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What to know before tonight’s Oscars ceremony – Chicago Tribune

Good morning, Chicago.

What will win, and what should win? That’s the eternal question on the mind of movie buffs watching the 2024 Academy Awards tonight.

Check out Tribune film critic Michael Phillips’ predictions in what he calls a year of movie riches.

“Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony marks Hollywood’s 96th festival of statuettes and humility,” Phillips writes. “We’re still here, some of us watching, even. And while we’re still here, if we can’t take the time to cheapen the entire medium with a few Oscar night predictions, then we really have lost our way.”

And if you’re feeling like an expert on this year’s nominees, test your knowledge with our 2024 Oscars quiz.

Below is our list of reviews from this year’s nominees for best picture to refresh your memory before tonight’s ceremony.

If you’d like to receive more newsletters like this, sign up for our new What to Watch newsletter. It’s a weekly look at the latest from Tribune critics on what film and television you should be watching.

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Jeffrey Wright in a scene from "American Fiction." (Claire Folger / MGM-Orion)
Jeffrey Wright in a scene from “American Fiction.” (Claire Folger/MGM-Orion)

‘American Fiction’ review: Jeffrey Wright shines in a comedy of a fake Black memoir’s rise to the top of the bestseller list

Wright has a great cast around him, with ringers up and down. Sterling K. Brown as Monk’s estranged brother; Tracee Ellis Ross as his sister; Leslie Uggams as the family matriarch, whose health is not great; Erika Alexander as the public defender across the way from Monk’s family’s summer place; everyone’s a vital and supple part of a true ensemble affair.

Samuel Theis, Sandra Hüller and Milo Machado Graner in a scene from "Anatomy of a Fall." (Neon via AP)
Samuel Theis, Sandra Hüller and Milo Machado Graner in a scene from “Anatomy of a Fall.” (Neon via AP)

‘Anatomy of a Fall’: Winner of the 2023 Palme d’Or winner at Cannes

The film, a leisurely, snakelike courtroom drama wrapped in a whodunit, concerns the murder or suicide of a husband and the fingers of suspicion pointed at, among others, the wife, played by the great German actor Sandra Hüller.

Ryan Gosling, left, as Ken and Margot Robbie as Barbie in“ Barbie.”.

Ryan Gosling, left, as Ken and Margot Robbie as Barbie in the new "Barbie" movie.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Ryan Gosling, left, as Ken and Margot Robbie as Barbie in the “Barbie” movie. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

‘Barbie’ review: A doll’s life is richly, unexpectedly imagined by Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie

Gerwig’s a wizard at tone management, and at keeping the spirit lively, even when things are looking less than happily-ever-after.

Dominic Sessa, from left, Paul Giamatti and Da'Vine Joy Randolph in a scene from "The Holdovers." (Seacia Pavao/Focus Features via AP)
Dominic Sessa, from left, Paul Giamatti and Da’Vine Joy Randolph in a scene from “The Holdovers.” (Seacia Pavao/Focus Features via AP)

‘The Holdovers’ review: Have a merry sweet-and-sour ’70s Christmas with Paul Giamatti and company

Giamatti has worked related territory before, in “Sideways,” where the borderline-alcoholic he played poured his energies into frustrated literary ambitions. Is he too much? Too hammy? Some think so. Not me. He’s an unusually astute judge of scale, not to mention inflection and timing.

Lily Gladstone in a scene from "Killers of the Flower Moon." (Apple TV+)
Lily Gladstone in a scene from “Killers of the Flower Moon.” (Apple TV+)

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ review: Scorsese delivers an epic of oil, greed, racism and sorrow, set in 1920s Oklahoma

Scorsese has rendered a tragic, forlorn piece of American history, indebted equally to classical Hollywood craftsmanship and the director’s own obsessions with honor, guilt, family, criminal codes and America’s centuries of greedy bloodshed.

Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in a scene from "Maestro." (Jason McDonald/Netflix via AP)
Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in a scene from “Maestro.” (Jason McDonald/Netflix via AP)

‘Maestro’ review: Bradley Cooper wields the baton as Leonard Bernstein. But Carey Mulligan conducts the movie.

For a movie made with full, scrutinizing consent of the Leonard Bernstein estate and surviving family members, “Maestro” is considerably more interesting, nuanced and engaging than the usual squaresville biopic.

Robert Downey Jr. in a scene from "Oppenheimer." (Universal Pictures)
Robert Downey Jr. in a scene from “Oppenheimer.” (Universal Pictures)

‘Oppenheimer’ review: Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy dissect the tortured conscience behind our atomic age

It stars a pitch-perfect Cillian Murphy as the thin man in the famously oversized fedora, with filmmaker Christopher Nolan freely adapting Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s superb Oppenheimer 2006 biography “American Prometheus.”

Greta Lee, left, and Teo Yoo in a scene from "Past Lives." (Jon Pack/A24 via AP)
Greta Lee, left, and Teo Yoo in a scene from “Past Lives.” (Jon Pack/A24 via AP)

‘Past Lives’ review: A delicate romantic triangle forms the year’s most gratifying film so far

It’s a rare movie that settles, quietly, into some part of your own experiences and memories without a speck of narrative contrivance gumming up your response to the story on the screen. “Past Lives” is that rarity.

Emma Stone, left, and Mark Ruffalo in a scene from "Poor Things." (Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures via AP)
Emma Stone, left, and Mark Ruffalo in a scene from “Poor Things.” (Atsushi Nishijima/Searchlight Pictures via AP)

Review: ‘Poor Things’ stars Emma Stone in a rich lesson of humanness

“Poor Things” is Yorgos Lanthimos’ strange and ravishing masterpiece about a young woman who receives one of life’s rare gifts: a chance to start over, from scratch. What will Bella do with her new lease on life? She’ll devour every last crumb, without an ounce of shame.

A scene from the movie “The Zone of Interest.”

A scene from the movie "The Zone of Interest."

A24/A24/TNS/TNS

A scene from the movie “The Zone of Interest.” (A24/TNS)

‘The Zone of Interest’ review: In this unforgettable Holocaust film, life outside of Auschwitz is devastatingly normal

A singular affront, in ways more conventionally wrenching movie treatments of the Holocaust such as “Schindler’s List” never were, “The Zone of Interest” withholds as much as it reveals, reorienting the audience’s perspective on the 20th century’s defining atrocity.


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