Zach Braff returns to the director’s seat as A Good Person opens in limited release on Friday before a wider output on March 31st. It casts Florence Pugh (a 2019 Supporting Actress contender for Little Women) and Morgan Freeman (five-time nominee who took Supporting Actor for 2004’s Million Dollar Baby) as individuals brought together by a tragedy involving the latter’s daughter. Molly Shannon, Chinaza Uche, Celeste O’Connor, and Zoe Lister-Jones costar.
Back in 2004, Braff’s debut behind the camera drew critical acclaim with Garden State (taking the Grand Jury prize at Sundance). Follow-ups Wish I Was Here (2014) and Going in Style (2017) drew more mixed reaction and so too has this. The drama stands at 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. Based on that reaction, A Good Person is a bad bet for any awards attention. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
We have reached 2019 in my posts speculating on a specific piece of Oscar history. As awards followers are aware, 2009 saw the Academy expand the Best Picture category from five movies to ten. That lasted for two years and in 2011, it switched to anywhere from 5-10 with 8 or 9 as the magic numbers for several years. In 2021, the number reverted back to a set ten.
What if that hadn’t happened? What if the BP derby had stayed at a quintet? What pictures would have made the cut?
In 2019, there were nine films vying for the prize. We know one thing for sure. Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite is in since it made history and became the first non-English language title to take Best Picture. It had a big night as it also won Director, Original Screenplay, and International Feature Film.
There’s 8 others to consider. Only half make cut. Let’s get into it!
Ford v Ferrari
James Mangold’s 1960s set sports drama starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale had four total nominations and won 2 of them (Sound Editing and Film Editing). It wasn’t as fortunate in Picture or Sound Mixing.
Does It Make the Final Five?
No. I say this knowing the Film Editing victor usually lands a BP nod (though not the case with 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum and 2011’s The Girl with Dragon Tattoo). However, Ford achieved the least number of overall mentions among the 9 contenders and missed key races including Director, any acting derbies, and screenplay.
Martin Scorsese’s return to the Mob genre was Netflix’s highest profile Oscar player yet. It earned ten overall nods including for Scorsese, two Supporting Actor bids for Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, and Adapted Screenplay. Going 0 for 10, Robert De Niro was a somewhat surprising omission for his lead work.
Does It Make the Final Five?
Yes. Despite the lack of wins, the sheer number of inclusions indicate the legendary filmmaker and cast would vie for the top award.
Taika Waititi’s unique take on WWII was up for 6 races including Scarlett Johansson for Supporting Actress and Film Editing. The sole victory (a major one) was Adapted Screenplay where it beat out three other BP nominees.
Does It Make the Final Five?
No, but this was easily the hardest to leave off. The Screenplay win suggests it certainly could have. A miss in Director was a deciding factor and the fact that I couldn’t omit any of the final five I ended up going with.
Warner Bros. had unexpected bragging rights as this Scorsese inspired take on the DC Comics villain had the best haul with 11 nods. This includes Todd Phillips in Director and key precursors like Editing and Adapted Screenplay. The two wins came courtesy of Joaquin Phoenix in the title role and in Original Score.
Does It Make the Final Five?
Yes. Usually the leader of the pack does and this popped up in categories it originally wasn’t anticipated to.
Greta Gerwig’s acclaimed version of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel was also up for Actress (Saoirse Ronan), Supporting Actress (Florence Pugh), Adapted Screenplay, Score, and Costume Design (which was its only victory).
Does It Make the Final Five?
No. Simple math here. If I didn’t put Jojo in (which won Adapted Screenplay), I can’t justify vaulting this over it.
Just like Little Women, Noah Baumbach’s drama was up for six and managed one. The win was Laura Dern (who was also in Women) in Supporting Actress while it also vied for Actor (Adam Driver), Actress (double nominee Scarlett Johansson), Original Screenplay, and Original Score.
Does It Make the Final Five?
Just like Little Women – no. Like Women, not making the Director race and not winning screenplay make this a fairly easy forecast.
The World War I epic from Sam Mendes boasted 10 nominations with 3 statues for Sound Mixing, Cinematography, and Visual Effects. The Editing miss was obvious since the picture famously used few cuts.
Does It Make the Final Five?
Yes. In fact, this was likely the runner-up to Parasite. It went into the evening as the favorite for BP and Director until Joon-ho’s film made its history.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Quentin Tarantino’s ninth feature was slotted for 10 categories including QT for director, Leonardo DiCaprio in Actor, and Original Screenplay where its two-time winning scribe lost to Joon-ho. The two victories were Brad Pitt in Supporting Actor and Production Design.
Does It the Final Five?
Yes though I admit the Editing snub had me questioning it. An argument can be made for Jojo, but I ultimately think Quentin and company get in.
So that means your 2019 Final Five is:
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
I will note that this quintet mirrors the individuals who were up for Best Director. That is typically not a 5/5 match. It happened occasionally when there were 5 BP nominees and I feel this is a time where it would’ve.
2020 will be up soon and if you missed the posts covering 2009-18, they can be accessed here:
My deep dives into 6 high profile Oscar races reaches the top one with Best Picture. If you missed my posts on Director and the four acting competitions, you can find them here:
At this early November period from 2019-21, here’s how accurate I was with my BP forecast. Three years ago, I correctly called 8 of the 9 eventual nominees. That includes the winner Parasite, 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Marriage Story, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The ninth hopeful was Joker and it was listed in Other Possibilities. In the wildly unpredictable 2020, I was right about 5 of 8 with two months left in the calendar – Nomadland (which won), The Father, Mank, Minari, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Judas and the Black Messiah was named in Other Possibilities while Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal were not yet in my top 15. In 2021, the Academy went back to a set number of 10 BP nominees. I rightly identified 7 of the 10 with Belfast, Dune, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, The Power of the Dog, and West Side Story. The film that emerged victorious – CODA was not yet predicted but in Other Possibilities. So was Don’t Look Up while Drive My Car wasn’t among the 15.
Moving to 2022 – I can’t recall a year where four sequels were viable for inclusion. That’s where we stand at the moment. The top grosser of the year is Top Gun: Maverick and I do believe the Academy will reward it for bringing older audiences back to multiplexes (and of course for its quality). In a few weeks, we’ll have a better idea about Avatar: The Way of Water. I’m not ready to vault into my ten, but that could change soon. Knives Out missed out on BP in 2019 so I’m skeptical for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. And while Black Panther made the lineup in 2018, Wakanda Forever seems like a stretch despite the solid buzz. Nevertheless it’s not crazy to think that 40% of the BP players could be sequels.
On the non-sequel front, we begin with The Fabelmans. Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical coming-of-age tale has been listed at #1 for weeks on the blog. Only one of the filmmaker’s works – 1993’s Schindler’s List – has won BP. Shakespeare in Love was a surprise recipient in 1998 over the favored Saving Private Ryan. Nearly 30 years later, Fabelmans could have the credentials to be the second.
However, the frontrunner at this stage often doesn’t cross the finish line and Spielberg’s latest feels like a soft frontrunner. I could easily envision a scenario where the voters go outside the box with Everything Everywhere All at Once. A24’s multi-genre pic achieved wide acclaim and did great business at the box office. While spring releases rarely make the journey all the way through the awards calendar, Everything could buck that trend.
Other spoilers include The Banshees of Inisherin and Women Talking, which both garnered kudos at film festivals and will have their ardent admirers. I believe that logic also applies to Tár and The Whale though I don’t see either having a shot to win. And we are still waiting to see if Damien Chazelle’s Babylon is as viable as its pedigree suggests (we’ll know in a few days when it screens).
It’s become more common for an international feature film to get in and the two most likely to do so are All Quiet on the Western Front (which might just be Netflix’s most serious hopeful) and Decision to Leave. The reviews for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Bardo should leave it out (it might not even make the separate international race).
While Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is the favorite to be Best Animated Feature, I don’t see it breaking into the big dance. It’s probably the only animated title with any sort of chance.
The festival circuit always lessens the viability of some pics. In 2022, I would put the following on that list: Empire of Light, The Son, and Armageddon Time.
The Academy could choose to honor some moneymakers like Elvis and The Woman King (though putting Maverick in could check that box). Till may only show up in Best Actress for Danielle Deadwyler. And it’s tough to know what to make of the upcoming Emancipation considering it’s led by Will Smith (who has some, um, recent history with the ceremony).
Bottom line: there is a lot of uncertainty about BP. I feel fairly confident about The Fabelmans, Everything Everywhere, Women Talking, The Banshees of Inisherin, Top Gun: Maverick,Tár, and The Whale (more than others with that one). We’ll know about Babylon shortly so that leaves two spots. I could definitely see a sequel or a foreign flick jumping up. For now, the 9th and 10th entries go to Triangle of Sadness and She Said. Expect movement as the weeks roll along.
1 . The Fabelmans (Previous Ranking: 1) (Even)
2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)
3. Babylon (PR: 3) (E)
4. Women Talking (PR: 4) (E)
5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)
6. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 6) (E)
7. Tár (PR: 7) (E)
8. The Whale (PR: 8) (E)
9. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (E)
10. She Said (PR: 12) (+2)
11. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 11) (E)
12. Decision to Leave (PR: 10) (-2)
13. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 14) (+1)
14. Elvis (PR: 13) (-1)
15. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 15) (E)
Stay tuned for estimates on all the races coming up soon!
We have reached Best Actress in my deep dives of the major Oscar races. If you didn’t catch my takes on the supporting derbies and lead actor, you can access them here:
Before we get to this very competitive Actress competition, let’s see how I did at this point in the calendar from 2019-21. Three years ago, I managed to identify all 5 eventual nominees – winner Renee Zellweger (Judy), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), and Charlize Theron (Bombshell). For the late October/early November frame in 2020 and 2021, I correctly called 3 of the 5. In 2020, that was Frances McDormand (Nomadland), who won her third Oscar along with Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman). Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) were mentioned in Other Possibilities. The victor was also named last year with Jessica Chastain for The Eyes of Tammy Faye as well as Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) and Kristen Stewart (Spencer). Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) and Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos) were in Other Possibilities.
So if the last three years are any precursor, you should find the eventual quintet in my ten picks! Frances McDormand could have company with performers sporting a trio of gold statues. A Supporting Actress winner in 2004 for The Aviator and lead actress recipient for 2013’s Blue Jasmine, Cate Blanchett is drawing some career best kudos for Tár. She’s been in my #1 spot for weeks and if she wins, she’d join McDormand, Katherine Hepburn, and Ingrid Bergman as the only actresses to win more than two Oscars.
Her main competition could come from several performers. Michelle Yeoh is receiving a massive push for Everything Everywhere All at Once, which is a threat to win numerous big races including Best Picture. There’s another Michelle and it’s a surprise… Michelle Williams. As I discussed in my Supporting Actress write-up, her performance in The Fabelmans would likely be a guaranteed winner in that category. With the more competitive vibe of lead actress, it’s not even a guarantee that she makes it in.
While Till may struggle to get recognition elsewhere despite strong reviews and an A+ Cinemascore, Danielle Deadwyler looks pretty strong to make the cut. On the other hand, so-so critical reaction could prevent Olivia Colman (Empire of Light) from getting her fourth nod in five years.
There are two performances yet to be seen that could both make a splash: Margot Robbie for Babylon and Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston in I Wanna Dance with Somebody. It’s easy to envision either rising up if the reactions are positive enough.
Despite solid box office, Viola Davis could face an uphill battle for The Woman King. That narrative could change if both Robbie and Ackie falter. Some intensely negative audience and critical buzz for Blonde may leave Ana de Armas out. And there’s always potential dark horses. Emma Thompson will probably get a Golden Globes nom for Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, but Academy inclusion could be a reach. Women Talking‘s Rooney Mara might be ignored in favor of her supporting costars like Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley. Causeway may not draw enough attention for Jennifer Lawrence to make it and the same holds true for The Wonder‘s Florence Pugh. Decision to Leave (despite having a chance to take International Feature Film) may not see its cast be a factor. That would leave out Tang Wei.
The Supporting Actress derby is up next for my deep dives in the six major categories (Picture, Director, the 4 acting competitions). If you missed my current take on Supporting Actor, it’s here:
With two months left to go in the calendar year, it’s a good time to take stock in where we stand in 2022 with the various hopefuls. In 2019 and 2020 in late October, I correctly identified 3 of the 5 eventual nominees in Supporting Actress. Three years ago, that included eventual winner Laura Dern (Marriage Story) as well as Florence Pugh (Little Women) and Margot Robbie (Bombshell). I had Scarlett Johansson listed in Other Possibilities for Jojo Rabbit while not having Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell) yet on the radar. A year later, the trio of Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), and Amanda Seyfried (Mank) were already in my top five. Youn Yuh-jung (Minari) took the gold. Both she and Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) were tagged in Other Possibilities.
The ratio dropped in 2021. I named 2 of the 5 women with Ariana DeBose in West Side Story (who won) and Kirsten Dunst for The Power of the Dog. 2 nominees – Judi Dench (Belfast) and Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) – were in Other Possibilities while Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter) wasn’t in my listed ten.
We arrive at 2022 where Ms. Buckley is in the mix again. She appears in Women Talking alongside a large ensemble of additional actresses. This film gives us the highest probability of seeing double nominees from the same picture. It’s happened three times since 2010. Melissa Leo and Amy Adams were up for The Fighter that year with Leo emerging victorious. In 2011, Octavia Spencer took the statue for The Help with Jessica Chastain also making the cut. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were both in the mix for 2018’s The Favourite.
With Women Talking, the Academy could dive a tad deeper with Judith Ivery and Sheila McCarthy (who are standouts). I suspect they’ll go with Buckley and Claire Foy (who was notably snubbed three years ago for First Man). I’ve had the latter listed in first place as she’s got a slightly meatier role.
That brings us to a key caveat in this race. A few weeks back, there was the unexpected announcement that Michelle Williams in Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans would be campaigned for in lead actress. She could’ve easily been placed here. If the studio had done that, I would continue to have Williams at #1 and feel confident that she’d win her first Oscar. However, in the Best Actress competition, I only have her in fourth position as of my last forecast.
Back to performers who are eligible in this. As long as The Banshees of Inisherin performs well with voters (and it should), Kerry Condon should make the quintet and could be a threat to win. Truth be told, this seems like a wide open competition without Williams. I could see either Women Talking actress at the podium or Condon. Same goes for Hong Chau as Brendan Fraser’s caretaker in The Whale or Stephanie Hsu as the world altering daughter in Everything Everywhere All at Once. That film offers the possibility of an additional double nomination with Jamie Lee Curtis’s nearly unrecognizable role. As for The Whale, I think Chau is far more likely than costar Sadie Sink.
I’m not as sold on Anne Hathaway in Armageddon Time, which may not make a dent at the ceremony. The many negative reviews for The Son have me questioning the viability of Vanessa Kirby or Laura Dern. Cha Cha Real Smooth might be too small for Dakota Johnson to nab her first Academy mention. Thuso Mbedu in The Woman King seems like a stretch. There’s unseen performances that could rise up like Kate Winslet (Avatar: The Way of Water) or Jean Smart (Babylon). Of all those choices, only Smart is in the top ten.
Critics groups may be integral in weeding out the nominees. This is where we could see Nina Hoss (Tár) or Dolly de Leon (Triangle of Sadness) rise up. Or we could get a nominee from a forthcoming hit such as Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) or Janelle Monae (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery).
Over the past couple of months, all of my five nominees have come from films that I have in my 1o Best Picture hopefuls. That also holds true for Supporting Actor. And, frankly, that usually doesn’t happen. This is partly why I’m putting Carey Mulligan (She Said) in my projections after the studio announced she’ll vie for supporting instead of lead. I’ve got She Said barely missing a BP nod.
Bottom line: nothing is close to being settled in Supporting Actress and the talking about these women could change as we get closer to nomination time.
Best Supporting Actress
1. Claire Foy, Women Talking (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)
2. Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 3) (+1)
3. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 2) (-1)
4. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 4) (E)
5. Carey Mulligan, She Said (PR: 7) (+2)
6. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 5) (-1)
7. Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 6) (-1)
8. Nina Hoss, Tár (PR: 8) (E)
9. Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 10) (+1)
Florence Pugh’s turn in the forthcoming Don’t Worry Darling (which is readying its Venice debut) might be her highest profile autumn project. Yet the actress (a Supporting Actress nominee for Little Women in 2019) is generating kudos for The Wonder, which has premiered at Telluride. A November theatrical release is planned prior to a December Netflix bow.
Sebastian Lelio directs the drama set in 1860s Ireland. He’s known for critically appreciated efforts like Disobedience and Gloria Bell and five years ago, his Chilean pic A Fantastic Woman won the international feature prize from the Academy. Pugh stars as a nurse tasked with monitoring a young girl said to have survived without food for months. Tom Burke, Niamh Algar, Toby Jones, and Ciaran Hinds costar. The screenplay comes from Emma Donoghue and it’s based on her own novel. She is best known for the book and script for Room, which won Brie Larson a Best Actress Oscar.
The smattering of reviews out are mostly positive though they don’t have me thinking The Wonder is a Best Picture contender. I could see Netflix pushing Pugh in lead actress. And with that… get used to this refrain. I believe 60% of the Actress field might be set already. That would be Michelle Yeah in Everything Everywhere All at Once, Cate Blanchett for Tar, and Olivia Colman for Empire of Light (my post for that is about to be published so consider this a spoiler alert). Pugh and anyone else could be competing for two slots and there’s plenty of performances left unseen.
Bottom line: I wouldn’t count Pugh out based on initial reaction for The Wonder but competition is already severe. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
I’m closing out my deep dives of the major Oscar races with the granddaddy of them all – Best Picture. If you missed my posts covering Best Director and the four acting categories, you can find them here:
Unlike the previous several years where the Picture nominees could fluctuate between 5-10 (though 8 and 9 were the magic numbers), 2021 brings fluidity with a set 10 films being honored (I’d like to thank the Academy for that).
As I’ve done with the others, let’s take a look back at how I was performing in the early November time frame from 2019 and 2020. Two years ago, I had 8 of the eventual 9 movies pegged: winner Parasite, 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Marriage Story, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The other – Joker – was mentioned in Other Possibilities.
2020 was trickier at this stage, but I identified 5 of the 8 hopefuls: winner Nomadland along with The Father, Mank, Minari, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Judas and the Black Messiah was named as a possibility while I didn’t have Promising Young Woman or Sound of Metal yet in the 15 selections.
For 2021 – I feel confident that four already screened entries will make the dance. We begin with Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, the 1960s set coming-of-age drama that could be looked at as the soft frontrunner. It’s been listed at #1 in my estimates for several weeks.
Belfast displaced The Power of the Dog from Jane Campion in that spot, but I still see the Netflix title having no trouble securing its placement among the contenders.
King Richard should find its way as the inspirational sports flick that will have audiences on its side. Furthermore, Will Smith appears in position to possibly win Best Actor. You have to go back to Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) twelve years ago where the Oscar winning actor didn’t see his movie recognized in Picture.
Then there’s Dune. The sci-fi epic from Denis Villeneuve got the box office and critical kudos it needed to storm the competition. The filmmaker could make a victory play for his direction while the picture itself seems destined for a nod here and tech wins elsewhere.
In past years, the bulk of nominees in Picture were screened at festivals. In 2021, that dynamic could shift as there’s a slew of unscreened material that seems like Oscar bait. That list includes Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tick, Tick… Boom!, and Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up.
The first four of the six are ones I’ve had in my ten for a bit and I’m not changing it today. That said, this could be altered quickly once their official reviews are up (and that will be soon). Some prognosticators are more confident with Don’t Look Up. I’ll believe it when I see it.
With the pics that have been seen, Pablo Larrain’s Spencer is sure looking like it will garner Kristen Stewart her first ever nod with a solid chance at a victory. I do believe the Princess Diana tale will manage to make the cut, but it could go either way.
This also holds true for Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, which should also manage some tech recognition and for its lead Denzel Washington and maybe Frances McDormand.
I will admit that it seems strange to leave off any titles that screened early at Sundance. After all, last year there were 3 pics from the fest (The Father, Minari, Promising Young Woman) that got in. There’s a trio that could do the same in 2021 and they’re all listed in Other Possibilities: CODA, Flee, and Mass. Of that group, Flee (which I do have predicted in Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, and International Feature Film) may have the strongest chance.
Foreign flicks could factor in and they include A Hero, The Hand of God, Parallel Mothers, and The Worst Person in the World. I wouldn’t completely discount Netflix hopefuls such as The Lost Daughter and Passing.
Then there’s high profile fare where the luster has been lost either to mixed reviews or poor box office. That list includes Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, and certainly Chloe Zhao’s Eternals.
The bottom line is this – in 2021, with two months left to go in the calendar, there’s a lot yet to be determined. Here’s my take for now:
1. Belfast (Previous Ranking: 1)
2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)
3. King Richard (PR: 3)
4. Dune (PR: 4)
5. Licorice Pizza (PR: 6)
6. Nightmare Alley (PR: 5)
7. West Side Story (PR: 7)
8. House of Gucci (PR: 8)
9. Spencer (PR: 9)
10. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 10)
11. Flee (PR: 13)
12. Don’t Look Up (PR: 11)
13. Mass (PR: 12)
14. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 15)
15. CODA (PR: 14)
And that wraps the detailed looks, folks! Next weekend I’ll be back with updated estimates…
The Oscar race for Best Actress takes center stage in my latest rundown of where the major competitions stand in early November. If you missed my posts covering lead actor and the supporting categories, they can accessed right here:
As I have with the others, let’s start with my track record during the same time period from 2019 and 2020. Two years ago, I somehow had all five nominated actresses forecasted correctly with two months to go: winner Renee Zellweger as Judy in addition to Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story), Saoirse Ronan (Little Women), and Charlize Theron (Bombshell). For 2020, it was three: gold recipient Frances McDormand for Nomadland and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) and Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman). Both Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) were listed in Other Possibilities.
In 2021, we already have a strong frontrunner and that’s Kristin Stewart in Spencer. Playing the high profile role of Princess Diana, Ms. Stewart is practically guaranteed to nab her first nod after plenty of critically appreciated post Twilight turns. She’s a serious threat to win and Stewart has been atop my chart ever since the picture screened back in September at the Venice Film Festival.
Her biggest competition could come from an as yet unseen performance – Lady Gaga in House of Gucci. Judging from the trailers alone, her part seems like the kind of bait that would cause Academy voters to bite. If so, the pop superstar would receive her second nomination three years after her breakout cinematic role with A Star Is Born.
After that, there’s a lengthy list of hopefuls for the three remaining slots. When The Eyes of Tammy Faye premiered on the festival circuit, it was a given that Jessica Chastain would make the cut. I still think she will, but the pic’s barely existent box office numbers are reason for some uncertainty.
Screenings were also kind to Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter and that momentum could result in her third inclusion in the last four years after a 2018 Actress victory for The Favourite and a supporting nod for last year’s The Father.
Colman isn’t the only actress from a Netflix offering eyeing the prize. There’s Tessa Thompson in Passing, Jennifer Lawrence in Don’t Look Up, Sandra Bullock for The Unforgivable, and Halle Berry with Bruised. All could factor in. Other than Thompson (her costar Ruth Negga stands a greater chance in supporting), the three others have yet to be unveiled. The streamer may have to pick and choose whose campaigns they go all in with.
There’s other possibilities in the unseen column where the buzz will shortly materialize: Cate Blanchett for Nightmare Alley, Alana Haim in Licorice Pizza, Nicole Kidman as Lucille Ball with Being the Ricardos, and Rachel Zegler (West Side Story). At press time, I only have Kidman in the top ten but that could change as soon as reviews start posting.
As for pictures that have been available for awhile, I feel Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur’s supporting parts in CODA are more likely to be recognized than lead Emilia Jones. Renate Reinsve will have her share of supporters for The Worst Person in the World, but its best chance lies with an International Feature Film nomination. Bad financial returns could negatively impact Jodie Comer for The Last Duel, though I will note that a number of prognosticators have her in.
For the fifth spot, I currently see three performances with roughly equal chances. Frances McDormand took the prize last year and that might make the Academy think twice about putting her up again for The Tragedy of Macbeth. Penelope Cruz is just on the outside looking in for Parallel Mothers. That leaves me with Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin in Respect. Even though the film received mixed reviews and so-so box office, praise for the Supporting Actress winner in 2006’s Dreamgirls was universal. Voters may have to think all the way back to summer to include her but I do believe it’s feasible.
And with that, here’s my standings:
1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (Previous Ranking: 1)
2. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 3)
3. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 2)
4. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 4)
5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 5)
6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 7)
7. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6)
8. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 8)
9. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: 10)
10. Tessa Thompson, Passing (PR: Not Ranked)
Rachel Zegler, West Side Story
Now that the acting derbies are wrapped, I’ll have Best Director up next!
The 2021 derby for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars might have a bit more clarity than the currently wide open Supporting Actor race, but not much. I’m doing a deep dive on the four acting races as well as Picture and Director. If you missed the first post covering Supporting Actor, you can peruse it right here:
At this point when I was projecting the race in 2019 and 2020, I correctly identified three out of the five eventual nominees. Two years ago, that included the winner Laura Dern in Marriage Story as well as Florence Pugh (Little Women) and Margot Robbie for Bombshell. Scarlett Johansson was mentioned in Other Possibilities while I didn’t have Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell) listed. Last year, the trio of Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), and Amanda Seyfried (Mank) were in my five. Eventual victor Yuh-jung Youn (Minari) and Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) were in Other Possibilities.
Since 2010, there have been three instances where two actresses for the same picture made the cut here. In 2010, it was Melissa Leo (who won) and Amy Adams in The Fighter. A year later, Octavia Spencer took gold for The Help while costar Jessica Chastain also got in. In 2018, both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were nominated for The Favourite.
The best chance of that happening in 2021 lies with Caitriona Balfe and Judi Dench for Belfast. The former could be considered the frontrunner at press time. I’m confident that Balfe will be in the quintet of hopefuls. My Supporting Actor forecast has both Jamie Dornan and Ciaran Hinds in for Kenneth Branagh’s period drama. It might be foolish to bet against Dench and she could absolutely get her 8th nod. I do, however, feel the competition is steeper than Supporting Actor at the moment and she could miss out.
Other double nominee possibilities lie with Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson in The Lost Daughter, but I could just as easily see lead Olivia Colman garnering all the attention. The as yet unscreened Nightmare Alley could see either Toni Collette or Rooney Mara competing.
Then there’s Mass. Ann Dowd looks to be a better bet than Martha Plimpton. If the acclaimed drama catches on with the Academy, there could be room for both. For now, I’m far more confident in Dowd receiving her first nod after her somewhat surprise omission for 2012’s Compliance.
With Balfe and Dowd penciled in, Kirsten Dunst also appears headed for her inaugural inclusion at the dance for The Power of the Dog. She could even be a threat to win.
After that, it gets murky. There’s plenty of hopefuls. 50 years ago, Rita Moreno took gold as Anita for West Side Story. The forthcoming remake could see Ariana DeBose nominated for the same role in Steven Spielberg’s remake. Marlee Matlin (35 years after taking Best Actress for Children of a Lesser God) got fine reviews for CODA. If the film registers with voters, she could be swept in. King Richard is anticipated to give Will Smith a solid chance at his first Oscar crowning and Aunjanue Ellis (as the mother of Venus and Serena Williams) could share in the wealth. Salma Hayek is part of the House of Gucci ensemble. She hasn’t been visible in the trailers and that gives me pause. Online chatter will be heavy for Rebecca Ferguson in Dune, though I question whether any of its cast makes its way in. Also worthy of mention: Olga Merediz (In the Heights), Gaby Hoffman (C’Mon C’Mon), Kathryn Hunter (The Tragedy of Macbeth), Sally Hawkins (Spencer), and Jayne Houdyshell (The Humans). All are feasible but will need lot some critics prizes to elevate their chances.
Meryl Streep is gunning for her 22nd (!) nomination for Don’t Look Up. Playing the President of the United States in the political satire, it feels strange to leave her out of the top 5 for such a high profile role. Let’s see what the critics think before I more carefully consider her.
One performer who seems to catching on is Ruth Negga for Passing. Nominated for Actress five years back for Loving, I was basically down to a coin flip between her and Aunjanue Ellis for a current slot. I’m leaning toward Negga in what would probably be the film’s sole nod.
Bottom line: right now I have Balfe, Dunst, and Dowd as (fairly) safe bets with the other two spots up for grabs. Here’s where it shakes out as October closes:
When Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan are romancing one another in a 19th century set costume drama, you better believe there’s going to be Oscar speculation. This is for good reason. Between the two performers, they’ve collected a staggering 11 Academy nods. There’s just one victory among them.
Francis Lee’s Ammonite has premiered this weekend at the Toronto Film Festival. As mentioned, it casts Winslet as a paleontologist who strikes the fancy of Ronan’s wealthy wife. It is Lee’s follow-up to his hailed 2017 pic God’s Own Country.
Critical reception from up north does include some rave reviews. There are others that are decidedly more mixed and even negative. The Rotten Tomatoes score of 64% puts a Best Picture and Directing and Original Screenplay nomination into serious question. Right now, I would say it’s certainly iffy.
Tech nods like Costume Design, Score, and Production Design are feasible. Yet the main chatter centers on the leads. The likelihood is that Winslet will contend in lead Actress with Ronan in supporting. Winslet would be scoring her eighth nomination in 25 years. Her lone win was for 2008’s The Reader. Based on buzz, she appears poised to grab it. That said, let’s keep an eye on how competition plays out in the coming weeks. Frances McDormand (Nomadland) seems like a shoo-in for inclusion. There’s other potential heavy hitters in the wings, including Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Michele Pfeiffer (French Exit), and Jennifer Hudson (Respect) to name just three.
Ronan has achieved 4 nominations since 2007 for Atonement, Brooklyn, Lady Bird, and Little Women. She’s yet to walk to the podium. There’s a general feeling that her time is coming and I have had her ranked #1 in Supporting Actress since I began my weekly prediction posts last month. Now I’m wondering whether she even makes the final five. It is still a strong possibility, but I highly doubt you’ll see her atop the estimates this coming Thursday. I would say right now that 2020’s Supporting Actress winner probably hasn’t her movie screened yet.
Bottom line: the reception for Ammonite in Toronto raises more questions than it answers about its chances. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…