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The 2024 Oscars are less than six weeks away, and the release of nominations last week put the spotlight on the Academy’s most-loved films of the year. 

From “Oppenheimer” sweeping 13 nominations to the viral upset regarding those left out of “Barbie's” accolades, the 96th Academy Awards already have audiences captivated.

Carly’s Best Director: This year’s directing award is difficult to predict, with Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan as the obvious frontrunners for “Killers of the Flower Moon” and “Oppenheimer,” respectively.

Though Nolan’s film is nominated for more awards, I think Scorsese will take home his second directing honor (Nolan has yet to clinch an Academy Award).

Most conversations around the best director contenders, however, had little to do with those nominated. "Barbie" director Greta Gerwig’s omission fueled outrage online, but a Gerwig nomination would be ceremonial at best — “Barbie” was already rewarded with a billion-dollar box office, fitting for an entertainment movie that has somehow usurped credit for feminism in the film industry. 

(Writer’s note: Three of the Best Picture nominees were directed by women.)

Ellie’s Best Director: Christopher Nolan, director of “Oppenheimer,” is my personal choice for best director. He has an extensive resume, producing several blockbuster films with high reviews and strong technical abilities. 

The way he portrayed the movie from Oppenheimer’s point of view through both cinematography and script details makes him the obvious candidate for Best Director.

Carly’s Best Actor: With three biopics making the list, the best actor category loves a true story. Of the spread, the award clearly belongs to Cillian Murphy for his portrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Murphy’s performance spans more than three decades of the physicist’s life, and I can’t imagine another actor capturing the complexity of Oppenheimer’s character as well as he did.

Ellie’s Best Actor: Cillian Murphy embodies J. Robert Oppenheimer in his heart-wrenching performance and is sure to win the Oscar for this category. His vulnerability highlights the nature and conflict of humankind and Murphy is a large reason for the movie’s successful storytelling and complexity.

Carly’s Best Actress: My pick out of the competitive list of female leads is Emma Stone, who gave her best performance yet in a complicated role in “Poor Things.” 

Lily Gladstone made history as the first Native American best actress nominee, and I expect she’ll win for her stoic role in “Killers of the Flower Moon.” 

Ellie’s Best Actress: Nominees for best actress came with further controversy as Margot Robbie failed to receive a nomination for her strong performance as Barbie. Robbie’s skill, emotion and my admiration for her leads me to question why she didn't receive a nomination, as she would have been my top candidate for Best Actress. 

That being said, I believe Emma Stone’s captivating performance as Bella Baxter in “Poor Things” will likely land her the Oscar.

Carly’s Best Picture: I’ve made my admiration for “Oppenheimer” evident and Nolan's adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography is an easy choice for the film world’s most coveted award. 

The slow-burn biopic has all of the ingredients of a best picture winner: career-defining performances from the entire cast, careful pacing and a complex, yet spellbinding, screenplay. 

Ellie’s Best Picture: My prediction and choice to receive the best picture award is “Oppenheimer.” Leading the pack with the most nominations, “Oppenheimer” holds significant and relevant historical and cultural messages. 

The film portrays the personal dilemmas of the real people behind the development of the atomic bomb. On a broader level, the movie has become applicable to current political controversies and conversations. 

While every year’s Oscar nominations recognize the most revered films of that year, we think the movies released in 2023 include some of the best pictures since the pandemic, inspiring hilarious internet trends like watching “Barbenheimer” back-to-back in theaters.

The Oscars will honor films from all corners of the industry – tense, atomic dread brought to life in “Oppenheimer,” nostalgia for girlhood celebrated in “Barbie,” and even three foreign language films in the Best Picture category: “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Past Lives” and “The Zone of Interest.”

On March 10, the Oscars will broadcast live on ABC, or viewers can access the show through streaming services such as Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV.

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