94th Academy Award Predictions

The Gotham Award nominations came out in late October. Nearly five months later, we’re finally toward the conclusion of the 2021-2022 award season.

It’s been an entertaining season for sure, with the Best Picture front-runner shifting a lot, from “Belfast,” to “The Power of the Dog” and now, seemingly, “CODA.” We’ll know the winner of this category and all the others on Sunday during the Academy Awards ceremony.

Until then, we can only predict what will happen. So here are my predictions for who will win on Sunday, who could maybe play spoiler, my choices for who should get the Oscar and a few snubs.

Best Picture
  • “Belfast,” Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas, producers.
  • “CODA,” Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger, producers.
  • “Don’t Look Up,” Adam McKay and Kevin Messick, producers.
  • “Drive My Car,” Teruhisa Yamamoto, producer.
  • “Dune,” Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter, producers.
  • “King Richard,” Tim White, Trevor White and Will Smith, producers.
  • “Licorice Pizza,” Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson, producers.
  • “Nightmare Alley,” Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale and Bradley Cooper, producers.
  • “The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier, producers.
  • “West Side Story,” Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, producers.

Who Will Win: “CODA” is in fact surging right now, but I agree with what Matt Neglia has been saying about “The Power of the Dog” at Next Best Picture. “The Power of the Dog” has a ton of nominations while “CODA” lacks nods in Best Director or Best Editing. I think the Oscars will follow the BAFTA decision and give the award to “Power of the Dog” on Sunday.

Who Could Win: If not “Power of the Dog” it will definitely be “CODA.” This is a close one, and it’s a two movie race.

Who Should Win: Of the nominees, I’d be thrilled to see “Nightmare Alley,” “Licorice Pizza” or “Drive My Car” win. Those were my top films in this category.

Snubbed: I think “Pig” with Nicolas Cage, the Princess Diana biopic “Spencer” and Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” were more deserving than some of the other nominees.

Best Director
  • Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast.”
  • Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car.”
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza.”
  • Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog.”
  • Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story.”

Who Will Win: This is one I think is quite clear cut. Jane Campion is the front-runner for this category, with many wins including the top prize from the Directors Guild. She has good competition in the category, but she will win on Sunday.

Who Could Win: If there is any major surprise in this category, I could maybe see Branagh winning if “Belfast” has a good night, possibly by picking up an additional win in screenplay. However, this is a long shot.

Who Should Win: I think Campion is deserving, but I also would be overjoyed to see Hamaguchi win for “Drive My Car.”

Best Actor
  • 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 has surged this award season, picking up a Screen Actors Guild trophy and a BAFTA award along the way. His campaign will culminate Sunday with an Oscar win.

Who Could Win: Benedict Cumberbatch has been a critics favorite this season and if anyone else had a chance here, it would be him.

Who Should Win: While I thought Smith was strong in “King Richard,” my pick for the category would either be Cumberbatch or Garfield.

Snubbed: Nicolas Cage absolutely deserved a nomination for “Pig,” he gave an amazing performance. He definitely could have been swapped with Javier Bardem. I also think Oscar Isaac should’ve received more recognition in general this season for his work in “The Card Counter.”

Best Actress
  • Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
  • Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter.”
  • Penélope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers.”
  • Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos.”
  • Kristen Stewart, “Spencer.”

Who Will Win: Cruz has made a late push in this category according to some anonymous Oscar voters. However, Chastain is still the favorite here. Her SAG victory was a big step forward for her campaign and it will get her over the hump Sunday.

Who Could Win: As said above, Cruz has had some momentum lately, and if Chastain is upset, it would probably be by the star of “Parallel Mothers.”

Who Should Win: My No. 1 film of 2021 was “Spencer” and a major reason for that was Kristen Stewart’s superb performance as Diana. She was amazing in the movie and the fact that she likely won’t win is a shame. At least she earned a lot of awards from critics groups, including Minnesota’s.

Snubbed: How none of the women from “Mass” were nominated is beyond me. Ann Dowd and Martha Plimpton were both exceptional.

Best Supporting Actor
  • Ciarán 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: Kotsur has absolutely dominated this awards season. He’s won awards from the Critics’ Choice, SAG, BAFTA and Independent Spirit. He will add another trophy to his case on Sunday.

Who Could Win: There’s basically a 99% chance Kotsur wins Sunday. If he doesn’t, Smit-McPhee would be my guess as he’s earned a lot of awards from other organizations.

Who Should Win: Kotsur is definitely deserving in this category, but I may have picked either Plemons or Smit-McPhee.

Snubbed: Jeffrey Wright deserved a nod for his work in “The French Dispatch,” in my opinion.

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.”

Who Will Win: This is another category with a clear front-runner. DeBose has earned a Critics’ Choice Award, a SAG win and a BAFTA victory. That streak will continue Sunday.

Who Could Win: Another category where it’s overwhelmingly likely DeBose wins. If not, this would probably be another “Power of the Dog” choice, with Dunst winning, but it’s unlikely.

Who Should Win: My pick would go for Jessie Buckley. She was just as important to making “The Lost Daughter” work as Colman. Her performance was elite, and she would get my vote.

Snubbed: I think Alana Haim in “Licorice Pizza” and Tōko Miura of “Drive My Car” should’ve been included in the nominees.

Best Adapted Screenplay
  • “CODA,” screenplay by Siân Heder.
  • “Drive My Car,” screenplay by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe.
  • “Dune,” screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth.
  • “The Lost Daughter,” written by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
  • “The Power of the Dog,” written by Jane Campion.

Who Will Win: This will be “CODA’s” other big win of the night. It took home the award from the Writers Guild of America and it should be able to get this honor.

Who Could Win: If “CODA” comes up short, it would mean two things. One, “CODA’s” Best Picture chances crash. Second, “Power of the Dog” would likely get the victory for adapted screenplay.

Who Should Win: “Drive My Car” had the best writing of the five nominees in my view.

Snubbed: I would personally swap “Dune’s” script with that of “Nightmare Alley.”

Best Original Screenplay
  • “Belfast,” written by Kenneth Branagh.
  • “Don’t Look Up,” screenplay by Adam McKay; story by Adam McKay and David Sirota.
  • “King Richard,” written by Zach Baylin.
  • “Licorice Pizza,” written by Paul Thomas Anderson.
  • “The Worst Person in the World,” written by Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier.

Who Will Win: This is an immensely tough category to pick, because each film has a shot. “Licorice Pizza” has a BAFTA, “Don’t Look Up” has a WGA and Belfast has a Critics’ Choice honor.

“Belfast” seems to have a lot of support from the Academy, with even Judi Dench getting a nomination in supporting actress. All things considered, I’d say “Belfast” narrowly wins the award.

Who Could Win: I hate to say this, but if not “Belfast,” I think “Don’t Look Up” may get the Oscar, since it took home the WGA award. “Don’t Look Up” was on my worst of the year list, so I can’t say I’d be thrilled.

Who Should Win: Of the nominees, I think “Licorice Pizza” had the strongest script. I think it’s certainly deserving of the win Sunday, although I wouldn’t be too upset if “Belfast” or “Worst Person in the World” won, either.

Snubbed: Paul Schrader’s script for “The Card Counter” was intense, engaging and haunting. I certainly think it should’ve been included, especially over something like “Don’t Look Up.”

Best Cinematography
  • “Dune,” Greig Fraser.
  • “Nightmare Alley,” Dan Laustsen.
  • “The Power of the Dog,” Ari Wegner.
  • “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” Bruno Delbonnel.
  • “West Side Story,” Janusz Kaminski.

Who Will Win: Greig Fraser had a massive win for this category, being honored with an award from the American Society of Cinematographers. He also picked up a BAFTA in London. This will likely be one of many awards “Dune” earns Sunday.

Who Could Win: It would be an absolute shocker to see “Dune” fall short here. If that does happen, though, the other contender here is “Power of the Dog.”

Who Should Win: In this category, I found “The Tragedy of Macbeth” to have the best cinematography, although I think either “Nightmare Alley” or “Power of the Dog” would be deserving, too.

Snubbed: This is a stacked category this year, I get that. I can’t help but feel “The Green Knight” should’ve made it in, though.

Best Animated Feature Film
  • “Encanto,” Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer.
  • “Flee,” Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie.
  • “Luca,” Enrico Casarosa and Andrea Warren.
  • “The Mitchells vs. the Machines,” Mike Rianda, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Kurt Albrecht.
  • “Raya and the Last Dragon,” Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho.

Who Will Win: “The Mitchells Vs. the Machines” is a sort of dark horse here but I’m going with “Encanto.” That Mouse still has all the power in this category and it will show Sunday.

Who Could Win: If an upset were to happen, my guess is “Mitchells Vs. the Machines” would get the award.

Who Should Win: “Luca” made my top 10 list for 2021, so I absolutely wish the Pixar film had a chance. I loved this film, which was so rich in emotion and had wonderful themes of acceptance. The characters and the animation made this film a special one.

Best Animated Short Film
  • “Affairs of the Art,” Joanna Quinn and Les Mills.
  • “Bestia,” Hugo Covarrubias and Tevo Díaz.
  • “Boxballet,” Anton Dyakov.
  • “Robin Robin,” Dan Ojari and Mikey Please.
  • “The Windshield Wiper,” Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez.

Who Will Win: The short categories are always tough to predict and this year is no different. While “Bestia” has picked up some buzz, my guess is voters will lean toward the film “Robin Robin.”

Who Could Win: I’d be surprised, but “Bestia” could maybe pull off an upset Sunday.

Who Should Win: While “Boxballet” had a really simple story, it was still quite charming. The animation was quirky and amusing, while the main relationship featured was quite cute. It would be my pick.

Best Costume Design
  • “Cruella,” Jenny Beavan.
  • “Cyrano,” Massimo Cantini Parrini and Jacqueline Durran.
  • “Dune,” Jacqueline West and Robert Morgan.
  • “Nightmare Alley,” Luis Sequeira.
  • “West Side Story,” Paul Tazewell.

Who Will Win: “Cruella” has the most wins when it comes to costume design this season and it will likely earn the victory Sunday. Had “Cyrano” been released on a better schedule so it could earn more buzz, I think it would have been a much bigger contender, but that wasn’t the case.

Who Could Win: “Cruella” is basically a guarantee, but if it doesn’t win, I could see “Dune” picking up the victory here.

Who Should Win: I thought “Nightmare Alley” was a brilliant period piece, and that it should get the nod in this category. Both for its costumes during scenes at the carnival and later in the movie when the characters are in high society.

I also think I would be happy if “Cyrano” had a miracle because that movie deserved better this season.

Best Original Score
  • “Don’t Look Up,” Nicholas Britell.
  • “Dune,” Hans Zimmer.
  • “Encanto,” Germaine Franco.
  • “Parallel Mothers,” Alberto Iglesias.
  • “The Power of the Dog,” Jonny Greenwood.

Who Will Win: Hans Zimmer has been on a roll this season and that will continue with a final victory Sunday. “Dune” will win.

Who Could Win: I doubt it’s going to go any other way than “Dune.” If an upset were to happen, though, I could see the musical “Encanto” taking it.

Best Sound
  • “Belfast,” Denise Yarde, Simon Chase, James Mather and Niv Adiri.
  • “Dune,” Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett.
  • “No Time to Die,” Simon Hayes, Oliver Tarney, James Harrison, Paul Massey and Mark Taylor.
  • “The Power of the Dog,” Richard Flynn, Robert Mackenzie and Tara Webb.
  • “West Side Story,” Tod A. Maitland, Gary Rydstrom, Brian Chumney, Andy Nelson and Shawn Murphy.

Who Will Win: “Dune” should win this one easily. It won at the Cinema Audio Society Awards and it has been honored by many other organizations in this spot. This is another tech category clear cut for “Dune.”

Who Could Win: If not “Dune,” my guess is “No Time to Die,” would take the Oscar, since action films have had success in sound categories.

Who Should Win: While I had issues with “Dune,” the technical aspects were always something I thought were on point. That goes for sound, so I think “Dune” deserves it.

Best Original Song
  • “Be Alive” from “King Richard,” music and lyric by Dixson and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter.
  • “Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto,” music and lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
  • “Down To Joy” from “Belfast,” music and lyric by Van Morrison.
  • “No Time To Die” from “No Time to Die,” music and lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell.
  • “Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days,” music and lyric by Diane Warren.

Who Will Win: I’m leaning hard toward “No Time to Die.” It earned a Globe and a Critics’ Choice award, as well as a Grammy. It’s a pretty solid track record for this, erm, track.

Who Could Win: “Encanto” is already a front-runner for Best Animated. If the Academy really loves it, it could pick up another win here, but I think it’s a longshot.

Best Documentary Feature
  • “Ascension,” Jessica Kingdon, Kira Simon-Kennedy and Nathan Truesdell
  • “Attica,” Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry.
  • “Flee,” Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen
    and Charlotte De La Gournerie.
  • “Summer of Soul” Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein.
  • “Writing With Fire,” Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh.

Who Will Win: “Summer of Soul” has absolutely crushed it this season, picking up wins at the PGA, BAFTA and Critics’ Choice. This is a runaway for “Summer of Soul.”

Who Could Win: I just can’t see “Summer of Soul” losing this category. If a shocker happens, though, I could see “Flee” being the likely pick, since it earned three nominations total.

Who Should Win: “Summer of Soul” was a phenomenal documentary and I think it will be a deserving winner Sunday.

Best Documentary Short Subject
  • “Audible,” Matt Ogens and Geoff McLean.
  • “Lead Me Home,” Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk.
  • “The Queen of Basketball,” Ben Proudfoot.
  • “Three Songs for Benazir,” Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei.
  • “When We Were Bullies,” Jay Rosenblatt.

Who Will Win: The inspiring story of Lusia Harris, a three-time national champion in college, an Olympic silver medalist and a person who would certainly be a WNBA star today, was captured in “Queen of Basketball.” My take is the movie was already one voters would appreciate and with Harris passing away in January, I think the academy will honor her legacy Sunday.

Who Could Win: If not “The Queen of Basketball,” I have to predict “Lead Me Home” getting the victory, considering how it tackles the subject of homelessness.

Who Should Win: I only saw four of the five nominees as “When We Were Bullies” wasn’t available digitally. When looking at the rest, I found “Audible” to be a really fascinating picture.

Watching how these deaf teens navigate high school life and extracurricular activities was quite interesting. Also I’m a bit bias as a football fan.

Best Film Editing
  • “Don’t Look Up,” Hank Corwin.
  • “Dune,” Joe Walker.
  • “King Richard”, Pamela Martin.
  • “The Power of the Dog,” Peter Sciberras.
  • “Tick, Tick…Boom!” Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum.

Who Will Win: In most years, such an epic film with so much going on like “Dune” would be my choice. However, “King Richard” won the American Cinema Editors award for dramatic features, and that’s a mighty boost.

I feel like this one is going to be a major toss-up on the night. I’ll take “King Richard,” but it can go a lot of ways.

Who Could Win: “King Richard” not winning here would mean that “Dune” is probably taking home the Oscar.

Who Should Win: I’d give the nod to “Tick, Tick… Boom!” in this category.

Snubbed: I’d take out “Don’t Look Up” and put in the finely edited “French Dispatch” in a heartbeat.

Best International Feature Film
  • “Drive My Car” (Japan).
  • “Flee” (Denmark).
  • “The Hand of God” (Italy).
  • “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” (Bhutan).
  • “The Worst Person in the World” (Norway).

Who Will Win: “Drive My Car” has already picked up a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, a Critic’s Choice award, a Spirit award and a Gotham award, among others. It also has a Best Picture nomination. The Japanese film will definitely win here.

Who Could Win: It would be an absolute stunner if “Drive My Car” loses here. If that were to happen, though, it would likely mean “Worst Person in the World” has won the Oscar.

Who Should Win: Of the five nominees, I only saw three of these films. With that said, I found “Drive My Car” to be the strongest and would like to see it win.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
  • “Coming 2 America,” Mike Marino, Stacey Morris and Carla Farmer.
  • “Cruella,” Nadia Stacey, Naomi Donne and Julia Vernon.
  • “Dune,” Donald Mowat, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr.
  • “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh.
  • “House of Gucci,” Göran Lundström, Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras.

Who Will Win: One of two awards for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” on Sunday night. The biopic about Faye is the most likely winner in this category.

Who Could Win: If an upset happens in this category, it would likely be a scenario where “Dune” surges and takes the award instead of “Tammy Faye.”

Who Should Win: Either “House of Gucci” or “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” seem like the most deserving, considering how different some of the actors looked on screen. Namely, Jared Leto as Paolo Gucci and Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye.

Best Production Design
  • “Dune,” production design: Patrice Vermette; set decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos.
  • “Nightmare Alley,” production design: Tamara Deverell; set decoration: Shane Vieau.
  • “The Power of the Dog,” production design: Grant Major; set decoration: Amber Richards.
  • “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” production design: Stefan Dechant; set decoration: Nancy Haigh.
  • “West Side Story,” production design: Adam Stockhausen; set decoration: Rena DeAngelo.

Who Will Win: My heart says “Nightmare Alley,” my head says “Dune.” Both movies earned honors from the Art Directors Guild, but my guess is “Dune” will pull ahead. This is where I feel the tech category success will continue for “Dune.”

Who Could Win: As said above, “Nightmare Alley” also won an ADG award, so if not “Dune,” it’s “Alley.”

Who Should Win: “Nightmare Alley” was my No. 4 movie of 2021, and I loved the production design. It would be my choice.

Best Visual Effects
  • “Dune,” Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer.
  • “Free Guy,” Swen Gillberg, Bryan Grill, Nikos Kalaitzidis and Dan Sudick.
  • “No Time to Die,” Charlie Noble, Joel Green, Jonathan Fawkner and Chris Corbould.
  • “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Christopher Townsend, Joe Farrell, Sean Noel Walker and Dan Oliver.
  • “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein and Dan Sudick.

Who Will Win: Another win for “Dune” will happen in this category. It has the seasonal success already, including a prize from the Visual Effects Society. This will be another tech victory for “Dune.”

Who Could Win: If “Dune” loses here, it would spell a bad night for the feature. It would also be a good shot for “No Time to Die” to take the win, especially with the Oscars celebrating the James Bond series’ 60th anniversary.

Who Should Win: “Dune” was an visually gorgeous film with a huge scale. A lot of that was thanks to the special effects. It would get my vote.

Best Live Action Short Film
  • “Ala Kachuu – Take and Run,” Maria Brendle and Nadine Lüchinger.
  • “The Dress,” Tadeusz Łysiak and Maciej Ślesicki.
  • “The Long Goodbye,” Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed.
  • “On My Mind,” Martin Strange-Hansen and Kim Magnusson.
  • “Please Hold,” K.D. Dávila and Levin Menekse.

Who Will Win: I think the star power of having Riz Ahmed, who was in last year’s “Sound of Metal,” as well as the topical nature of “The Long Goodbye” will give it an edge. As stated before, shorts are notoriously hard to predict, but I think this has some momentum.

Who Could Win: It’s really hard to say what would win if “The Long Goodbye” doesn’t succeed. For its commentary on policing and capitalism, though, I’d think the Academy would go with “Please Hold.”

Who Should Win: This was a really good category with plenty of deserving choices. Surprisingly, though, the front-runner, in my opinion, isn’t one of them. I’d love to see either “The Dress,” “Take and Run” or “Please Hold” earning the Oscar on Sunday.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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