And now we arrive at the big one in my early Oscar predictions for this 2021 season: Best Picture. If you missed my previous posts covering Best Director and the acting derbies, they can accessed here:
In the highly fluent and unpredictable field that encompassed 2020, there were 8 eventual nominees for Picture. As you may recall, for the past 12 ceremonies, the BP contenders can fluctuate anywhere from 5-10 titles (the magic number has been 8 or 9). Starting with 2021, the number is set at 10 (thank you Academy).
Last year, my earliest predictions for this race yielded 3 of the 8 hopefuls – winner Nomadland, Mank, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Three others (The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari) were mentioned as Other Possibilities. Two (Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal) were not initially mentioned at all.
So let’s get to it! Here are my first picks for the 10 nominees with 15 Other Possibilities.
EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST PICTURE
House of Gucci
The Power of the Dog
The Tragedy of Macbeth
West Side Story
Don’t Look Up
The French Dispatch
In the Heights
Last Night in Soho
Next Goals Wins
Beginning late this week, I will kick off my weekly predictions in these six biggest derbies (as well as both Screenplay races) where the contenders will be ranked. Stay tuned!
My earliest Oscar prediction posts for the 2020 season culminates today with the grand prize… Best Picture! And on a more personal note, this particular writeup marks my 3000th entry on this movie blog of mine. Thanks to all the readers over the past few years!
As I have explained in the acting and directing race estimates, this year has been a challenging one for these initial projections. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown many release dates into uncertainty and that looks to continue for some time. That’s why I’m not yet putting Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch in the mix, for instance. Additionally, many of the fall festivals that showcase awards hopefuls have been downsized or canceled altogether. That said, the ones that are moving forward will do so in the coming weeks (so expect plenty of Oscar Watch posts in the near future).
Unlike the five other races already discussed, I’m putting 25 contenders in the Picture race (the others had 15). As you may know, the number of nominees in this category can fluctuate between five and ten. The magic number has been 9 for most years, including 2019. On a side note, the Academy has announced that, beginning next year, the number will move to a finite 10. I am currently going with 8 for the volume of 2020 nominees, but that could certainly change as the weeks roll along.
If you missed my aforementioned predictions on the other major competitions, you can find them right here:
Last year, the initial Best Picture forecast in August yielded six out of the nine eventual nominees. These were the winner Parasite, The Irishman, Little Women, Marriage Story, 1917, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. In my other possibilities, I identified the three other nominees: Ford v Ferrari, Jojo Rabbit, and Joker.
Finally, a note on how these Oscar prognostications will move forward. Beginning on Thursday, August 27, I will begin weekly columns where I will rank and forecast the six major categories. In October, that weekly column will expand to all categories covering feature films. That will continue all the way through the announcement of nominations next year.
Let’s get at it!
EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST PICTURE
Da 5 Bloods
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
The Trial of the Chicago 7
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Judas and the Black Messiah
The Midnight Sky
News of the World
Next Goal Wins
On the Rocks
West Side Story
And that does it, folks! Two weeks from now… the ranked estimates begin…
As a reminder, Picture is the only race where the number of nominees can fluctuate anywhere from 5 to 10. In recent years, the magic number is normally 9. However, there were 8 movies up in 2018. My initial late August projections last year yielded three of the eventual 8: BlacKkKlansman, AStarIsBorn, and Roma. Three other flicks nominated were mentioned in my other possibilities: BlackPanther, TheFavourite, and Vice. Interestingly, eventual winner GreenBook wasn’t quite on my radar screen at that time.
I’ll go with nine for the time being. The multitude of film festivals starting Thursday and over the coming weeks will shape all races tremendously. My first ranked predictions in the top 6 categories will start this Thursday and be updated weekly.
Let’s get to it!
And there you have it! Expect a whole bunch of Oscar Watch posts stemming from Toronto, Telluride, Venice, and New York in the near future…
In each post, I review what I’d classify as the three least surprising winners, as well as the three biggest upsets. And I select what I believe are the strongest and weakest overall fields.
Today on the blog, we arrive at the Big Daddy – Best Picture. It’s important to remember that hindsight doesn’t come into play here. For instance, ForrestGump won the top prize in 1994. Since then, many believe fellow nominees PulpFiction or TheShawshankRedemption should have won. Yet the Gump victory was not an upset at the time. Same goes for 1990 when DanceswithWolves bested GoodFellas.
Let’s begin with a reminder of each winner since 1990:
1990 – DanceswithWolves
1991 – TheSilenceoftheLambs
1992 – Unforgiven
1993 – Schindler’sList
1994 – ForrestGump
1995 – Braveheart
1996 – TheEnglishPatient
1997 – Titanic
1998 – ShakespeareinLove
1999 – AmericanBeauty
2000 – Gladiator
2001 – ABeautifulMind
2002 – Chicago
2003 – LordoftheRings: ReturnoftheKing
2004 – MillionDollarBaby
2005 – Crash
2006 – TheDeparted
2007 – NoCountryforOldMen
2008 – SlumdogMillionaire
2009 – TheHurtLocker
2010 – TheKing’sSpeech
2011 – TheArtist
2012 – Argo
2013 – 12YearsaSlave
2014 – Birdman
2015 – Spotlight
2016 – Moonlight
2017 – TheShapeofWater
We start with my three least surprising winners:
3. LordoftheRings: ReturnoftheKing (2003)
Peter Jackson’s final entry in the acclaimed trilogy seemed due for a win after the first two installments were nominated, but lost to ABeautifulMind and Chicago. This was as much a recognition for the entire franchise and by 2003, it was obvious the Academy would move in that direction.
2. Titanic (1997)
James Cameron’s epic was plagued with rumors of a troubled shoot and the possibility seemed real that it could be a costly flop. The opposite occurred as Titanic became the highest grossing motion picture of all time upon its release. It seemed clear that Oscar love would follow.
1. Schindler’sList (1993)
Capping an amazing year which saw Steven Spielberg direct JurassicPark over the summer, his Holocaust feature Schindler’sList became the undeniable front-runner at its end of year release. Winning all significant precursors, this was a shoo-in selection.
Now to the upsets. In my view, there were four very real ones and I had to leave one out. That would be 1995 when Braveheart emerged victorious over the favored Apollo13 and SenseandSensibility. Yet there’s 3 others that I feel top it.
3. Moonlight (2016)
LaLaLand appeared ready to pick up the gold after its filmmaker Damien Chazelle and lead actress Emma Stone had already won. And it looked like the script was being followed when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway actually announced the musical as Best Picture. Perhaps Oscar’s largest controversy followed as the wrong envelope was given and the Barry Jenkins effort Moonlight had actually won. Correct envelopes or not, the Moonlight victory was still unexpected given the La La momentum.
2. ShakespeareinLove (1998)
All eyes were on Spielberg’s World War II epic SavingPrivateRyan to win as Spielberg had already picked up his second statue for directing. Shakespeare rewrote that script and few saw it coming.
1. Crash (2005)
Here is perhaps the most surprising BP winner in history. Ang Lee’s BrokebackMountain was the strong favorite when the Paul Haggis race relations drama took it. Even presenter Jack Nicholson looked shocked when he read the envelope.
And now the fields. That’s a bit tough because just under a decade ago, the Academy switched from five finite nominees to anywhere between five and ten (nine being the most common). For weakest, I’m going with 2011 when there were 9. While there’s some quality picks like TheArtist, TheDescendants, Hugo, MidnightinParis, Moneyball, and TheTreeofLife – I feel even some of them might have missed the cut in stronger years. And I think that certainly applies to ExtremelyLoud&IncrediblyClose, TheHelp, and WarHorse.
For strongest, I will go with the aforementioned 1994. PulpFiction and Shawshank are indeed two of the most impressive cinematic contributions in recent times. Winner Gump and other nominees QuizShow and FourWeddingsandaFuneral filled out the slate.
And that does it, folks! Hope you enjoyed my look back at Best Picture in modern times.
Over the past couple of days, you’ve seen my first round of Oscar predictions for the 2018 season. If you didn’t, here’s a reminder of my estimates for the four acting categories, Best Director, and the controversial new race Best Popular Film.
Which brings me to Best Picture. For the biggest race of all, I’m listing 25 possibilities and these inaugural estimates selects 9 films being honored.
As previous posts have pointed out, the Film Festival season that begins in earnest next week with Venice and then Toronto. The feats will tremendously shape my weekly predictions. They start August 30.
Hello all! Welcome to December and welcome to my weekly Thursday Oscar predictions!
It’s been seven days since my last Turkey Day estimates in the eight major categories. A lot can change in a week and there’s been significant developments since we were all couch bound after our Thanksgiving feasts.
Let us count them…
1) Martin Scorsese’s Silence finally held some screenings, meaning buzz is out. Official reviews are embargoed until December 10, but the first reactions indicate that the director’s latest could be a force in the Oscar race. My predictions reflect that. Furthermore, initial word makes one wonder whether it’ll be Liam Neeson or Adam Driver that get the lion’s share of attention in Supporting Actor.
2) A number of awards precursors have rolled out their winners and nominations. We begin with the National Board of Review. Yesterday, the NBR bestowed their winners upon us. They are: Manchester by the Sea (Best Film), Barry Jenkins for Moonlight (Director), Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea (Actor), Amy Adams in Arrival (Actress), Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water (Supporting Actor), Naomie Harris in Moonlight (Supporting Actor), Manchester by the Sea (Original Screenplay), and Silence (Adapted Screenplay). The critics organization also lists ten other pictures on the year’s best list and they are: Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hail Caesar!, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, La La Land, Moonlight, Patriots Day, Silence, and Sully. Now – the NBR’s list of films have not and will not match what the Academy does. For instance, Hail Caesar! is not going to nab a Best Picture nod (it’s never been in my top 20 list of possibles and still isn’t). All the others, however, are at least feasible. The most notable snub is Fences, though I’d say it’s still near the top for Academy recognition. Lion is another notable omission.
3) The Critics Choice Awards came out today with their nominations. An important caveat: Silence (and Passengers and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) weren’t screened in time for consideration. The CCA nominates 10 pictures and they are: Arrival, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, La La Land, Lion, Loving, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, and Sully. Another note: the upcoming Jackie got no Picture love from the NBR or CCA.
There are seven nominees for Best Director and six each in the acting and screenplay races. They are:
Director: Damien Chazelle (La La Land), Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Kenneth Lonergan (Manchester by the Sea), David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water), Denis Villeneueve (Arrival), and Denzel Washington (Fences). Gibson’s nod is a fascinating one and he may have slightly increased his chances at Oscar attention. That said, it’s important to remember that Scorsese (who’s almost sure to get a nomination) was ineligible.
Actor: Casey Affleck (Manchester), Joel Edgerton (Loving), Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge), Ryan Gosling (La La Land), Tom Hanks (Sully), and Denzel Washington (Fences). Nothing out of the ordinary here, though Garfield seems more likely to get Acting attention for Silence via the Academy.
Actress: Amy Adams (Arrival), Annette Bening (20th Century Women), Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Ruth Negga (Loving), Natalie Portman (Jackie), and Emma Stone (La La Land). Note: No nod for either Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins) or Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane).
Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water), Ben Foster (Hell or High Water), Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea), Dev Patel (Lion), and Michael Shannon (Nocturnal Animals). Note: While some awards prognosticators have listed Hugh Grant in Florence Foster Jenkins as a possibility, his fortunes seem to be dwindling. Also, no Mykelti Williams or Stephen Henderson for Fences.
Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences), Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women), Naomie Harris (Moonlight), Nicole Kidman (Lion), Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures), and Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea). No real surprises here.
Original Screenplay: Hell or High Water, La La Land, The Lobster, Loving, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight. Again, no shocks though the ignoring of Jackie continues here.
Adapted Screenplay: Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, Nocturnal Animals, Sully. With Hacksaw getting Pic and Director and Actor attention, a bit surprising it didn’t land a nod here.
4) The New York Film Critics Circle named their winners today. La La Land (the current front runner for Best Picture) was victorious. However, Director went to Barry Jenkins yet again for his work in Moonlight. Casey Affleck took another Actor prize with Isabelle Huppert in Elle helping her case out with an Actress win. Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) and Michelle Williams (for both Manchester and Certain Women) won their Supporting categories. The NYFCC combines screenplay into one and Manchester took top honors there.
Whew. Lots of information, I know, with plenty to digest! Taking all that into account and knowing there’s a bunch more precursors to come – here’s where I have the eight major races standing at this moment:
1. La La Land (Previous Ranking: 1)
2. Silence (PR: 4)
3. Moonlight (PR: 3)
4. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 6)
5. Fences (PR: 2)
6. Lion (PR: 5)
7. Arrival (PR: 8)
8. Hidden Figures (PR: 10)
9. Loving (PR: 7)
10. Hell or High Water (PR: 11)
11. Jackie (PR: 9)
12. Hacksaw Ridge (PR: 16)
13. Sully (PR: 15)
14. Patriots Day (PR: 13)
15. 20th Century Women (PR: 12)
16. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 17)
17. Live by Night (PR: 14)
18. Passengers (PR: Not Ranked)
19. The Jungle Book (PR: 18)
20. The Founder (PR: 19)
1. Damien Chazelle, La La Land (PR: 1)
2. Martin Scorsese, Silence (PR: 2)
3. Barry Jenkins, Moonlight (PR: 4)
4. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 3)
5. Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 5)
6. Denis Villeneuve, Arrival (PR: 6)
7. Garth Davis, Lion (PR: 7)
8. Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge (PR: Not Ranked)
9. Jeff Nichols, Loving (PR: 8)
10. Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures (PR: 10)
Pablo Larrain, Jackie
1. Denzel Washington, Fences (PR: 1)
2. Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)
3. Tom Hanks, Sully (PR: 4)
4. Ryan Gosling, La La Land (PR: 5)
5. Andrew Garfield, Silence (PR: 9)
6. Joel Edgerton, Loving (PR: 3)
7. Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic (PR: 7)
8. Michael Keaton, The Founder (PR: 6)
9. Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge (PR: Not Ranked)
10. Matthew McConaughey, Gold (PR: 10)
Warren Beatty, Rules Don’t Apply
1. Emma Stone, La La Land (PR: 1)
2. Natalie Portman, Jackie (PR: 2)
3. Annette Bening, 20th Century Women (PR: 3)
4. Ruth Negga, Loving (PR: 4)
5. Amy Adams, Arrival (PR: 6)
6. Isabelle Huppert, Elle (PR: 8)
7. Jessica Chastain, Miss Sloane (PR: 5)
8. Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins (PR: 7)
9. Taraji P. Henson, Hidden Figures (PR: 10)
10. Rebecca Hall, Christine (PR: 9)
Best Supporting Actor
1. Mahershala Ali, Moonlight (PR: 1)
2. Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals (PR: 3)
3. Dev Patel, Lion (PR: 2)
4. Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 5)
5. Mykelti Williamson, Fences (PR: 4)
6. Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water (PR: 6)
7. Adam Driver, Silence (PR: Not Ranked)
8. Liam Neeson, Silence (PR: 8)
9. Stephen Henderson, Fences (PR: 7)
10. Kevin Costner, Hidden Figures (PR: Not Ranked)
Hugh Grant, Florence Foster Jenkins
Peter Sarsgaard, Jackie
Best Supporting Actress
1. Viola Davis, Fences (PR: 1)
2. Naomie Harris, Moonlight (PR: 2)
3. Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea (PR: 3)
4. Nicole Kidman, Lion (PR: 4)
5. Greta Gerwig, 20th Century Women (PR: 5)
6. Janelle Monae, Hidden Figures (PR: 6)
7. Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures (PR: 7)
8. Molly Shannon, Other People (PR: 8)
9. Helen Mirren, Eye in the Sky (PR: 9)
10. Bryce Dallas Howard, Gold (PR: Not Ranked)
Felicity Jones, A Monster Calls
Best Original Screenplay
1. Manchester by the Sea (PR: 2)
2. Moonlight (PR: 1)
3. La La Land (PR: 3)
4. Hell or High Water (PR: 4)
5. Loving (PR: 6)
6. 20th Century Women (PR: 5)
7. The Lobster (PR: 8)
8. Jackie (PR: 7)
9. Patriots Day (PR: Not Ranked)
10. Captain Fantastic (PR: 9)
Best Adapted Screenplay
1. Fences (PR: 1)
2. Silence (PR: 3)
3. Lion (PR: 2)
4. Arrival (PR: 5)
5. Hidden Figures (PR: 6)
6. Nocturnal Animals (PR: 4)
7. Hacksaw Ridge (PR: 8)
8. Sully (PR: 10)
9. Elle (PR: 9)
10. Indignation (PR: Not Ranked)
Live by Night
Whew! And there you have it…
Let’s see what transpires over the next 7 days until my next round! Until then…
We have reached day 6 of my earliest Oscar predictions and that means the big one – Best Picture!
This week, the Venice Film Festival has helped make the scene a little clearer in a couple of ways. For one, Damien Chazelle’s La La Land not only looks like an easy pick for a nomination, but it could potentially be a winner. Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals and Denis Villenueve’s Arrival are also in the mix. For now – I’m leaving Arrival out and Animals in (obviously this could certainly change over the next weeks and months).
There’s plenty that we haven’t seen that appear strong – Martin Scorsese’s Silence. Denzel Washington’s Fences. Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight.
And there are others that have already screened at other festivals that look like contenders: Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea. Jeff Nichols’ Loving. This list also includes Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation and whether or not news stories involving its director prevent it from being nominated is a legit question. For now, I’ve got it in.
A host of other possibilities abound that have yet to be screened and I’ll be keeping you up to date with numerous prediction posts over the fall. At this juncture, I have nine movies being nominated (there can be anywhere from 9-10).
As I’ve made my initial round of Oscar predictions over the past few days on the blog, it seemed somewhat safe to place Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs as a nominee for Best Picture and Director. Same goes for Michael Fassbender in the Actor race as he plays the late tech genius title character and Kate Winslet in Supporting Actress playing a member of Steve’s original MAC team.
Last night, the pic debuted at the Telluride Film Festival and critics are mostly loving what they’re seeing. Fassbender’s work has particularly been singled out and it seems highly unlikely that his name won’t be among the five in Best Actor. Winslet seems like a fairly safe bet as well. In Supporting Actor, Jeff Daniels seems more likely than Seth Rogen but I didn’t include either in my first round of predictions and stick by it (for now).
Several reviewers have noted Jobs as a companion piece to 2010’s The Social Network, David Fincher’s terrific tale of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Some have even said Jobs is better. That bodes extremely well for its chances at Picture and Director nods. It also seems virtually guaranteed that Aaron Sorkin will see his screenplay recognized in Adapted Screenplay. Steve Jobs is out October 9.
As the film festivals continue to roll out, look for several posts in the next few days outlining pictures likely to be in the mix and others that may not be.
Today we arrive at the final post in my very early Oscar predictions and that means the biggest category of them all: Best Picture. In 2014, when I did my initial round of predictions for 2014 pics, it correctly called 5 of the 8 eventual nominees. A total of 7 of the 8 were mentioned with two being listed in other possibilities.
Obviously the film festival season (Telluride, Venice, Toronto, New York, etc…) is just getting underway in which many of the contenders will be screened. It won’t be until late November and early December before the majority of the heavy hitters will have their word of mouth. Yet here’s how I see it currently at this early juncture:
Todd Haynes’s period piece same sex love story Carol premiered to raves at Cannes and appears to be a legit contender at press time.
Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl is another period piece about the first transgender individual and features last year’s Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne. Hooper won Best Director in 2010 for The King’s Speech, which was awarded Best Picture. His last effort, Les Miserables, was also nominated.
David O. Russell has seen his last 3 pics nominated for the big prize – The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle. This December’s Joy with Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper could join the mix.
Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu won Best Director last year for Birdman, which won Picture as well. His December release The Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio is already receiving major buzz.
You can never count out Steven Spielberg and this fall’s Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies is an obvious choice for consideration.
Same goes for the Danny Boyle directed/Aaron Sorkin scripted biopic Steve Jobs with Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet.
The period piece women’s voting rights tale Suffragette features Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, and Helena Bonham Carter and if solid reviews materialize, you have to put it in the mix.
Quentin Tarantino has seen his last two blockbusters – Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained – receive nominations so you cannot count out December’s The Hateful Eight.
There are other biopics to consider – Don Cheadle’s Miles Ahead about iconic musician Miles Davis, I Saw the Light with Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger in Black Mass, and Bryan Cranston as Trumbo.
As for films already released, it’s totally possible that Pixar’s acclaimed Inside Out could give the studio its second Picture nod (after 2009’s Up). And if some of this autumn’s releases don’t meet expectations, don’t be shocked if the summer blockbuster and critical darling Mad Mad: Fury Road starts getting another look.
One feature that I’m a bit surprised to see hardly mentioned in the Oscar talk: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s only the most eagerly anticipated release of the year (in many years actually). If reviews are strong, it could certainly get attention. It remains to be seen though.
As Academy watchers know, anywhere from five to ten movies can be nominated. Ever since the Oscars have gone to that system, nine has been the magic number yet there were eight last year. I’ll go with 8 for now, but that may well fluctuate as future predictions come to the blog. Here we go:
TODD’S EARLY PREDICTIONS – BEST PICTURE
Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
The Hateful Eight
By the Sea
In the Heart of the Sea
I Saw the Light
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
And there you have it, folks! My first batch of Oscar predictions for the year. Expect a second round in October…