Nominations for the 94th annual Academy Award were released earlier this week, commemorating a great year in movies. We’ve written about a number of great filmmakers and artists over the past year, it’s only right if we commemorate them too.

Welcome to the 2024 Advocate Oscars! Where the awards are arbitrary and the decisions are made by an unqualified white male (me). It’s just like the real Oscars!

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Let’s get to our first category.

Best Director: Thaddeus Matula – Into The Spotlight

Photo by Hunter Lacey.

Emmy-winning and SMU-graduating director Thaddeus Matula constructed cinema’s first lighthearted tearjerker with his 2023 documentary, Into The Spotlight. It follows a theater troupe made up of adults with physical and cognitive disabilities as they write and perform an original stage show. The film also premiered at the Texas Theatre via the Dallas International Film Festival, met with a roaring ovation and stellar reviews.

I was part of that roaring ovation, and if the Advocate did movie reviews you’d see a giant five-star rating. As of now, the film has only been screened at festivals around the world. If it’s ever given a widespread release, whether in theaters or streaming, take 90 minutes out of your day to watch it. Into The Spotlight should go down as one of the most personal and heartfelt movies ever made about Dallas.

Best Cinematography: Andrew Hajek – The Unknown Country

Photo courtesy of Music Box Films.

Hajek, a local filmmaker, shot this festival darling starring Lily Gladstone of Martin Scorcese’s epic, Killers Of The Flower Moon. In August, he spoke with the Advocate about the film ahead of its debut into independent theaters across the country.

Best Premiere: The Iron Claw at The Texas Theatre

Photo by Kelsey Shoemaker.

Chronicling the heartbreaking true story of the Von Erich family, the Texas-based drama starring Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White premiered at the Texas Theatre in November. The stars were photographed by the Advocate on a red carpet rolled down Jefferson Blvd.

Best Picture: 

Photo by Lauren Allen.

In the December 2023 issue of the Oak Cliff Advocate, Lauren Allen shot these sensational photos of specialty cocktails designed by neighborhood bartenders. They’re moody, retro and pop off the page. And hey, the story is pretty great too. 

Best Actor: Mayor Eric Johnson – for acting like he was a Democrat until September

A transformative performance. Executing a twist ending in the same vein as Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense or Leonardo DiCaprio in Shutter Island.

Best Actress: Erin Everywhere

Photo by Victoria Gomez.

Enigmatic. Entertaining. Queen of E-Words. Erin Everywhere knows how to turn heads. The Preston Hollow resident made a living starring on reality TV shows, recently taking her talents to the stage at the Ochre House in Deep Ellum. Where there is an audience, Everywhere follows. And yes, that’s her real last name.