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Linden’s Cut: The 2024 Oscar nominations


It’s that time of the year again. The Oscar nominations are officially in, and I’m satisfied with a lot of these categories. I have not seen every nominated film on this list and I will not go over each of the 24 categories but I will focus on ten of them: Score, Sound, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Screenplay (Adapted and Original), Actress, Actor, Director, and Picture.

Best Original Score

  • “American Fiction” – Laura Karpman
  • “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” – John Williams
  • “Killers of the Flower Moon” – Robbie Robertson (posthumous)
  • “Oppenheimer” – Ludwig Göransson
  • “Poor Things” – Jerskin Fendrix

Who I want to win: Ludwig Göransson, “Oppenheimer”

Why I want it to win: The score is some of the best I’ve ever listened to in a Christopher Nolan film, especially the scene leading up to Trinity, which is suspenseful enough to induce anxiety. It sounds like something straight out of a horror film. This score is easily the best of the five nominees because not only was it memorable and added depth. It’s a score that will stick with you for a long time.

Best Sound

  • “The Creator” – Ian Voight, Erik Aadahl, Ethan Van der Ryn, Tom Ozanich and Dean Zupancic
  • “Maestro” – Steven A. Marrow, Richard King, Jason Ruder, Tom Ozanich and Dean Zupancic
  • “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” – Chris Munro, James H. Mather, Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor
  • “Oppenheimer” – Willie Burton, Richard King, Gary A. Rizzo and Kevin O’Connell
  • “The Zone of Interest” – Tarn Willers and Johnnie Burn

Who I want to win: Chris Munro, James H. Mather, Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor, “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”

Why I want it to win: It’s the first time the series got recognized by the Academy and the sound mixing made the film intense and exciting to watch. During the action sequences, the unforgettable score by Lorne Balfe is in the background which makes the scenes more intense particularly in the climax involving a train as well as the famous scene of Ethan Hunt literally driving a motorcycle off a cliff which he trained quite extensively for that scene.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Emily Blunt – “Oppenheimer” as Kitty Oppenheimer
  • Danielle Brooks – “The Color Purple” as Sofia
  • America Ferrera – “Barbie” as Gloria
  • Jodie Foster – “Nyad” as Bonnie Stoll
  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph – “The Holdovers” as Mary Lamb

Who I want to win: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, “The Holdovers”

Why I want her to win: Her performance as Mary Lamb, a mother trying to move on from the death of her son, who was killed serving in Vietnam, was excellent. I really felt like I was watching someone trying to move on. In her touching acceptance speech at the British Academy Film Awards, Randolph said about her character, “she shows us all what is possible when you look beyond your differences and how healing the simple act of empathy can be.”

Best Supporting Actor

  • Sterling K. Brown – “American Fiction” as Clifford “Cliff” Ellison
  • Robert De Niro – “Killers of the Flower Moon” as William King Hale
  • Robert Downey Jr. – “Oppenheimer” as Lewis Strauss
  • Ryan Gosling – “Barbie” as Ken
  • Mark Ruffalo – “Poor Things” as Duncan Wedderburn

Who I want to win: Robert Downey Jr., “Oppenheimer”

Why I want him to win: Robert Downey Jr. has been dominating other major awards, and rightfully so. His performance as Lewis Strauss is unlike anything I’ve seen from him. Seeing him go from Tony Stark/Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to this far more serious role based on a real person shows his dynamic range as an actor. Lewis Strauss was an incredibly complex person being widely admired and receiving  a Presidential Medal of Freedom award from President Dwight Eisenhower but had a personal vendetta against Oppenheimer and was responsible for the hearings that revoked Oppenheimer’s clearance, resulting in his fall from grace.

Best Original Screenplay

  • “Anatomy of a Fall” – Justine Triet and Arthur Harari
  • “The Holdovers” – David Hemingson
  • “Maestro” – Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer
  • “May December” – Screenplay by Samy Burch; Story by Samy Burch and Alex Mechanik
  • “Past Lives” – Celine Song

What I want to win: David Hemingson, “The Holdovers”

Why I want it to win: From start to finish, “The Holdovers” had an engaging story that balanced emotional drama with witty humor, which is pretty difficult to do in certain films. It’s a slow film, but not in a way that drags the pacing of its 133 minutes. It also captures the 1970s really well from the overall look of the film to the costumes to even the studio logos at the beginning of the film. It opens with 70s themed Universal, Focus Features, and Miramax logos as well as a vintage Rated R sign from the MPAA. Not only does it look like the 70s but it feels like it was made in the 70s with updated technology.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • “American Fiction” – Cord Jefferson; based on the novel “Erasure” by Percival Everett
  • “Barbie” – Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach; based on characters created by Ruth Handler
  • “Oppenheimer” – Christopher Nolan; based on the biography “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin
  • “Poor Things” – Tony McNamara; based on the novel by Alasdair Gray
  • “The Zone of Interest” – Jonathan Glazer; based on the novel by Martin Amis

What I want to win: Christopher Nolan, “Oppenheimer”

Why I want it to win: Christopher Nolan wrote “Oppenheimer” from the first person point of view including stage directions. Rather than “Oppenheimer walks to the room.” it was written as something like “I pick up a glass.” Nolan wrote “Oppenheimer” that way to really show us into Oppenheimer’s mind. This is the first time Nolan has done this and this is very unusual for a typical screenplay. Nolan also wrote it from two different perspectives; Oppenheimer’s in color and Lewis Strauss’ in black and white. This helps make “Oppenheimer” a unique and powerful narrative. Unlike Nolan’s previous film “Tenet,” which was disappointing due to its confusing narrative, “Oppenheimer” never confused me and it got better upon rewatch because of its engaging dialogue and carefully crafted character study.

Best Actress

  • Annette Bening – “Nyad” as Diana Nyad
  • Lily Gladstone – “Killers of the Flower Moon” as Mollie Burkhart
  • Sandra Hüller – “Anatomy of a Fall” as Sandra Voyter
  • Carey Mulligan – “Maestro” as Felicia Montealegre
  • Emma Stone – “Poor Things” as Bella Baxter

Who I want to win: Lily Gladstone, “Killers of the Flower Moon”

Why I want her to win: As much as I loved Emma Stone’s wild performance as Bella Baxter in “Poor Things,” Gladstone was the heart and soul of “Flower Moon”. Her performance as Mollie Burkhart was very subtle through the emotions she was going through and I really sympathized with her character in the midst of unspeakable events she and her family face. I’ve never seen Gladstone in anything until this point and she really knocked it out of the park especially acting with two of Scorsese’s longest collaborators DiCaprio and De Niro. Gladstone also learned how to speak the Osage language in preparation for her role.

Best Actor

  • Bradley Cooper – “Maestro” as Leonard Bernstein
  • Colman Domingo – “Rustin” as Bayard Rustin
  • Paul Giamatti – “The Holdovers” as Paul Hunham
  • Cillian Murphy – “Oppenheimer” as J. Robert Oppenheimer
  • Jeffrey Wright – “American Fiction” as Thelonious “Monk” Ellison

Who I want to win: Paul Giamatti, “The Holdovers” or Cillian Murphy, “Oppenheimer”

Why either should win: Cillian Murphy gave the performance of his career as J. Robert Oppenheimer, and I truly believed Murphy was Oppenheimer through his dialogue and his body language. The two best scenes with Oppenheimer are when he is giving a speech shortly after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and he has terrifying visions. The sound drowns out and while Oppenheimer is trying to keep it cool, he can’t help but feel incredibly guilty about building the bomb. The other is right before the Trinity Test he goes up to the tower to see the bomb alone and without dialogue simply has the face of “What have I done?” 

Paul Giamatti as Paul Hunham may seem like a cynical teacher at Barton Academy but as he develops a bond with one of his students, Angus (Dominic Sessa) and Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) he becomes much more sympathetic and complex especially during a scene where he explains to Angus that he was expelled from Harvard for hitting a classmate after being falsely accused of plagiarism. Paul Giamatti is cynical, heartwarming, sincere, and hilarious in the role which is very hard for an actor to nail all of those emotions and Giamatti made it seem effortless. Not a single minute was wasted when Giamatti was on screen and I really got behind the character of Paul Hunham through Giamatti’s performance.

Best Director

  • Justine Triet – “Anatomy of a Fall
  • Martin Scorsese – “Killers of the Flower Moon”
  • Christopher Nolan – “Oppenheimer”
  • Yorgos Lanthimos – “Poor Things”
  • Jonathan Glazer – “The Zone of Interest”

Who I want to win: Christopher Nolan, “Oppenheimer”

Why he should win: Christopher Nolan has forever impacted the film industry in so many different ways and it’s frustrating to see that he’s never won an Academy Award despite previous nominations before. Nolan’s directing brilliantly explores Oppenheimer’s conflicted personal and professional life in a non-linear way and I learned so much more about Oppenheimer than I ever would’ve known in a History class. In the words of Lizzo, it’s “About Damn Time” for him to finally take home his Oscar that has long evaded him. When Christopher Nolan delivers, he delivers with explosive style.

Best Picture

  • “American Fiction” – Ben LeClair, Nikos Karamigios, Cord Jefferson and Jermaine Johnson, producers
  • “Anatomy of a Fall” – Marie-Ange Luciani and David Thion, producers
  • “Barbie” – David Heyman, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley and Robbie Brenner, producers
  • “The Holdovers” – Mark Johnson, producer
  • “Killers of the Flower Moon” – Dan Friedkin, Bradley Thomas, Martin Scorsese and Daniel Lupi, producers
  • “Maestro” – Bradley Cooper, Steven Spielberg, Fred Berner, Amy Durning and Kristie Macosko Krieger, producers
  • “Oppenheimer” – Emma Thomas, Charles Roven and Christopher Nolan, producers
  • “Past Lives” – David Hinojosa, Christine Vachon, and Pamela Koffler, producers
  • “Poor Things” – Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone, producers
  • “The Zone of Interest” – James Wilson, producer

What I want to win: “Oppenheimer”

Why it should win: A lot of films that came out this summer bombed such as “The Flash,” “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” most of them due to bloated budgets. “Oppenheimer” was not that case. It was a $100 million, 3 hour rated-R biographical drama that ended up surpassing expectations and went on to gross almost $1 billion (you can partially thank “Barbie,” also a Best Picture nominee.) Though “Oppenheimer” may not be Nolan’s best work, almost every aspect of this film from the script and direction from Nolan to the incredible performances by the cast to the editing to the story helped make this film tower over the nominees.

Overall, I am happy with the nominees and I’m glad to see that “Mission: Impossible” finally got recognized after its previous installments were overlooked. If I had to go over any snubs here’s what they would be:

  • Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Actor for “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
  • “The Iron Claw” for Best Picture, Director, Actor for Zac Efron, Supporting Actor for Jeremy Allen White, and Original Screenplay
  • Eric Roth and Martin Scorsese for Best Adapted Screenplay for “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
  • “Past Lives” for Best Director, Best Actor for Teo Yoo and Best Actress for Greta Lee.
  • Charles Melton for Best Supporting Actor for “May December.”
  • “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” for Best Picture, Visual Effects, Sound and Editing.
  • Swap out Mark Ruffalo with Willem Dafoe for Best Supporting Actor for “Poor Things.”
  • “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” for Best Original Song for “Can’t Catch Me Now” by Olivia Rodrigo.

I wish all those who were nominated the best of luck and I’m intrigued to see who ends up winning.

Commentary writer Linden Lansberry can be reached at [email protected]

If you would like to submit a reaction to a piece, Letter to the Editor or other submission, please send it to commentary editor Price Wilborn at [email protected] or [email protected]

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