The 2024 Academy Awards

Will Sorg-

On Sunday, Cord Jefferson, a first-time film director, won Best Adapted Screenplay for his film American Fiction. Jefferson’s win was accompanied by a fantastic speech where he passionately argued for movie executives to take chances on newer filmmakers and smaller-scale movies. He outlined his struggle to get his award-winning film made and said of his speech: “It’s more a plea to acknowledge and recognize that there are so many people out there who want the opportunity that I was given.” And while the movie industry has a long way to go towards supporting smaller films, this year’s Oscars was in many ways a celebration of new perspectives.

Jefferson’s win wasn’t the only welcome surprise this year. Godzilla Minus One scored a Best Visual Effects win. The VFX team gave a beautiful acceptance speech that emphasized how huge this win is for Japan, while also honoring their producer who passed away this year. Justine Triet and Arthur Harari won Best Original Screenplay for Triet’s Anatomy of A Fall – an especially satisfying win after France snubbed the film by not submitting it for Best International Feature.

Speaking of Best International Feature, The Zone of Interest won this year.  I’ve already talked at length about the film in my review of it, however, it is worth noting that Jonathan Glazer’s acceptance speech was astounding. Glazer condemned the attacks on Gaza by the IDF as well as the dehumanization of both Palestinians and Israelis in a speech that was incredibly eloquent and deeply moving. The Zone of Interest also took home a Best Sound win in a shocking change from the typical strategy of The Academy giving the Oscar to the loudest movie.

Although I’ve been talking of surprises and the underdog wins, quite a bit of the wins were set in stone before the show even started. Da’vine Joy Randolph, Cillian Murphy, and Robert Downey Jr. practically won their respective actor races months ago. Even with Randolph’s truly heart-wrenching acceptance speech, there was no high drama related to these categories. Speaking of anticlimaxes, essentially every award Oppenheimer won was deserved – if not very underwhelming. I can’t really blame the recipients for lacking passion in their acceptance(s) because, in many ways, it was a victory lap for a group of filmmakers who had already swept nearly every other major awards ceremony.

It was a great year for movies. I saw all but two of the Oscar nominations this year and it was a genuinely rewarding experience this time around. Next week, my list of Top 10 of 2023 is coming and I cannot believe just how many truly stellar films were made this year. Poor Things swept a ton of its categories, which was wonderful. Wes Anderson won his first Oscar and Hayao Miyazaki won his second Oscar for The Boy and The Heron. It is a rare year where most categories only have one or two bad nominees and an even rarer year where the only truly awful award given was for Best Animated Short. Which by the way… WAR IS OVER: Inspired by The Music of John and Yoko is awful and I cannot believe they have now chosen the worst animated short two years in a row.

Still, for me, this was a truly amazing Oscars ceremony. Kimmel was a wet blanket of a host and very few of the jokes in the ceremony landed, per usual. However, the live performances were almost all stellar. Ryan Gosling’s performance of “I’m Just Ken” felt like a wonderful fever dream and the performance of “Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)” by the Osage Tribal Singers was easily one of the most powerful moments I’ve ever seen at the Oscars. Overall, the ceremony felt concise, engaging, and full of passionate filmmakers celebrating the excellence of this year. It wasn’t perfect (Lily Gladstone’s not winning best actress is devastating even if Emma Stone also definitely deserved her win). However, it seems like since the disaster of the 94th Oscars and Will Smith’s slap, The Academy has overhauled its process to make it as simple and inoffensive as possible – which is exactly what it should be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *