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Academy awards
Analysis
Educational exposure of ideas, assumptions or hypotheses, based on proven facts" (which need not be strictly current affairs) Value in judgments are excluded, and the text comes close to an opinion article, without judging or making forecasts , just formulating hypotheses, giving motivated explanations and bringing together a variety of data

2024 Oscar nominations: For once, let’s talk about good cinema

The Academy Award nominees show that it’s been a year of amazing movies. What’s more, these are the very films that are in the running for a statuette — hallelujah!

Image from 'Anatomy of a Fall,' directed by Justine Triet.
Image from 'Anatomy of a Fall,' directed by Justine Triet.
Gregorio Belinchón

In the book Adventures in the Screen Trade, the legendary screenwriter William Goldman tried to guess which film had won the Oscar in 1939. There were so many exceptional movies that year, it was hard to pick a winner. Was it this masterpiece? Or this other one?

The 2023 season, which will end with the 96th edition of the Academy Awards on Sunday, March 10, has also been one for the history books, both in Hollywood and across the world. This international shift is only recent: the Korean movie Parasite blazed the trail when it won the 2020 Oscar for Best Picture.

This year is historic because while Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer (a big studio film, with Hollywood’s official stamp of approval) has picked up the most nominations — 13 —, it is followed by Poor Things, by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, a darling of the U.S. indie movie scene, which has been nominated for 11. Then there is Martin Scorsese, who at 81 years of age is the oldest person to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Director for Killers of the Flower Moon, which has 10 nominations. That movie is followed by Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, with eight.

The French film Anatomy of a Fall is nominated in five categories — all of them important — best film, direction, original screenplay, lead actress (for Sandra Hüller, the star performer of 2023) and editing. The Zone of Interest, by Jonathan Glazer, a British movie in German, also picked up five nominations. Of the 10 movies competing for Best Picture, three are not in English (the triumph of subtitles), and the five nominees for Best Documentary Feature are not from the United States. This is particularly striking since American Symphony, with the backing of Netflix and the Obamas, was tipped to win the Oscar, and in the end, it wasn’t even nominated.

The Academy Awards said that 11,000 people from 93 countries were eligible to vote this year, and that has been key.

Género neogótico
Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo, in the Paris of 'Poor Things.'Yorgos Lanthimos

Three of the 10 movies nominated for Best Picture are directed by women, but there is fiery debate about how the Barbie stars have been snubbed. While Gerwig is nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, she was not nominated for Best Director, while Margot Robbie was overlooked in the Best Actress category. Another female director has been nominated — French filmmaker Justine Triet — but it seems that Gerwig was squeezed out by Scorsese. Robbie’s snub is even more glaring. Carey Mulligan in Maestro, and Annette Bening in Nyad, both put in fine performance, but this year belonged to the Australian actress.

Fortunately, America Ferrara was nominated for Best Supporting Actress (possibly at the expense of Penélope Cruz for Ferrari) because otherwise, the only other Barbie cast member to have received a nod would have been... Ken (little is said about Ryan Gosling’s impressive performance).

Who then are the winners of the Oscars? Well, firstly, good cinema, which has popped up in the categories for Best Picture and Best Feature Film (the Italian movie Me Captain by Matteo Garrone beat out the Finnish film Fallen Leaves).

Secondly, the Cannes Film Festival: nine film of its official selection have been nominated for Best Picture, including the winner of the Palme d’Or (Anatomy of a Fall) and the Grand Jury Prize (The Zone of Interest). Thierry Frémaux, the director of the Cannes Film Festival, would have been smiling from ear to ear when the nominees were announced, just as he did at the Golden Globes, sitting at the table of Anatomy of a Fall, which won three key prizes.

Let’s look at the other records being set this year. Wes Anderson, thanks to The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar, which has been nominated for Best Live Action Short Film, has now received nominations in five different categories (although Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón has been nominated in six).

Composer John Williams, with his nomination for Best Score for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny D, has become, at 91, the oldest person to be nominated for an Oscar in any category. This incidentally is his 54th nomination.

Thelma Schoonmaker, Scorsese’s editor and right-hand man since the late 1960s, has received her ninth nomination at the age of 84. And Lily Gladstone, the star of Killers of the Flower Moon, is the first Native American woman to be nominated in the Best Actress category. It’s tricky terminology. After all, Yalitza Aparicio was heralded as the first Indigenous woman to be nominated for the same award in 2019, for her role in Roma.

Beyond the Barbie snubs (could it win Best Picture even if it’s not nominated for Best Director, like Argo in 2012), the Academy Award nominees are a record of what at times can seem unprecedented: a year of good cinema.

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