Oscars 2024: The good, the bad and the transcendent moments

Headshot of Wenlei Ma
Wenlei Ma
The Nightly
8 Min Read
Cillian Murphy, Emma Stone, Cord Jefferson, Ryan Gosling, Takashi Yamazaki, and Al Pacino.
Cillian Murphy, Emma Stone, Cord Jefferson, Ryan Gosling, Takashi Yamazaki, and Al Pacino. Credit: The Nightly

Much like Ryan Gosling stole the movie, the former Mouseketeer also hijacked the 2024 Oscars ceremony from its big victor, Oppenheimer, which won seven awards including best picture.

It was a brisk, energetic ceremony with few embarrassing moments. Jimmy Kimmel, an affable but not-too-offensive host landed plenty of zingers while John Cena was roped into doing a streaker sketch referencing the incident in the 1974 ceremony.

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Despite the dominance of Oppenheimer, many nominees earnt some love with the likes of The Zone of Interest, American Fiction, The Holdovers and Barbie picking up gongs along the way.

However, Killers of the Flower Moon and Maestro went home empty-handed despite some strong hopes of a victory in certain categories.

Here are the notable moments of the Oscars:


The Oppenheimer crew may have the most trophies but Ryan Gosling will have the most cred. The Canadian superstar performed his signature song from Barbie, I’m Just Ken in a showstopping, rousing and elaborately choreographed number that referenced Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Speculation over whether Gosling would honour the ceremony with a live performance finally ended two weeks ago when the Academy confirmed he would take to the stage. It wasn’t a sure thing - in 2017, when a song he sang in La La Land was nominated, Gosling did not perform.

Bedazzled in a hot pink glitter suit, Gosling started his number from his seat, behind Margot Robbie who could not keep a straight face, before ascending to the stage where among the dancers were also nominee Mark Ronson, Guns N’ Roses’ Slash and Barbie co-stars and fellow Kens Simu Liu, Kingsley Ben-Adir and Ncuti Gatwa. The crowd were on their feet and Oscar parties around the world were overtaken by screams and squeals of delight.

A true Oscars king and a performance that now bests that charged moment between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in 2019. It was transcendent.

Ryan Gosling and Slash
Ryan Gosling and Slash. No notes. Credit: BANG - Entertainment News


Oppenheimer was no doubt the official big winner of the night with its seven trophies including best picture, director for Christopher Nolan, actor for Cillian Murphy and supporting actor for Robert Downey Jr.

Despite being one of the best known directors in the world, it was Nolan’s first Oscar. He had previously been nominated for directing Dunkirk. Murphy said he was “overwhelmed” by the victory and dedicated his victory to “peacemakers everywhere”.

Downey Jr, whose award is something of a career win after four decades in the industry and two other nominations, thanked his wife, his Oppenheimer team and even his lawyer, who he credited with working to get him insured and bailing him out. It’s a capper on patchy career which was interrupted with his much-publicised addiction issues and then a comeback through a role on Ally McBeal and then as Iron Man in the Marvel movies.

Oppenheimer’s other awards went to editor Jennifer Lame, composer Ludwig Goransson and director of photography Hoyte van Hoytema.

Oppenheimer cast and crew
Oppenheimer won seven Oscars. Credit: BANG - Entertainment News


Director Wes Anderson, famed and beloved for his idiosyncratic and visually-driven style, won his first Oscar after seven previous nominations. The filmmaker behind the likes of The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr Fox claimed the top prize in live action short for his Roald Dahl movie The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Anderson, however, was not present to collect the award. The Texan-born filmmaker is primarily based in Paris and now makes most of his films in Europe. He famously has a phobia of flying and is known to make the trip between the US and Europe on the Queen Elizabeth II ocean-liner, which takes seven days to cross the Atlantic from Southampton to New York City. It’s another three days on the train from NYC to Los Angeles, so it would’ve been a 20-day return trip for Anderson to attend the ceremony. He was probably busy.

Wes Anderson on set with Benedict Cumberbatch in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Picture: Roger Do Minh/Netflix 2023
Wes Anderson on set with Benedict Cumberbatch in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Roger Do Minh/Netflix 2023 Credit: Roger Do Minh/Roger Do Minh/Netflix


Writer and first-time director Cord Jefferson won the award for adapted screenplay for his film American Fiction, a story about an author who perpetrates a literary hoax after he becomes frustrated about what he perceives as negative black stereotypes being lauded in the publishing industry.

Jefferson, a former Gawker journalist who has also written for TV shows including Succession and Master of None, made a full-throated defence for the mid-budget movie, a genre that is disappearing from cinemas in favour of big-budget, IP-driven franchise blockbusters.

He said, “I understand that this is a risk-averse industry, I get it. $200 million movies are also a risk, you know. It doesn’t always work out but you take the risk anyway. Instead of making one $200 million movie, try making 10 $20 million movies or 50 $4 million movies. The next Martin Scorsese, the next Greta [Gerwig], the next Christopher Nolan is out there. They want a shot.”

American Fiction has been nominated for five Oscars.
Cord Jefferson’s film American Fiction. Credit: Courtesy of ORION Pictures Inc./Amazon Prime Video/Orion Picture


After an awards season with few political speeches, they came in full force at the Oscars. The most notable one was from filmmaker Jonathan Glazer who won international feature for The Zone of Interest, a British, German-language drama centred on the commandant of Auschwitz.

Glazer, who is Jewish, said of the conflict in Gaza, “Our film shows where dehumanisation leads. It shaped our past and present. Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness in a Holocaust that has led to conflict for so many innocent people. Whether the victims of October 7 in Israel or the ongoing attack in Gaza, all victims of dehumanisation. How do we resist?”

Elsewhere during the ceremony, Ukrainian director Mstyslav Chernov won the documentary feature award for 20 Days in Mariupol and said he would be the only filmmaker onstage who wished he had never made his movie. “I wish to be able to exchange this to Russia never attacking Ukraine, never occupying our cities… and killing tens of thousands of my fellow Ukrainians.

And because Donald Trump can’t help jumping up and down for attention, the former US president posted on social media, sledging the ceremony and host Jimmy Kimmel, to which Kimmel replied on air, “thank you for watching, isn’t it past your jail time?”.

The Zone Of Interest is a movie that takes place next to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
The Zone Of Interest is a movie that takes place next to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Credit: Madman Entertainment


With 100 years of cinema history to draw on, the Oscars can’t resist a little nostalgia with some reunion pairings on stage including Beetlejuice’s Michael Keaton and Catherine O’Hara bounding out to present the award for make-up and hairstyling while Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito recreated their Twins dynamic while also reflecting on both their experiences playing Batman villains – which also had the effect of drawing in Keaton again as DeVito had been the Penguin to Keaton’s Batman. Delightful.

Arnie and Danny, together again.
Arnie and Danny, together again. Credit: Supplied


The best actress race was the only big, high-profile category that was down to the wire, between Emma Stone for Poor Things and Lily Gladstone for The Killers of the Flower Moon. Ultimately, the Oscar voters showed a lot more love for Poor Things and that was evident when it won the make-up and hairstyling award over favourite Maestro.

Once it also picked up production design and costumes (over Barbie), it looked like momentum was swinging behind Stone for the win for her wholly original, wonderfully weird and gung-ho performance as a woman with the mind of a child, learning to discover pleasure in a world while unburdened by shame.

Stone had a wardrobe mishap as she made her way up – her dress had popped at the back – which he jokingly blamed on Gosling – “I think it happened during I’m Just Ken!”.

Emma Stone
Emma Stone won her second Oscar. Credit: BANG - Entertainment News


Japan may not have won the international feature award where it was nominated for Perfect Days but it picked up two other awards at the Oscars: visual effects for Godzilla Minus One and animated feature for The Boy and the Heron.

The Boy and the Heron comes from Studio Ghibli, one of Japan’s most famed studios and was made by Hayao Miyazaki, one of its best known filmmakers. It beat out favourite Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.

Perhaps more notable is the victory for Godzilla Minus One, which comes from Japan’s Toho Studios, the home of the original Godzilla movies. The film is set during and after World War II and it deals with grief and guilt. Significantly, it had a total budget of under $US15 million, an absolute pittance compared to the effects-heavy films that usually win this category (last year’s victor was Avatar 2, which cost $US250 million to make). It’s amazing what you can achieve with artistry and ingenuity, even without a Hollywood budget.

Godzilla Minus One won in visual effects with a relatively small budget.
Godzilla Minus One won in visual effects with a relatively small budget. Credit: Unknown/ Unknown


The charming pairing of Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt had some viewers wondering what the deal was with the segment they were presenting. The two took to the stage and jibed each other about their respective halves of the Barbenheimer phenomenal – Blunt was correct, as far as the awards season goes, it’s not really a contest.

But then they went on to introduce a package paying tribute to stunt people. Two reasons for this – one, the two are in the upcoming movie The Fall Guy, which is about a stuntperson, and second is stunt people have been lobbying for years for their own award at the Oscars. The Academy has yet to give them one but they agree to the introduction of a casting award. This bit was a consolation prize.

Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling.
Emily Blunt and Ryan Gosling battle it out for Barbenheimer victor. Credit: Supplied


Despite going in with 10 nominations, Martin Scorsese’s movie came away with nothing. Its strongest hope was with Lily Gladstone in the best actress race but ultimately, the three-and-a-half hours movie came up, ironically, short.

It’s an episode of history repeating itself. Scorsese’s previous flick, The Irishman, was also nominated 10 times but was blanked in every category.

Lily Gladstone and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Killers of the Flower Moon," coming soon to Apple TV+.
Killers of the Flower Moon won zero Oscars out of 10 nominations. Credit: Apple TV+/Apple TV+


Was Al Pacino meant to read out the 10 best picture nominees before he anti-climactically blurted out the winner? Well, he didn’t and it certainly felt as if he should have. It was all a bit awkward and it took the audience two beats to realise that the big moment had come. And that Pacino had blown it.

Al Pacino didn't get the memo.
Al Pacino didn't get the memo. Credit: Supplied


Jimmy Kimmel continued his long-running joke feud with Matt Damon by closing the night with a shot of Messi, the dog from Anatomy of a Fall weeing on Damon’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star. Classic.

Messi, the real star.
Messi, the real star. Credit: Supplied

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