Oscar predictions: Who will win, and should win, Latest Movies News - The New Paper

Oscar predictions: Who will win, and should win

On the morning of March 28, Singapore time, curtains will rise on an Oscars race marked by a movie industry still reeling from the pandemic.

The answer, it appears for now, is streaming. The major studios are on a drive to ramp up subscriptions to make up for the volatility of the box office, which is why nominated films, such as musical West Side Story, space opera Dune and animated feature Encanto, were hustled onto streaming platforms shortly after theatrical release.

In 2021, streaming platforms showed they had been busy producing or acquiring material. Several show up on this list, including the leading contender with 12 nominations, Netflix's moody western The Power Of The Dog, a movie that could earn the platform its first Best Picture win.

Another interesting category this year is Best Supporting Actor, which should lead to the victory of the relatively unknown Troy Kotsur, who was hired on the Apple TV+ coming-of-age drama Coda after co-star Marlee Matlin used her clout to insist that deaf characters should be played only by deaf actors. He is the first deaf male actor to receive an Oscar nomination.

Matlin, who plays his wife in the film, was the first deaf person to win an Academy Award in an acting category. She won the Best Actress prize for her part in romantic drama Children Of A Lesser God (1987).

The 94th Annual Academy Awards will broadcast live on meWatch and Channel 5 on March 28, with the red-carpet event at 6.30am and the main show at 8am.

Best Picture

Nominees: Belfast, Coda, Don't Look Up, Drive My Car, Dune, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, The Power Of The Dog, West Side Story

Who will win: The Power Of The Dog

This disturbing tale of a family tormented by a bully could rank among the least popular Best Picture winners, compared with awardees that were also box-office darlings, such as South Korean social comedy Parasite (2019) or the fantasy The Shape Of Water (2017).

The film, built around Benedict Cumberbatch's nasty rancher Phil, will win because behind it is a head of steam from wins at the American Film Institute (included in its annual Top 10 list), Golden Globes (Best Director, for Jane Campion) and other key races.

While the psychodrama did place briefly in the North American Netflix top 10 viewing lists in 2021, its popularity never crossed over into the mainstream. Academy voters and critics, however, adore its pensive tone and strong performances. Later this month, it should become Netflix's first Best Picture win.

It should come as a relief for the platform, which has sunk hundreds of millions producing or acquiring distribution rights for prestige projects such as the drama Roma (2018), crime thriller The Irishman (2019) and biography Mank (2020) - which have all earned Best Picture nods.

With Campion's adaptation of Thomas Savage's 1967 novel of the same name, the platform looks set to win the award that cements its reputation as a serious Hollywood player.

Who should win : Nightmare Alley

The lush crime thriller seems to have everything that Academy voters love - a brand-name film-maker in Guillermo del Toro (Best Director and Best Picture winner in 2018 for The Shape Of Water), a star-studded cast that includes Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett, in a story about entertainers and the art of illusion. While critics loved this homage to crime noir, audiences stayed away.

The stain of box-office failure seems to have hurt its standing with Academy voters. While it earned four nominations at this year's Oscars, that number is a far cry from the 12 nominations garnered by The Power Of The Dog, which is leading the pack.

Best Director

Nominees: Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Jane Campion (The Power Of The Dog), Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)

Who will win: Jane Campion

For her work on the slow-moving western, the 67-year-old New Zealand director has won a raft of Best Director prizes at several key races, including the British Academy Film Awards, the Golden Globes and the Directors Guild of America Awards.

Jane Campion sails into the Oscars with goodwill from her previous work, including for the drama The Piano (1993), which earned a Best Director nod but she lost to Steven Spielberg for his work on the wartime biography Schindler's List (1993).

Who should win: Jane Campion or Steven Spielberg

Campion once more faces off against Spielberg, but this time, her study of repressed erotic longing will triumph. Still, Spielberg's exuberant musical should not be dismissed. It should have cast a stronger male lead than the barely there Ansel Elgort, but Spielberg's unrivalled prowess as a visual storyteller shines through in massed set pieces featuring the cast giving it their all in song and dance.

Best Actor

Nominees: 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)

Who will win: Will Smith

Will Smith, 53, is known for straddling the worlds of comedy-tinged popcorn movies and serious biopics. His two previous Best Actor nods were for playing boxer Muhammad Ali in Ali (2001), then businessman Chris Gardner in The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006). His third nod is for playing Richard Williams, father of tennis champions Serena and Venus.

He should secure his first Best Actor Oscar on the back of wins at the British Academy Film Awards, Golden Globes and, most importantly, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which has a voter base made up of mostly the same professionals who vote in the Oscars acting categories.

Despite The Power Of The Dog's overall glowing showing at the Oscars, British actor Benedict Cumberbatch will lose to Smith. King Richard is built around Smith's character, the dad who helped take his family from lower-income housing to the gated community. For sheer amount of screen time, Smith could not have asked for a better showcase.

Who should win: Will Smith

It has not been a great year for male performances. No one besides Smith commands the same amount of screen time nor exhibits the same range. As the self-styled tennis maven Williams, Smith fills the screen with warmth and an unshakeable self-confidence that he bestows on his daughters. By the end, everyone who watches the film wishes he were their dad.

Best Actress

Nominees: Jessica Chastain (The Eyes Of Tammy Faye), Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter), Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers), Nicole Kidman (Being The Ricardos), Kristen Stewart (Spencer)

Who will win: Jessica Chastain

Of the three woman-driven biopics nominated - Nicole Kidman is comedienne Lucille Ball, Kristen Stewart is Princess Diana and Jessica Chastain is evangelical preacher Tammy Faye Bakker - Chastain's role is not only the meatiest, but her performance has also been praised for being a ray of light in a muddled movie, a feat voters love.

She also pulls off a vote-getting body transformation. In the film, she ages from vivacious college student to washed-up middle age, all while wearing facial prosthetics which alter her appearance.

She has been nominated twice in the past, with no wins, in the Best Actress category in war drama Zero Dark Thirty (2012) and Best Supporting Actress in drama The Help (2011), but comes into this race with a Best Actress win in the key Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Who should win: Olivia Colman or Jessica Chastain

Chastain gets a run for her money from English actress Olivia Colman, whose veiled, mystery-filled performance is on the opposite end of the showiness spectrum from Chastain's. Under the hand of actress-turned-director Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colman's Leda, a secretive solo traveller basking in the Greek sun, is a character who sticks in the mind after the movie is over.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: 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)

Who will win: Troy Kotsur

American actor Troy Kotsur, 53, made his name in theatre for the deaf before being cast as the deaf fisherman dad of a hearing child in the coming-of-age drama-comedy Coda. The film, streaming on Apple TV+, not only won acclaim for its engaging story, but it also earned industry respect for being one of the first productions to employ actors with the disability depicted in the story.

Kotsur took the part of the struggling blue-collar dad and made it his own. Voters were also moved by his real-life career trajectory, which proved that diverse hiring benefits everyone. They rewarded him with a slew of Best Supporting Actor prizes, including at the British Academy Film Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Who should win: Kodi Smit-McPhee or Troy Kotsur

Kotsur's Frank, the deaf dad unhappily seeing his hearing daughter Ruby (Emilia Jones) grow up and break away, makes the film's sense of heartbreak and acceptance feel real.

Australian actor Kodi Smit-McPhee, 25, offers something different. In the psychodrama The Power Of The Dog, his Peter, son of the couple oppressed by Benedict Cumberbatch's hate-filled Phil, must move from innocent side character to something far more pivotal and knowing in the final act. Smit-McPhee pulls off that transition easily and with style.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter), Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), Judi Dench (Belfast), Kirsten Dunst (The Power Of The Dog), Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard)

Who will win: Ariana DeBose

American actress Ariana DeBose, 31, was given the juicy role of the irrepressibly optimistic Anita, a Puerto Rican immigrant who believes that poverty and racism in New York are still better than the dull backwater she left behind. Her feelings are expressed in the centrepiece number America ("I like to be in America, okay by me in America") which DeBose dominates - in mile-high yellow heels.

Voters and critics loved the size of DeBose's part and the way she exceeded expectations in a role that Rita Moreno had immortalised in the 1961 film version. DeBose has been rewarded with Best Supporting Actress wins at the British Academy Film Awards, Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Who should win: Ariana DeBose

She sings, she dances, she acts - the triple-threat DeBose makes her competition look like they are standing still. Her energy not only bowled over those who doubted she would make viewers forget Moreno, but her presence also gives the movie a much-needed boost.

Best Visual Effects

Nominees: Dune, Free Guy, No Time To Die, Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings, Spider-Man: No Way Home

Who will win: Dune

In an awards show usually filled with non-mainstream films, this category gives fans of popcorn fare something to root for. This film, adapted from the classic 1965 novel, could have been a pew-pew action blockbuster, but that is not the sort of movies that French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve is hired to make.

His films, among them alien-visitation drama Arrival (2016) and android cop story Blade Runner 2049 (2017), combine eye candy with deep questions and character-driven stories - factors that helped them reap recognition at prestigious competitions.

Those traits have earned Dune 10 nominations, including in the Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay categories.

The film is unlikely to shine in other categories - there is still snobbery about science-fiction among voters. But its beautifully blended and highly distinct mix of computer-generated and practical effects - think ornithopters darting like dragonflies over the deserts of Arrakis - should make a win a certainty.

Who should win: Dune

All the other films in this category, except for James Bond movie No Time To Die, have the same bright, exaggerated video-game look that has become the industry standard for superhero and science-fiction stories. Dune dares to be different by showing that computer effects can not only amaze, but they can also ground a movie in a dusty world populated by sandworms as big as buildings.


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