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 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: The Son

Two awards seasons ago, Florian Zeller’s The Father premiered at Sundance all the way back at a time known as January 2020. For over a year (and with the Oscars delayed due to COVID), the performance of Anthony Hopkins stayed in the minds of voters and he scored an upset Best Actor victory over the late Chadwick Boseman (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom). The pic nabbed five other nominations including a win for its Adapted Screenplay.

Zeller’s follow-up is The Son and prognosticators including me anointed Hugh Jackman as the Best Actor frontrunner sight unseen. That dynamic has changed as it’s screened at Venice before moving to Toronto (the actual release is November 11th). The supporting cast includes Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, Zen McGrath, and Hopkins.

Unlike The Father where reviews were basically all laudatory, the Italian buzz for The Son is wildly mixed. Some are calling it an emotional gut punch and highly effective. Others are claiming it’s a big failure. If there seems to be agreement on one item, it’s the potency of Jackman. He still seems likely to make the Actor cut for his second nod after 2012’s Les Miserables. Yet I’m feeling more confident that I made the right call by placing Brendan Fraser (The Whale) in 1st place on Monday’s update and sliding Jackman to second.

Beyond its star, any other nominations for The Son appears questionable at press time. Perhaps Toronto reaction will help flesh it out – for better or worse. From the initial reaction, I’d say Kirby and McGrath could be possible in the supporting fields. Hopkins is said to have a smaller role and Dern’s character reportedly has less to work with than Kirby. It could find its way into Adapted Screenplay, but a win seems like a reach already.

Bottom line: Jackman should be safe though nothing else is with this one. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscar Predictions: Empire of Light

Empire of Light is the ninth feature film from Sam Mendes. Six of his previous eight titles received at least one Oscar nod. His debut, 1999’s American Beauty, won Best Picture and Director. His last, war epic 1917, garnered ten nominations and was victorious with three of them. The Mendes streak of awards success should continue with Empire of Light, which has premiered at Telluride prior to its December 9th stateside release.

Called the filmmaker’s most personal effort, Empire is a late 70s/early 80s set celebration of cinema with a May/December romance between leads Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward. Costars include Tom Brooke, Toby Jones, and Colin Firth.

We are early in the review process and some of the write-ups are rather mixed. Yet the superlatives going to Colman has me thinking she’s going to receive her fourth Academy mention in five years. She won for Best Actress in 2018 The Favourite and then nabbed a Supporting Actress nod in 2020 for The Father. A lead actress slot followed last year for The Lost Daughter. The other races where this looks strong are Cinematography from the legendary Roger Deakins and the Trent Reznior/Atticus Ross score. Production Design is also doable.

Ward’s work is also being praised. However, I’m not near as confident he makes the Actor cut. Firth’s role, by the way, sounds too small for a supporting bid. The latter’s performance and its viability could be determined by Empire‘s strength in BP (as well as the original screenplay). Voters do love movies about their industry and that could help. I don’t believe this has established a guaranteed spot among the ten. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

2022 Venice Film Festival Preview

How important is the Venice Film Festival when it comes to premiering Oscar hopefuls? In the past decade, nearly half of the Best Picture winners got their rollout in Italy. That would be Birdman, Spotlight, The Shape of Water, and Nomadland. It’s tough to find a recent Venice fest where there’s not at least 2 eventual nominees for the Academy’s biggest race.

This year’s competition kicks off tomorrow and you can anticipate plenty of individualized Oscar prediction posts coming your way. Telluride follows this weekend (with the lineup announcement on Thursday) and Toronto starts next Thursday (I’ll be there!).

Let’s take a look at ten Venice entries looking to create their Oscar buzz over the next few days…

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed 

Laura Poitras, who won an Academy Award for her 2014 Edward Snowden documentary Citizenfour, turns her eye to activist Nan Goldin and her fight against the opioid epidemic. This could certainly be a player in the Doc competition.

The Banshees of Inisherin 

The last time filmmaker Martin McDonagh, Colin Farrell, and Brendan Gleeson collaborated, the result was the acclaimed 2008 black comedy In Bruges. They’re playing in the same genre here with McDonagh’s follow-up to 2017’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which earned acting Oscars for Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell.

Bardo

3 out of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s last four films were nominated for Best Picture. Birdman took gold with Babel and The Revenant contending. Expectations are that his latest drama (available on Netflix in December) could be the streamer’s most serious contender and it could immediately become a frontrunner for International Feature Film.

Blonde

Andrew Dominik’s Marilyn Monroe biopic starring Ana de Armas (another Netflix offering) comes with an NC-17 rating and lots of prognosticators wondering if it’s too risqué to get awards attention. We’ll know soon.

Bones & All

Luca Guadagnino had a pic in the BP derby five years ago with Call Me by Your Name and then followed with the confounding Suspiria remake. This horror romance with cannibalistic themes stars Timothee Chalamet and Taylor Russell. I have’t really had this as much of a threat for the Oscar race so let’s see if that narrative shifts.

Don’t Worry Darling

Olivia Wilde’s follow-up to Booksmart is a tale of marital and suburban strife headlined by Florence Pugh and Harry Styles. The thriller  has been generating headlines for some wrong reasons lately, but great reviews could turn that buzz around.

The Son

Florian Zeller took home a Screenplay Oscar for 2020’s The Father while Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor. The Father is next and Hugh Jackman is seeking his first statue. The supporting cast includes Laura Dern, Vanessa Kirby, Zen McGrath, and Hopkins. Any and all could be in the mix for acting honors.

Tar

Cate Blanchett could be lined up for a third Oscar win in Todd Field’s latest in which the acclaimed actress plays a composer. It’s the director’s first feature in over 15 years after both In the Bedroom and Little Children received Academy nods.

The Whale

Darren Aronofsky directed Natalie Portman to the podium in 2010’s Black Swan. There’s chatter he could do the same and assist in mounting a significant career comeback for Brendan Fraser (something he did for Mickey Rourke with 2008’s The Wrestler). The Mummy star plays a 600 pound man reconnecting with his daughter (Sadie Sink).

White Noise

Noah Baumbach’s last Netflix film was the BP contending Marriage Story from 2019. His Marriage star Adam Driver is back in this adaptation of a 1980s sci-fi dark comedy. It will open Venice tomorrow and it will be my first Oscar Predictions post. Stay tuned!

22 for ’22: Oscars Early Look

It’s been an entire week since The Slap… check that, the 94th Academy Awards where CODA parlayed its Sundance buzz from January 2021 all the way to a Best Picture victory.

That also means I’ve managed to wait a whole week without speculation for the next Academy Awards which will hopefully be a slap free zone. So what are some titles that could be vying for attention?

On May 27th and after numerous delays, Top Gun: Maverick will find Tom Cruise returning to his iconic role some 36 years after the original. There’s a decent chance it could be up for similar prizes that its predecessor landed like Sound, Film Editing, and Song (courtesy of Lady Gaga apparently). Visual Effects is a possibility as well.

My weekly Oscar prediction posts won’t begin until mid to late August. In the meantime, you’ll get individualized write-ups for pics that open or screen at festivals.

Yet for today – I feel the need. The need to identify 21 other 2022 titles that might end up on the Academy’s radar. Enjoy!

Armageddon Time

Despite acclaimed movies like The Lost City of Z and Ad Astra, James Gray has yet to connect with awards voters. This drama, rumored to be centered on his Queens upbringing, is the next hopeful and features a stellar cast including Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins, and Jeremy Strong. Release Date: TBD

Avatar 2

The 2009 original amassed nine nominations and won took home three. The first sequel (there’s three more on the way) arrives in December from James Cameron. Will it capture the critical and box office magic of part one? That’s impossible to know at this juncture, but one can safely assume it’ll be up for some tech categories like Sound and Visual Effects. Release Date: December 16th

Babylon

Damien Chazelle is no stranger to the big dance. Whiplash was a BP nominee and J.K. Simmons won Supporting Actor. Chazelle took Director for his follow-up La La Land along with Emma Stone’s Actress victory and it almost famously took BP. First Man nabbed four nominations, but missed the top of the line races. Babylon is a period drama focused on Hollywood’s Golden Age and should be right up the Academy’s alley. The cast includes Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, and Tobey Maguire. Release Date: December 25th

Canterbury Glass

Robbie also turns up in David O. Russell’s latest ensemble piece. Anytime he’s behind the camera, Oscar nods typically follow (think The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle). Slated for November, the dramedy also features Christian Bale, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Zoe Saldana, Robert De Niro, Mike Myers, and… Chris Rock. Release Date: November 4th

Elvis

Arriving in June but with a Cannes unveiling in May, Baz Luhrmann’s musical bio of The King stars Austin Butler in the title role and Tom Hanks as The Colonel. If this doesn’t contend for the major awards, I would still anticipate potential tech recognition (Production Design, Sound, etc…). Release Date: June 24th

Empire of Light

Sam Mendes was likely in the runner-up position in 2019 for Picture and Director (behind Parasite) with 1917. His follow-up is an English set romance starring Olivia Colman (who would be going for her fourth nomination in five years), Michael Ward, and Colin Firth. Release Date: TBD

Everything Everywhere All at Once

From two filmmakers known collectively as Daniels, Once is already out in limited release with spectacular reviews (97% on RT). The sci-fi action comedy might be too bizarre for the Academy, but I wouldn’t count it out as its admirers are vocal. Picture, Director, Actress (Michelle Yeoh), and Original Screenplay are all on the table. Release Date: out in limited release, opens wide April 8th

The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg directs a semi-autobiographical tale and cowrites with his Lincoln and West Side Story scribe Tony Kushner. The cast includes Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, and Paul Dano. Needless to say, this is a major contender on paper. Release Date: November 23rd

Killers of the Flower Moon

Alongside The Fabelmans, this might be the most obvious nominee from a personnel standpoint. Martin Scorsese helms this western crime drama featuring Jesse Plemons, Lily Gladstone, and his two frequent collaborators Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. Apple TV just became the first streamer to get a BP victory with CODA. This could be the second in a row. Release Date: November

Poor Things

In 2018, The Favourite scored a whopping ten nominations. Based on an acclaimed 1992 novel, Poor Things is Yorgos Lanthimos’s follow-up and it reunites him with Emma Stone along with Willem Dafoe, Ramy Youssef, and Mark Ruffalo. The plot sounds bizarre but it could also be an Oscar bait role for Stone and others. Release Date: TBD

Rustin

One of Netflix’s contenders is George C. Wolfe’s profile of gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin (played by Colman Domingo). In 2020, Wolfe directed Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman to nods for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Look for Domingo to be a competitor and the supporting cast includes Chris Rock (maybe he will be back at the show), Glynn Turman, and Audra McDonald. Release Date: TBD

See How They Run

The 1950s set murder mystery could provide 27-year-old Saoirse Ronan with an opportunity to land her fifth nomination. Sam Rockwell, David Oyelowo, Adrien Brody, and Ruth Wilson are among the supporting players. Tom George directs. Release Date: TBD

She Said

Five years after the scandal rocked Hollywood, She Said from Maria Schrader recounts the New York Times sexual misconduct investigation into Harvey Weinstein. Zoe Kazan, Carey Mulligan, and Patricia Clarkson lead the cast. Release Date: November 18th

The Son

Florian Zeller won Best Adapted Screenplay in 2020 for The Father along with Anthony Hopkins taking Best Actor. This follow-up (based on the director’s play) finds Hopkins reprising his Oscar-winning part in supporting fashion. Other cast members seeking awards attention include Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, and Vanessa Kirby. Release Date: TBD

TAR

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Todd Field behind the camera. Previous efforts In the Bedroom and Little Children received 8 nominations between them. A decade and a half following Children comes this Berlin set drama with Cate Blanchett, Noemie Merlant, and Mark Strong. Release Date: October 7th

Three Thousand Years of Longing

Scheduled for a Cannes bow in May, Longing is a fantasy romance from the legendary mind of George Miller (who last made Mad Max: Fury Road which won six tech Oscars). Idris Elba and Tilda Swinton star. Release Date: TBD

The Whale

Darren Aronofsky directed Mickey Rourke to a comeback narrative nod for 2008’s The Wrestler. Two years later, his follow-up Black Swan earned Natalie Portman a statue. Brendan Fraser is hoping for the same treatment with The Whale as he plays a 600 pound man attempting to reconnect with his daughter. Costars include Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, and Samantha Morton. I’d expect Makeup and Hairstyling could also be in play with this. Release Date: TBD

White Noise

Not a remake of the Michael Keaton supernatural thriller from 2005, this is Noah Baumbach’s follow-up to Marriage Story. Based on a 1985 novel, it’s the filmmaker’s first picture based on other source material. Marriage landed three acting nods (with Laura Dern winning Supporting Actress). The cast here includes frequent Baumbach collaborator Adam Driver, real-life partner Greta Gerwig, Raffey Cassidy, Andre Benjamin, Alessandro Nivola, and Don Cheadle. This could be Netflix’s strongest contender. Release Date: TBD

The Woman King

Expect this West Afrian set historical epic from Gina Prince-Bythewood to be heavily touted by Sony with awards bait roles for leads Viola Davis and Thuso Mbedu. The supporting cast includes John Boyega and Lashana Lynch. Release Date: September 16th

Women Talking

Based on a 2018 novel, Sarah Polley writes and directs this drama focused on eight Mennonite women and their story of abuse. The sterling cast includes Frances McDormand, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, Claire Foy, and Rooney Mara. Release Date: TBD

And that’s just a small preview of the features that could materialize for the 95th Academy Awards! As always, the speculation on this site will continue throughout the year and into the next. Stay tuned…

2021 BAFTA Awards WINNERS Predictions

As if Sunday’s Critics Choice Awards weren’t enough, the British Academy Film Awards air the same day. The BAFTAs, as of late, have been a rather reliable predictor for Oscar races (especially the acting derbies). Last year, the BAFTA/Oscar matched in all 4 thespian derbies and that included the surprise Anthony Hopkins (The Father) victory over Chadwick Boseman for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 

That can’t occur this time around because none of the Best Actress contenders at BAFTA are nominated for the Academy Award (go figure!). As I have with other ceremonies, I’m giving you my winner pick with a runner-up. On Monday, expect recaps for Critics Choice and this show!

Best Film

Nominees:

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

Dune

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner: The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Belfast

Best Director

Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Audrey Diwan, Happening

Julia Ducournau, Titane

Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

Aleem Khan, After Love

Predicted Winner: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Nominees:

Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza

Emilia Jones, CODA

Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

Joanna Scanlan, After Love

Tessa Thompson, Passing

Predicted Winner: Joanna Scanlan, After Love

Runner-Up: Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Nominees:

Adeel Akhtar, Ali & Ava

Mahershala Ali, Swan Song

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up

Stephen Graham, Boiling Point

Will Smith, King Richard

Predicted Winner: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Will Smith, King Richard

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Nominees:

Caitriona Balfe, Belfast

Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Ann Dowd, Mass

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Ruth Negga, Passing

Predicted Winner: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Runner-Up: Ruth Negga, Passing

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Nominees:

Mike Faist, West Side Story

Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Troy Kotsur, CODA

Woody Norman, C’Mon C’Mon

Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: Troy Kotsur, CODA

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees:

Being the Ricardos

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Predicted Winner: Belfast

Runner-Up: Licorice Pizza

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:

CODA

Drive My Car

Dune

The Lost Daughter

The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner: The Power of the Dog

Runner-Up: The Lost Daughter

Best Animated Film

Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Predicted Winner: Flee

Runner-Up: Encanto

Best Documentary 

Nominees:

Becoming Cousteau

Cow

Flee

The Rescue

Summer of Soul

Predicted Winner: Summer of Soul

Runner-Up: Flee

Best Film Not in the English Language

Nominees:

Drive My Car

The Hand of God

Parallel Mothers

Petite Maman

The Worst Person in the World

Predicted Winner: Drive My Car

Runner-Up: The Worst Person in the World

Best Casting

Nominees:

Boiling Point

Dune

The Hand of God

King Richard

West Side Story

Predicted Winner: West Side Story

Runner-Up: Dune

Best Cinematography

Nominees:

Dune

Nightmare Alley

No Time to Die

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: The Power of the Dog

Best Costume Design

Nominees:

Cruella

Cyrano

Dune

The French Dispatch

Nightmare Alley

Predicted Winner: Cruella

Runner-Up: Dune

Best Editing

Nominees:

Belfast

Dune

Licorice Pizza

No Time to Die

Summer of Soul

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: No Time to Die

Best Makeup and Hair

Nominees:

Cruella

Cyrano

Dune

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

House of Gucci

Predicted Winner: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Runner-Up: House of Gucci

Best Original Score

Nominees:

Being the Ricardos

Don’t Look Up

Dune

The French Dispatch

The Power of the Dog

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: The Power of the Dog

Best Production Design

Nominees:

Cyrano

Dune

The French Dispatch

Nightmare Alley

West Side Story

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: Nightmare Alley

Best Sound

Nominees:

Dune

Last Night in Soho

No Time to Die

A Quiet Place Part II

West Side Story

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: No Tme to Die

Best Special Visual Effects

Nominees:

Dune

Free Guy

Ghostbusters: Afterlife 

The Matrix Resurrections

No Time to Die

Predicted Winner: Dune

Runner-Up: No Time to Die

Outstanding British Film

Nominees:

After Love

Ali & Ava

Belfast

Boiling Point

Cyrano

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie

House of Gucci

Last Night in Soho

No Time to Die

Passing

Predicted Winner: Belfast

Runner-Up: After Love

Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer

Nominees:

After Love

Boiling Point

The Harder They Fall

Keyboard Fantasies

Passing

Predicted Winner: Passing

Runner-Up: After Love

My predictions mean the following movies get these numbers of wins:

6 Wins

Dune

5 Wins

The Power of the Dog

2 Wins

Belfast, West Side Story

1 Win

After Love, Cruella, Drive My Car, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Flee, Passing, Summer of Soul

Oscars 2021: The Case of Will Smith

My fourth Case Of post for the Best Actor competitors is Will Smith in King Richard. If you missed the previous entries, they can be found here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Javier Bardem

Oscars 2021: The Case of Benedict Cumberbatch

Oscars 2021: The Case of Andrew Garfield

The Case for Will Smith:

As the doggedly determined father of eventual tennis royalty Venus and Serena Williams, Smith has held frontrunner status for months. He lost his first two bids in 2001 and 2006 for Ali and The Pursuit of Happyness, respectively. As one of the most bankable stars of the past quarter century, Hollywood could certainly feel like it’s time to honor him. The Golden Globe and SAG voters moved in the that direction as he took both awards for his work. Richard also over performed at the Oscars with six nominations.

The Case Against Will Smith:

There’s not much of one except there’s been upsets previously in this race. That includes last year when Anthony Hopkins (The Father) took the statue over the favored Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Playing the role of spoiler could be Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog, which dominated overall nods at 12. If Cumberbatch wins the Critics Choice award or BAFTA, look for plenty of chatter on the tightness of this competition.

Previous Nominations: 2

Ali (2001 – Actor); The Pursuit of Happyness (2006 – Actor)

The Verdict:

Look for Smith to be crowned the victor, but there’s a nagging feeling that Cumberbatch could surprise.

My Case Of posts will continue with Kirsten Dunst’s Supporting Actress bid for The Power of the Dog

Oscars 2021: The Case of Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch is the second Best Actor hopeful covered in my Case Of posts for that category. If you missed the first on Javier Bardem for Being the Ricardos, it’s here:

Oscars 2021: The Case of Javier Bardem

The Case for Benedict Cumberbatch:

We might be witnessing a right year and right movie matchup for Cumberbatch to nab his first Oscar. After being previously nominated seven years back for The Imitation Game, he’s starring in the Best Picture frontrunner and garnered career best reviews. He’s been mentioned in all key precursors such as the Globes, SAG, BAFTA and Critics Choice. Furthermore, he had an impressive 2021 beyond Dog with kudos for the title role in The Electrical Life of Louis Wain and appearing as Doctor Strange in box office behemoth Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The Case Against Benedict Cumberbatch:

Only 3 Best Actor recipients in the 21st century came from the BP winner. Yet the most compelling case against comes courtesy of Will Smith, who stands as the favorite for King Richard. This is Smith’s third try and Benedict’s second. Voters may figure Cumberbatch will have other opportunities. The Academy has three other options to bestow gold on the Dog cast (with the best possibility being Kodi Smit-McPhee in supporting actor).

Previous Nominations: 1

The Imitation Game (2014 – Actor)

The Verdict:

I do believe Cumberbatch is a strong second to Smith at the moment.  If Cumberbatch manages to grab the SAG or BAFTA, he could play the spoiler role that Anthony Hopkins (The Father) managed last year over the favored Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

My Case Of posts will continue with Supporting Actress and Ariana DeBose in West Side Story