Oscars 2024: October Award Chances and Category Predictions

Welcome to my monthly Oscars analysis and prediction column. I originally planned on launching this column in September, shortly after TIFF but ultimately decided to wait until October. The one thing that I am thrilled to say about this year is that it is still anyone’s game, and I am not just talking about Best Picture. There is no real front-runner in any of these categories yet. There are sure bets for nominations, but I can’t comfortably say, “I think so and so will win Best Actor” because the categories are so stacked. Simply put, not enough people have seen most of the films in the conversation, except for Barbie and Oppenheimer. So let’s begin with those films, shall we?

There is no denying that Barbenheimer was a cultural phenomenon that took the entire industry by storm. These two films soared during a lackluster summer movie season, where countless films outright bombed or substantially underperformed. While box office success doesn’t typically align with award nominations or wins, these two films will likely receive multiple nominations and possible wins at the Oscars next March. Many say Oppenheimer is the current front-runner for Best Picture, as is Christopher Nolan for Best Director. While it’s hard to say whether that is entirely accurate, especially knowing that most Oscar voters have not seen a lot of the other films in the conversation, I agree that Oppenheimer’s chances in those two categories are very likely and are currently in the top three spots for both categories. In addition, I would add a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Robert Downey Jr is highly likely, as is Best Actor for Cillian Murphy, Ludwig Göransson’s score, Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography, and editing. Oppenheimer may also be nominated in other craft categories, including Sound.

Shifting gears to Barbie, whether you think the film is overrated, it’s hard to deny its impact at the box office and within popular culture. Barbie seems like this year’s Everything Everywhere All At Once, a sharp, innovative, and often satirical look at the world through the eyes of Barbie. Greta Gerwig deserves three nominations for Picture, Original Screenplay, and Director because her passion can be seen and felt in every frame of this film. I also wouldn’t rule out Margot Robbie receiving a Best Actress nomination, Ryan Gosling receiving a Best Supporting Actor nomination, or America Ferrara receiving a Best Supporting Actress nomination. However, where Barbie will shine the brightest and get the most love is in the craft categories. I think Barbie is a lock for Production Design, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Original Song. The film might also receive a nomination for Best Editing, but that is still up in the air.

Now, moving into the festival titles, it is very safe to say that Killers of the Flower Moon is likely to receive at least eight nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Actress for Lily Gladstone, Best Supporting Actor for Robert De Niro. Best Director for Martin Scorsese, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Production Design. I finally see the film on Thursday, so I can better assess what other categories the movie might end up being nominated in very soon.

Searchlight’s Poor Things, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, has become a critic and audience favorite thanks to several successful screenings at Venice, Telluride, and the New York Film Festival. While I wasn’t as high on this film as others, ignoring that Poor Things is a significant awards player would be silly. Like Barbie, I see this film receiving much recognition in the crafts categories. It is a shoo-in for a nomination in Costume Design, Cinematography, Score, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Production Design categories. A Best Picture nomination will also occur, and at this stage in the game, I would say that the film is in the top five of that category. An Adapted Screenplay nomination for Tony McNamara and a Best Actress nomination for Emma Stone are also in the film’s future. After much thought, Mark Ruffalo’s wacky, over-the-top performance should also land him a Best Supporting Actor nomination. The only category that I am not sure of at the moment for Poor Things is Best Director. The category is a bit of a bloodbath currently, but we’ve seen a lot of great directors overlooked even though their films have been nominated a lot. Some of the most recent examples include Dune and Argo.

For me, I think that The Holdovers could be the dark horse of the award season. It’s a film that almost everyone I know who has seen it has said that they enjoyed, with many saying that they loved it. The Alexander Payne film was a return to form for the critically acclaimed filmmaker and offers a lot to like, including a nice blend of humor and heart. Paul Giamatti and Da’Vine Joy Randolph are equally fantastic together, and I could see both ending up with nominations. However, I would say that a nomination for Joy Randolph is more likely than Giamatti since there are so many heavy hitters in this year’s Best Actor category. That said, I see The Holdovers in the top five for Best Picture. The film will also likely receive a Best Original Screenplay nomination because the writing is strong, and the dialogue is sharp and funny.

Let’s now look at Netflix and all of the films that they currently have in the conversation.

As always, Netflix has come to play with some serious contenders this year. Sadly, I have not seen Bradley Cooper’s Maestro yet, but I hope to do so in the weeks ahead. That said, I know quite a few people who have seen it, including a few whose opinions I trust implicitly. While Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Actress are very likely for a nomination, I heard very mixed things about the film’s direction. Now, without screening it, I cannot comment for sure, but that is what I have heard. I also can tell that this will likely be a film nominated for Cinematography, Score, and Makeup & Hairstyling. I don’t know what else the film will end up with, but I will update you later this month or early next month after seeing the movie.

Regarding the other Netflix titles, which include Nyad, Rustin, May December, Fair Play, The Killer, and Pain Hustlers, I think some may end up with a nomination or two, and others will be dead on arrival. I think it’s safe to say that The Killer, Fair Play, and Pain Hustlers will not be in the conversation. While I dug Fair Play, especially the performances by the two leads, I don’t see it connecting with award bodies. It seems a little too mainstream and divisive. Pain Hustlers bombed hard at TIFF, and I struggled to endure it. Emily Blunt tries hard to save that movie, but it isn’t good. The Killer, again, another film I have yet to see, seemed to have died in Venice. The reviews were mixed, and everyone already wrote it off, so I think it’s safe to say that nothing will happen with The Killer regarding awards.

This leaves Rustin, May/December, and Nyad. I liked Rustin and found Colman Domingo to be phenomenal in the film. There is no question about it: he is getting nominated and, in my opinion, deserves to win. The movie itself has a surprisingly short runtime and is a crowd-pleaser. I liked those two things a lot about the film, even though many have said that the film feels very paint by numbers, which I cannot argue or defend.

Nyad was a crowd favorite at Telluride, but I heard that the TIFF screenings didn’t play as strongly as they did at Telluride. Again, I think Annette Bening and Jodie Foster are both fantastic in the film, and I would love to see both of them get nominated. Will it happen? I don’t know. And finally, May/December, another film that I haven’t seen yet. That said, I did hear great things about the performances, but nothing remarkable about the film. Julianne Moore and Natalie Portman are insanely talented actresses, so I am not shocked that their performances are being discussed. The surprise here is that Riverdale’s Charles Melton is being hailed as the film’s MVP. I like Todd Haynes and the actors, so I am curious to see where this film ends up in the conversation, but right now, especially without seeing it, I don’t feel comfortable slotting it anywhere.

Moving over to Amazon Studios & MGM, they have my favorite line-up of all the studios this year and, in my opinion, offer the widest variety of films. Earlier this year, they released Creed III and Air in theaters. Both films did solid business at the box office and were universally praised by critics and audiences alike. Will these films be able to resurface in such a crowded award season? Who knows, but it might not hurt to try, and clearly, Amazon is pushing Air hard with over 50 FYC screenings between now and December. Can Amazon get Viola Davis in as a Supporting Actress nominee? It does seem somewhat possible.

In addition to Air and Creed III, the studio has the TIFF audience award winner, American Fiction, and Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn. I enjoyed both of these films for very different reasons. American Fiction is a film that I found to be the smartest and funniest film of the year, featuring a career-best performance from Jeffrey Wright. Saltburn has so much style while being wickedly crazy and super horny. I can see American Fiction getting a Best Picture, Actor, and Adapted Screenplay nomination. It’s almost like CODA in that sense. It’s not one of those films that will have 12-plus nominations, but I do see it getting where it needs to be. On the flip side, I think Saltburn has an uphill battle, given that Fennell loves to make films that push boundaries and divide audiences. I hope the movie is nominated a ton, but I think Cinematography and Production Design are the most likely. I would love to see the film end up in Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Director, but right now, I don’t think enough people have seen the film to get an overall vibe for how it will play out.

It’s also worth noting that Amazon/MGM also has Bottoms, which I loved; however, I don’t see it having much awards play, as well as the new George Clooney flick, The Boys in the Boat, which I heard nothing about and seems likely to be another Tender Bar.

Moving over to the Indie studios, we have Neon and A24, who always have films in the conversation and typically release edgy and exciting films.

Neon has Anatomy of a Fall, The Royal Hotel, Perfect Days, Ferrari, La Chimera, and Origin. Of Neon’s six award hopefuls, I have only seen Anatomy of a Fall and Perfect Days, which I enjoyed immensely. I am somewhat dumbfounded by the decision that France didn’t select Anatomy of a Fall for Best International Feature because it’s such a great film. That said, I hope the film will get nominated for Best Picture and Best Actress for Sandra Hüller because it deserves it. Perfect Days will likely be nominated for Best International Feature, and in an ideal world, Kōji Yakusho would be nominated for Best Actor. Will it happen? Maybe at the Spirit Awards, but highly unlikely at the Oscars.

I see Michael Mann’s Ferrari tomorrow and have inquired about seeing Ava DuVernay’s Origin. I heard mixed things about both films, but I will watch them with an open mind and will share my take as soon as I see them.

A24 has Priscilla, Dream Scenario, The Iron Claw, Past Lives, Beau is Afraid, All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt, and The Zone of Interest. Out of A24’s Awards line-up, I have seen six of the seven films. The only film that I haven’t seen yet is The Iron Claw. Year after year, A24 continues to be the arthouse movie studio that consistently releases major awards players, and this year is no different. While I don’t see many of their titles being nominated for an Oscar this year, A24 titles will pop up across several other award organizations, including Gothams, Spirit Awards, New York Film Critics Circle, and LAFCA, to name a few.

That said, I think the strong word of mouth between Past Lives and The Zone of Interest will give both films some love at the Oscars. I don’t see Zone of Interest getting nominated beyond the Best International Feature category, just because it’s not an enjoyable watch and was hard to sit through. Past Lives is the underdog this year, as it has had so much support since Sundance in January. I see the film landing one of the final slots for Best Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay. I wish Greta would be nominated, but the Best Actress category feels too competitive this year between Carey Mulligan, Emma Stone, Lily Gladstone, Fantasia Barrino, Margot Robbie, and Sandra Hüller. Is it possible? Absolutely, but most likely not by the Oscars, but rather by other award bodies/groups.

Lastly, before we get to the initial list of predictions in all categories minus the short films, let’s discuss The Color Purple. In my eyes, I do believe that The Color Purple will be a massive awards player and shake up the awards landscape. I don’t know how many people have seen Fantasia in The Color Purple on Broadway, but I will say that if her performance is just as good as it was on the Broadway stage, she’s coming and will win Best Actress. I also think the film will likely win Best Cast Ensemble at SAG, and Colman Domingo will be nominated for Best Supporting Actor on top of his Best Actor nomination. The film might end up being the most nominated film at the Oscars next year or in second place behind Oppenheimer.

Below is my first set of predictions for the 96th Annual Academy Awards.

Best Picture

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

Best Actor

1. Colman Domingo – Rustin
2. Leonardo Di Caprio – Killers of the Flower Moon
3. Bradley Cooper – Maestro 
4. Jeffrey Wright – American Fiction
5. Cillian Murphy – Oppenheimer

Best Actress

1. Fantasia Barrino – The Color Purple
2. Lily Gladstone – Killers of the Flower Moon
3. Carey Mulligan – Maestro
4. Margot Robbie – Barbie
5. Emma Stone – Poor Things

Best Supporting Actor

1. Robert Downey Jr. – Oppenheimer
2. Colman Domingo – The Color Purple
3. Ryan Gosling – Barbie
4. Mark Ruffalo – Poor Things
5. Robert De Niro – Killers of the Flower Moon

Best Supporting Actress

1. Taraji P. Henson – The Color Purple
2. Danielle Brooks – The Color Purple
3. America Ferrera – Barbie
4. Da’Vine Joy Randolph – The Holdovers
5. Viola Davis – Air

Best Director

1. Martin Scorsese – Killers of the Flower Moon
2. Christopher Nolan – Oppenheimer
3. Greta Gerwig – Barbie
4. Blitz Bazawule – The Color Purple
5. Celine Song – Past Lives

Best Original Screenplay

1. Barbie
2. Past Lives 
3. The Holdovers
4. Anatomy of a Fall
5. Saltburn

Best Adapted Screenplay

1. American Fiction
2. Killers of the Flower Moon
3. Poor Things
4. All of Us Strangers
5. The Color Purple

Best Animated Feature 

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
2. Wish
3. The Boy and the Heron
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem
5. Elemental

Best International Feature

1. Perfect Days
2. The Zone of Interest
3. The Taste of Things
4. The Promised Land
5. The Teachers’ Lounge

Best Cinematography

1. Oppenheimer
2. Saltburn
3. Poor Things
4. Killers of the Flower Moon
5. Maestro

Best Production Design

1. Barbie
2. Poor Things
3. The Color Purple
4. Killers of the Flower Moon
5. Oppenheimer

Best Editing

1. Oppenheimer
2. Ferrari
3. Poor Things
4. Killers of the Flower Moon
5. Barbie

Best Costume Design

1. Poor Things 
2. The Color Purple
3. Barbie
4. Maestro
5. Wonka

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

1. Poor Things 
2. The Color Purple
3. Barbie
4. Maestro
5. Wonka

Best Sound

1. Maestro
2. Oppenheimer
3. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
4. The Color Purple
5. Ferrari

Best Original Song

1. “This Wish” – Wish
2. “I’m Just Ken” – Barbie
3. “What Was I Made For?” – Barbie
4. “Peaches” – The Super Mario Bros. Movie
5. A Song From Wonka

Best Visual Effects

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
2. Oppenheimer
3. Rebel Moon
4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
5. The Creator 

Written by
Born in New Jersey, Scott Menzel has been watching film and television since he was three years old. Growing up, he watched as many movies as he could and was highly influenced by the films of Tim Burton, John Hughes, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg. Scott has an Associate's Degree in Marketing, a Bachelor's in Mass Media, Communications, and a Master's in Electronic Media. He has been writing film reviews under the alias of MovieManMenzel since 2003 and started his writing career as a contributing critic at IMDB.com and Joblo.com. In 2009, Scott launched MovieManMenzel.com where he posted several of his film reviews but in 2011 decided to shut down the site when he launched We Live Film.com. In 2015, We Live Film became We Live Entertainment. The domain name change occurred after months of debate but was done so that he and his fellow staff members could write about anything and everything in the world of entertainment.

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