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!

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actor Race

We come to Best Actor in my deep dive of the major Oscar races covering the four acting showdowns in addition to Picture and Director. If you missed the first two covering Supporting Actor and Actress, they’re here:

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

2021 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

Looking at the past two years in my early November estimates in this competition, there’s a better track record than with the supporting categories. In 2019, with two months to go, I rightly had four of the five nominees pegged: winner Joaquin Phoenix (Joker), Leonardo DiCaprio (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), Adam Driver (Marriage Story), and Jonathan Pryce (The Two Popes). Antonio Banderas (Pain and Glory) was mentioned in Other Possibilities. For the 2020 experience, that number was three – winner Anthony Hopkins in The Father, Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), and Gary Oldman (Mank). The other two were named as possibilities – Riz Ahmed for Sound of Metal and Minari‘s Steven Yeun.

In 2021, it appears that three hopefuls have probably punched their tickets. The conversation begins with Will Smith. He’s a two-time nominee – once 20 years ago as Ali and 15 years past in The Pursuit of Happyness. As King Richard, it may well be the Fresh Prince’s time to be crowned for the true life sports drama that is said to be a massive crowdpleaser.

When Smith lost for Ali, it was to Denzel Washington in Training Day. The two-time winner looks to be back in the mix with The Tragedy of Macbeth. While I’m feeling confident in his nomination, I don’t see Mr. Washington emerging victorious here.

The other probable player is Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog, gunning for his second nod seven years after The Imitation Game. Several festival reviews are calling it career best work and I don’t see him sliding.

After that, there’s quite a few of performers vying for the remaining two spots. There’s a few in the “not yet seen” silo. That includes Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley. We are all waiting to see how big his supporting role is in Licorice Pizza. I’ve had Cooper listed #1 there for months. If he ends up falling shot in that one, he could rise with this.

Andrew Garfield’s performance in Tick, Tick… Boom! is a trendy selection. He’s also a possibility in supporting with The Eyes of Tammy Faye (though I’m skeptical he makes it through there).

We also have Leonardo DiCaprio for Don’t Look Up. I’m not as high on the film as some other prognosticators, but laudatory screenings could change that dynamic. There’s also Adam Driver for House of Gucci and Cooper Hoffman for the aforementioned Pizza. With all these gentlemen, time will tell and we won’t have to wait long.

Back to the performances we do know about. Nicolas Cage garnered some of the best notices of his career for Pig. He’ll have internet chatter on his side but I wouldn’t bet the farm on him making it. Speaking of web love, expect the same for Timothee Chalamet (Dune). I believe he’s less likely than Cage. Same goes for former MTV veejay Simon Rex in Red Rocket.

Belfast is the frontrunner for Best Picture and its quartet of supporting thespians (Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds) could all show up in their races. The film’s young lead Jude Hill is more of a long shot. Clifton Collins Jr. drew raves beginning at Sundance with Jockey. I would say Sony Pictures Classics needs to up their game with his campaign for him to enter this derby. There’s also a slight chance that Amir Jadidi could be a factor in A Hero (which could take International Feature Film).

For now, I’m sticking with two actors that I’ve had in my five for awhile. Peter Dinklage has gotten plenty of Emmy love for his Game of Thrones stretch and his musical and dramatic stylings in Cyrano could cause the Academy to take note.

Even though he won just two years back for Joker, Joaquin Phoenix could be up again for C’Mon C’Mon if none of the unseen candidates rise in the polls.

Bottom line: Smith (especially), Cumberbatch, and Washington are all relatively safe at press time. About a dozen others will vie for slots four and five. Here’s where I have it at this beginning of November time frame:

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (Previous Ranking: 1)

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog (PR: 2)

3. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3)

4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 4)

5. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 5)

Other Possibilities:

6. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 6)

7. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 8)

8. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 7)

9. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 9)

10. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up (PR: 10)

Best Actress is up next, folks!

Oscar Predictions: Encounter

Venice isn’t the only film festival happening as Telluride has kicked off today. It’s got its own slate of high-profile debuts: King Richard, C’Mon C’Mon, Belfast, and Cyrano among them.

The picture selected to open the festivities is a curious one: Michael Pearce’s Encounter. The sci-fi drama is headlined by Riz Ahmed, who made an awards splash last year in Sound of Metal (resulting in a Best Actor nomination). Costars include Octavia Spencer, Janina Gavankar, and Rory Cochrane.

Initial word-of-mouth suggests this will get some acclaim (the sound and score are being singled out too). However, this simply doesn’t appear to be the kind of effort that the Academy will recognize. Some reviews say it contains similar plot elements to Sean Penn’s recent Flag Day – minus the science fiction stuff. They have something else in common. Neither should be a factor in the Oscar season. My Oscar Prediction posts for the films of 2021 will continue…

Oscar Watch: Flee

Back in January at the Sundance Film Festival, Flee was a home run with critics. The film has the very rare distinction of fitting multiple categories – it’s animated. It’s a documentary. And it comes from the nation of Denmark.

Directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen (and executive produced by last year’s Best Actor nominee Riz Ahmed), Flee tells the true life story of an Afghan refugee’s trials and tribulations. Based on nearly 50 reviews, it holds a pure 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

Flee is unique in that it could contend in all four races at the Academy Awards honoring feature-length efforts: Best Picture, International Feature Film, Animated Feature, and Documentary Feature. The recent news coverage from Afghanistan could contribute to its urgent nature.

Bowing in theaters on December 3rd via Neon, the acclaim for Flee should get this in at least half of the categories where it is eligible. Just last year, Collective managed to do so in International Feature Film and Documentary. It remains to be seen whether this is the Danish pick for the former competition. My hunch is, if so, it could show up in both races.

Animated Feature is also a strong possibility though I’ve written before about how packed it could be. Other viable hopefuls include The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Raya and the Last Dragon, Luca, Vivo, and the forthcoming Encanto and Wendell and Wild. 

Best Picture is obviously the toughest one to breach, but I wouldn’t count it out. I could even envision a narrative developing rooting Flee on for inclusion in the entire quartet.

Bottom line: expect to see Flee in the mix in more than one category next year. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2021 Oscar Predictions: July 29th Edition

I can’t help myself. I keep doing my Oscar predictions earlier and earlier each year. Today marks the first edition of my ranked forecasts in the 8 biggest races: Picture, Director, the four acting competitions, and the two screenplay contests.

It probably stands to reason that the sooner you do projections – the more inaccurate they might be. Oh but it’s so very fun to speculate! I do like to put my initial rankings up before the Toronto, Venice, and Telluride Film Festivals make the picture more clear and we are only about a month from that. Those events will bring us early buzz on The Power of the Dog, Dune, Spencer, The Last Duel, The Humans, Parallel Mothers, Belfast, Dear Evan Hansen, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Last Night in Soho, and more.

This post comes about three weeks ahead of when I did this in 2020. That year, to say the least, was hard to figure out. In fact, many of the pictures and performers I had in my 2020 inaugural rankings were moved back to 2021 due to COVID delays. Think Dune, The French Dispatch, West Side Story, Respect, C’Mon C’Mon, Annette, and The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

So how did my first ranked predictions from 2020 pan out? My Best Picture guesstimates yielded three of the eventual nominees: winner Nomadland, Mank, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Nomadland started out of the gate at #2 (behind Mank). Three other contenders were listed under Other Possibilities – The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Minari. Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal were not mentioned.

2 of the 5 director nominees were correctly identified: winner Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) and David Fincher (Mank). None of the other hopefuls (Lee Isaac Chung for Minari, Emerald Fennell for Promising Young Woman, or Another Round‘s Thomas Vinterberg) were even in Other Possibilities.

In Best Actress, I initially identified 2 – winner Frances McDormand (Nomadland) and Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday) and Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman) were Other Possibilities while Vanessa Kirby in Pieces of a Woman didn’t score a listing.

As for Actor, winner Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Gary Oldman (Mank) made my first cut. I incorrectly had Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) projected here instead of Supporting Actor (which he won). **This is a good time to remind you all that some of the acting contenders thought to be in lead right now will switch to supporting and vice versa. As further evidence, I had Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey) predicted in supporting, but he contended here. I did not yet have Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) or Steven Yeun (Minari) on my radar.

Two Supporting Actress players were correctly called: Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy) and Olivia Colman (The Father) with Amanda Seyfried (Mank) in Other Possibilities. No mention for the winner Youn Yun-jung in Minari or Maria Bakalova for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.

Per above, Daniel Kaluuya’s work in Judas was slotted in lead, but he emerged victorious here. My Supporting Actor picks did get 2 of 5: Lakeith Stanfield in Judas and Sacha Baron Cohen for Chicago 7. The two others (Leslie Odom Jr. in One Night in Miami and Paul Raci in Sound of Metal) went unnoticed at the early stage.

Just one nominee in Original Screenplay got the initial mention – Chicago 7. I did have 3 others (winner Promising Young Woman, Judas, Minari) down for Other Possibilities while Sound of Metal wasn’t mentioned. And in Adapted Screenplay, I only rightly projected Nomadland. Winner The Father, One Night in Miami, and The White Tiger were other possibilities with no mention for Borat.

Whew. OK. I’m not going through all for 2019. However, I will say my results were better two years ago with my first picks (evidence of the uncertainty of last year). The quick rundown: I got 6 of the 9 nominees in Best Picture and identified the remaining three in other possibilities. In Director, it was 4 out of 5. For Actress – 4 for 5 with the other nominee listed sixth. Actor – 3 for 5 with the two others as possibilities. The weak spot was Supporting Actress – just 1 out of 5 with 2 others as possibilities. 2 for 5 in Supporting Actor with 2 others as possibilities. 3 for 5 initially in both screenplay races.

And now we come to 2021. Will I look back next year and be happy with the accuracy or shake my head? Hopefully a mix (that’s probably the best case scenario). In about two months, I will start predictions for all categories covering feature films and whittle BP from 25 to 15 hopefuls with all others going from a projected 15 to 10.

There already was some news from when I penned my early and unranked predictions last week. David O. Russell’s Canterbury Glass, with an all star cast led by Christian Bale and Margot Robbie, has reportedly moved to 2022. It was mentioned in numerous categories (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor – John David Washington) and it now waits its turn until next year. Same story for Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins and Blonde from Andrew Dominik.

Let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. The Power of the Dog

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

4. Nightmare Alley

5. Dune

6. Soggy Bottom

7. Mass

8. West Side Story

9. Belfast

10. Don’t Look Up

Other Possibilities:

11. A Hero

12. CODA

13. Flee

14. The French Dispatch

15. Spencer

16. Tick Tick… Boom!

17. Cyrano

18. The Humans

19. Blue Bayou

20. King Richard

21. The Last Duel

22. Dear Evan Hansen

23. In the Heights

24. Last Night in Soho

25. Annette

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci

2. Denis Villeneuve, Dune

3. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

4. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley

5. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, Soggy Bottom

7. Asghar Farhadi, A Hero

8. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

9. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

10. Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up

11. Fran Kranz, Mass

12. Sian Heder, CODA

13. Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee

14. Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

15. Pablo Larrain, Spencer

Best Actress

1. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

2. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth

3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

4. Jennifer Hudson, Respect 

5. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Other Possibilities:

6. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

7. Kristen Stewart, Spencer

8. Emilia Jones, CODA

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story

10. Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

11. Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

12. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

13. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel

14. Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up

15. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

3. Will Smith, King Richard

4. Adam Driver, House of Gucci

5. Amir Jadidi, A Hero

Other Possibilities:

6. Andrew Garfield, Tick Tick… Boom!

7. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey

8. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

9. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley

10. Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

11. Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon

12. Cooper Hoffman, Soggy Bottom

13. Adam Driver, Annette

14. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

15. Nicolas Cage, Pig

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ann Dowd, Mass

2. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

3. Martha Plimpton, Mass

4. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans

5. Marlee Matlin, CODA

Other Possibilities:

6. Ruth Negga, Passing

7. Olga Merediz, In the Heights

8. Regina King, The Harder They Fall

9. Thomasin McKenzie, The Power of the Dog

10. Toni Collette, Nightmare Alley

11. Judi Dench, Belfast

12. Anya Taylor-Joy, Last Night in Soho

13. Meryl Streep, Don’t Look Up

14. Audra McDonald, Respect

15. Sally Hawkins, Spencer

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Soggy Bottom

2. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

3. Jason Isaacs, Mass

4. Richard Jenkins, The Humans

5. Idris Elba, The Harder They Fall

Other Possibilities:

6. Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth

7. Richard E. Grant, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

8. Jared Leto, House of Gucci

9. Reed Birney, Mass

10. Ben Mendelsohn, Cyrano

11. Jamie Dornan, Belfast

12. Adam Driver, The Last Duel

13. Al Pacino, House of Gucci

14. Brendan Gleeson, The Tragedy of Macbeth

15. David Alvarez, West Side Story

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Mass

2. Soggy Bottom

3. Don’t Look Up

4. The French Dispatch

5. Blue Bayou

Other Possibilities:

6. Belfast

7. Spencer

8. C’Mon C’Mon

9. Last Night in Soho

10. Being the Ricardos

11. Annette

12. The Harder They Fall

13. After Yang

14. Nine Days

15. Red Rocket

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci

2. The Power of the Dog

3. The Tragedy of Macbeth

4. Nightmare Alley

5. Dune

Other Possibilities:

6. CODA

7. The Humans

8. West Side Story

9. Cyrano

10. Tick Tick… Boom!

11. Dear Evan Hansen

12. The Last Duel

13. The Lost Daughter

14. King Richard

15. A Journal for Jordan

Back at it next week, ladies and gents!

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Actor

My initial 2021 Oscar predictions arrives at Best Actor. If you missed my posts regarding the supporting players, you can find them here:

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actor

Early 2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Supporting Actress

For the 2020 ceremony, my earliest projections in Best Actor yielded two correct picks: winner Anthony Hopkins (The Father) and Gary Oldman (Mank). Steven Yeun (Minari) was listed in other possibilities. I had Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) in the top five for Actor, but he ended up going supporting and won in that race. On the flip side, I had Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) originally projected in supporting and he went lead. The only player in the quintet not mentioned at first was Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal).

Let’s get to it with the first take where all five of my initial nominees are either past nominees (Cumberbatch, Driver, Smith) or winners (Bale, Washington).

EARLY OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST ACTOR

Christian Bale, Canterbury Glass

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Adam Driver, House of Gucci

Will Smith, King Richard

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Other Possibilities:

Clifton Collins Jr., Jockey

Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley

Matt Damon, Stillwater

Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

Adam Driver, Annette

Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom!

Cooper Hoffman, Soggy Bottom

Amir Jadidi, A Hero

Joaquin Phoenix, C’Mon C’Mon

Best Actress is up next!

2020 Final Oscar Predictions

Blogger’s Note (04/23): After ever more careful consideration, I have decided to change my Best Actress prediction again. I am not reverting back to Carey Mulligan instead of Viola Davis. Did I mention this is a tough category??

Blogger’s Note (04/21): After careful consideration, I have decided to change my Best Actress prediction from my original Monday (04/19) post. Carey Mulligan is out in favor of Viola Davis… no other predictions have changed.

And here we go! After 8 months of lots and lots of speculation, it’s time to make my final picks in the races covering feature length films. I have finished up my 33 posts covering the nominees in Best Picture, Director and the four acting races.

The 93rd Academy Awards airs this Sunday evening. A couple of quick note before delving into the forecasts on the 20 categories. There are surefire frontrunners in a lot of competitions this year and that includes Picture, Director, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress (as well as most technical races). The real drama lies in the two leading acting competitions, especially Best Actress.

For each race, I will name my predicted winner and what I believe to be the runner-up. Without further adieu, let’s get to it!

Best Picture

Nominees: The Father, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis: Nomadland has taken all the precursors it needs to: Globes, SAG, Critics Choice, BAFTA. I would say that in most recent years, there’s been some drama in Best Picture. Not this year. If there’s any chance of an upset, it could be Minari or Promising Young Woman. For a Green Book type of upset, that could be The Trial of the Chicago 7 and that’s what I’m picking as my #2. Yet let me be clear: anything not named Nomadland taking the biggest prize would be a huge upset at this point.

Predicted Winner: Nomadland

Runner-Up: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Director

Nominees: Lee Isaac Chung (Minari), Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), David Fincher (Mank), Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round), Chloe Zhao (Nomadland)

Analysis: For reasons expressed above, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Chloe Zhao getting the gold. She’s won all the precursors and it’s difficult to even name a runner-up (I’ll go Fincher I suppose).

Predicted Winner: Chloe Zhao, Nomadland

Runner-Up: David Fincher, Mank

Best Actress

Nominees: Viola Davis (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Andra Day (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Vanessa Kirby (Pieces of a Woman), Frances McDormand (Nomadland), Carey Mulligan (Promising Young Woman)

Analysis: Ugh. This is literally the most head scratching race of all. There is no favorite as the major precursors have split. Andra Day, in an upset, took the Globe. Carey Mulligan won Critics Choice. Viola Davis is the SAG recipient. Frances Mcdormand is the BAFTA victor. All of those precursors have a good or very good record of predicting the eventual Academy winner. Confused yet? Me too.

Vanessa Kirby is the least likely to take this and it’s not out of the question that she could. Day’s omission from SAG makes it tough for me to predict her. So we are left with Davis, McDormand, and Mulligan and they all could certainly be making a podium trip. With Nomadland almost surely taking Pic and Director and McDormand’s BAFTA win, it’s tempting to pick her. However, she’s won twice already and the last time was just three years ago. Promising Young Woman did very well in grabbing 5 nominations. Mulligan is a highly respected actress who’s only been nominated once before and this is a showy role that got a lot of attention. Davis’s SAG victory makes me lean toward her, but the Academy not giving Rainey a Best Picture nod gives me some pause.

So… my final decision is Mulligan… with zero degree of confidence. There’s great narratives for McDormand, Mulligan, and Davis so roll the dice with your pick and see what happens!

Predicted Winner: Carey Mulligan, Promising Young Woman

Runner-Up: Viola Davis, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Actor

Nominees: Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), Anthony Hopkins (The Father), Gary Oldman (Mank), Steven Yeun (Minari)

Analysis: For the duration of the precursor season, the late Chadwick Boseman appeared on a glide path to Oscar coronation. That’s until Anthony Hopkins took the BAFTA and made this race considerably more interesting. I will also say that Riz Ahmed has his supporters, but this is a two person race. I do truly believe Hopkins has a very good shot, but I ultimately just can’t pick against Boseman.

Predicted Winner: Chadwick Boseman, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Runner-Up: Anthony Hopkins, The Father

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), Amanda Seyfried (Mank), Yuh-jung Youn (Minari)

Analysis: This was a wide open category for a while, but Yuh-jung Youn’s recent victories at SAG and BAFTA came at the right time. There is upset potential from both Maria Bakalova and the eight times nominated and never won Glenn Close, but Youn is the safest pick.

Predicted Winner: Yuh-jung Youn, Minari

Runner-Up: Maria Bakalova, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), Leslie Odom Jr. (One Night in Miami), Paul Raci (Sound of Metal), Lakeith Stanfield (Judas and the Black Messiah)

Analysis: Daniel Kaluuya has steamrolled through precursors and this is definitely the easiest pick of the acting derbies. I’m not even the least bit worried about his costar Lakeith Stanfield splitting votes.

Predicted Winner: Daniel Kaluuya, Judas and the Black Messiah

Runner-Up: Sacha Baron Cohen, The Trial of the Chicago 7 (I guess)

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Judas and the Black Messiah, Minari, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis: If Mulligan doesn’t win Best Actress (which is quite possible), Promising should still walk away with a win here. Minari and Trial are threats, but feeling pretty confident with this one.

Predicted Winner: Promising Young Woman

Runner-Up: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, The Father, Nomadland, One Night in Miami, The White Tiger

Analysis: While Nomadland looks like a shoo-in in Picture, I could see The Father threatening it in this race. I’m really tempted to go with it, but I’m sticking with Nomadland. Don’t be surprised if The Father takes this though.

Predicted Winner: Nomadland

Runner-Up: The Father

Best Animated Feature

Nominees: Onward, Over the Moon, A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, Soul, Wolfwalkers

Analysis: Not wasting much word count here. Pixar is dominant in this category. Soul has dominated the other shows.

Predicted Winner: Soul

Runner-Up: Wolfwalkers

Best Documentary Feature

Nominees: Collective, Crip Camp, The Mole Agent, My Octopus Teacher, Time

Analysis: My Octopus Teacher has surprisingly emerged as the favorite due to precursor wins. There’s certainly a narrative for its win as the other more serious selections could split votes. That said, while Octopus is the safe pick, I’m going for a bit of an upset with the acclaimed Time. For those filling out ballots for work and friend pools, Octopus might be the way to go.

Predicted Winner: Time

Runner-Up: My Octopus Teacher

Best International Feature Film

Nominees: Another Round, Better Days, Collective, The Man Who Sold His Skin, Quo Vadis, Aida?

Analysis: It’s going to be Another Round. It’s wrapped up the precursors it needs and it would be foolish to pick against it.

Predicted Winner: Another Round

Runner-Up: Quo Vadis, Aida?

Best Cinematography

Nominees: Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, News of the World, Nomadland, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis: Mank could be and should be a trendy upset choice, but Nomadland is most likely to grab this.

Predicted Winner: Nomadland

Runner-Up: Mank

Best Costume Design

Nominees: Emma, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Mulan, Pinocchio

Analysis: Another sturdy frontrunner here with Ma Rainey.

Predicted Winner: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Runner-Up: Emma

Best Film Editing

Nominees: The Father, Nomadland, Promising Young Woman, Sound of Metal, The Trial of the Chicago 7

Analysis: For some time, it looked like this might be the one award Trial would receive. And then Sound of Metal started winning the big precursors. Sound is probably a little ahead by most standards, but I’m still leaning Trial for its flashier editing. This is essentially a coin flip in my view.

Predicted Winner: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Runner-Up: Sound of Metal

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees: Emma, Hillbilly Elegy, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, Pinocchio

Analysis: Another tech race where Rainey seems way out in front.

Predicted Winner: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Runner-Up: Pinocchio

Best Original Score

Nominees: Da 5 Bloods, Mank, Minari, News of the World, Soul

Analysis: Like in Animated Feature, Soul has killed it in the precursors. This is not a tough choice.

Predicted Winner: Soul

Runner-Up: Minari

Best Original Song

Nominees: “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah, “Hear My Voice” from The Trial of the Chicago 7, “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, “lo si (Seen)” from The Life Ahead, “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami

Analysis: This is a tough choice. I’ve had this nagging feeling that if “Husavik” got in, it could definitely win and I still feel that way. Then there’s Diane Warren who’s behind “lo si”. She’s been nominated 12 times without a win and the overdue factor is real. “Speak Now” is probably the safe choice. I really believe that we could see a surprise here, but I’ll reluctantly stick with Leslie Odom Jr. getting an Oscar for the One Night in Miami track.

Predicted Winner: “Speak Now” from One Night in Miami

Runner-Up: “lo si (Seen)” from The Life Ahead

Best Production Design

Nominees: The Father, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank, News of the World, Tenet

Analysis: This is absolutely where Mank should win and that means I think it goes 1/10.

Predicted Winner: Mank

Runner-Up: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Best Sound

Nominees: Greyhound, Mank, News of the World, Soul, Sound of Metal

Analysis: Sound of Metal has had this wrapped up for some time. Plain and simple.

Predicted Winner: Sound of Metal

Runner-Up: Soul

Best Visual Effects

Nominees: Love and Monsters, The Midnight Sky, Mulan, The One and Only Ivan, Tenet

Analysis: This appears to be a two picture battle between The Midnight Sky and Tenet, but the latter seems to have moved fairly comfortably in front.

Predicted Winner: Tenet

Runner-Up: The Midnight Sky

That means I believe the following pictures will walk away with these numbers in terms of victories:

4 Wins

Nomadland

3 Wins

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

2 Wins

Promising Young Woman, Soul

1 Win

Another Round, Judas and the Black Messiah, Mank, Minari, One Night in Miami, Sound of Metal, Tenet, Time, The Trial of the Chicago 7

For the 8 Best Picture hopefuls, I’m projecting that only The Father will go home completely empty-handed (though it could certainly happen to Trial as well).

I will, of course, have a recap up with my thoughts on the show and how I did shortly after Sunday’s ceremony. Stay tuned!

Oscars 2020: The Case of Paul Raci

My Case Of posts in the Supporting Actor category has reached Paul Raci in Sound of Metal. If you missed the ones focused on Sacha Baron Cohen (The Trial of the Chicago 7), Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah), and Leslie Odom, Jr. (One Night in Miami), you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/01/oscars-2020-the-case-of-sacha-baron-cohen/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/07/oscars-2020-the-case-of-daniel-kaluuya/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/11/oscars-2020-the-case-of-leslie-odom-jr/

The Case for Paul Raci

It’s a great narrative. The 73-year-old character actor has gone from unknown to critical darling as Riz Ahmed’s mentor in Metal. Critics groups have honored him with several wins and he received a nomination at the Critics Choice Awards.

The Case Against Paul Raci

Raci did not, however, manage to nab a SAG or a Golden Globe nod. And you don’t really get the Oscar without either one of those. Furthermore, it’s been a clean sweep at the major precursors for Daniel Kaluuya and he remains the heavy favorite.

The Verdict

Raci’s journey to the Oscars from relative obscurity is quite a story, but the sound of his name won’t be called on Oscar evening.

My Case Of posts will continue with Chloe Zhao’s direction of Nomadland…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman (Mank) is the fourth thespian in my Case Of posts for the Best Actor Oscar contenders. If you missed the ones covering Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal), Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), and Anthony Hopkins (The Father), they’re here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/28/oscars-2020-the-case-of-riz-ahmed/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/04/oscars-2020-the-case-of-chadwick-boseman/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/10/oscars-2020-the-case-of-anthony-hopkins/

The Case for Gary Oldman

He’s considered one of the finest actors working today and he found a plum role as Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz in David Fincher’s Netflix pic. Oldman has found success in all the significant precursors garnering nods for this third Academy mention. His first came in 2011 for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and he won the gold three years ago for Darkest Hour.

The Case Against Gary Oldman

In 2017, Oldman was a strong favorite for months and it paid off in victory. This is not the case for 2020. While Mank received the most nominations, it missed in key races like Original Screenplay and Editing. None of the precursors nods have resulted in wins.

The Verdict

Oldman is firmly behind Boseman, Hopkins, and Ahmed as far as chances for winning and might even be fifth when you take Steven Yeun (Minari) into account.

My Case Of posts will continue with Oldman’s Mank costar Amanda Seyfried…

Oscars 2020: The Case of Anthony Hopkins

The work of Anthony Hopkins in The Father is my third Case Of post for the five Best Actor contenders. If you missed the first two for Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) and Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom), you can find them here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/03/28/oscars-2020-the-case-of-riz-ahmed/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2021/04/04/oscars-2020-the-case-of-chadwick-boseman/

The Case for Anthony Hopkins

Nearly 30 years after winning Best Actor for his iconic role as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, the 83-year-old Hopkins is receiving some of the best reviews of his career for Florian Zeller’s Alzheimer’s drama. This is his sixth nod overall and his second in a row after last year’s supporting turn in The Two Popes. Hopkins is a beloved actor who has been seen a strong candidate in this race ever since it debuted at Sundance back in January 2020.

The Case Against Anthony Hopkins

Simply put: Chadwick Boseman. All major precursors have bestowed their honors on the late performer’s role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 

The Verdict

It’s hard to imagine Boseman not taking the gold at this point, but Hopkins and Riz Ahmed (Sound of Metal) are looked at the only two potential spoilers. If Hopkins were to win BAFTA tomorrow, perhaps that will feed more speculation. However, Boseman is the heavy favorite.

My Case Of posts will continue with The Father costar Olivia Colman…