On March 27th, the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California will be filled with the people behind 2021’s best movies. This year’s ceremony feels closest to the previous 92 Oscar ceremonies that happened prior to the odd, COVID-induced, asterisk year that 2020 was, and the nominees even reflect this in their own unique way. Nothing says normal Hollywood more than Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story which is nominated for seven awards or Jane Campion’s distortion of the classic Western in her widely celebrated film, The Power of the Dog, which is nominated for twelve awards. After last year’s weird COVID fever dream of a ceremony, it seems like Hollywood and audiences around the world are ready for a sickeningly-glamourous, slightly-egotistical, and wonderfully-unimportant 94th Oscars ceremony. As The Bull & Bear’s resident movie buff, here are my Oscar predictions for some of the major awards ahead of the event.
Don’t Look Up
Drive My Car
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story
The odds-on favourite for Best Picture is Jane Campion and Netflix’s The Power of the Dog. If Campion can win Best Picture, it will make history by being the first streaming service film to win Best Picture. Netflix has been fighting for this the past couple years with films such as 2020’s Mank, 2019’s Marriage Story, and 2018’s Roma which were all nominated for Best Picture. However, going into the ceremony, the momentum has shifted to Apple Studio’s heartwarming CODA which tells the story of the only hearing child in a deaf family. CODA recently won both the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Best Theatrical Motion Picture award at the Producers Guild Awards which are both major predictors in the race for Best Picture. The thought process behind a small indie film such as CODA winning Best Picture over another film with more nominations and critical praise like The Power of the Dog is that Academy voters would rather vote for the heartwarming, crowd-pleasing film over the more contemplative, serious one. If CODA wins Best Picture, then it would not only be the first streaming-service film to win but also the first to win without any Best Director or Best Editing nominations, both of which are usual qualifiers for Best Picture. Personally, I believe CODA will win Best Picture. The film has a lot of momentum and the prospect of allowing a heartwarming film to win Best Picture seems like something that could pad the Academy’s ego. Considering Brokeback Mountain’s huge snub in 2005 for Best Picture, we’ll see if the Academy continues its streak of not-liking gay cowboy films with CODA winning overThe Power of the Dog.
What Will Win: CODA
What Could Win: The Power of the Dog
What I Wish Would Win: Licorice Pizza
Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Steven Spielberg, West Side Story
This has pretty much been a lock since the nominations came out for Campion. Since taking home the Silver Lion for Best Direction at the Venice Film Festival for The Power of the Dog, she’s taken home the Golden Globe, the BAFTA, and the Critics’ Choice Award. If Campion wins, she’ll be the third woman to win a Best Director Oscar, and while I would’ve loved to see some recognition for Hamaguchi in this category who directs one hell of a film in Drive My Car, I’d be very happy to see Campion win.
Who Will Win: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Who Could Win: Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
Who I Wish Would Win: Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
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
This category has been a very fierce campaigning ground over the past few months. The front-runners Smith, Cumberbatch, and Garfield have been campaigning very hard, especially Garfield, whose performance in Tick….Tick….Boom! and cameo in Spiderman: No Way Home has propelled him back into the public eye. Overall, it looks like it will go to Will Smith for a really great performance in a perfectly mediocre movie. Smith won the Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild award, and the BAFTA this year, and that BAFTA win means something big given that Smith won British voters over Cumberbatch who is an extremely British man who had a very strong performance this year.
Who Will Win: Will Smith, King Richard
Who Could Win: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
Who I Wish Would Win: Andrew Garfield, Tick… Tick… Boom!
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos
Kristen Stewart, Spencer
No one knows what is happening in this category. Only recently did Chastain emerge as a front-runner with her SAG and Critics’ Choice win, but a lot of the momentum for this award seems to be floating around. Given that not a single one of these nominees was nominated for a BAFTA confuses everything even further. While Chastain may win given her previous awards and the fact she starred in a body-morphing biopic, a lot of people are still favouring Kristen Stewart for her film Spencer, which many people were divided on. Personally, I feel like Chastain will win because she gives such a classic Oscar-baity performance, but at the end of the day I still wish Alana Haim in Licorice Pizza or Renate Reinsve in The Worst Person in the World or even Catriona Balfe in Belfast were in consideration for their amazing performances this year.
Who Will Win: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Who Could Win: Kristen Stewart, Spencer
Who I Wish Would Win: Renate Reinsve, The Worst Person in the World
Best Supporting Actor:
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
Troy Kotsur is the favourite going into the ceremony after he overtook Kodi Smit-McPhee for the momentum after winning a couple key awards like the SAG and BAFTA. Kotsur’s win for his amazing performance at the Oscars would make history as the first deaf actor to ever win an Oscar. I honestly don’t know why J.K. Simmons is nominated when Bradley Cooper’s cocainey, hilarious performance in Licorice Pizza is right there.
Who Will Win: Troy Kotsur, CODA
Who Could Win: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog
Who I Want to Win: Jamie Dornan, Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar
Best Supporting Actress:
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 swept nearly every award for this category this awards season and is likely going to win the Oscar. If she wins, she’d be following in the footsteps of Rita Moreno who also played the role of Anita in the original West Side Story. Aunjanue Ellis and Dunst also give really amazing performances in their films and should not be forgotten in the probable DeBose win.
Who Will Win: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Who Could Win: Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard
Who I Wish Would Win: Harriet Sansom Harris, Licorice Pizza
Best Original Screenplay:
Don’t Look Up
The Worst Person in the World
Recently, the extremely divisive Adam McKay film Don’t Look Up won Best Original Screenplay at the Writers Guild Awards, which threw people into a frenzy. I don’t hate Don’t Look Up as much as some people, but I don’t know how I feel about a film whose premise was done better by The Simpsons some 20 years ago. McKay’s film could definitely win but it seems more Oscar-y to have the BAFTA winner Licorice Pizza take the Oscar home. If Licorice Pizza wins, it will be the first Oscar for director Paul Thomas Anderson, who has directed many Oscar-nominated films like There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread. Oscar voters could most definitely award Anderson with his first Oscar to not only award Licorice Pizza, but to also make up for the many Oscars he’s lost out on in years past.
Who Will Win: Licorice Pizza
Who Could Win: Don’t Look Up
Who I Wish Would Win: The Worst Person in the World
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Drive My Car
The Lost Daughter
The Power of the Dog
This category seems to be a lock for CODA even though the other nominees are very strong. There’s the contemplative and intellectual The Power of the Dog, the prestigious and complex Drive My Car, and the wonderfully fragmented The Lost Daughter. It would be amazing if The Lost Daughter won because it would give Maggie Gyllenhaal an Oscar for her outstanding debut film. However, the Academy has a hard time giving awards to first-time nominees.
Who Will Win: CODA
Who Could Win: The Power of the Dog
Who I Wish Would Win: The Lost Daughter
There are many other categories to be decided on Sunday, such as Best Editing, which CODA is not even nominated for. If CODA wins Best Picture, then it’ll go against a strong Oscar record of the Best Picture winner also winning Best Editing. From 1981 to 2013, all Best Picture winners also won Best Editing, and nearly two-thirds of all Best Picture Winners have won Best Editing. There’s also Best International Feature Film which will probably go to Drive My Car, and a bunch of other awards up for grabs that I don’t have time to predict here. Tune into the Oscars on Sunday and be whisked away to an overly-indulgent and wonderfully corny night of your favourite film stars. The Oscars may be unimportant to many but for some us who were unathletic as children, they’re the closest thing we have to the Superbowl.