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This year’s Oscars was da bomb

Parker Krzystofiak

I went into this year’s Oscars fully expecting it to be the best since 1995, when “Forrest Gump” was against “Pulp Fiction.” Needless to say, the 2024 Academy Awards delivered. 

Every category was packed with films that showed jaw-dropping cinematography, editing, writing, makeup and more. Movies like “Oppenheimer” and “Poor Things” to “American Fiction” and “The Zone of Interest combined with powerful messages, surprising sweeps and snubs. Jimmy Kimmel’s hosting highlighted the fun of the ceremony while also leaving space for the movies to shine through in their own ways.  

I was left shocked multiple times by unexpected wins and losses. While I was fully expecting “Oppenheimer” to sweep (I filled out a bingo sheet with “Oppenheimer” as the winner for mostly every category it was nominated in) films like “American Fiction,” “The Holdovers,” and “Poor Things” emerged victorious in many categories that “Oppenheimer” could have taken. However, the 2024 Oscar winners all deserved their victory as they all delivered amazing performances, beautiful shots and intriguing writing in their own unique and skillful ways. 


The Oscar winners for the 96th Academy Awards brought home their victories in many different categories. 

“Oppenheimer”, Christopher Nolan’s newest movie starring Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer nearly swept this years’ Academy Awards. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the tale of the atomic bomb, but Nolan’s cinematic masterpiece tells the story of both the bomb and the man in synchrony, explaining the science, story and early and late life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. 

It took home a remarkable six Oscars, winning Best Picture, Film Editing, and Cinematography, Best Actor, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, and Best Director

Winner for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Lewis Strauss as a man consumed by envy and anger made the movie for many. His nuanced performance rose above other contenders like Mark Ruffalo, Ryan Gosling, and Robert De Niro. 

Cillian Murphy, an actor who had worked with Nolan before and was most well known for starring in the TV show “Peaky Blinders,” won Best Actor in a Leading Role as J. Robert Oppenheimer, managing to embody the maven of nuclear physics and quantum mechanics in a way that created both an entertaining performance and a remembrance of the man and his life beyond the bomb.

Taking home the award for Best Director, Christopher Nolan pulled off an expected victory and received his first Oscar. Besides “Oppenheimer,” Nolan has won few awards, with the majority of his filmography surprisingly never having been even nominated. For his first Academy-Award-nominated film, taking home six awards is a recognizable feat, and one well-earned. 

Emma Stone’s turn as Bella Baxter in “Poor Things” won her Best Actress in a Leading Role. It is a role incredibly difficult to comprehend upon first glance. Her ever-changing performance throughout the film shows the evolution of Bella as a character, something heavily focused upon. Up against Lily Gladstone and Carey Mulligan, Stone decidedly deserved her victory. The plot and message of the movie relied entirely on how she played the role. Needless to say, without Stone “Poor Things” would have never worked or been an entirely different film. 

“Poor Things” also won for Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling. The movie expertly managed to show the world inside Bella Baxter’s head and the world around her through their costume design and makeup. Willem Dafoe’s Godwin Baxter took the cake for most interesting makeup design throughout the film. His distorted and crooked features embody the hideous and distasteful nature of his mind. 

Da’Vine Joy Randolph triumphed over more-well-known actors Emily Blunt, America Ferrera and Danielle Brooks when she won Best Supporting Actress for her role as grieving mother and boarding school cook Mary Lamb in “The Holdovers.” With subtlety and endless charm, her performance elevates “The Holdovers” in ways I didn’t expect. She was a shining light in stark contrast to the bleak wintery campus portrayed in the movie. 

Wes Anderson’s “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar,” based on four Roald Dahl books, won Best Short Film. Anderson was not there to accept the award, since he is currently on-set shooting his new unnamed new film starring Micheal Cera. 

Winning for Best Animated Feature Film, Hayao Miyazaki’s last– scratch that, he’s backed out of retirement again, Miyazaki’s newest movie “The Boy and the Heron” tells an epic story of power, corruption and innocence through a beautifully-animated landscape. If you’re a fan of Miyazaki, this is a must-watch as it is packed with classic Miyazaki tropes, character archetypes and themes. 

Memorable Speeches:

Jimmy Kimmel’s memorable hosting made way for hilarious bits along with unforgettable speeches from actors. He balanced the fun and funny parts of the awards with the powerful messages the movies were looking to spread.

Da’Vine Joy Randolph gave an empowering speech after her unexpected victory. Her previous roles haven’t come close to earning her the level of recognition she has gained for her performance in “The Holdovers.” Her speech conveyed a heartfelt message similar to last year’s speeches from Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, showing that anyone can succeed.

Cillian Murphy portrayed the complex character of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb” and a pioneer in quantum mechanics. His speech communicated a want for peace and commemorated the peacemakers in our world. It was a stark contrast to the apocalyptic threat of the bomb created by the real-life Oppenheimer.

Emma Stone’s speech may not have been as empowering as those from Da’Vine Joy Randolph or Cillian Murphy, but one could see her joy as she accepted the award. Her performance in “Poor Things” showed us a matriarchal society and made an empowering feminist film of 2024 other than “Barbie”. 

Surprises and Snubs:

Snubbed: “Barbie” for Best Director, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Adapted Screenplay, Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Costume Design, and Best Picture 

From the moment Oscar nominations came out, talks of “Barbie” director Greta Gerwig and star Margot Robbie’s snubs for Best Director and Best Actress in a Leading Role respectively spread fast. After a phenomenal box office run and great reviews to back it up, “Barbie” felt destined for Oscars glory. However, the snubs continued to come as “Barbie” walked away with only one win for the all-but-guaranteed win for Best Original Song with Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For.” While there is some disappointment about the weak turnout, with such a densely packed year of excellent movies, I’m not shocked that the bubble-gum-pink blockbuster walked away without any major awards.

Surprise: “The Boy and the Heron” for Best Animated Feature

I was shocked to see “The Boy and the Heron” win over the world-shaking “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,and it seems like the voice of Miles Morales, Shameik Moore was too. This definitely seemed like the upset of the night with some “Across the Spider-Verse” fans initially pushing for a nomination in the Best Picture category and several of our writers citing it as one of the movies of the year. The win for “Boy and the Heron” is historic though, with Hayao Miyazaki becoming the oldest Oscar winner at 83. The win also marks the second-ever win in the Best Animated Feature category for a hand-drawn film, the first film being Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away,” released in 2001.

Surprise: Emma Stone for Best Actress in a Leading Role

Out of everyone in the audience that night, Emma Stone was the most surprised by her win. Best Actress in a Leading Role was one of the most contested categories of the night, with Lily Gladstone’s subtle but daring performance as Mollie Burkhart in “Killers of the Flower Moon” versus Stone’s fearless portrayal of a Frankenstein-like Bella Baxter in “Poor Things.” This was the most unpredictable race by far, seeing as both actresses had won Golden Globes for Best Actress in the drama and comedy categories respectively. 

What to Watch:

Need some recommendations from The Oscars? Here are some of our favorite movies nominated this year:

For one, obviously, “Oppenheimer.” With the most nominations and the most wins, “Oppenheimer” won big. Christopher Nolan’s epic about the real life of Robert J. Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, has been an Oscar favorite since its (competitive) release date. “Oppenheimer” is bound to go down as one of the cinema greats.

Watch “Oppenheimer” on Peacock

“Poor Things.” Despite what you may hear, The Oscars was not an “Oppenheimer” sweep, with strong competition coming from Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things.” With the second-most nominations (and a personal favorite of mine) “Poor Things” is like no other movie that came out last year. Wholly unique and brilliantly weird, “Poor Things” is worth a watch.

Watch “Poor Things” on Hulu 

Wes Anderson fans were spoiled last year with not only a feature-length movie, 2023’s “Asteroid City,” but four short film adaptations of Roald Dahl books, all sent straight to Netflix, “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar,” “The Swan,” “The Rat Catcher,” and “Poison.” “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” is the longest by 22 minutes and arguably the best. A charming story about a man who learns to see without using his eyes and in the process, discovers more about himself. With the usual Anderson quirks, “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” is a delightful watch.

Watch “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” on Netflix

“Barbie” was the hit of the summer. A slam dunk with audiences and critics alike, a movie that could have ended up very plastic (pun intended), ended up being an introspective and grand look into what it takes to be a woman. With Oscar-nominated performances from Ryan Gosling and America Ferrera, this movie is a modern classic. While many think that lead Margot Robbie and director Greta Gerwig were snubbed and that Barbie should’ve taken home more awards, it’s an incredibly enjoyable movie, no matter who you are. Frankly, if you haven’t seen “Barbie,” I don’t know what you’re doing.

Watch “Barbie” on Max

2023 saw the best year in movies in a long time, with many theaters getting the most traffic since COVID. This year’s Oscars were a perfect reflection and acknowledgment of the amazing talent that came to shine this past year. From colorful blockbusters to quiet indies, this year saw it all. Here’s to an even better year of movies in 2024.

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About the Contributors
Colin Cummings
Colin Cummings, Staff Writer
Tyler Press
Tyler Press, Staff Writer
Hey! My name’s Tyler Press and I’m a Staff Writer for Arts and Entertainment! I’m a Freshman and am overjoyed to be spending it with The Evanstonian. Outside of The Evanstonian, you might catch me acting in a play or two, watching a movie, or learning something new. A proud theater kid and movie buff, ask me about anything Marvel, Wes Anderson, or Agatha Christie. Hope to see you around!
Parker Krzystofiak
My name is Parker Krzystofiak (he/him), and I’m an artist for the Photo & Art section. I think the art is a cool way to represent Evanston. Outside the Evanstonian, I row for ETHS as well as attend Climate Action and Model UN. Outside of school, I like biking, drawing, and working as a bike mechanic. 
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