A Bittersweet Ending: The 2024 Oscars Ceremony


The 96th annual Oscars ceremony brought out all the standard glamour and excitement we have grown accustomed to. Emotional speeches, celebrities acting like celebrities – the entire package was on display for the world to see when actors, actresses, and filmmakers came together to celebrate the year’s cinematographic gems. Jimmy Kimmel hosted it for the second year in a row and fourth time overall, which puts him high on the list with only three people hosting it more times.

The out-and-out winner of the night was Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan’s historical drama that claimed wins in seven categories. It did little more than justify the projections that placed the film at the forefront of everyone’s expectations going into the ceremony. 

Here is a breakdown of the winners in all the main categories:

Best Picture: Oppenheimer

To nobody’s surprise, the most thoroughly acclaimed film in the past nine months took the main trophy home. The captivating depiction of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s innovation in the field of nuclear physics has received immense support from all rating agencies, notably being placed at 90% on Metacritic and 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. It was the unequivocal winner of the ceremony, dragging six more awards alongside this one. At the time of the ceremony, the film had brought in $960.6 million in revenue.

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Cillian Murphy portrays J. Robert Oppenheimer in “Oppenheimer.”

Best Actor: Cillian Murphy

Speaking of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man who played him received his flowers for the performance. Getting up on stage to receive the award, he paid tribute to his nation, claiming to be a “very proud Irish man standing here tonight.” Naturally, the two awards were complements of each other and showed just how influential Oppenheimer was this year. 

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Robert Downey Jr. acted as Lewis Straus in “Oppenheimer,” J. Robert Oppenheimer’s’ number one antagonist.

Best Supporting Actor: Robert Downey Jr

Keeping up with the trend, the Best Supporting Actor Award was also awarded to an actor from Oppenheimer. His portrayal of Lewis Strauss earned Robert Downey Jr the first Oscar of his career. It was among the more emotional moments of the night, as the speech that followed contained several mentions of Robert’s wife, Susan Downey. He thanked his “terrible childhood and the Academy, in that order” before giving his wife credit for “loving me back to life,” claiming she was the reason for his success. 

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Emma Stone in her role in “Poor Things.”

Best Actress: Emma Stone

Emma Stone’s performance in Poor Things earned her the second Best Actress Oscar of her career, after winning one for her role in La La Land in 2017. This time, it was earned by playing Bella Baxter in Yorgos Lanthimos’ adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s novel. Her character has received mixed criticism due to the controversial amounts of nudity present throughout the film. She regardless thanked the team behind Poor Things for the opportunity they presented her with. Following a similar pattern as the other winners, she expressed gratitude to the special people in her life, particularly placing her daughter in the spotlight, “who’s gonna be three in three days and has turned our world technicolor. I love you bigger than the whole sky.”

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Da’Vine Joy Randolph puts on a brilliant performance in “The Holdovers.”

Best Supporting Actress: Da’Vine Joy Randolph

The Best Supporting Actress award was given to Da’Vine Joy Randolph for her part in The Holdovers. She was the projected favorite for the award, edging ahead of Jodie Foster, Emily Blunt, and Danielle Brooks. She played the role of Mary Lamb, the head cook in the school where the plot of The Holdovers takes place. Her performance was described as “brilliant” and “wrenchingly sad” by Wendy Ice, the Observer’s chief critic.

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Christopher Nolan earns his first Oscar for “Oppenheimer.”

Best Director: Christopher Nolan 

Returning to a familiar theme, it is time to mention another Oppenheimer-related award. It does not come as a surprise that the mind behind the film that dominated the entire event came away with an award for himself. The Best Director award was given to Christopher Nolan, and few could argue against it. It marks his first Oscar, after being nominated for Dunkirk in 2018. The success of the film cannot be disputed, and it needs to be adequately attributed to Nolan’s ambitions and expertise.

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Billie Eilish acting in the music video for “What Was I Made For?”

Best Song: What Was I Made For? (From Barbie)

Finally addressing the other half of “Barbenheimer,” the Academy awarded the Best Song Oscar to “What Was I Made For.” The song, written by Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas, was the first song from a movie to win the award since “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion from Titanic. It was an international success, reaching #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.

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Poster for “American Fiction.”

Best Adapted Screenplay: American Fiction 

Cord Jefferson’s adaptation of Percival Everett’s novel Erasure has come away with the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar. The plot revolves around Monk, a black author who writes books that reinforce negative stereotypes about the black community under a pseudonym after realizing that he could only increase his sales that way. Jefferson stated that winning the award felt “surreal” since the crew behind American Fiction had little money and little time to work on the project.

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Official trailer cover image of “Anatomy of a Fall.”

Best Original Screenplay: Anatomy of a Fall

The joint effort of married couple Justine Triet and Arthur Harari, Anatomy of a Fall, was awarded the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. The plot focuses on a woman who is accused of murdering her husband and their blind son turns out to be the sole witness. The film won numerous awards before this one, such as the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and two Golden Globes. However, it was not in the running for the Best International Film Oscar since France decided to offer The Taste of Things as its candidate for that category.

A frame from “20 Days in Mariupol.”

Best Documentary: 20 Days in Mariupol

Offering a completely different angle compared to the other awards on the list, the Best Documentary Oscar was awarded to Mstyslav Chernov’s 20 Days in Mariupol. The documentary is a first-person account of the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. The crew spent time filming during the bombing of Mariupol, the port city and provided information directly from the source of the action. It is the first Oscar in Ukrainian history, but the producer still insisted on wishing that he had never made the film, saying that he would trade it for having witnessed peace instead.

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An animated scene from Director Miyazaki’s last film.

Best Animated Movie: The Boy And The Heron

Japanese director Hayao Mizayaki is leaving the cinematographic scene on a high note, as his last film, The Boy And The Heron, has come away with the Best Animated Movie Oscar. The story is based around a young boy searching for his mom during the Second World War. It is based on the 1937 novel How Do You Live? by Genzaburo Yoshino. This marks Miyazaki’s second Oscar, following the 2003 win with the movie Spirited Away.

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Image of the family garden in “The Zone of Interest.”

Best International Film: The Zone of Interest

Finally, the last among the main categories, the Best International Film Oscar was given to Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest. The film is a WW2-set drama revolving around a Nazi commander and his family who have close contact with Jews’ extermination in Auschwitz right next to their home garden. The film never shows the horrors happening on screen, rather, it purely relies on sound techniques to communicate the eerie atmosphere just over the wall of the family’s garden. Glazer accepted the award and went on to publicly draw attention to the situation in the Middle East, showing support for Palestine.

There was a widespread sense of solidarity with Palestine throughout the event, with multiple mentions of the conflict in speeches and participants wearing red pins to express their sympathy. Before the ceremony, protestors blocked the road in front of the Dolby Theater with a similar objective.  

To sum up, the 96th annual Oscar ceremony provided us with a multitude of entertainment coupled with serious and darker topics. The combination of lighthearted moments, like Ryan Gosling’s singing performance, with dark themes like mentions of the war in Ukraine and calls for a ceasefire in Gaza gave the entire event a bittersweet feeling but no one can dispute its memorability.

Cover Image: The iconic Oscars statuette award.

Vukasin Tolic
Vukasin Tolic
Economics student who holds an interest in discovering the world by writing about it.

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