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With the Oscars airing on March 10, 2024, it’s officially awards seasons! And for me, that means watching each of the nominated films before that magical night. I love watching these movies, which are typically very diverse. This year is no exception.
Here are the best picture nominations 2024, with a brief synopsis of each.
Ten Best Picture Nominations
Ten amazing films are nominated this year. Three are foreign films. Four are based on true stories. All kept me engaged. Some made me laugh out loud. Some brought tears to my eyes. And one caused my blood pressure to raise!
Here they are, as usual, in the order that I watched them.
Rated PG-13 Run time: 1 hour 54 minutes
Screenplay by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach. Directed by Greta Gerwig. Nominated for 8 Oscars.
Stars Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Issa Rae, Kate McKinnon and America Ferrera.
Barbie and Ken are having the time of their lives in the colorful, perfect world of Barbieland. Barbie feels especially proud about the impact she’s surely had on young girls, showing them that they can be anything and go anywhere they desire. However, when they go to the real world, they discover the perils and joys of living among humans. And Barbie is discouraged to learn that her impact is not as great as she thought.
Fun fact: Barbie is 23% larger than everything in Barbieland to mimic the disproportionate scale that real Barbies and Barbie activity sets are produced in.
Barbie is streaming on MAX and available to rent on Prime HERE.
Rated R Run time: 2 hours 9 minutes
Screenplay by Bradley Cooper and Josh Singer. Directed by Bradley Cooper. Nominated for 7 Oscars.
Stars Carrey Mulligan, Bradley Cooper, Sarah Silverman and Matt Bomer.
This film chronicles the lifelong love story of conductor-composer Leonard Bernstein and actress Felicia Montealegre. The complex story spans 30 years as Leonard reaches great heights in his career all while his marriage and homelife struggles.
Fun fact: Bradley’s interest in Bernstein started with watching Tom and Jerry and Bugs Bunny cartoons and observing them conduct. He asked Santa for a baton when he was eight years old.
Maestro is steaming on Netflix.
Rated R Run Time: 2 hours 21 minutes
Screenplay by Tony McNamara, based on the novel by Alasdair Gray. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. Nominated for 11 Oscars.
Stars Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe.
This fantasy tale is about the growth and evolution of Bella Baxter, a young woman brought back to life by Frankenstein-like scientist, Dr. Godwin Baxter. Hungry to discover the world, Bella runs away with slick lawyer Duncan Wedderburn, on an adventure across continents. (Warning: Bella has matured without prejudice or inhibitions. Therefore, there is a LOT of sexual content in the film.)
Fun fact: Mark Ruffalo felt he was too old to play the role of Duncan Wedderburn. He writes, “To play that character, to do all the physical comedy and the language, and to make the arc that he made, it was so crazy and so exciting. It’s one foot on a banana peel and the other in a grave.” Mark is nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
Poor Things is currently playing in theaters across the US.
Rated R Run time: 3 hours
Screenplay by Christopher Nolan, based on the book “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin. Directed by Christopher Nolan. Nominated for 13 Oscars.
Stars Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon and Robert Downey Jr,
This is the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer and his sometimes reluctant role in developing the atomic bomb. And it is the continued tale of his trial for supposed ties to communism while he struggles to come to terms with changing the history of the world.
Fun fact: Matt Damon was on a break from acting, as a promise to his wife, with one condition: if Christopher Nolan called, the break was off. Nolan offered Damon the role of Leslie Groves and the break went on hold.
Oppenheimer is available to rent on Prime HERE and has returned to theaters across the US.
Rated R Run time: 1 hour 57 minutes
Screenplay by Cord Jefferson, based on the novel “Erasure” by Percival Everett. Directed by Cord Jefferson. Nominated for 5 Oscars.
Stars Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz, Erika Alexander and Sterling K. Brown.
Monk is an author, frustrated by culture’s obsession with reducing people to stereotypes. He is especially fed up with those who profit from Black entertainment that relies on tired tropes. To prove a point, he writes his own “black” book, under a pen name, and finds himself in the heart of hypocrisy when the book is a huge success.
Fun fact: most of the fictional book titles of the Literary Award finalists are the names of bands whose members were friends with Cord in middle school and high school.
American Fiction is playing in theaters across the US.
Killers of the Flower Moon
Rated R Run time: 3 hours 26 minutes
Screenplay by Eric Roth and Martin Scorsese based on the book by David Grann. Directed by Martin Scorsese. Nominated for 10 Oscars.
Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone, Jesse Plemons and John Lithgow.
When oil is discovered in 1920s Oklahoma, on Osage Nation land, the Osage People become wealthy. The sudden wealth attracts oil companies, friends of the People and foes. Osage people begin to die mysteriously as violence, greed and conspiracy surround a family of four Osage sisters and their elderly mother.
Fun fact: the investigation into the happenings in Osage County was the first by the newly formed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), headed by J. Edgar Hoover.
Killers of the Flower Moon is steaming on Apple+ TV or available to buy on Prime HERE.
Rated R Run time: 2 hours 13 minutes
Screenplay by David Hemingson. Directed by Alexander Payne. Nominated for 5 Oscars.
Stars Paul Giamatti, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Dominic Sessa.
A cranky ancient history teacher, unliked by students and faculty, is chosen to remain on the campus of a boys’ school over the holidays with those unable to join their families. After a few days, only one holdover remains, a troubled young man whose good grades but bad behavior threatens him with expulsion. The teacher, the boy and a cook, who just lost her son in Vietnam, form an unlikely family for Christmas. Mishaps ensue along with the real journey of learning to understand each other…and themselves.
Fun fact: on the day the scene was shot of the boy calling home, the actor flubbed the take because he didn’t know how to use a rotary phone. It had not occurred to anyone that he had never used one before.
The Holdovers is streaming on Peacock or available to rent on Prime HERE.
Anatomy of a Fall
Rated R Run time: 2 hours 31 minutes
Screenplay by Justine Triet and Arthur Harari. Directed by Justine Triet. Nominated for 5 Oscars. The language in this film is French with some English. English subtitles are available.
Stars Sandra Huller, Swann Arlaud and Milo Machado Graner.
A woman is suspected of her husband’s murder after he falls from an upper balcony in their home. The couple’s son, who is partially sighted, is the primary witness. The film follows the investigation and resulting trial and the straining of the relationship between mother and son.
Fun fact: an instrumental version of 50 Cent’s P.I.M.P, featuring Snoop Dogg, opens the film as the first character to appear is a dog named Snoop.
Anatomy of a Fall is available to rent on Prime HERE.
The Zone of Interest
Rated PG-13 Run time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Screenplay by Jonathan Glazer based on the book by Martin Amis. Directed by Jonathan Glazer. Nominated for 5 Oscars. This language in the film is primarily German, with English subtitles.
Stars Sandra Huller, Christian Friedel and Freya Kreutzkam.
Commandant Rudolf Hoss and his wife Hedwig build a dream life for themselves and their children in a spacious house with a lovely, extensive garden. The wall of their garden is shared with Auschwitz Concentration Camp, during the Holocaust. The film tightly focuses on the family and their seemingly idyllic life. Life…or rather death…within Auschwitz is never seen. However background noises of shouting, screams and gunshots remain constant throughout the movie as does the distant sight of smoke and fire pouring from the camp chimneys.
Fun fact: a much longer score was recorded for the film but the director decided to do without music for most of the movie, relying instead on the sounds of the off screen horrors occurring in Auschwitz.
The Zone of Interest is playing in theaters across the US. The indie theater, Bookhouse Cinema, made it available in my town.
Rated PG-13 Run time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Screenplay by Celine Song. Directed by Celine Song. Nominated for 2 Oscars. The language in this film is English and Korean, with English subtitles available.
Stars Greta Lee, Teo Yoo and John Magaro.
Childhood friends Nora and Hae Sung are separated at age 12 when Nora and her family immigrate to Canada. Twelve years later, Hae Sung uses social media to track down his old friend, who now lives in New York City while he remains in Seoul. Although they share a strong connection still, the friends agree to stop talking to each other so that they can focus on their lives and careers. Another 12 years pass before Hae Sung finally makes the trip to NYC to meet Nora again. She is now married. They spend a week catching up and discussing fate, connection and love.
Fun fact: writer/director Celine Song kept the actors Greta Lee and Teo Yoo separated as much as possible so that their scenes together, when they finally meet again in person, felt authentic.
Past Lives is available to rent on Prime HERE.
What a selection of films. Barbie took me back to my childhood. I laughed the most during American Fiction, Poor Things and The Holdovers. And I teared up over scenes in Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon and Past Lives. Maestro, Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon and The Zone of Interest are all based on true stories.
And the Zone of Interest caused my blood pressure to spike. When I realized where the family lived I felt the telltale pressure build in my head. That was a first for me. My blood pressure eventually settled back down. I think it is an extremely important film to see. We must never forget what happened then and what can happen again unless we are vigilant.
The Holdovers turned out to be my favorite film. It is a feel good movie that shows personal growth among the main characters. That’s my favorite type of film.
However, I predict Oppenheimer will take home the Oscar for Best Picture. It’s a weighty, complex film, with excellent character development. Another possibility is Poor Things for its crazy outrageousness.
How many of these Best Picture nominated films have you seen? Which film do you predict will win?
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