These Are the Nominees Who Deserve to Win the Oscar

Forrest Hartman


Anyone who has followed the Oscars knows that factors outside artistic integrity play into the eventual winners. Must a film or performance be great to land a nomination? Generally, yes. But the art is only part of the equation. Studio support, marketing campaigns, the past work of a nominated artist, and even the reputation of key players have a role in determining winners. Therefore, we think it’s worthwhile to toss those factors aside and talk about who deserves to win this year’s Academy Awards.  



Cinematography: Killers of the Flower Moon

Why: Killers of the Flower Moon doesn’t rank among Martin Scorsese’s best, but it is beautiful to look at. Rodrigo Prieto’s (Brokeback Mountain, Babel) framing is gorgeous, and it gives the movie an epic feel without ruining the intimacy when character-driven moments need the focus. Prieto is masterful, and this film shows him at the height of his powers.



Animated Film: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

Why: This was the best superhero movie released in 2023, which – considering how crowded the genre has become – is something to be proud of. The scripting is smart, the animation is varied and appealing, and the voice actors are wonderful. This is also a comic book movie that includes subtle references for hardcore fans, while remaining accessible enough for newcomers to love.



Original Screenplay: The Holdovers

Why: With The Holdovers, television veteran David Hemingson proved he can write a stunning feature. Sure, it helped that his script was directed by Alexander Payne, with the help of a stellar cast. But actors are only as great as the roles they are given and the stories they are telling. Hemingson crafted a work for the ages.



Adapted Screenplay: Oppenheimer

Why: Prepare to read the name Oppenheimer a lot because everything about this film – including the script – is first rate. Sometimes a piece written by committee struggles, but Martin Sherwin, Kai Bird, and director Christopher Nolan formed a perfect collaboration. The movie asks viewers to ponder the wonders of science and the dangers of unchecked ambition, all while offering a history lesson on one of the world’s most fascinating historic figures.


Director: Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer

Why: It’s hard to decide where to focus when dissecting Oppenheimer. The pacing is taut. The editing is energetic. The performances are amazing. The visuals are stunning. Since a director is the captain of a cinematic ship, they play a role in all those areas, and Christopher Nolan again shows that few in the business can sail with him.



Supporting Actor: Ryan Gosling, Barbie

Why: What would it mean if Ryan Gosling were to win an Oscar for Barbie with Margot Robbie sidelined? Nothing good. That said, we’re putting politics aside. Gosling’s portrayal of a Ken doll come to life was thoughtful, funny, and just plain fun. The movie wouldn’t have worked without him any more than it would have without Robbie. Is it a problem that Gosling was nominated while Robbie was not? Absolutely. Is the problem that Gosling got a nod? Absolutely not.


Supporting Actress: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

Why: It’s not easy to go toe-to-toe with Paul Giamatti. Da’Vine Joy Randolph not only proved she can, she also stole some of his scenes. For a film that some classify as a comedy, The Holdovers is often remarkably sad, and much of that is because of the nuanced portrayal of grief that Randolph delivers. She is a Hollywood veteran, and her work here has earned her the notoriety she deserves.



Best Actor: Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers

Why: The fact that Paul Giamatti has made it to 2024 without claiming an Academy Award is shocking. He has turned in one astounding performance after another in films including, Sideways, Cinderella Man, American Splendor, Straight Outta Compton and Love & Mercy. But if he does win for The Holdovers, his Oscar shouldn’t be seen as a career achievement award. His portrayal of prep school history teacher Paul Hunham is so deep, that viewers may find themselves wiping away tears of both laughter and sadness. Good actors play roles. Giamatti inhabits them.


Best Actress: Margot Robbie, Barbie

Why: Obviously, much has already been made about Margot Robbie’s nomination snub for Barbie, and for good reason. Robbie took a beloved children’s doll and brought it to life in a way both fans and newcomers could appreciate. She didn’t just look like a classic Barbie doll, she became one. That’s what great actresses do. The fact that she wasn’t even nominated will likely be an embarrassing conversation point for years.


Best Picture: Oppenheimer

Why: Director Christopher Nolan’s meditation on the creation of the atomic bomb is an important film that was executed flawlessly. It also turned out to be a crowd-pleaser, which is hardly a given for a “smart” movie that asks viewers to critically examine the past. What more could one ask for?


Author Bio:

Forrest Hartman is Highbrow Magazine’s chief film critic.


For Highbrow Magazine


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