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Who Should Have Won the Oscars This Year?

Jonathan Castle
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Godfather Part II, Oscar winner Al Pacino took to the stage to present Best Picture.

The 96th Annual Academy Awards were held on the evening of March 10th, 2024. Emceed by Jimmy Kimmel for the 3rd time, the ceremony was filled with energy, anticipation, and moving speeches. The winners are chosen on merit, but also on their campaigns, their previous speeches, the For-Your-Consideration boxes sent to the voters, and their release date. So, disregarding this, let’s take a look at who should have won the Oscars this year.

Winners at the Oscars 2024: Who Should’ve Won and Who Actually Won?
Best Adapted Screenplay

Who Should’ve Won: Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Kelly Fremon Craig

From the seminal novel by Judy Bloom, the incredibly underrated Kelly Fremon Craig’s version of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret is imbued with sensitivity from the very first lines. Capturing the book's trademark sense of humor, Craig finds the same coming-of-age feeling that she found in her previous film, The Edge of Seventeen. It’s funny, heartfelt, and shockingly modern-feeling, despite its mid-century vintage. 


Who Did Win: American Fiction by Cord Jefferson

The award went to American Fiction by Cord Jefferson, from the novel Erasure by Percival Everett, a biting, unrelenting script that holds nothing back against its subjects while not losing its emotional core. 

Best Original Screenplay

Who Should’ve Won & Who Did Win: Anatomy of a Fall by Justine Triet & Arthur Harari

Alexa, play P.I.M.P. by Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band. Written by wife-and-husband duo Justine Triet and Arthur Harari, this courtroom-thriller by way of marital drama takes scalpel and knife to the relationship of two auto-fiction writers living in the French alps. When the husband takes a seemingly accidental fall out of their attic window, things prove to be more complicated than they first appear. With mature, sophisticated characterization and literary dialogue in no less than 3 languages, Anatomy of a Fall is the most insightful, nail-biting script of the year. 

Best Supporting Actor

Who Should’ve Won: Charles Melton in May December

Like a phoenix from the ashes of Riverdale, Charles Melton’s transcendent performance in Todd Haynes’s May December is the best of the year. He brings a childlike naivety to the role that conflicts with the maturity of the film surrounding him. It’s an impossible performance to describe in words; it needs to be seen and experienced. 


Who Did Win: Robert Downey, Jr.

There’s always a career win at the Oscars, luckily this time it was a deserving performance. Robert Downey Jr., from his career ups and downs, his imprisonment in the Marvel universe, and whatever happened with Dolittle, has always been a Hollywood favorite. And now, given a chance to shine as Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer, he finally gets his moment. It’s a performance rooted in envy and rage, and Downey Jr. brings out every one of those emotions with restraint and power. 

Best Supporting Actress

Who Should’ve Won: Rachel McAdams in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret 

Vastly undervalued by the Hollywood machine, Rachel McAdams’s performance in Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret takes perfect advantage of her natural comedic sensibility as well as her dramatic instincts. The role requires a warmth and wit that only an actress with McAdams’s resume could have. It’s a great performance, the kind of unsung performance that elevates its respective film. She absolutely should have been nominated. 


Who Did Win: Da’Vine Joy Randolph in The Holdovers

The award went to Da’Vine Joy Randolph in The Holdovers, whose performance elevates an admittedly archetypical character to a flesh-and-blood carrier of human experience. She’s astounding in the role, and absolutely deserving of the Oscar.


Best Leading Actor

Who Should’ve Won & Who Did Win: Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer

“I look at Oppenheimer as Cillian Murphy. [He] did such a good job [in the film],” Oakdale High junior Xaver Alexander shared. There’s a pressure to hold down an epic, one that is especially difficult to satisfy without divulging the instinct to play broad; Murphy never does this. He maintains sobriety throughout his depiction of the father of the atomic bomb. The film pulls no punches in its criticism of Oppenheimer, but Murphy still manages to elicit an emotional connectivity with the audience. His performance is the definition of a tour-de-force. 

Best Leading Actress

Who Should’ve Won: Lily Gladstone in Killers of the Flower Moon

Lily Gladstone's presence in Killers of the Flower Moon is not limited to her screen time. She presides over the movie with a harrowing presence, which “is riveting in [its] silent testimony to the horrors visited upon the Osage Nation and herself,” praised Heather Corridon, a film studies teacher at Oakdale High School. Gladstone is the glue that holds the film together. If her link is weak, the film collapses. Even outside of her performance here, Gladstone deserves the Oscar; her supporting performance in Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women is one of the most quietly astounding (and one of the most underappreciated) of the century thus far.


Who Did Win: Emma Stone in Poor Things

After Emma Stone was announced as the winner of this award, Richard Brody, the legendary New Yorker film critic, tweeted, “performances of conspicuous effort always win over quieter ones.” This is the evergreen gospel of the Oscars, one that proved true yet again with Stone’s bawdy performance as Bella Baxter. It’s a great performance, one of athletic dexterity and technical prowess, but one that cannot match up to Stone’s best work, or the work of other actresses this year. 

Best Director

Who Should’ve Won: Todd Haynes for May December

Not only does Todd Haynes direct the greatest acting trifecta of the year between Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton, but he also designs formally staggering setups and expressive framing unlike anything else this year. Taking cues from Bergman’s Persona and Winter Light, he crafts sequences told entirely through mirrors, he frames in a way which evokes feelings of dissonance, and he shoots a monologue to camera that is as unnerving as it is earth-shattering as performance art. Haynes is long overdue for his recognition at the Oscars.


Who Did Win: Christopher Nolan for Oppenheimer

The award, of course, went to Christopher Nolan for Oppenheimer, whose work is brilliant on a technical level. It’s the most obvious contender for the trophy, and it was a well deserved, if predictable, win. 


Best Picture of the Year

What Should’ve Won: Killers of the Flower Moon

I've been a fan of [Martin] Scorsese's work since my first encounter with Cape Fear as a teenager,” expressed Corridon. “His willingness to dig deep into his characters and unflinching perspective lends power and realism to his work that is frequently absent in that of others. Killers of the Flower Moon is no exception.” The story of the murder of the Osage, spun over the iconography of the American west, and punctuated by a coup-de-cinema denouement, Scorsese’s latest is the greatest triumph of his late-style thus far and is destined to leave a massive stamp on his filmmaking legacy. 


What Did Win: Oppenheimer

Erudite film critic (Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer), acclaimed director (First Reformed, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters), and revered writer (Taxi Driver, The Last Temptation of Christ)  Paul Schrader called Oppenheimer the “best, most-important film of the century,” and he’s not far off. Triumphant in its storytelling, form, and performances, riveting in its design, in its score, and its visuals, and devastating in its implications, in its twists, and in its imagery, Oppenheimer is the kind of obvious Best Picture winner that absolutely deserves its accolades. It’s a generational masterpiece, and the fact that the only film that even approaches it is a Scorsese, is even greater testament to its quality.

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About the Contributor
Jonathan Castle
Jonathan Castle, Editor
Jonathan is a Junior at Oakdale, in his second year of Journalism. He enjoys playing Trombone in both jazz and concert ensembles. He also loves watching and writing about classic movies, in both critical and historical contexts. He is very excited to be returning to the Oakdale Post this year!
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