HOLLYWOOD—The end is near, the Academy Awards are being handed out on Sunday, March 10. This awards season has been long, but I am glad it’s over. It can be a bit chaotic which a lot of people don’t always see. I mean it’s something different every single week leading all the way up to the big spectacle of the Oscars. We have done our predictions for the major categories: Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. There is just one big one left: Best Picture.

I have been annoyed with the Oscars ever since 2010 they decided to expand the Best Picture race to anywhere from 5 to 10 nominees. Look we already know only about 2-3 flicks that have a strong chance at the top prize so nominating flicks that will never win is just pointless to me. Nominate the best of the best and the others, sorry, they are just out of luck. With that said this year’s nominees are: “Anatomy of a Fall,” “American Fiction,” “Barbie,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Maestro,” “Oppenheimer,” “Past Lives,” “Poor Things,” “The Holdovers” and “The Zone of Interest.”

This really is a two-picture race, with a possibility of a third dark horse with “The Zone of Interest.” It has earned a series amount of buzz for a film that tackles issues pertaining to the Holocaust and has been revered by critics, filmmakers and the public, but it hasn’t amounted enough awards this season to catapult it above the frontrunners: “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.” There is another film that has lots of buzz, but not enough to take the big prize in my eyes which is “Anatomy of a Fall.”  The film is so well written and the acting is top tier. I have not been so satisfied watching a nuanced thriller in years. If “Oppenheimer” wasn’t in the mix, the battle would be a three-flick race between “Anatomy…” “Barbie” and “The Zone of Interest,” but that isn’t the case.

With that said, let’s talk about the likely winner “Oppenheimer.” It was not only a box-office hit, but it was a sprawling spectacle with accomplishments from director Christopher Nolan not captured on the big screen ever before. It was a 3-hour plus flick and it is not just dramatically sensational, but visually it will blow the socks off your feet. It is something you have to see on the big screen and what has been earned by Nolan deserves that Best Picture Oscar.

However, it is not a slam dunk as people think. “Barbie” was the biggest movie at the box-office in 2023 and captured numbers unlike anything seen before. It was an event and the film was universally praised by so many as well. The movie suffered a similar fate like Ben Affleck did with his movie “Argo.” It was nominated for Best Picture, but Affleck missed out on the Best Director nomination. As a result, members of the Academy were stunned, shocked, appalled dare I say and it catapulted that movie to a Best Picture victory.

Could the same thing transpire again with “Barbie?” It is very possible because NOT only did the movie’s star Margot Robbie miss out on a Best Actress nomination, but so did the film’s director, Greta Gerwig who many thought should have been a lock for a nomination and I tend to agree. She made a movie about a doll into a spectacle and something that everyone was talking about. I thought when I first heard about this movie it would be a mess, but its theme was so spot on it was scary.

The Oscars have a preferential ballot when it comes to Best Picture, so if you have more members voting for “Barbie” over “Oppenheimer” it could place that movie in the front seat. The critical members are never going to vote for “Barbie” it just won’t happen because they view the flick as silly, and you have those snobs who like to turn up their nose at such flicks.

While there are those who just are not sitting through a 3 plus hour spectacle, so I hate to say this, but whichever film campaigns better is likely to take the prize. I hate the notion of campaigning for an award, the film and work should speak for itself to the members, but if you smile and kiss butt you can claim an Oscar even if you don’t deserve it, which is the problem with awards to begin with.

It’s all subjective, not objective so people like what they like and there is not much you can do about it. I expect “Oppenheimer” to take the win, which means we’ll see for the first time in a while Best Director and Best Picture claim the Oscars and not see a split. However, if “Barbie” does win, oh, what a moment that will be like “Crash” winning over “Brokeback Mountain.” Just because the pundits think something is a sure thing, is not always the case. Remember “La La Land” losing to “Moonlight” in that envelope fiasco?