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  • Writer's picturePaul Gainey

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Like Doctor Strangelove before them, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has clearly learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.

Oppenheimer is now unquestionably this year’s frontrunner, with 13 nominations, mushrooming on the horizon and seemingly set to incinerate everything in its path.

But will it? Some other British contenders should be spared the inferno: not least The Zone of Interest, whose five nominations (including Best Picture and Best Director) make this steely dramatisation of the everyday life of an Auschwitz concentration camp commandant more of a mainstream pick than some of us believed.

With its 11 nominations, the zany Frankenstein fable Poor Things is arguably Oppenheimer’s strongest rival. Meanwhile, those thoroughgoing American cultural titans, Martin Scorsese and Barbie, are just behind with eight each. Here’s what I think are likely to win:

Best Picture


Nolan is the only contemporary filmmaker to have worked out how to bend the full might of the studio system to his will. The sheer unlikeliness of Oppenheimer as a summer mega-hit is a new career high. If the Academy don’t finally give Nolan their top honour this year, they’ll look like utter doughnuts.

Best Director

Christopher Nolan

See above: if not this year, when?

Best Actor

Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers

Giamatti is a bizarrely unsung talent, especially considering his body of work to date. And his nominated role is perfectly tailored to his singular presence and talent.

Best Actress

Emma Stone, Poor Things

Difficult category, Sandra Hüller, in Anatomy of a Fall and Carey Mulligan, Maestro, were both terrific but I am going for Emma Stone, for her performance in Poor Things, an adventure on previously unexplored ground. Stone’s go-for-broke dazzle will likely eclipse her more stoic, ambiguous work.

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Downey Jr, Oppenheimer

Marvel’s former leading man could have retired in style: instead, as Oppenheimer’s balding quasi-antagonist he dug as deep as he ever has done, and reminded the world he can really act, too.

Best Supporting Actress

Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers

Randolph’s part as a no-nonsense dinner lady grieving the death of her son is by far the richest and most testing of the nominated roles.Academy voters will hopefully recognise the above and vote accordingly, however much they dug Ferrara’s Barbie monologue.

Best Original Screenplay

Anatomy of a Fall

There’s a wealth of great screenwriting here, with all five handily outshining recent winners like Belfast and Green Book. Any would be a good result, but let’s pull for the first victory for (mainland) Europe since Talk to Her in 2003. Really loved this film.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Zone of Interest

Less taken from the Martin Amis novel than simply prompted by it, Glazer’s script – by turns hellish, surreal and defiantly humdrum – is the most daring nominee this category has seen for years.

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