The 2024 Night Water Oscar Ballot results are in

Who will take home the top prize?

The 2024 Night Water Oscar Ballot results are in
Photo: Trae Patton, ©A.M.P.A.S.

Welcome to the 1st Night Water Academy Awards… Ballot Results!

Tonight is a celebration of guesswork, intuition, research, and gambling. It’s not about the art, the medium, the performances, or the politics. It’s about winning a casual social competition thanks to some basic research.

I’m excited to get into the results with all of you tonight. Fair warning: there’s nothing else in this edition of Night Water, so if you do not care about this ballot whatsoever, feel free to delete this email immediately. Do something useful with your time instead, like watching a twenty-minute video of this guy crash testing LEGO trains.

How I made my picks

Since I was extremely confident in my Oscar ballot abilities, I thought it only fair to reveal how I made my picks this year. I consulted five sources: predictions from Variety, Vanity Fair, The Hollywood Reporter, the Los Angeles Times, and the UK-based gambling company Ladbrokes for betting odds. In almost every category, sources agreed on a favored winner, though I’ll note a few 3–2 splits and pure toss-ups below.

Did all that research pay off? Let’s find out.

Arnold Schwarzeneger and Danny DeVito stand onstage in front of a large Oscar statuette
Photo: Trae Patton, ©A.M.P.A.S.

And the Oscar goes to…

Winners in bold
My picks in italics
(Percentage of Night Water votes won)

Best picture

American Fiction
Anatomy of a Fall (3%)
The Holdovers
Killers of the Flower Moon (20%)
Oppenheimer (63%)
Past Lives Poor Things (10%)
The Zone of Interest (3%)

Oppenheimer’s dominance tonight was telegraphed from a mile away, to the point where Al Pacino couldn’t even pretend to muster some suspense for the announcement. Ladbrokes had Poor Things as the second most likely to win, but with 16/1 odds versus Oppenheimer’s 1/20, it wasn’t particularly close.

Actor in a Leading Role

Bradley Cooper (13%)
Colman Domingo
Paul Giamatti (17%)
Cillian Murphy (67%)
Jeffrey Wright (3%)

Another victory for Ireland.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Sterling K. Brown (3%)
Robert De Niro (23%)
Robert Downey Jr. (57%)
Ryan Gosling (13%)
Mark Ruffalo (3%)

I wasn’t blown away by Robert Downey Jr.’s turn in Oppenheimer, but I suppose he deserves it for all of the money he made Disney over the last two decades.

Robert Downey Jr. holds his Oscar statuette with Nicolas Cage
Photo: Richard Harbaugh, ©A.M.P.A.S.

Actress in a Leading Role

Annette Bening (3%)
Lily Gladstone (60%)
Sandra Hüller (3%)
Carey Mulligan
Emma Stone (33%)

Every source I read predicted this would go to Lily Gladstone, but with an acknowledgment that an Emma Stone upset was very much in the realm of possibility. While I wanted a Gladstone win, I put my money on Stone—I figured if there was going to be one major upset, it would probably be this one. It sucks to be right! Fun fact: only one person in the Night Water winner’s circle called this correctly.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Emily Blunt (13%)
Danielle Brooks (17%)
America Ferrera (7%)
Jodie Foster (7%)
Da’Vine Joy Randolph (57%)

There’s no doubt that Randolph deserves this win—she gave a stunning portrayal of what would otherwise be a flat, one-note character in lesser hands.

Animated Feature Film

The Boy and the Heron (53%)
Elemental (7%)
Nimona (7%)
Robot Dreams
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse (33%)

Holy cow! I should’ve listened to the Night Water voters on this one! My sources acknowledged that this was a close race, but gave Spider-Man the edge, and I assumed it was the safer choice for my ballot. I should’ve dreamed bigger! I don’t feel too bad, though—no one in the winner’s circle got this one right.


El Conde (3%)
Killers of the Flower Moon (27%)
Oppenheimer (50%)
Poor Things (20%)

Poor Maestro—even El Conde got one vote!

Costume Design

Barbie (53%)
Killers of the Flower Moon (17%)
Napoleon (3%)
Poor Things (27%)

Of my sources, only the Los Angeles Times called this one correctly. As you’ll see later, I typically lean towards the Los Angeles Times when I need a tiebreaker, but I ignored them at my own peril here.


Justine Triet (10%)
Martin Scorsese (20%)
Christopher Nolan (47%)
Yorgos Lanthimos (23%)
Jonathan Glazer

A shockingly high number of you voted for split Best Picture/Director tickets. While this split has occurred more frequently since the addition of five films to the Best Picture ballot (and a change in how votes are calculated), this year, it seemed all but certain we’d get a straight Oppenheimer ticket down.

Documentary Feature Film

Bobi Wine: The People’s President (10%)
The Eternal Memory (13%)
Four Daughters (10%)
To Kill a Tiger (7%)
20 Days in Mariupol (60%)

Strong showing here by Night Water voters. I’m very proud.

Documentary Short Film

The ABCs of Book Banning (53%)
The Barber of Little Rock (10%)
Island in Between (3%)
The Last Repair Shop (23%)
Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó (10%)

The short film categories can be some of the hardest to predict given the lack of prior awards data. My sources were split between The ABCs of Book Banning and The Last Repair Shop, with Ladbrokes leaving this as the only Oscars category with no odds. I went with The Last Repair Shop in the end because it was the Los Angeles Times pick, and I’m glad I did.

Film Editing

Anatomy of a Fall (23%)
The Holdovers (10%)
Killers of the Flower Moon (20%)
Oppenheimer (40%)
Poor Things (7%)

You gotta give it to the movie with the most cuts.

International Feature Film

Io Capitano (7%)
Perfect Days (3%)
Society of the Snow (10%)
The Teachers’ Lounge (3%)
The Zone of Interest (77%)

If an international feature film is also nominated for Best Picture, it’s a pretty big hint that it’ll win this category—a hint that Night Water voters overwhelmingly took.

Makeup and Hairstyling

Golda (3%)
Maestro (37%)
Oppenheimer (13%)
Poor Things (40%)
Society of the Snow

I really thought Maestro would get at least one sympathy Oscar in the makeup category—indeed, most of my sources agreed that the controversial nose would take home the prize. Only The Hollywood Reporter (and Night Water voters, by a hair, and only one person in the winner’s circle) correctly called it.

Music (Original Score)

American Fiction (13%)
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (3%)
Killers of the Flower Moon (23%)
Oppenheimer (53%)
Poor Things (7%)

I loved this score and am very glad that Hans Zimmer chose Dune over Tenet all those years ago, driving Nolan into the loving arms of Ludwig Göransson.

Music (Original Song)

“The Fire Inside” from Flamin’ Hot (3%)
“I’m Just Ken” from Barbie (27%)
“It Never Went Away” from American Symphony (3%)
“Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)” from Killers of the Flower Moon
“What Was I Made For?” from Barbie (67%)

I was on the editorial team for a betting app, I absolutely would’ve put together a “Twitter Hellscape” parley with “I’m Just Ken” and Emma Stone winning their categories. If both of them won, the discourse would’ve been out of control.

Ryan Gosling performing "I'm Just Ken" at the 2024 Oscars
Photo: Trae Patton, ©A.M.P.A.S.

Production Design

Barbie (70%)
Killers of the Flower Moon
Napoleon (3%)
Oppenheimer (3%)
Poor Things (23%)

Y’all really thought this was going to Barbie! So did Vanity Fair and The Hollywood Reporter. My other sources pointed to Poor Things, and I followed the numbers.

Short Film (Animated)

Letter to a Pig (30%)
Ninety-Five Senses (10%)
Our Uniform (13%)
Pachyderme (10%)
WAR IS OVER! Inspired by the Music of John and Yoko (37%)

Another split ticket—Ladbrokes had the exact same odds for both WAR IS OVER! and Letter to a Pig. I went with WAR IS OVER! since that was the Los Angeles Times pick. I didn’t see the nominees this year, but based on the full title alone, WAR IS OVER! just seemed like the kind of thing that would win, you know?

Short Film (Live Action)

The After (20%)
Invincible (13%)
Knight of the Fortune (10%)
Red, White and Blue (13%)
The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar (43%)

Congratulations to Wes Anderson on his first Oscar for this Roald Dahl adaptation—even though he was in Germany preparing to start production on his next film and couldn’t accept the award. This was the only short film category with some agreement among my sources—only Variety went against the grain with a prediction for The After.


The Creator (13%)
Maestro (30%)
Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One
Oppenheimer (47%)
The Zone of Interest (10%)

A remarkable upset! All of my sources agreed on an Oppenheimer win, but I was happy to see the incredibly well-deserving The Zone of Interest pick up a win here. The film builds an intense amount of unease from sound alone, with the tension between the visuals and sound providing some of the film's most disturbing moments. A well-earned point for the three Night Water readers who picked The Zone of Interest, all of whom ended up in the winner’s circle.

Visual Effects

The Creator (27%)
Godzilla Minus One (23%)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (17%)
Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One (20%)
Napoleon (13%)

A wildly split category among Night Water voters, with no single nominee earning more than 30% of the vote. It was also split among my sources, with Variety and The Hollywood Reporter choosing The Creator and Vanity Fair, the Los Angeles Times, and Ladbrokes picking Godzilla. Another well-earned point pick-up here for many in the winner’s circle.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

American Fiction (40%)
Barbie (27%)
Oppenheimer (17%)
Poor Things (13%)
The Zone of Interest (3%)

Are we still doing discourse on “original” versus “adapted”? Too late to get in on that?

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Anatomy of a Fall (50%)
The Holdovers (13%)
Maestro (7%)
May December (10%)
Past Lives (20%)

I was glad to see Samy Burch get a nomination here for May December, her first feature, a film that I admired very much but has mostly passed by without major awards recognition. Meanwhile, Burch's other produced script, Coyote vs. Acme, may never see the light of day.

And the complimentary Day Soda goes to…

First, I just want to say that you’re all winners in my eyes. This night is not just a celebration of the folks walking away with Day Soda, it’s a celebration of everyone who puts in the hard work of filling out Oscar ballots.

There were 29 participants in this year's Night Water Oscar ballot—roughly a 3% response rate from the subscriber base. I think that's pretty good! I was afraid no one would respond, so the fact that it was actually a competition was thrilling.

Second, I promised that anyone who scored better than me would get a free month of Day Soda as an extra prize. I am disappointed to report that with a score of 19/23, not a single person performed better than me. I will be rewarding myself with an incredible amount of Day Soda. For the curious among us, the average correct score was 10/23.

On to the actual winners…

In third place, with scores of 16/23, are Russell Sperberg and Via Marsh!

In second place, with scores of 17/23, are Paul Jarnagin and Kevin Reed!

In first place, with a remarkable 19/23, is Seymour Krelborn! Yes, that Seymour Krelborn!

You’ll receive emails confirming your complimentary Day Soda subscriptions later this week. Keep an eye out!

Nicolas Cage clapping onstage at the 2024 Oscars
Photo: Trae Patton, ©A.M.P.A.S.

What did you think of the Oscars this year?

You made it this far down the email, so let me know what you thought of this year’s Academy Awards. Did you win your office Oscar ballot? Do you wish Field of Dreams won Best Picture? Did you read this whole thing out of spite and are ready to tell me how much you hate the Oscars? Share your thoughts in the comments!