In what was a pretty good year at the movies in 2021, the Oscar lineup is actually somewhat underwhelming. In my opinion it is the weakest batch of Best Picture nominees that we have seen in years, with only three or four of them scoring above a 5 with me. Still, there are chances for history to be made and surely there are upsets lurking in the shadows, so let’s breakdown who I think could, should, and will win at the Academy Awards this year.
Like I said, this was a pretty weak year in the Best Picture category, made all-the-stranger because it had a mandated 10 nominees, so there was an opportunity to nominate a unique and deserving film like “Tragedy of Macbeth” or “Spencer.” Still, after hearing all fall that this was “Power of the Dog’s” award to lose (I never bought that narrative), suddenly “CODA” has taken the lead thanks to some BAFTA and SAG wins. I personally thought “King Richard” was the best movie of the group, with “CODA” in a close second and “Licorice Pizza” in third, but this will either be “CODA” completing its Cinderella story or “Dog” holding on (“West Side Story” has a pitch-black dark horse chance but it has to have a good night leading up to the final award).
WILL WIN: “CODA”
COULD WIN: “The Power of the Dog”
SHOULD WIN: “King Richard”
This is an interesting one, because while the Best Picture and Director awards used to go hand-in-hand, in recent years they have split the love (though “Parasite” and “Nomadland” won both). On Oscar night we will likely see Jane Campion win for “Power of the Dog,” and that could end up being the only award that film takes home. If Campion somehow doesn’t win, look for Hollywood favorite Steven Spielberg to upset for “West Side Story” or Kenneth Branagh for “Belfast.” But I don’t see a reason why Campion should be sweating.
WILL WIN: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
COULD WIN: Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”
SHOULD WIN: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
This started as a tight race at the start of awards season but after winning the Golden Globe, SAG, and even BAFTA, this has become Will Smith’s award to lose. And good for him, he’s an important player in Hollywood’s history and gave a top-five performance in “King Richard.” I think Andrew Garfield did a phenomenal job in “tick, tick… BOOM!” and Benedict Cumberbatch could upset if “The Power of the Dog” has a great night, but I think Smith finishes the race in first.
WILL WIN: Will Smith, “King Richard”
COULD WIN: Andrew Garfield, “tick, tick… BOOM!”
SHOULD WIN: Andrew Garfield, “tick, tick… BOOM!”
When awards season started, all the talk was for Kristen Stewart and her performance as Princess Diana in “Spencer.” But after missing out on BAFTA and SAG nominations, it appeared her hopes for an Oscar were DOA. Stewart managed to sneak in, though she will likely be clapping for another woman when the envelope is opened. Just whose name is read is up for debate, though I think SAG winner Jessica Chastain has the right momentum. Penelope Cruz has gained some support in the past weeks for “Parallel Mothers” and you can’t count out Nicole Kidman for “Being the Ricardos,” but I’m going with Chastain to take it home for her work in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
WILL WIN: Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
COULD WIN: Penelope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers”
SHOULD WIN: Kristen Stewart, “Spencer”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
It looked like Kodi Smit-McPhee was a lock for this award following critics’ shows and the Globes, but since then it has been the Troy Kotsur show, which is indicative of “CODA’s” rise and “Dog’s” decline. It is going to be one of these two men winning, and good for Kotsur should it be him, becoming the first deaf male actor to win an acting Oscar. For my money, Ciarán Hinds of “Belfast” was one of the best supporting turns of the year, and why/how J.K. Simmons got nominated here over the likes of Mike Faist in “West Side Story,” I’ll never know.
WILL WIN: Troy Kotsur, “CODA”
COULD WIN: Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog”
SHOULD WIN: Ciarán Hinds, “Belfast”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Ariana DeBose is going to win, and cool that she will do it in front of Rita Moreno for the same role that Moreno won for 60 years ago. If, somehow, DeBose is upset, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will do it. Jessie Buckley has had some dark horse support the whole season for her work in “The Lost Daughter” and both Kirsten Dunst (“Power of the Dog”) and Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”) have the benefit of being in Best Picture nominees. Like I said, DeBose is going to win, but would love for it to be Ellis.
WILL WIN: Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”
COULD WIN: Kristen Dunst, “The Power of the Dog”
SHOULD WIN: Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
This is an interesting one, because four out the five have a legit chance to win it. I think that the Academy will want to reward both Kenneth Branagh and “Belfast” in some regard and the easiest way is with Screenplay, though there is love for Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up” (somehow), Norway’s “The Worst Person in the World,” or “Licorice Pizza,” which would give Paul Thomas Anderson his first career win. I personally wasn’t wowed by any of these scripts (“King Richard” is also nominated and I think that was perfectly fine), but for the sake of being different I would vote for “Worst Person.”
WILL WIN: “Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh
COULD WIN: “Don’t Look Up,” Adam McKay and David Sirota
SHOULD WIN: “The Worst Person in the World,” Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Much like Original, I could see four of the five winning here. It will likely be “CODA,” and if/when that happens, we can start feeling more confident about its Best Picture chances, but “Power of the Dog” and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter” are right on its trail. “Drive My Car” has a snowball’s chance if there is enough industry support, though fans of the film will likely just be happy with its impending Best International win.
WILL WIN: “CODA,” Sian Heder
COULD WIN: “The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion
SHOULD WIN: “CODA,” Sian Heder
I think Best Editing is going to be an interesting one to watch (well, be told about, since it was one of the awards the Academy is pre-filming before the show to “save time”). Everyone thinks it will be “Dune” but I think “tick, tick… BOOM!” could have the upset win in the category a la “Whiplash” or “Hacksaw Ridge,” as its supporters will want to be sure it wins something. “King Richard” could also play spoiler, as the Academy loves sports movie edits. Most below-the-line awards will go to “Dune” but watch out for “Nightmare Alley” to sneak in and possibly steal Cinematography or Production Design. In Best Animated Feature, I’m predicting an upset of “The Mitchells vs the Machines” over Pixar’s “Encanto,” and “Eyes of Tammy Faye” to take home Makeup and Hairstyling while “Cruella” wins Costumes. My other two no-guts, no-glory predictions are “Flee” over “Summer of Soul” in Documentary and “Power of the Dog” taking Best Score away from “Dune.”
Well there you have it. I am feeling pretty confident in my picks, which just means I will go 8 for 23. I think “CODA” has a “Spotlight” or “Argo”-esque night where it doesn’t need to win any flashy awards but takes home Best Picture, “Dune” (with estimated ~5 wins) follows “Mad Max” and “Gravity” as winning the most of its nominations just not the big one, and “Power of the Dog” (predicted two wins, though can see a world where it gets four or zero) flames out after being the favorite all season. Or “Belfast” could win everything, who knows! That’s the magic of the movies, baby!