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Eye on the Big O: Selection of favourite main stream roles from 96th Academy Awards

t2oS picks its favourites in the main categories

Priyanka Roy  Published 10.03.24, 11:49 AM
Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer

BEST ACTOR

Nominees:

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Bradley Cooper (Maestro)

Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer)

Colman Domingo (Rustin)

Paul Giamatti (The Holdovers)

Jeffrey Wright (American Fiction)

t2oS’ pick: Cillian Murphy for Oppenheimer

Why: Because his time has come in what is his career-best act. As Robert J. Oppenheimer, the man credited with inventing the atomic bomb and then haunted by its fallout for the rest of his life, Cillian Murphy not only turns in a performance that ticks all the best-of-the-best boxes, he also transcends into making the man a throbbing indictment of both fire and ice, embodying all that Christopher Nolan’s epic yet intimate film stands for.

Awards won so far: Golden Globe, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild Award

Also in the running: Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers. As a Scrooge-sque classics teacher in this Alexander Payne film, Giamatti’s performance is a masterclass, making the viewer, throughout the film, not only warm up to his cranky character, but also love him. That he has won a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Movie Award brings him into strong contention.

BEST ACTRESS

Nominees:

Annette Bening (Nyad)

Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon)

Sandra Huller (Anatomy of a Fall)

Carey Mulligan (Maestro)

Emma Stone (Poor Things)

t2oS’ pick: Lily Gladstone for Killers of the Flower Moon

Why: Making history by becoming the first Native American to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, Lily Gladstone is the (bleeding) heart and soul of Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece on grief and injustice. It is a sublime performance in which she steals every single scene, churning out screen time which is both haunting and memorable. Plus, who doesn’t want to see history being made?

Awards won so far: Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award

Also in the running: Emma Stone in Poor Things. In the most fiercely-contested category at this year’s Oscars, Stone is a powerhouse in the part of the adventurous and wild Bella in Yorgos Lanthimos’ steampunk ode to Frankenstein. It is, undoubtedly, a subversive act powered by both innocence and ingenuity.

BEST DIRECTOR

Nominees:

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)

t2oS’ pick: Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer)

Christopher Nolan on the sets Oppenheimer

Christopher Nolan on the sets Oppenheimer

Why: Because Oppenheimer is not a mere by-numbers biopic but a a towering and monumental achievement in both storytelling and scale. Nolan brings together an effective blend of historical documentary with dramatic thriller and biography and turns a complex and defining moment in history into a pulse-pounding thriller. Nolan has never won a Best Director Oscar and Oppenheimer is a good place to start.

 Awards won so far: Golden Globe, Directors Guild of America, Critics Choice Awards

Also in the running: Martin Scorsese for Killers of the Flower Moon. Though it seems like it is Nolan all the way, Scorsese, the 81-year-old auteur who continues to surprise, may pull off an upset. And with good reason, for in Killers of the Flower Moon, a haunting exploration of entitlement and colonisation, the filmmaker delivers his best work in recent times.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Nominees:

Sterling K. Brown (American Fiction)

Robert De Niro (Killers of the Flower Moon)

Robert Downey Jr (Oppenheimer)

Ryan Gosling (Barbie)

Mark Ruffalo (Poor Things)

t2oS’ pick: Robert Downey Jr for Oppenheimer

Why: He has had his share of ups and downs, delivered some solid acts on screen and played a superhero for over a decade. An Oscar is what will sit pretty on Robert Downey Jr’s mantle and he is more or less sure to take his first one home. As Oppenheimer’s primary nemesis, Lewis Strauss, the actor showcases his ability to play a complex and nuanced villain. In a part where he is barely recognisable, Downey Jr excels in not relying on his rough and ready charm but on his acting chops.

Awards won so far: Golden Globe, BAFTA, Screen Actors Guild Award

Also in the running: Mark Ruffalo for Poor Things. RDJ’s Avengers pal is the only one who can pull off an upset. In a role which has been colourfully described as that of a “foppish, mustachioed scalawag”, Ruffalo is slightly demented and massively entertaining.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Nominees:

Emily Blunt (Oppenheimer)

Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple)

America Ferrera (Barbie)

Jodie Foster (Nyad)

Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers)

t2oS’ pick: Da’Vine Joy Randolph for The Holdovers

Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers

Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers

Why: This is perhaps the only category without any real competition, and it is Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s Oscar to lose. In The Holdovers, Randolph is both hilarious and heartbreaking as Mary Lamb, the head cook of a boarding school who is grappling with the grief of the loss of her son. It is a performance tinged with both grit and vulnerability and Randolph forms the beating heart of the film.

Awards won so far: Golden Globe, BAFTA

Also in the running: America Ferrera for Barbie. Gloria’s speech about how it is impossible to be a woman is one of the standout moments in Barbie and, for that alone, Ferrera, who plays the character, deserves an award. Will that be an Oscar?

BEST PICTURE

Nominees:

American Fiction

Anatomy of a Fall

Barbie

The Holdovers

Killers of the Flower Moon

Maestro

Oppenheimer

Past Lives

Poor Things

The Zone of Interest

t2oS’ pick: Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer

Why: With a whopping 13 nominations, the Best Picture Oscar is well within reach of Nolan’s epic saga. Much has been said about Oppenheimer’s artistry, a film inventively written, adventurously filmed and capable of arresting attention even in its most talky scenes. Its real triumph lies in the fact that even though it clocks past three hours, there is no sense of ennui. Having clinched every major guild and industry accolade, it is the first movie to have a “perfect season” since Argo. If it wins, Nolan and his producing partner Emma Thomas will be the second married couple in Oscar history to win Best Picture.

Awards won so far: BAFTA, Critics Choice, Golden Globes, Directors Guild Awards, Producers Guild of America Awards

Screen Actors Guild Awards

Also in the running: Anatomy of a Fall. It has a very slim chance but if Anatomy of a Fall makes it, it will be a win for a smart and solidly crafted courtroom thriller which examines the mystery of relationships and society’s inherent prejudices, anchored by a stirring act from Sandra Huller.

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