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The Winners and Losers of the 2024 Oscar Nominations

‘Barbie’ might not be an outright loser, but where are its lead actress and director? And is it finally Christopher Nolan’s and Robert Downey Jr.’s time at the Academy Awards?

Universal/Apple Films/Netflix/LePacte/Amazon/Ringer illustration

The long and winding road that is award season has finally arrived at one of its most pivotal pit stops: the 2024 Academy Award nominations. It’s been a great morning for the cultural juggernaut that is Oppenheimer; unfortunately, the same can’t be said for critical darlings like May December or The Iron Claw. For all that and more, check out The Ringer’s winners and losers from Tuesday’s nominations.

Winner: Oppenheimer

Are we really surprised? After dominating the Golden Globes, Oppenheimer came away with 13 nominations, more than any other film. That impressive total includes, unsurprisingly, a Best Picture nomination, as well as a Best Director nod for Christopher Nolan. In the technical categories, expect Oppenheimer to be a front-runner for Film Editing and Sound, while Robert Downey Jr. has a good shot at winning his first Oscar for his supporting turn as Lewis Strauss. (He won the same award at the Globes earlier this month.) Heading into the Oscars, all the momentum is with Oppenheimer, which is shaping up to be the pinnacle of Nolan’s career—so far.

Loser (Somehow): Leonardo DiCaprio

While Killers of the Flower Moon had the third-most nominations of any film this year, securing 10 in total, it did miss the cut in a couple of key categories. Somehow, Flower Moon failed to earn a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay, but even that wasn’t as shocking as Leonardo DiCaprio’s snub for a nomination for Best Actor. DiCaprio wouldn’t be mistaken for a front-runner in the category—all signs point to a two-horse race between Oppenheimer’s Cillian Murphy and The Holdovers’ Paul Giamatti—but we’re talking about one of the biggest movie stars on the planet co-headlining a freakin’ Martin Scorsese film. But while I’m disappointed for DiCaprio, in a weird way, his exclusion from the race bodes well for the future of the Oscars: If Academy voters aren’t as obsessed with A-listers, chances are we’ll get a more interesting slate of nominees. And if DiCaprio needs a pick-me-up, he can always chow down on some raw bison liver.

Winner: International Fare

As the Academy has added to its membership over the years, its international footprint has grown along with it. For the 2024 nominations, a record-breaking 93 countries were represented in the Academy’s voting body. That international flavor was most pronounced in this year’s Best Director category, where Justine Triet and Jonathan Glazer were nominated for Anatomy of a Fall and The Zone of Interest, respectively. (Anatomy of a Fall is a French production; The Zone of Interest is Britain’s entry for Best International Feature Film, for which it was also nominated.) In fact, ever since Bong Joon-ho was nominated for (and won) Best Director for Parasite in 2020, the category has made space for at least one director from an international production: There was Denmark’s Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) in 2021, Japan’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car) in 2022, and Sweden’s Ruben Östlund (Triangle of Sadness) in 2023. That tradition didn’t just continue in 2024—it doubled.

Obviously, the Oscars are still heavily skewed toward American fare, especially when other countries can nominate only one film for Best International Feature. (Anatomy of a Fall wasn’t eligible in the category, as France elected to nominate The Taste of Things, which didn’t even make the cut. Talk about fumbling the bag.) But as the Academy continues to add more international members to its ranks, the Oscars are slowly but surely starting to feel a little less “local.”

Loser (to an Extent): Barbie

It doesn’t seem right to label a movie that earned eight nominations, including for Best Picture, as a loser. But it isn’t the number of nominations that Barbie received that surprised as much as what was chosen—and who was omitted. It’s genuinely shocking that Greta Gerwig didn’t score a Best Director nomination, although, on the bright side, she did become the first director to have her first three films earn Best Picture nods. Meanwhile, Margot Robbie missed the cut for Best Actress despite headlining the biggest blockbuster of 2023. (To quote another Gerwig film: It’s the TITULAR ROLE.)

At the same time, the Academy wasn’t exactly anti-Barbie: Somehow, America Ferrera squeezed into the Best Supporting Actress race for what amounts to a crowd-pleasing speech. (It’s giving Jamie Lee Curtis winning an Oscar for Everything Everywhere All at Once, which is not a compliment.) And while Ryan Gosling was entirely deserving of his Best Supporting Actor nomination, it does feel weird that a Ken is being recognized by the Oscars at the expense of an actual Barbie. In any case, don’t feel too bad for Barbie: Those box office receipts are a greater gift than anything the film could receive on Hollywood’s biggest night.

Winner: Oscar Couples

We don’t really think of the Oscars as a couples affair, but that might be one of the defining story lines from this year’s slate of nominees. In all, six couples secured Oscar nominations from the Academy: Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach (Barbie), Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas (Oppenheimer), Margot Robbie and Tom Ackerley (Barbie), Justine Triet and Arthur Harari (Anatomy of a Fall), Samy Burch and Alex Mechanik (May December), and Jerusha Hess and Jared Hess (the animated short film Ninety-Five Senses). As the old saying goes: The couple that works together wins Oscars together.

Loser: May December

While Maestro was Netflix’s greatest success story from the 2024 nominations, it sure seemed like May December would at least join the party. Todd Haynes’s latest film was a critical darling and a very tricky balancing act, aping the tabloid sensibilities of a Lifetime movie for a story that cuts deeper the longer you sit with it. A big part of why May December works so well is its trio of lead actors: Julianne Moore as a woman who began a relationship with a 13-year-old boy, Natalie Portman as the actress tasked with playing her in a movie adaptation, and Charles Melton as the grown-up version of said boy, who is married to Moore’s character and has children with her. And yet May December came away with just a single nomination, for Best Original Screenplay, which feels like a letdown for a film that managed to be harrowing and campy in equal measure. (“I don’t think we have enough hot dogs” lives in my head rent-free.) May December deserved better, and I can only hope that Melton’s superlative performance puts him on everyone’s radar: He’s a star in the making.

Winner: First-Time Directors

It’s hard enough to get your feature film debut made; it feels downright impossible to get a Best Picture nomination on your first try. Of course, that’s exactly what happened to Cord Jefferson (American Fiction) and Celine Song (Past Lives), who both beat the odds with indie films that cut through the noise. (I’m still crying about the ending of Past Lives, and it’s been eight months since I’ve seen it.) If anything, the real reward for Jefferson and Song isn’t the Best Picture nominations—it’s how much that kind of industry recognition should help them get future projects off the ground.

Loser: A24 Bungling The Iron Claw’s Release

The Iron Claw, A24’s unrelentingly depressing wrestling biopic about the Von Erich family, was one of the best films of 2023. Yet The Iron Claw didn’t manage to get a single Oscar nomination, which is a damn shame because it features Zac Efron and Holt McCallany doing the best work of their careers. There’s a chance The Iron Claw never would’ve been much of an Oscars darling, but the problem is that A24 didn’t give the movie a chance. Instead of premiering The Iron Claw at a fall film festival—the kind of event that would have put Sean Durkin’s movie on the award season radar—the studio put it out at the very end of the year. The good news is that The Iron Claw is doing well for itself at the box office, but that still could’ve happened alongside some earlier industry exposure at, say, the Venice Film Festival or Telluride. On the flip side, none other than Adele hailed The Iron Claw as her favorite movie of the year, which is just as exciting as winning an Oscar.