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Culture > Entertainment

My 2024 Oscars ranking

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Mt Holyoke chapter.

Happy end of the 2024 awards season to everyone! I hope you all watched a lot of great movies and didn’t get any death threats from creepy old men on Twitter about your film opinions. (This happened to me in 2021 and I still reflect on it…Loyal fans of mine know which movie it was about!)

I have loved this award season because, for the first time, I really loved almost all the nominees. This year, I set the goal of watching every Best Picture nominee, and I completed it! After many nights of procrastinating tasks because, as a film major, watching Oscar nominees can technically be considered homework, I present my ranking.

10) Maestro
Directed by Bradley Cooper. Maestro is a biopic about classical composer Leonard Bernstein.

This is a classic Oscar-bait movie. It’s actually fairly compelling story-wise, but there’s nothing special about it, and it softens a lot of the more controversial details of his story. As a Jewish person, I’m not sure I ever made up my mind about Bradley Cooper wearing prosthetics in order to look Jewish, and the movie became a meme so quickly that most of the more critical discourse around that died down. Carey Mulligan, while hands down the heart and soul of this movie, should have won Best Actress in 2021 for her far more daring performance in Promising Young Woman.

9) Poor Things
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos. Poor Things is an allegorical story about a woman who is brought back to life by an unorthodox scientist.

This is my most controversial film take this year I fear, and I take full responsibility for this: I just don’t like surrealism. However, I think the state of film discourse, especially on social media, has absolutely disintegrated, and you can really see it when talking about Poor Things. I don’t think a male filmmaker telling a story about the exploitation of women and including sex scenes in that story is inherently sexist, and I think a lot of discussions could be had about this film’s feminism. I’m also generally of the opinion that any movie that creates this much cultural discussion is inherently valuable and worth critically examining.

8) American Fiction
Directed by Cord Jefferson. American Fiction is a comedy about a Black author who writes a satirical novel that falls into every Black stereotype he can think of, leading the book to become a huge success among white audiences.

I really liked American Fiction, but it sometimes downplayed the publishing industry satire to focus on the family dynamics. However, said dynamics—especially the main character and his brother, who has recently come out as gay—were unexpectedly emotional and real. Multiple moments were even laugh-out-loud funny. I highly recommend this film.

7) Oppenheimer
Directed by Christopher Nolan. Oppenheimer is a biopic about the life of J. Robert Oppeheimer, the father of the atomic bomb.

I felt sooo film major when I realized I actually really liked Oppenheimer. I didn’t see it over the summer in the midst of the Barbenheimer craze and I’m glad, because my film opinions have gotten more nuanced since then. It’s such technically impressive filmmaking, and I liked how restrained the performances were given the grand trend of “biopics about white men screaming and crying.” The film explores what a complicated figure Oppenheimer was and doesn’t glorify him at all, but it’s hard to watch a film about the atrocities the U.S. committed against so many people whose stories the film industry and historical memory don’t really reckon with. Films that tell those stories deserve as much acclaim as this one.

6) The Zone of Interest
Directed by Johnathan Glazer. The Zone of Interest focuses on a high-ranking Nazi commander and his wife who live a banal, privileged life next to a concentration camp.

This film has gotten a lot of acclaim for its sound editing, and that is undoubtedly the most chilling part. The film shows us the ordinary life of the commander while the horrors of the Holocaust are only heard in the background. The cognitive dissonance of their privileged existence and what we know is going on at the same time is terrifying and infuriating. This movie made me physically nauseous, but it’s incredibly done, and it’s a truly unexpected way to make a film about the Holocaust. It feels wrong to put this film in a ranking list at all.

5) The Holdovers
Directed by Alexander Payne. The Holdovers follows a group of Massachusetts prep school students who have to stay at school over winter vacation and the cranky teacher assigned to supervise them.

Dominic Sessa, you will be a movie star! I’m obsessed with the fact that this film invited alums and students of the school they filmed at to audition, and now a totally unknown actor is going to be launched into superstardom. The film is set in the 1970s, and they somehow captured pure nostalgia and warmth. This is an instant Christmas classic. The Massachusetts representation is impeccable; I guess I’m just doomed to see a Boston neighborhood in film and feel a profound yearning.

4) Killers of the Flower Moon
Directed by Martin Scorsese. KOTFM tells the true story of members of the Osage Nation in 1920s Oklahoma, who were slowly murdered by white settlers trying to steal their oil money.

Lily Gladstone deserved that Oscar. This is filmmaking on a scale I can’t even truly wrap my head around. It’s just fascinating to watch how it all comes together. The story is utterly devastating; my teeth were chattering with rage for the entire last hour. This is probably one of the most important films of the decade, and I’m disturbed that it didn’t win anything.

3) Past Lives
Directed by Celine Song. Past Lives follows Nora and Hae Sung, childhood best friends who lose touch when Nora emigrates from South Korea to the United States and reconnect later in life, raising questions about the lives they could have led.

DO NOT think about former situationships while watching this movie! Please trust me! This is such a quiet, contemplative film; it just pulls you in immediately. It’s a deeply human slice of life story, and I’m so glad the Academy acknowledges films like this.

2) Anatomy of a Fall
Directed by Justine Triet. Anatomy of a Fall is a courtroom drama about a woman who stands accused of killing her husband.

This was such an interesting and different kind of film, and I absolutely loved it! I want a love like the kind between Justine Triet and Sandra Hüller on the red carpet—seriously, look it up and report back. This is probably the most unique film to get hype this award season, and it deserves it; it is absolutely gripping and plays like an action thriller.

1) Barbie
Directed by Greta Gerwig. Barbie is a meta-story about the characters in Barbie Land as they learn about life and the patriarchy for the first time.

Why is it that whenever a piece of media—especially one made by and for women—gets too popular, suddenly audiences turn on it and try to say it was overrated the whole time? If award shows reward movies that have a cultural impact, no one deserves acknowledgment more than Barbie. It’s well-constructed as a film and visually stunning, but it’s so much more than that. Barbie made my mom dress in pink and hold my hand while crying in the movie theater. The outfits, the theater experience, the memes—it was a cultural moment and I loved it. I have a lot to say to people who wanted Barbie to be Gender Studies class level feminism, because there is so much to be said for the importance of making feminism accessible to a wide audience. Barbie has stayed relevant and impactful both culturally and personally, and I will always love it.

Honorable mentions: Why did they get snubbed? Make me an Academy voter, you cowards.

Directed by Sofia Coppola. Priscilla is a biopic about Priscilla and Elvis Presley.

Snubbing Priscilla for costume and set design awards should be a crime. No one is better at using a film’s visual aesthetic to reinterpret a classic story in a feminist way than Sofia Coppola.

All Of Us Strangers
Directed by Andrew Haigh. AOUS is the story of a gay screenwriter who falls in love with a man in his apartment building while grieving the loss of his parents.

Getting stabbed would be less painful than watching this movie. I don’t know what happened, but I started sobbing 15 minutes in and did not stop until an hour after it ended. Might be something I should unpack in therapy. Andrew Scott carried this movie and deserved more acting nominations.

The Iron Claw
Directed by Sean Durkin. The Iron Claw is the true story of a famous wrestling family doomed by circumstance.

Movies like this sort of seem like the Academy’s bread and butter, so I actually don’t know why it got snubbed for acting awards and maybe Best Picture. I would personally swap it for The Holdovers. This film is so well-crafted and mournful and re-establishes Zac Efron as a serious dramatic actor. It deserved more love this award season.

Directed by Emerald Fennell. Saltburn follows Oliver, an outsider Oxford student who becomes enamored with one of his classmates.

Oh boy. Yes, I am putting it in writing that I think Saltburn deserved Oscar nominations (and also maybe a Nobel Peace Prize, idk). Nominations for set design, cinematography, and score at the very least, maybe a few acting awards, and Emerald Fennell should have been nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay again. There is so much that is deep about Saltburn if you don’t get sucked into chronically online discourse about it, and the Academy’s choices this year were so safe and traditional that nominating something like Saltburn would have been a real statement.

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Sophie Frank

Mt Holyoke '26

Hi! I'm Sophie, I use she/her pronouns, I'm from upstate New York, and I'm an aspiring media and culture journalist. I love feminist dystopian media and 90s rom-coms, and you can always find me listening to Taylor Swift on the upper lake trail.