Best Picture 2020: The Final Five

We have reached 2020 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?

2020 is a tricky year to consider. As we all know, it was a year dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us were working from home and theaters were essentially shuttered for the majority of the year.

Beyond the challenging, tragic, and unprecedented news events of 2020, it was just a strange year for motion pictures. Eight pictures contended for the big prize. I have the leading nominee (with 10) missing the BP cut. The next most nominated film had 6 mentions… and there’s 6 of them. The other BP contender had 5.

My point? Whittling these 8 down to 5 is not easy. Considering it took BP, Director (Chloe Zhao, the second female ever to win), and Actress (Frances McDormand), we can safely reserve a spot for Nomadland. As for the rest? Let’s get into it!

The Father

Florian Zeller’s devastasting drama about Alzheimer’s missed a nod in Director, but Anthony Hopkins landed his second Actor statue over the late Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, who was the frontrunner. Zeller did win Adapted Screenplay and this was also up for Supporting Actress (Olivia Colman), Film Editing, and Production Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Its two wins not only give me confidence of its inclusion in a quintet, but it could be argued this was runner-up to Nomadland.

Judas and the Black Messiah

Daniel Kaluuya won Supporting Actor for his performance as Fred Hampton in Shaka King’s historical drama. Costar Lakeith Stanfield was up in the same race and it was nominated for Original Screenplay and Cinematography. A second statue was given to H.E.R. for her original song “Fight for You”.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No but I certainly struggled with this one. The lack of directing and editing noms have it on the outside looking in.

Mank

This is where it gets complicated. David Fincher’s jaded Netflix aired look at Old Hollywood easily led the program with 10 mentions and it won Cinematography and Production Design. Fincher was also in contention for his behind the camera work. Other nods went to Gary Oldman for Actor, Amanda Seyfried in Supporting Actress, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Original Score, and Sound.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Surprisingly enough… I’m saying no. Despite the haul, it is the only one of the 8 nominees not up for screenplay. Furthermore the Film Editing omission feels significant. It certainly isn’t normal to project the leader not making the final five. However, rules are meant to be broken.

Minari

Lee Isaac Chung also garnered a directing spot in that quintet while Youn yuh-Jung was the Supporting Actress recipient in this family drama. Other nods: Actor (Steven Yeun), Original Screenplay, and Original Score.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes though I went back and forth. This seemed to gather strength as the season wore on and not just with yuh-Jung. I think it squeaks in.

Promising Young Woman

Emerald Fennell was up for director and won Adapted Screenplay for this revenge dramedy. Carey Mulligan made the Actress cut (and may have been second to McDormand) and it was in for Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. The victory in Adapted Screenplay over four other BP hopefuls helps solidify that decision.

Sound of Metal

The impressive haul for the indie drama is Riz Ahmed in Actor, Paul Raci in Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, and wins in Film Editing and Sound.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes though I again went back and forth. While director Darius Marder was left out, it’s the Editing and Sound combo that give it an edge over the three that got left out.

The Trial of the Chicago 7

7‘s six nods came (in addition to BP) in Supporting Actor (Sacha Baron Cohen), Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, and Original Song. The Aaron Sorkin political drama is the only BP vier not to take home a single trophy.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No though I struggled again. This Netflix pic undoubtedly didn’t match awards expectations after it was once seen as the on paper favorite. The 0 for 6 performance make it easier to elevate some of the others.

And there you have it. That means my 2020 vision of the Final Five is:

The Father

Minari

Nomadland

Promising Young Woman

Sound of Metal

2021 will be be up soon! If you missed my entries covering 2009-19, you can find them here:

Oscar Predictions: Past Lives

Past Lives is the debut feature film from Celine Song and it premiered at Sundance over the weekend to a rapturous reception. The romantic drama stars Greta Lee and Teo Yoo with critics praising their work in the A24 effort.

Some reviews are already claiming it will end up as one of 2023’s finest and the Rotten Tomatoes score is 100%. Its studio may choose to kick off a Minari or Everything Everywhere All at Once style campaign (both were and/or are nominated for Best Picture).

Sundance brought to light the possibility of Past Lives being a legit awards player even this early in the process. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

The NBR Flies With Maverick

The National Board of Review, a group of cinephiles out of New York City, bestows its best of every year in early December. Their selections certainly don’t forecast who and what the Academy will eventually name. They do, like many critics organizations, give us potential hints as to who and what’s hot and not as Oscar voters ready their ballots.

For 2022, the NBR went with the year’s most popular picture in Top Gun: Maverick. Named Best Film, Maverick is expected to land a spot in the Academy’s BP ten. Picking it to win is risky business. Of the last 10 NBR victors, only one went on to win BP at the big dance – 2018’s Green Book (and that was a surprise). The last three recipients were The Irishman, Da 5 Bloods, and Licorice Pizza. On the other hand, one three NBR winning films in the 21st century didn’t score an Oscar BP nomination: 2000’s Quills, 2014’s A Most Violent Year, and the aforementioned Bloods from 2020.

The directing prize went to Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans. He’s ranked #1 in my Oscar picks and has been for quite some time. If he takes Oscar, he’d be the first NBR victor to do so since 2006 when Martin Scorsese won for The Departed.

The matches don’t improve much in the acting derbies. Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) was crowned Best Actress. Three of the past 10 winners achieved Oscar glory: Julianne Moore for Still Alice, Brie Larson in Room, and Renee Zellweger as Judy. On a side note, a Cate Blanchett Tàr prize here would’ve been the easy bet. That picture was ignored by NBR even in their selections for the 10 greatest films not named Top Gun: Maverick (more on that below).

Colin Farrell nabbed another lead Actor honor for The Banshees of Inisherin. Two of the previous 10 NBR gentleman made a podium trip at the Oscars: Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea and Will Smith last year for King Richard (remember that?). Farrell is emerging as a major threat as is Austin Butler for Elvis (which received no love from this board). Along with Brendan Fraser in The Whale (who needs some critic groups love awfully soon), they make up a three-way tussle for Best Actor.

Janelle Monae is your Best Supporting Actress as her stock is rising. Yet only two of the past 10 winners match Oscar with Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk and Youn Yuh-Jung for Minari. Brad Pitt is the only Supporting Actor NBR/Academy match of the last decade for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Brendan Gleeson in The Bansees of Inisherin will try and join that small club as he emerged over frontrunner Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere.

Original Screenplay went to Banshees while All Quiet on the Western Front was a surprise recipient in Adapted Screenplay over Women Talking (which is widely favored to catch the Academy’s attention).

Other pics making their mark today were Marcel the Shell with Shoes On for Animated Feature, Close in International Feature Film, and Sr. for Documentary Feature. All are expected to vie for consideration at the Oscars.

Finally, the NBR chooses 10 additional features on their best of list. This year they were Aftersun, Avatar: The Way of Water, The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, RRR, Till, The Woman King, and Women Talking. In addition to Tár and Elvis – you also won’t find The Whale or Babylon or Triangle of Sadness among the picks. Same with She Said and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.

From 2019-2021, the winning pictures and ten other NBR picks equated to between 5-7 of the Academy’s BP contenders. Right now, I have six of these 2022 films in my Oscar 10: Maverick, Avatar, Banshees, Everything Everywhere, Fabelmans, and Women Talking. That corresponds to what usually occurs between NBR and Oscar.

All in all, a good day for Maverick and company. That said – if you think it is now cruising to Best Picture, history suggests otherwise.

2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Picture Race

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.

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

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)

Other Possibilities:

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!

2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Director Race

Best Director is on deck for my closeup looks at six major categories at the Oscars. If you missed my posts covering the four acting derbies, you can find them here:

As I have with the other competitions, let’s see how accurate my estimates were from 2019-21 at the same early November time period. In 2019, I correctly had 4 of the 5 eventual directors: winner Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), Sam Mendes (1917), Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood). Todd Phillips (Joker) was identified in Other Possibilities. 2020 was a trickier year due to COVID complications and I had 2 of the contenders rightly pegged: Chloe Zhao for Nomadland (who won) and David Fincher for Mank. Lee Isaac Chung (Minari) was in Other Possibilities while Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman) and Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) were not yet in my top ten. Last year, I had 3 of 5 with the victorious Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), and Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza). Steven Spielberg (West Side Story) was in Other Possibilities and I didn’t have Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car) yet in the mix.

I don’t have Spielberg down as an Other Possibility in 2022. This time around, he could be in line for his third Best Director statue behind 1993’s Schindler’s List and 1998’s Saving Private Ryan. It would mark his ninth overall nom. If he wins, he would become only the fourth filmmaker with three or more victories. John Ford has 4 while Frank Capra and William Wyler have 3.

The last four years have given us a nominee with an International Feature Film contender. In addition to Joon-ho in 2019 and Vinterberg and Hamaguchi the following years, Alfonso Cuaron took the prize in 2018 for Roma. There are two in 2022 that stand the best shot: Edward Berger (All Quiet on the Western Front) and Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave). If you want to be brave and predict an out of nowhere selection (like Vinterberg kinda was in 2020), look to Lukas Dhont (Close) or Jerzy Skolimowski (EO). Maybe even Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Bardo though he faces a tough road due to mixed critical reception.

However, I’m not quite ready to elevate any of them to the forecasted quintet. Damien Chazelle’s Babylon will soon screen prior to its December bow. It has the looks of a contender and he’s in unless the buzz tells me differently in a few days.

I’m also feeling good about the Daniels (Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) for Everything Everywhere All at Once. Same goes for Sarah Polley (Women Talking). Both appear to be surefire BP selections and would mark the Academy’s first mentions for them in this race.

As for the fifth spot, there’s plenty of names beyond the aforementioned international auteurs. Todd Field for Tár tops that list with Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin) not far behind. If Avatar: The Way of Water approaches the reception that the original received, James Cameron could enter the conversation.

If She Said or The Whale pick up even more steam in BP, I wouldn’t discount Maria Schrader or Darren Aronofsky respectively. That same logic applies to Ruben Ostlund for Triangle of Sadness. I’ve had him in my five previously.

Perhaps the voters will honor the maker of the year’s biggest blockbuster with Joseph Kosinski for Top Gun: Maverick. The more likely path is a BP nom and a few tech inclusions.

This race can and will evolve over the next couple of months. Here’s the state of the race right now:

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1 . Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (Previous Ranking: 1) (Even)

2. Damien Chazelle, Babylon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (E)

4. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 4) (E)

5. Todd Field, Tár (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Edward Berger, All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Park Chan-wook, Decision to Leave (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (E)

9. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (-1)

Best Picture is up next, folks! Stay tuned…

2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actor Race

My detailed look at six of the top Oscar categories – Picture, Director, and the four acting derbies – arrives at Best Actor. If you missed the posts covering the supporting races, you can find them here:

At this late October/early November stage of forecasting in the previous three years, my picks in the lead acting competitions have been more accurate than the supporting ones.

In 2019 at this juncture, I managed to correctly identify four of the five eventual nominees: winner Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes). The fifth was Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory and he was listed in Other Possibilities.

Three of five was the story in 2020 and 2021. Two years ago, I had The Father‘s Anthony Hopkins (who won), Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Gary Oldman (Mank) pegged with Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) and Steven Yeun (Minari) as possibles.

You may remember that Will Smith took gold last year for King Richard. I had him correctly called with two months remaining on the calendar. Same with Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog and Denzel Washington for The Tragedy of Macbeth. Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick… Boom!) was mentioned in Other Possibilities. Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos) had yet to enter my top ten.

Had a certain slap heard around the world not occurred, it’s totally possible that Will Smith (Emancipation) might be listed in my top 5. However, with his current ban from attending the ceremony, I question whether he could make a return to the ballot so quickly after the controversy. Therefore he’s not in my top 10. We’ll see if the reviews (coming soon) change the dynamic.

We do have a frontrunner and that’s Brendan Fraser in The Whale. Since its Venice and Toronto fest bows, he’s drawn raves. This is also a comeback narrative that the Academy should fall for. I’ve had Fraser listed in 1st for several weeks and I see no reason to change that.

There are two viable runners-up in Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin) and Austin Butler (Elvis). I’ve been switching them in 2nd and 3rd place over the past few posts. Farrell is 2nd because I think Banshees stands a better shot at a BP nod. You have to go back to 2009 and Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) where the Best Actor recipient’s movie didn’t achieve BP inclusion. If Elvis makes the big dance – an argument could be made that Butler is Fraser’s most serious competition to shake the race up.

After those three names, it could be a free for all for the final two slots. The only other performer I had listed in 1st place other than Fraser was Hugh Jackman for The Son. This was before it premiered at the festivals and garnered middling reviews. Now the question is whether Jackman gets in at all.

Someone who has fared well on the fest circuit is Bill Nighy for Living. Sony Pictures will need to mount a spirited campaign, but they’re good at that kinda thing. I’m starting to feel better about Nighy than Jackman.

Diego Calva is the biggest remaining question mark for Babylon. Screenings coming up in two weeks should help answer his viability. There’s a pair of indie performances that could bubble up if critics groups assist – Paul Mescal for Aftersun and Jeremy Pope in The Inspection. One possible hindrance for both of them is their movies are both A24 and that studio could be distracted with crowning Fraser. We could see foreign film leads Song Kang-ho (Broker) and Park Hae-il (Decision to Leave) make a play.

Netflix is apparently going in on a spirited campaign for Adam Sandler in Hustle. I have a hard time seeing that pan out (especially since he couldn’t get in for Uncut Gems). The streamer could also focus on Christian Bale (The Pale Blue Eye) or Adam Driver (White Noise). Bale also has Amsterdam, but it failed with critics and audiences.

Finally… there’s Tom Cruise. A three-time nominee, it’s been 23 years since he was in the mix. And a little pic called Top Gun: Maverick was easily the largest blockbuster of his career and the runaway hit of 2022. I’m not ready to put him in my five. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up there.

Here’s my current state of this race:

1 . Brendan Fraser, The Whale (Previous Ranking: 1) (Even)

2. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 2) (E)

3. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 3) (E)

4. Bill Nighy, Living (PR: 4) (E)

5. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 6) (E)

7. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 7) (E)

8. Jeremy Pope, The Inspection (PR: 8) (E)

9. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 9) (E)

10. Paul Mescal, Aftersun (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Song Kang-ho, Broker

Best Actress is up next!

2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

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

Predicted Nominees:

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)

Other Possibilities:

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)

10. Jean Smart, Babylon (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Janelle Monae, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Best Actor is up next!

Oscar Predictions: Nanny

Nikyatu Jusu’s directorial debut Nanny first drew viewers earlier this year at Sundance and will be screened in Toronto next week. Anna Diop stars as a Senegalese caretaker working for an affluent NYC family. Their arrangement appears, judging from the trailer, to morph into arthouse horror territory. Costars include Michelle Monaghan, Sinqua Walls, and Morgan Spector.

After its festival run, Nanny is slated for a limited November 23rd theatrical run before its streaming rollout on December 16th via Amazon Prime. Reviews are continuing to pop up as it plays other fests throughout the country and the Rotten Tomatoes score is 90%. It won the US Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. The last two winners of that award were the Best Picture nominated Minari in 2020 and last year’s CODA which, of course, took home the Academy’s biggest prize. I would also note that the five winners before that came nowhere near a BP nod.

Diop is receiving raves along with appreciation for Jusu’s original screenplay. Nanny would really need some high profile love from critics groups before I’d consider entering this into Academy chatter. It isn’t outside the realm of possibility, but I wouldn’t count on it. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: When You Finish Saving the World

The 2022 Sundance Film Festival is underway and, if history is any judge, we could see films and performances that may be talked about come Oscar time a year from now. In 2021, CODA premiered at the fest in January and it looks to be on its way to a Best Picture nod a couple weeks from now. In 2020, Judas and the Black Messiah also got its start and (with the elongated Academy schedule from that frame) hit the BP derby. In 2020, three BP nominees (The Father, Minari, Promising Young Woman) made their initial stops in Park City, Utah.

Sundance’s opening night selection is When You Finish Saving the World and it marks the directorial debut of Jesse Eisenberg. A Best Actor nominee back in 2010 for The Social Network, the dramedy stars Julianne Moore and Finn Wolfhard. Early buzz is mixed and the Rotten Tomatoes score sits at 73%. Most critical reaction indicates the characters are unpleasant to watch with reviews pretty divided on its overall effectiveness.

Eisenberg also wrote the screenplay and Emma Stone serves as a producer. And while World has received some praise, this is highly unlikely to be an awards breakout. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Picture Race

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:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Director Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actor Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

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:

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

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)

Other Possibilities:

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…