It's that time of year again when Hollywood lines up to congratulate itself on surviving another year.

Normally, this kind of glad-handing bullshit and self-congratulatory chicanery is offensive to anyone who was born with a sense of shame, but this year, it's different. Before the longest industrial actions in the industry came to an end (and another possibly brewing), Oscar Season itself felt under threat. Indeed, 'Oppenheimer' had its world premiere on the very day the strikes began. Our fated interview with Cillian Murphy never came to pass, so instead we wrote about the SAG-AFTRA Strike instead.

It's a kind of irony, then, that the movie that kicked off the strike is now well out in front as the likely winner of just about every award it's in contention for at this year's Oscars. Let's get into the main categories of interest.

BEST ACTOR - Cillian Murphy, 'Oppenheimer'

Let's be clear. Yes, we're an Irish website that focuses on entertainment news and so forth. That doesn't colour the fact that Cillian Murphy is going to win Best Actor at this year's Oscars. Nearly every bookmaker has Cillian Murphy as the odds-on favourite to win. His closest rival is Paul Giamatti, and poor old Bradley Cooper is the distant third. This isn't our own opinion, either. This is one shared by industry bibles, trade magazines, Hollywood watchers, you name it. Cillian Murphy is going to win Best Actor at this year's Oscars, and Cork people are never going to let the rest of us forget it.

BEST ACTRESS - Lily Gladstone, 'Killers of the Flower Moon'

Much like Cillian Murphy in the Best Actor category, the Best Actress category is sewn up and the statuette may as well now read Lily Gladstone for 'Killers of the Flower Moon'. Sandra Huller, though she's had an incredible year with both 'Anatomy Of A Fall' and 'The Zone of Interest', is a distant third. Emma Stone for 'Poor Things' is the only other option in this category, and if there's going to be an upset of sorts, it's going to be her and not Lily Gladstone taking the win here.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR - Robert Downey Jr., 'Oppenheimer'

As much as everyone loved Ryan Gosling's Kenergy in 'Barbie', it's been surprising how much the pink-studded masterpiece from Greta Gerwig has been royally shut out of the Oscars. It may have something to do with the fact that Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav is persona non grata at the moment with everyone in Hollywood owing to him deleting and benching movies for tax purposes and subsequently taking it out on 'Barbie' and its Oscar chances. Regardless, Robert Downey Jr. is still the likely winner and the correct winner for this category. For a guy who spent the better part of a decade playing a heightened version of himself and acting off against tennis balls, the way he was able to redeem himself and give a layered, nuanced performance demonstrates his immense talents.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS - Da'Vine Joy Randolph, 'The Holdovers'

By some miracle, if Paul Giamatti won for Best Actor against our Cillian, we wouldn't be rioting in the streets. Well, maybe they might down in Cork. Both were terrific performances and they really are neck and neck with the bookmakers. However, if Da'Vine Joy Randolph doesn't come away with an Oscar on Sunday night for her performance in 'The Holdovers', there is going to be upheaval on an unprecedented scale. We're talking civil unrest on a global level. Oscar voters, do you want this on your hands? Of course you don't. She's the clear winner. You all saw the movie, yes? Clear favourite. Stop the joking around just announce her now, save everybody the hassle.

BEST DIRECTOR - Christopher Nolan, 'Oppenheimer'

Let us state the obvious - Greta Gerwig was absolutely robbed of an Oscar nomination for 'Barbie'. Whatever your feelings on the movie, good or bad or indifferent, there is no way anyone who watches the Oscars and watches movies can argue this point with any kind of validity. She was absolutely locked out in a way that feels almost pointed. Could it have been the unending press tour? The bombardment of marketing for it, perhaps? We'll never know.

A match-up between Greta Gerwig and Christopher Nolan could have made for a truly exciting category this year for Best Director. As it stands, Christopher Nolan has this locked down and it's very unlikely anyone else is in the running. Martin Scorsese could be a surprise winner, but it's doubtful. This feels like it's all but Nolan's to lose, and considering how 'Dunkirk' was blocked out when everyone thought it'd be an easy win for him, this is overdue. Not Martin Scorsese overdue, but certainly deserved.


'The Zone of Interest' has been an arthouse mammoth, and it's not all that hard to see why. There is a gut reaction to this piece of work that has generated discussion in it well beyond everyone's expectations. More than that, the manner in which it discusses the walls we all build to hide and ignore the horrors surrounding us is particularly pertinent in the context of what's happening in Palestine and specifically Gaza at the moment. As deserved of recognition as anything on Sunday night.

BEST PICTURE - 'Oppenheimer'

Even though 'Oppenheimer' is locking up everything in sight, Best Picture does feel like a race to us. 'Barbie' could surprise everyone and snag Best Picture here, and so could 'The Zone of Interest'. Sure, the oddsmakers are favouring 'Oppenheimer' heavily and all of the industry logic and soothsaying favours it too. Yet, given how much of the night is going to be dominated by 'Oppenheimer', it wouldn't be surprising if there was a late ceremony upset here.

Of course, the Oscars both hate and love a last-minute upset because, well, that means ratings and ratings means the Oscars survives another year. It could be interesting to see 'Barbie' pick this up, purely out of how roundly neglected the movie was and how it surprised so many of us that this was so - especially given both the critical and commercial performance of it. Still, when it's all said and done, the likelihood is it's going to be 'Oppenheimer' with a finality like an A-bomb.