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Awards Season / Oscar Predictions Update: ‘Nightmare Alley’ and ‘West Side Story’ Remove the Final X Factors From the Equation

Searchlight Pictures

Earlier this week, both Nightmare Alley and West Side Story unveiled themselves. Why is that so interesting, besides just being high profile new films? Well, that’s basically a wrap on the Academy Award hopefuls. True, maybe there’s a surprise to be had with A Journal for Jordan or The Matrix Resurrections, but in all likelihood, we’ve seen what will be nominated for major Oscars. Simply put, the X factor for awards season is no more. Everything is, to one degree or another, a known quantity. So, with new predictions here for you all, why not discuss both movies and see where they might play for voters?

Nightmare Alley screened for the first time on Wednesday (to mostly strong responses, including my own somewhat muted yet positive take), essentially being the bow on the cinematic year. Guillermo del Toro‘s remake is big scale noir, which could be catnip for voters. At the same time, it’s kind of gnarly and off-putting, so the embrace that The Shape of Water received is almost certainly not happening again. Below the line is where a win or two might emerge for the flick. Above the line, Bradley Cooper could crash the party in Best Actor, but the campaigning will sure be fierce, either way. In a way, this one’s reveal mostly just confirmed its potential, as opposed to really changing anything too substantial about the race.

West Side Story debuted earlier in the week, with an even stronger reception. Steven Spielberg‘s first musical has almost immediately been feted as a potential Best Picture frontrunner. Now, I’m not quite that bullish on it, but across the board nominations are almost a foregone conclusion. My review yesterday (found here) has more on its quality, but Oscar wise? It’s a player. The more money it winds up making, the better for its winning prospects, but right now, it does feel like it has broken the top five in both Picture and Best Director for Spielberg. Frankly, we never should have doubted him. Of all the musicals to hit in 2021, this is the one that the Academy will embrace most.

20th Century Studios

We’re entering the precursor season now, with the National Board of Review notably announcing yesterday, as well as the Gothams back on Monday. Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Licorice Pizza took the two top prizes with NBR, further establishing that Licorice Pizza is a film not to be underestimated. You can’t take too much stock from either, except that we’re learning what people dig most. Still, it’ll be a while before any precursors of note hit (basically, thats’ the Guilds, as opposed to the Critics and those similar organizations). That being said, it’s always interesting to see how this all continues to evolve, between now and nomination morning.

Prior updates hereherehereherehereherehereherehere, and here have truly set the stage for the season. At this point, where I really don’t have anything new to see for major consideration the first part of the equation is soon to be complete. Then, it’ll be time to fully figure this thing out. So, get set folks, and sit tight. I promise it will be worth it…

You can once again see my Oscar predictions (remember when they were still Year in Advance ones, not too long ago?) here at Awards Radar. Take a gander and be sure to watch out for the next update, which is coming either next week or the week after. They’re going to continue coming in hot and heavy these days, especially now that festival season is completely done with. Enjoy!

Let us know what you think of my predictions and stay tuned for another update very soon!


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1 year ago


1 year ago


Max Joseph
1 year ago

SO excited!! Great work!



Written by Joey Magidson

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