The Oscars 2024: Surprises, Snubs and Takeaways

96th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 10: Atmosphere at the 96th Annual Academy Awards on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Hollywood’s biggest night has now come and gone, but there’s still plenty to discuss. From shocking last-second snubs to big wins and beautiful speeches (plus a perfectly pink live performance from Ryan Gosling), it was a memorable Academy Awards. Below, Observer recaps the biggest moments of the night.

Oppenheimer wins big

As per predictions, Oppenheimer was the film to beat. The movie took home the most awards of the night with seven, and it had some major wins with Robert Downey Jr. for Best Supporting Actor (whose opening line, “I’d like to thank my terrible childhood,” is an all timer), Cillian Murphy for Best Actor, Christopher Nolan for Best Director and, of course, the coveted Academy Award for Best Picture. The massive historical biopic dominated awards season, so its haul is no surprise. Read Observer’s review of Oppenheimer.

The Best Actress race between Lily Gladstone and Emma Stone came to its conclusion last night. Courtesy of Apple TV+ Press and Searchlight Pictures

A competitive race ends in some surprise

One of the night’s most competitive races saw a bit of a twist. Lily Gladstone was widely expected to make history as the first Native American to win the Academy Award for Best Actress with her powerfully understated role in Killers of the Flower Moon, but instead Emma Stone took home her second Oscar thanks to her beautifully bonkers performance in Poor Things. Each actress turned in a marvelous performance, though it was Stone’s flashier work that broke through. Read Observer’s reviews of Poor Things & Killers of the Flower Moon.

Nominated actors were majorly praised

Though all but four actors walked away from the show empty-handed, the nominees did receive heaps of praise from their peers. The Academy decided to reuse a presenting strategy wherein five previous winners would provide some insight into the nominees and their performances before announcing the winner, and it resulted in some memorable moments.

The elusive Tim Robbins had a Freudian slip of sorts as he said Robert De Niro’s performance in Killers of the Flower Moon was Oscar-winning; Jamie Lee Curtis got to brag about how great Jodie Foster is in real life and in Nyad; and Lupita Nyong’o made a big impression early on, when she mentioned that Da’Vine Joy Randolph wore her grandmother’s glasses in her now Oscar-winning performance in The Holdovers—when she said that Randolph allowed the world to see through her grandmother’s eyes, the waterworks went off for the actress (and many a viewer at home). Read Observer’s reviews of Nyad & The Holdovers.

Greta Gerwig stays snubbed

With Barbie, Greta Gerwig made her third movie, earned her third Oscar nomination for writing, and experienced her third loss. While Cord Jefferson’s biting satire American Fiction was one of the favorites for Best Adapted Screenplay and stands as a deserving winner, there’s a sting to seeing Gerwig snubbed in the Best Director category and going home with nothing for her brilliant take on Barbie. Read Observer’s reviews of Barbie & American Fiction.

Ryan Gosling’s Kenergetic performance

That said, Barbie got plenty of love during Ryan Gosling’s barn burner of a live rendition of “I’m Just Ken.” A pink bedazzled suit? Check. Karaoke ad libs from Gerwig and co-stars Margot Robbie and America Ferrera? Yes please. Gosling breaking hot pink wooden boards mid-song? Absolutely. Though Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell took home the Oscar for Best Original Song with Barbie’s “What Was I Made For?” Gosling made a more than memorable impression.

A short Wes Anderson win

In a moment that will surely be looked at as one of the show’s stranger beats, Wes Anderson won his first Academy Award for the short film The Wonderful Life of Henry Sugar—but he wasn’t there to accept the award. The eclectic filmmaker has been nominated seven times previously, but the eighth time was evidently the charm. Whether or not he wins an Oscar for his feature length work obviously remains to be seen, but if the 39-minute Henry Sugar ends up being the acclaimed filmmaker’s only win and he didn’t even show up for it, it’ll certainly be an odd aside in cinematic history.

A-Listers go empty-handed

Once again, Bradley Cooper’s big bid fell flat. Though Maestro racked up seven nominations (and Cooper himself earned three of those), it didn’t win any. His directorial debut, A Star is Born, received similar treatment from the Academy, save for a trophy for the song “Shallow.” There has been plenty of mumbling and rumblings online about Cooper’s seemingly intense desire for an Oscar working against him, and that remains true for now. Read Observer’s review for Maestro.

From left: Set costumer Kat St. John, Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein, hairstylist Lori McCoy-Bell, and prosthetic makeup artist Vivian Baker on the set of Maestro. Jason McDonald/Netflix

Cooper isn’t the only one with an empty trophy case after last night, either. Martin Scorsese’s historical epic Killers of the Flower Moon—the third most nominated film this year with ten nodsdidn’t earn a single award. This isn’t the first time that a Scorsese film has lost out in such a way: The Irishman didn’t win any of its ten nominations, and neither did Gangs of New York. It’s a shame to see such a well-made movie walk away from the Oscars empty-handed, but the live performance of the original song “Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)” did make a powerful mark on the show.

The in-between bits were great

Minimal awkwardness, good banter, and some fun presenters kept the moments in between the winners and the performances exciting. Highlights included John Cena’s nude (save for a pair of Birkenstocks) presentation of Best Costume Design, the finale of the “Barbenheimer” rivalry courtesy of Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling, and an extended bit about Field of Dreams from John Mulaney that had the audience laughing. And, though he didn’t present, appearances from Messi of Anatomy of a Fall fame were welcome throughout the night. It was an all around entertaining awards show, something that can certainly be hard to come by.

The Oscars 2024: Surprises, Snubs and Takeaways From the 96th Academy Awards

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