Oscars 2024 Deserving Winners and Why “Oppenheimer” is Not the Best

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Even though “Oppenheimer” is believed to win Oscars 2024 Best Movie and Directing, Joanne Tan picks the deserving winners and explains why.

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For Oscars 2024, selecting the “best” from a feast of good movies is made even more difficult, because they are so different from each other, like apples and oranges.

Among the 10 nominated movies for the Best Picture, there is the over-the-top, broad stroke, typical Hollywood large scale “Oppenheimer”; then there is the understated, simple themed, intimate piece of art like “Past Lives” that pulls the heartstrings; and everything in between. 

Why “Oppenheimer” does not deserve the Academy Awards for Best Picture or Directing

Even though your prediction is as good as mine: “Oppenheimer” will probably win the Best Picture, and/or Directing, among other possible wins, but does it really deserve the laurels? I don’t believe so. 

Before seeing the movie “Oppenheimer”, I read the entire biography “American Prometheus” that the movie was based on. The book won a Pulitzer prize, and took the authors 25 years to complete, after interviewing hundreds of people and researching hundreds of thousands of pages of documents. It is the gold standard for strictly-facts-based biographies. 

The movie “Oppenheimer” used all the tools available, a kitchen sink approach: four hours long, large format of 70 mm for Imax, even some completely made up stories (about Einstein, etc), and a plethora of sensational visual contrasts (especially sex related scenes), but it simply cannot deliver “American Prometheus”’s historical accuracy, objectivity, and thoroughness in presenting a complex, flawed, brilliant, and tragic central character, against his historical background, seen from all different angles.

Perhaps both the vastness and complexity of the character J. Robert Oppenheimer, and the subject matter, are simply beyond the grasp of a Hollywood movie.

Unfortunately, I dare to say that most of the nominators and the audience have not read “American Prometheus”, and will never know the unbridgeable difference.

I asked a few people six months after they saw the movie about what they remembered the most about “Oppenheimer”. Their answers were the same:  the sex scenes. Well, that says a lot.  The movie failed.

I’d like to quote what the world renowned pianist Vladimir Horowitz said about Mozart’s art: Restrained emotions.  What is harder than splurges of over sensationalization, dramatization, special effects, visual and audio contrasts, is to tell stories that provoke people to THINK, and IMAGINE, implied inner or outer worlds beyond understatements, emotional constraints and restraints. The stories will linger much longer in people’s minds, with relatable details that seemed trivial, but are more powerful than conjured up mental and emotional bombardments. 

That is harder to do, and that is why I picked what I believe to be superior movies by this criteria. If I list more than one in a category, the top one is the best choice.

My picks for major prizes of 2024 Oscars in each category:

Best Picture:

  2. Poor Things
  3. Past Lives


  1. THE ZONE OF INTEREST, Jonathan Glazer
  2. Poor Things, Yorgos Lanthimos
  3. Killers of the Flower Moon, Martin Scorsese

International Feature Film:


Adapted Screenplay:

  2. American Fiction
  3. The Zone of Interest

Original Screenplay:

  1. PAST LIVES, written by Celine Song
  2. Anatomy of a Fall, written by Justine Triet and Arthur Harari
  3. The Holdovers, Written by David Hemingson

Actor in a Leading Role:

  1. JEFFREY WRIGHT, American Fiction
  2. Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers

Actor in a Supporting Role:


Actress in a Leading Role:

EMMA STONE, Poor Things

Actress in a Supporting Role:



© Joanne Z. Tan   All rights reserved.


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