2024 OSCARS: Weighing In on the BARBIE ‘Snubs,’ Thoughts on How the Race Is Shaking Up

The Oscar nominations have been announced and there has been a lot of discord. Here is our take on the supposed snubs, and our predictions for March 10.
96th Annual 2024 Oscars - Academy Awards

To the surprise of no one, when the nominations for the 96th Oscars were announced on Tuesday, Jan. 23, the Internet went crazy over who didn’t make the cut. As usual, what is supposed to be a celebration of the year in film turned into a political fight that forgot about the most important thing of all: the nominees and the biggest moments in their lives. It’s happened before (nobody remembers CODA winning the Oscar, everyone knows all about the Will Smith slap) and it will happen again.

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Before we get too deep into the discussion of who should have gotten the nomination and who should/will win, let me address something. My favorite movie of 2023 was Celine Song’s Past Lives; my #2? Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. (You can check out my top 15 here.)

The Issue of the Barbie ‘Snubs’ at the 2024 Oscars

Can we at least admit this debut for the 2024 Oscars got a little bit ridiculous? As it’s been well documented by now, the two women from Barbie who were all but guaranteed to be getting a solo nomination for the Oscars according to “all” the pundits and experts were director Greta Gerwig and lead actress Margot Robbie. (They both got nominations in other categories as co-writer and producer, respectively, but they are shared with other people.)

I don’t want to spend too much time on this because I strongly feel like there are bigger snubs that deserve the attention, and more importantly, nominees that deserve the spotlight (they will get all of it come March 10, of course). But I also need to say my piece here.

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

“Did you see that they didn’t nominate any women from the Barbie movie?” my partner asked me recently. That’s the level of misinformation that’s spread out into the world thanks to this ridiculous controversy. Of course, women from Barbie were nominated; not only in below-the-line categories but also in the Adapted Screenplay and Picture slots at the 2024 Oscars. And as forgotten by most, in the Supporting Actress category thanks to America Ferrera and her viral monologue.

True story, I predicted that Ferrera would get the nom but Robbie wouldn’t when I came out of my first screening of the movie. Of course, the words were lost to the wind, but that’s a small win I get to carry with me, even if no one else will believe me. In the end, it’s all about mounting a campaign, and America Ferrera just had the ultimate FYC clip.

Robbie’s non-nomination at the 2024 Oscars didn’t exactly surprise me. After all, the Academy already ignored her career-best work in last year’s Babylon, a performance so out there that it was on par with the movie and one that will eventually get recognized by the “cult classic” movement. I want to believe. Her work on Barbie was solid, but nothing to the levels of what she accomplished last year. Obviously, different competitive fields, but 2023’s Best Actress category was one to behold for the Oscars. (In fact, as I’ll argue, the actress that should get the statue isn’t even on the list.)

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The same rings true, and even more so, for Greta Gerwig. I prefer Barbie over any other film nominated in the Best Director category, but this isn’t about that. It’s about her own accomplishments. Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon had a lot of shortcomings, but most of them came through the (non-nominated) script by Eric Roth; the director’s work was impeccable. Yorgos Lanthimos, meanwhile, made a nearly unfilmable script his own — maybe you can make a similar argument for Barbie, but even though I liked that film better, there’s no denying that Poor Things is a staggering directorial achievement.

Chris Nolan is getting the trophy, as I’ll discuss in a moment, so there ain’t no kicking him out. Plus, much like Scorsese’s film, my issues with Oppenheimer come with at the script level. His directing work was amazing. Then there are the foreign films. If The Zone of Interest worked on any level for you, it was because of Jonathan Glazer’s direction, which I can see the argument why it’s considered in the Top 5 of the year.

Even if the film didn’t make my Top 15 list, I honestly might have nominated it — but here’s the most important thing: the Directors Guild nominated it, which just makes sense considering it’s a director’s movie. The weak link to me is Anatomy of a Fall. On the flip side to Oppenheimer or Killers of the Flower Moon, the strong point of that film is the script, which keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. Yet that still has to be complemented by strong work behind the camera, which Triet accomplished. (There’s also the fact that the directors’ branch likes to squeeze in a non-English-speaking nominee here.)

Barbie movie, 2024 Oscars

A direct comparison would be Top Gun: Maverick at last year’s Oscars. That film took the Best Picture nom and grossed around the same amount as Barbie did, but the lead actor and the director were left out of their respective categories. Would I have nominated Greta Gerwig? Possibly. But it’s damn hard for me to kick one out of this list. And the same goes for Margot Robbie, mostly because…

The Other Greta Snub at the Oscars

As I already mentioned at the beginning, Past Lives was my favorite film of 2023. Would I have pushed for Celine Song to get a nomination if I had an Oscars ballot? Perhaps, but I also admit that her direction wasn’t anywhere near the top of the list of that film’s accomplishments. The script is what made it so compelling, but that was complemented by the single greatest acting performance in any 2023 film, given by Greta Lee. That includes male and female, lead and supporting.

To say that Greta Lee wasn’t recognized for her work in this Oscars category is as unspeakable to me as the Barbie snubs were to half the Internet. The Lead Actress category is already pretty competitive in and of itself, so who would I have taken out? Well, anyone. My finger would go directly to Lily Gladstone, though. Not because her performance wasn’t worthy of a nomination; I just think it was the wrong category.

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Her character in Killers of the Flower Moon was a supporting one, secondary to Leo DiCaprio’s. But because of this dumb assumption that the female lead is automatically a co-lead, even if she’s absent for a whole third of the film because of the heavy-handed script, we now have to pretend like she had a similar amount of screen time as Leo did. It gets even worse when we start discussing the potential winners at this year’s Oscars.

Predicted Winners: How the Oscar Race Is Shaking Up

With 13 nominations at the 2024 Oscars, it’s kind of hard to picture a world in which Oppenheimer doesn’t take home the big categories, Picture and Director. Other races like Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay may be tougher to crack, though. Can the Barbie push get that film over the edge to win Best Picture? I honestly can’t see a world, no matter how big the controversy gets, in which the Academy gives this film the Best Picture.

The support for Oppenheimer is off the charts, so you can’t even make the “preferential ballot” argument most experts made last year to predict Everything Everywhere All At Once winning (long story short, a polarizing movie that would rank #1 on half the Academy’s list for Best Picture, but #10 on the other half, may have its chances hurt by the average #2 or #3 on the lists.) But honestly, I would just love to see some (non-slap) surprises. Here is how I think this year’s Oscars are going to play out:

Oppenheimer Christopher Nolan Cillian Murphy
Image via Universal Pictures

Best Picture: Oppenheimer winning (85% chance). Not only is it just the Academy’s favorite, but there isn’t much competition at this point. Maybe someone else will rise to the challenge like Moonlight did back in the 2016 season, but I don’t see films like American Fiction or Poor Things with enough steam yet.

Best Director: Chris Nolan wins (98% chance). Remember when every member of the DGA’s reaction to seeing Oppenheimer for the first time was posted/leaked to social media? Yeah, that’s about to pay off.

Best Actor: Paul Giamatti wins (70% chance). You might make the argument that a rising tide lifts all boats, and therefore Cillian Murphy could sneak in, but this just feels like Giamatti’s year.

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Best Actress: Lily Gladstone (65% chance). This is a two-horse race at this point, which is (Greta Lee’s snub aside) sort of why I wouldn’t have cared if Margot Robbie got the spot. Anyone other than Emma Stone and Lily Gladstone are afterthoughts (as much as I’m happy for Annette Bening). Gladstone has two things in her favor: Stone just won a Best Actress Oscar, and Gladstone represents the lost side of Killers of the Flower Moon, the Indigenous part of the story, so the Academy may want to do right by them because Scorsese and DiCaprio couldn’t.

Best Supporting Actor: Robert Downey Jr. (95% chance). If the Barbie controversy could potentially increase the movie’s chances of winning Best Picture (a slight increase, though), it kind of hurts Ryan Gosling’s in this category. He’s Downey Jr.’s only real competition, but at this point, all the Iron Man actor has to do is play it cool and not make insensitive jokes or be on the news for any reason at all.

Best Supporting Actress: Da’Vine Joy Randolph (95% chance). I’m tempted to give this a 100% chance, as I think it’s one of the few locks of the night, but nothing is impossible. The issue? Off the top of my head, I couldn’t tell you any other nominee aside from America Ferrera.

(l-r.) Dominic Sessa stars as Angus Tully, Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Mary Lamb and Paul Giamatti as Paul Hunham in director Alexander Payne’s THE HOLDOVERS, a Focus Features release. Credit: Seacia Pavao / © 2023 FOCUS FEATURES LLC

Best Original Screenplay: Anatomy of a Fall (50% chance). This is where it gets interesting, as David Hemingson’s The Holdovers could just as easily take it. I’m giving Justine Triet and Arthur Harari the edge based on a gut feeling. (By the way, another giant snub here, as Chloe Domont’s Fair Play screenplay should have made it in.)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Oppenheimer (50% chance). Similar to how the door for a Parasite sweep was opened with the screenplay category back in 2020, Oppenheimer‘s reign will start to be noticeable here. But this is also where the Academy’s Barbie fans might push back and give Greta Gerwig the Oscar. I’m not super confident about Nolan taking three statues.

Best Animated Feature: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (70% chance). There is no way in my mind this (sort of incomplete) film is deserving of the Oscar over The Boy and the Heron, but I’m not giving the award; I’m just predicting the odds. And it feels like Sony’s film just has all the momentum behind it.

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Best International Feature: The Zone of Interest (99% chance). I mean, come on! France messed up not submitting Anatomy of a Fall, but there is no way Spain’s Society of the Snow can overcome the fact that Glazer’s movie is competing in the two biggest categories of the night.

Best Live-Action Short Film: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (90% chance). This is the only short category I feel I can discuss, having seen Wes Anderson’s 40-minute-sharp film. And I feel like the Academy will act the same way.

Best Cinematography: Oppenheimer (60% chance). If Oppenheimer loses this one, Nolan and his team can probably start shaking about other categories like Adapted Screenplay. He faces stiff competition with Poor Things and Killers of the Flower Moon, even if this category also has another of the Big Snubs: How did Saltburn not get in?

Killers of the flower moon
Image via Paramount Pictures, Apple Films

Best Costume Design: Barbie (70% chance). If they don’t recognize Barbie in at least this category, what are they doing?

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Maestro (70% chance). Give that nose job an Oscar!

Best Original Song: “What Was I Made For?” (51% chance) I go back and forth on this one, and it’s a coin toss at this point. “I’m Just Ken” has all the momentum in my opinion, but Billie Eilish’s tune just sounds like an Oscar winner. I will likely change my mind 10 more times before Oscar night.

Best Original Score: Oppenheimer (65% chance). Ludwig Göransson already won an Oscar not too long ago, so I’m not giving him higher odds. But the other candidates seem rather dull. I mean, after forgetting Joe Hisaishi’s work on The Boy and the Heron, I don’t know what else to say about this category…

Best Production Design: Poor Things (70% chance). I’m going with this on a gut feeling as well, as I found this aspect of Yorgos Lanthimos’ film completely captivating and definitely one of its highlights.

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Best Film Editing: Oppenheimer (90% chance). I have a few problems with the third act of Oppenheimer, but the reason it was at all watchable is because of the outstanding editing. If that film deserves one Oscar this year, it’s this. Perfect job.

Best Sound: The Zone of Interest (90% chance). If there is one takeaway to be had from how The Zone of Interest was made it’s not the use of a dozen cameras to capture the lives of these characters; it’s the sound design that speaks for itself.

Best Visual Effects: The Creator (90% chance). This is one of those movies that has a narrative, which is fundamental when pushing for an award at the Oscars. Gareth Edwards’ sci-fi epic looks like a $300M movie on a $80M budget. That gets printed on FYC ads. (You might argue that Godzilla Minus One can have a similar logline, but 1) The Creator did it first, which counts, and 2) we all have read by now about the tyrannical working conditions in Japan for visual effects studios.)

Ultimate prediction: The media will be filled with “Barbenheimer won the most Oscars” headlines on March 11. 100% chance of happening.

See you after Oscar night! The 2024 Oscars will air live on Sunday, Mar. 10. The show will be broadcast live on ABC. It should be interesting to see how the Oscars race pans out in a couple of months≥

What do you think of the 2024 Oscars? Who do you think will win the top Oscars categories? Do you feel Barbie was snubbed? Let us know your thoughts about the 96th Annual Academy Awards on The Illuminerdi’s social media.

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