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The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Cinema with Sam: Reactions to the 96th Academy Awards

Robert Downey Jr. won Best Supporting Actor, Da’Vine Joy Randolph won Best Supporting Actress, Emma Stone won Best Actress and Cillian Murphy won Best Actor.
Robert Downey Jr. won Best Supporting Actor, Da’Vine Joy Randolph won Best Supporting Actress, Emma Stone won Best Actress and Cillian Murphy won Best Actor.

The 96th Academy Awards took place during spring break, and there were many surprising winners and losers. Here are some quick reactions to a few of the Academy’s decisions.

The Boy and the Heron wins Best Animated Feature

2023 was a packed year for animated movies, but no two dominated the awards race more than “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (2023) and “The Boy and the Heron” (2023). I was expecting “Across the Spider-Verse” to win Best Animated Feature Film, but “The Boy and the Heron” took home the award instead.

“The Boy and the Heron” was directed by legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. The film, supposedly Miyazaki’s last, is captivating and ambitious, and it tugs at the heartstrings with its themes of family and appreciation for reality. “Across the Spider-Verse” had gorgeous animation with a story that thrilled the audience, but seeing how the team behind the film already won an Oscar for “Into the Spider-Verse” (2018), perhaps the Academy decided to award Miyazaki’s film — one that included bold and mature storytelling paired with breathtaking animation. This was Miyazaki’s first Oscar since “Spirited Away” (2001).

Emma Stone wins Best Actress for “Poor Things”

The two-person race for Best Actress during the awards season between Emma Stone for “Poor Things” (2023) and Lily Gladstone for “Killers of the Flower Moon” (2023) came down to the Academy Awards. Gladstone won Best Actress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which is usually the best sign of who will win the Oscar. But lo and behold, come Sunday night, Emma Stone won for her tremendous and wild performance in Yargos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things.”

Emma Stone is right up there with Florence Pugh as my favorite actress working today, but I really wanted Gladstone to win. Her subtle and sheer presence in “Killers of the Flower Moon” truly makes that film great, even more than Leonardo DiCaprio. Furthermore, Lily Gladstone winning would’ve been groundbreaking for the Native American community in the film industry.

American Fiction wins Best Adapted Screenplay

“American Fiction” (2023), written and directed by Cord Jefferson and starring Jeffrey Wright, was a funny and heartwarming film that I thought was good, but one that I felt could’ve been even greater, especially at the end. So when Jefferson won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay, I was thoroughly shocked.

While the screenplay is good, I thought the work done by both Christopher Nolan for “Oppenheimer” (2023) and Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach for “Barbie” (2023) deserved the award more. Nolan created a gripping courtroom drama while still making his film a character study of a complicated historical figure. Furthermore, Gerwig gave us one of the funniest and most emotional movies of the past five years.

Oppenheimer mopped the floor

Filmmaker Christopher Nolan has had a long and successful career with many brushes with The Academy. “The Dark Knight” (2008) did not receive a nomination for Best Picture, which is why the number of nominees increased from 5 to 10 in the category, and “Dunkirk” (2017) received eight nominations, taking home three awards.

However, “Oppenheimer” (2023) is the film that finally landed Nolan his personal award, and rightfully so. Well, two awards, in fact. Christopher Nolan created a tense, nail-biting historical thriller that has tremendous performances anchoring its three-hour runtime. “Oppenheimer” received 13 nominations, taking home wins for Best Original Score (Ludwig Göransson), Best Actor (Cillian Murphy), Best Supporting Actor (Robert Downey Jr.), Best Cinematography (Hoyt Van Hoytema), Best Editing (Jennifer Lame), Best Director (Nolan) and finally Best Picture (Nolan and his wife, Emma Thomas).

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About the Contributor
Sam Cohen, Movie Columnist
Sam Cohen (he/him/his) is a junior majoring in Film and Media Studies. He won the Special Grand Jury Prize for his Comedy short film “The Gum Run” at the 2019 Montclair Film Festival Emerging Filmmakers Competition. Sam writes weekly reviews of recent TV Shows and Movies while occasionally reviewing older, forgotten classics. When not reviewing, discussing, or watching films, Sam is also a part of many extracurriculars on campus, including being a co-captain of the Ultimate Frisbee team, a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity, and an officer of the Film Society.

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