Oscars Season Analysis: Lily Gladstone Should Have Campaigned Supporting and Movie Studios Are Back on Top

The Oscars ceremoniously wrapped a season dominated by blockbuster achievements, celebrating the extraordinary talents behind this year’s cinematic wonders. Despite the spotlight on artistic excellence, the awards season wasn’t without its missteps and controversies, notably influenced by voter apathy in the aftermath of prolonged industry strikes. This disengagement, particularly among American voters, may have bolstered the influence of the Academy’s sizable international constituency, aligning the Oscars’ outcomes more closely with the BAFTA selections than in years past.

Variety was predicting the exact 23 winners that resulted last evening in mid-February following the BAFTA Awards. After this pundit changed eight of them to the alternate picks, the lesson learned is the right answer is often the most obvious one.

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Here are some takeaways from the evening’s celebrations.

Killers of the Flower Moon Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone Credit: AppleTV+
“Killers of the Flower Moon”

Lily Gladstone was campaigned in the wrong category.

Emma Stone’s victory for her role in “Poor Things” stirred mixed emotions. While her performance was undeniably captivating, the potential of Lily Gladstone being the first Native American to win best actress left many reflecting on what might have been, had campaign strategies been different. That is not Stone’s fault.

AMPAS members questioned the decision regarding Gladstone’s placement in the lead category, instead of supporting. Despite attempts to market the film as an Osage Nation narrative honoring the Indigenous community, Gladstone’s screen time in the Apple Original Film compared to her co-stars raised eyebrows. According to Matthew Stewart, who professionally clocks Oscar nominated and winning performances, Gladstone has 56 minutes of screen time across the three hour and 29 minute drama. Her co-star Leonardo DiCaprio has one hour and 49 minutes. That’s hard to sell as a “co-lead” situation, especially with supporting actor nominee Robert DeNiro having only nine minutes less than Gladstone.

Had Gladstone campaigned in the supporting category, her chances of winning might have been significantly higher. Instead, it echoes Michelle Williams’ campaign decision for “The Fabelmans,” which potentially cost her to win an overdue Oscar after five career noms. But I guess hindsight is always 20/20.

Ryan Gosling performs 'I'm Just Ken' from "Barbie" at the 96th Annual Oscars held at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.
Ryan Gosling performs ‘I’m Just Ken’ from “Barbie” at Oscars

“Barbie” snub didn’t help it win any more Oscars.

“Barbie” fatigue was palpable, and comedies already face an uphill battle for recognition. Greta Gerwig’s film received audience acclaim and garnered eight noms attention from the Academy. It ended its awards run with an original song statuette for Billie Eilish and Finneas, indicating a disparity in appreciation. Efforts to rectify this disparity, such as the phase two campaign highlighting Gerwig and Margot Robbie’s leading performance omissions, failed to yield significant results.

While the industry continues to advocate for increased recognition of women directors, the treatment of comedies within the industry warrants attention. A more inclusive approach to genre recognition is necessary for a truly diverse and representative film landscape.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 10: (L-R) Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan, and Charles Roven, winners of the Best Picture award for “Oppenheimer”, onstage in the press room at the 96th Annual Academy Awards at Ovation Hollywood on March 10, 2024 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 10: (L-R) Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan, and Charles Roven, winners of the Best Picture award for “Oppenheimer”

Movie studios are back, baby!

Universal Pictures’ triumph with “Oppenheimer” marks a significant moment of studio dominance, now moving up the ranks as the third most awarded in the studios’ history. This suggests a resurgence of traditional studio power in the Oscars landscape, given the muted presence of streaming services in major categories this year. While streamers secured one trophy for live action short (Netflix’s “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar”), notable absences highlighted the ongoing evolution of their creative strategies.

Looking ahead to 2024, the industry anticipates another year dominated by studio releases, including highly anticipated projects like Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator 2” and Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune: Part Two.”

MAESTRO, Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein, 2023. ph: Jason McDonald / © Netflix / Courtesy Everett Collection

When will Bradley Cooper and Diane Warren ever win?

As for perennial nominees Bradley Cooper and Diane Warren, their elusive Oscar victories remain a subject of speculation. Despite multiple nominations, both artists have yet to secure the coveted statuette, prompting questions about their future prospects.

“Maestro” wasn’t able to convert any of its seven Oscar nominations, three of which belonged to Cooper as the producer, co-writer and lead actor in the Leonard Bernstein biopic. Now standing at an astonishing 12 career Oscar noms over the last decade, he’s still Oscar-less, which begs the question, will he ever make a trip to the coveted Dolby stage? Interestingly, he’s never even managed a major precursor trophy from the likes of the Golden Globes or SAG for any of his previous bids.

Cord Jefferson accepts the Best Adapted Screenplay award for "American Fiction" at the 96th Annual Oscars held at Dolby Theatre on March 10, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.
Cord Jefferson accepts the Best Adapted Screenplay award for “American Fiction”

Hollywood should heed Cord Jefferson’s advice.

Cord Jefferson, adapted screenplay winner of “American Fiction,” made poignant remarks during the ceremony underscored the need for the industry to embrace risk-taking and diversify its offerings.

“I understand that this is a risk-averse industry,” Jefferson said “I get it. But $200 million movies are also a risk, and it doesn’t always work out, but you take the risk anyway. And instead of making one $200 million movie, try making 20 $10 million movies.”

By championing smaller-budget projects and nurturing emerging talents, Hollywood can foster a more dynamic and inclusive creative landscape, ultimately enriching the industry as a whole.

John Mulaney at the 14th Governors Awards in the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Ovation Hollywood on Tuesday, January 9, 2024
John Mulaney at the 14th Governors Awards in the Ray Dolby Ballroom at Ovation Hollywood on Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Let John Mulaney host.

After John Mulaney surprised as the host of the Governors Awards, the Academy invited the comedian back to present where he re-told the plot of the sports drama “Field of Dreams,” garnering some of the biggest laughs of the night.

Jimmy Kimmel is a competent host, and did a satisfying job as the evening’s emcee, but passing the reins to a new stand-up comic with the right sensibilities and love of movies to highlight an evening such as the Oscars is more than appropriate at this point.

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