It’s been one of the most interesting Oscar races in recent years, with frontrunners changing in a number of categories, and with a lot of talk around the relevance of the Academy Awards themselves. While efforts being made to make the show itself more appealing to a wider audience have been faced with a lot of disapproval, the new ‘Oscars Fan Favorite’ has garnered significant interest. One can’t be sure if a mass-appeal film, such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, will actually win the Fan Favorite vote, but one can be sure of a few wins this Sunday that are all but guaranteed. Here’s a round-up of the most predictable predictions, while I also take a stab at the categories that are still quite up in the air.
THE MOST PREDICTABLE WINS
These are the most obvious ones. If any of these films don’t win, it would be quite a surprise.
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
Steven Spielberg, West Side Story
The chances of The Power of the Dog winning best picture are shaky at best, especially now with CODA gaining overwhelming momentum. However, Jane Campion has been the undisputed frontrunner for the directing prize. Moreover, the conversation has also been about how she’s the first woman to be nominated more than once in this category. And with Chloe Zhao’s win last year for Nomadland, there’s been a lot of talk about recognizing women filmmakers’ work. And Campion would certainly deserve this, for the compelling and captivating treatment and tone that she’s created with her film.
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
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
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter
Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Judi Dench, Belfast
Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog
Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard
Ariana DeBose has won everything so far for her turn as Anita in West Side Story. She’s definitely taking home an Oscar for it as well, even if this is the only one that Steven Spielberg’s re-imagining of the classic will win.
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Ciarán 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
Like best picture and actress, the race for this award has also seen a significant change and quite suddenly at that. Kodi Smit-McPhee was an early favorite for equivalent categories, and even won the Golden Globe, among other wins. However the SAG Awards turned things around. With Kotsur’s win there, and subsequently at the BAFTAs and the Critics’ Choice, he’s now the frontrunner, and most likely to take home Oscar gold. With a large part of the Academy’s acting branch being voting members of the SAG, it seems like Kotsur has just the right kind of support he needs in the Academy.
Cruella (Jenny Beavan)
Cyrano (Massimo Cantini Parrini and Jacqueline Durran)
Dune (Jacqueline West and Robert Morgan)
Nightmare Alley (Luis Sequeira)
West Side Story (Paul Tazewell)
Cruella’s costume design is an integral part of the film’s narrative, in addition displaying sheer creativity. The costumes not only steal the show by making a splendid visual impact, but even the interactive nature of some of them inspires awe. It’s an achievement in this field like one doesn’t usually see, and the Academy will recognize that.
Makeup and Hairstyling
Coming 2 America (Mike Marino, Stacey Morris and Carla Farmer)
Cruella (Nadia Stacey, Naomi Donne and Julia Vernon)
Dune (Donald Mowat, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr)
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh)
House of Gucci (Göran Lundström, Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras)
The constantly evolving looks seen in The Eyes of Tammy Faye are what make this film such a strong contender. Aside from making Jessica Chastain almost unrecognizable, through various ages of the titular character that she portrays, the makeup on Andrew Garfield is also a strong accomplishment. It’s won several awards already in equivalent categories, including a BAFTA.
Dune (Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer)
Free Guy (Swen Gillberg, Bryan Grill, Nikos Kalaitzidis and Dan Sudick)
No Time to Die (Charlie Noble, Joel Green, Jonathan Fawkner and Chris Corbould)
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Christopher Townsend, Joe Farrell, Sean Noel Walker and Dan Oliver)
Spider-Man: No Way Home (Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein and Dan Sudick)
While Dune is nowhere close to the top in the race for best picture, we know that it’s going to win a bunch of technical awards. How many? One can’t be sure. But it seems like a couple of them are almost givens for Dune, including visual effects. Normally this is a category for which a popular film could earn an Oscar, but Dune checks multiple boxes this year.
Belfast (Denise Yarde, Simon Chase, James Mather and Niv Adiri)
Dune (Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett)
No Time to Die (Simon Hayes, Oliver Tarney, James Harrison, Paul Massey and Mark Taylor)
The Power of the Dog (Richard Flynn, Robert Mackenzie and Tara Webb)
West Side Story (Tod A. Maitland, Gary Rydstrom, Brian Chumney, Andy Nelson and Shawn Murphy)
This will be another technical win for Dune. If the Academy had not combined sound editing and sound mixing into one sound award two years ago, there might have been a chance of West Side Story or No Time to Die taking away one of them.
Don’t Look Up (Nicholas Britell)
Dune (Hans Zimmer)
Encanto (Germaine Franco)
Parallel Mothers (Alberto Iglesias)
The Power of the Dog (Jonny Greenwood)
Hans Zimmer’s soundtracks have always been favorites of many and as a composer he’s been on the Academy’s radar for many years, with 12 nominations altogether. However, he’s won this only once, for The Lion King (1994). This year, his haunting soundtrack for Dune has become a favorite and a frontrunner, and he will win again, after 27 years.
‘Be alive’, King Richard (music and lyrics by DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter)
‘Dos oruguitas’, Encanto (music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda)
‘Down to Joy’, Belfast (music and lyrics by Van Morrison)
‘No time to die’, No Time to Die (music and lyrics by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell)
‘Somehow you do’, Four Good Days (music and lyrics by Diane Warren)
The last two James Bond songs—‘Skyfall’ and ‘Writing’s on the wall’—have won this, and ‘No time to die’ has been gaining similar momentum. ‘Dos oruguitas’ could upset the three-for-three 007 wins, but it seems unlikely.
Animated Feature Film
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon
Encanto is a hot favorite, and has particularly picked up a lot of acclaim for its choreography and production of ‘We don’t talk about Bruno’ among other things. It’s a beloved film, and is also being praised for its technical achievements, so it seems like a sure-shot.
International Feature Film
Drive My Car (Japan)
The Hand of God (Italy)
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan)
The Worst Person in the World (Norway)
Drive My Car is nominated for best picture, directing and screenplay. It would be a huge upset if it doesn’t win international feature.
LESS PREDICTABLE WINS
These will be the more interesting ones. One can’t be too sure with these categories. Best picture particularly is going to a real nail-biter this year.
Don’t Look Up
Drive My Car
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story
The Power of the Dog could win this, no doubt. It could maintain its spot as the frontrunner since the beginning of this awards season, right to the end of the race. A few weeks ago, it was all but guaranteed, even though Belfast and West Side Story were also in the conversation. However, it was around the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards that everything changed. The cast of CODA won the ensemble award there—often considered as an equivalent of best picture—and the Apple TV film was being seen as a challenger to the Netflix’s Power of the Dog at the Oscars. To further gain on Netflix’s contender, CODA won last week’s PGA (Producers Guild award) in their best picture-equivalent. Now a PGA winner can lose out on the top prize at the Oscars. It has happened (1917 vs. Parasite, La La Land vs. Moonlight, The Big Short vs. Spotlight in recent years). While I still doubt that a lot of the Academy members will vote for CODA as their first choice, the preferential ballot for best picture could work in its favor. A lot of voters must have put it down as their second choice and as the films at the lower end of that ballot get eliminated, CODA could definitely win the majority over The Power of the Dog. It would certainly be fun to see an Apple film win a best picture Oscar before Netflix, who have had movies contending for at least three years now. Besides, it’ll be refreshing to see a simple, nicely-made film that’s heartwarming and moving winning the top prize for a change. Though I’m still amazed that it’s become the one to beat. The Power of the Dog winning now would be the upset, even though it definitely could, and would deserve it even. Any other movie winning here would be a huge shocker.
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos
Kristen Stewart, Spencer
This might be the most interesting race this year. While Kristen Stewart was a strong early favorite, garnering Oscar buzz in the early days of this awards season, Nicole Kidman gained momentum with her Golden Globe win. Subsequently, Stewart was shut out from the SAG Award nominees—where there’s significant overlapping of voting members with the Academy. Olivia Colman then took the lead as a frontrunner, and Kidman’s potential declined. Things changed dramatically overnight when Jessica Chastain emerged as the winner in this category at SAG, and she has been a strong frontrunner since then, and even won the Critics’ Choice. While Chastain continues as a favorite, going into the home stretch of the Oscars, Stewart seems to be gaining again in conversations taking place online. Can Stewart win? Will the increasingly international Academy award Chastain for playing someone who’s not really known outside America? One does wonder, but I think this will go to Chastain, even if Academy voters might think of it as more of a career win than for this role itself, which she’s excellent in, no doubt. Can there be an upset, sure! Anything’s possible here, but I have a feeling it’ll be Jessica Chastain’s year to be crowned best actress.
CODA (screenplay by Siân Heder)
Drive My Car (screenplay by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe)
Dune (screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth)
The Lost Daughter (written by Maggie Gyllenhaal)
The Power of the Dog (written by Jane Campion)
This is a tough one. If The Power of the Dog was a shoo-in for best picture, CODA would be winning this for sure. But with CODA’s fate almost sealed as the best picture, this could go to underdog Power of the Dog. However, the Academy has been known to award smaller, human-interest stories when it comes to screenplay, and I think CODA fits that bill better here, even if it does also win best picture.
Belfast (written by Kenneth Branagh)
Don’t Look Up (screenplay by Adam McKay; story by Adam McKay & David Sirota)
King Richard (written by Zach Baylin)
Licorice Pizza (written by Paul Thomas Anderson)
The Worst Person in the World (written by Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier)
I believe Belfast should win here. It’s a sweet and moving film, and a story that surely resonates with a lot of people today, given the anti-war sentiment surrounding Russia’s war on Ukraine, and especially the stories about Ukrainian refugees. It hasn’t gained enough momentum for a best picture win, but the Academy voters will want it to win one of the major categories, and screenplay is the best bet. An upset for Belfast could be Licorice Pizza, which seems to be a favorite, even though I believe it’s the most overrated Oscar contender this year—maybe even the worst best picture nominee. Some are saying that Don’t Look Up’s chances are also good, but I think the Academy will go to Belfast for this.
Dune (Greig Fraser)
Nightmare Alley (Dan Laustsen)
The Power of the Dog (Ari Wegner)
The Tragedy of Macbeth (Bruno Delbonnel)
West Side Story (Janusz Kaminski)
West Side Story should win here. It could be The Power of the Dog’s, since that movie’s appeal was so much about its visuals, which gave it that mesmerizing quality. However, I think it’ll be Dune, as a part of its sweep of technical categories.
Don’t Look Up (Hank Corwin)
Dune (Joe Walker)
King Richard (Pamela Martin)
The Power of the Dog (Peter Sciberras)
Tick, Tick…Boom! (Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum)
Dune could win here as well, continuing its technical sweep. But if the Academy wanted to recognize King Richard for something other than Will Smith—considering that it is also a best picture nominee—it would be in this category, because of all those crisp tennis scenes.
Dune (production design: Patrice Vermette; set decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos)
Nightmare Alley (production design: Tamara Deverell; set decoration: Shane Vieau)
The Power of the Dog (production design: Grant Major; set decoration: Amber Richards)
The Tragedy of Macbeth (production design: Stefan Dechant; set decoration: Nancy Haigh)
West Side Story (production design: Adam Stockhausen; set decoration: Rena DeAngelo)
I would probably pick West Side Story or Nightmare Alley, for the detailing of its art direction and set design. However, the imagining of Dune’s production design alone could win them this one. Executing those sets with perfection and convincingly creating that world with its nuances should definitely put Dune through.
Oscars Fan Favorite
Army of the Dead
The Power Of The Dog
Spider-Man: No Way Home
The Suicide Squad
Considering that Spider-Man: No Way Home was such a huge success, breaking box-office records and being a point of conversation for so many for so long, one might think that this one’s in the bag for the Sony-Marvel film. However, one can’t underestimate the fan-base of Camilla Cabello and their support for Cinderella. Being the only movies also nominated for best picture, Dune or The Power of the Dog might also make it here, if it was mostly fans of the Oscars and typical Oscar fare who took the trouble to vote. What makes this harder to predict is that this is a first, so there’s no pattern to base guesses on. I think I’ll just go ahead and put down Spider-Man for the win (though not technically an Oscar win, since this is not an award; just a fun activity that they’ve initiated this year).
These are based on the conversations taking place about these categories and films. I haven’t seen any of them to be able to comment on which ones might deserve their wins the most.
Animated Short Film
Affairs of the Art
The Windshield Wiper
Ala Kachuu—Take and Run
The Long Goodbye
On My Mind
Summer of Soul
Writing With Fire
Documentary Short Subject
Lead Me Home
The Queen of Basketball
Three Songs for Benazir
When We Were Bullies