Oscars’ Laughing Matter: How Best Picture Could Embrace Comedies and ‘Barbie’ Can Tie the All-Time Nomination Record (2024)

Who says you can’t laugh and win Oscars, too?

In a stunning year for cinema, the candidates for the coveted best picture category are overflowing with prime comedic endeavors that surpass their dramatic counterparts. From a toy doll to an author with a triumphant “Black book” to a reverse Frankenstein tale that shows a whole lot of sex, the Academy has an opportunity to invite the softer side of cinema to its ceremony.

This year, it’s hard to imagine an Oscar picture lineup that won’t include four of this year’s Globe nominees: “American Fiction” (MGM), “Barbie” (Warner Bros.), “The Holdovers” (Focus Features) and “Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures).

When it comes to “Barbie,” when analyzing the competitive field, there’s a real possibility for Greta Gerwig’s meta-comedy about the beloved toy doll to rake in upwards of 14 Oscar nominations, which would tie for the most in history with “All About Eve” (1950), “Titanic” (1997) and “La La Land” (2016). Only “Eve” and “Titanic” won best picture. And the gargantuan number of noms is without the film factoring into makeup and visual effects, two categories it missed on the shortlist. There are about four to five categories “on the bubble” it would need to achieve this feat — director, supporting actress (America Ferrera), cinematography (Rodrigo Prieto, who also shot “Killers of the Flower Moon”), sound and original score.

What’s encouraging is that these four movies aren’t sitting idle in the awards race and taking up space — they’re all viable contenders in not only picture, but also various crafts, screening and especially acting categories, with the likes of Jeffrey Wright, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and Da’Vine Joy Randolph seriously in the mix.

Oscars’ Laughing Matter: How Best Picture Could Embrace Comedies and ‘Barbie’ Can Tie the All-Time Nomination Record (1)

While the Oscars historically favor dramas, there have been comic breakthroughs on awards night, and while not laugh-outloud comedies, such best picture winners as “The Apartment” (1960), “Annie Hall” (1977) and last year’s winner, “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” delivered insight and tackled issues with humor. In fact, there’s a long history of light comedies earning the top trophy, from “Grand Hotel” (1932) to “You Can’t Take It With You” (1938) to “It Happened One Night” (1934) and “The Sting” (1973). With even flicks like “Terms of Endearment” (1983) and “Shakespeare in Love” (1998) sprinkled in too.

When looking at the history of nominees and winners for best picture, comedy or musical, at the Golden Globes, one or two films can often translate to Academy attention. However, the past two years have seen three comedy/musicals pop up in Oscars’ 10 best films selection for each year: “Don’t Look Up,” “Licorice Pizza” and “West Side Story” in 2021, and “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “Everything Everywhere” and “Triangle of Sadness” in 2022. This year, we could see anywhere from four to all six Golden Globe comedy/musical contenders earn Oscar best pic bids.

Writer, director, producer and star Ben Affleck brings laughter and heart to Amazon MGM’s “Air,” the story of Nike signing rookie basketball Michael Jordan in the 1980s. The two-time Oscar winner of “Argo” (2012) and “Good Will Hunting” (1997), which he penned with his “Air” leading man Matt Damon, crafts a traditional feel-good story that entertains as much as it impresses.

Oscars’ Laughing Matter: How Best Picture Could Embrace Comedies and ‘Barbie’ Can Tie the All-Time Nomination Record (2)

Netflix has been passionate and persistent about getting Todd Haynes his first movie nominated for best picture with his dark but amusing look at an actor’s journey to portray a tabloid figure in “May December.” After the not-so-funny snubs for “Far From Heaven” (2002) and “Carol” (2015), it’s time one of our greatest living auteurs’ movies gets invited to the party.

This year may also see three actors primarily known for their comedy chops scoring Oscar nominations, but not for acting: Will Ferrell as a producer of “May December,” Seth Rogen as producer of the animated feature “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” and Adam Sandler, also a producer on an animated flick, “Leo.”

Comedies entering the rarified air of the Oscar best picture list proves that they can evoke profound emotions and challenge societal norms. Their success at the Academy Awards underscores the impact and significance of humor in storytelling.

Seeing movies like these receive respect and attention is no laughing matter. Oscars should continue to take notice.

Read the latest prediction updates below and go to the individual category pages to see where the films and performances rank. Projected winners are marked with red asterisks (***).

Current Oscars Tracking
(Dec. 22, 2023)

Best Picture
“American Fiction” (MGM)
“Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
“The Holdovers” (Focus Features)
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Maestro” (Netflix)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***
“Past Lives” (A24)
“Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Sony Pictures)
“The Zone of Interest” (A24)

Greta Gerwig — “Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
Jonathan Glazer — “The Zone of Interest” (A24)
Christopher Nolan — “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***
Alexander Payne — “The Holdovers” (Focus Features)
Martin Scorsese — “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper — “Maestro” (Netflix) ***
Colman Domingo — “Rustin” (Netflix)
Paul Giamatti — “The Holdovers” (Focus Features)
Cillian Murphy — “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
Jeffrey Wright — “American Fiction” (MGM)

Best Actress
Lily Gladstone — “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
Greta Lee — “Past Lives” (A24)
Carey Mulligan — “Maestro” (Netflix)
Margot Robbie — “Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
Emma Stone — “Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures) ***

Supporting Actor
Robert DeNiro — “Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
Robert Downey Jr. — “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
Ryan Gosling — “Barbie” (Warner Bros.) ***
Charles Melton — “May December” (Netflix)
Mark Ruffalo — “Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)

Supporting Actress
Emily Blunt — “Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
Danielle Brooks — “The Color Purple” (Warner Bros.)
America Ferrera — “Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
Sandra Hüller — “The Zone of Interest” (A24)
Da’Vine Joy Randolph — “The Holdovers” (Focus Features) ***

Original Screenplay
“Anatomy of a Fall” (Neon)
“Barbie” (Warner Bros.) ***
“The Holdovers” (Focus Features)
“May December” (Netflix)
“Past Lives” (A24)

Adapted Screenplay
“All of Us Strangers” (Searchlight Pictures)
“American Fiction” (MGM) ***
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
“Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)

Animated Feature
“The Boy and the Heron” (GKids)
“Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget” (Netflix)
“Elemental” (Pixar)
“Robot Dreams” (Neon)
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Sony Pictures) ***

Production Design
“Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
“Napoleon” (Apple Original Films/Sony Pictures)
“Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures) ***

“Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***
“Saltburn” (Amazon MGM Studios)
“The Zone of Interest” (A24)

Costume Design
“Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” (Lionsgate)
“Barbie” (Warner Bros.) ***
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
“Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)

Film Editing
“Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
“The Holdovers” (Focus Features)
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***
“Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)

Makeup and Hairstyling
“Golda” (Bleecker Street)
“The Last Voyage of the Demeter” (Universal Pictures)
“Maestro” (Netflix) ***
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures)
“Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures)

“Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
“Ferrari” (Neon)
“Maestro” (Netflix)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***
“The Zone of Interest” (A24)

Visual Effects
“The Creator” (20th Century Studios)
“Godzilla: Minus One” (Toho)
“Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire” (Netflix)
“Society of the Snow” (Netflix)
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Sony Pictures) ***

Original Score
“American Fiction” (MGM)
“Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
“Killers of the Flower Moon” (Apple Original Films/Paramount Pictures)
“Oppenheimer” (Universal Pictures) ***
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” (Sony Pictures)

Original Song
“It Never Went Away” from “American Symphony” (Netflix)
“Dance the Night” from “Barbie” (Warner Bros.)
“What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie” (Warner Bros.) ***
“The Fire Inside” from “Flamin’ Hot” (Hulu/Searchlight Pictures)
“Road to Freedom” from “Rustin” (Netflix)

Documentary Feature
“20 Days in Mariupol” (PBS)
“American Symphony” (Netflix) ***
“Apolonia, Apolonia” (CAT & Docs)
“Beyond Utopia” (Roadside Attractions)
“Four Daughters” (Kino Lorber)

International Feature
“Fallen Leaves” from Finland (Mubi)
“The Mother of All Lies” from Moroco (Arizona Distribution)
“Society of the Snow” from Spain (Netflix)
“The Taste of Things” from France (IFC Films)
“The Zone of Interest” from U.K. (A24) ***

Animated Short
“27” (ARTE Mediathek)
“Eeva” (Miyu Distribution)
“Letter to Pig” (Miyu Distribution)
“Once Upon a Studio” (Walt Disney Pictures) ***
“Pete” (The Criterion Channel)

Documentary Short
“The ABCs of Book Banning” (MTV Documentary Films/Paramount+)
“The Barber of Little Rock” (The New Yorker)
“Between Earth and Sky” (POV Shorts)
“Deciding Vote” (The New Yorker)
“The Last Repair Shop” (L.A. Times Studios/Searchlight Pictures) ***

Live Action Short
“The After” (Netflix)
“The Anne Frank Gift Shop” (Reboot Studios)
“The Shepherd” (Walt Disney Pictures)
“A Strange Way of Life” (Sony Pictures Classics) ***
“The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar” (Netflix)

Top 3 Nomination Leaders Tracking (Film)

  1. “Barbie” — 14
  2. “Oppenheimer” — 13
  3. “Killers of the Flower Moon” — 10

Top 4 Nomination Leaders Tracking (Studios)

  1. Netflix — 17
  2. Warner Bros. — 15
  3. Universal Pictures — 14

Oscars Predictions Categories


As an expert and enthusiast, I have access to a wide range of information and can provide insights on various topics. However, it's important to note that I don't have personal experiences or opinions. I rely on the information available on the internet to provide accurate and up-to-date answers.

Regarding the article you mentioned, it discusses the possibility of comedic films being recognized and nominated for the Best Picture category at the Oscars. The article highlights several comedic films that have the potential to receive nominations, such as "Barbie," "The Holdovers," "Poor Things," and "American Fiction." It also mentions the historical success of light comedies at the Oscars, including films like "The Apartment," "Annie Hall," and "Everything Everywhere All at Once."

While the article provides predictions and tracking for various categories at the Oscars, it's important to note that these predictions may change as the awards season progresses. The final nominations and winners are determined by the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

If you have any specific questions or would like more information on a particular aspect of the article, feel free to ask!

Oscars’ Laughing Matter: How Best Picture Could Embrace Comedies and ‘Barbie’ Can Tie the All-Time Nomination Record (2024)


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