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Oscar Predictions 2024: What Will Win This Year

Since 2017, I’ve written a massive breakdown of the Best Picture preferential ballot every year, trying to guess at how the votes might look every step of the way, and predicting how the eliminations will go, one by one, until finally the winner crosses the 50% of the vote threshold with the final elimination. In races with two major contenders, getting that granular with the ballot felt like an instructive and useful exercise. But not this year. The Academy refuses to ever release the votes, so we’ll never know if I’m right about this, but I think this is the first year of the preferential ballot (which has been in use since the Best Picture lineup expanded in 2009) that the winner will reach 50% of the vote without even needing a final elimination round. That’s how far ahead of the competition “Oppenheimer” is, and how much of a sure thing it is to win Best Picture. 

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

Other than Bong Joon-ho’s shocking upset over Sam Mendes in early 2020 (the last cool moment of that year before Covid ruined everything), Best Director has been the most boring Oscar category of recent memory, and you have to go back more than 20 years to find another real surprise. That streak won’t be ending this year, because as per usual, this is one of the safest bets on the board. Christopher Nolan is simply unbeatable here. 

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper, “Maestro”
Colman Domingo, “Rustin
Paul Giamatti, “The Holdovers”
Cillian Murphy, “Oppenheimer”
Jeffrey Wright, “American Fiction”

Here, on the other hand, we might have ourselves a real race. Despite Cillian Murphy winning the Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Screen Actors Guild Awards, Paul Giamatti is seen as a serious threat to pull the upset after also winning the Golden Globe (in the “Musical or Comedy” category) and the Critics Choice Award. 

I’m deeply tempted to pick Giamatti, who has a huge fan base among voters and is widely seen as one of the most criminally under-rewarded great actors out there. That’s a reputation that helps win Oscars. But Giamatti losing the SAG Award to Murphy feels like a glaring red flag. SAG loves Giamatti, and he’s won four times with that voting body. (In many ways, the huge percentage of SAG members who weren’t fortunate enough to be born with Cillian Murphy’s cheekbones may view Paul Giamatti’s career as the ultimate dream.) So if even SAG went with Cillian Murphy here, then he really may be unstoppable. 


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