the least beloved part of the film.

Who did do things I didn’t know they were capable of? Ryan Gosling and Mark Ruffalo. I’d have my pen hovering over both of their names for minutes trying to determine which one deserved my vote more. Right now, I’m leaning Ruffalo because he surprised me the most. De Niro and Brown were both standouts in their respective films, but I didn’t see anything Oscar-worthy.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things
  2. Ryan Gosling, Barbie
  3. Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon
  4. Sterling K. Brown, American Fiction
  5. Robert Downey Jr., Oppenheimer

Should Have Been Nominated: Chris Messina, Air

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Winner: American Fiction

American Fiction GIFs on GIPHY - Be Animated

This is the most up-in-the-air category for Sunday’s ceremony. I see a path to victory for American Fiction, Oppenheimer, and Barbie here.

The Oppenheimer sweep could see a down-the-line victory in most major categories (similar to EEAAO last year), and The Academy might respond to Barbie missing out on a Director nomination with awarding it a Screenplay win (though – to be fair – this was not the case when Gerwig wasn’t nominated for Little Women in Directing).

Fiction was a supposed crowd-pleaser that never lived up to its hype commercially or culturally. However, other industry awards (namely the BAFTA for the same category) have recognized it here. Without a WGA to point us in another direction, I’ll go off of precedent and predict a win for American Fiction. That said, I’d be casting my vote for Poor Things, an insane and wonderful screenplay grounded with a human story.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Poor Things
  2. Oppenheimer
  3. American Fiction
  4. Barbie
  5. The Zone of Interest

Should Have Been Nominated: Shortcomings

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Winner: The Holdovers

Paul Giamatti GIF by Focus Features

This is my against-the-grain bet of the year. Pundits say Anatomy of a Fall will pull it out, citing strong international support, Golden Globe and BAFTA wins for Best Screenplay, and an Academy-wide desire to acknowledge a great film that would otherwise go home empty-handed.

This outcome is very possible, but Anatomy of a Fall‘s final moments leave a bit to be desired. I think the success of that film lies in the acting, editing, and directing. Plus, it’s a tad bleak at points. I look back to the wins of movies like Green Book, EEAAO, and Belfast. Warmer, more heartfelt films carry weight in this category, and I think The Holdovers will benefit from that sentiment.

I’m surprised that Past Lives isn’t putting up more of a fight here, as I think it’s the best of the bunch. I can’t say I was a fan of either Maestro or Past Lives, so if any of the other three nominees wins, I’m cool.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Past Lives
  2. The Holdovers
  3. Anatomy of a Fall
  4. May December
  5. Maestro

Should Have Been Nominated: Air

And now, the rest of my predictions & preferences.

Best Cinematography

Will Win: Oppenheimer
Should Win: Oppenheimer

Best Costume Design

Will Win: Barbie
Should Win: Barbie

Best Film Editing

Will Win: Oppenheimer
Should Win: Anatomy of a Fall

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Will Win: Maestro
Should Win: Society of the Snow

Best Production Design

Will Win: Poor Things
Should Win: Poor Things

Best Sound

Will Win: Oppenheimer
Should Win: Oppenheimer

Best Visual Effects

Will Win: The Creator
Should Win: The Creator

Best Animated Feature

Will Win: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Should Win: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Best International Film

Will Win: The Zone of Interest
Should Win: Society of the Snow

Best Score

Will Win: Oppenheimer
Should Win: Oppenheimer

Best Song

Will Win: “What Was I Made For?”, Barbie
Should Win: “I’m Just Ken”, Barbie

Tallied Predictions

Oppenheimer: 8 wins out of 13 nominations
Barbie: 2 wins out of 8 nominations
The Holdovers: 2 wins out of 5 nominations
Poor Things: 1 win out of 11 nominations
Killers of the Flower Moon: 1 win out of 10 nominations
Maestro: 1 win out of 7 nominations
American Fiction: 1 win out of 5 nominations
The Zone of Interest: 1 win out of 5 nominations
The Creator: 1 win out of 2 nominations
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse: 1 win out of 1 nomination