Oscar Predictions: Lucy and Desi

At last weekend’s Oscars, Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem were both nominated as Lucy (as in Lucille Ball) and Desi (as in Arnaz) for Being the Ricardos. We could see the couple/sitcom stars represented at next year’s ceremony in documentary form.

Lucy and Desi premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime. It was directed by another famed TV comedienne – Amy Poehler. Reviews stand at 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Docs about notable entertainment subjects often fail to garner the attention of Academy voters. Recent omissions from the five nominees in the race include Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (Mister Rogers) and Julia (2021’s feature about Julia Child). Despite the pleasing critical reaction, I suspect Lucy and Desi could suffer the same fate. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

2021 Oscars: FINAL Winner Predictions

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

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

Or The Power of the Dog?

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

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

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

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

Best Picture

Nominees:

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Drive My Car

Dune

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Commentary:

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

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

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

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

CODA

Best Director

Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Best Actress

Nominees:

Jessicas Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Riunner-Up:

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Best Actor

Nominees:

Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Andrew Garfield, tick, tick… Boom!

Will Smith, King Richard

Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Will Smith, King Richard

Runner-Up:

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees:

Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Judi Dench, Belfast

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Runner-Up:

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Commentary: 

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Runner-Up:

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog 

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees:

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

The Worst Person in the World

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Belfast

Runner-Up:

Licorice Pizza

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees

CODA

Drive My Car

Dune

The Lost Daughter

The Power of the Dog 

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up:

CODA

Best Animated Feature

Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Raya and the Last Dragon

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Encanto

Runner-Up:

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Best International Feature Film

Nominees:

Drive My Car

Flee

The Hand of God

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

The Worst Person in the World

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Drive My Car

Runner-Up:

The Worst Person in the World

Best Documentary Feature

Nominees:

Ascension

Attica

Flee

Summer of Soul

Writing with Fire

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Summer of Soul

Runner-Up:

Flee

Best Cinematography

Nominees:

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Commentary: 

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

The Power of the Dog

Best Costume Design

Nominees:

Cruella

Cyrano

Dune

Nightmare Alley

West Side Story

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Cruella

Runner-Up:

Dune

Best Film Editing

Nominees:

Don’t Look Up

Dune

King Richard

The Power of the Dog

tick, tick… Boom!

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

King Richard

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees:

Coming 2 America

Cruella

Dune

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

House of Gucci

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Runner-Up:

House of Gucci

Best Original Score

Nominees:

Don’t Look Up

Dune

Encanto

Parallel Mothers

The Power of the Dog

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

The Power of the Dog

Best Original Song

Nominees:

“Be Alive” from King Richard

“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

“Down to Joy” from Belfast

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

“Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto

Runner-Up:

“No Time to Die” from No Time to Die

Best Production Design

Nominees:

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Commentary:

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

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

West Side Story

Best Sound

Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

No Time to Die

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Commentary:

See Production Design

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

West Side Story

Best Visual Effects

Nominees:

Dune

Free Guy

No Time to Die

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Commentary:

See Production Design

PREDICTED WINNER:

Dune

Runner-Up:

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

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

6 Wins

Dune

3 Wins

The Power of the Dog

2 Wins

Encanto, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

1 Win

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

Make sure to check out the blog post ceremony!

2021 SAG Awards Reaction: CODA Moment

The eyes of Oscar prognosticators were focused on this evening’s SAG Awards and it provided some further suspense as we figure out who will be taking the Academy’s gold.

Let’s get the particulars out of the way as I went 3 for 5 (just like last year). One burning question was whether Best Actress would continue to be a free for all of unpredictability. And it did as Jessica Chastain took SAG for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. She was runner-up over my pick of Globe winner Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos). This puts Chastain in a better position to take the Oscar, but the race is far from decided.

As for Actor and Supporting Actress – SAG followed the Globes lead with Will Smith (King Richard) and Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) respectively. It solidifies their status as Academy frontrunners and matches my projections. I wouldn’t bet against either come Oscar time, but let’s see if the forthcoming BAFTAs can change the narrative.

I also called Troy Kotsur (CODA) for Supporting Actor yet that Academy competition is hardly over as Globes recipient Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog) should make it interesting.

CODA turned out to be the big winner of the night as it also took Best Ensemble. Not bad for a Sundance darling that Apple TV purchased the streaming rights for. It was my runner-up pick to Belfast, which could have used a trophy this evening for momentum.

While CODA‘s impressive showing could lead to dark horse predictions for it to nab Best Picture in a month, I wouldn’t go too far down the rabbit hole as The Power of the Dog still looks to be the odds on favorite.

And there you have it, folks! My Oscar speculation will keep rolling for the next four weeks!

Oscars 2021: The Case of Troy Kotsur

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

Oscars 2021: The Case of Ciaran Hinds

The Case for Troy Kotsur:

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

The Case Against Troy Kotsur:

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

Previous Nominations:

None

The Verdict:

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

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

Oscars 2021: The Case of CODA

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

Oscars 2021: The Case of Belfast

The Case for CODA

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

The Cast Against CODA

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

The Verdict

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

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

Oscar Predictions: Sharp Stick

Lena Dunham gained notoriety through her HBO series Girls and five years after its conclusion, she’s brought her directorial effort Sharp Stick to Sundance. The comedy stars Kristine Froseth, Taylour Paige, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jon Bernthal, Scott Speedman, Tommy Dorfman, and Dunham herself.

Stick is measured at just 45% on Rotten Tomatoes and is one of the festival titles that drew a truly mixed to negative reaction. While Girls received plenty of Emmy nominations during its run, awards chatter is highly unlikely to materialize for Dunham’s cinematic project. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Navalny

Focused on the Russian opposition leader who was mysteriously poisoned in 2020, Navalny struck a chord with Sundance festival goers and won the documentary audience award and festival favorite prize.

It comes from filmmaker Daniel Roher and is slated for distribution on CNN and via HBO Max in the early portion of the year. Standing at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, this will attempt to carry its buzz forward through awards season and could absolutely be a factor in the Doc Feature competition at next year’s Oscars.

Sundance is often a successful launching pad in the genre. Last year, a third of the 15 doc contenders (including Flee, Faye Dayi, and Summer of Soul) got their starts in Park City. Navalny may be on the list this time in 2023 and my Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.

Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. (that’s how the title is indeed punctuated) is based on a 2018 short film and the elongated version is a mockumentary starring Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown as Atlanta megachurch leaders whose congregation isn’t as mega as it used to be. Adamma Ebo directs the indie satire which premiered at Sundance.

Reviews so far translate to 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, but plenty of them point out that it’s flawed. Praise for the leads is there. In 2018, Hall picked up some critics awards for Support the Girls. It doesn’t appear that’ll happen here. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Am I Ok?

Comedian Tig Notaro and actress Stephanie Allynne, who are married in real life, direct the tale of a same sex couple in Am I Ok?, which debuted at Sundance. The dramedy stars Dakota Johnson and Sonoya Mizuno with a supporting cast featuring Jermaine Fowler, Kiersey Clemons, Molly Gordon, Sean Hayes, and Notaro herself.

Critical reaction stands at 83% on Rotten Tomatoes though there’s a few notices that skew negative. Johnson is having a busy Sundance as Cha Cha Real Smooth is being called a crowdpleaser where some reviews hail it as her career best work.

Am I Ok? is unlikely to nab any awards buzz. Johnson’s other effort could be a different story. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Cha Cha Real Smooth

Cha Cha Real Smooth comes from writer/director Cooper Raiff and its Sundance premiere is garnering solid buzz (86% on Rotten Tomatoes so far). The filmmaker himself stars as a bar mitzvah party starter who befriends a single mom (Dakota Johnson). Leslie Mann and Brad Garrett costar.

Many reviews indicate this could be a breakout crowdpleaser. Whether that word-of-mouth means anything to awards voters is questionable. However it’s worth mentioning that Johnson is receiving some career best talk. Ever since (or in spite of) her breakout role in Fifty Shades of Grey, the actress is slowly becoming a bit of a critical darling. Her recent supporting turn in The Lost Daughter was well received and she’s got another lead part in another fest offering Am I Ok? (which I’ll get to on the blog shortly).

I doubt Cha Cha is the role that nabs Johnson her first Academy mention, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…