Final Predictions for the 96th Academy Awards

“Barbie,” ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Oppenheimer” and “Poor Things” each scored eight or more nominations.

Courtesy of Deadline
Courtesy of Deadline

In 2023, A24 made Oscar history with “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” winning the most awards for a single film since “Dune (2021)” with seven awards. This year has the potential of films topping seven wins, with “Barbie,” ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Oppenheimer” and “Poor Things” scoring eight or more nominations. Will Barbenheimer’s box office gold turn into Oscars gold? Here are my picks for what I want to win and predictions for what I believe will win every category at the 96th Academy Awards. 

Courtesy of IGN

Actor in a Leading Role:

Pick: Paul Giamatti in “The Holdovers”

Prediction: Cillian Murphy in “Oppenheimer”

Upset: Paul Giamatti in “The Holdovers”

Much like last year, I believe one film will win most of the awards, and that film is “Oppenheimer.” With “Oppenheimer” predicted to win multiple awards according to betting odds, I find it hard to believe that the Academy will deny an award to the leading man of the three-hour biopic. Paul Giamatti has a small chance to win, as the Critics Choice awards giving him the trophy over Cillian Murphy, but I’d say Murphy is winning fairly easily. 

Actor in a Supporting Role:

Pick: Mark Ruffalo in “Poor Things”

Prediction: Robert Downey Jr. in “Oppenheimer”

Upset: Ryan Gosling in “Barbie”

Robert Downey Jr. has an excellent narrative to win this award. Not only is he in the biggest Best Picture contender of 2023, but people were eager to see him approach another major role after his legendary take on Tony Stark. With two prior Oscar nominations and support from smaller critics groups, I feel that Downey Jr. has this award in the bag.

Killers of the Flower Moon.jpeg
Courtesy of TMDB

Actress in a Leading Role:

Pick: Emma Stone in “Poor Things”

Prediction: Lily Gladstone in “Killers of the Flower Moon”

Upset: Emma Stone in “Poor Things”

Out of the four acting categories, this is the hardest category to choose a winner for. Although Emma Stone gives a legendary performance as Bella Baxter, Lily Gladstone has been getting Oscar buzz ever since the announcement of her casting. With the Academy’s tendency to “spread the love” with awards wins and her recent win at the Screen Actors Guild awards, I'm predicting Gladstone over Stone. 

The Holdovers.jpeg
Courtesy of iMDB

Actress in a Supporting Role:

Pick: Da’Vine Joy Randolph in “The Holdovers”

Prediction: Da’Vine Joy Randolph in “The Holdovers”

Upset: Emily Blunt in “Oppenheimer”

Da’Vine Joy Randolph is a shoo-in for this category. Across all critics groups, she has won nearly 50 awards for Best Supporting Actress for “The Holdovers.” The only person I could see upsetting this category is Emily Blunt, but she has yet to win an award this season. 

Across the Spider-Verse.jpeg
Courtesy of iMDB

Animated Feature Film:

Pick: “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

Prediction: “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

Upset: “The Boy and the Heron”

The consensus is that “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” is easily winning this category, but I am not taking Hayao Miyazaki for granted. “The Boy and the Heron” won major awards at the Golden Globes and the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), with the latter having voter overlap with the Academy. That being said, I am still predicting “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” due to its sheer popularity and innovative animation style. 


Pick: “Poor Things”

Prediction: “Oppenheimer”

Upset: “Poor Things”

“Oppenheimer” may not be the most colorful movie of the year, but its achievement in cinematography is astounding. It used a variety of film formats to capture different sequences in the film while inventing a new kind of photographic film. “Poor Things” has the vibrancy and artistic style of a cinematography winner, but the grand scope and innovation of “Oppenheimer” makes me believe it will reign supreme in this category. 

Eastside Online

Costume Design:

Pick: “Barbie”

Prediction: “Barbie”

Upset: “Poor Things”

“Barbie” and “Poor Things” are duking it out for the Best Production Design and Best Costume Design awards, and I find it hard to believe that one film will win both awards. For this category, I think “Barbie” will take it over “Poor Things” due to the iconic inclusions of many famous costumes from the doll. “Poor Things” has the lavish, period-piece costumes that the Academy usually adores, but the inventive way that “Barbie” utilized the costumes makes me think it will win over “Poor Things.”


Pick: “Oppenheimer”

Prediction: “Oppenheimer”

Upset: “Poor Things”

What Christopher Nolan does with “Oppenheimer” is so impressive and singular, only he could’ve accomplished such a feat. Instead of taking a generic approach to a biopic, he matches the scope of the film with the urgency of the subject matter, making every scene feel massive in scale. With Nolan’s Oscar-less narrative and the genuine achievement in directing, I can’t imagine another winner in this category.

20 Days in Mariupol.jpeg
Courtesy of iMDB

Documentary Feature Film:

Pick: “Four Daughters”

Prediction: “20 Days in Mariupol”

Upset: “Four Daughters”

"Beyond Utopia” being snubbed from this category left the field wide open for any film to take the award. I ultimately decided on “20 Days in Mariupol” due to the relevance of the source material. The invasion of Ukraine was one of the many major tragedies of 2023, and I could see the Academy wanting to reward the brave filmmakers who captured the footage. I could also see people drawing parallels to the Israel and Gaza conflict, and awarding the film would shed light on the true problems that the world is facing. 

ABCs of Book Banning.jpeg
Courtesy of iMDB

Documentary Short Film: 

Pick: “The Last Repair Shop”

Prediction: “The ABCs of Book Banning”

Upset: “Nai Nai and Wai Po”

Book banning has been a major problem in the United States for years now, and “The ABCs of Book Banning” is one of the first films to approach this subject. The film’s focus on students and their opinions makes it easy for someone to agree with the policies introduced. “Nai Nai and Wai Po” is a likely contender to upset as the director, Sean Wang, recently rose to fame after his feature directorial debut “Didi” won an award at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival


Pick: “Oppenheimer”

Prediction: “Oppenheimer”

Upset: “Anatomy of a Fall”

“Oppenheimer” and “Killers of the Flower Moon” accomplished the amazing task of making three-hour movies feel like 90 minutes. What makes “Oppenheimer” stand out is the film’s synchronization with the music and sound design. Christopher Nolan made sure that every aspect of filmmaking is operating under one cohesive vision, and his work with editor Jennifer Lame is an astounding achievement. Lame has been doing amazing work on films like “Hereditary” and “Marriage Story,” and this award would be a great way to acknowledge her career.  

Zone of Interest.jpeg
Courtesy of iMDB

International Feature Film:

Pick: “Society of the Snow”

Prediction: “The Zone of Interest”

Upset: “Society of the Snow”

“The Zone of Interest” had a great showing at this year’s Academy Award nominations, appearing in major categories such as Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. No other film in the Best International Feature line-up has nominations outside of this category besides “Society of the Snow,” which got into Make-up and Hairstyling. Because no other film scored a Best Picture nomination in this category, I think “The Zone of Interest” is easily winning. 

Courtesy of iMDB

Make-Up and Hairstyling:

Pick: “Poor Things

Prediction: “Maestro”

Upset: “Poor Things”

This award usually goes to the movie with the most prosthetic work, which narrows it down to “Maestro” and “Poor Things.” The reason I am choosing “Maestro” to win is due to the major discussion around the makeup and how it transformed Bradley Cooper into Leonard Bernstein. The general public has not discussed the make-up in “Poor Things” compared to “Maestro,” which is why I’m giving the slight edge to “Maestro.” 

Music (Original Score):

Pick: “Oppenheimer”

Prediction: “Oppenheimer”

Upset: “Killers of the Flower Moon”

I don’t think any film score in 2023 reached the popularity of “Oppenheimer.” After recently winning the Grammy award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, it is clear that Ludwig Göransson is the front-runner for this award. 

Music (Original Song):

Pick: “What Was I Made For?” from Barbie

Prediction: “What Was I Made For?” from Barbie

Upset: “I’m Just Ken” from Barbie

This award is definitely going to a “Barbie” song. If it weren’t for the ineligibilities, “Barbie” would’ve gotten a third nomination in this category for “Dance the Night.” Out of the two songs, I am picking "What Was I Made For?” since it just won the Grammy award for Song of the Year and how the song’s themes of existentialism parallel the themes of “Barbie.” 

Best Picture:

Pick: “Past Lives”

Predictions: “Oppenheimer”

Upset: “The Holdovers”

I would be ecstatic if “Past Lives” won Best Picture. Being my favorite film of 2023, its themes of relationships and moving forward with the next stage in your life is something that truly resonated with me as a college student. That being said, I feel that “Oppenheimer” has no competition in winning this award. Being the culmination of Nolan’s career and the film’s frontrunner status in categories like Best Director and Best Editing makes it easy for me to put this movie out front. 

Production Design:

Pick: “Barbie”

Prediction: “Poor Things”

Upset: “Poor Things”

This is another category that is nearly impossible to predict. The production design of “Barbie” and “Poor Things” play such an integral role in the themes and world-building that it is hard to choose one over the other. Since I am predicting “Barbie” to beat “Poor Things” in Costume Design, I feel the Academy will share the love and give this award to “Poor Things.”

War is Over.jpeg

Courtesy of iMDB

Short Film (Animated):

Pick: “Ninety-Five Senses”

Prediction: “War is Over! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko”

Upset: “Ninety-Five Senses”

The Animated Short Film winner rarely goes to a foreign language film, which is why I am choosing to go against the predicted winner “Letter to a Pig.” I think this category is down to “Ninety-Five Senses” and “War is Over! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko.” I am choosing “War is Over! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko” because of its crowd-pleasing screenplay and the involvement of Oscar-nominated composer Thomas Newman. 

Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.jpeg
Courtesy of iMDB

Short Film: (Live Action):

Pick: “Red, White and Blue”

Prediction: “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”

Upset: “The After”

It feels strange to award Wes Anderson his first Oscar for a short film, but it is looking likely. “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” had major visibility due to its release on Netflix. Having an auteur like Wes Anderson as the face of the project is bound to attract an audience compared to the other short films in the category. Although there are films that delve into more important subject matter, it’s hard to bet against a Wes Anderson film. 


Pick: “The Zone of Interest”

Prediction: “Oppenheimer”

Upset: “The Zone of Interest”

This category may be easy to predict for some people, but I am having a hard time choosing between “Oppenheimer” and “The Zone of Interest.” The Trinity test and gymnasium sequences in “Oppenheimer” will stand the test of time in their beautifully crafted sound design, but the sound of “The Zone of Interest” tells an entirely different story than the visuals, and arguably a better one. At the end of the day, because of the fact that it's a major player in the major categories and the impact it had on the theatrical experience, I am choosing “Oppenheimer” to win. 

Courtesy of iMDB

Visual Effects:

Pick: “Godzilla Minus One”

Prediction: “The Creator”

Upset: “Godzilla Minus One”

With “Oppenheimer” out of the equation, this category is extremely up in the air. Because the Marvel and Mission Impossible franchises have never won this award, I find it hard to see either of them winning here. “Napoleon” seamlessly uses its visual effects, but it isn’t flashy enough to gain the attention of award voters. The reason I am choosing “The Creator” is because of the major win at the Visual Effect Society (VES) and the discussion brought to Hollywood budgeting. I would watch out for “Godzilla Minus One” because the film has unanimous audience praise with equally impressive visual effects work as “The Creator.”

American Fiction.jpeg
Courtesy of iMDB

Writing (Adapted Screenplay):

Pick: “Barbie”

Prediction: “American Fiction”

Upset: “Barbie”

For a while, I thought “Barbie” would be a shoo-in for a screenplay award. It’s an absolute blast of a film from start to finish while having proper insight on gender roles. I thought it would be a film right up the Oscars’ alley, but its shift to Adapted Screenplay weakened its chances. “American Fiction” has quickly become the front-runner due to its wins at the BAFTA and Critics Choice awards. Its screenplay, similar to “Barbie,” is a self-aware reflection on racial politics while having fun with its source material. It’s a close call, but “American Fiction” has more buzz than “Barbie” at this moment in time. 

Anatomy of a Fall.jpeg
Courtesy of iMDB

Writing (Original Screenplay):

Pick: “Past Lives”

Prediction: “Anatomy of a Fall”

Upset: “The Holdovers”

My personal prediction is by far “Past Lives” as it’s my favorite film of the year, but I feel it is too subtle for the Academy. For this category, I think it is down to “The Holdovers” and “Anatomy of a Fall.” “The Holdovers” has the crowd-pleasing and heart-warming nature of past screenplay winners, but the Golden Globes and BAFTA awards have proven that “Anatomy of a Fall” is a threat. In the end, I chose “Anatomy of a Fall” due to this film’s presence in other categories like Best Director and the support it has gotten from major awards pundits. 

Trevor Stucker (he/him) is a sophomore majoring in Applied Film and Journalism. This is his second year writing for The Campus Citizen. In his spare time, he enjoys writing film reviews for his social media accounts.

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