Oscars 2024 Review: An Oppenheimer sweep…

…while Gosling, Stone and political issues seem to highlight the show’s incredible production.

By James Diss

Nobody rejoiced more than the academy after Sunday’s 96th official Academy Awards show was over. Things were destined to take a drastic turn when the show’s start was put back five minutes after many protestors blocked stars from arriving to this year’s red carpet.

But once the show got underway, Jimmy Kimmel shinned, delivering a controversy-free speech to ease the stars into their seats: Robert Downey Jr, first time nominees, and most importantly a good note on the importance of the strike affecting SAG-AFTRA members over the course of 2023, highlighting the importance of the workers we don’t see on screen, got things underway. Joined on screen by the backstage workers of Sunday’s ceremony, it was a stella moment. But lastly and most importantly, he highlighted the importance of Barbie and the snub of Greta Gerwig for her non nomination, which led to cheers from the crowd only for Kimmel to state, “You’re the ones who didn’t vote for her.” Bold but also honest.

Starting the first award off for Actress in a Supporting Role, this year’s event had a new addition that had not been seen since 2009: previous winners. Instead of the listing on nominees’, this year the Academy brought back five previous winners (including last year’s winner Brendan Fraser, which is an annual tradition), to highlight the work of this season’s stars. As many thought, Da’ Vine Joy Randolph won for her spectacular work as grief-ridden Mary in Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers. The first segment also offered up both the Original and Adapted Screenplay awards. Both Anatomy of a Fall written by Justine Triet and American Fiction by Cord Jefferson surprisingly beat both Barbie and Oppenheimer to this year’s awards. Note that Treit and Cord won on their first occasion of being nominated.

Next came the sweep of Poor Things who took home three awards in quick succession for Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, and Costume Design. But arguably the standout was Jimmy Kimmel and John Cena’s re-enactment of the 1974 show where a streaker interrupted David Niven’s introduction of Elizabeth Taylor. Yes, we did see a naked John Cena only to be covered up by the envelope he was holding.

Following on, the United Kingdom picked up an award for International Feature film, with Jonathan Glazer’s, The Zone of Interest winning the prize. Glazer used his speech to highlight the ongoing trouble in the Middle East stating victims of both sides of the conflict are victims of ‘dehumanisation’. Next, we saw as expected Robert Downey Jr picking up Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance as Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer. As ever, Robert was witty to his past errors dedicating the award to his terrible childhood.

The rest of the night belonged to Oppenheimer. Frequent collaborator of Nolan, Hoyte van Hoytema (Dunkirk, Interstellar, Ad Astra) won for his cinematography on the film. Nolan’s won for best director, dedicating the award to everyone who believed in him especially the last hundred years of movie history. Interjecting Emma Stone’s Oscar for Best Actress for her role as Bella Baxter in Poor Things, was a surprise as after her SAG win many thought Lily Gladstone’s performance in Killers Of The Flower Moon would take home the award. As ever, Stone suggested she was indebted to her fellow nominees. But she now goes on to join the elite company of Meryl Streep, Jane Fonda and Jodie Foster as a double winner. From here we saw the deserved Cillian Murphy overjoyed for his winning role as Robert J Oppenheimer being the first Irish born actor to win. He decided to use his time to suggest, “For better or worse, we’re living in Oppenheimer’s world now.”

Topping off the night Best Picture went to Oppenheimer with wife and collaborator of Nolan, Emma Thompson collecting the award, cementing herself as one of Hollywood’s A-listers. Thoughtout the ceremony the performance of ‘I’m Just Ken’ by Gosling stole the show with some suggesting the choreography was paying homage to Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’. Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell’s performance of ‘What Was I Made For’ also from Barbie, started the night off. The pair went on to win Best Original Song, making Eilish and Finneas the two youngest two-time winners in Academy History.

Overall, this ceremony was both refreshingly new while also still sticking to the traditional format. Towards the end Kimmel jabbed back at Trump after the former president used his time to rant at the thought of Kimmel returning to host last year. “Thank you for watching, I’m surprised you’re still… isn’t it past your jail time?”

Other highlights include Godzilla Minus One winning visual effects on a $15 million pound budget beating out the big Hollywood budget films. 20 Days in Mariupol won best documentary which was followed by a powerful speech on occupation by its director, Mstyslav Chernov. While Alexei Navalny, his speech on freedom, introduced the in-Memoriam segment with Andrea and Matteo Bocelli performing ‘It’s Time to Say Goodbye’.

It’s now time for me to say goodbye! This year’s circuit has been a good one, one of the best in a long time. Let’s see what the next year has to offer. With Cannes film festival in May, keep an eye out for new content soon!

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