It was another remarkable night in Los Angeles yesterday as the 96th annual Academy Awards certainly did not lack drama, surprises and, as always, dramatic snubs. This year’s edition was a star-studded event, as a number of amazing films, actors, directors and more were up for awards. Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and Yoran Lanthimos’s Poor Things undoubtedly ended the night as big winners, while other blockbusters were – perhaps unrightfully – snubbed.

Best Picture

As many expected, the epic about the troubled physicist Robert J. Oppenheimer, which outlined the process of planning and executing the first ever nuclear test in the New Mexico desert, as well as the difficult postwar circumstances regarding accusation of Communism waged against him, won Best Picture. The only other Nolan film nominated to Best picture had been Dunkirk in 2018. The level of nominations was extremely high this year, as other pictures such as Anatomy of a Fall, Poor Things and Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon were also potential candidates.

Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role

Inevitably, the marvellous Cillian Murphy took home the award for Best Actor, as his intense and potent interpretation of Oppenheimer, with all the difficulties the physicist faced in his life – both self-inflicted and not – was the outstanding performance. Other worthy candidates included Paul Giamatti in the comedic drama The Holdovers, one of the best Christmas-themed movies of the past decades, as well as Bradley Cooper in Maestro.

Controversy in the Leading actress candidacy began even before the Awards, when the Academy chose not to nominate Margot Robbie’s interpretation of Barbie, which ended up being one of the highest-grossing films of all-time. However, Emma Stone’s performance in Poor Things would likely have taken the cake anyways. The colourful and rather odd “Frankenstein spin-off” was carried in large part by the actor’s performances, including those of Willem Dafoe and Mark Ruffalo.

Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role

This is the category where I have a few doubts. Undoubtedly Robert Downey Jr’s performance in Oppenheimer as Lewis Strauss, tasked to keep US atomic plans a secret, was amazing, especially in relation to Oppenheimer;s character. However, Sterling K Brown’s performance in American Fiction, and especially Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of Ken in Barbie perhaps deserved more consideration. This is relative also to the fact that Barbie essentially failed to win any major award in this years’s edition.

On the women’s side, I am in complete agreement, as Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s performance in The Holdovers was awe-inspiring, and really made the movie for me. The simplicity and vulnerability of her character gives the film a sense of homeliness and we as the viewers are compassionate to her character’s dramatic life.

Best Directing

Christopher Nolan finally won his first oscar for best director with Oppenheimer. While that is an achievement he rightfully deserves, and perhaps deserved to receive before for films such as Dunkirk or Interstellar, lesser known and marketed films could have taken the prize. For example Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall and Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest were both masterfully directed. I do agree with the fact that Martin Scorsese did not win for Killers of a Flower Moon, as some of his previous films – which won awards, like The Departed – were directed better in my opinion.

Best International Feature Film

This was perhaps one of the most stacked International Nominations in recent history. At least four of the five nominees could have easily won the award in my opinion. The winner, Zone of Interest recounts – pretty accurately – the life of the director of the Auschwitz concentration camp along with his family. Pointedly, we never see the inside of the camp, but continuously hear the heartbreaking sounds of shouting and gunfire throughout the movie in the background. Society of the Snow recounts the true, incredible and horrific story of a group of Uruguayans stranded in the Andes mountains for months in 1972 after their plane crashed before a fraction of them are rescued. Perfect Days is one of the simplest and most heartwarming but also melancholic movies you’ll ever watch, as a Tokyo janitor leans to appreciate the beauty of everyday life in the small things that happen around him. And lastly Io Capitano recounts the true story -albeit slightly tweaked – of a pair of friend’s treacherous journey through North Africa on their way to Europe. Any of the above could have easily been nominated for Best Picture even, and I would have been happy with any of these winning the International prize.

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