UNITED STATES—We can officially rest on the nomination front now that the 2024 Oscar nominees have been announced. All we have to wait for now is the awards shows to continue to shell out trophies and accolades. With that said, the nominations this week delivered some surprises, as they always do. I just love the conversation talk about snubs and omissions. I think people continue to forget that the Oscars are about popularity.

People are choosing, it is not objective, it is subjective. People are choosing based on their personal preference and when that is the case some actors and actresses will be nominated, and others will NOT. The same applies for filmmakers and writers.

With that said, “Oppenheimer” led the race and rightfully so. It was indeed a technical feat and I thoroughly enjoyed the flick. Is it the best work I’ve seen from Christopher Nolan? That is debatable, but he’s long overdue for that Best Director Oscar in my opinion after being overlooked plenty of times before. The big talk of the town is the omission of Greta Gerwig earning a Best Director nomination and Margot Robbie losing out on a Best Actress nomination.

Robbie’s omission is the one that shocks me the most and I will tell you why. Ryan Gosling got a nomination, and he was a scene stealer in that movie, so he absolutely earned it. America Ferrera, I did NOT expect her nomination in the Best Supporting Actress race, so that blew me away. That makes me wonder how members of the acting branch highlighted Gosling and Ferrera for the movie but omitted Robbie. I mean hello she was indeed Barbie, but perhaps the other ladies nominated in that race just have stronger performances in the Lead Actress race that couldn’t be overlooked.

Those five ladies nominated for Best Actress delivered powerhouse performances and when you look at what Margot does with “Barbie” it just doesn’t compare, unfortunately. Now let’s talk about Best Director because that was the category with the most shocks, with Bradley Cooper who many expected would earn a nomination for “Maestro” failed to gain a nod, so did Alexander Payne for the terrific “The Holdovers” and Gerwig for the blockbuster “Barbie.” Little bit of facts for those who are unaware; only three women, three women have won the Best Director Oscar in the 96 years of the Academy. Only seven have been nominated for the top prize. All the other winners have primarily been White males, and they’re older White males at that.

Those members are NOT going to sit and watch a movie like “Barbie.” To them it is silly and pointless. Not to mention the Oscars are the elite of the elite. It is an exclusive club and when you take a flick like “Barbie” and compare it to “Oppenheimer” it is not hard to say which one is a critical success versus a financial success. That is something that the Oscars are attempting to change in recent years, giving more accolades to the blockbuster flicks that would and still never have a chance at the top prizes. It is almost like a consolation prize.

I truly hate that the Oscars went from five contenders for Best Picture to anywhere from eight-ten in a given year. Come on already, we know only three to four have an actual chance, the others will never come close to a victory, so stop with the pandering. “The Zone of Interest” helmed by Jonathan Glazer and “Anatomy of a Fall” helmed by Justine Triet are more technical and dramatic feats over “Barbie” which is the reason those candidates earned the nomination and Gerwig didn’t.

Plenty were surprised about “The Color Purple” only earning one nomination which was in the Best Supporting Actress race for Danielle Brooks and rightfully so, she was amazing in the movie. However, the revamped new take is not the original and that is the problem. In addition, I don’t think the bad press following the flick at the hands of some of the film’s stars in particular, Taraji P. Henson, soured many members in the Academy. You can’t bad mouth your flick and expect people to want to award it, not in Hollywood anyway.

With Supporting Actress I think that is Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s prize to lose, but steam is coming via two-time Oscar-winner Jodie Foster for her performance in “Nyad.” There can be an upset in Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor tends to be that category. Just look at last year, when so many expected Angela Bassett to win for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” but it was Jamie Lee Curtis who won for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

As for Supporting Actor, I think that Robert Downey Jr. is going to walk away with the prize, if he faces any competition, it is indeed Robert De Niro for “Killers of the Flower Moon.” The shift in the race is the inclusion of Sterling K. Brown for “American Fiction” could be something to watch. That movie got plenty of love that many didn’t expect included a nomination for Jeffrey Wright for Best Actor over Leonardo DiCaprio for “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Best Actress is a race between Lily Gladstone “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Emma Stone “Poor Things.” The problem is “Poor Things” is just a very quirky and odd movie and I just don’t see many people wanting to watch it. Whereas “Killers” has the name Martin Scorsese attached to it and Gladstone delivers a powerful performance that can’t be overlooked. This race is going to be a close one. The same goes for Best Actor as Paul Giamatti is the front-runner for “The Holdovers,” as Cillian Murphy from “Oppenheimer” goes toe-to-toe with him. When “Oppenheimer” came out I thought it was Murphy’s award to loose, but after seeing “The Holdovers” I loved Paul in that flick, but Jeffrey Wright could be that dark horse for “American Fiction” which is subtle yet stirring.

It all comes down to Best Picture which is “Barbie” versus “Oppenheimer.” If we’re talking technical achievements, it is easy who should win. Box-office success it is obvious who should win, but reminder, the entire Academy gets to vote for all of the winners, unlike the nominations which are determined by each branch. People could be upset over Gerwig and Robbie’s omission for Oscar consideration and that could boost “Barbie’s” chances for a massive upset.

Remember there have been massive upsets in previous years in this category. Everyone remembers the gasps when “Crash” won over “Brokeback Mountain” or how about the fiasco involving “Moonlight” being the actual winner over “La La Land?” Anything can happen when it comes to the Oscars.