When I did my Oscar predictions last week prior to the Venice Film Festival kicking off, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog was perched at #1 in four of the eight races that I’m currently projecting. That would be Best Picture, Director, Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Adapted Screenplay. Kirsten Dunst was listed in second for Supporting Actress with her real life hubby Jesse Plemons sitting in the same spot in Supporting Actor.
Dog has now screened at the Italian fest and the outlook is a bit cloudier. Some reviews are calling Campion’s early 20th-century set Western a masterpiece. Others are more mixed in their estimations. Some critics are hailing Cumberbatch’s performance as a career best. Others are saying he doesn’t quite pull the villainous role off.
It’s important to note that we are still in the early stages of Dog‘s awards road. By the time it hits theaters on November 17 and Netflix on December 1, the narrative could be clearer. Here’s where I’m at today based on the initial buzz. The pic’s Score (by Jonny Greenwood) and Cinematography (via Ari Wegner) appear to be shoo-ins. Cumberbatch is likely to nab his second Actor recognition after 2014’s The Imitation Game. Dunst is still a contender in Supporting Actress (it would be her first nomination). And I still feel confident that Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay are fairly safe bets.
With Supporting Actor, word-of-mouth suggests I may have been looking at the wrong actor (Plemons) for a spot. Kodi Smit-McPhee appears to have a more realistic shot (though I suppose they could both make it in). I wouldn’t count on it. Look for for Smit-McPhee to vault onto the charts of prognosticators.
Bottom line: The Power of the Dog could be a powerful force come Oscar time. Yet I question whether it remains in first position at any of the spots when I do my next weekly estimates (coming Monday). My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…