How did Emma Stone beat Lily Gladstone for Best Actress at the Oscars 2024?

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In the annals of Oscar history, the 2024 Academy Awards delivered its fair share of surprises, none more unexpected than Emma Stone clinching the Best Actress trophy over the formidable competition, particularly Lily Gladstone. While Stone’s victory may not rival the Moonlight-level shock of past ceremonies, it undoubtedly left audiences and pundits alike stunned, especially considering the tight race between the two actresses throughout the awards season.

Both Stone and Gladstone had been frontrunners in the Best Actress category, each securing significant wins leading up to the Oscars. Stone triumphed at the BAFTA Awards, while Gladstone claimed victory at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. However, despite Gladstone’s momentum and the predictions of many industry experts, it was Stone who emerged victorious on Hollywood’s biggest night, winning her second Oscar.

 

So, what propelled voters to choose Emma Stone over Lily Gladstone?

Several factors may have contributed to this unexpected outcome, each shedding light on the complexities of Oscar voting and industry dynamics.

 

Category Confusion

One possible explanation lies in the categorization of the nominees. Similar to Michelle Williams’ situation the previous year, Gladstone initially garnered attention as a frontrunner in the supporting actress category before opting to compete in the lead actress race. While this decision aligned with the strategic goals of “Killers of the Flower Moon’s” Oscar campaign, which emphasized the film’s shift in perspective to center the Osage point of view, it also opened the door to debates about the appropriateness of her placement. On the other hand, Stone’s lead role in “Poor Things” provided a clear and uninterrupted focus on her character’s journey, eliminating any ambiguity surrounding her category placement.

 

The International Contingent

The influx of international voters into the Academy’s membership has reshaped the landscape of Oscar voting, with their influence evident in this year’s results. The diverse backgrounds and perspectives of these voters may have played a role in Stone’s win, as evidenced by the international community’s preference for her performance over Gladstone’s. BAFTA’s snub of “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Gladstone in key categories suggests that international audiences may not have connected with the film and its themes to the same extent as their American counterparts.

 

The Narrative

In the realm of Oscar campaigning, narratives often play a crucial role in shaping voters’ perceptions and decisions. While Gladstone’s potential historic win as the first Native American performer to receive an acting Oscar carried significant narrative weight, Stone’s recent acclaim and career-best performance in “Poor Things” ultimately swayed voters. In an era where the Academy values exceptional performances above all else, Stone’s portrayal resonated deeply with audiences and industry members alike, overshadowing any perceived narratives or historical significance.

In the end, Emma Stone’s unexpected triumph at the 2024 Oscars serves as a reminder of the unpredictable nature of awards season and the diverse factors that influence voting decisions. While Gladstone may have been the presumed favorite, Stone’s undeniable talent and standout performance ultimately secured her a well-deserved spot in Oscar history.