The B+ Oscar Ballot: Guide to the 94th Academy Awards

It’s that time again. You know what this is and you know how it works. My goal is, as always, to dissect the ballot and give you as complete a picture of what I think’s gonna happen as I can so you can make smart, informed decisions when picking your ballot. My success is ancillary. I just want you to do well and the analysis to be sound.

I’m not looking to overthink anything, so everything’s gonna be really straightforward this year. If you thought last year was me cutting back, wait until you see this year.

Best Picture

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Drive My Car

Dune

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Licorice Pizza
  2. West Side Story
  3. Belfast
  4. CODA
  5. King Richard
  6. Don’t Look Up
  7. Nightmare Alley
  8. The Power of the Dog
  9. Drive My Car
  10. Dune

My Thoughts: I’m very okay with this category. Six of my top ten films are here, another two are 11-20 and the other two are tier two. There’s also nothing I disagree with. All I can do is quibble about what I’d liked to have seen here that isn’t. In terms of ranking, I largely followed my Top Ten list, with some minor alterations. Namely dropping Dune to the bottom because I don’t need to see it win and dropping Don’t Look Up below Belfast, CODA and King Richard because it felt better that way. Either way, Licorice Pizza was my #1 film and is my vote.

My Vote: Licorice Pizza

Should’ve Been Nominated: The French Dispatch, The Last Duel

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • PGA: CODA
  • BAFTA: Power of the Dog
  • SAG: CODA
  • BFCA: Power of the Dog
  • Globes: Power of the Dog (Drama), West Side Story (Comedy)

The PGA made things at worst nominally interesting, so there’s something to talk about, even if the outcome may still end up the same.

Most Likely to Win: The Power of the Dog. It’s been the favorite throughout, won the majority of precursors and is gonna win Director. It’s not a lock per se (we don’t really get those anymore), but it’s a clear favorite.

The Competition: CODA. PGA + SAG. PGA alone normally makes something the favorite. Plus, it’s the kind of film that will get a lot of 2, 3 and 4 votes to keep it in contention. It’s got a legitimate shot.

Spoiler Alert: Belfast. West Side Story and King Richard also fit. They’re all 2, 3 and 4 kinda films. But without major precursors, they’re interchangeable. For me, when in doubt, skew older and whiter.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. CODA

2. The Power of the Dog

3. Belfast

4. West Side Story

5. King Richard

6. Drive My Car

7. Licorice Pizza

8. Dune

9. Don’t Look Up

10. Nightmare Alley

The Smart Choice: The Power of the Dog or CODA

The Deal: I think you can legitimately take either. The smart money’s probably still on Power of the Dog, just because it has the most nominations, won the most precursors, is gonna win Director and is nominated for Editing (and 1980’s the last time a non-Birdman film won Picture without an Editing nomination). But ever since SAG, all the emotional energy’s been swinging CODA’s way, to the point where even I’m convinced it’s gonna pull it off. I’d have probably taken Power of the Dog if it beat CODA at BAFTA, but now I feel the only reason it even won there is because CODA wasn’t on the list. Plus it’s such a feel-good story and I’m feeling optimistic for a change. So screw it. None of this shit matters after tomorrow. You know it’s one or the other, so just take the one that you feel better having on a ballot.

The Vote: CODA

 

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Spielberg
  2. Anderson
  3. Branagh
  4. Campion
  5. Hamaguchi

My Thoughts: I like that Hamaguchi was nominated (sad for Denis, but it happens). Him being here broadens the scope of the field. Campion I thought had a solid effort, but admittedly I did like the others more. Branagh’s film felt very classical, with a John Ford-by-way-of-Jim Sheridan vibe, so obviously I’m a fan. Anderson made my favorite film of the year, so that speaks for itself. But honestly I was most impressed by what Spielberg did. It’s not easy to take a Picture winner and update it in such a way that your version feels not only vital but also on a par with the original. Plus he’s a master of staging and seeing him use those talents for a musical is a sight to behold. It’s a masterclass in directing, and as much as I know he’s won twice and Anderson’s never won… it’s still the best of the bunch.

My Vote: Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Should’ve Been Nominated: Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • DGA: Campion
  • BAFTA: Campion
  • BFCA: Campion
  • Globes: Campion

Gee, wonder what’s gonna happen here.

Most Likely to Win: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog. Clean sweep. No commentary needed.

The Competition: Steven Spielberg, West Side Story. Branagh will get Screenplay votes as consolation. Spielberg has the stature, the effort and the film’s got support enough to make me think he’ll get serious votes to be a nominal second choice behind Campion.

Spoiler Alert: Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car. Everyone else lost to Campion everywhere. He’s at least a fresh face that might interest some people who don’t like the other choices. Plus the film has hardcore fans and, if it got a Picture nomination, it’s hard not to imagine him not also getting votes.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

2. Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

3. Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

4. Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

5. Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

The Smart Choice: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

The Deal: She’s swept everything. What’s the argument against it?

The Vote: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

 

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

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Smith
  2. Cumberbatch
  3. Garfield
  4. Washington
  5. Bardem

My Thoughts: Solid category. Bardem was good, but not someone I’d vote for, and my position on Shakespearean roles post-1950 is very clear, so while Denzel is great as always I’m not taking him either. Garfield I think gives his best performance to date but I wouldn’t take him over the other two. Cumberbatch… very good and finally not playing the same character he seems to always play. Perhaps in another category he’d be the vote. But Will Smith… this is the first time he’s done one of those ‘awards’ roles where I actually feel like he’s overcome his own stardom. It’s legitimately my favorite performance in the category.

My Vote: Will Smith, King Richard

Should’ve Been Nominated: Matt Damon, The Last Duel

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • SAG: Smith
  • BAFTA: Smith
  • BFCA: Smith
  • Globes: Smith (Drama), Garfield (Comedy)

Welp, we’ve got our work cut out for us.

Most Likely to Win: Will Smith, King Richard. Clean sweep. This isn’t rocket science.

The Competition: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog. This is really only because of the stature of the film. We shouldn’t ever reach a situation where a second choice even comes in here.

Spoiler Alert: Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom!. He’s the only other person with a precursor and gives a committed performance with singing. He might even be second choice but at worst he’s the spoiler.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Will Smith, King Richard

2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

3. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom!

4. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

5. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos

The Smart Choice: Will Smith, King Richard

The Deal: Why would you vote against a clean sweep?

The Vote: Will Smith, King Richard

 

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Chastain
  2. Stewart
  3. Colman
  4. Cruz
  5. Kidman

My Thoughts: I don’t love this category. Like the people in it, but the performances to me are in the ‘good but not great’ tier. Kidman makes the most of the role, even though I didn’t see a whole lot to vote for there. Same for Cruz and Colman. Both very good, just nothing I’d vote for. The only ones I actively liked were Stewart and Chastain. My tiebreaker is that Chastain is overdue and was delightfully committed to the part.

My Vote: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Should’ve Been Nominated: Jodie Comer, The Last Duel; Isabelle Fuhrman, The Novice

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • SAG: Chastain
  • BFCA: Chastain
  • Globes: Kidman

This is the annual acting category that’s not as locked as the others. It’s not quite as bad as last year, but it’s still not a gimme.

Most Likely to Win: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye. SAG, BFCA. Can’t argue with her as the favorite with BAFTA going off the board.

The Competition: Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos. She’s the only other person with a precursor. On paper she’s the second choice, even though the ‘meh’ reaction to the film makes it feel like she should be third or fourth. But I honestly can’t figure out who else gets votes.

Spoiler Alert: Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers. Stewart’s film has no support and she’s such a ‘newcomer’ that I’d be shocked if she won. Colman, while the film has some support, I think there’s a strong contingent who will see the character as too unlikable (plus the ‘she just won’ crowd). The knock against Cruz is that it’s a foreign film, which will cap the number of people who’ll actually have watched it. But she is a new face and is untested against the group, so that may catch her some stray votes from people who don’t like the rest of the category.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

2. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

3. Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

4. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

5. Kristen Stewart, Spencer

The Smart Choice: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

The Deal: Since 1935, only 7 people have won as their film’s only nomination. So odds are against Stewart. And Colman lost all the precursors. Seems weird for her to randomly win now. You could make the ‘new face’ case for Cruz, but it’s been almost 85 years since someone won without a precursor nomination. I can’t see it being her. And since Kidman has no momentum, Chastain, with SAG + BFCA (not to mention being incredibly like and probably overdue), is your most likely winner. I say ride with her and see what happens.

The Vote: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

 

Best Supporting Actor

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

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Hinds
  2. Kotsur
  3. Smit-McPhee
  4. Simmons
  5. Plemons

My Thoughts: Solid category. Love that Plemons got his first nomination. Simmons, while I wouldn’t take him, did give the best performance in that film. Smit-McPhee I thought was great but I just liked Hinds and Kotsur more. And between those two, it’s a very close call there, but I really liked that Hinds performance a lot, so I’ll take him even though Kotsur’s gonna be a great winner.

My Vote: Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

Should’ve Been Nominated: David Alvarez, West Side Story; Mike Faist, West Side Story

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • SAG: Kotsur
  • BAFTA: Kotsur
  • BFCA: Kotsur
  • Globes: Smit-McPhee

What an interesting year. It looked like a sure sweep one way and turned into a sweep another way.

Most Likely to Win: Troy Kotsur, CODA. SAG + BAFTA make him the favorite. BFCA’s just a cherry on top.

The Competition: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog. He’s the only other nominee with a precursor.

Spoiler Alert: Ciaran Hinds, Belfast. It’s not Simmons, and Plemons doesn’t have the type of role that’ll catch stray votes. He does, and is a clear spoiler if there ever was one.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Troy Kotsur, CODA

2. Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

3. Ciaran Hinds, Belfast

4. Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

5. J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos

The Smart Choice: Troy Kotsur, CODA

The Deal: He won the two precursors with actual voters. Plus, being so visible and giving such great speeches, I can’t imagine he loses. I say let it happen.

The Vote: Troy Kotsur, CODA

 

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

My Personal Rankings:

  1. DeBose
  2. Ellis
  3. Dunst
  4. Dench
  5. Buckley

My Thoughts: I love this category on an actor level. All these women are amazing and their performances are quite good. Buckley has a pretty thankless role but still manages to stand out (as she always does). Dench is delightful in the kind of role she’s always excelled at (even if it’s not particularly strenuous). Ellis is good in what I feel is a ‘thankless wife+’ role. She’s marginalized in favor of Will Smith, but does have her handful of scenes to shine. Dunst (as always) is really good, but I feel the character gets sidelined a bit too much for me to want to vote for her. But man… Ariana DeBose. That performance is absolutely electric. She completely makes Anita her own and leaps off the screen in the kind of way this category was built on. She’s my vote by a mile.

My Vote: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Should’ve Been Nominated: Ruth Negga, Passing

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • SAG: DeBose
  • BAFTA: DeBose
  • BFCA: DeBose
  • Globes: DeBose

Well, this is easy.

Most Likely to Win: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story. Biggest acting lock of the night.

The Competition: Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog. DeBose swept, so this is just grasping at straws.

Spoiler Alert: Judi Dench, Belfast. Buckley won’t get any legitimate votes and you’d have seen if Ellis had a shot by now. Dench is a new face and an old veteran (which you know they love here) in the exact kind of film they like. She’s a prime spoiler.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

2. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

3. Judi Dench, Belfast

4. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

5. Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter

The Smart Choice: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

The Deal: She’s swept everything and is a force of nature. How can you not take her?

The Vote: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

 

Best Original Screenplay

Belfast

Don’t Look Up

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

The Worst Person in the World

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Belfast
  2. King Richard
  3. Licorice Pizza
  4. The Worst Person in the World
  5. Don’t Look Up

My Thoughts: Big fan of this list. I love that Worst Person in the World got nominated. More chance for people to discover it. Wouldn’t take Don’t Look Up just because I don’t think the script’s as tight as it can be. Licorice Pizza — I always respect how much writing actually goes into a ‘hangout’ film, but surprisingly I don’t think I’m voting for it. To me, the strongest pieces of writing are Belfast and King Richard. Choosing between them is really tough. So since I liked Belfast slightly more and Branagh’s never won, I’ll take that.

My Vote: Belfast

Should’ve Been Nominated: The French Dispatch

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • WGA: Don’t Look Up
  • BAFTA: Licorice Pizza
  • BFCA: Belfast
  • Globe: Belfast

This is one of the two biggest crapshoots of the night and one where legitimately almost anything can win.

Most Likely to Win: Belfast. It won the most precursors and was WGA-ineligible. The BAFTA loss remains inexplicable, but it’s the only nominee I’d feel remotely comfortable calling a favorite.

The Competition: Don’t Look Up. It won WGA, beating the two scripts I’d have put here in its place. Gotta respect it, even if I don’t buy it winning.

Spoiler Alert: Licorice Pizza. BAFTA win, and nothing else has a precursor.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Belfast

2. Licorice Pizza

3. King Richard

4. Don’t Look Up

5. The Worst Person in the World

The Smart Choice: Belfast

The Deal: This one’s gonna take a minute. (This is why you come to me. I give you all the angles.) I think you legitimately have four choices:

  • King Richard. My gut’s told me all along it can win. But nothing’s won without a precursor since 1990 and there’s no real case past a gut feeling. I think I just have to let it be a shocker. But I do firmly believe that of all the long shots on this ballot to try to pull, it’s one of the most legitimate.
  • Don’t Look Up. The WGA win alone is enough to justify taking it. A lot of people who don’t know what they’re doing will be taking it based solely on that. Me? I’m so convinced it won’t win I’m putting it 4th and will take the L if I’m wrong. I do think Belfast would’ve won WGA if eligible. But even if it was their preference, I still don’t see how it wins on an open ballot. But it’s as legitimate a choice as anything.
  • Licorice Pizza.  BAFTA makes it a justifiable choice. Though, in the past 40 years, only 3 scripts have won with their films having less than 4 nominations. I know you can number yourself to death, but I do also question how much they fully respect Anderson and my gut’s been telling me all along this isn’t the kind of script they vote for. But still, again, legitimate choice.
  • Belfast. It’s got the most precursors (and nominations) and was WGA-ineligible. Also, BFCA has a shockingly good track record (9/11 since 2010). Plus, looking purely at titles, doesn’t it look like the most likely winner? There are knocks against it. Only twice since 2000 has something win without winning WGA or BAFTA (and both were Picture winners). Plus, its precursors don’t contain voters. And, no matter how you slice it, the BAFTA loss is looks really bad. But it’s probably the best choice there is.

Because there are so many options, I fully expect something crazy to happen. Belfast is the safest choice (then Licorice Pizza, then King Richard), but this is one of two categories where you can justifiably pick almost anything. So I say, if you’re feeling it, shoot your shot.

The Vote: Belfast

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

CODA

Drive My Car

Dune

The Lost Daughter

The Power of the Dog

My Personal Rankings:

  1. The Power of the Dog
  2. CODA
  3. Drive My Car
  4. The Lost Daughter
  5. Dune

My Thoughts: Solid category. No obvious winner. Dune, like with Director, I just don’t feel like it needs to win. Lost Daughter and Drive My Care are both perfectly solid, just wouldn’t take either. For me it’s between CODA and Power of the Dog. Both scripts are incredibly good. But I think the way Power of the Dog makes you feel one way for the majority of the film only to make you realize you’d been looking at it wrong the whole time… that feels like the choice.

My Vote: The Power of the Dog

Should’ve Been Nominated: The Last Duel

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • WGA: CODA
  • BAFTA: CODA
  • BFCA: Power of the Dog

Pretty clear tossup situation.

Most Likely to Win: CODA. On a numbers level, it’s the favorite. But becuase Power of the Dog was WGA-ineligible, it’s a pure 50/50.

The Competition: The Power of the Dog. It’s a one or the other situation.

Spoiler Alert: Drive My Car. You could say it’s Lost Daughter, with the Scripter win, but I don’t think we get past the first two. I’ll stick with the foreign film with hardcore fans out there for spoiler.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. CODA

2. The Power of the Dog

3. Drive My Car

4. The Lost Daughter

5. Dune

The Smart Choice: The Power of the Dog or CODA

The Deal: They’re legitimately both smart choices. They split precursors and CODA won the one where Power of the Dog was ineligible. They’re also the two films leading for Picture, and since you generally want the Picture winner in Screenplay when it’s questionable, the best play is to pair this with your Picture choice. And since I’m taking CODA there, voila. There’s always a chance they split, but it’s like the Sound categories used to be… it’s easier to just pair them than pick which way the split’s gonna go. Picking the split runs the risk of the split going the other way and you getting both wrong. But if you’re so inclined, my gut tells me CODA is more likely to win here and lose Picture than the reverse scenario. Regardless, the smartest course of action is to take whatever you’re taking in Picture.

The Vote: CODA

 

Best Editing

Don’t Look Up

Dune

King Richard

The Power of the Dog

Tick, Tick… Boom!

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Dune
  2. The Power of the Dog
  3. King Richard
  4. Tick, Tick… Boom!
  5. Don’t Look Up

My Thoughts: Boy, am I not the biggest fan of this category. They missed out on a bunch of great stuff. Don’t Look Up I feel is overlong and meandering at times, so I wouldn’t take it. Tick Tick Boom does a fine job with the musical numbers but isn’t something I’d vote for. King Richard is a standard ‘#4’ choice that happens to be third in a weaker category. Power of the Dog is worthy for the same reasons I like the screenplay. But there’s something about the way Denis Villeneuve paces his films that I adore. And maybe this is me falling into the trap of ‘most’ editing over ‘best’ editing, but I think I wanna take Dune here. Give me more time to consider and I might shift the vote, but for now I think it’s Dune.

My Vote: Dune

Should’ve Been Nominated: The Last Duel, West Side Story

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • ACE: King Richard (Drama), Tick Tick Boom (Comedy)

Both BAFTA and BFCA went off the board, so, oh buddy, do we have a fun one this year.

Most Likely to Win: Dune. This category historically is about ‘most’ editing over anything else. Look at the last handful of winners. This is the nominee that best fits that group, so it defaults to favorite.

The Competition: The Power of the Dog. Picture favorites tend to have an advantage, and as such I will show it that respect. Though, admittedly, Argo’s the last Picture winner to win. But, given the category, you’d be stupid not to take it seriously.

Spoiler Alert: King Richard. It won ACE. Normally that would put it first or second, but given the category it’s hard to call this higher than third. I mean, granted, everything’s stacked up real tight, but it does feel like the least likely winner from the top three, even with the precursor.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Dune

2. The Power of the Dog

3. King Richard

4. Tick, Tick… Boom!

5. Don’t Look Up

The Smart Choice: Dune

The Deal: Only 14 films ever won Editing without a Picture nomination. 4 in the past 30 years. So Tick Tick Boom feels unlikely. Don’t Look Up, given how mixed people are on it, would be the most surprising outcome of all. Everything else, though, you can make a case for. King Richard beat the other two at the guild (though I have questions about it on an open ballot). Power of the Dog is the Picture favorite and that might sway some people. But I think the obvious choice is Dune just because of what it is. It just feels like the smartest bet is the film that, when glancing at the ballot, you look at and think, “Of course.” I’m won’t be surprised if it loses, but I think taking it puts you in the best position to get it right. I feel safer with it than against it.

The Vote: Dune

 

Best Cinematography

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

My Personal Rankings:

  1. West Side Story
  2. The Tragedy of Macbeth
  3. Dune
  4. Nightmare Alley
  5. The Power of the Dog

My Thoughts: You know it’s a strong category when a Guillermo film doesn’t even rate top three and a western (you know I love my westerns) is fifth. Absolutely insane how stacked this is. Dune I think is tremendously shot but doesn’t make me actively excited the way the other two films do. Tragedy of Macbeth had a bunch of shots where I went “oh wow” because of the framing and/or lighting choices. That may one day become the vote. But man… West Side Story. And I’m someone who’s gotten tired of that washed out, almost-colorless look Spielberg’s adopted the past 20 years. But what he and Janusz do here is so vibrant and adds such energy and life to the picture that I have to vote for it.

My Vote: West Side Story

Should’ve Been Nominated: The French Dispatch

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • ASC: Dune
  • BAFTA: Dune
  • BFCA: Power of the Dog

Not a locked category, but definitely one you can feel pretty good about.

Most Likely to Win: Dune. It won the two precursors with voters and has felt like the favorite from the start.

The Competition: The Power of the Dog. It’s the only other film with a precursor.

Spoiler Alert: West Side Story. Kinda has to be by default, even despite the ASC + BAFTA not nominating it. Nothing’s won this category with less than 5 nominations since 1994 (and it’s only happened 5 times the past 65 years — and 3 of them had 4 nominations!).

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Dune

2. The Power of the Dog

3. West Side Story

4. The Tragedy of Macbeth

5. Nightmare Alley

The Smart Choice: Dune

The Deal: I needed something other than Dune to win the guild for me to think it could go elsewhere. You have to just take it and let it lose. It’s the obvious choice.

The Vote: Dune

 

Best Original Score

Don’t Look Up

Dune

Encanto

Parallel Mothers

The Power of the Dog

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Don’t Look Up
  2. Dune
  3. Encanto
  4. The Power of the Dog
  5. Parallel Mothers

My Thoughts: I listened to 130 scores, so I am fully prepared for this one. And largely it’s a good category (even the shortlist was pretty good). Wasn’t the biggest fan of the Parallel Mothers score, but I love Alberto Iglesias. I also felt Spencer was Greenwood’s better effort over Power of the Dog, but at least he’s nominated. Encanto’s score was not only lovely, its inclusion gets a woman nominated and increases Latinx representation. Dune, I loved. Zimmer’s classy blockbuster scores are always great. But… Don’t Look Up’s my favorite nominated score. I really love how Britell changes styles for different tracks on these Adam McKay scores.

My Vote: Don’t Look Up

Should’ve Been Nominated: Spencer, The Last Duel

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • BAFTA: Dune
  • BFCA: Dune
  • Globe: Dune

If only there was some sort of sign…

Most Likely to Win: Dune. Clean sweep. You know the deal.

The Competition: Encanto. I mean, I guess, right? When people look at the ballot and think music, this feels like it will spring to mind faster than everything left.

Spoiler Alert: The Power of the Dog. The other two won’t rate. At least this is the Picture favorite. So sure.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Dune

2. Encanto

3. The Power of the Dog

4. Don’t Look Up

5. Parallel Mothers

The Smart Choice: Dune

The Deal: In the past 15 years, 8 scores swept the precursors. Every single one won. You gotta take it.

The Vote: Dune

 

Best Original Song

“Be Alive,” from King Richard

“Dos Oruguitas,” from Encanto

“Down to Joy,” from Belfast

“No Time to Die,” from No Time to Die

“Somehow You Do,” from Four Good Days

My Personal Rankings:

  1. “No Time to Die”
  2. “Down to Joy”
  3. “Dos Oruguitas”
  4. “Be Alive”
  5. “Somehow You Do”

My Thoughts: I feel robbed because we didn’t get the full list of eligibles this year. But based on the shortlist, they did okay. Though I still don’t understand the need to nominate Diane Warren every single time. The Beyoncé song is probably the best one she’s had eligible and feels legitimately worth a nomination. “Dos Oruguitas” is lovely but clearly not the right song from the film. “Down to Joy,” in another year, could’ve been my vote. But come on now. Bond song. And a good Bond song. Easy choice.

My Vote: “No Time to Die,” from No Time to Die

Should’ve Been Nominated: “So May We Start?” from Annette

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • BFCA: “No Time to Die”
  • Globes: “No Time to Die”

This would’ve been so much more intriguing if Disney had submitted “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.”

Most Likely to Win: “No Time to Die,” from No Time to Die. Bond songs have won twice in a row and this might be even more of a slam dunk than Adele. You don’t need the precursors to know it’s the favorite.

The Competition: “Dos Oruguitas,” from Encanto. Lin-Manuel’s been knocking at the EGOT door for 5 years now and Disney hamstrings him by submitting only one song… that happened to not be the song that blew up. Still, Disney songs always do well and you know voters watched this a bunch with their kids.

Spoiler Alert: “Be Alive,” from King Richard. Diane Warren has zero chance and I feel like you’d know if Van Morrison was in play. Beyoncé will get votes simply because she’s Beyoncé. This category goes one of three ways: ‘obvious winner’, ‘Disney song’ or ‘high profile nominee’. This is the latter.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. “No Time to Die”

2. “Dos Oruguitas”

3. “Be Alive”

4. “Down to Joy”

5. “Somehow You Do”

The Smart Choice: “No Time to Die,” from No Time to Die

The Deal: You absolutely take Bond and let something else beat you. It’s not a lock just because, between Lin-Manuel, Beyoncé and Van Morrison, shit could happen. But you have a Bond song and Billie Eilish and I cannot fathom that not winning.

The Vote: “No Time to Die,” from No Time to Die

 

Best Production Design

Dune

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

My Personal Rankings:

  1. West Side Story
  2. The Tragedy of Macbeth
  3. Dune
  4. Nightmare Alley
  5. The Power of the Dog

My Thoughts: Awesome category. Love me a good western and Power of the Dog looks great, but I can’t take it over anything else. Nightmare Alley, like every Guillermo film, looks stunning. But the circus is only half the film and that’s where my favorite stuff was. Dune I liked a lot, but the sets get overshadowed by the vast swaths of desert. West Side Story — lovely. From the rubble around Doc’s to that alleyway, it’s a stunning piece of work. Same for Tragedy of Macbeth. I love that they built every inch of the set on a stage to give it that otherworldly look. In a pure tossup, most times I would probably take Tragedy of Macbeth. But the West Side Story nominees also did French Dispatch, which by itself would’ve been my #1. Knowing that, I can’t not take them.

My Vote: West Side Story

Should’ve Been Nominated: The French Dispatch

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • ADG: Dune (Fantasy), Nightmare Alley (Period)
  • SDSA: Dune
  • BAFTA: Dune
  • BFCA: Dune

Love it when it’s easy.

Most Likely to Win: Dune. You don’t argue with a sweep.

The Competition: West Side Story. I’ve talked for a decade about the 3 categories whose outcomes stumped me, one of which was Lincoln winning without precursors. I’ll never discount a Spielberg film in this category again. Plus — musical and you remember those sets. This’ll get as many votes as anything outside of Dune.

Spoiler Alert: Nightmare Alley. Guild win plus it’s the only film outside the top two to be nominated at both ADG + BAFTA. The question is how many people will actually vote for it. Hence why it’s the spoiler.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Dune

2. West Side Story

3. Nightmare Alley

4. The Power of the Dog

5. The Tragedy of Macbeth

The Smart Choice: Dune

The Deal: Precursor sweep plus no overt competition. This is easy. (West Side Story’s not the worst upset pick, but I’d rather just take the L.)

The Vote: Dune

 

Best Costume Design

Cruella

Cyrano

Dune

Nightmare Alley

West Side Story

My Personal Rankings:

  1. West Side Story
  2. Cruella
  3. Cyrano
  4. Dune
  5. Nightmare Alley

My Thoughts: I always look for the most memorable costumes as the ultimate tiebreaker. So Nightmare Alley — great costumes all around, nothing overly memorable. Cyrano — nice frills, but standard frills, not exciting frills. Dune — I don’t remember much past the desert pee suits. Cruella — lovely costumes. Lot of really nice stuff. I could easily take that. But West Side Story… I remember like four costumes off the top of my head. I’ll take that.

My Vote: West Side Story

Should’ve Been Nominated: The Last Duel

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • CDG: Cruella (Period), Dune (Fantasy)
  • BAFTA: Cruella
  • BFCA: Cruella

You know what to do.

Most Likely to Win: Cruella. Clean sweep. Simple as that.

The Competition: West Side Story. Dune has the precursor, but they only really vote for highly-nominated films where it makes sense. Dune doesn’t really make sense here. This is a musical with memorable costumes, a bunch of nominations and not many places to win. This is one place they’ll toss votes if they wanna reward it.

Spoiler Alert: Dune. Nightmare Alley’s costumes aren’t flashy enough to get serious votes and only 3 films ever have won this as their only nomination, so it’s not Cyrano. This has a precursor and 10 nominations means it contends everywhere.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Cruella

2. West Side Story

3. Dune

4. Cyrano

5. Nightmare Alley

The Smart Choice: Cruella

The Deal: Precursor sweep and it’s about fashion. It’s not a sure thing, but it feels as safe a bet as can be.

The Vote: Cruella

 

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Coming 2 America

Cruella

Dune

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

House of Gucci

My Personal Rankings:

  1. The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  2. Coming 2 America
  3. Cruella
  4. Dune
  5. House of Gucci

My Thoughts: There’s no obvious choice here. House of Gucci’s all about the hair, which is lovely, but I’m not sure I take it. Dune… I’m struggling to think of anything outside Jabba the Skarsgard. Cruella has the hair, but past that nothing felt overly memorable to me. Coming 2 America recreates all the great stuff they did the first time… but we’ve seen it already. And it’s not Rick Baker. Feels weird to vote for that. Meanwhile, Eyes of Tammy Faye… Chastain’s transformation looks awesome and is completely memorable. Absent anything else, I’ll take that.

My Vote: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Should’ve Been Nominated: I’m fine with this.

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • MU+HS: Coming 2 America x3, Cruella
  • BAFTA: Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • BFCA: Eyes of Tammy Faye

Those last two made this easier. Otherwise I’d have gone there anyway and went “…I guess?”

Most Likely to Win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Since 1990, the BAFTA winner (when nominated) has won all but twice. Plus it’s a high profile performance/transformation and has a second precursor. Feels like more of a sure thing than I expected to get.

The Competition: Dune. This can’t be lower than third because of the 10 nominations. But this category’s usually intuitive, and without the lack of immediately recognizable makeup/creatures, I’m not sure you do more than just respect it.

Spoiler Alert: Cruella. Gucci has no chance, and I worry that Coming 2 America has too much ‘bad movie’ stench to get serious votes. You gotta go back a ways to find comps for it. Has to be this. People will remember the hair. I’m not sure that’s enough to win, but if I had to pick a spoiler, it’s this.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1.  The Eyes of Tammy Faye

2. Dune

3. Cruella

4. Coming 2 America

5. House of Gucci

The Smart Choice: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

The Deal: This category often goes hand-in-hand with a winning performance, so this is an easy tag-along vote with Chastain. Even then, with two precursors and the fact that you immediately remember the makeup, I think it’s probably the best choice.

The Vote: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

 

Best Visual Effects

Dune

Free Guy

No Time to Die

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Spider-Man: No Way Home

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Dune
  2. No Time to Die
  3. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  4. Spider-Man: No Way Home
  5. Free Guy

My Thoughts: This category actually turned out pretty well, all things considered. I quite enjoyed Free Guy’s incorporation of video game graphics but feel absolutely no need to vote for it. Spider-Man has your standard Marvel effects with nothing past the Dr. Strange bit standing out to me. Shang-Chi, though — that bus sequence was awesome. Which, you guys know me, I’ll always go for practical and stunt effects over CGI. Which is why I’m thrilled No Time to Die is here. However… Dune. Denis always blends CGI so well with the practical effects that you almost forget it’s CGI. I gotta take that.

My Vote: Dune

Should’ve Been Nominated: I’m okay with this

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • VES: Dune (4 wins, Best Effects), Spider-Man (1 win)
  • BAFTA: Dune
  • BFCA: Dune

I could have never once looked at precursors and still told you what was gonna happen.

Most Likely to Win: Dune. Clean sweep, most-nominated film. Clear winner.

The Competition: No Time to Die. The rule is always look to the films with the most nominations. If for some reason Dune doesn’t win, this is the obvious alternate.

Spoiler Alert: Spider-Man: No Way Home. It’s not Free Guy and, between this and Shang-Chi, this made more money/noise. But I say this every year… class wins out here. There’s a reason Marvel’s never won this. It’s not a smart play.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Dune

2. No Time to Die

3. Spider-Man: No Way Home

4. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

5. Free Guy

The Smart Choice: Dune

The Deal: Precursor sweep, 10 nominations, Picture nomination. You don’t need a map.

The Vote: Dune

 

Best Sound

Belfast

Dune

No Time to Die

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Dune
  2. West Side Story
  3. No Time to Die
  4. The Power of the Dog
  5. Belfast

My Thoughts: Having one category removes some of the nuance of sound design, but does make it easier explain my choices. Belfast and Power of the Dog… perfectly solid, but not the other three. No Time to Die… well done, but a Bond movie. It feels like a ‘most, not best’ situation. West Side Story… extremely well-mixed. For me, it’s all about Dune. It blends effects, dialogue and score to create a beautiful tapestry of sound. If there’s any category that film should win, it’s this one.

My Vote: Dune

Should’ve Been Nominated: Last Night in Soho

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • BAFTA: Dune
  • CAS: Dune
  • MPSE: Dune (SFX+Foley), West Side Story (Music)

I like when the precursors tell me exactly what I’d have come up with on my own.

Most Likely to Win: Dune. You knew it was the favorite on title alone. The sweep is just ancillary.

The Competition: West Side Story. Nominal precursor, plus, if we still had two categories, I’d have said Dune for Editing and Mixing a 70-30 tossup between Dune and this.

Spoiler Alert: No Time to Die. Sound’s always been about ‘obvious’ choices. You gotta go back 70 years to see a Belfast or Power of the Dog-type win. Which by default puts this third. Skyfall won. It feels unlikely, but in a singular category it’s more possible than the other options.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Dune

2. West Side Story

3. No Time to Die

4. The Power of the Dog

5. Belfast

The Smart Choice: Dune.

The Deal: Dune’s the obvious choice. Precursor sweep, plus it best fits how they usually vote. Let it lose.

The Vote: Dune

 

Best Animated Feature

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Raya and the Last Dragon

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Encanto
  2. Raya and the Last Dragon
  3. Luca
  4. The Mitchells vs. the Machines
  5. Flee

My Thoughts: Great category. I’m not the biggest fan of Flee, but it’s a nice nominee. Mitchells vs. the Machines was charming, but nowhere close to the kind of movie I’d vote for. Luca I liked but didn’t love. And the only reason Raya isn’t my vote is because I loved Encanto more. Pretty simple one to parse.

My Vote: Encanto

Should’ve Been Nominated: The Summit of the Gods

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Precursors:

  • PGA: Encanto
  • BAFTA: Encanto
  • BFCA: Mitchells vs. the Machines
  • Globe: Encanto
  • Annies: Mitchells vs. the Machines (8 wins + Best Feature), Encanto (3 wins)

It’s funny how the precursors make it seem less obvious than what you know instinctively will happen.

Most Likely to Win: Encanto. Once this got 2 other nominations, it was over. Plus this also did well at all the guilds, not just animation. That shows widespread support for an open ballot. Clear favorite all around.

The Competition: The Mitchells vs. the Machines. It won a bunch of Annies + BFCA, none of which particularly matters (since the guild regularly votes against Disney/Pixar and critics don’t vote), but on paper it’s second choice.

Spoiler Alert: Luca. There’s a definite ‘Pixar no matter what’ contingent out there. It’ll get votes. And while I’m hesitant to say it’ll win, I do feel this is more likely to be second choice in the end.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Encanto

2. Luca

3. The Mitchells vs. the Machines

4. Raya and the Last Dragon

5. Flee

The Smart Choice: Encanto

The Deal: It’s clear as day Encanto’s gonna win, but there’s enough Mitchells vs. the Machines evidence to foolishly buy into the ‘maybe this year’ argument I’ve seen fail countless times. Disney/Pixar have won 14/20 categories and only not won twice since 2006 (and one was because they weren’t nominated). History says Encanto will win. You can vote for the Mitchells, just acknowledge it’s because you want it to happen. Because until they do otherwise, you know how this ends.

The Vote: Encanto

 

Best International Feature

Drive My Car

Flee

The Hand of God

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

The Worst Person in the World

My Personal Rankings:

  1. The Worst Person in the World
  2. Drive My Car
  3. The Hand of God
  4. Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
  5. Flee

My Thoughts: The crazy thing about this category is that it actually could have been even more high profile. I already said I’m not the biggest fan of Flee. Lunana’s quite good, Hand of God’s very good, Drive My Car was great and Worst Person in the World was great. Really it’s just about picking my favorite. And I’m all about The Worst Person in the World. I loved that movie.

My Vote: The Worst Person in the World

Should’ve Been Nominated: A Hero, Playground

– – – – –

The Analysis:

One of these films is nominated for Picture and Director and the rest aren’t.

Most Likely to Win: Drive My Car. Do I need to explain this?

The Competition: The Worst Person in the World. You don’t nominate something in Screenplay without there being legitimate support out there.

Spoiler Alert: The Hand of God. Lunana won’t be seen by enough people and Flee is spread too thin across three categories. Sorrentino’s a previous winner and is hugely respected. This’ll have fans.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Drive My Car

2. The Worst Person in the Word

3. The Hand of God

4. Flee

5. Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

The Smart Choice: Drive My Car

The Deal: It’s nominated for Picture and Director. Don’t even mess around with it.

The Vote: Drive My Car

 

Best Documentary Feature

Ascension

Attica

Flee

Summer of Soul

Writing with Fire

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Summer of Soul
  2. Ascension
  3. Writing with Fire
  4. Attica
  5. Flee

My Thoughts: I can’t believe they actually nominated Summer of Soul. Says a lot about this branch that we’re shocked when they actually nominate the best documentary of the year (though they did leave off the second best documentary of the year. So there’s that). I would also like to talk up both Ascension and Writing with Fire, which are terrific documentaries worth seeing. Ascension especially was really great.

My Vote: Summer of Soul

Should’ve Been Nominated: The Rescue

– – – – –

The Analysis:

One of these choices is clearly gonna win and you don’t even need to be told what is is. That’s how you know it’s gonna win.

Most Likely to Win: Summer of Soul. This has the most mainstream visibility since the O.J. doc. I’ve called docs with lesser profiles absolute locks, so how do we rate what this is? In Kelvin?

The Competition: Flee. If Summer of Soul doesn’t win, I honestly don’t know what does. This at least has visibility.

Spoiler Alert: Writing with Fire. I can’t see Attica getting any support and Ascension winning would shock me. This at least has an issue they can vote for.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Summer of Soul

2. Flee

3. Writing with Fire

4. Ascension

5. Attica

The Smart Choice: Summer of Soul

The Deal: They nominated it. It’s winning.

The Vote: Summer of Soul

 

Best Documentary Short

Audible

Lead Me Home

The Queen of Basketball

Three Songs for Benazir

When We Were Bullies

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Lead Me Home
  2. The Queen of Basketball
  3. Three Songs for Benazir
  4. Audible
  5. When We Were Bullies

My Thoughts: This is a much weaker category than we could’ve (and probably should’ve) gotten. Of all 2021 nominees, I think When We Were Bullies is the one I disagreed with most. I’m just not at all a fan of that doc. Audible I liked, but it’s standard sports doc stuff. Three Songs for Benazir I love in concept. In execution, I think it falls off when they do the time jump. Queen of Basketball I love as a story. The doc itself is just fine. Lead Me Home is solid, but would probably be third in any other year. All of these feel like compromise choices. Queen of Basketball would shine a light on a good story, but Lead Me Home is actually about an issue that we should probably look at fixing. So I guess in the tradition of this category, I’ll vote for that.

My Vote: Lead Me Home

Should’ve Been Nominated: The Facility, Takeover

– – – – –

The Analysis:

All you can do here is just know how they usually vote and pick the doc that best fits.

Most Likely to Win: The Queen of Basketball. The subject matter isn’t completely what they go for, but it’s the only doc I’ve seen be talked about in the mainstream, by the NBA. If something in a Shorts category has gotten that far, I have to assume it’s the favorite.

The Competition: Audible. I don’t know what to make of this because they never let something like this get nominated. In the abstract, feel-good sports doc about a Deaf team, they love this stuff. Plus it’s Netflix, which can promote the hell out of it. Without precedent, I have to respect it.

Spoiler Alert: Three Songs for Benazir. Lead Me Home also fits, given its issue. But Netflix has unlimited promotional support. I have concerns it’s not fully coherent and that might turn some people off, but I have to respect it just because the general premise hits a lot of buzz words for them.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. The Queen of Basketball

2. Audible

3. Three Songs for Benazir

4. Lead Me Home

5. When We Were Bullies

The Smart Choice: The Queen of Basketball

The Deal: Unlike most years, this one doesn’t have that clear ‘issue they can solve’ or ‘person in bad situation overcomes obstacles to create art’ choice. So even if there is a favorite, nothing’s necessarily a slam dunk (pun ridiculously intended) winner. Which means you can pretty much take whatever you want. I personally don’t think When We Were Bullies has any shot. But past that, it’s all game. Audible is feel-good, so if you’ll think they’ll go lighter it’s a good choice. Lead Me Home has the issue, but it’s one they’re confronted with every day, so I don’t know if that’ll make them extra eager or more reticent. Three Songs for Benazir is charming, but it’s not exactly what usually wins here. But the title sounds good and that could be enough. But I keep coming back to Queen of Basketball. They love ‘discovering’ people who fell through the cracks of history and the title just screams ‘will get votes’. That’s the one I feel best about. You’re always at risk of losing this category, so feeling good about your choice is the best you can do.

The Vote: The Queen of Basketball

 

Best Live Action Short

Ala Kachuu (Take and Run)

The Dress

The Long Goodbye

On My Mind

Please Hold

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Please Hold
  2. Ala Kachuu (Take and Run)
  3. On My Mind
  4. The Dress
  5. The Long Goodbye

My Thoughts: Considering how his category usually goes, I’m honestly glad I really liked two of these and only disagreed with one (I’m very much not a fan of Long Goodbye even though I understand how it got here). The Dress is solid and fits this category perfectly, but it wasn’t my favorite. On My Mind I liked, but not as much as the other two. Ala Kachuu is really terrific and, were it not for Please Hold, would be my vote. But Please Hold is the best short nominated.

My Vote: Please Hold

Should’ve Been Nominated: You’re Dead Helen, Frimas

– – – – –

The Analysis:

This is the one category where everything is fair game and anything can win. Because it’s the one that’s solely about who actually watches all the nominees. There’s no precursors. They have to do the work. Which makes it the biggest crapshoot.

Most Likely to Win: The Long Goodbye. I have to play the star power angle. Riz Ahmed co-wrote and stars in this and has been promoting the hell out of it. It comes down to how people respond to everything, but on outside factors alone, this almost has to be considered the favorite.

The Competition: Please Hold. Like Two Distant Strangers last year, it’s a high concept short about racial inequality. It’s really well-made and checks every single box in terms of what usually wins this category. The only reason it’s not first is because it doesn’t have Riz Ahmed promoting it.

Spoiler Alert: Ala Kachuu (Take and Run). This is the second-most ‘them’ short nominated. It elicits emotion and stays with you after it’s over. Based on how they usually vote, this should be in the top two.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Please Hold

2. The Long Goodbye

3. Ala Kachuu (Take and Run)

4. On My Mind

5. The Dress

The Smart Choice: The Long Goodbye

The Deal: This category goes legitimately five deep. It’s why, most years, you hope for a strong favorite you can ride all the way through. Otherwise you just gotta pick what makes the most sense to you and hope you don’t catch a 5. Both The Dress and On My Mind are legitimate choices (and ones you can take). They just don’t feel as likely (to me) to get as many votes as the other three. The two that best fit what I’d expect to see win here are Ala Kachuu and Please Hold. Ala Kachuu’s a bit on the longer side, but that doesn’t really matter. Then there’s The Long Goodbye, which boasts the biggest star power and probably has the most visibility in the category. That’s probably the smart choice, just because of Riz and the subject matter. But I’m personally gonna stick with my gut and take Please Hold. It feels like the one that, if every voter watched all five shorts, I believe most people would vote for. It’s the one I feel best taking, and that’s really all you can ask for in this category.

The Vote: Please Hold

 

Best Animated Short

Affairs of the Art

Bestia

Boxballet

Robin Robin

The Windshield Wiper

My Personal Rankings:

  1. Bestia
  2. The Windshield Wiper
  3. Boxballet
  4. Affairs of the Art
  5. Robin Robin

My Thoughts: Okay category. Could’ve been better. I was resigned that Robin Robin would make it because of how much they love Aardman, but I didn’t particularly love it. Affairs of the Art looks amazing but didn’t do much for me narratively. Boxballet was solid, but I’d rather have seen that be my #5 and not my #3. Bestia and Windshied Wiper are the best two, and if you asked me to choose between them, Bestia’s the choice. That short is so well made. I also like the serious subject matter. You could almost see it having been nominated in Live Action Short. That’s definitely my vote.

My Vote: Bestia

Should’ve Been Nominated: Namoo

– – – – –

The Analysis:

Unlike most years, there’s no clear clubhouse leader. So we’re just winging it.

Most Likely to Win: Robin Robin. It’s a default position. Aardman’s been nominated 8 times with 3 wins. If Disney/Pixar were here, they’d automatically become favorite too. It’s not a surefire winner, since they haven’t won since 1995, but given the stature of the studio you have to consider it the favorite.

The Competition: Bestia. To me, it’s the best in the category and. If you watched all five, I can’t see most people not having it top 2 or 3. However (and it’s a big however), it’s a very serious short that doesn’t have the emotional component they tend to vote for. They don’t really have a track record of going for stuff like this. It’s admittedly a tough call, as good as it is.

Spoiler Alert: The Windshield Wiper. I wanna say Boxballet, just because it’s got the rom-com story and cute ending, but the animation style isn’t totally their taste, so I don’t know. And Affairs of the Art… if it lost at BAFTA, what chance does it have here? This is a beautiful short, even if it’s a bit ‘arty’ for them narratively. I tend to trust my gut, and my gut says at best this is a spoiler, even if I think it’s good enough to win.

Scorecard Ballot Rankings:

1. Bestia

2. Robin Robin

3. Boxballet

4. The Windshield Wiper

5. Affairs of the Art

The Smart Choice: Robin Robin

The Deal: This is the one category where I’m like, “I know I’m catching a 5 no matter what I do.” I don’t see a true #1 here. So I’l begin with the only real advice I can give you: take what you’re most comfortable with. That’s all you can do here, so feeling okay is the best situation you can be in. Otherwise, here’s how I view each nominee:

  • Affairs of the Art — The animation’s nice, but these types of shorts never win. Plus, it lost BAFTA without any competition. I don’t see how I can look at it as anything other than 5th.
  • Bestia — It’s the best short in the bunch, but they just do not vote for serious shorts like this. If you’re playing it smart/safe, this should probably be no better than 3rd.
  • Boxballet — Arguably the short that best fits how they usually vote. But when you see it, you also see how it’s not like what wins either. Which makes it difficult to say, “Just take it.” I have to keep it top 3, just because I can so see this winning, but I don’t know if there’s ever a version where I vote for this.
  • Robin Robin — The Aardman name probably makes it the safest choice. But it’s 30-minutes and there’s loads of dialogue in it. It’s like those Room on the Broom/Revolting Rhymes shorts that never win. If it weren’t Aardman, I’d have it 4th and be convinced it wasn’t winning. But in a lot of ways, it’s probably the safest choice because it’s the easiest to not second-guess.
  • The Windshield Wiper — Another one whose style never wins. There’s no precedent for them voting for this. So the most you can say here is, “I think they’re gonna like it, so I’m taking it.”

The reason this year is so tough is because it’s truly down to how people vote. There’s no tipoff like there usually is. So something that doesn’t normally happen will happen, and we have to guess what that’s gonna be. Which is why I, again, say — just take whatever makes you most comfortable. I’d like to see Bestia win and truly don’t care if I catch a 5, so I’m just taking it. I can’t lose sleep over something that’ll be forgotten the minute the envelope is opened.

The Vote: Bestia

– – – – –

So that’s the ballot. Here’s a breakdown of how I see each film performing:

 

The Power of the Dog
12 nominations

Will win: Director
Will likely win: Picture, Adapted Screenplay
Could win: Supporting Actor (Smit-McPhee), Editing, Cinematography
Won’t win:
Actor, Supporting Actor (Plemons), Supporting Actress, Production Design, Score, Sound

The main question is whether or not it wins Picture. Director’s in the bag regardless. Assuming it wins, the range is 2-4. No Picture winner’s won more than 4 since The Artist, and only 3 winners since 1935 won just 2, so if it wins Picture, expect another win somewhere (likely Screenplay). Past that, it’s debatable. I can’t see it winning Actor, Supporting Actress, Score or Sound. Production Design feels improbable, as do both Supporting Actor nominations. If this gets to 4 (which would be overperforming), the likely spots are Editing first, then Cinematography, but it’s not the favorite in either. So 3 is the baseline if it wins Picture. If it doesn’t win Picture, then the baseline is 1. Screenplay’s still very possible, even without Picture. So depending on specifics, your range here is 1-3. I’d be surprised if it ended up anywhere outside that range.

 

Dune
10 nominations

Will win: Visual Effects
Will likely win: Editing, Cinematography, Production Design, Score, Sound
Could win: Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling
Won’t win:
Picture, Adapted Screenplay

This will win the most awards easily. The only question is what the final number’s gonna be. Picture and Screenplay won’t happen, but the rest are in play. 5-6 feels most likely. It’ll win Visual Effects for sure, and Score, Production Design and Sound feel pretty assured. Editing and Cinematography are likely but neither’s a given, and it’ll probably lose Costumes and Makeup. I say pencil it in at 5 or 6 wins. No matter what the specifics are, that’s your sweet spot. 4’s the absolute minimum, but I can’t see it not winning at least one of Editing or Cinematography. 7’s possible, but since they really only vote for stuff where it make sense. And while this feels like a contender to come in lighter than we’re figuring, I think 5-6 is your zone.

 

Belfast
7 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win: Original Screenplay
Could win: Supporting Actor, Song
Won’t win:
Picture, Director, Supporting Actress, Sound

Things broke weirdly for this one and there’s a legitimate chance it goes home empty-handed. Picture and Director seem out. Sound would be the weirdest win ever. Supporting Actor’s also basically (but not definitely) a no. Song’s possible but feels very unlikely. The only place for this to win is Screenplay, but even that’s not a gimme. This should either be 0 wins or 1, depending on Screenplay.

 

West Side Story
7 nominations

Will win: Supporting Actress
Will likely win:
Could win: Production Design, Costume Design, Sound
Won’t win:
Picture, Director, Cinematography

Picture and Director won’t happen, but Supporting Actress is locked. So minimum 1. Which is the most likely outcome, even if I’m not 100% sold on it. I think it could sneak a second win elsewhere. The likeliest spot is probably Production Design. Then maybe Costumes. And Sound is like, 30-70 possible. So 1 win yes, 2 wins maybe and if I’m picking a place for the second win it’s Production Design.

 

King Richard
6 nominations

Will win: Actor
Will likely win:
Could win: Original Screenplay, Editing, Song
Won’t win:
Picture, Supporting Actress

Will’s gonna win, so at worst you’re looking at 1. Picture and Supporting Actress are out, so 4 is the max (not impossible). A combination of Screenplay, Editing and Song are legitimate possibilities. Song feels most unlikely, just because of Bond/Eilish, but hey, it’s Beyoncé. You never know. Editing’s possible, but it doesn’t feel like the favorite. Personally, Screenplay feels like the place most ripe for a surprise. I’d keep an eye out there. 1 win is the baseline for this. 2 or 3 definitely could happen (Screenplay or Editing are most likely there) and 4 (Song as well) is possible but feels really unlikely. This feels like one of the contenders for extra wins on the night.

 

Don’t Look Up
4 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Original Screenplay
Won’t win:
Picture, Editing, Score

Picture’s out. Editing or Score wins would shock me. Screenplay’s the only one I’ll give it a half a chance in, just because nothing is towering there, but even that would be a moderate surprise. I’d fully expect an 0-fer here.

 

Drive My Car
4 nominations

Will win: International Feature
Will likely win:
Could win: Adapted Screenplay
Won’t win:
 Picture, Director

International Feature’s in the bag. Picture and Director wins would be huge upsets and Screenplay, while possible, feels unlikely. So 1 win for sure, 2 possible but unlikely, and anything past that would be earth-shattering.

 

Nightmare Alley
4 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: 
Won’t win:
Picture, Cinematography, Production Design, Costume Design

This feels like an 0-fer. Picture was never gonna happen and with no precursors in the tech categories, it feels like a tall order at best with all the competition. I can’t see this winning anything barring a major upset.

 

Being the Ricardos
3 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Actress
Won’t win:
 Actor, Supporting Actor

Bardem and Simmons won’t win, so if this is getting anything, it’s Actress. Which is possible, but feels unlikely. I say 0 wins, but 1 is theoretically possible.

 

CODA
3 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win: Supporting Actor
Could win: Picture, Adapted Screenplay
Won’t win:

This one’s in play for anything from 0-3. 0 seems most unlikely, since it’ll probably win Supporting Actor. So at worst I think you’re looking at 1. Past that, it depends on if it wins Picture and Screenplay. So 1 seems assured, 2’s if it just wins Screenplay and 3’s if it wins both. The range is 1-3, and it’ll work inversely to Power of the Dog’s 1-3.

 

Encanto
3 nominations

Will win: Animated Feature
Will likely win:
Could win: Song, Score
Won’t win:

It’ll win Animated Feature, so 1’s the baseline. Song and Score are both italicized maybes. 3’s theoretically possible, but that’s 2 surprises. So I’m thinking 1 for sure and possibly 2 if it pulls another, with Score being the most likely place.

 

Flee
3 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win:
Won’t win:
 Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, International Feature

Spreading it across three categories prevents it from getting enough votes in any one unless people vote for it everywhere. Which means not voting for Encanto or Summer or Soul or Drive My Car or any of the films that are solely in their categories. I can’t fathom it beating any of those, so I’m saying 0 wins.

 

Licorice Pizza
3 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Original Screenplay
Won’t win:
 Picture, Director

It won’t win Picture or Director, but Screenplay’s in contention. It isn’t super likely, but it could happen. So I’d say most likely is 0 wins but 1 could happen.

 

The Lost Daughter
3 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Actress, Adapted Screenplay
Won’t win:
Supporting Actress

Buckley won’t win. Theoretically Colman has a shot but feels unlikely. And Screenplay I can’t see happening past a shocker. So I’m thinking 0-fer.

 

No Time to Die
3 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win: Song
Could win: Sound
Won’t win:
 Visual Effects

It’ll likely win Song. Sound isn’t totally out of the question, but feels unlikely. Visual Effects is basically a definite no. So 1 win most likely, but I wouldn’t be super shocked if somehow it pulled off 2 with Sound.

 

The Tragedy of Macbeth
3 nominations

Will win:
Will likely win:
Could win: Cinematography, Production Design
Won’t win:
 Actor

Won’t win Actor, and theoretically it can contend in Cinematography and Production Design, but both feel unlikely, so I’m thinking this is an easy 0-fer.

 

The rest:

  • Cruella should win Costume Design and has an outside shot at Makeup & Hairstyling.
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye should win both Actress and Makeup & Hairstyling.
  • Parallel Mothers has a slim chance at Actress and won’t win Score.
  • Tick, Tick… Boom! won’t win Actor and has a puncher’s chance at Editing.
  • The Worst Person in the World won’t win either Screenplay or International Feature.
  • Summer of Soul will win Documentary Feature.
  • The Queen of Basketball seems like the likely winner of Doc Short, but Audible, Three Songs for Benazir or even Lead Me Home could also win.
  • Live Action Short could go any way, but Please Hold makes the most sense to me. I also wouldn’t rule out Ala Kachuu or On My Mind.
  • Animated short — Robin Robin is the favorite just because it’s Aardman, but I think Bestia and The Windshield Wiper are the best shorts and one of those is gonna win.

– – – – –

Final tally as I see it:

  • Dune — 6 wins (Editing, Cinematography, Production Design, Score, Visual Effects, Sound)
  • CODA — 3 wins (Picture, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay)
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye — 2 wins (Actress, Makeup & Hairstyling)
  • Belfast — 1 win (Original Screenplay)
  • Cruella — 1 win (Costume Design)
  • Drive My Car — 1 win (International Feature)
  • Encanto — 1 win (Animated Feature)
  • King Richard — 1 win (Actor)
  • No Time to Die — 1 win (Song)
  • The Power of the Dog — 1 win (Director)
  • Summer of Soul — 1 win (Documentary Feature)
  • West Side Story — 1 win (Supporting Actress)
  • And then, The Queen of Basketball in Documentary Short, Please Hold in Live Action Short and Bestia in Animated Short.

– – – – –

One last thing I wanna say, because I don’t think it’s said enough — it’s okay to take some L’s. Sometimes you’re wrong and sometimes shit happens. As long as you can feel okay about your process and the choices you’ve made, it’s all good. If you never got anything wrong, it wouldn’t feel great when you call an upset. Fucking go for it. It’s all meaningless past tonight anyway.

Also, watch more damn movies. It’s tiring when people have loud opinions and have only seen 20% of what’s out there.

– – – – – – – – – –

http://bplusmovieblog.com

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