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We Are Cardinals

The 96th Academy Awards

The most prestigious film awards are right around the corner
Made by Michael Bloomberg in Canva posters via

The 96th Academy Awards, more commonly known as the Oscars, are scheduled for March 10 and are set to be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel. This year ten films are up for the most coveted award of Best Picture. They are “Oppenheimer,” “Barbie,” “Poor Things,” “American Fiction,” “The Holdovers,” “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Past Lives,” “Maestro” and “The Zone of Interest.”

Importance of the Oscars

Over the past three years, the Oscars have had their lowest viewership numbers of the past 20 years, hitting an all time low in 2021 of 10.4 million. Despite these low numbers, the Oscars remain an important piece of the film industry. Why do these awards remain so important though?

“The people in the Screen Actors Guild and the unions get to vote on that. So I think it’s still important,”  resident English and film teacher Kevin Poquette said. “Any films that I’m using if they’ve gotten any accolades, [I will] use that to validate it so it’s not just me saying this is a good movie.” Over 10,000 members are a part of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. All of its members are involved in the movie business in some capacity. 

Oscar-nominated movies recognize what Academy members believe to be the best of the best. For the people who go to see the movies, listening to these recommendations is a valuable way of discovering new films. 

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) is one of the largest entertainment unions in the world for Hollywood actors. A great number of stars who belong to SAG-AFTRA are members of the Academy. In July 2023 the union went on strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. The strike lasted until November of 2023, and these Academy Awards will be the first since then.

However, the Oscars are not without some problems. “Looking back at old Oscar winners, I see that sometimes it may be it was a campaign that just got popular at a time. Looking back at 1994 ‘Forrest Gump’ won best picture but you had ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Shawshank Redemption,’” Poquette said. The result of the Oscars is one movie being praised as the Best Picture, but it can be easy to overlook other great films when only one can win. 

Of course, the Oscars consist of 24 categories, which allow many industry pieces to receive their flowers, but Best Picture is always the coveted golden goose. 

Winners & Losers

So now the big question, who is going to win Best Picture this year? The best guess I can give you is “Oppenheimer.” The billion-dollar-earning blockbuster has been a force this awards season and looks to continue that into the Oscars. Nolan will take Best Director, Cillian Murphy gets Best Actor and the movie gets a majority of the technical awards like Best Sound or Best Film Editing.

But if I were to pick a dark horse candidate in this race, I would choose “Poor Things.” The dark comedy wasn’t as mainstream as “Oppenheimer,” but its audacious story and bold takes on feminism give it the best chance to upset “Oppenheimer”.

Some of the other bigger awards to be given out are Best Animated Feature, which I’m predicting to be “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” Best Actress, which I think Emma Stone will take home for her role in “Poor Things,” Adapted Screenplay, which “Oppenheimer” will most likely win, Original Screenplay, where “Past Lives” has the best shot and Best Original Song, that is destined to be awarded to “I’m Just Ken.”

But there are no winners without losers. We won’t know for sure who is a winner and loser until March 10, but that won’t stop me from guessing. So let us acknowledge those nominated that may be going home empty handed. 

Paul Giamatti gave a heartfelt performance in “The Holdovers” for Best Actor. Sterling K Brown was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in “American Fiction” but will most likely lose this to Robert Downey Jr. Either “The Boy and the Heron” or “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” will end up losing Best Animated Feature, which is just an unfortunate circumstance. 

Making the Oscars Mainstream?

It isn’t wrong to say that most years, not every person will have seen all the Best Picture nominees. A lot of people might not have even seen half. This year though the two biggest films of the year are both nominated, those being “Oppenhiemer” and “Barbie,” each having made over $1 billion. But what of the other eight films? 

There are those cinephiles who will watch every movie nominated for Best Picture, whether it be to form their own opinion, curiosity or acknowledgement. But the majority of Best Picture nominees lack a mainstream appeal. The influence of a movie is directly related to the number of people who see it, so how can the Oscars reflect this?

Well, they have attempted in the past to create a category for these mainstream films. In 2022 the awards featured a Fan Vote & Oscars Cheer Moment. These two categories came under criticism after being awarded to “Army of the Dead” and Zack Snyder’s “Justice League,” due to evidence that voting had been affected by botting. The voting of these categories consisted of Twitter users tweeting with a specific hashtag. These two categories have not returned over the past two years. 

You need [people of all ages] in the room to get them to buy into it. It needs to be organic.

— Kevin Poquette

However, if we flip our perspective on this question, how do you get general audiences to see more Oscar nominated movies, rather than the Academy having to award more mainstream films. For this question I turned back to Kevin Poquette.

“I think just like voting in elections, I think it’s social media, it’s word of mouth,” Poquette said. “You need [people of all ages] in the room to get them to buy into it. It needs to be organic.”

Social media is a cornerstone of modern society that is rewarding and potentially detrimental. Going through these channels, reaching out to these younger and newer audiences may be the answer to getting more people to watch these films. “People who like good movies will find the good stuff. We’re trying to find people who don’t know that they’re going to like these movies, so maybe TikTok and influencers can help.”

So for those out there that are seeking out good movies, the Oscars is just one outlet that can bring these films to a wider audience. Alternatively Poquette recommends the Internet Movie DataBase’s (IMDB) Top 250 movies of all time, or you could download the Letterboxd app. Letterboxd is a semi-social media platform where you can log and review almost any movie you have seen and discover other films to watch. You can find Poquette there under KJPOQ and other movie lovers that may share your taste. 

The Academy Awards will air March 10 at 6 p.m. on ABC.

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About the Contributor
Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg, Staff Writer
Michael Bloomberg is a senior student at Fond du Lac High School. He has lived in Fond du Lac all his life and is undecided on life after high school. He works part-time at Walmart as a cart pusher and writes for print journalism class. His expertise is in movies and entertainment as well as professional sports.