I am really looking forward to this year’s Academy Awards as usual. I will get some of my favourite snacks, dress in my classiest sweatpants, and lay out my predictions to see how many I get right. This year however, the Oscars have opted to cut out 8 awards. The awards that will not be presented live are; documentary short, film editing, make-up and hairstyling, original score, production design, animated short, live action short, and sound. They will be handed out before the award ceremony and the intention is to make the show shorter because many people complain that the Oscars are too long. This infuriates me so much because what the producers of the show are blatantly demonstrating is that these particular awards are less important and less prestigious than every other Oscar that will be handed out that evening. I want to tell every single nominee from that category personally; “You matter, I appreciate your hard work, and without you, the films you worked on wouldn’t have achieved receiving an Oscar nomination”. Thankfully, this controversial move has been met with lots of backlash from people within the industry and die-hard movie fans like myself. This makes me hopeful that this will be a one time thing.

I don’t think we should worry about the length of the show to make the ceremony better for the masses. I believe it’s all about presentation and how to keep the show alive to casual viewers. I promise you that everyone who cares about the Oscars doesn’t care about the length and is happy to hear every speech, no matter how long because winning an Academy Award is a monumental achievement. So, of course you’re going to want to thank everyone in your life and appreciate the spotlight you’ve been given. Moving forward, I want every award given live, and I want to properly show the audience why every category is crucial to making a great movie. Give everyone who watches insight into how every Academy Award Nominee was made. Show them the tough days, the decisions that were cut at the last minute, and the jobs in cinema that don’t get enough credit. Everyone who aspires to work in the industry has stood in front of a mirror doing an Oscar speech, including yours truly. I know the length is daunting for some, but it’s only once per year. Also, every presenter doesn’t have to be funny, they should be themselves and have some more freedom when presenting the awards. This will make it more exciting to see our favourite celebrities outside of the movies we’ve watched them in. 

Alright, my rant is done. Let me remind you, I am no expert and am still on the outside looking into this wonderful industry that I dream of being a part of, but just like every other expert I either agree or disagree with, I love predicting the winners every year. Here’s hoping I can predict more this year compared to last year. I am also hoping for some truly unexpected surprises that make my jaw drop. So, before you watch the Academy Awards on ABC on Sunday, March 28th at 8pm EST, here are my predictions for this year’s Academy Award winners;

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

JAVIER BARDEM Being the Ricardos
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH The Power of the Dog
ANDREW GARFIELD tick, tick…BOOM!
WILL SMITH King Richard (Winner)
DENZEL WASHINGTON The Tragedy of Macbeth

This category is absolutely stacked in my humble opinion and I would be happy with anyone winning. However, Will Smith will finally get his Oscar for his unforgettable performance as the father of tennis superstars, Serena and Venus Williams. 

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

CIARÁN HINDS Belfast
TROY KOTSUR CODA (Winner)
JESSE PLEMONS The Power of the Dog
J.K. SIMMONS Being the Ricardos
KODI SMIT-MCPHEE The Power of the Dog

At the beginning of awards season, Kodi Smit-Mcphee was winning every award. However, the odds have shifted lately with Troy Kotsur winning every major award. So, due to the recent shift, I believe the heart and soul of CODA, Troy Kotsur, is your big winner.

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

JESSICA CHASTAIN The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Winner)
OLIVIA COLMAN The Lost Daughter
PENÉLOPE CRUZ Parallel Mothers
NICOLE KIDMAN Being the Ricardos
KRISTEN STEWART Spencer

This category can honestly go either way. I would really like to see Kristen Stewart win for her wonderful performance in Spencer. However, I will still be very happy watching Jessica Chastain accept this award, considering that her performance makes the movie go from bad to okay. 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

JESSIE BUCKLEY The Lost Daughter
ARIANA DEBOSE West Side Story (Winner)
JUDI DENCH Belfast
KIRSTEN DUNST The Power of the Dog
AUNJANUE ELLIS King Richard

The winner of this category is actually one of my favourite performances of 2021. She stole every scene she was in and has won every single award this season. Ariana Debose, I look forward to hearing your acceptance speech. 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

ENCANTO Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer (Winner)
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

There are 3 movies in this category that I wish could win this award. However, I will choose the movie that is still fresh in everyone’s minds since it was the last movie to be released. We aren’t supposed to talk about Bruno, but in this case I have to because Encanto takes it home. It absolutely deserves it, but so does Raya and the Last Dragon, and The Mitchell’s vs. The Machines. 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

DUNE Greig Fraser (Winner)
NIGHTMARE ALLEY Dan Laustsen
THE POWER OF THE DOG Ari Wegner
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH Bruno Delbonnel
WEST SIDE STORY Janusz Kaminski

All of these movies were truly stunning visually. However, the most unforgettable one from 2021 is Dune. I was convinced that Denbis Villeneuve shot the entire thing on another planet. It’s for this reason why I believe it will win. 

COSTUME DESIGN

CRUELLA Jenny Beavan (Winner)
CYRANO Massimo Cantini Parrini and Jacqueline Durran
DUNE Jacqueline West and Robert Morgan
NIGHTMARE ALLEY Luis Sequeira
WEST SIDE STORY Paul Tazewell

I saw Cruella many months ago and as soon as that movie finished, I said if it doesn’t win best costume design at the Oscars, I will lose faith in those that vote in the category. Well, the time has come for me to put my money where my mouth is. Cruella fabulously takes it. 

DIRECTING

BELFAST Kenneth Branagh
DRIVE MY CAR Ryusuke Hamaguchi
LICORICE PIZZA Paul Thomas Anderson
THE POWER OF THE DOG Jane Campion (Winner)
WEST SIDE STORY Steven Spielberg

I’m still very sad that Denis Villeneuve somehow didn’t get nominated in this category. The same goes for Lin Manuel Miranda for his excellent directing of Tick Tick Boom. Although, even if they were nominated, they wouldn’t stand a chance against Jane Campion. I will be proud to witness the winner of this category being 2 females in a row for the first time in history. Congratulations Jane Campion. 

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 (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED) Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein (Winner)
WRITING WITH FIRE Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh

I am not the best when it comes to documentaries, I must admit. They are not the first movies I seek out to watch, but I can appreciate when one is really well made. While Flee was creatively made, Summer Of Soul will win. 

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

AUDIBLE Matt Ogens and Geoff McLean
LEAD ME HOME Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk
THE QUEEN OF BASKETBALL Ben Proudfoot (Winner)
THREE SONGS FOR BENAZIR Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei
WHEN WE WERE BULLIES Jay Rosenblatt

I never get this category right. I always watch absolutely anything else win, so here goes nothing. The Queen of Basketball wins. 

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 (Winner)

This is a tough category to predict this year because I feel all of them can win. King Richard won the Editors Guild award, but I don’t think it will win here. Many would root for Dune, however, I am going to select my personal favourite, which is Tick, Tick Boom. I am not confident at all, but the Oscars have been known to surprise us and I think this category will shock everyone. 

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

DRIVE MY CAR Japan (Winner)
FLEE Denmark
THE HAND OF GOD Italy
LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM Bhutan
THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD Norway

Many deserving movies live in this category this year. But, I will be choosing the only movie that was nominated for Best Picture, which is Drive My Car. Beloved by critics and film fans, this will be the winner of this category, no question at all. 

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 (Winner)
HOUSE OF GUCCI Göran Lundström, Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras

I am choosing the movie that completely transformed its lead actor and really showed the talents of its makeup artists and hair stylists. The Eyes of Tammy Faye wins. 

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

DON’T LOOK UP Nicholas Britell
DUNE Hans Zimmer (Winner)
ENCANTO Germaine Franco
PARALLEL MOTHERS Alberto Iglesias
THE POWER OF THE DOG Jonny Greenwood

This person has been nominated so many times and only won one Oscar. His composition is legendary and I even listen to his work while I write or read. I will seriously throw a tantrum if they don’t win and I am so mad that they won’t be presenting this award live because I wanted to see his acceptance speech. Hans Zimmer deservedly wins the Academy Award and I cheer very loudly from the couch. 

MUSIC (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 (Winner)
SOMEHOW YOU DO from Four Good Days; Music and Lyric by Diane Warren

Gone are my chances of watching Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi performing at the Oscars since their wonderful song failed to score a nomination. However, I have been listening to this song since before the pandemic because I absolutely love it. I can’t believe she wrote the song with her brother so quickly. There’s just No Time To Die because Billie Eilish and Finneas win this category hands down. 

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

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 (Winner)
THE WINDSHIELD WIPER Alberto Mielgo and Leo Sanchez

This is another category I famously get wrong every year. I am choosing the short that takes place during my favourite time of year, Christmas. Robin, Robin is your winner. 

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

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 (Winner)
ON MY MIND Martin Strange-Hansen and Kim Magnusson
PLEASE HOLD K.D. Dávila and Levin Menekse

I honestly don’t have a clue who will win, but I am a fan of Riz Ahmed. So, I will randomly select The Long Goodbye as the winner. 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

DUNE Production Design: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos (Winner)
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

This is a tough one that I keep going back and forth between Nightmare Alley, Dune, and West Side Story. I want to give Nightmare Alley something, but I somehow don’t think it stands a chance. Alright, Dune wins this Oscar. 

SOUND

BELFAST Denise Yarde, Simon Chase, James Mather and Niv Adiri
DUNE Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett (Winner)
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

I just heard that the director of Dune, Denis Villeneuve, walked on rice crispies to create some sound for the movie. If that’s true, wow. It truly makes you appreciate the creativity it takes to truly make your film as great as possible. Also, the technical awards belong to Dune, which is why it wins this category. 

VISUAL EFFECTS

DUNE Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer (Winner)
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

I really want Spider-Man: No Way Home to win an Oscar, but it’s up against the sand worms and just creating a whole world that seemed impossible to begin with. I loved every single one of these movies and the winner of the bunch will be Dune. 

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

CODA Screenplay by Siân Heder (Winner)
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

As I write this, I have absolutely no idea who is going to win. CODA has gotten more popular by the second, Dune is simply an incredible achievement, Drive My Car is beloved in some many critics circles, The Lost Daughter won the Independent Spirit Award, and The Power of the Dog is a masterpiece. I’m rolling the dice, CODA is your winner. 

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

BELFAST Written by Kenneth Branagh
DON’T LOOK UP Screenplay by Adam McKay; Story by Adam McKay & 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

Three films have an opportunity to win this category; Belfast, Don’t Look Up, and Licorice Pizza. Having been nominated so many times and never winning, I think Paul Thomas Anderson is finally going to win his coveted Oscar. Licorice Pizza is your winner and he will get a standing ovation from everyone in attendance. 

Oscar Fan Favourite

Winner: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Yes, this is a new category where fans get to vote for their favourite movie of 2021. I am selecting my personal favourite and I think it deserves more because it’s box office performance and excellent reviews from critics and the general public reminded us that cinemas are here to stay. My favourite way to experience movies is in a cinema with no disrespectful people in attendance. I have embraced streaming and I am glad it’s evolved into something very close to a cinematic experience, which you can create from home. I saw a lot of movies in 2021 and Spider-Man: No Way Home is a stellar example of what it takes to exceed their target audiences a;ready high expectations. 

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

I am well aware that CODA is the favourite to win Best Picture because of its recent surge in victories and feel-good nature. I would still be happy if it wins. However, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog is the most awarded movie of 2021. I have to make tough choices and I sincerely believe The Power of the Dog will win and Netflix will finally get that Best Picture title, which they have always come so close to, but never won. Either way, if CODA or The Power of the Dog wins, this will officially establish streaming as powerful contenders for Best Picture, making the Oscar race a lot tougher because there will be many more movies to judge. 

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