2021 Oscars: FINAL Winner Predictions

And it’s come to this! After seven months of endless speculation, predictions, and posts – the 94th Academy Awards (with your hosts Wanda Sykes, Amy Schumer, and Regina Hall) airs this Sunday evening.

These are my final picks for the races covering feature films. Will the Best Picture be CODA?

Or The Power of the Dog?

We have ourselves some real intrigue as both are strong possibilities. Either way, a steamer (either Netflix or Apple TV) should pick up its inaugural Best Pic victory.

Will there be upsets in any of the acting derbies where there seems to be a consensus four based on precursors? And just what will occur in the screenplay races which look unpredictable?

For each race, I’ll give you a bit of commentary along with my projected victor and the runner-up.

Let’s get to it! On Sunday evening, you will see a recap with how I performed…

Best Picture

Nominees:

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Drive My Car

Dune

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Commentary:

Well, the big daddy of them all has certainly become fascinating. CODA, the little Sundance pic that could, has surged in the past few days. In addition to winning the SAG Ensemble prize, it captured the Producers Guild top honor and was a BAFTA selection for Adapted Screenplay. These designations (PGA especially) are significant precursors. A strong argument could be made that it has the momentum as voting closed yesterday. In fact, I’ve seen more prognosticators picking it this week than not…

However, The Power of the Dog is still quite viable. It took the Golden Globe Best Drama trophy as well as Critics Choice and BAFTA. Until CODA‘s rise, it was the heavy favorite.

We’ve got a real coin flip, folks! That definitely makes the end of Oscar night more suspenseful than last year when Nomadland seemed unbeatable and indeed was.

I don’t believe any of the other eight pictures have a chance. As for the two that do, I’ve gone back and forth constantly all week. There’s a time to stop speculating and make a final pick and I still believe there’s enough power for the Dog to edge out CODA. That said, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it turns out the other way.

PREDICTED WINNER:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

CODA

Best Director

Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Commentary:

This is far easier than Picture. With CODA maker Sian Heder absent, Jane Campion is in line to become the third female (and second in a row) to make a podium trip. She’s won all the key precursors – DGA, Globes, Critics Choice. It’s even a challenge to name a runner-up (I guess I’ll say Spielberg because he’s Spielberg). Make no mistake – this is one of the simplest checkmarks on the ballot.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Best Actress

Nominees:

Jessicas Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Commentary:

Kidman garnered the initial heat after a surprise Globe win, but that’s stalled as no other awards programs followed suit. Instead it’s been Chastain on the minor streak with SAG and Critics Choice. If there’s an upset in any acting derby, this is probably where it happens. Stewart’s road to Oscar looked shaky after some snubs. Academy voters could reward her and there’s some chatter about Cruz being viable. Yet I’m sticking with the safest best and that’s Chastain taking her first gold.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Riunner-Up:

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Best Actor

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

Commentary:

During the fall, I was thinking there could be a barnburner between Smith and Cumberbatch (with Garfield as potential spoiler). That’s not how it’s played out as the Fresh Prince has been crowned the king in all preceding shows. I expect the sweep to continue.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Will Smith, King Richard

Runner-Up:

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

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

Commentary:

Buckley and Dench were surprising inclusions, but there won’t be any shocks with the winner. DeBose has run the table and she should represent Story‘s lone victory.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Runner-Up:

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

Ciaran 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

Commentary: 

Despite its quartet of performers getting nominations, Dog is likely to produce Oscars for none of them. Smit-McPhee received the Golden Globe but it’s been all Kotsur since. This is the race where I’m most confident of a CODA moment.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Runner-Up:

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog 

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees:

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

The Worst Person in the World

Commentary:

Good luck with this one! The Writer’s Guild threw everyone for a loop last weekend when Don’t Look Up won over Licorice Pizza (Belfast was not eligible). I just don’t envision the Academy honoring Up. With a Belfast or Pizza victory, they would bestowing first ever Oscars to Kenneth Branagh and Paul Thomas Anderson respectively. With the Globe and Critics Choice going to Belfast, it has my vote (though it’s close).

PREDICTED WINNER:

Belfast

Runner-Up:

Licorice Pizza

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees

CODA

Drive My Car

Dune

The Lost Daughter

The Power of the Dog 

Commentary:

CODA‘s BAFTA win kickstarted its momentum. Even if Dog is Best Picture, CODA could still take this. On the other hand, I think there’s a better chance Best Pic and Adapted Screenplay match so I’m rolling with the Dog with no degree of confidence whatsoever.

PREDICTED WINNER:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

CODA

Best Animated Feature

Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Raya and the Last Dragon

Commentary:

I’m tempted to pick a Mitchells upset, but it’s dangerous to pick against Disney and Encanto is the frontrunner.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Encanto

Runner-Up:

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Best International Feature Film

Nominees:

Drive My Car

Flee

The Hand of God

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

The Worst Person in the World

Commentary:

This is unquestionably one of the no brainer picks as Drive My Car has dominated the precursors and is the only nominee to also nab a Best Picture nod.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Drive My Car

Runner-Up:

The Worst Person in the World

Best Documentary Feature

Nominees:

Ascension

Attica

Flee

Summer of Soul

Writing with Fire

Commentary:

With nominations in Animated Feature, International Feature, and Doc – it sure seems like Flee should win one of them. It might stand the best chance in this competition, but Summer of Soul has been impressive in precursors and should continue the streak.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Summer of Soul

Runner-Up:

Flee

Best Cinematography

Nominees:

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Commentary: 

This might be the tech race where Dog is successful. I’m not predicting it though and (get used to hearing this) think Dune emerges.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

The Power of the Dog

Best Costume Design

Nominees:

Cruella

Cyrano

Dune

Nightmare Alley

West Side Story

Commentary:

Cruella has killed it the preceding competitions. Dune, if it crushes all techs, could take it but I’m going with the former.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Cruella

Runner-Up:

Dune

Best Film Editing

Nominees:

Don’t Look Up

Dune

King Richard

The Power of the Dog

tick, tick… Boom!

Commentary:

Don’t sleep on King Richard which was bestowed the EDDIE award. I still think this is Dune‘s to lose.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

King Richard

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees:

Coming 2 America

Cruella

Dune

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

House of Gucci

Commentary:

Gucci could fashion a 1 for 1 victory but Tammy Faye has taken some precursors.

PREDICTED WINNER:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Runner-Up:

House of Gucci

Best Original Score

Nominees:

Don’t Look Up

Dune

Encanto

Parallel Mothers

The Power of the Dog

Commentary:

Like Cinematography, this is between Dog and Dune. Like Cinematography, I’m choosing the latter.

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

The Power of the Dog

Best Original Song

Nominees:

“Be Alive” from King Richard

“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

“Down to Joy” from Belfast

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

“Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days

Commentary:

Diane Warren gets her 13th nomination with “Somehow” and somehow she’s never won. That will continue. The smart money is on the 007 theme song from Billie Eilish. Yet I’m going with a minor upset with the Disney tune.

PREDICTED WINNER:

“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

Runner-Up:

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

Best Production Design

Nominees:

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Commentary:

For the last three categories, I could just say Dune and be done with it. In fact, I think I will…

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

West Side Story

Best Sound

Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

No Time to Die

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Commentary:

See Production Design

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

West Side Story

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

Commentary:

See Production Design

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

There isn’t one… that’s how I’m confident I am that Dune takes it.

And so, ladies and gents, that means I’m predicting that these movies win these numbers of Oscars:

6 Wins

Dune

3 Wins

The Power of the Dog

2 Wins

Encanto, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

1 Win

Belfast, CODA, Cruella, Drive My Car, King Richard, Summer of Soul, West Side Story

Make sure to check out the blog post ceremony!

BAFTA and Critics Choice Awards Reaction

It was a frenzied Sunday for awards prognosticators as both the BAFTA and Critics Choice Awards aired. Both can be sturdy forecasters for what Oscar will do. This time around, I did better with the Brits than the stateside reviewers. For BAFTA, I went 15/22 (not bad). As for the Critics… oof. Just 10 for 21. Let’s take a look at both with some commentary below:

BAFTA

What I Got Right:

Film – The Power of the Dog

Director – Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Actress – Joanna Scanlan, After Love

Supporting Actress – Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Documentary – Summer of Soul

Film Not in the English Language – Drive My Car

Casting – West Side Story

Cinematography – Dune

Costume Design – Cruella

Makeup and Hair – The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Original Score – Dune

Production Design – Dune

Sound – Dune

Special Visual Effects – Dune

Outstanding British Film  – Belfast

What I Got Wrong:

Actor – Will Smith, King Richard (Predicted: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog)

Supporting Actor – Troy Kotsur, CODA (Predicted: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog)

Original Screenplay – Licorice Pizza (Predicted: Belfast)

Adapted Screenplay – CODA (Predicted: The Power of the Dog)

Animated Feature – Encanto (Predicted: Flee)

Editing – No Time to Die (Predicted: Dune)

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer – The Harder They Fall (Predicted: Passing)

Critics Choice Awards

What I Got Right:

Picture – The Power of the Dog

Director – Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Actor – Will Smith, King Richard

Supporting Actress – Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Adapted Screenplay – The Power of the Dog

Foreign Language Film – Drive My Car

Cinematography – The Power of the Dog

Costume Design – Cruella

Score – Dune

Visual Effects – Dune

What I Got Wrong:

Actress – Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Predicted: Kristen Stewart, Spencer)

Supporting Actor – Troy Kotsur, CODA (Predicted: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog)

Original Screenplay – Belfast (Predicted: Licorice Pizza)

Animated Feature – The Mitchells vs. the Machines (Predicted: Encanto)

Comedy – Licorice Pizza (Predicted: The French Dispatch)

Young Actor/Actress – Jude Hill, Belfast (Predicted: Rachel Zegler, West Side Story)

Acting Ensemble – Belfast (Predicted: The Power of the Dog)

Editing  – West Side Story (Predicted: Dune)

Hair and Makeup – The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Predicted: House of Gucci)

Production Design – Dune (Predicted: Nightmare Alley)

Song – “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die (Predicted: “Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up)

Commentary –

Let’s start with the acting races. I would venture to say now that those four categories all have strong frontrunners: Jessica Chastain and Will Smith in lead and Ariana DeBose and Troy Kotsur in supporting. Smith and DeBose, in particular, appear unbeatable while Chastain and Kotsur are easy odds-on favorites.

Dune should win plenty of the down the line competitions and appears bound to win the most Oscars overall.

The screenplay races are filled with genuine drama. CODA taking Adapted Screenplay over The Power of the Dog at the BAFTAs was a shocker, but it could be a sign of things to come from the Academy (though I wouldn’t wager money on that). Original Screenplay is absolutely a two-horse race between Belfast and Licorice Pizza. 

Drive My Car is going to take International Feature Film. Simple as that. Summer of Soul looks to be in solid shape for Doc. And even though The Mitchells vs. the Machines managed to take the critics prize, Disney’s Encanto is probably still out front for the Oscar.

In other down the line derbies, the double victories in Makeup and Hairstyling for The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Cruella in Costume Design make them favorites.

And despite The Power of the Dog not picking up some trophies at both ceremonies, it did so with Picture and Director at both. And it should do so on Oscar night.

That’s all for now! Next week (probably on Wednesday), look for my FINAL Oscar winner predictions!

2021 BAFTA Awards WINNERS Predictions

As if Sunday’s Critics Choice Awards weren’t enough, the British Academy Film Awards air the same day. The BAFTAs, as of late, have been a rather reliable predictor for Oscar races (especially the acting derbies). Last year, the BAFTA/Oscar matched in all 4 thespian derbies and that included the surprise Anthony Hopkins (The Father) victory over Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 

That can’t occur this time around because none of the Best Actress contenders at BAFTA are nominated for the Academy Award (go figure!). As I have with other ceremonies, I’m giving you my winner pick with a runner-up. On Monday, expect recaps for Critics Choice and this show!

Best Film

Nominees:

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

Dune

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner: The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Belfast

Best Director

Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Audrey Diwan, Happening

Julia Ducournau, Titane

Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

Aleem Khan, After Love

Predicted Winner: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Nominees:

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza

Emilia Jones, CODA

Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

Joanna Scanlan, After Love

Tessa Thompson, Passing

Predicted Winner: Joanna Scanlan, After Love

Runner-Up: Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees:

Adeel Akhtar, Ali & Ava

Mahershala Ali, Swan Song

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

Stephen Graham, Boiling Point

Will Smith, King Richard

Predicted Winner: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Will Smith, King Richard

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Nominees:

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast

Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Ann Dowd, Mass

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Ruth Negga, Passing

Predicted Winner: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Runner-Up: Ruth Negga, Passing

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees:

Mike Faist, West Side Story

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Woody Norman, C’Mon C’Mon

Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Troy Kotsur, CODA

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees:

Being the Ricardos

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Predicted Winner: Belfast

Runner-Up: Licorice Pizza

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:

CODA

Drive My Car

Dune

The Lost Daughter

The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner: The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: The Lost Daughter

Best Animated Film

Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Predicted Winner: Flee

Runner-Up: Encanto

Best Documentary 

Nominees:

Becoming Cousteau

Cow

Flee

The Rescue

Summer of Soul

Predicted Winner: Summer of Soul

Runner-Up: Flee

Best Film Not in the English Language

Nominees:

Drive My Car

The Hand of God

Parallel Mothers

Petite Maman

The Worst Person in the World

Predicted Winner: Drive My Car

Runner-Up: The Worst Person in the World

Best Casting

Nominees:

Boiling Point

Dune

The Hand of God

King Richard

West Side Story

Predicted Winner: West Side Story

Runner-Up: Dune

Best Cinematography

Nominees:

Dune

Nightmare Alley

No Time to Die

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: The Power of the Dog

Best Costume Design

Nominees:

Cruella

Cyrano

Dune

The French Dispatch

Nightmare Alley

Predicted Winner: Cruella

Runner-Up: Dune

Best Editing

Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

Licorice Pizza

No Time to Die

Summer of Soul

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: No Time to Die

Best Makeup and Hair

Nominees:

Cruella

Cyrano

Dune

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

House of Gucci

Predicted Winner: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Runner-Up: House of Gucci

Best Original Score

Nominees:

Being the Ricardos

Don’t Look Up

Dune

The French Dispatch

The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: The Power of the Dog

Best Production Design

Nominees:

Cyrano

Dune

The French Dispatch

Nightmare Alley

West Side Story

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: Nightmare Alley

Best Sound

Nominees:

Dune

Last Night in Soho

No Time to Die

A Quiet Place Part II

West Side Story

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: No Tme to Die

Best Special Visual Effects

Nominees:

Dune

Free Guy

Ghostbusters: Afterlife 

The Matrix Resurrections

No Time to Die

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: No Time to Die

Outstanding British Film

Nominees:

After Love

Ali & Ava

Belfast

Boiling Point

Cyrano

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

House of Gucci

Last Night in Soho

No Time to Die

Passing

Predicted Winner: Belfast

Runner-Up: After Love

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer

Nominees:

After Love

Boiling Point

The Harder They Fall

Keyboard Fantasies

Passing

Predicted Winner: Passing

Runner-Up: After Love

My predictions mean the following movies get these numbers of wins:

6 Wins

Dune

5 Wins

The Power of the Dog

2 Wins

Belfast, West Side Story

1 Win

After Love, Cruella, Drive My Car, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Flee, Passing, Summer of Soul

2021 Critics Choice Awards WINNER Predictions

The 27th Critics Choice Awards air this Sunday evening and they’re another often reliable indicator for who and what may win on Oscar night. As I have with SAG and the Golden Globes, I am giving you my winner predictions along with the runner-up pick.

Let’s get to it and I’ll have a recap up either Sunday evening or Monday!

Best Picture

Nominees:

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Dune

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

tick, tick… Boom!

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Dune

Best Director

Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Predicted Winner:

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Denis Villeneuve, Dune

Best Actress

Nominees:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Predicted Winner:

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Runner-Up:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Best Actor

Nominees:

Nicolas Cage, Pig

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

Andrew Garfield, tick, tick… Boom!

Will Smith, King Richard

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Predicted Winner:

Will Smith, King Richard

Runner-Up:

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees:

Caitríona Balfe, Belfast

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Ann Dowd, Mass

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Rita Moreno, West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Runner-Up:

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

Jamie Dornan, Belfast

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Jared Leto, House of Gucci

J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner:

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees:

Being the Ricardos

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Predicted Winner:

Licorice Pizza

Runner-Up:

Belfast

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:

CODA

Dune

The Lost Daughter

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

CODA

Best Animated Feature

Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Raya and the Last Dragon

Predicted Winner:

Encanto

Runner-Up:

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Best Comedy

Nominees:

Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar

Don’t Look Up

Free Guy

The French Dispatch

Licorice Pizza

Predicted Winner:

The French Dispatch

Runner-Up:

Licorice Pizza

Best Foreign Language Film

Nominees:

Drive My Car

Flee

The Hand of God

A Hero

The Worst Person in the World

Predicted Winner:

Drive My Car

Runner-Up:

The Worst Person in the World

Best Young Actor/Actress

Nominees:

Jude Hill, Belfast

Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza

Emilia Jones, CODA

Woody Norman, C’Mon C’Mon

Saniyya Sidney, King Richard

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

Runner-Up:

Emilia Jones, CODA

Best Acting Ensemble

Nominees:

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

The Harder They Fall

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Belfast

Best Cinematography

Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Dune

Best Costume Design

Nominees:

Cruella

Dune

House of Gucci

Nightmare Alley

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

Cruella

Runner-Up:

Dune

Best Editing

Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

Dune

Runner-Up:

West Side Story

Best Hair and Makeup

Nominees:

Cruella

Dune

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

House of Gucci

Nightmare Alley

Predicted Winner:

House of Gucci

Runner-Up:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Best Production Design

Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

The French Dispatch

Nightmare Alley

West Side Story

Predicted Winner:

Nightmare Alley

Runner-Up:

Dune

Best Score

Nominees:

Don’t Look Up

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

Spencer

Predicted Winner:

Dune

Runner-Up:

The Power of the Dog

Best Song

“Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up

“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

“Guns Go Bang” from The Harder They Fall

“Be Alive” from King Richard

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

Predicted Winner:

“Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up 

Runner-Up:

“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

Best Visual Effects

Nominees:

Dune

The Matrix Resurrections

Nightmare Alley

No Time to Die

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Predicted Winner:

Dune

Runner-Up:

No Time to Die

That equates to the following pictures garnering these numbers for wins:

6 Wins

The Power of the Dog

3 Wins

Dune

2 Wins

West Side Story

1 Win

Cruella, Don’t Look Up, Drive My Car, Encanto, The French Dispatch, House of Gucci, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, Spencer

Licorice Pizza Review

I’ve been grooving to the beat of Paul Thomas Anderson’s cinematic vibes for a quarter century. There was the magnificent Boogie Nights in 1997 and the iconic Daniel Day-Lewis milkshake monologue in There Will Be Blood ten years later. A decade after that, my PTA appetite was satiated by Phantom Thread. 

His latest is Licorice Pizza and it’s his most laid back experience. This coming-of-age slice of life takes place in the Valley circa 1973. It feels lived in and authentic and personal. There’s individual scenes where the filmmaker’s brilliance is on full display. Like all of his efforts, there’s memorable performances. And unlike most of his catalogue, this Almost Famous feeling flick has flaws I couldn’t overlook. It’s almost joyous and almost worth the viewing and ultimately more problematic than rewarding.

Loosely based on the teen years of former child actor Gary Goetzman (now a highly successful producing partner of Tom Hanks), Cooper Hoffman is 15-year-old Gary Valentine. He’s costarred in movies and commercials and is far more confident than anyone his age has a right to be. That self-assured nature is evident when he asks 25-year-old photographer’s assistant Alana Kane (Alana Haim) out on a date. She rebuffs his advances at first but ends up meeting him out. The two strike up a friendship and the benefit for us is watching Hoffman and Haim shine in their acting debuts. The son of Anderson’s late frequent collaborator Philip Seymour Hoffman and one third of a well-known rock band, Hoffman and Haim are naturals. The drawback is an age difference I couldn’t overlook… so let’s go there.

This is where the sunny tone of Pizza conflicted with their borderline (perhaps over borderline) inappropriate coupling. It’s not overtly sexual and Alana is well aware that hanging with the decade younger Gary is far from normal. Yet there’s enough of a leftover distasteful feeling that it hindered the entertainment value for me. One could argue Gary is more mature than Alana and perhaps that justifies some of what happens. That’s a tough needle to thread and I just couldn’t get there.

Pizza has a lazy hangout atmosphere that recalls Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Like that picture, it’s steeped in exploring a different showbiz era and the technical aspects we expect from PTA (production design, cinematography, costumes, and more) are top notch.

The episodic nature is hit or miss. Pizza‘s best course involves Bradley Cooper as hairdresser turned producer Jon Peters. His segment moves at a thrilling clip as Gary’s failing waterbed business and the 70s era gasoline shortage play important roles. I can’t say the same for Sean Penn’s bit as an aging movie star (based on William Holden) and his motorcycle exploits. By the time we arrive at Alana trying a new career as a campaign worker for conflicted mayoral candidate Joel Wachs (Benny Safdie), the pic was starting to run on fumes.

When a director of immense capabilities makes an almost misfire, there’s no denying it’s more of a letdown. That’s where I stand with Licorice Pizza and it brings me no joy to deliver that news.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscars 2021: The Case of Troy Kotsur

Troy Kotsur’s performance as the randy dad in CODA is my second Case Of post for the Supporting Actor nominees. If you missed the first on Ciaran Hinds in Belfast, it’s here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Ciaran Hinds

The Case for Troy Kotsur:

The deaf actor was the comedic and emotional highlight of CODA, which maintained its positive buzz from Sundance through Oscar nomination morning. Precursors have been kind as he’s nabbed nods from SAG, Golden Globes, and Critics Choice. It’s almost impossible to see CODA and not root for him.

The Case Against Troy Kotsur:

CODA tied Licorice Pizza for the least amount of nominations of the Best Picture contenders at 3 (costars Emilia Jones and Marlee Matlin didn’t make the cut). It’s up for Picture, Adapted Screenplay, and here. There’s a very good chance it loses all of them to The Power of the Dog. In Kotsur’s case, it would be to Kodi Smit-McPhee (who took the Globe).

Previous Nominations:

None

The Verdict:

If Kotsur can win SAG tomorrow, this could be a real showdown between him and Smit-McPhee. If not, it probably means the latter is sweeping the season.

My Case Of posts will continue with Jane Campion’s direction of The Power of the Dog

2021 SAG Awards Winner Predictions

The SAG Awards air this Sunday night and I’m here to give you my take. For some context, I went 4/5 in my projections from 2017-2019 and 3/5 last year. The winners here will certainly help themselves if they’re nominated for Oscars (as you’ll see – not all are).

Let’s get to it!

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Nominees:

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

House of Gucci

King Richard

Commentary:

I could offer an argument for anything but Gucci (partly because The Birdcage from 1996 is the only winner that wasn’t nominated for BP at the Oscars). The rest of the pics are BP players with the Academy. Belfast is the most likely to win (notice frontrunner The Power of the Dog isn’t here). Even though I’m not projecting its lone nominee (Balfe) to take the SAG and it was a surprise that Ciaran Hinds didn’t make it, I’ll say the cast is ultimately honored as a whole. CODA is right on its heels.

Predicted Winner: Belfast

Runner-Up: CODA

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Jennifer Hudson, Respect

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Commentary: 

Welcome to the confounding world of Best Actress in the 2021 awards season and this is easily the trickiest race to figure out. The Oscar/SAG match is 3/5. Gaga and Hudson didn’t make the Acadeny’s cut in favor of Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) and Kristen Stewart (Spencer).

Let’s start with Gaga. The SAG winner in this race has never not been nominated for an Oscar so the superstar would certainly make history if she takes this. That stat discourages me from calling her name, but who knows? All hopefuls here would be first-time winners in this category (Hudson took Supporting Actress 15 years back in Dreamgirls). She seems least likely to win. So we’re down to Chastain, Colman, and Kidman. All could prevail. Kidman took the Golden Globe and a podium trip could solidify her status as the Oscar frontrunner. Chastain’s showy role could be honored and it’s a bit of a coin flip for me. I’ll give Kidman an ever so slight edge.

Predicted Winner: Nicole Kidman

Runner-Up: Jessica Chastain

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

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

Commentary:

Not complicated like Actress as there’s a 5 for 5 lineup with the Academy’s nominees. Unlike the Oscars, I do buy into the theory that Garfield might be more of a spoiler than Cumberbatch to Smith. The SAG folks could reward Garfield’s showy role. That said, I’m not betting against Smith.

Predicted Winner: Will Smith

Runner-Up: Andrew Garfield

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees:

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast

Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Ruth Negga, Passing

Commentary: 

There’s only a 2 for 5 symmetry with the big show and that’s DeBose and Dunst. Balfe, Blanchett, and Negga are in over Academy picks Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter), Judi Dench (Belfast), and Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard). I do think it’s between the Oscar contestants. Dunst is a threat though I’m going with DeBose sweeping until I see different.

Predicted Winner: Ariana DeBose

Runner-Up: Kirsten Dunst

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees:

Ben Affleck, The Tender Bar

Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Jared Leto, House of Gucci

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Commentary:

Like Supporting Actress, just a 2 for 5 (Kotsur, Smit-McPhee) match. Affleck, Cooper, and Leto got SAG love instead of Oscar selections Ciaran Hinds (Belfast), Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog), and J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos). And I’ll also say it’s between the two Academy players. This is difficult because I could easily see Smit-McPhee sweeping (he won the Globe). Yet I have a sneaking suspicion the thespians may go for Kotsur. With little confidence, I’ll pick that.

Predicted Winner: Troy Kotsur

Runner-Up: Kodi Smit-McPhee

I’ll have reaction up on the ceremony Sunday night!

Oscars 2021: The Case of Paul Thomas Anderson

Now that I’ve completed by Case Of posts for the 10 Best Picture contenders, I’m moving on to the 25 hopefuls for Best Director, Actress, Actor, Supporting Actress, and Supporting Actor. I’ll alternate alphabetically among the categories between them and that means Paul Thomas Anderson’s behind the camera work for Licorice Pizza is first up!

The Case for Paul Thomas Anderson:

Prior to Pizza being delivered in 2021, PTA as he’s called had already received 8 nominations from the Academy between his producing, directing, and writing. He’s 0 for 8. He has three more at bats with his 70s set coming-of-age tale in Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay. In other words, there could be an overdue factor at play.

The Case Against Paul Thomas Anderson:

Licorice Pizza tied CODA with the fewest amount of nods for the BP nominees. Unlike his previous BP contenders There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread, there were no acting nominations for his ensemble. And there’s simply the fact that Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog) is the major frontrunner.

Previous Nominations: 2 (for directing only)

There Will Be Blood (2007); Phantom Thread (2017)

The Verdict:

There’s a decent chance that PTA’s zero wins streak will be broken at the ceremony, but it would come in Original Screenplay (where it appears to be down to Pizza or Belfast). It will not be broken here.

My Case Of posts will continue with Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Oscars 2021: The Case of Licorice Pizza

We’ve reached our seventh movie for my Case Of posts focused on the ten Best Picture hopefuls and it brings us to Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza. If you missed my earlier ones, you can find them here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Belfast

Oscars 2021: The Case of CODA

Oscars 2021: The Case of Don’t Look Up

Oscars 2021: The Case of Drive My Car

Oscars 2021: The Case of Dune

Oscars 2021: The Case of King Richard

The Case for Licorice Pizza:

Between his producing credits, direction, and screenplays – Anderson had already received 8 Oscar nominations without a victory (2007’s There Will Be Blood and 2017’s Phantom Thread were up for BP). He adds three more with Pizza for Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay. The Academy might feel that it’s time to honor one of the most acclaimed filmmakers of the past quarter century.

The Case Against Licorice Pizza:

Note that I only mentioned three overall nods and that ties the lowest of the 10 contenders along with CODA. This failed to nab mentions in other key categories – many thought Alana Haim could sneak in for Actress and lots of prognosticators (including myself) had Bradley Cooper getting a Supporting Actor nomination. Furthermore, its exclusion in Editing is notable (historically no BP winners get the big prize without competing in that race).

The Verdict:

The best hope for Pizza to get a piece of the Oscar pie is in Original Screenplay where it appears to be in a fierce competition with Belfast. Don’t expect a BP delivery.

My Case Of posts will continue with Nightmare Alley

Oscars 2021: The Case of CODA

My Case Of posts covering the ten nominees for Best Picture comes to my second entry and it’s for Sian Heder’s CODA. If you missed my first write-up on Belfast, it’s right here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Belfast

The Case for CODA

When it premiered at Sundance all the way back in January 2021, CODA immediately made a splash and found itself in the midst of a bidding war (won by Apple TV). At that festival, it won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and U.S. Dramatic Audience Award. Its momentum as a potential Oscar contender continued to pick up when it premiered on streaming over the summer. Of the ten BP hopefuls, it boasts the second highest Rotten Tomatoes score with 96% (behind only Drive My Car at 98%). With a meager budget of $10 million, it’s the kind of feel good story that voters could fall for.

The Cast Against CODA

Is it too small for the Academy to bestow its highest honor? Probably. CODA tied Licorice Pizza with the least amount of nods among the BP contenders at three. The only other mentions are for Troy Kotsur in Supporting Actor and Adapted Screenplay. For CODA to really have a chance, you’d think it would have nabbed Director or inclusions for Kotsur’s cast mates Emilia Jones and Marlee Matlin.

The Verdict

CODA‘s sturdiness in remaining a force throughout 2021 is laudable. However, it’s very much of a long shot for BP.

My Case Of posts will continue with Don’t Look Up