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The Arcade

The Student News Site of North Hollywood High School

The Arcade

The Student News Site of North Hollywood High School

The Arcade

Where Artistry meets Recognition: Reactions to the 2024 Academy Awards

“The Holdovers,” nominated for five Academy Awards

After a year’s worth of acclaimed movies, last Sunday’s Oscars ceremony brought an exciting end to the awards season. All across campus, students had something to say about what films won, what didn’t, and what they felt about the broadcast as a whole.

Last year’s host Jimmy Kimmel returned to begin the ceremony, which was one of the most anticipated in recent memory. After the wave of nominations for box office giants Oppenheimer and Barbie, a total of 19.5 million viewers tuned in to watch the awards; the highest in 4 years. 

The Oppenheimer cast coming up on stage to accept one of seven awards

Historical biopic Oppenheimer led the ceremony with 7 awards: winning Best Picture, Best Director for Christopher Nolan, Best Actor for Cillian Murphy, Best Supporting Actor for Robert Downey, Jr., and more.

“I thought Robert Downey Jr. did a great job,” says SAS senior Ben Smith. “All the awards Oppenheimer won were deserved.”

Comedic fantasy Poor Things came in second place, winning 4 Oscars out of its 11 nominations including Best Actress for Emma Stone.

“I think Emma Stone saying her daughter changed her world like Technicolor was such a beautiful thing to say,” says HGM senior Kat Mercado in reference to the actress’ acceptance speech.

But not everyone was happy about the film’s success. Some thought that Killers of the Flower Moon’s Lily Gladstone deserved to win Best Actress over Stone. Her win would have marked the first Native American to win a competitive Oscar in the 96-year history of the Academy Awards.

“My manager was mad that [Emma Stone] won instead of [Lily Gladstone],” says SAS senior Mia Estrada.

Others were disappointed that Poor Things beat out predicted frontrunner Barbie in Best Production Design and Costumes.

“I hate the Academy! They snubbed Barbie!” says Noho Film Club secretary Lucy Alfaro. “That was the only thing I was watching for.” 

In the end, Barbie only won a single Oscar: Best Original Song for 22-year-old Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?,” making her the youngest person in Oscars history to have won multiple awards. But many viewers felt that another Barbie song, fan-favorite “I’m Just Ken,” deserved to win instead after watching Ryan Gosling perform it on stage.

Ryan Gosling performing “I’m Just Ken”

“Ryan Gosling’s performance was amazing!” says Video Production Club vice president Lui Bernal. “I really felt the Kenergy when I saw him get up there and sing.”

Holocaust drama The Zone of Interest won two awards: Best Sound and Best International Feature for British director Jonathan Glazer. Despite the film’s widespread acclaim, Glazer’s speech aroused controversy after he condemned Israel’s participation in the ongoing Israel–Hamas war.

“I don’t like when they say political stuff.” says Advocates for Fish Club president Seongmin Song. “The Oscars should be about the movies, not peoples’ political opinions.”

“It’s good that they’re promoting a ceasefire, but it’s not fair to compare [the war] to the Holocaust,” says HGM senior Elias Fenig.

Still, other films’ wins were well-received. Christmas comedy-drama The Holdovers won Best Supporting Actress for Da’Vine Joy Randolph, though many fans felt it deserved more. 

“I LOVED the Holdovers!” says Fenig. “But I was sad that Dominic Sessa got snubbed.”

21-year-old Sessa made his acting debut in The Holdovers to critical acclaim. But despite receiving a BAFTA nomination, he wasn’t nominated at the Oscars.

“I think there were a lot of good movies this year, but The Holdovers should have won more,” says Noho Poets president Erica Sherkin.

Other winners included courtroom mystery Anatomy of a Fall for Best Original Screenplay, social satire American Fiction for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Japanese monster blockbuster Godzilla Minus One for Best Visual Effects. Despite its large scale, the latter had a budget of just $15 million; the lowest for a winner since 2015’s Ex Machina, and the first foreign-language winner in the category.

Godzilla was amazing, I loved that it won!” says Video Production Club president Sebastian Gopar-Navarrete. “I think it should serve as an example to Hollywood that you don’t need $100 million to make a good action movie.”

But arguably the most celebrated award on campus was for a film that hit close to home: Best Documentary Short winner “The Last Repair Shop.” The film, which showed the hardworking people who repair LAUSD students’ musical instruments, featured NHHS’ own band members Ava Hernandez and Eno Thomson-Tribe. 

“[It] turned out to be one of the greatest opportunities I’ve had so far,” remarks Hernandez about her participation as a flute player during the film’s end credits. “I’m extremely glad it won an Oscar, since the film shines an important light on the benefits of music in school.”

Ava Hernandez and Eno Thomson-Tribe among LAUSD students and alumni performing in “The Last Repair Shop”

“Technically, what this means is that LAUSD won an Oscar!” said Vice Principal Xavier Chavez on the morning announcements the day after the ceremony.

Another celebrated win was for Best Documentary Feature winner 20 Days in Mariupol, which chronicled the early days of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022. Ukrainian-American students across campus were happy to see their nation represented at the Oscars for the first time. 

“I didn’t watch the movie, but I appreciated the message it conveyed about the ongoing war,” says Ping Pong Club president David Karelin. “I thought the director’s acceptance speech was really powerful.”

One of the night’s most surprising wins was in Best Animated Feature. While superhero sequel Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was expected to win, the award instead went to Japanese studio Studio Ghibli’s fantasy The Boy and the Heron.

“I thought Spider-Verse wasn’t as good as the first one, while Boy and the Heron was like a fever dream I couldn’t understand,” says Noho Robo member Joshua Lee. “I guess I’m still happy that it won, because I’m a fan of the other Studio Ghibli movies.” 

After 7 previous nominations for films like Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Grand Budapest Hotel, auteur director Wes Anderson received his first Oscar in Best Live Action Short for “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar,” based on Roald Dahl’s 1977 short story of the same name.

“The Boy and the Heron” winning Best Animated Picture

“I think [Anderson] is overdue for an Oscar, but I’m very glad he got to get one anyways,” says Noho Film Club vice president Aidan Mora

However, some students took issue with the event, critiquing the awards system and how it prioritized higher-budget releases. While Best Picture winner Oppenheimer spent a reported $25.7 million on national TV ads to promote its release, smaller films like romantic drama Past Lives couldn’t afford marketing and went home empty-handed.

“I don’t like how there’s so much campaigning instead of just choosing the best choice for each category,” Mora says.

Other students were unhappy with the event’s disturbance. Taking place at the historic Dolby Theater in Hollywood, those who lived close by were annoyed at the inconvenience.

 “It was bullsh*t,” says HGM senior Catalina Howells. “The helicopters and limousines were all around my house, so I couldn’t get to my track meeting!”

Overall, though, most were happy with the event. There was something for everyone and enough surprises to keep people interested and amused.

“Seeing John Cena naked was… an interesting choice,” remarks Boy’s Soccer player Anthony Diaz, in reference to the actor’s appearance onstage wearing nothing but an envelope to cover himself.

As the awards brought a fitting close to the movies of 2023, students now look forward to the rest of 2024’s most anticipated releases, whatever the future may be.

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Sam Lavagnino (He/Him)
Hi! I'm a senior at NHHS in the SAS program. I'm most interested in filmmaking and plan to pursue it in college, also have hobbies like listening to music, playing ping pong, and more.
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