The Oscar nominations for 2024 have been unveiled and one thing has been made abundantly clear: the current cinematic landscape has been fundamentally shifted. Gone are the days of formulaic superhero movie dominance or movie remake supremacy, and welcome are the films of unique and creative storytelling.
Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” was nominated for 13 total categories, one shy of tying the all-time record of 14 held by only three films: “Titanic” (1997,) “La La Land” (2016) and “All About Eve” (1950). Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” also pulled away with eight nominations including, albeit controversially, for Best Adapted Screenplay, which should’ve been Original Screenplay. The academy also nodded its head to Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of a Flower Moon” amassing a total of 10 nominations.
Historically speaking, the Oscars have been seen as a snapshot of the current cinematic state with components detailing its future. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) which is the organization that hosts the Oscars consists of over 10,000 members that cast their votes for the nominations. To vote for Oscar-nominated movies, and become a member of the AMPAS, one needs to be sponsored by an already accepted member. The exclusivity of the organization to industry professionals is what lends to the award’s credibility throughout not only various branches of the film industry but also to the general public.
Although the Oscars are a good representation of the cinematic landscape, they don’t explain the whole story. After all, they decided to not give John Williams an Oscar for his work in scoring “The Empire Strikes Back” or “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The next major movie metric people turn to are box office earnings which better represent what most people are tuning in to see. 2023 is a unique year in the sense that two of the most nominated movies also saw spots on the list of top five-grossing movies of the year (Barbie and Oppenheimer) a feat that hasn’t occurred for over a decade.
The cinema industry of last year also saw one of, if not, the greatest catalysts for the spark of a new era, a writers’ strike that saw Hollywood completely shut down. Despite strikes occurring somewhat often, few have garnered as much attention and as much desire for change as the aforementioned – drawing comparisons to that of the 1960 Writers’ Guild Strike, which preceded Hollywood’s golden age of the 70’s. During the time of the strike, many of the established writers avoided sharing their work forcing studios to open their doors to emerging writers and storytellers. Generally, the acquisition of new talent also increases the potential for new voices, perspectives, and overall untapped creative potential to emerge.
The 2023 Writers Guild Strike hinders the creation of big-budget productions while simultaneously allowing for smaller productions of more engaging and compelling narratives to become more mainstream to a larger audience.
Predicting the future of the silver screen is challenging. However, if this year’s movie successes have shown anything, it’s that audience tastes are evolving, and producers are being challenged to greenlight projects with more subtle and diverse narratives.