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  • Connor Pohlman, Creative Corner & Opinion Editor

And the Oscar Goes To…

The 2023-24 entertainment award season wrapped last Sunday with the 96th Academy Awards, live from Hollywood. 2023 was a resurgent year for cinema as the cultural event of “Barbenheimer” reached its ultimate conclusion at the award show, with the latter of the pair taking home a plethora of awards. This film season continued another trend in cinema, which is the rise of low-budget, indie movies gaining recognition among the average movie watcher. A debate in recent years has been the unhappiness of filmgoers who believe that the Oscars are recognizing the indie scene “too much.” This discussion gained steam around 2019 when “The Green Book” won best picture, followed in consecutive years by “Parasite”, “Nomadland” and “CODA.” Despite critical acclaim, these films did not have a large financial or popularity market. The intersection of the blockbuster and the avant garde film is what makes the Oscars great, though, and this was never more visceral than this year. Some of the most highlighted films this year were both of the aforementioned “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer”, as well as “Killers of the Flower Moon”, “Anatomy Of a Fall”, “The Zone of Interest”, “The Holdovers”, “American Fiction”, “Poor Things”, “Maestro” & “Past Lives.” The star of the show and all of award season, was of course, Christopher Nolan’s modern day masterpiece, “Oppenheimer”. After being revered all season, the film finally took home its seven awards, winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Score, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing. Its summer counterpart “Barbie” went home with no Oscars, except for Billie Eilish, who won for best original song as part of the original soundtrack. Ryan Gosling also stole the show, performing a live rendition of “I’m Just Ken” and spreading his Kenergy for all in attendance to experience. Emma Stone took home her second Oscar for Best Actress for her role in “Poor Things” over an also well-deserving Lily Gladstone in “Killers of the Flower Moon”, and Da'Vine Joy Randolph took home her first ever Oscar for best supporting actress for her breakout role in “The Holdovers.” 

This year was unique in this reason, as many of the nominated films had both critical acclaim and box office success. One has to wonder if this will be a resurgence in the top box office hits gaining legs for the highest awards of the season, lastly attributed to “Lord of The Rings: Return of the King”, which won best picture back in 2004. “Dune: Part II” is already gaining Oscar buzz for next year’s show, with many predicting awards for the film itself, Timothee Chalamet, Austin Butler, and Rebecca Ferguson. “Oppenheimer”, a three-hour biopic about the physicist that created the atomic bomb became the second highest grossing R-rated movie ever, and Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” finished at #1 in the worldwide box office for 2023. The other films were incredibly popular amongst the film community as well, with every other nomination being on the Letterboxd most watched list. The once young upstart studio, A24, has  clearly earned their seat at the table, taking home the best picture Oscar last year, as well as best supporting actress, best actress, and best supporting actor, and earning multiple nominations for “Past Lives”, and “The Zone of Interest” this year. Another A24 film and a popular snub in the film community this season was “The Iron Claw” with many critics citing it to be the best performance of Zac Efron’s career. I would agree with this sentiment, as I think this film is filled with crushing performances, and is a beautiful tragedy that depicts brotherhood better than most films ever have. 

The 2023-2024 season set a healthy precedent for the film industry for years to come, and it will be intriguing to see how the format continues to evolve. With the threat of AI growing stronger by the day, despite union deals, the arts will always be the prime litmus test of how far that technology has advanced. It’s not if AI can create art, it's about if they can feel it. 


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