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Awards Season / Oscar Predictions Update: Put Up and Shut Up…Time for Final Phase One Predictions!

At this point, I just want to get it over with already. Tuesday morning, the Academy will reveal their Oscar nominations, with all of the accompanying pain and glory. It’s always a mix of excitement and nerves, but this year has proven to be perhaps the hardest in recent memory to predict. Now, that doesn’t mean that I won’t ace them, just like fifteen years of doing this professionally doesn’t preclude me from bombing. It just means that the Academy Awards are more in flux than usual, much like the precursor season on the whole. What does that mean for the Oscars, especially in light of yesterday’s puzzling BAFTA nominations? Well, today I try to figure that out with my (mostly) final predictions…

What you’ll see at the end of this post are my picks as of today for the Oscar nominations, but I do reserve the right to make a last minute change. That being said, I likely won’t, since the more you overthink, the more likely you are to screw it all up. But, if I do, you’ll see it reflected in the date on the individual pages. So, just keep that in mind…

A note about BAFTA before we fully begin. Specifically, two things. One is that the announcement yesterday came after Oscar ballots were due, so that limits their impact. Two is that their nominating method, with very small committees deciding on many of the categories, also negates things a bit. Do you throw them out completely? Not at all. Do you treat them as just a piece of the puzzle, like SAG, for example? Of course. That’s how they are now, given their changes.

Now, on to previewing my Academy Award predictions. First up, we can talk tech. Below the line seems almost straightforward in comparison to the bigger categories. Mainly, it’s just a matter of how well something like Dune does, while weighing it against any potential weaknesses for Belfast, The Power of the Dog, and West Side Story. Given the other spots those films are dealing with, this is almost quaint. Sure, there’s also X factors like Nightmare Alley and No Time to Die (and even The French Dispatch or Spider-Man: No Way Home), but far less in the way of nerves.

The two screenplay fields also appear potentially set, except for the quirk that at least one almost always has a nominee that shows up nowhere else. I personally think that could be C’mon C’mon in Best Original Screenplay, meaning something from the presumptive group of Being the Ricardos, Belfast, Don’t Look Up, King Richard, and Licorice Pizza would miss. Your guess is as good as mine there, but Don’t Look Up and King Richard seem the likeliest. In Adapted, it looks like CODA, Drive My Car, Dune, The Lost Daughter, and The Power of the Dog are set, but West Side Story is hoping to hang on and knock something out.


Oh, the Acting categories. In the Supporting fields, we appear to have frontrunners that may not be stopped. Ariana DeBose feels fairly safe in Best Supporting Actress, though we’ll have to see who she winds up facing off against. A last second Ann Dowd citation could provide major competition, but other than that, DeBose may be able to easily fend off the other ladies she winds up nominated with. Best Supporting Actor may be the same thing for Kodi Smit-McPhee, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that someone is going to give him a real run for his money. Will it be Ben Affleck? Ciarán Hinds? Troy Kotsur? Check back in a few days and we’ll see who’s still standing.

The Leads, on the other hand, could have something big brewing next week. BAFTA gave folks a ton to ponder, even if some of it may prove to be needless worry. Will Smith is still the Best Actor frontrunner, and Andrew Garfield may have lost a bit of ground, but maybe SAG still makes the switch in leader? And what of Benedict Cumberbatch, who is hanging right there with them. Plus, is the fifth spot really Javier Bardem? There are questions that we’ll have answers to on Tuesday morning. Then, there’s Best Actress. Going strictly on the precursors, Lady Gaga may be your new frontrunner, even if that seems unlikely to stick. Olivia Colman and Nicole Kidman appear likely to survive their British snubs, but Kristen Stewart is on the brink. Is she this year’s Jennifer Lopez? Or, does she survive and the predicted five have just switched their pecking order? TBD.

Best Director, on the other hand, may be clearer cut than many. There’s the DGA five of Paul Thomas Anderson, Kenneth Branagh, Jane Campion, Steven Spielberg, and Denis Villenueve, and it could be them. However, the Directors Guild doesn’t always go five for five, so I’m predicting a swap. In fact, I think Spielberg is surprisingly vulnerable, especially if the Drive My Car passion pushes Ryusuke Hamaguchi to the top five. There remains a possibility for a surprise nominee like a Guillermo del Toro, Maggie Gyllenhaal, or Adam McKay, but the international vote has recently been a force, giving Hamaguchi that potential edge.

Now, Best Picture. Nine contenders have more or less solidified themselves as nominees, leaving only one slot wide open. That being said, Picture still seems like a race between Belfast and The Power of the Dog, with CODA hoping to use SAG as a springboard to spoil. We’ll know more after Tuesday, when we can tell if any of the three over or underperform. For now, the safe bet is still with Belfast, while The Power of the Dog is starting to amass the hardware. If that keeps up, Netflix may actually take home the top prize this year…

Here now are my up to date and likely final Oscar predictions. Feel free to chime in with your own, but other than that, just get set for Tuesday morning. Whatever will be will be, so sit tight. We’re almost certainly in for something wild…

Stay tuned for another update after Tuesday’s Oscar nominations!


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Written by Joey Magidson

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