Like a nerdier March Madness, the Oscars also provide their fair share of upsets, shoe-ins, and predictions from fans. Below are my picks (who I think should win), predicts (who I think will win), and snubs (who should have been nominated) for ten categories at this year’s Oscars.
1. BEST PICTURE
To continue the analogy, I look at this year’s Best Picture nominees a little like this:
- 1-seeds: “The Power of the Dog,” “Belfast,” and “West Side Story”
- 2-seeds: “CODA,” “King Richard,” and “Don’t Look Up”
- 3-seeds: “Dune,” “Licorice Pizza,” and “Nightmare Alley”
- 4-seed: “Drive My Car”
PICK: “Drive My Car”
I would love to see the Cinderella Story that is “Drive My Car” winning Best Picture. I found the film to be a touching story about the art of navigating grief, which, as Hamaguchi shows us, is not always linear, usually a bumpy ride, and easier with a friend or two along the way.
PREDICT: “The Power of the Dog”
An awards powerhouse, “The Power of the Dog” is the movie to beat. Despite its recent controversies, I really enjoyed this film (almost as much as Scorsese!) and would be happy to see it win, especially since that would make 2021 and 2022 the first consecutive years two films directed by women have won Best Picture.
SNUB: “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
The best 2021 film I watched is “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” On paper, it has a lot going for it. It’s a Shakespeare adaptation (1 point), in black-and-white (2 points), directed by a Coen brother (Hat trick! Is that a basketball thing?), distributed by A24 (4 points). ’Twas a tragic snub.
2. ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
PICK: Tie — Kristen Stewart, “Spencer,” and Penélope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers”
I was blown away by Stewart’s performance in “Spencer.” As for Cruz, you can’t expect anything less than magic from the dynamic duo of Pedro & Penélope.
PREDICT: Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
Chastain seems to have the upper hand, having won many of the equivalent awards already this season.
SNUB: Renate Reinsve, “The Worst Person in the World”
The Norwegian actress dazzled as Julie, a woman stumbling and tripping her way into her 30s with little grace but lots of charm.
3. ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
PICK: Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog”
There was no nomination here whose acting I felt as passionately about as my two picks for Best Actress. Even in my favorite movie of the year, I thought Denzel Washington’s performance was a bit lackluster. However, I’ll throw it to Cumberbatch for his scrumptiously villainous portrayal of repressed rancher, Phil Burbank.
PREDICT: Will Smith, “King Richard”
I think Smith will take home the prize for the same reasons I’m predicting Chastain will win Best Actress (clutching both the SAG and Critic’s Choice).
SNUB: Nicolas Cage, “Pig”
One of the biggest snubs, in my opinion. Cage’s scruffy yet soft performance in “Pig” was full of intriguing choices, nuances, and subtleties that gave weight to a relatively small story.
4. ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
PICK: Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter”
Buckley brought a complex, earnest portrayal of motherhood to “The Lost Daughter.” Her flashback scenes confidently match Olivia Colman’s enigmatic, detached aura.
PREDICT: Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”
Having already won three major awards under her belt for her role as Anita, this is DeBose’s category to lose.
SNUB: Kathryn Hunter, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Hunter brought more kinetic energy to the screen than any amount of CGI could ever. Her performance oozes with surrealism, mysticism, and straight-up horror, as she contorts her body, voice, and image into otherworldly figures and mirages.
5. ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
PICK: Troy Kotsur, “CODA”
Kotsur stole the show in “CODA,” both comedically and seriously–with cheeky, embarrassing Dad-isms and the more heartfelt moments with his daughter.
PREDICT: Ciaràn Hinds, “Belfast”
This is another toss-up for me. I think they all have a fair shot—and am almost leaning toward Simmons because of his 2015 win in the same category—but “Belfast” is due for an award or two.
SNUB: Mike Faist, “West Side Story”
Faist’s Riff was one of my favorite performances from the musical. Instead of falling into a hyper-masculine portrayal of the Jets leader, Faist gives the character a more androgynous charm with his lanky dancing and manic mannerisms.
PICK: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
The choices Campion made in “The Power of the Dog” were so deliberate, intentional, and evidential of her power as director. If Campion wins, it will be only the third time a woman has won the award and the first time two women have won in consecutive years.
PREDICT: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
I think Campion can pull out the W, despite her recent snafu. Her biggest competition is probably Branagh or Spielberg, the latter of whom beat Campion in this same category in 1994.
SNUB: Denis Villeneuve, “Dune”
Villeneuve did the impossible by giving “Dune” the precious care its faithful readers demanded, growing it to the scale it deserves (meaning having to cut the first book into at least two films), and making it appealing to the masses. Here’s hoping for a nomination in 2024 with “Dune: Part II.”
7. WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
PICK: Eskil Vogt, Joachim Tier, “The Worst Person in the World”
One of my favorite things about TWPITW was how human it felt. Some of my favorite lines of dialogue came from the character, Aksel, who’s been diagnosed with terminal cancer: “I just watch my favorite old movies over and over. Lynch, The Godfather Part II… How many times can you watch Dog Day Afternoon?” and “I don’t want to be a memory for you. I don’t want to be a voice in your head. I don’t want to live on through my art. I want to live in my flat. I want to live… I want to live in my flat with you.”
PREDICT: Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”
I think it could be a tight race between two men’s hometown homages— Branagh for “Belfast” and PTA for “Licorice Pizza.” Between the two, I’m rooting for the latter so I’ll predict Anderson wins this one.
SNUB: Michael Sarnoski, “Pig”
A unique story, catapulted by Nicolas Cage’s performance, “Pig” is sprinkled with lovely moments of dialogue, one my favorites being: “They don’t even know you because you haven’t shown them. Every day you wake up and there’ll be less of you. You live your life for them and they don’t even see you. You don’t even see yourself. We don’t get a lot of things to really care about.“
8. WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
PICK: Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth, “Dune”
Villeneuve and his team knocked it out of the park with their adaptation of the classic sci-fi novel “Dune.” I read the behemoth of a book solely in anticipation of the film. Neither disappointed.
PREDICT: “Drive My Car”
There’s so much to love about this screenplay, chalked full of introspective dialogue. For example, in one monologue: “Even if you think you know someone well, even if you love that person deeply, you can’t completely look into that person’s heart. You’ll just feel hurt. But if you put in enough effort, you should be able to look into your own heart pretty well.”
SNUB: David Lowery, “The Green Knight”
Lowery didn’t get any love from the Academy this year with his adaptation of the poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.” In one of my favorite monologues from the film, Alicia Vikander’s character speaks of the color green: “We deck our halls with it and dye our linens. But should it come creeping up the cobbles, we scrub it out, fast as we can. And when we, together all, find that our reach has exceeded our grasp, we cut it down, we stamp it out, we spread ourselves atop it and smother it beneath our bellies, but it comes back.”
PICK: Bruno Delbonnel, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
The cinematography (and production design) in this movie was some of the best I’ve seen… Ever. The distance between the viewer and camera is meticulous and calculated. The framing creates an otherworldly effect, submerging us into Shakespeare’s text itself. Delbonnel is one Bruno we should talk about.
PREDICT: Bruno Delbonnel, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Although I think it is a long shot against TPOTD and “Dune,” both of which had great cinematography, I am predicting “Macbeth” will take it, if only as an attempt to manifest my pick.
SNUB: Robert Yeoman, “The French Dispatch”
Given all of its nominations, I’m surprised “Belfast” didn’t receive a cinematography nod since that was the best thing it had going for it. I would throw “Belfast” in here but I’ll also give a shout out to “The French Dispatch,” where Wes Anderson’s crew boasts their usual bag of impressive cinematic tricks.
10. INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
PICK: “Drive My Car” (Japan)
I was thrilled to see Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” win both Best Picture and Best International Feature (along with Best Director and Original Screenplay) at 2020’s awards show. I’m hoping “Drive My Car” does the same.
PREDICT: “Drive My Car” (Japan)
If you’ve gotten this far into my Picks, Predicts & Snubs, you know by now I really enjoyed “Drive My Car.” It deserves all the awards.
SNUB: “Parallel Mothers” (Spain)
There are still lots of international films from 2021 that I haven’t been able to get my hands on—like Thailand’s “Memoria” and France’s “Petite Maman”—so it’s hard to pick a definitive snub; however, “Parallel Mothers” was my second-favorite film of the year. I was surprised that Spain did not choose to submit Almodóvar’s work for consideration, especially since his films have previously won three times in this category.
The 94th Academy Awards air Sunday, March 27th at 7 PM CST on ABC.