2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Picture Race

My deep dives into 6 high profile Oscar races reaches the top one with Best Picture. If you missed my posts on Director and the four acting competitions, you can find them here:

At this early November period from 2019-21, here’s how accurate I was with my BP forecast. Three years ago, I correctly called 8 of the 9 eventual nominees. That includes the winner Parasite, 1917, Ford v Ferrari, The Irishman, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, Marriage Story, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The ninth hopeful was Joker and it was listed in Other Possibilities. In the wildly unpredictable 2020, I was right about 5 of 8 with two months left in the calendar – Nomadland (which won), The Father, Mank, Minari, and The Trial of the Chicago 7. Judas and the Black Messiah was named in Other Possibilities while Promising Young Woman and Sound of Metal were not yet in my top 15. In 2021, the Academy went back to a set number of 10 BP nominees. I rightly identified 7 of the 10 with Belfast, Dune, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, The Power of the Dog, and West Side Story. The film that emerged victorious – CODA was not yet predicted but in Other Possibilities. So was Don’t Look Up while Drive My Car wasn’t among the 15.

Moving to 2022 – I can’t recall a year where four sequels were viable for inclusion. That’s where we stand at the moment. The top grosser of the year is Top Gun: Maverick and I do believe the Academy will reward it for bringing older audiences back to multiplexes (and of course for its quality). In a few weeks, we’ll have a better idea about Avatar: The Way of Water. I’m not ready to vault into my ten, but that could change soon. Knives Out missed out on BP in 2019 so I’m skeptical for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. And while Black Panther made the lineup in 2018, Wakanda Forever seems like a stretch despite the solid buzz. Nevertheless it’s not crazy to think that 40% of the BP players could be sequels.

On the non-sequel front, we begin with The Fabelmans. Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical coming-of-age tale has been listed at #1 for weeks on the blog. Only one of the filmmaker’s works – 1993’s Schindler’s List – has won BP. Shakespeare in Love was a surprise recipient in 1998 over the favored Saving Private Ryan. Nearly 30 years later, Fabelmans could have the credentials to be the second.

However, the frontrunner at this stage often doesn’t cross the finish line and Spielberg’s latest feels like a soft frontrunner. I could easily envision a scenario where the voters go outside the box with Everything Everywhere All at Once. A24’s multi-genre pic achieved wide acclaim and did great business at the box office. While spring releases rarely make the journey all the way through the awards calendar, Everything could buck that trend.

Other spoilers include The Banshees of Inisherin and Women Talking, which both garnered kudos at film festivals and will have their ardent admirers. I believe that logic also applies to Tár and The Whale though I don’t see either having a shot to win. And we are still waiting to see if Damien Chazelle’s Babylon is as viable as its pedigree suggests (we’ll know in a few days when it screens).

It’s become more common for an international feature film to get in and the two most likely to do so are All Quiet on the Western Front (which might just be Netflix’s most serious hopeful) and Decision to Leave. The reviews for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Bardo should leave it out (it might not even make the separate international race).

While Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is the favorite to be Best Animated Feature, I don’t see it breaking into the big dance. It’s probably the only animated title with any sort of chance.

The festival circuit always lessens the viability of some pics. In 2022, I would put the following on that list: Empire of Light, The Son, and Armageddon Time.

The Academy could choose to honor some moneymakers like Elvis and The Woman King (though putting Maverick in could check that box). Till may only show up in Best Actress for Danielle Deadwyler. And it’s tough to know what to make of the upcoming Emancipation considering it’s led by Will Smith (who has some, um, recent history with the ceremony).

Bottom line: there is a lot of uncertainty about BP. I feel fairly confident about The Fabelmans, Everything Everywhere, Women Talking, The Banshees of Inisherin, Top Gun: Maverick, Tár, and The Whale (more than others with that one). We’ll know about Babylon shortly so that leaves two spots. I could definitely see a sequel or a foreign flick jumping up. For now, the 9th and 10th entries go to Triangle of Sadness and She Said. Expect movement as the weeks roll along.

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1 . The Fabelmans (Previous Ranking: 1) (Even)

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Babylon (PR: 3) (E)

4. Women Talking (PR: 4) (E)

5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)

6. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 6) (E)

7. Tár (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Whale (PR: 8) (E)

9. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (E)

10. She Said (PR: 12) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

11. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 11) (E)

12. Decision to Leave (PR: 10) (-2)

13. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 14) (+1)

14. Elvis (PR: 13) (-1)

15. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 15) (E)

Stay tuned for estimates on all the races coming up soon!

2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Director Race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

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

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

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

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

5. Todd Field, Tár (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

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

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

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

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

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

Best Picture is up next, folks! Stay tuned…

2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Best Actor Race

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s my current state of this race:

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

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

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

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

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

Other Possibilities:

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

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

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

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

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

Dropped Out:

Song Kang-ho, Broker

Best Actress is up next!

2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actress Race

The Supporting Actress derby is up next for my deep dives in the six major categories (Picture, Director, the 4 acting competitions). If you missed my current take on Supporting Actor, it’s here:

With two months left to go in the calendar year, it’s a good time to take stock in where we stand in 2022 with the various hopefuls. In 2019 and 2020 in late October, I correctly identified 3 of the 5 eventual nominees in Supporting Actress. Three years ago, that included eventual winner Laura Dern (Marriage Story) as well as Florence Pugh (Little Women) and Margot Robbie (Bombshell). I had Scarlett Johansson listed in Other Possibilities for Jojo Rabbit while not having Kathy Bates (Richard Jewell) yet on the radar. A year later, the trio of Glenn Close (Hillbilly Elegy), Olivia Colman (The Father), and Amanda Seyfried (Mank) were already in my top five. Youn Yuh-jung (Minari) took the gold. Both she and Maria Bakalova (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm) were tagged in Other Possibilities.

The ratio dropped in 2021. I named 2 of the 5 women with Ariana DeBose in West Side Story (who won) and Kirsten Dunst for The Power of the Dog. 2 nominees – Judi Dench (Belfast) and Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) – were in Other Possibilities while Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter) wasn’t in my listed ten.

We arrive at 2022 where Ms. Buckley is in the mix again. She appears in Women Talking alongside a large ensemble of additional actresses. This film gives us the highest probability of seeing double nominees from the same picture. It’s happened three times since 2010. Melissa Leo and Amy Adams were up for The Fighter that year with Leo emerging victorious. In 2011, Octavia Spencer took the statue for The Help with Jessica Chastain also making the cut. Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz were both in the mix for 2018’s The Favourite.

With Women Talking, the Academy could dive a tad deeper with Judith Ivery and Sheila McCarthy (who are standouts). I suspect they’ll go with Buckley and Claire Foy (who was notably snubbed three years ago for First Man). I’ve had the latter listed in first place as she’s got a slightly meatier role.

That brings us to a key caveat in this race. A few weeks back, there was the unexpected announcement that Michelle Williams in Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans would be campaigned for in lead actress. She could’ve easily been placed here. If the studio had done that, I would continue to have Williams at #1 and feel confident that she’d win her first Oscar. However, in the Best Actress competition, I only have her in fourth position as of my last forecast.

Back to performers who are eligible in this. As long as The Banshees of Inisherin performs well with voters (and it should), Kerry Condon should make the quintet and could be a threat to win. Truth be told, this seems like a wide open competition without Williams. I could see either Women Talking actress at the podium or Condon. Same goes for Hong Chau as Brendan Fraser’s caretaker in The Whale or Stephanie Hsu as the world altering daughter in Everything Everywhere All at Once. That film offers the possibility of an additional double nomination with Jamie Lee Curtis’s nearly unrecognizable role. As for The Whale, I think Chau is far more likely than costar Sadie Sink.

I’m not as sold on Anne Hathaway in Armageddon Time, which may not make a dent at the ceremony. The many negative reviews for The Son have me questioning the viability of Vanessa Kirby or Laura Dern. Cha Cha Real Smooth might be too small for Dakota Johnson to nab her first Academy mention. Thuso Mbedu in The Woman King seems like a stretch. There’s unseen performances that could rise up like Kate Winslet (Avatar: The Way of Water) or Jean Smart (Babylon). Of all those choices, only Smart is in the top ten.

Critics groups may be integral in weeding out the nominees. This is where we could see Nina Hoss (Tár) or Dolly de Leon (Triangle of Sadness) rise up. Or we could get a nominee from a forthcoming hit such as Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) or Janelle Monae (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery).

Over the past couple of months, all of my five nominees have come from films that I have in my 1o Best Picture hopefuls. That also holds true for Supporting Actor. And, frankly, that usually doesn’t happen. This is partly why I’m putting Carey Mulligan (She Said) in my projections after the studio announced she’ll vie for supporting instead of lead. I’ve got She Said barely missing a BP nod.

Bottom line: nothing is close to being settled in Supporting Actress and the talking about these women could change as we get closer to nomination time.

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Claire Foy, Women Talking (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 4) (E)

5. Carey Mulligan, She Said (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Nina Hoss, Tár (PR: 8) (E)

9. Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 10) (+1)

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

Dropped Out:

Janelle Monae, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Best Actor is up next!

2022 Oscar Predictions: The State of the Supporting Actor Race

With two months to go for 2022 releases to make their mark with awards voters, it’s a opportune time to assess the six major Oscar races. That would be Picture, Director, and the four acting derbies.

It begins with Supporting Actor. Over the past couple of years, this has been the category that’s confounded me the most during this juncture in the calendar.

That was a different story three years ago. In late October of 2019, I correctly identified 4 out of the eventual 5 nominees. This included winner Brad Pitt for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as well as Tom Hanks (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), Anthony Hopkins (The Two Popes), and Al Pacino (The Irishman). The other nominee – Joe Pesci for The Irishman – was in my #6 spot.

For the unpredictable year that was 2020 (due to constantly shifting release dates because of COVID), I only named 2 of the 5 hopefuls two months out – Sacha Baron Cohen for The Trial of the Chicago 7 and Leslie Odom Jr. for One Night in Miami. I still had eventual victor Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) projected for lead actor until the studio announced him for supporting.

In 2021, I made a point to say that the Supporting Actor derby was wide open in late October. And that was evidenced in my only identifying 1 of the eventual Supporting Actor quintet in the Halloween time frame – Ciaran Hinds in Belfast. I had Troy Kotsur (CODA), who would take the gold statue, in 10th place. Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza) was in first place and he missed out. Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog), who made the cut, was in 8th place. His costar Jesse Plemons and J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos) weren’t listed at all.

Which brings us to 2022 and at this spooky time of year, I would say this competition is up in the air with no obvious frontrunner. 12 months ago, however, I couldn’t have imagined I’d kick off the speculation with this sentence…

The Supporting Actor discussion starts with Ke Huy Quan.

The 51-year-old actor belongs in the mid 80s cinematic Hall of Fame with his turns as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Data in The Goonies. His return to acting in Everything Everywhere All at Once has been met with raves. It’s also undeniable that his win would be a heckuva Academy narrative nearly 40 years after his iconic child performances. I’ve had him listed in first place for weeks and that remains.

In four of the last five years, we’ve witnessed double nominees in Supporting Actor. Last year it was the aforementioned Smit-McPhee and Plemons for The Power of the Dog. In 2020, we had the winner Daniel Kaluuya in Judas and the Black Messiah and his costar Lakeith Stanfield. 2019’s Irishman double duo was Pacino and Pesci. Five years ago, it was Sam Rockwell (who won) and Woody Harrelson for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Martin McDonagh directed Billboards and his follow-up is The Banshees of Inisherin. Brendan Gleeson has sat in the #2 position for several prediction posts in a row. He’s a threat to take the prize. I believe his costar Barry Keoghan may also get in.

Banshees is not the only viable option for double nominees. Ke Huy Quan’s Doom maker Steven Spielberg has The Fabelmans. Before it screened at the Toronto Film Festival, we wondered whether Paul Dano or Seth Rogen (or both) would be the likely nominee(s). Post screening, scene (just one scene) stealer Judd Hirsch bubbled up while Rogen’s viability dwindled. Dano’s work is understated and certainly not as flashy as Hirsch’s brief turn. That leads me to put Hirsch in with Dano on the outside looking in. I’ll admit it’s a coin flip.

Damien Chazelle’s Babylon screens for critics in two weeks. There’s a trio of possibilities with Brad Pitt, Jovan Adepo, and Tobey Maguire. I’ve had Pitt in my 5 previously. It’s fair to speculate whether his recent tabloid headlines could hinder him. We’ll know more once reviews roll in.

Ben Whishaw in Women Talking is a trendy selection and for good reason. I’m not completely sold as voters could opt to focus only on his female cast members Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley (and maybe others) in Supporting Actress. Yet it feels wrong to keep him out right now.

You have to go back to 2013 to find the last time the five contenders all came from Best Picture nominees. I’m not wild about the fact that my projections currently do. There’s a few names that could get in from movies I’m not putting in BP list. We have Eddie Redmayne in The Good Nurse, Brian Tyree Henry for Causeway, Jeremy Strong or Anthony Hopkins in Armageddon Time, Mark Rylance in Bones and All, Micheal Ward in Empire of Light, Don Cheadle in White Noise, and Tom Hanks in Elvis. Of that group, I’m starting to flirt with the idea of Rylance being the guy. He scored an upset win here with Bridge of Spies in 2015 over Sylvester Stallone in Creed and Bones has its ardent admirers. I wouldn’t discount the Redmayne pick as he’s a Best Actor winner in 2014 for The Theory of Everything who was nominated again the following year with The Danish Girl. If Elvis manages a BP nod (not out of the question), this would increase the inclusion of Hanks. I do have Triangle of Sadness in my BP ten and that could mean a third nomination for Woody Harrelson.

Bottom line: I feel pretty confident about Ke Huy Quan and Brendan Gleeson. Everything everywhere else is up in the air.

With that said, here’s my state of the race:

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (Previous Ranking: 1) (E)

2. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 2) (E)

3. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans (PR: 6) (+2)

5. Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (-3)

7. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 7) (E)

8. Mark Rylance, Bones and All (PR: Not Ranked)

9. Woody Harrelson, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Eddie Redmayne, The Good Nurse (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway

Tom Hanks, Elvis

My deep dive with the Supporting Actress field is next!

2022 Oscar Predictions: October 16th Edition

On the bright side for Netflix, I have Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio at #1 in Animated Feature where it’s been perched all along. That would mean the streamer could nab its first victory ever in that race.

Now the bad news as my current Best Picture nominees leaves Netflix on the cutting room floor. In 2018, Roma was the first hopeful in the big dance. It was expected to win, but lost to Green Book. 2019 brought double nominees with The Irishman and Marriage Story. Same in 2020 with Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7. And there were two contenders again last year in Don’t Look Up and The Power of the Dog (a frontrunner until CODA fever emerged).

I had All Quiet on the Western Front in the mix 11 days ago. Yet I’ve had a nagging feeling that another blockbuster not named Top Gun: Maverick will get in. So for the first time, Elvis is in the top ten. That moneymaker spot could also be filled with Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (from Netflix), Avatar: The Way of Water, or Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Think could also be called the “Second Sequel” slot, I suppose.

Don’t be surprised if Netflix eventually gets back in. Quiet, the aforementioned Onion, Bardo, and Pinocchio are all viable (maybe even White Noise). For now, my BP hopefuls would mean a disappointing nomination morning for the streamer.

She Said received mostly positive notices when it was unveiled Thursday at the New York Film Festival. It could absolutely be a BP contender, but I’m got it just on the outside and feel more comfortable forecasting it as a lone screenplay nominee (I don’t love the current 76% RT meter for it). You’ll note I don’t have any of the cast in my top tens. Perhaps the eventual announcement of category placements could change that.

In other developments:

    • I’ve decided to move Babylon‘s Margot Robbie back in Best Actress instead of supporting (can we please get that placement announcement??). It means she’s back in and Olivia Colman (Empire of Light) is out.
    • Bill Nighy’s work in Living returns to Actor five with Diego Calva (Babylon) sliding into sixth position.
    • With Robbie returning to lead, Dolly De Leon (Triangle of Sadness) is elevated to fifth in Supporting Actress.
    • My Supporting Actor dual nominee projections of Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan for The Banshees of Inisherin shifts to Paul Dano and Judd Hirsch for The Fabelmans. That means Hirsch rises while Keoghan falls.

You can read all the movement below!

Best Picture

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (Previous Rank: 1) (E)

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 2) (E)

3. Babylon (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Women Talking (PR: 3) (-1)

5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)

6. Tar (PR: 6) (E)

7. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Whale (PR: 8) (E)

9. Elvis (PR: 13) (+4)

10. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (-1)

Other Possibilities: 

11. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 10) (-1)

12. She Said (PR: Not Ranked)

13. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 12) (-1)

14. Decision to Leave (PR: 11) (-3)

15. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Till

The Woman King 

Best Director

Predicted Nominees:

1. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

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

3. Sarah Polley, Women Talking (PR: 3) (E)

4. Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (E)

5. Todd Field, Tar (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (+2)

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

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

9. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 9) (E)

10. Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 10) (E)

Best Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Cate Blanchett, Tar (PR: 1) (E)

2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Danielle Deadwyler, Till (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans (PR: 4) (E)

5. Margot Robbie, Babylon (PR: Not Ranked) – moved from Supporting

Other Possibilities:

6. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Viola Davis, The Woman King (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Ana de Armas, Blonde (PR: 8) (E)

9. Naomi Ackie, I Wanna Dance with Somebody (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway (PR: 9) (-1)

Dropped Out:

Carey Mulligan, She Said

Best Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Brendan Fraser, The Whale (PR: 1) (E)

2. Austin Butler, Elvis (PR: 2) (E)

3. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 3) (E)

4. Hugh Jackman, The Son (PR: 4) (E)

5. Bill Nighy, Living (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Diego Calva, Babylon (PR: 5) (-1)

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

8. Song Kang-ho, Broker (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Adam Driver, White Noise (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Jeremy Pope, The Inspection (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Will Smith, Emancipation 

Best Supporting Actress

Predicted Nominees:

1. Claire Foy, Women Talking (PR: 1) (E)

2. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking (PR: 2) (E)

3. Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Hong Chau, The Whale (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 6) (E)

7. Nina Hoss, Tar (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Janelle Monae, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Thuso Mbedu, The Woman King (PR: 10) (+1)

10. Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Margot Robbie, Babylon (moved to Best Actress)

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Nominees:

1. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 2) (E)

3. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (E)

4. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking (PR: 4) (E)

5. Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Brad Pitt, Babylon (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Woody Harrelson, Triangle of Sadness (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Tom Hanks, Elvis (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Jeremy Strong, Armageddon Time

Micheal Ward, Empire of Light 

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (-1)

3. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 3) (E)

4. Triangle of Sadness (PR: 4) (E)

5. Tar (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. Babylon (PR: 6) (E)

7. Decision to Leave (PR: 7) (E)

8. Armageddon Time (PR: 8) (E)

9. Empire of Light (PR: 9) (E)

10. The Menu (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Broker 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Nominees:

1. Women Talking (PR: 1) (E)

2. The Whale (PR: 2) (E)

3. She Said (PR: 5) (+2)

4. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: 3) (-1)

5. White Noise (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Living (PR: 6) (E)

7. Till (PR: 10) (+3)

8. Bones and All (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 8) (-1)

10. The Son (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

All Quiet on the Western Front 

Best Animated Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: 1) (E)

2. Turning Red (PR: 2) (E)

3. Strange World (PR: 3) (E)

4. Wendell and Wild (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. The Bad Guys (PR: 8) (+2)

7. The Sea Beast (PR: 6) (-1)

8. My Father’s Dragon (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Minions: The Rise of Gru (PR: 9) (E)

10. Lightyear (PR: 10) (E)

Best International Feature Film

Predicted Nominees:

1. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 1) (E)

2. Decision to Leave (PR: 2) (E)

3. Close (PR: 3) (E)

4. Bardo (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Saint Omer (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Klondike (PR: 8) (+2)

7. Holy Spider (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Alcarras (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Argentina, 1985 (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Corsage (PR: 10) (E)

Best Documentary Feature

Predicted Nominees:

1. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (PR: 2) (+1)

2. Descendant (PR: 1) (-1)

3. Navalny (PR: 3) (E)

4. All That Breathes (PR: 4) (E)

5. Fire of Love (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Territory (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Good Night Oppy (PR: 7) (E)

8. Moonage Daydream (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Last Flight Home (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Aftershock (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Sr. 

Best Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Empire of Light (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Fabelmans (PR: 3) (E)

4. Bardo (PR: 5) (+1)

5. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 6) (E)

7. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 7) (E)

8. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 8) (E)

9. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 9) (E)

10. Emancipation (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

The Batman

Best Costume Design 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Elvis (PR: 2) (E)

3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 3) (E)

4. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Corsage (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Woman King (PR: 5) (-1)

7. The Fabelmans (PR: 6) (-1)

8. Living (PR: 9) (+1)

9. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 8) (-1)

10. Blonde (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Amsterdam

Best Film Editing 

Predicted Nominees:

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 1) (E)

2. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 2) (E)

3. The Fabelmans (PR: 4) (+1)

4. Babylon (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Women Talking (PR: 8) (+3)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Elvis (PR: 6) (E)

7. Tar (PR: 9) (+2)

8. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 5) (-3)

9. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Bardo (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Decision to Leave

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Whale (PR: 1) (E)

2. Elvis (PR: 3) (+1)

3. Babylon (PR: 2) (-1)

4. The Batman (PR: 5) (+1)

5. Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 4) (-1)

Other Possibilities:

6. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 6) (E)

7. The Woman King (PR: 10) (+3)

8. (PR: 8) (E)

9. Blonde (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Three Thousand Years of Longing (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Amsterdam

Corsage

Best Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

1. The Fabelmans (PR: 1) (E)

2. Babylon (PR: 2) (E)

3. Empire of Light (PR: 3) (E)

4. Tar (PR: 6) (+2)

5. The Banshees of Inisherin (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: Not Ranked)

7. Women Talking (PR: 4) (-3)

8. Bardo (PR: 10) (+2)

9. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 7) (-2)

10. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 8) (-2)

Dropped Out:

Top Gun: Maverick 

Best Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

1. “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 1) (E)

2. “Nobody Like U” from Turning Red (PR: 2) (E)

3. “Naatu Naatu” from RRR (PR: 4) (+1)

4. “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman (PR: 3) (-1)

5. “Stand Up” from Till (PR: Not Ranked)

Other Possibilities:

6. “Carolina” from Where the Crawdads Sing (PR: 5) (-1)

7. “This is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once (PR: 8) (+1)

8. “New Body Rhumba” from White Noise (PR: 7) (-1)

9. “On My Way” from Marry Me (PR: 6) (-3)

10. “Love Is Not Love” from Bros (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

“I Ain’t Worried” from Top Gun: Maverick

“Heartbeat” from Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile 

Best Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

1. Babylon (PR: 1) (E)

2. Elvis (PR: 4) (+2)

3. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 2) (-1)

4. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 3) (-1)

5. Bardo (PR: 7) (+2)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Fabelmans (PR: 5) (-1)

7. Everything Everything All at Once (PR: 8) (+1)

8. Empire of Light (PR: 6) (-2)

9. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (PR: Not Ranked)

10. The Batman (PR: 10) (E)

Dropped Out:

All Quiet on the Western Front

Best Sound

Predicted Nominees:

1. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 1) (E)

2. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 2) (E)

3. Elvis (PR: 3) (E)

4. Babylon (PR: 4) (E)

5. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: 5) (E)

Other Possibilities:

6. The Batman (PR: 6) (E)

7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 7) (E)

8. Nope (PR: 9) (+1)

9. The Fabelmans (PR: Not Ranked)

10. Bardo (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Thirteen Lives

Best Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

1. Avatar: The Way of Water (PR: 1) (E)

2. Top Gun: Maverick (PR: 2) (E)

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

4. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (PR: 5) (+1)

5. The Batman (PR: 6) (+1)

Other Possibilities: 

6. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (PR: 4) (-2)

7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (PR: 8) (+1)

8. RRR (PR: 7) (-1)

9. Good Night Oppy (PR: 9) (E)

10. All Quiet on the Western Front (PR: Not Ranked)

Dropped Out:

Nope 

That equates to these movies getting these numbers of nominations:

10 Nominations

Babylon

9 Nominations

The Fabelmans

8 Nominations

Everything Everywhere All at Once

7 Nominations

Women Talking

6 Nominations

The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis

5 Nominations

Tar, Top Gun: Maverick, The Whale

3 Nominations

All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Bardo, Triangle of Sadness 

2 Nominations

The Batman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Empire of Light, Till, Turning Red

1 Nomination

All That Breathes, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Close, Corsage, Decision to Leave, Descendant, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Fire of Love, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Living, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Navalny, RRR, Saint Omer, She Said, The Son, Strange World, Tell It Like a Woman, Wendell and Wild, White Noise

Toronto Crowns The Fabelmans

Just how indicative is nabbing the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival of eventually receiving a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars? Let’s go the numbers: 13 out of the last 14 have and that includes the past 10 in a row. 2011’s Where Do We Go Now? is the only outlier since 2008. Of those 13 films, five would go on to win the Academy’s top prize (Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, 12 Years a Slave, Green Book, Nomadland).

So it was with anticipation that awards prognosticators like yours truly awaited the bestowment of the Canadian fest’s biggest award. True to form, it went to a movie widely anticipated to be in the BP mix: Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. The legendary director’s most personal work to date was his first journey up north and he was rewarded handsomely for it. When I did my latest round of predictions on Friday, I had The Fabelmans listed in first place and this helps solidify that decision. Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean the BP race is over (far from it). Yet there’s no doubt that The Fabelmans has positioned itself as a major threat to take the top prize.

That’s not all because TIFF also names a first and second runner-up. And those picks are frequent indicators of what will play down the road. Over the previous decade, nine of the 20 runner-ups have gotten BP nods. This includes victorious ones like Argo, Spotlight, and Parasite and nominees such as Call Me by Your Name, Roma, and The Power of the Dog. 

Sarah Polley’s Women Talking is first runner-up for 2022. It played to mostly raves at TIFF and I have it ranked 4th currently in the BP derby. Second runner-up was Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. The top 3 placement is something predecessor Knives Out didn’t manage 3 years ago. My estimates two days back put Onion on the outside looking in at 14th (though I did project for it for an Adapted Screenplay nod). My hesitation to put it in is this: just how many sequels could that Academy include in their group of 10? I’ve got Top Gun: Maverick already there (at 6th) and we still need to see Avatar: The Way of Water and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (whose predecessors were both BP hopefuls). However, at this point, Netflix may choose to go all in on Onion being their most likely contender.

There are a couple films in particular that could’ve benefited from a top 3 showing today. I think immediately of Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale and Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin. I still anticipate both to be in the hunt (I’ve got them ranked 5th and 7th respectively).

Bottom line: The Fabelmans had itself a meaningful premiere in Toronto that currently puts Spielberg’s latest in the Oscar driver’s seat.

Oscar Predictions: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Last year, The Power of the Dog scored the most Oscar nominations including Best Actor for Benedict Cumberbatch. His return as Marvel’s superhero in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hopes to land at least one mention in a category where the MCU has received plenty.

The review embargo lifted today ahead of its Friday premiere and the Rotten Tomatoes score is currently 79% (that’s a match with last summer’s Black Widow). Sam Raimi’s directorial contribution to the world’s biggest franchise, based on some critics and their reservations, really only has a shot at Best Visual Effects.

That’s where 12 previous movies starting with Iron Man and ending with 2021’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Spider-Man: No Way Home have made the final five. Somewhat shockingly, none have won. In the middle of that pack is predecessor Doctor Strange from 2016 (it lost to The Jungle Book).

Considering the original Strange made the cut, Madness could absolutely be in line to follow suit. It’ll need to do so over two forthcoming MCU adventures (Thor: Love and Thunder and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever). None of the Thor pics managed a VE nod and neither did the first Panther. Therefore it strands to reason that this could be the best MCU bet for inclusion in 2022. Like the others, I don’t believe it has a shot to win. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Oscars Reaction: 94th Academy Awards

The pranksters of the Internet had a little fun with the justly criticized decision to have a “Fan Favorite” award. The top 3 consisted of Netflix’s Army of the Dead, the reviled Cinderella remake, and Johnny Depp’s barely seen Minamata. I’m guessing this viewer’s choice designation experiment will be unique to the 94th Academy Awards and this ceremony only. Gotta love footnotes, eh?

Let’s talk about what else happened at the Oscars. No… not that. Not yet.

I went 17 for 20, but I missed the biggie. CODA took Best Picture over The Power of the Dog. In fact, the Apple TV pic went 3 for 3 as it also won Adapted Screenplay (I picked Dog) and Troy Kotsur for Supporting Actor.

I admittedly had an upset selection with “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto over “No Time to Die” from that Bond pic. Billie Eilish did indeed take the musical prize and it’s now the third 007 theme in a row to win after “Skyfall” (2012) and “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre (2015).

The other 16 categories went according to my prognostications… Will Smith as Best Actor for King Richard… NOT YET…

Jessica Chastain (Best Actress for The Eyes of Tammy Faye) and Ariana DeBose (Supporting Actor for West Side Story). Belfast for Original Screenplay. Encanto in Animated Feature and Drive My Car for International Feature Film and Summer of Soul as Documentary Feature. You can read the rest. Dune won the most trophies with six.

The Power of the Dog took just one award with Jane Campion taking Director and becoming the third woman to do so and second in a row.  It marks the first time since 1967 that director’s win for the movie marks its sole victory. For you trivia buffs… it was Mike Nichols for The Graduate. 

OK… let’s get real. All of what I’m writing about is a footnote. That’s because  Will Smith’s open hand slap of Chris Rock for a joke directed at wife Jada Pinkett Smith is all the 94th edition of the Oscars will be remembered for. It was shocking (and riveting) TV made even more so with the knowledge that Smith would be giving a speech moments later. I still don’t know what to think and I’m still a little aghast at what I saw. That whole reading the wrong winner from five years ago seems a little small potatoes now.

I do know this… my Oscar predictions and speculations for the 95th Academy Awards will be here before you know it.

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!