Emma Stone Was Just as Surprised by Her Oscars 2024 Best-Actress Win as You Were

Emma Stone provided one of the few surprises of Sunday’s Oscars 2024 when the Poor Things star won the best-actress trophy—edging out Lily Gladstone, the Killers of the Flower Moon actor who would have become the first Indigenous or Native American person to win an Oscar for acting. Stone also beat out Annette Bening (Nyad), Carey Mulligan (Maestro), and Sandra Hüller (Anatomy of a Fall) in the category.

“My dress is broken,” Stone said, stunned, after she took the stage. “I’m pretty sure it happened during ‘I’m Just Ken,’” she said, referring to Ryan Gosling’s musical number.

Stone anchored the Yorgos Lanthimos–directed Poor Things as Bella Baxter, a woman who throws herself off a bridge only to be revived by an eccentric scientist (Willem Dafoe) who swaps her brain for that of her unborn baby. The result is what Vanity Fair’s chief critic Richard Lawson hailed as the actor’s richest performance yet. “Stone gamely commits to these scenes, as she does to the entirety of this huge, demanding role that carries her from infant to woman in full,” he wrote. “It’s a marvelous turn, witty but not overly arch. Stone seamlessly shifts between the film’s comedy and its mounting wistfulness, as Bella comes of age with a keen and hard-won appreciation of her improbable place in the world.”

Stone has called the character her favorite part from her nearly 20-year career. The actor told The New York Times, “She’s drinking up the world around her in such a unique and beautiful way that I just dream I could. I find her so inspiring, and living in that every day throughout that whole process was just the greatest gift—it’s the most joy I’ve ever gotten to have as a character. Every person that exists has so much that built them up to what they are in adulthood, and it was interesting to discover that if you strip all that away, all that’s left is joy and curiosity.”

Sunday’s win marks Stone’s second best-actress Oscar. She claimed her first seven years ago for La La Land, the Damien Chazelle musical that costarred Stone’s fellow nominee Ryan Gosling (Barbie). At 35, Stone is in hallowed Hollywood company: Only a handful of actors have won best actress twice, including Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, and Meryl Streep.

The best-actress race was one of the tightest of the evening. Stone and Gladstone had split this year’s best-actress awards haul—with Gladstone winning the Screen Actors Guild award, a Golden Globe (for drama), and an armful of critics prizes from the New York Film Critics Circle and more. Stone, meanwhile, claimed her own Golden Globe (for comedy), the BAFTA award, the Critics Choice award, and critics prizes from the likes of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. As VF’s awards editor Katey Rich put it, “Gladstone is the emotional center of the sprawling Killers of the Flower Moon story, while Stone is in almost every scene of Poor Things. It’s a nearly impossible choice for any Academy voter—but at the very least we know that whoever wins it will be entirely deserving.”

Despite the competition between Stone and Gladstone, the actors became fast friends while on this season’s awards circuit. “We call each other Infinity Stones,” Gladstone told Rich earlier this year, showing off a ring that Stone sent her. “She sent me a picture of her wearing the same one because we became fast friends in this whole process,” Gladstone explained.

Last month, Stone also went viral for her friendly show of support at the SAG Awards. When Jessica Chastain called out Gladstone’s name as the best-actress winner, Stone immediately leapt to her feet in ecstatic applause.

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