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Tom’s Guide
Rory Mellon

I've watched every Oscar movie — here are my predictions and who I want to win

Oscars 2021 stock image.

The 2024 Oscars are almost here. In just a matter of days, the glitzy Dolby Theatre in sun-soaked Los Angeles will be playing host to the 96th Academy Awards. But before the ceremony gets underway and the A-list presenters begin dishing out the much-coveted golden statues, it’s time to talk Oscar predictions. 

I’ve watched every single nominated movie in the eight major categories (Picture, Directing, Acting, Screenplay) and have seen the vast majority in the rest of the categories. As I do every year, I’ve also been following along with the awards season over the last few months keeping a close eye on all the precursor awards including the SAG, Globes and Critics Choice. So I’m feeling pretty confident about my picks for the big winners at this year's Oscar ceremony. 

However, just because a movie or performance looks nails on to win, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the nominee that I think should win. So alongside my predictions, I’m also noting my personal picks. Just be sure to prepare yourself for some spice as there are a few hot takes down below. And with that warning out of the way, let’s dive into my Oscar 2024 predictions.  

My Oscar 2024 predictions  

Best Picture

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)
  • "American Fiction"
  • "Anatomy of a Fall" 
  • "Barbie" 
  • "The Holdovers"
  • "Killers of the Flower Moon"
  • "Maestro"
  • "Oppenheimer"
  • "Past Lives"
  • "Poor Things"
  • "The Zone of Interest"

Predicted winner: "Oppenheimer"

If you’re looking for a dramatic Best Picture race akin to 2022's tussle between “CODA” and “The Power of the Dog” you won’t find it here, Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” is one of the strongest locks for the show's top prize in years. This stunning biopic pick has swept the precursor awards taking home equivalent prizes at the Globes, BAFTA, SAG, Critics Choice and more. It would be an upset for the ages if it didn’t add the Oscar to its overflowing trophy cabinet. 

My pick: "Oppenheimer"

I watch a lot of movies every year, and “Oppenheimer” was my favorite of 2023 by a comfortable margin. In fact, it’s the only movie released last year that I rated five stars on the film social media site Letterboxd, which is the highest praise I can muster. It’s a towering epic, boasting captivating performance, inventive direction and masterful filmmaking in all aspects. It deserves every single petal of the many flowers it’s pretty much guaranteed to receive on Oscar night.  

Best Director

(Image credit: Album / Alamy Stock Photo / Universal Pictures)
  • Justine Triet, "Anatomy of a Fall"
  • Martin Scorsese, "Killers of the Flower Moon"
  • Christopher Nolan, "Oppenheimer"
  • Yorgos Lanthimos, "Poor Things"
  • Jonathan Glazer, "The Zone of Interest"

Predicted winner: Christopher Nolan, "Oppenheimer"

It’s not uncommon for the Best Director and Best Picture categories to be split between different movies as it allows the Academy to reward the two frontrunners with a major gong. That won’t be happening this year. Christopher Nolan can start clearing space on his shelf for his Oscar now. The signs are all there. Nolan won the top prize at the Directors Guild awards, and Academy voters will almost certainly feel the British filmmaker is overdue a win at this stage of his career.  

My pick: Christopher Nolan, "Oppenheimer"

Much as I adored Justine Triet’s work in “Anatomy of a Fall” (and we desperately need more women to win in this category), I have to back Christopher Nolan here. “Oppenheimer” is blockbuster filmmaking at its most impressive. Nolan juggles a large cast and a sprawling narrative that covers multiple decades and manages to make a three-hour epic feel barely 90 minutes in length. “Oppenheimer” is Nolan’s magnum opus and that must be recognized.  

Best Actor

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)
  • Bradley Cooper, "Maestro"
  • Colman Domingo, "Rustin"
  • Paul Giamatti, "The Holdovers"
  • Cillian Murphy, "Oppenheimer"
  • Jeffrey Wright, "American Fiction" 

Predicted winner: Cillian Murphy, "Oppenheimer"

You might be sensing a theme here because this is another category that has “Oppenheimer" written all over it. Cillian Murphy is at the very core of the movie, playing a complex but brilliant man in J. Robert Oppenheimer, and it’s a performance that anchors the entire picture. Murphy has already taken the SAG and BAFTA, and while Paul Giamatti’s turn as a cranky professor in “The Holdovers” pinched him the Critics Choice that shouldn’t be enough to stop the relentless momentum that Murphy has built up in recent weeks.  

My pick: Cillian Murphy, "Oppenheimer"

Cillian Murphy (almost certainly) will win, and in my book, that’s the correct call. I loved Giamatti’s performance, and have a soft spot for Jeffrey Wright as well, but Murphy is the crucial cog in one of the best movies of the 21st century, that’s an acting achievement that’s hard to top. I just hope Bradley Cooper won’t be too disappointed with another Oscar loss!  

Best Actress

(Image credit: Album / Alamy Stock Photo / Apple)
  • Annette Bening, "Nyad"
  • Lily Gladstone, "Killers of the Flower Moon"
  • Sandra Hüller, "Anatomy of a Fall"
  • Carey Mulligan, "Maestro"
  • Emma Stone, "Poor Things"

Predicted winner: Lily Gladstone, "Killers of the Flower Moon"

The major categories at this year’s Oscars feel pretty locked in, but the closest race is between Emma Stone for “Poor Things” and Lilly Gladstone for “Killers of the Flower Moon”. Both have won precursor awards, but I think Gladstone will clinch the Oscar. A win would make her the first Native American actor to earn an Academy Award, which adds a great narrative, but her performance is strong enough that her win would absolutely be on merit.  

My pick: Sandra Hüller, "Anatomy of a Fall"

My pick for Best Actress would be Sandra Hüller for her leading turn in “Anatomy of a Fall”. The drama sees Hüller play an author accused of pushing her husband out of a window to his death, and the German actress is phenomenal in the role. I also loved both Stone and Gladstone in their respective movies, so I’ll be happy for whoever wins this category. However, I’m still disappointed Greta Lee was snubbed for “Past Lives” as that was my favorite performance of last year.

Best Supporting Actor

(Image credit: BFA / Alamy Stock Photo / Melinda Sue Gordon / Universal Pictures)
  • Sterling K. Brown, "American Fiction"
  • Robert De Niro, "Killers of the Flower Moon"
  • Robert Downey Jr., "Oppenheimer"
  • Ryan Gosling, "Barbie"
  • Mark Ruffalo, "Poor Things"

Predicted winner: Robert Downey Jr., "Oppenheimer"

Robert Downey Jr. has won all the previous awards including the all-important Screen Actors Guild award, and feels equally as big a lock for this category as Murphy does for Best Actor. It would also be a fine personal achievement for the former MCU star after admitting last year that he feared his decade spent playing Tony Stark may have blunted his acting ability. 

My pick: Robert Downey Jr., "Oppenheimer"

There’s certainly a part of me that would love seeing Mark Ruffalo take this one as I thought he was an absolute hoot in “Poor Things”, but when really pressed there’s only one answer: Robert Downey Jr. Not only does Downey play an excellent foil to Murphy in “Oppenheimer” but he’s central to one of the movie’s pivotal scenes.

Best Supporting Actress

(Image credit: BFA / Alamy Stock Photo / Focus Features)
  • Emily Blunt, "Oppenheimer"
  • Danielle Brooks, "The Color Purple"
  • America Ferrera, "Barbie"
  • Jodie Foster, "Nyad" 
  • Da'Vine Joy Randolph, "The Holdovers" 

Predicted winner: Da'Vine Joy Randolph, "The Holdovers"

There’s another clear frontrunner in this category, Da’Vine Joy Randolph. She must be running out of room for all her awards as she’s swept up across the board. There are several high-profile names in this category including Emily Blunt, Jodie Foster and America Ferrera but none of them can stand in the way of Randolph's march towards Oscar glory. 

My pick: Da'Vine Joy Randolph, "The Holdovers"

Again, I’ve got to go with the favorite here, “The Holdovers” is like a warm hug in movie form, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph is a huge component of the picture. She plays Mary, a cafeteria worker at a plush prep school, whose son has recently died in the Vietnam War, and he brings so much tenderness and raw emotion to the character that she had me tearing up in the theater.  

Best Adapted Screenplay

(Image credit: Orion Pictures)
  • "American Fiction"
    Screenplay by Cord Jefferson
  • "Barbie"
    Screenplay by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach
  • "Oppenheimer"
    Screenplay by Christopher Nolan
  • "Poor Things"
    Screenplay by Tony McNamara
  • "The Zone of Interest"
    Screenplay by Jonathan Glazer

Predicted winner: "American Fiction", screenplay by Cord Jefferson

This is a tough race to call. The screenplay categories are often used to recognize movies nominated in the Best Picture categories but without a realistic chance of winning. For that reason, “Barbie” and “American Fiction” have gained momentum, but “Oppenheimer” could continue its dominance as well. I’m not so confident but I’m guessing “American Fiction” as I can see voters wanting to give it something. 

My pick: "Poor Things", screenplay by Tony McNamara

I’d love to see “Poor Things” win this category for its raucously silly screenplay that has Emma Stone’s Bella Baxter refer to intercourse as “furious jumping” throughout, among countless other oddities. Any screenplay that can be so strange, and yet also heartful, deserves an award in my eyes. I’d also be on board with “Barbie” winning as well, it’s the movie of 2023, and it would be great to see Greta Gerwig up on stage.

Best Original Screenplay

(Image credit: mk2 Films)
  • "Anatomy of a Fall"
    Screenplay by Justine Triet and Arthur Harari
  • "The Holdovers"
    Screenplay by David Hemingson
  • "Maestro"
    Screenplay by Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer
  • "May December"
    Screenplay by Samy Burch
  • "Past Lives"
    Screenplay by Celine Song

Predicted winner: "Anatomy of a Fall", screenplay by Justine Triet and Arthur Harari

This category feels a tad open as it could be a place for “The Holdovers” to receive some love, but the current odds-on favorite is “Anatomy of a Fall”. It won the Globe and the BAFTA. A win would be quite an achievement considering a significant portion of the movie is not in the English language, and it’s very rare for a foreign movie to take screenplay.

My pick: "Anatomy of a Fall", screenplay by Justine Triet and Arthur Harari

I’m deeply torn between “The Holdovers” and “Anatomy of a Fall” for this category, but I’m going to give the nod to the latter purely because I like the narrative of a French movie taking home a screenplay trophy. The last foreign move to scoop this award was Parasite in 2019. 

Best Animated Film

(Image credit: Toho)
  • "The Boy and the Heron"
  • "Elemental"
  • "Nimona"
  • "Robot Dreams"
  • "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse"

Predicted winner: "The Boy and the Heron"

Another very close category as “The Boy and the Heron” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” duke it out. Pixar has plenty of clout in this field but “Elemental” will just have to settle for a nomination. As for the winner, I’m going “The Boy and the Heron” but I fear I might be letting my heart rule my head, don’t be shocked if Spidey wins. 

My pick: "The Boy and the Heron"

I loved both “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” and “The Boy and the Heron” but I want the Studio Ghibli fantasy adventure to win as it may be the last feature from the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, and the Academy will have the chance to celebrate Spider-Verse’s achievements when "Beyond the Spider-Verse" releases down the line. 

Best International Film

(Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo / A24)
  • "Io capitano" (Italy)
  • "Perfect Days" (Japan)
  • "Society of the Snow" (Spain)
  • "The Teachers' Lounge" (Germany)
  • "The Zone of Interest" (United Kingdom)

Predicted winner: "The Zone of Interest"

The unsettling World War II drama “The Zone of Interest” is the only nominee in this category that also appears in Best Picture so logic would dictate that it’s the default winner. Granted, the Oscars don’t always play out in the most logical way, but in this case, I think “The Zone of Interest” crew can start writing their speech already.  

My pick: "The Zone of Interest"

“The Zone of Interest” was my least enjoyable trip to the movies in 2023, and I mean that as a compliment. Focusing on the commanding officer of the Auschwitz concentration camp — a place I visited in 2022 — the movie is hugely harrowing, and its use of sound is remarkable. “Society of the Snow” is also very good, but “The Zone of Interest” must surely win this. 

Best Documentary Film

(Image credit: Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo / Mstyslav Chernov)
  • "Bobi Wine: The People's President"
  • "The Eternal Memory"
  • "Four Daughters"
  • "To Kill a Tiger"
  • "20 Days in Mariupol"

Predicted winner: "20 Days in Mariupol"

“20 Days in Mariupol” explores Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that started in 2022 and displays the horrific things that humans will do to each other, but also how people find hope and strength in the most difficult circumstances. It’s a timely and vital watch and has the credit in the bank from previous wins at BAFTA and DAG to make its Oscars triumph very likely. 

My pick: "20 Days in Mariupol"

I’ll admit I’m not a huge documentary watcher, so I don’t have the full scope to judge this category fairly, but I’ll be pleased if “20 Days in Mariupol” wins, and I'm preparing myself for what would almost certainly be a very moving speech should that happen.  

Best Cinematography

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)
  • "El Conde"
  • "Killers of the Flower Moon"
  • "Maestro"
  • "Oppenheimer"
  • "Poor Things" 

Predicted winner: "Oppenheimer"

“Oppenheimer” won't just take home the night’s biggest prizes, it’s also likely to clean up on the more technical awards, one of which will surely go to Hoyte van Hoytema. The cinematographer has been nominated several times in the past, so this will be well-earned.  

My pick: "Poor Things"

I will have no complaints if “Oppenheimer” takes this, but I’d love to see a win for “Poor Things”. Robbie Ryan created several vistas that looked downright stunning. 

Best Editing

(Image credit: FlixPix / Alamy Stock Photo / Universal Pictures)
  • "Anatomy of a Fall"
  • "The Holdovers"
  • "Killers of the Flower Moon"
  • "Oppenheimer"
  • "Poor Things"

Predicted winner: "Oppenheimer"

“Oppenheimer” is a three-hour movie that flies by thanks to its note-perfect pacing and coherent narrative. A huge part of that is due to its editing by Jennifer Lame, it’s hard not to see that being recognized here.  

My pick: "Oppenheimer"

Jennifer Lame deserves this one for her work on “Oppenheimer”. The epic movie skips across timelines and shifts between viewpoints constantly and it all flows without a hitch. 

Best Production Design

(Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)
  • "Barbie"
  • "Killers of the Flower Moon"
  • "Napoleon"
  • "Oppenheimer"
  • "Poor Things"

Predicted winner: "Poor Things"

“Barbie” transported viewers to a world of plastic dreamhouses and bright pink corvettes, while "Poor Things" is set in a world that looks ripped straight out of a storybook. These two stands out compared to period pieces like “Napoleon”, “Oppenheimer” and “Killers of the Flower Moon” which all looked great but are less unique. It's a tight race, but I suspect this is where "Poor Things" gets its win. 

My pick: "Barbie"

I'd give “Barbie” this award. Barbieland looks phenomenal on screen. But my runner-up is “Poor Things”, so I won't be too disappointed if my prediction does come true. 

Best Costume Design

(Image credit: Alamy / Warner Bros. Pictures / FlixPix)
  • "Barbie"
  • "Killers of the Flower Moon"
  • "Napoleon"
  • "Oppenheimer"
  • "Poor Things"

Predicted winner: "Barbie"

The battle lines are being drawn between “Barbie” and “Poor Things”, and it’s a tough race to call. I figure the Academy may recognize that clothing from “Barbie” has already become iconic — Ken’s fur coat, Barbie’s rollerblading outfit — so that might tip it over the finish line in first.  

My pick: "Poor Things" 

“Barbie” had some great outfits, but Bella Baxter deserves to be a fashion icon as well for her creative garments on display in “Poor Things” so I’m picking the likely runner-up.   

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

(Image credit: Netflix)
  • "Golda"
  • "Maestro"
  • "Oppenheimer"
  • "Poor Things"
  • "Society of the Snow"

Predicted winner: “Maestro”

“Maestro” is the only nominee that only won awards at the Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards and I expect the Oscars will follow suit 

My pick: “Maestro”

It’s hard to argue with the sterling work done by Kazu Hiro and his team, so while I wasn’t a huge fan of “Maestro” overall, it would be a worthy winner in this category.   

Best Original Score

(Image credit: PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy Stock Photo / Universal Pictures)
  • "American Fiction"
  • "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny"
  • "Killers of the Flower Moon"
  • "Oppenheimer"
  • "Poor Things"

Predicted winner: “Oppenheimer”

In the past, the Academy has picked the movie with the most music, rather than necessarily the best score overall, but in this case, “Oppenheimer” has a lot of music, and it’s all absolutely vital to the viewing experience making it a deserved favorite.

My pick: “Oppenheimer”

Anytime John Williams is nominated for this award a part of me is going to want him to win, but “Oppenheimer” deserves to take the Oscar. Its score is impeccable. 

Best Original Song

(Image credit: Jaap Buitendijk)
  • "The Fire Inside" from "Flamin' Hot"
    Music and lyrics by Diane Warren
  • "I'm Just Ken" from "Barbie"
    Music and lyrics by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt
  • "It Never Went Away" from "American Symphony"
    Music and lyrics by Jon Batiste and Dan Wilson
  • "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" from "Killers of the Flower Moon"
    Music and lyrics by Scott George
  • "What Was I Made For?" from "Barbie"
    Music and lyrics by Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell

Predicted winner: "What Was I Made For?" from "Barbie"

There’s no Bond theme this year, so at least Best Original Song has a slightly competitive edge, but it is only a slight one as “What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie” looks very likely to scoop this Oscar. It would be Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell’s second Oscar after previously winning for Bond tune “No Time to Die” (told you the Oscars love awarding Bond themes) in 2022. 

My pick: "I'm Just Ken" from "Barbie"

There’s only one correct answer. “I’m Just Ken” should be taking this award, without a doubt. But unfortunately, barring a huge upset, that’s not just not on the cards. At least Ryan Gosling performing the earworm live will be a suitable consolation.  

Best Sound

(Image credit: PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy Stock Photo / Universal Pictures)
  • "The Creator"
  • "Maestro"
  • "Mission: Impossible"
  • "Oppenheimer"
  • "The Zone of Interest"

Predicted winner: "Oppenheimer"

“Oppenheimer” looked like a shoo-in until “The Zone of Interest” started to pick up some speed. The safe bet would suggest that Nolan’s movie will still nab this one, but don’t be surprised if Tarn Willers and Johnnie Burn end up taking to the stage.  

My pick: "The Zone of Interest"

There really should be only one winner here and that’s “The Zone of Interest”. The movie's use of sound to unsettle viewers genuinely had me shivering in my cinema seat and feeling more uneasy than any horror movie I’ve ever watched. 

Best Visual Effects

(Image credit: Toho)
  • "The Creator"
  • "Godzilla Minus One"
  • "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
  • "Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One"
  • "Napoleon"

Predicted winner: "Godzilla Minus One"

“Godzilla: Minus One” was made on a budget of less than $15 million and yet its effects look more realistic than movies which cost north of $200 million to make (yes, I’m calling out “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania”). Based on previous awards, “The Creator” could offer Godzilla a challenge, but I think the voters will side with the monster movie.  

My pick: "Godzilla Minus One"

It would take a braver man than me to stand against Godzilla, so I’ll back “Minus One”. Although, I will note that “The Creator” created (pun intended) an original sci-fi universe that felt real, and it’s a shame it wasn’t seen by more people, it’s super overlooked.  

Best Live Action Short Film

(Image credit: Netflix)
  • "The After"
  • "Invincible"
  • "Knight of Fortune"
  • "Red, White and Blue"
  • "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar"

Predicted winner: "The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar"

The live-action short Oscar often recognizes up-and-coming filmmakers but this year, it’ll likely go to an industry veteran as Wes Anderson's “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” is the clear favorite.  

Best Animated Short Film

(Image credit: BFA / Alamy Stock Photo / Miyu Distribution)
  • "Letter to a Pig"
  • "Ninety-Five Senses"
  • "Our Uniform"
  • "Pachyderme"
  • "War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko"

Predicted winner: "Letter to a Pig"

“Letter to a Pig” is an animated short about a Holocaust survivor telling their story to a young girl, and a likely winner. But it's not a lock as it will face stiff competition from “War is Over!” which was produced by Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono.  

Best Documentary Short Subject

(Image credit: MTV)
  • "The ABCs of Book Banning"
  • "The Barber of Little Rock"
  • "Island in Between"
  • "The Last Repair Shop"
  • "Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó"

Predicted winner: "The ABCs of Book Banning"

"The ABCs of Booking Banning" explores the mass banning of books in the state of Florida. And looks a good bet to win. It's main competition is "The Repair Shop" which comes a previous winner (Ben Proudfoot) and a previous nominee (Kris Bowers).

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