2021 Oscar Predictions: October 10th Edition

It is a week of fairly minor movement in the major categories for my Oscar predictions. Even the five spot in Best Actor (which seems to change each week) remained intact.

There is a switch in Actress with Jennifer Hudson (Respect) back in over Frances McDormand (The Tragedy of Macbeth).

The biggest happenings occurred in International Feature Film as nations are continuing to announce their submissions or shortlists in that race. We learned that Spain has gone with The Good Boss instead of Parallel Mothers (a surprise) and that France did not shortlist Petite Maman (which I had in the 5 slot). It’s out in favor of Happening. 

You can read all the activity below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. The Power of the Dog (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Licorice Pizza (PR: 4) (E)

5. Dune (PR: 5) (E)

6. King Richard (PR: 6) (E)

7. West Side Story (PR: 8) (+1)

8. House of Gucci (PR: 7) (-1)

9. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 9) (E)

10. Spencer (PR: 10) (E)

Other Possibilities:

11. Don’t Look Up (PR: 11) (E)

12. Mass (PR: 14) (+2)

13. Flee (PR: 12) (-1)

14. CODA (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

A Hero

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Denis Villeneuve, Dune (PR: 4) (E)

5. Paul Thoms Anderson, Licorice Pizza (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Pablo Larrain, Spencer (PR: 9) (+3)

7. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Joel Coen, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Reinaldo Marcus Green, King Richard (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Ridley Scott, House of Gucci (PR: 6) (-4)

Dropped Out:

Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Flee

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 2) (E)

3. Lady Gaga, House of Gucci (PR: 3) (E)

4. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter (PR: 4) (E)

5. Jennifer Hudson, Respect (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Frances McDormand, The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Jodie Comer, The Last Duel (PR: 8) (E)

9. Rachel Zegler, West Side Story (PR: 9) (E)

10. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Will Smith, King Richard (PR: 1) (E)

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

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

4. Peter Dinklage, Cyrano (PR: 4) (E)

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

Other Possibilities:

6. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom! (PR: 9) (+3)

7. Bradley Cooper, Nightmare Alley (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Adam Driver, House of Gucci (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Nicolas Cage, Pig (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Clifton Collins, Jr., Jockey (PR: 10) (E)

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Caitriona Balfe, Belfast (PR: 1) (E)

2. Ann Dowd, Mass (PR: 2) (E)

3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog (PR: 3) (E)

4. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story (PR: 4) (E)

5. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Judi Dench, Belfast (PR: 9) (+3)

7. Marlee Matlin, CODA (PR: 7) (E)

8. Jayne Houdyshell, The Humans (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Ruth Negga, Passing (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Martha Plimpton, Mass (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Kathryn Hunter, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jamie Dornan, Belfast (PR: 2) (E)

3. Jason Isaacs, Mass (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Richard Jenkins, The Humans (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Jared Leto, House of Gucci (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Kodi Smith-McPhee, The Power of the Dog (PR: 6) (E)

7. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast (PR: Not Ranked)

8. Ben Affleck, The Tender Bar (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Troy Kotsur, CODA (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Andrew Garfield, The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 7) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Jon Bernthal, King Richard

Corey Hawkins, The Tragedy of Macbeth 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Belfast (PR: 1) (E)

2. Licorice Pizza (PR: 2) (E)

3. King Richard (PR: 3) (E)

4. Mass (PR: 4) (E)

5. C’Mon C’Mon (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Spencer (PR: 6) (E)

7. Don’t Look Up (PR: 7) (E)

8. A Hero (PR: 8) (E)

9. Parallel Mothers (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 10) (E)

Dropped Out:

The Hand of God

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Power of the Dog (PR: 1) (E)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (E)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 3) (E)

4. The Humans (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Lost Daughter (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 6) (E)

7. Dune (PR: 8) (+1)

8. West Side Story (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Passing (PR: 10) (+1)

10. The Tender Bar (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Flee (PR: 1) (E)

2. Encanto (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Luca (PR: 2) (-1)

4. The Mitchells vs. the Machines (PR: 4 (E)

5. Belle (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Raya and the Last Dragon (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Vivo (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Where Is Anne Frank (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Ron’s Gone Wrong (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Marcel the Shell With Shoes On (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. A Hero (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Worst Person in the World (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Flee (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Happening (PR: 7) (+3)

5. The Hand of God (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Drive My Car (PR: 8) (+2)

7. Compartment No. 6 (PR: 9) (+2)

8. 7 Prisoners (PR: 10) (+2)

9. I’m Your Man (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Good Boss (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Petite Maman

Parallel Mothers

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Rescue (PR: 1) (E)

2. Flee (PR: 2) (E)

3. Summer of Soul (PR: 3) (E)

4. Attica (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Lost Leonardo (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. President (PR: 6) (E)

7. Becoming Cousteau (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Julia (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The Velvet Underground (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The First Wave (PR: 7) (-3)

Dropped Out:

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 2) (+1)

2. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Nightmare Alley (PR: 3) (E)

4. Belfast (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Power of the Dog (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. West Side Story (PR: 6) (E)

7. Spencer (PR: 7) (E)

8. Licorice Pizza (PR: 8) (E)

9. Cyrano (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The French Dispatch (PR: 10) (E)

Dropped Out:

No Time to Die

Best Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Cruella (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Spencer (PR: 1) (-1)

3. House of Gucci (PR: 3) (E)

4. Dune (PR: 4) (E)

5. West Side Story (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nightmare Alley (PR: 6) (E)

7. The French Dispatch (PR: 9) (+2)

8. Cyrano (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Licorice Pizza (PR: 7) (-2)

10. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 8) (-2)

Best Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. Belfast (PR: 3) (+1)

3. West Side Story (PR: 5) (+2)

4. Nightmare Alley (PR: 2) (-2)

5. King Richard (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Power of the Dog (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Licorice Pizza (PR: 4) (-3)

8. Don’t Look Up (PR: 8) (E)

9. House of Gucci (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Spencer (PR: 9) (-1)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. House of Gucci (PR: 1) (E)

2. Spencer (PR: 4) (+2)

3. Dune (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Cruella (PR: 5) (+1)

5. The Suicide Squad (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (PR: 3) (-3)

7. Nightmare Alley (PR: 6) (-1)

8. The Green Knight (PR: 10) (+2)

9. Cyrano (PR: Not Ranked)

10. West Side Story (PR: 8) (-2)

Dropped Out:

Licorice Pizza

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. Spencer (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Power of the Dog (PR: 3) (E)

4. The French Dispatch (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Nightmare Alley (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 7) (+1)

7. Belfast (PR: 9) (+2)

8. King Richard (PR: 8) (E)

9. Licorice Pizza (PR: 6) (-3)

10. Don’t Look Up (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:


Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Be Alive” from King Richard (PR: 1) (E)

2. “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die (PR: 2) (E)

3. “Colombia, Mi Encanto” from Encanto (PR: 3) (E)

4. “Down to Joy” from Belfast (PR: 4) (E)

5. “Here I Am” from Respect (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. “So May We Start” from Annette (PR: 5) (-1)

7. “Believe” from The Rescue (PR: 8) (+1)

8. “Don’t Look Up” from Don’t Look Up (PR: Not Ranked)

9. “Every Letter” from Cyrano (PR: 7) (-2)

10. “Anonymous Ones” from Dear Evan Hansen (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

“At the Automat” from The Automat

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Nightmare Alley (PR: 1) (-1)

3. West Side Story (PR: 4) (+1)

4. The French Dispatch (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Cyrano (PR: 9) (+4)

Other Possibilities:

6. Spencer (PR: 6) (E)

7. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 10) (+3)

8. Belfast (PR: 5) (-3)

9. The Power of the Dog (PR: 7) (-2)

10. The Last Duel (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Licorice Pizza

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. West Side Story (PR: 2) (E)

3. No Time to Die (PR: 5) (+2)

4. Belfast (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Tragedy of Macbeth (PR: 3) (-2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Nightmare Alley (PR: 6) (E)

7. Don’t Look Up (PR: Not Ranked)

8. A Quiet Place Part II (PR: 8) (E)

9. King Richard (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Cyrano (PR: 10) (E)

Dropped Out:

The Matrix Resurrections


Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Dune (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Matrix Resurrections (PR: 2) (E)

3. Eternals (PR: 3) (E)

4. Godzilla vs. Kong (PR: 4) (E)

5. Don’t Look Up (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Free Guy (PR: 9) (+2)

8. The Suicide Squad (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Spider-Man: No Way Home (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Jungle Cruise (PR: 10) (E)

And that equates to the following breakdown in terms of nominations for the pictures:

10 Nominations


9 Nominations


7 Nominations

Nightmare Alley, The Power of the Dog

6 Nominations

House of Gucci, King Richard, West Side Story

5 Nominations


4 Nominations

Licorice Pizza, The Tragedy of Macbeth

3 Nominations

Flee, Mass

2 Nominations

C’Mon C’Mon, Cruella, Cyrano, Encanto, The French Dispatch, The Humans, The Lost Daughter, No Time to Die, Respect

1 Nomination

Attica, Belle, Eternals, Don’t Look Up, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Godzilla vs. Kong, The Hand of God, Happening, A Hero, The Lost Leonardo, Luca, The Matrix Resurrections, The Mitchells vs. the Machines, The Rescue, The Suicide Squad, Summer of Soul, The Worst Person in the World 

Oscar Watch: The Velvet Underground

The 2021 crop of documentary hopefuls has the potential to be quite a sonically pleasing affair. Just recently, I discussed Questlove’s heralded Summer of Soul which seems like a surefire contender. We also have acclaimed directors known most for non-docs staking a claim in the subgenre.

At the Cannes Film Festival, Todd Haynes has just debuted The Velvet Underground. Focused on the influential NYC band featuring Lou Reed, this is yet another acclaimed example of an auteur dipping back into the musical vaults. Edgar Wright did so earlier this year with The Sparks Brothers. Peter Jackson has his three-part The Beatles: Get Back hitting Disney Plus in November.

Haynes is most known for numerous indie darlings. His screenplay for 2002’s Far from Heaven was nominated, but he was surprisingly not mentioned for directing or writing with 2015’s Carol. Could the Academy recognize him here?

It’s now standard practice on the blog to point out that the Academy’s documentary branch is a fickle bunch. There could simply be too many rock docs competing against each other (and I’d certainly give Soul an edge over this). However, depending on the forthcoming competition, there could potentially be room for this Underground offering. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…

2021 Oscars: A Mid-Year Report

We have somehow reached the midpoint of 2021 and that means it is time to take stock in the Oscar contenders that have been released or screened so far. In short, we are talking about fairly slim pickings.

That is not rare. The bulk of the Best Picture nominees are typically unveiled between September-December of a given year (or in the case of 2020 – January or February of 2021 as well). For the previous Academy Awards, not one of the 8 BP contenders were distributed in the first half of the year. However, 3 of them (The Father, Sound of Metal, Promising Young Woman) premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020. Another (Sound of Metal) was screened all the way back in September 2019 during Toronto’s festival.

As a reminder, Oscar rules were altered moving forward starting with next year’s ceremony. There will be a fixed number of 10 BP nominees (thank goodness). As I see it, the 2021 Sundance Fest gave us three potential hopefuls in the big race: Sian Heder’s Coda, Rebecca Hall’s Passing, and Fran Kranz’s Mass. 

Coda and Mass, in particular, seem like real possibilities. The former, in addition to a Picture nod, could see itself as a contender for Emilia Jones in Actress and Marlee Matlin in Supporting Actress. The latter sports a quarter of performers (Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd, Reed Birney) that could find themselves in the mix. Passing, while more of a long shot for BP, features Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga and they will likely be campaigning.

How about movies that didn’t go the Sundance route? The obvious one is In the Heights from Jon M. Chu. The musical garnered glowing reviews when it premiered in theaters and on HBO Max last month. However, its surprisingly lackluster box office grosses may hinder its chances. Time will tell.

There are already three released animated features that could make the final five: The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Luca, and Raya and the Last Dragon. I think the first two have strong chances while Raya is more of a question mark. Flee, which screened at Sundance, was critically hailed and it could find itself competing here and in Documentary Feature.

As for other docs, keep an eye out for Summer of Saul (which actually releases tomorrow) and Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain.

And when we look at below the line categories, there’s Cruella. Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling are two derbies where it could not only be nominated, but prevail. I also wouldn’t completely count out Coming 2 America for the same categories. The Sound race is open for A Quiet Place Part II. Godzilla vs. Kong is a hopeful in Visual Effects.

Bottom line: expect nearly all of 2021’s Best Picture players to see their release dates in the next six months. At least two could come from Sundance with Heights hoping its box office fall doesn’t sink its chances.

Oscar Watch: Summer of Soul

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson has had a sterling career with his rap group The Roots and as Jimmy’s Fallon’s Tonight Show bandleader over the years. He can now add acclaimed documentary filmmaker to his resume with Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised). The film focuses on the Harlem Cultural Festival, a series of concerts featuring the likes of Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight & The Pips, and Sly and the Family Stone that took place in the summer of 1989. That also happened to be the season of another festival named Woodstock.

Soul premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to massive acclaim and ended up taking that festival’s Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize. The doc hits theaters and Hulu streaming this Friday. More reviews have come in and it stands at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Will the Sundance love translate to Oscar voters? Every time I write about documentaries in these posts, I must point out the Academy’s branch in that category is notoriously unpredictable. Oftentimes, the most hailed and popular docs don’t make the cut. I suspect distributor Fox Searchlight will give this a major push and that could put it over the edge. That said, projecting the pics of this genre which make it in is always a tricky proposition. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…