Every year, the Academy Awards becomes a horse race of predictions, with certain actors and directors pulling ahead of the pack by the time the big night rolls around. However, the fun of the Oscars is that there’s always the chance that a dark horse contender will come along and upset a huge category, shocking everyone with an unexpected but deserved win. This year, one movie seems set to dominate all the major Oscars 2024 categories, but that could change. Here are our predictions for who will take home the golden hardware for the biggest categories of the night, including acting, directing, and the picture of the year.

Best Supporting Actress

Frontrunner: Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

While Paul Giamatti has been getting the lion’s share of the focus for The Holdovers, it’s truly Da’Vine Joy Randolph who is the beating heart of the movie, her performance anchoring and holding the entire story together. The other actresses in this category turned in an impressive body of work, but Randolph is in a category all her own in terms of how she supports her movie. She already won the Golden Globe and Critics Choice for it, setting her on the path to taking home another piece of hardware for Best Supporting Actress.

Best Supporting Actor

Frontrunner: Robert Downey, Jr., Oppenheimer

Since Robert Downey Jr. took up the mantle of Iron Man and became inextricable from Tony Stark, some started to wonder if that’s all he could do now; maybe he’d been Tony Stark for so long that the prodigiously talented actor had forgotten how to act. Indeed, RDJ admitted that even he wondered if he could pull off playing Lewis Strauss. As it turns out, he needn’t have worried. Downey’s performance is near-flawless, the perfect counterbalance and foil to Cillian Murphy. Downey missed out for Best Supporting Actor in 2009 for Tropic Thunder. This year is set to change that, with the actor having already cleaned house in the other awards shows leading up to the big Hollywood dance.

Best Director

Frontrunner: Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer

It might seem like a cop-out, but Best Director this year has to go to Christopher Nolan, who has all but swept the previous wards shows this year, including the Globes, Critics Choice, BAFTA and DGA awards. Since even before Oppenheimer hit theaters, it was clear Nolan was working on something special, a movie that had all the hallmarks of becoming the magnum opus of an already impressive career. The celebrated director has been nominated for eight Oscars before but never won. This year is all but certain to change that and hand Nolan his first-ever win. Other Best Director nominees had some excellent pieces of work, but no one did what Nolan did this year with Oppenheimer.

Best Actress

Frontrunner: Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon

SAG Best Actress winner Lily Gladstone is arguably vying with Emma Stone (Poor Things) for Best Actress with her performance in Killers of the Flower Moon, but we’re handing the win to Lily. Gladstone is quietly commanding throughout Martin Scorsese’s epic film, often stealing scenes while acting opposite previous Best Actor winners Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. Gladstone’s presence is a powerful one, anchoring the entire film in a career-defining role. It doesn’t hurt that, like Randolph, Gladstone picked up the Golden Globe for the category, a pretty strong indication that she’ll also take the trophy at the Academy Awards.

Best Actor

Frontrunner: Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer

There have been some incredible performances this year, but Best Actor is Cillian Murphy’s to lose, especially after he walked way with the Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA awards. If we’re being honest, it has been since before awards season even kicked off in earnest. Despite Murphy’s long and impressive career, he’s never carried a big tentpole on his own, but Oppenheimer showed he’s more than up to the task. His performance as the brilliant, beleaguered J. Robert Oppenheimer is a transformation for the ages. Murphy is in almost every single scene of the movie and he’s utterly magnetic every minute he’s on the screen.

Best Picture

Frontrunner: Oppenheimer

Some years, it’s truly a toss-up as to which movie will take Best Picture, or if a single movie will dominate in its nominated categories. This is not that kind of year. Though on the surface, picking a historical biopic is an easy layup, even boring, what Nolan and his cast and crew achieved with Oppenheimer is nothing short of astonishing. There’s not a single aspect that can be improved upon, and it’s one of those rare movies – even the rare Best Picture nominee – where every single person brings their absolute best. Plenty of Best Picture winners fade with the passing of time. Oppenheimer is not destined to be one of those movies; it’s already etching itself in the annals of Hollywood history as a truly staggering work.

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