Oscars 2024: These are the most hotly contested categories

Entertainment

Awards season will heat up when the Oscars nominations are unveiled Tuesday morning, and observers are predicting some favorites in the most competitive categories may get shut out—and the Best Director category may fail to include a woman in the category.
“Oppenheimer” stars Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr. are expected to land nominations. (Photo by Robyn BECK / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images) AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Key facts
  • “Oppenheimer” is widely predicted to have the strongest showing: Variety and the Hollywood Reporter are projecting it will receive the most nominations, with lead actor Cillian Murphy, supporting actor Robert Downey Jr. and director Christopher Nolan expected to contend for wins in their categories.
  • The directing lineup could lack women: Variety and Vanity Fair are projecting “Barbie” director Greta Gerwig will be snubbed after she missed a crucial nod from the British Academy Film Awards, typically a predictor of Oscars success, though Justine Triet (“Anatomy of a Fall”) and Celine Song (“Past Lives”) are also considered contenders.
  • Many pundits predict Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), Emma Stone (“Poor Things”), Carey Mulligan (“Maestro”), Sandra Hüller (“Anatomy of a Fall”) and Margot Robbie (“Barbie”) to land lead actress nods—but the crowded field of contenders also includes Golden Globe nominees Annette Bening (“Nyad”) and Greta Lee (“Past Lives”).
  • Alongside Murphy, Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”) and Bradley Cooper (“Maestro”) are widely predicted for lead actor nods, with Leonardo DiCaprio (“Killers of the Flower Moon”), Jeffrey Wright (“American Fiction”) and Colman Domingo (“Rustin”) among those competing for the other two nominations.
  • After a press run dominated by accusations of poor working conditions and low pay, multiple pundits predict “The Color Purple” will land just one nomination for supporting actress Danielle Brooks—while Variety projects zero nominations.
  • A-listers like Angelina Jolie, Ben Affleck and Regina King held screenings and question-and-answer sessions for Ava DuVernay’s film “Origin” in the final days of Oscar voting, leading some to speculate it could land surprise nominations.
News peg

The Oscars nominations announcement will air at 8:30 a.m. ET Tuesday on the Academy’s website and social media profiles, as well as on ABC. The ceremony will take place March 10 on ABC.

What to watch for

Whether any films will earn a shock Best Picture nomination.

Many pundits have settled on the same 10 projected nominees in the night’s biggest category, with few expecting any surprises: “Oppenheimer,” “Poor Things,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Barbie,” “The Holdovers,” “Maestro,” “Past Lives,” “American Fiction,” “Anatomy of a Fall” and “The Zone of Interest.”

Other films thought to have outside shots for a nomination include “Saltburn”—which some pundits noted may benefit from its viral social media buzz—and “The Color Purple.”

Key background

“Oppenheimer” has been the biggest winner so far this awards season with the biggest win tallies at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards.

It won five awards from nine nominations at the Globes, with victories for Best Motion Picture — Drama, Best Director, Best Original Score, and acting awards for Murphy and Downey Jr.

It also took home eight awards at the Critics Choice, including Best Picture and a directing win for Nolan. “Oppenheimer” also leads the nomination tally at the upcoming BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild Awards, the latter in a tie with “Barbie,” both indicators of success at the Academy Awards.

Tangent

The Best Director category has long faced criticism for excluding women: In the 96-year history of the Academy Awards, just seven women directors have been nominated, with only one two-time nominee: Jane Campion, who won for “The Power of the Dog” in 2022.

Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win Best Director in 2010 for “The Hurt Locker,” and Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color to win in 2021 for “Nomadland.”

Despite a historic two wins in a row for women, the directing category excluded women again at the 2023 ceremony, drawing criticism from Zhao, who said there’s “clearly a very big gap for women filmmakers in our industry.”

Gerwig, a contender this year for “Barbie,” was nominated for “Lady Bird” in 2018, though her exclusion from the directing category for “Little Women” two years later was deemed a snub by some awards observers.

This article was first published on forbes.com.

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