Why Maestro Was Doomed to Walk Away Empty-Handed on Oscar Night

Why Maestro Was Doomed to Walk Away Empty-Handed on Oscar Night

We’re now just under forty-eight hours removed from the 96th Academy Awards on Sunday night. Oppenheimer took home top honors. Emma Stone is now a two-time Academy Award-winning actress, and John Cena was naked on stage. At least nobody got smacked this year. With every award season comes those movies that pick up nominations and never get anything in return.

Some of those films end up becoming classics, even casting a shadow across others that one big night. Others fade away into obscurity. A few come to mind this year, one of which was Bradley Cooper’s opus, Maestro.

Released during the holidays with a limited run in theaters but mainly produced for Netflix, Maestro is the biopic that follows the life of eccentric composer Leonard Bernstein, played wonderfully by Bradley Cooper, who also directs the film. Maestro isn’t just about the illustrious career of Bernstein; it also focuses on the ups and downs of marital life with his wife Felicia Montealegre, who is played flawlessly by Carey Mulligan.

One would even argue that although this feels like Cooper’s movie through and through, he does get a bit outshined by Mulligan in the overall story. Thus making her a prime candidate for Best Actress this year, an award she ended up not getting. 

Maestro walked away with zero wins at the 2024 Oscars. Many even thought it would at least get a win for Best Makeup, as it flawlessly showed Bernstein and Montealegre’s ageing over the years, but that ended up going to Poor Things. Why did the film that felt like it was spoon-feeding the Academy for months in hopes of winning big, get stripped of any shot come Oscar night?

The truth is, we don’t know for certain, but the speculation is all there, and there are so many films of the past that feel like they went the route of Maestro. Yes, we’re talking about the Oscar-bait movies. How many times have we seen a biopic hit between September and the holidays feel like it was just trying so hard to get the recognition of the Academy?

The sophistication with which Maestro presented itself was fun to look at, but down the stretch, it felt like it was reaching and was not organic. It felt as if it were a well-crafted movie, but its timing was off. Did we need this film right now?


Add to it the controversy that surrounded the film over Bradley Cooper’s prosthetic nose. The Jewish-American community felt outraged that, due to Cooper’s makeup in the film, it felt like a cartoon character of sorts of a Jewish-American. Despite these outcries, Bernsetin’s family backed the project and Cooper for his efforts.

Cooper’s press appearances for the film gave out information that felt forced. In an era where how we work in society is under a microscope, did we need to hear that Cooper didn’t allow anyone to sit down on set because it brought their energy down?

It’s little things like this that may or may not sway Oscar voters, but in the end, one can’t help but wonder what that set was like. To look like you want an Oscar can come off as needy, and this season, nobody looked like they wanted an Oscar more than Bradley Cooper.

Lastly, Maestro went to Netflix out of the gate. Although streamers have tapped into the culture of Academy voting in the last decade, some would say even their wins are oftentimes forgettable films. This goes back to the root of the issues with streaming. Films show up, and then they’re gone, after their flavor wares off after a week. Potentially, Maestro, a film that hit at a peak time for Oscar buzz, was more of a flavor of the week because of the platform it was on.

Again, this happens every year: movies trying to wrack up award-season buzz fall short due to the timing of the release. This does not jeopardize the film’s overall quality. Maestro has great moments in it and really feels like two films in one due to the changing of color and cinematography styles in it. But a word to the wise: for next year’s potential pictures who want to take home a golden statue, don’t look too needy on the campaign trail.

What do you think of Maestro? Have you watched it? Did it deserve an Oscar? Let us know in the comments below.

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