Is it really that time of year again? Yes, it is. As we head into spring, we begin moving past awards season. The Golden Globes, BAFTAs, SAG Awards, WGA Awards, and Critics’ Choice Awards have already flown by! But, there is yet one more filmmaking awards ceremony celebrating motion pictures of 2021 that we have indeed not seen . . . the Oscars! The 94th Academy Awards airs on ABC this Sunday at 7:00 P.M., and, yes, they will be back at the famous Dolby Theatre! And, also yes, they will have a host this year for the first time since 2018! In fact, hosts. You may have heard that Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, and Wanda Sykes will be emceeing this year’s ceremony. While I’m not a fan of Schumer’s and Hall’s comedy, it’ll be nice to have hosts again . . . and to be in a larger space again!
Today, I’ll be sharing my predictions for who will win in each of the categories for the 94th Academy Awards. But, before I do that, I’m gonna head down Memory Lane to look back at last year’s Oscars, the 93rd Academy Awards.
Well, since I never reviewed last year’s Oscars, I’ll give a quick mini-review, because I do have some thoughts on the 2021 Oscars. It suffered from a lot of issues on a lot of different levels, mainly due to the pandemic. The 92nd Academy Awards aired on February 9, 2020, foregoing the usual March air date . . . although, this time, it worked out very nicely! There was a regular full show unperturbed by the breeding monster that was COVID-19, which hit the United States at around the time that the Oscars would normally air. Perfect timing!
However, as we got to April 25, 2021, we were still in the middle of a pandemic, as much as we might have hoped we wouldn’t be. So, they moved the show to a smaller but more spaced out venue, the Los Angeles Union Station. Only a few dozen were present (presenters, nominees, and plus ones), and many presented or gave acceptance speeches live via satellite. Zoom speeches were not allowed by the Academy (likely after seeing the technical issues the Golden Globes had earlier that year), and there was again no host. Producer Steven Soderbergh commented that watching the ceremony would feel like “watching a movie”. Well, if it WAS a movie, it’s not one I’d want to see again.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Oscars! I look forward to them every year. But, with the combination of no host, a small venue, and a lack of uncreative movies to get excited for, and a very anticlimactic ending, it was sadly the worst Oscars ceremony that I’ve seen thus far (I’ve watched all since 2015). As just mentioned, the ending was anticlimactic. Not only was Best Picture the third-to-last award given out (it should always best the last!), but the Best Actor was not present to receive his award. Many assume (myself included) that the Academy positioned Best Actor as last because they assumed that Chadwick Boseman would win, and since his family would accept the Oscar on his behalf, it would be a nice, honorary way to end the show. Well, kids, don’t leave anything up to chance. Anthony Hopkins won, and since he was probably in beddy-bye over in Wales, presenter Joaquin Phoenix awkwardly stated that “the Academy accepts the award on his behalf”. And then the show ended.
But, that’s not the end of the story. The ratings soon came in. A mere 10.4 million people watched the ceremony. That might seem like a lot, but it’s really not when you compare it to the year before, which had 23.64 million viewers. According to Nielsen, ratings dropped by 7.7% from 13.6% (2020) to 5.9% (2021). It was ultimately the lowest-rated Oscars show of all time.
So, I’m hoping that this year will be better for many reasons. Including having hosts again and being back in the Dolby Theatre. However, as there always has been and always will be, there have been a few controversies, including West Side Story star Rachel Zegler not being invited to attend the event. Thank goodness that the Academy invited her to be a presenter the next day! Problem solved.
But two other problems have yet to be solved.
I’ll start with the worst controversy first. Every year, the Oscars is trying to cut down their runtime, particularly since their 2018 show ran for a whopping 3 hours and 53 minutes (233 minutes). Last year’s was only 3 hours and 19 minutes (199 minutes). It helped that last year’s Original Song nominees performed during the pre-show and not the awards ceremony as usual. But, this year, ABC is so desperate for ratings that the Academy will be handing out awards for these eight awards ahead of time:
- Best Animated Short Film
- Best Documentary Short
- Best Film Editing
- Best Live Action Short Film
- Best Makeup & Hairstyling
- Best Original Score
- Best Production Design
- Best Sound
This decision might be one of the worst announcements in Oscar history! That’s not hyperbole, because every single one of the 23 Oscar categories are equally important. Best Makeup & Hairstyling is equal to Best Actress, Best Sound is equal to Best Original Screenplay, etc. Imagine if you devoted months of your life to creating an animated short film, putting every skill you have towards making your innovation a reality, and the relief and joyfulness of acknowledgment for such an art. Winning an Oscar could be the biggest day of your career! But to be pushed to the sidelines simply due to a few extra minutes is simply disgusting and appalling, in my opinion.
Wow! That escalated quickly! But, it continues to get worse. Reportedly, ABC threatened to CANCEL the Oscars if the Academy didn’t sideline these categories and nominees. What an abomination! An atrocity! A travesty, a tragedy! Initially, they had demanded 12 awards be given off-air. This proves that ABC is really pulling out all the stops to garner more viewers for 2022. Including . . .
Yes, that’s right! Perhaps you thought it was a social media joke, but it’s true. The Academy has introduced two new Twitter-based categories: Oscars Fan Favorite and Oscars Cheer Moment. For the Fan Favorite category, Twitter users were allowed to vote for their personal favorite movie of the year by Tweeting the film name with #OscarsFanFavorite, with a handful of popular nominees selected that we’ll run through momentarily. As for the Oscars Cheer Moment, it’s almost the same thing. This time, five nominees were selected for fans to voice their opinions on which moment in a movie (not just in 2021, of all time) they cheered most at, requiring #OscarsCheerMoment in the Twitter post. Or, you were able to submit your pick at OscarsFanFavorite.com.
This became more controversial than I thought it would. I assumed fans would be happy to voice their opinion and have joy that the Academy finally supplied an opportunity for other more popular films with a larger fanbase to have their place and time.
I thought wrong.
Oscar followers immediately either panned the new Twitter categories or were extremely skeptical of it. I have yet to hear a positive reaction to this Oscars’ attempt to garner more popularity. In fact, even The View hosts spoke out against this new category, citing the People’s Choice Awards, in which America gets to vote. Others called it a recycled version of Best Popular Film, a new category that was announced in 2018 that would feature more (you guessed it) popular movies. With Spider-Man: No Way Home nominated in the category, some even thought it was to address those upset that the newest Spidey film was “snubbed” from Best Picture (e.g. Jimmy Kimmel, Kevin Smith, every Spider-Man fan on the face of the planet). So, overall, the Academy tried its best to excite fans — particularly with their theme this year, “Movie Lovers Unite” — but people are always looking for something to complain about.
As for the Oscars Cheer Moment, nobody’s really talking about that as much. I will be including these two categories in my predictions . . . which is the perfect segway into the main part of this post!
Alright, I will now share my predictions for the 94th Academy Awards. I’ll first start with the newest categories. Lights, keyboard, action!
(Note: Spoilers ahead for Zack Snyder’s Justice League and Spider-Man: No Way Home.)
Oscars Cheer Moment
- Avengers Assemble, “Avengers: Endgame” (2019)
- Effie White’s “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”, “Dreamgirls” (2006)
- The Flash Speed Force, “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” (2021)
- Neo Dodging Bullets, “The Matrix” (1999)
- Spider-Man Trio Team-Up, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (2021)
- Who Will Win: Speed Force, “Justice League”
- Who Should Win: Avengers Assemble, “Endgame”
- Who Could Win: Spidey Team-Up, “No Way Home”
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: “I Am Your Father”, “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980)
I don’t have any strong opinions on this one, but I have heard from various sources that the Speed Force scene from Zack Snyder’s Justice League is leading the vote. One Twitter user even shared a graph that showed that it had 90% of the vote! However, with the hype still surrounding Spider-Man: No Way Home and its various surprise characters, that’s also a contender. We’ll have to see!
Oscars Fan Favorite
- Nominees: Army of the Dead; Cinderella; Dune; Malignant; Minamata; The Power of the Dog; Sing 2; Spider-Man: No Way Home; The Suicide Squad; tick, tick . . . BOOM!
- Who Will Win: Spider-Man: No Way Home
- Who Should Win: Spider-Man: No Way Home
- Who Could Win: Army of the Dead or Cinderella
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: Free Guy
At first thought, this is pretty obvious. Combined with generating over $1.886 billion worldwide, a 98% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, and basically breaking the internet, you’ll be safe to bet on Spider-Man: No Way Home to win this award. And I think that’s what the Academy intended, since (as mentioned earlier) they received criticism for not further recognizing the superhero spectacle. Although, if that’s the case, they probably panicked when Deadline Hollywood reported that Prime Video & Sony’s Cinderella was in first place, and when later reports indicated that Army of the Dead could nab the award. Since then, Variety claimed that No Way Home was the clear pick for Oscars Fan Favorite. Congrats, Marvel & Sony!
As a side note, Free Guy is a fantastic film that deserved to be nominated for this. I’m disappointed in you, Twitter users! But, to be fair, when is anybody proud of you?
Alright, with that down, it’s time to move into the typical categories.
Best Visual Effects
- Nominees: Dune; Free Guy; No Time to Die; Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings; Spider-Man: No Way Home
- Who Will Win: Dune
- Who Should Win: Dune
- Who Could Win: Spider-Man: No Way Home
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: Eternals
This is not a difficult category to choose. Dune won Best Visual Effects at the BAFTAs and Critics’ Choice Awards, and the special effects here as well as the use of them is literally seamless. As for technical production on Dune, it’s basically flawless (more examples will come later). A good point was made in an online article I read for Oscars predictions, in which the pundit stated that while Marvel films’s CGI is great, it can also be clunky or unrealistic in areas. As for Dune, that’s not the case. The world feels so immersive, and the effects have a huge part in that. It deserves to win!
While Dune still should win, Eternals should’ve been nominated. I have yet to watch it, but the trailers made it look visually stunning. And with director Chloé Zhao’s directorial vision, that only adds to the case.
- Nominees: Belfast; Dune; No Time to Die; The Power of the Dog; West Side Story
- Who Will Win: Dune
- Who Should Win: Dune
- Who Could Win: The Power of the Dog
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: A Quiet Place: Part II; King Richard
A couple of years ago, the Oscar category count shrunk from 24 to 23 (another likely attempt to boost ratings) when Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing merged into Best Sound. Since then, it’s been slightly tougher to judge who will win, as Mixing and Editing usually went to two different nominees. Many people are putting Dune down as a positive in this heading, and albeit I was more skeptical, it’s looking like it’ll presumably win. And it deserves to win! From the technical tics of fantastical weaponry to the surreal sounds of an emerging sandworm, it again is very immersive. I’m putting Dune on my Rotten Tomatoes ballot for this one! Not a sponsor.
As for the snubs, the sound in the Quiet Place films is obviously very important, and it feels enhanced but practical at the same time. King Richard‘s on-point sound depiction is important to its many tennis scenes. I wish both had been nominated, but I’m still with Dune.
Best Makeup & Hairstyling
- Nominees: Coming 2 America; Cruella; Dune; The Eyes of Tammy Faye; House of Gucci
- Who Will Win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
- Who Should Win: House of Gucci
- Who Could Win: Dune
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: Cyrano
The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a safe bet here. The makeup artists completely changed Jessica Chastain into, well . . . Tammy Faye Bakker! Although I think (based from the trailers) Jared Leto looks even more unrecognizable and the hairstyling of the Gucci family may be even more well done, the makeup team did a phenomenal job on The Eyes of Tammy Faye. I’ll put my money on it!
Best Production Design
- Nominees: Dune; Nightmare Alley; The Power of the Dog; The Tragedy of Macbeth; West Side Story
- Who Will Win: Dune
- Who Should Win: Dune
- Who Could Win: West Side Story
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: The French Dispatch
All five of these nominees have an outstanding set and production design (another reason why they should be presented DURING the Oscars!), but it all comes down to Dune . . . again. The sands of Arrakis and the extravagant planetary palaces are some of the settings that come to mind. West Side Story, The Tragedy of Macbeth, and The Power of the Dog all have designs that match the period they’re set in, while Nightmare Alley‘s terrifying design makes for a fantastic surrounding.
Best Costume Design
- Nominees: Cruella; Cyrano; Dune; Nightmare Alley; West Side Story
- Who Will Win: Cruella
- Who Should Win: Cruella
- Who Could Win: Dune
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: House of Gucci; The Last Duel
As with the previous category, all the nominees here are all absolutely tremendous. Despite this, one stands just a bit above the rest: Cruella. After all, it is a film about fashion! The extraordinary design here matches the tone of the film and just looks neat! This is liable to change, but it’s more likely than not.
On the subject of the snubs, the costume designs for House of Gucci and The Last Duel are, simply put, awesome! Particularly the latter. But, don’t worry, the worst snubs are still approaching.
- Nominees: Dune (Greig Fraser); Nightmare Alley (Dan Laustsen); The Power of the Dog (Ari Wegner); The Tragedy of Macbeth (Bruno Delbonnel); West Side Story (Janusz Kamiński)
- Who Will Win: Dune
- Who Should Win: Dune
- Who Could Win: The Power of the Dog
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: Belfast
I’ll start with the negative first . . . this is shameful! How could they?! I recently watched Belfast for the first time, and one of the strongest aspects of the film was the cinematography, no doubt. It expertly captured the emotion and was configured in a way that created some memorable shots. Whether the cinematography was closer and personal, or wide and detailed, it was very well done and deserved to be nominated and maybe even win!
But enough about that. Dune had some legitimately masterful and gorgeous shots, and since it was set in a much bigger world, it had more ambitious and epic shots than, say, The Power of the Dog. I’ll be hiring Greg Fraser for my next big film!
Best Film Editing
- Nominees: Don’t Look Up (Hank Corwin); Dune (Joe Walker); King Richard (Pamela Martin); The Power of the Dog (Peter Sciberras); tick, tick . . . BOOM! (Myron I. Kerstein & Andrew Weisblum)
- Who Will Win: Dune
- Who Should Win: tick, tick . . . BOOM!
- Who Could Win: King Richard
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: West Side Story (Sarah Broshar & Michael Kahn)
Another one for Dune! Goodness gracious, when I said that Dune was basically flawless on a technical level, I wasn’t lying! However, this is a category that’s more likely than the others to turn on the sci-fi epic. The editing for King Richard was fantastic, and this is true for almost any sports film. It’s still safe to predict Dune for Best Film Editing, though, as the odds are with it. As for tick, tick . . . BOOM!, it won’t win, but the way they combined the onstage musical with the story that the musical is telling (that won’t make any sense unless you’ve seen the movie) was stunning and really well done.
Best Original Song
- “Down to Joy” from Belfast – Music & Lyrics by Van Morrison, Sung by Van Morrison
- “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto – Music & Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sung by Sebastián Yatra
- “Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days – Music & Lyrics by Diane Warren, Sung by Reba McEntire
- “Be Alive” from King Richard – Music & Lyrics by DIXSON & Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Sung by Beyoncé Knowles Carter
- “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die – Music & Lyrics by Billie Eilish & Finneas O’Connell, Sung by Billie Eilish
- Who Will Win: “No Time to Die”
- Who Should Win: “Dos Oruguitas”
- Who Could Win: “Dos Oruguitas”
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from Encanto – Music & Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sung by Adassa & Stephanie Beatriz & Mauro Castillo & Rhenzy Feliz & Carolina Gaitán & Diane Guerrero
One of the best parts of the Oscars is to hear the Original Songs performed live. That didn’t happen last year, so it’s even more anticipated this year! All the songs except “Down to Joy” will be sung live in the Dolby Theatre.
To be fair, I cheated on “Who Should Have Been Nominated”. Disney decided to submit “Dos Oruguitas” instead of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”, which I think was a mistake on their part. While “Dos Oruguitas” is a gently touching song and is the best of the nominees, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” has become a Disney sensation, and one of their most popular songs! It’s even going to be performed at the Oscars this year despite not being nominated. Aside from that, “No Time to Die” is the likely winner. I’m not a big fan of this song and I have no idea why it will win, but that’s just my musical preferences, which can obviously be drastically different from other people’s perspectives. I’m listening to the math on choosing this category’s winner!
Fun Fact: If “Dos Oruguitas” won Best Original Song, Lin-Manuel Miranda would win an Oscar, which would grant him his first EGOT! Unfortunately, Lin-Manuel won’t be at the Academy Awards this year, as his wife recently tested positive for COVID-19.
Best Original Score
- Nominees: Don’t Look Up (Nicholas Britell), Dune (Hans Zimmer), Encanto (Germaine Franco), Parallel Mothers (Alberto Iglesias), The Power of the Dog (Jonny Greenwood)
- Who Will Win: Dune (Hans Zimmer)
- Who Should Win: Encanto (Germaine Franco)
- Who Could Win: The Power of the Dog (Jonny Greenwood)
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: Spider-Man: No Way Home (Michael Giacchino)
Another fairly easy prediction to add to Dune‘s vast collection. I personally didn’t care for Hans Zimmer’s score for Dune, as it was a bit too odd for me. And Encanto‘s score is the only other one I’ve heard, so that’s why I chose that for “Who Should Win”. Michael Giacchino’s Spider-Man score is iconic and fantastic, but I didn’t expect it to get a nod. As far as I’m aware, despite my protests, Hans Zimmer and Dune have it in the bag.
Best Documentary Short Subject
- Nominees: Audible; Lead Me Home; The Queen of Basketball; Three Songs for Benazir; When We Were Bullies
- Who Will Win: Audible
- Who Should Win: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- Who Could Win: The Queen of Basketball
- Who Should Have Been Dominated: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
This is a rare time that I’ll go against the math. Odds indicate The Queen of Basketball is the clear favorite, but I’ve read up, and the majority believe Audible will take home the Oscar. I might change my ballot at the last second, we’ll see!
Best Live Action Short
- Nominees: Ala Kachuu – Take and Run; The Dress; The Long Goodbye; On My Mind; Please Hold
- Who Will Win: The Long Goodbye
- Who Could Win: The Dress
Based on my research, many are in agreement that The Long Goodbye will win, particularly because of Riz Ahmed’s performance. I’ll trust the pros!
Best Animated Short
- Nominees: Affairs of the Art; Bestia; Boxballet; Robin Robin; The Windshield Wiper
- Who Will Win: Robin Robin
- Who Could Win: Bestia
Robin Robin sounds like a family-friendly short that’s available on Netflix, and people are loving it! Many are saying that it’ll win, but, who knows, the Oscars theoretically could choose something “artsier”, although they stick with the safe choice most of the time.
Note: I normally do not watch the shorts (Documentary, Live Action, or Animated), so I don’t have the best judgement. I do plan to watch some on Oscar Sunday before the ceremony out of interest. I encourage you to do the same! (If they’re appropriate for your age.)
- Nominees: Ascension; Attica; Flee; Summer of Soul (. . . Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised); Writing with Fire
- Who Will Win: Summer of Soul
- Who Could Win: Flee
I’m unlike my parents when I say that documentaries aren’t something I watch often, but I certainly enjoy them when I do occasionally view one or two. I’ve heard many raving about Questlove’s Summer of Soul, even before it was nominated for an Academy Award. Winning at the BAFTAs, Critics’ Choice Awards, and Producer’s Guild Awards, it’s almost ensured! If you put it on your ballot and you lose the Oscars pool, don’t blame me, blame the sources I’ve been getting my information from. . . . Although I cannot share them for fear that others in my own Oscars pool will track them down.
Best International Feature
- Nominees: Drive My Car (Japan); Flee (Denmark); The Hand of God (Italy); Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan); The Worst Person in the World (Norway)
- Who Will Win: Drive My Car
- Who Could Win: The Worst Person in the World
This category may be the easiest out of all 23 this year. I’ll tell you exactly why: Drive My Car is the only one out of these five that is nominated for Best Picture, and Best Director for that matter. When a nominee from Best Documentary, Best International Feature, or Best Animated Feature is nominated for Best Picture, that’s basically a guarantee that they will win that category.
Best Animated Feature
- Nominees: Encanto; Flee; The Mitchells vs the Machines; Luca; Raya and the Last Dragon
- Who Will Win: Encanto
- Who Should Win: Encanto
- Who Could Win: The Mitchells vs the Machines
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: Ron’s Gone Wrong
To be fair, Encanto and Ron’s Gone Wrong are the only animated features of 2021 that I have seen. I don’t necessarily think Ron’s Gone Wrong should have been nominated, but I put it in there anyway. Encanto was a remarkable film! The songs, animation, and characters were outstanding. This will likely be the first time in five years that a Disney Animation film will win over a Pixar movie. It’s not a guarantee, though. Despite Encanto winning in this category at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs, The Mitchells vs the Machines won at the Annie Awards and the Critics’ Choice Awards. It would still be surprising if Encanto‘s award was usurped, or as Michael Scott says, “uslurped”.
Fun Fact: Flee is the only film nominated in all “Best Picture Variants” as I call them: Best Documentary, Best International Feature, and Best Animated Feature.
And now, we move onto the most anticipated categories!
Best Adapted Screenplay
- CODA (Sian Heder) – Based on the 2014 French Original Motion Picture “La Famille Bélier”, Written by Victoria Bedos, Thomas Bidegain, Stanislas Carrée de Malberg, and Éric Lartigau
- Drive My Car (Ryûsuke Hamaguchi & Takamasa Oe) – Based on the Japanese Short Story “Men Without Women” by Haruki Murakami
- Dune (Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts, and Denis Villeneuve) – Based on the 1965 Novel by Frank Herbert
- The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) – Based on the 2006 Novel by Elena Ferrante
- The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion) – Based on the 1967 Novel by Thomas Savage
- Who Will Win: CODA (Sian Heder)
- Who Should Win: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal)
- Who Could Win: The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion)
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: tick, tick . . . BOOM! (Steven Levenson) – Based on the Musical by Jonathan Larson
Another category that I haven’t seen any of the nominees in. I do know, however, that The Lost Daughter is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directional debut, and it’s the first film she’s written, as well. An impressive feat that’s worth some recognition! But, that’s not the way the Academy votes. I was nearly positive for a few weeks that Jane Campion and The Power of the Dog would take home this award . . . and then CODA won the BAFTAs and, the most important hint for this grouping, the Writers’ Guild Awards. In fact, I’ve noticed with a number of categories that they’ve turned upside down ever since more awards ceremonies have come out (Razzies not included 😉). This could flip back in favor of The Power of the Dog and its New Zealander writer-director, but CODA is still the most likely possibility.
Best Original Screenplay
- Nominees: Belfast (Kenneth Branagh); Don’t Look Up (Written by Adam McKay, Story by Adam McKay & David Sirota); King Richard (Zach Baylin); Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson); The Worst Person in the World (Joachim Trier & Eskil Vogt)
- Who Will Win: Belfast (Kenneth Branagh)
- Who Should Win: Belfast (Kenneth Branagh)
- Who Could Win: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson)
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: Being the Ricardos (Aaron Sorkin)
This may be the second most difficult category this year. It’s so close between Belfast and Licorice Pizza, with Don’t Look Up also a possibility after its WGA (Writers’ Guild Awards) win. Belfast won at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards, while Licorice Pizza took the BAFTA. The Academy does love personal stories, and Branagh wrote a phenomenal script, while, from what I’ve read, Licorice Pizza sounds more superficially well-written and Don’t Look Up appears to juggle too many things in its script. It was a surprise that Academy-Award Winning Writer Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) was snubbed from Best Original Screenplay despite supposedly penning a great screenplay for Being the Ricardos.
All in all, this is a tough one, but I’m sticking with Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast.
Best Supporting Actor
- Nominees: Ciarán Hinds (Belfast); Troy Kotsur (CODA); Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog); J. K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos); Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog)
- Who Will Win: Troy Kotsur
- Who Should Win: Troy Kotsur
- Who Could Win: Kodi Smit-McPhee
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: Ben Affleck (The Tender Bar); Jamie Dornan (Belfast)
Newcomers and veterans are at each other’s throats for Best Supporting Actor this year! After he won the Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Kodi-Smit McPhee was assumed to be the winner for this category at the Oscars. But once Troy Kotsur entered the scene and swiped a bunch of awards into his bag (BAFTA, SAG Award, Film Independent Spirit Award, Critics’ Choice Award), it seems extremely probable that the deaf actor will bring home the Oscar for his work in CODA. I’m disappointed that Ben Affleck and Jamie Dornan weren’t given a nod, as Affleck can be a great actor, and Dornan was terrific in Belfast and matched the performance of Ciarán Hinds. J. K. Simmons was a complete surprise, and I don’t think anybody really expected that he’d be nominated. I think he’ll be fine if he loses, though, he already took home the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2015 for Whiplash.
Best Supporting Actress
- Nominees: Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter); Ariana DeBose (West Side Story); Judi Dench (Belfast); Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog); Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard)
- Who Will Win: Ariana DeBose
- Who Should Win: Ariana DeBose or Kirsten Dunst
- Who Could Win: Kirsten Dunst
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: Caitríona Balfe (Belfast)
This is undoubtedly the easiest acting category this year. Dancer and actress Ariana DeBose has won practically every film award there is for her work in West Side Story as Anita. It would be absolutely shocking if Kirsten Dunst or Judi Dench swept the category instead. DeBose deserved this award, too. She combined the energy of the character with her incredible dancing to create a fun and well-done performance. I do hear a lot of people raving about Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog, which I won’t see for another four years (obviously an R-rated film). Aunjanue Ellis and Judi Dench were excellent in their respective roles and were able to show a lot of emotion, but they don’t really have a chance. Maybe next year. 🙂
Fun Fact: Rita Moreno won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar at the 34th Academy Awards (60 years ago) for the same role that Ariana DeBose is up for in the 1961 West Side Story, which also won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, and Best Film Editing. Wow!
- Nominees: Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye); Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter); Penélope Cruz (Parallel Mothers); Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos); Kristen Stewart (Spencer)
- Who Will Win: Jessica Chastain
- Who Should Win: Jessica Chastain
- Who Could Win: Nicole Kidman
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: Lady Gaga (House of Gucci)
Writing this, I had a flashback to the 91st Academy Awards in 2019, in which Glenn Close was a nearly guaranteed winner, but Olivia Colman surprisingly overtook her. Could this happen again? An actress (Jessica Chastain) who’s been nominated a few times for an Oscar, has never won, is predicted to win, and loses in an upset victory to a different actress (Nicole Kidman)? It could certainly happen. The only thing deterring me from being fully convinced that Tammy Faye – sorry . . . Jessica Chastain will win is the fact that Nicole Kidman won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama over Chastain. And, we don’t have the BAFTAs to judge because none of the Oscar-nominated Actresses were even nominated in the BAFTA category this year! If I were you, I’d assume Chastain for Best Actress, but tread lightly, as there could be an upset victory.
- Nominees: Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos); Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog); Andrew Garfield (tick, tick . . . BOOM!); Will Smith (King Richard); Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth)
- Who Will Win: Will Smith
- Who Should Win: Andrew Garfield
- Who Could Win: Benedict Cumberbatch
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley); Leonardo DiCaprio (Don’t Look Up); Peter Dinklage (Cyrano)
Here’s a star-studded category! All five of these actors have been nominated at least once before in this category. Despite how tremendous these actors have done in their respective films, this award is almost surely going to Will Smith for his portrayal as Richard Williams. (Don’t call me Shirley!) His brilliant and captivating performance is certainly worth an Oscar . . . with that being said, however, Andrew Garfield gave a simply mesmerizing portrayal of musical composer Jonathan Larson for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s tick, tick . . . BOOM! His mannerisms and expressions completely changed for the role, and his performance fit the Inception-like style of the movie. As for the others, Javier Bardem always gives a fine performance, Benedict Cumberbatch has received much praise for his acting in Jane Campion’s psychological western, and Denzel Washington is one of the most-nominated actors in Oscar-history. Whoever wins, there’s no disappointment.
- Nominees: Kenneth Branagh (Belfast); Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog); Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car), Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza)
- Who Will Win: Jane Campion
- Who Should Win: Steven Spielberg
- Who Could Win: Kenneth Branagh
- Who Should Have Been Nominated: Denis Villeneuve (Dune)
While previously-nominated director Jane Campion’s artistic approach to The Power of the Dog may speak more to some than others, she’s going to win Best Director this year, plain and simple. I enjoyed Steven Spielberg’s approach to bringing the Jets and Sharks (no, not Bruce the Jaws Shark) to life in West Side Story a lot, while Kenneth Branagh expertly brought “The Troubles” of Belfast to life. Denis Villeneuve 100% should have been nominated for expertly crafting out the world of Arrakis in Dune. At the end of the day, though, Jane Campion will take home the trophy to add to her Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics’ Choice Award.
And now for the big one, the one everyone’s been waiting for . . . !
- And the Nominees Are: Belfast; CODA; Don’t Look Up; Drive My Car; Dune; King Richard; Licorice Pizza; Nightmare Alley; The Power of the Dog; West Side Story
- The Oscar Goes To: The Power of the Dog
- The Oscar Should Go To: CODA or West Side Story
- The Oscar Could Go To: CODA
- The Oscar Should Have Nominated: tick, tick . . . BOOM!
This is the trickiest category out of all 23 (25 if you count the new ones). First, I thought the Oscar would go to The Power of the Dog, then CODA, and now I think The Power of the Dog again! I may indeed change my vote on the ballot, but what convinced me of The Power of the Dog was last year’s Best Picture winner: Nomadland. Both films are very artistic, and though the Academy could go for something more traditional, it’s certainly possible they’ll backpedal to last year’s decision. Plus, The Power of the Dog has the most nominations, while CODA is the Best Picture nominee that is tied for the fewest. CODA isn’t even nominated for Best Director, while TPOTD will almost positively win that category! This is liable to change in my mind, but it appears Netflix will triumph over Apple TV+.
So, there they are! Wow, this has been a long post! Before I go, I’ll give some details on the 12 Best Picture nominees.
- Belfast (Available for Rent) – Directed by Kenneth Branagh, Starring Jude Hill, Caitríona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, Lewis McAskie (7 Nominations)
- CODA (Available on Apple TV+) – Directed by Sian Heder, Starring Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant, Eugenio Derbez (3 Nominations)
- Don’t Look Up (Available on Netflix) – Directed by Adam McKay, Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Timothée Chalamet, Tyler Perry, Ron Perlman, Mark Rylance, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep (4 Nominations)
- Drive My Car (Available on HBO Max) – Directed by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Starring Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tōko Miura, Reika Kirishima, Masaki Okada (4 Nominations)
- Dune (Available on HBO Max) – Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem (10 Nominations)
- King Richard (Available on HBO Max) – Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, Starring Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Jon Bernthal, Tony Goldwyn (6 Nominations)
- Licorice Pizza (Available for Rent) – Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Starring Alana Haim, Bradley Cooper, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn
- Nightmare Alley (Available on Hulu or HBO Max) – Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe, Toni Collette
- The Power of the Dog (Available on Netflix) – Directed by Jane Campion, Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Thomasin McKenzie (12 Nominations)
- West Side Story (Available on Disney+ or HBO Max) – Directed by Steven Spielberg, Starring Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Rita Moreno
So, there it is! My predictions for the 94th Academy Awards, which will be live tonight on ABC at 7:00 P.M. CST, with hosts Regina Hall, Amy Schumer, and Wanda Sykes. Be sure to let me know your thoughts on the nominees down below and who you think will win Best Picture. Wish me luck with my Oscars pool this year!
Until then, Movie Lovers Unite!
Whiz Kid out