After doing last year’s forecast, I wanted to give this up. But I was prevailed upon, first, by the diversity and quality of this year’s nominated films, and second, from pleas from friends and their friends.  Also, I could stream most nominated films other than going to the movie theater, which I still did. Plus, I now have an AI assisting me write this, who I can always blame. So, to all of you my people out there in the dark  who love to watch movies, I’m back to where I was born to be, and I’m staying for good!

Jimmy Kimmel is hosting the Awards show again this Sunday, March 10, 2024  and it seems to be running smooth with no  anticipated disruptions. But since we have a potential first Native American winner, I would like to reflect on the matter of Sacheen Littlefeather.

On  March 27, 1973 (45th Academy Awards) Sacheen Littlefeather refused the Best Actor Oscar  awarded to Marlon Brando Oscar (for The Godfather) who protested Hollywood’s depiction of Native Americans and to draw attention to the standoff  at Wounded Knee. She walked up the stage dressed in a beaded buckskin dress, moccasins, and hair ties. She introduced herself as Apache, and President of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee. She was booed and heckled (there were some cheers), she was threatened with jail time if her speech exceeded 60 seconds (so she could not read all of Brando’s prepared speech);  John Wayne according to her, wanted to knock her off the stage and had to be restrained by six security men;  and she was blacklisted by the movie industry which impacted her career and wellbeing.  

The Academy apologized to Sacheen in 2022 for the treatment she received when she declined the award on Brando’s behalf. She died shortly thereafter on October 2, 2022. And then, after her death, her sisters claimed she was a predentian, because their father was of Mexican descent, not Apache or Yaqui as Sacheen claimed.  Sacheen’s real name was Maria Louise Cruz, and she appeared in a few movies. The sisters have petitioned the Academy to remove Sacheen from the In Memoriam segment in this year’s ceremony because it would be perpetrating an ethnic fraud. Let’s see if that happens. A good reason to pay close attention to that segment of the show.

The assertion that she was not an American Indian, was unknown back in 1973, but she was booed, and a backlash followed. In my view, regardless of her true nationality, the message protesting the treatment or portrayal of Native Americans was valid then, as it is now. Sacheen’s appearance at the 45th Academy Awards was the first time a Native American woman had stood onstage at the ceremony. This Sunday, Lily Gladstone may be the actual first one,  and she will be accepting an Oscar in her own behalf.  

That said, here’s the forecast.

 Best Picture

1.       American Fiction:  puts a light on what is African American Fiction or its stereotype. And it has three possible endings for you to choose from.  Funny, smart, and on point. I actually liked this.

 2.       Anatomy of a Fall—literally, and figuratively. As secrets became known, the film explores trust, ambition, betrayal, and the characters’ fall from grace. Cerebral dialogue; civilized court room scenes with a spectacular backdrop. Stoic, remote, and cold, but so much more class. This won the Palme D’Or but is too cerebral for U.S. voters. Highly recommended.

 3.       Barbie:  A pink fantasy, a comedy of the iconic Barbie and  Ken. The film takes us on a journey of self-discovery as Barbie navigates both Barbieland and the real world. It cleverly comments on patriarchy and feminism while celebrating the beloved fashion doll. A triumph for a commercial film, but why were Margot Robbie and Director Greta Gerwig not nominated? I’m sue you’ve all seen it.

 4.       The Holdovers: a heartwarming film of a cranky professor at the prestigious Barton Academy in the early 1970s who had to supervise a few students staying behind during Christmas break. There was no Internet then, or food deliveries, so we have this  beautiful story of human connections including those with the head cook, as they deal with the unpredictability of life. Highly recommended.

 5.       Killers of the Flower Moon: a gripping crime drama set in 1920s Oklahoma. Based on true events (then,  the Native Americans were rich, and the white men were their drivers, laborers, oppressors, and killers—well, that hasn’t changed), the film investigates a series of murders targeting members of the Osage Nation. Too long (3.5 hours!), slow, sleep inducing as if we were being poisoned like most of the Osage tribe women. Worth a watch.

 6.       Maestro:  the double life of  renowned conductor Leonard Bernstein. Lots of focus on his imploding marriage, but not much on his struggles as a conductor, or his bisexuality. Bravura conducting performances aided by the transformative power of music. It moves from black and white to color. A good Netflix and chill choice.  Highly recommended.

 7.       “Oppenheimer”- directed by Christopher Nolan, this epic biopic chronicles the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant physicist behind the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. It delves into the complexities of science, morality, and the impact of scientific discoveries on humanity.  Great scope and subject. A bit long. But on the whole a great and grand movie. It’s a winner baby! Go watch it.

 8.       Past Lives –the K drama in the mix. Childhood friends in South Korea lose contact and reconnect through Facebook, leading to a heartwarming exploration of relationships, missed opportunities, and the passage of time. Excellent, and perfectly subdued dialogue. Worth a watch.

 9.       Poor Things: a dark, comedic, erotic, idiotic, genius tale of a  woman who has been resurrected using the brain of her still-living baby, turning her into a child-like adult.  Typical esoteric film the critics love to flaunt as great cinema. People flock to see it but only to watch Bella nude for 2 minutes or so. But seriously, Poor Things and  Barbie explored what it means to be a human and a woman,  to become aware of pain, suffering, and  joy, and overthrow male domination.  Barbie is the kid’s toy version;  Poor Things is for adults.  The Art Deco sets are spectacular. It starts black and white then transforms to vivid color.  Seems to be a trend in the nominated films. See it and try to figure it out. At this point, given the nomination for this weird movie, why was Saltburn not nominated? It has incredible cinematography, set design, an acting. Was it because the lead actor danced naked in the end? If Bella can do it, why not Oliver? Discuss!

 10.   The Zone of Interest: a Holocaust movie with not a single victim shown. It takes place in a beautiful house with a sprawling garden next to concentration camp and the complexities faced by characters in an unimaginable context. Denial is bliss. The ending is confusing unless you have been to Auschwitz/Birkenau.  Highly recommended.


Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers­; --Second choice. Good acting, but not O Captain, My Captain great ( Robin Williams lost the Oscar actor race for that one) and could not hold a match to the atomic Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer that has won the SAG, Globes, and BAFTA, and will win this. Bradley Cooper, Maestro—third choice, if only for the ecstatic, intense, and sweaty conducting  performances. Mahler!  Colman Domingo, Rustin—an interesting character we’ve never heard of, and would probably not remember for long. Same for the acting.  Jeffrey Wright; American Fiction –black fiction matters, satirical it may be; and it’s funny as F*CK. Seriously, that’ the novel’s title and it’s better than My Pafology, but not serious enough for an Oscar.

1.       Annette Bening, Nyad-- You’re never too old to chase your dreams. And even if something looks like a solitary sport, it’s a team effort—so goes the famous line in the movie. But she never actually ages in the 5-year span of the film. Same hair, same face, same expression, same lines. The movies uses  clips of the real Nyad in the younger scenes, thus the continuity gap. That destroyed the movie for me. It was stuck on a loop with her swimming, and losing, and swimming repeatedly until she finally succeeds.  It got too tedious, no character development, no team effort. Other than a few seconds on the cancer story of the boat captain, some scenes of the doctor, and the tech designer of her swim outfit, the movie was focused on her, and her unchanging face and it failed its own mantra. This is her fourth nomination, perhaps mirroring her four attempts to do the 103-mile Cuba to Florida swim, and people feel it is her time, but the film, and  her acting,  are unseaworthy. Her only Hollywood triumph according to a friend of mine, is that she tamed a philandering Warren Beatty. Yes, indeed! 

2.       Carrey Mulligan, Maestro—Felicia Montealegre Cohn Berstein, the wife of the Maestro. I never knew her story, and most do not. And that’s the appeal; a dive into the personal life of the bigger-than- life  conductor, and how she could not match his greatness, and she blames him for that. A bit too simplistic; we  know there is more beneath this image of happy heterosexuality. Mulligan is great in this role, possibly her best. Too bad, there is less focus on her in totality,  she is eclipsed by her own co-star, and her early black and white scenes, like the dance scene where she is at her best, fade from viewers and voters’ memory. Her light slowly fades as the film moves into color; an indication of her decline into  depression; but she ignites yet again in that Thanksgiving day argument with Bernstein as a giant Snoopy ballon floats by.  

3.       Emma Stone, Poor Things—most  believe she should win this, but she won’t. Beyond the nudity and grotesque crustacean sex positions, as Bella Baxter, she embodied a Frankenstein- like body that learns to live as a woman with its inequalities and complexities and despite those who wish to manipulate her.  Seriously, it’s  a feminist movie, just like Barbie, but with lots  of nudity. Emma Stone has also just recently won for La La Land; voters may  think it’s too soon for a second one.

4.       Lily Gladstone, in Killers of the Flower Moon, is Mollie Burkhart, an Osage woman whose relatives are systematically murdered by her husband and uncle so they can seize her family’s oil-rich land. Given that this is a true story, kept hidden for so long, it is Oscar gold. She has won the NY Film Critic’s Circle Awars, the Golden Globes and the SAG award, and deservingly so for her softspoken, nuanced, more facial acting that anything else. It highlights the exploitation of Native Americans then and now, and she is of Siksikaitsitapi and NiMíiPuu heritage, making her the first Native American woman to be nominated for best actress. She wins this.

5.       Sandra Hüller, Anatomy of a Fall—this German actress is actually in two Oscar nominated movies,  the other one is Zone of Interest. In this aptly titled film, the court, (we) have to decide if  Sandra Voyter is guilty of her husband’s death. Did he fall accidentally; did she push him (murder), or did he do it deliberately (suicide)?  As the film unfolds, the focus moves from the victim, the blood splatter, to her. In  the cerebral dialogue and civilized arguments, she is the center of attention. She is intelligent, charming, determined, unfaithful, maybe a plagiarist, but is she vindictive enough to murder her husband? I read that while filming,  Sandra wasn’t told if her character was guilty or innocent. Probably why she gives such a superior performance. She’s my bet to win this. But she doesn’t have the popular votes for it.   Just a thought I had as I watched this: do people actually try to kill themselves by overdoing on aspirin? Don’t they have oxy in Europe?

Supporting Actor

Given that Margot Robie was snubbed for Best Actress, and Greta Gerwig for Best Director for Barbie, I want Ryan Gosling, to win this as Ken. But no such luck. Robert Downey Jr, in Oppenheimer will win this as Lewis Strauss, former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. It’s a career changing role move for Downey who has played Iron Man in the Marvel series for over a decade. The fans and votes are there for him. He has won the SAG award, and that’s a great indicator of Oscar Gold. Mark Ruffalo, Poor Things—was passable, but as a manipulative boyfriend, not likeable.  Robert De Niro, in  Killers of the Flower Moon—seasoned actor, several Oscar Wins, but he’s out of his element: for one, trading his NY accent for an undeterminable western one; playing a scheming villain instead of an in your face one, and the movie is just way too long. Sterling K. Brown, American Fiction—nominated just for his abs I would think. Nothing much. But I’m sure he has more, but the movie does not develop it.


Supporting Actress. Emily Blunt, “Oppenheimer”—to be blunt, I do not know why she’s nominated at all. Her role is unspectacular, and not crucial to the movie. Penelope Cruz for Ferrrari should have been nominated instead. Pass.  Danielle Brooks, “The Color Purple”—did not see it. But Fantasia Barrino would be my  nominee choice. Sorry. Pass.  America Ferrera, “Barbie”—the only acting nominee in this film. She actually embodies the whole feminist essence is her one-minute monologue—and for that she deserves this nomination. Jodie Foster, “Nyad”—a deserving  nominee. She actually is the “team effort” in Nyad. She explodes in one scene and tells Nyad  she did make sacrifices for her.  But hardly credible with her words alone. It needed visuals (this is a movie!)  not a stage play.  Also, she looks the same in the 5-year span of the film. Same hair, complexion, glasses, just a different T shirt.  I was so disappointed. Next-Da’Vine Joy Randolph, “The Holdovers”—everyone says she will win. She won the Golden Globe, the BAFTA, the Critics’ Choice Movie Award and the SAG award, so she must be doing something right. As Mary Lamb, the chief cook, her role added soul,  suffering, and righteous stiff upper lip to the mix. She also cooked the Christmas meal. Unknows and first-time nominees usually do win in this category, so she gets this.

Director. Jonathan Glazer, “The Zone of Interest”—A masterful direction of how evil could be hiding next door, or how oblivious people get, the closer they are; or a stern belief that what they do is efficient, no matter what they are burning. All these make this nomination deserving. Yorgos Lanthimos, “Poor Things”—previously nominated for original screenplay in 2017 for The Lobster, Yorgos is now up for directing this hard to describe but better seen movie. The story flows, ebbs,  and ends, and only upon reflection that we understand what it is. Or do we? Christopher Nolan, “Oppenheimer”—this has won most of the awards and will win the Oscar as well. The brilliance in directing in how he shows, in 3 hours, the sides for and against giving the world the power to destroy itself, and  how Oppenheimer was both a genius and oblivious to what he had created. Martin Scorsese, “Killers of the Flower Moon-” a bit different theme, telling an evil truth. More medium to wide shots, rapid and gone,  no stylized music. He is 80 so maybe he’s tired of it all.  Justine Triet, “Anatomy of a Fall”—such a welcome nomination for this female, French director, who is also up for Original Screenplay. The genius of her directing is showing both sides of a marriage including the couples’ book and music choices, and making the viewer decide the wife’s guilt or innocence,  regardless of the film’s verdict.

Original Screenplay. Justine Triet and Arthur Harari, Anatomy of a Fall—Husband and wife will win for the brilliance of the story. It has won the BAFTA and Globes. Second bet: Celine Song, Past Lives. Third bet: David Hemingson, The Holdovers.

Adapted Screenplay. Cord Jefferson, American Fiction.  First time solo, writer-director nominee, with a movie up for Best Picture.  Second bet: Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, Barbie—possibly a consolation because she was snubbed of a Best Director nomination. Third bet: Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer. But he is heavy to win Best Director, so voters will spread the love.

Cinematography All five nominees here have been nominated previously, but none have won. But Hoyte van Hoytema, Oppenheimer has this. The film has the momentum with 13 nominations. And his varied work from sprawling desert vistas to close ups during the hearings, to Einstein in the snow, plus the bomb! Second bet is Poor Things. Just cannot ignore those visuals.

 Costume Design. Wrapped in plastic, it’s fantastic-- Jacqueline Durran, Barbie—fur coats, rollerblading outfits, and not just Barbie, but Ken too.  Close competition: Holly Waddington, Poor Things who worked in black and white, and color.

Hair and Makeup. A close fight. Kazu Hiro, Kay Georgiou, and Lori McCoy-Bell; Maestro, wins this. The film is in black and white and in color. Bradley Cooper was transformed, nose and all, into Leonard Bernstein, a real person, which always has higher standards that a fictional character. And how his hair shook as he conducted Mahlers Resurrection Symphony in the film is hard to surpass. Plus, Carrey Mulligan’s transformation.  Second choice: Nadia Stacey, Mark Coulier, and Josh Weston; Poor Things—also transitions from black and white, to color. That Frankenstein look in William Dafoe is outstanding, and all those corpses . Query:  Society of the Snow is nominated in this category. Was it for work on the cadavers that the survivors had to ___. Oh, never mind.

 Film Editing. Jennifer Lame, Oppenheimer. Excellent job stitching  the 3-hour movie without losing its chain reaction. Second bet: Laurent Sénéchal, Anatomy of a Fall, not for the fall, it’s all white out there, but for the alternating close ups of the protagonists.

 Visual Effects. Another hard one. But I think, finally. after its 70-year history, Godzilla gets an Oscar!  Takashi Yamazaki, Kiyoko Shibuya, Masaki Takahashi, and Tatsuji Nojima; Godzilla Minus One. Second, but far off: Jay Cooper, Ian Comley, Andrew Roberts, and Neil Corbould; The Creator.  Oppenheimer is surprisingly not nominated. Probably because they don’t want us to  think the A bomb is just a visual effect and not real? Discuss.

 Production Design. This is a difficult one. For fictionalized places, there’s s Sarah Greenwood, production design; Katie Spencer, set decoration; for Barbie. Also,  for “Poor Things”  — Shona Heath, James Price (production designer), Szusza Mihalek (set decorator). For recreation of actual places: then   Ruth De Jong, production design; Claire Kaufman, set decoration; Oppenheimer.  “Napoleon”  — Arthur Max (production designer), Elli Griff (set decorator), and Killers of the Flower Moon” — Jack Fisk (production designer), Adam Willis (set decorator).  Normally, reality will win here. But the set design of Poor Things were anything but. The academic classrooms, the panoramas, the art deco splendor, and deep dark boudoirs were outstanding.  Second bet: Barbie.

 Score and Sound. Note: Best Score focuses specifically on the original music composed to accompany the film, whereas Best Sound recognizes the overall achievement in sound design and production, including editing and mixing.

 Score. Ludwig Göransson, Oppenheimer wins. BOMB! Sentimental votes: John Williams, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny—probably his last, and  Robbie Robertson’s posthumous nomination for Killers of the Flower Moon, his first and last.

Sound. Willie Burton, Richard King, Gary A. Rizzo, and Kevin O’Connell; Oppenheimer. Big, loud, devastating. Second bet: the more nuanced, subtle, eerie work of Tarn Willers and Johnnie Burn in The Zone of Interest. Evil is near, as in just across the fence!

Original Song.  What Was I Made For?,” Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, Barbie—pretty much also answers why the movie is so popular. And it won the Grammy. Hard to beat that.   Second BET, same movie: I’m Just Ken,” Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, Barbie. Diane Warren has been nominated 15 times now.  When will she win?

 Documentary Feature.  20 Days in Mariupol—Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Second choice: Four Daughters, story of a Tunisian woman whose two eldest daughters were radicalized by Islamic extremists.

 Documentary Short. First bet:  The ABCs of Book Banning—a grave issue, with inputs from the kids themselves who want to know why certain books are being banned. Second: The Last Repair Shop (in Los Angeles, from Ben Proudfoot who won for The Queen of Basketball). Third: Nai Nai & Wài Pó—story of two grandmothers, and they are invited to the Oscar Red Carpet!

 Live Action Short. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar directed by Wes Anderson, but his name and other director’s names do not appear in the ballot. But it stars, Benedict Cumberbatch, so it will win. The After, stars David Oyelowo, as a grieving rideshare driver;  Red, White, and Blue discusses reproductive rights and features Brittany Snow.

 International Feature. The Zone of Interest, United Kingdom—outstanding as I have mentioned. Nominated in four other categories. Won the BAFTA, Critics Choice, Gotham, Indie Spirits. Won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Second Bet: Society of the Snow, Spain. Just like Zone, it tackles a sensitive subject without explicitly showing it. Query: As I was watching Snow, I wondered: they were smoking cigarettes throughout the film, but it never occurred to them to build a fire, so rescuers would see them? Discuss.

 Animated Feature. Spider-man: Across the Spider-verse.  The first one, Into the Spider-verse won this category in 2019. So, this has a lot of support going for it.  It’s also American. Second bet: The Boy and the Heron, explores grief, family, and responsibilities through a boy's fantastic journey into a parallel world. From Director  Hayao Miyazaki.

 Animated Short.  Dave Mullins' “War is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko,” which is co-writes with Sean Lennon, the son of Beatles band member John Lennon, has emerged as a formidable contender. This antiwar short gets the Oscar. Letter to a Pig, second choice. In this documentary drama,  a Holocaust survivor reads a letter he wrote to the pig who saved his life. A young schoolgirl hears his testimony in class and sinks into a twisted dream.

 That’s it. Thank You and Good Night.

See You next year!

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Our guest contributor - Vidor Nosce

  Vidor describes himself as a Filipino 'transplant' working as a tax research attorney in the US. He is an art, architecture and film enthusiast.  The pandemic hasn't stopped him from watching movies.

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