2024 Oscar Nominations: Wishful Expectations vs. Potential Realities


Frances Walton ’26 and Belén Yudess ’25
Copy Editor and Copy Editor Intern

Campus-wide Grammy’s rainy-day watch parties and Super Bowl Sunday shenanigans have left us excited to see how Scrippsies celebrate the 2024 Oscars! This year’s featured films produced a plethora of 2023’s most popular fan edits (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse) and meme-worthy phrases (a tie between “SUBLIME!” and “Do you guys ever think about dying?”). Whether you dedicated six hours of your life to “Barbenheimer” or spent your summer rewatching the hit computer-animated film Barbie in the Nutcracker instead, here are our expectations (hopes) vs. reality (probable outcomes) of a handful of this year’s nominees.    


Best Picture

Expectation: Oppenheimer 

Oppenheimer had some large shoes to fill this box office season, and it delivered. From the star-studded cast, remarkable score, complex yet clean cinematography, and nuanced plot, Oppenheimer lived up to the fanfare of “Barbenheimer.” 

Oppenheimer follows the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), lead scientist of the Manhattan Project during World War II who was dubbed the “father of the atomic bomb.” The almost three-hour film covers Oppenheimer’s early days as a budding physicist, his time at the Los Alamos Laboratory constructing and eventually creating the atomic bomb, and his investigation and governmental downfall at the hands of United States Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Levi Strauss (Robert Downey Jr).

Christopher Nolan knows how to tell a story. Oppenheimer’s success lies in its rich and oftentimes morally conflicting plot. Regardless of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s fame and scientific success, he was a man who caused catastrophic amounts of suffering and destruction, both in Japan and among the Indigenous communities displaced and poisoned by his nuclear experiments. 

Although the film could have addressed the latter reality much more than it did, it never shies away from the distress Oppenheimer caused or experienced over his direct contribution to death and disease. Aside from the several sexual escapades it portrays, the majority of Oppenheimer’s personal narrative stems from his guilt and regret over his creation and its potential to one day destroy the world. It is this moral resignation and questioning that gives Oppenheimer an edge and causes those three hours to fly by. Also, when your cast is so jam-packed with big names that Rami Malek is given a minor role with one line, something is going right.

Reality: Oppenheimer

Best Actress

Expectation: Lily Gladstone for Killers of the Flower Moon

The critical consensus is that the Best Actress race is between Lily Gladstone and Emma Stone, who gave multilayered and fine-tuned performances of complex women through their roles. While I loved both performances, Gladstone edged out Stone in my heart. 

Gladstone’s greatest strength is her ability to portray complexity in Mollie. Her role was not easy; Mollie’s character contends with racism, love, sickness, and so much more, making her portrayal a challenge (to understate the situation). Nevertheless, Gladstone has mastered showing competing interests and emotions in her performance, compassionately relaying the complicated situations Mollie faces. Somehow, despite Mollie being bedridden for much of the movie, Gladstone can embody her character’s humanity with a grace that not many actors possess. 

While Mollie’s character is based on a real person, little information exists regarding her mannerisms or personality. With this in mind, Gladstone was required to both honor and recreate Mollie without much to base her character on. She took this hurdle in stride – not caricaturing or cheapening Mollie’s historical presence. Instead, I feel that she created a convincing and well-rounded portrayal, something not easily done. 

Side note: I am curious why Da’Vine Joy Randolph was slotted for supporting actress. If she were in this category, I would be rooting for her. 

Reality: Emma Stone for Poor Things

Best Actor

Expectation: Cillian Murphy for Oppenheimer

Cillian Murphy lived up to his esteemed title as my (Belén’s) cousin’s favorite actor and possibly his reputation as one of the “greatest Irish actors of all time.” With almost 30 years of acting under his belt, Murphy commanded the screen with a charisma and vulnerability that only an expert can achieve.

Murphy is able to seamlessly maneuver through Oppenheimer’s distinct portrayals: the frustrated genius, shameless womanizer, betrayed friend, and morally distraught scientist without batting an eye. There are various scenes where these switches happen quickly and subtly; specifically, the scene when Oppenheimer addresses the bombs’ role in helping the Allies win the war. Although Murphy’s tone is celebratory and secure, his slight pauses between words and vacant stare signify the internal strife Oppenheimer experiences as he realizes the extent of his work.     

From his confident strut, frenzied facial reactions, and sly smiles, Murphy reaffirmed his position as a top contender in Nolan’s rolodex of leading men for all his action-packed films.

Reality: Cillian Murphy for Oppenheimer

Best Supporting Actress

Expectation: America Ferrera for Barbie

America Ferrera has nothing to prove. Yet, she continues to set the bar high in every production she stars in, and her role in Barbie is no different. Ferrera’s powerhouse performance as Gloria, a Mattel employee who guides Barbie in the real world and dreams of designing her own dolls, exemplifies the actress’ dynamic range and exceptional acting. 

Ferrera’s talent shines through in her ability to ground her character in resilience and empathy. Whether showcasing the challenges of being a mom to a teenage daughter, the struggles of a woman working in a male-dominated industry, and the tribulations of being a friend, Ferrera imbues a certain level of grace in Gloria’s care towards others and humor in the ways in which she immediately reacts or responds to a situation. This balance is most evident in Ferrera’s heartfelt monologue regarding the unfair dichotomies of being a woman: as she vocalizes her character’s frustrations over society’s double standards towards women, Ferrara’s tone becomes firmer and her conviction lights up the screen.

Ferrera, whose family is from Honduras and has Indigenous roots in the country, continues to provide valued representation for the BIPOC community through her layered depictions of Latinx women, a legacy she maintains and highlights in Barbie.

Reality: Da’ Vine Joy Randolph for The Holdovers

Best Supporting Actor

Expectation: Ryan Gosling for Barbie

Camp deserves points, too (A.K.A. I don’t feel passionate about any of these actors, so I guess I will talk about Gosling and the academy). 

Gosling stepped outside of his comfort zone with his role in Barbie. While he is known for more emotional roles (á la La La Land), Gosling gave his whole heart to Ken and really dove into the campy fun that the role necessitated. His delivery was on point throughout the film, making Ken feel real and unreal, somewhat like a Barbie doll. This role spotlighted his greater acting range, charisma, and musical skills.  

But let’s be honest – I’d bet my single room that Gosling will not win this category. We all know that the Oscars can’t determine the best person to win a category every time, but they are biased toward more “serious” roles and films. Embodying a goofy character, rather than a heavier one, requires a lot of finesse from the actors in question. In fact, I’d guess that many esteemed actors, some on this list, would not touch Ken with a 10-foot pole. So, here’s to Ken. I hope he wins, at least to spite film bros who take movies too seriously. 

Reality: Robert Downey Jr. for Oppenheimer

Best Original Song

Expectation: “I’m Just Ken” by Andrew Wyatt and Mark Ronson from Barbie

Angsty first love gone wrong, throwbacks to the moves and jumpsuits of Grease, and the newly coined phrase “blonde fragility,” “I’m Just Ken” has it all! An equally electric and reflective ballad, this hit single from the recent Barbie movie quickly became an integral contribution to pop culture history.

What makes this song such a hoot is the absurdity of the lyrics. Let me preface this by saying that the deeper meaning of the song is powerful; constantly being compared to others is painful, and the only way to combat that is by realizing that you are Kenough. Indeed, that is a valuable message. But let us remember that these lyrics are coming from the mouths of dolls. The over-exaggerated reconciliation of the Kens and the several Ken puns embedded within this number grounds the song in comedy with sprinkles of quotable phrases. 

Like many, I, too, was skeptical after seeing Ryan Gosling in that faded blond wig and surfer boy aesthetic. Although Gosling is a seasoned actor and singer, as proven by his success in La La Land, embodying Ken is a tough undertaking. Watching Gosling take this song by the reins – in true “patriarchal” fashion – and deliver such an iconic performance proved that he was the true Kenergy of the song.

Reality: “What was I made for?” by Billie Eilish from Barbie


The Oscars will air March 10 at 4:00 p.m. PDT.   

Image Source: Ella Lehavi ’24

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