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The 94th Academy Awards: Who will win, who should win, and why you should not underestimate the Power of the (under) dog

As long as the fan favorite does not go to Cinderella…

This may be a bad analogy, but making my predictions this year has been akin to playing Candy Land, possibly the worst kids board game of all time. If the goal is to simply make the predictions at a reasonable time, I am still feeling stuck on that black dot space, or I keep drawing that stupid muffin guy or whatever that brings me back to the start.

Either way, after hours of personal research (including looking at multiple anonymous Oscar voter revelations) here are my predictions, as well as what I think should win. I was also on a podcast with an old High School friend as we discussed the nominations (thanks again Mike!). That was split into two episodes.

NOTE: Not all the predictions I made on the podcast are the same here. What I have typed out are my final predictions.

And, of course, I feel all the categories are important, and should be on TV. So we will start with the lesser known categories…

Best Animated Short

  • Affairs of the Art
  • Bestia
  • Boxballet
  • Robin Robin
  • The Windshield Wiper

I’ve only managed to see two of these, Affairs of the Art (which is bizarre, to say the least) and Robin Robin (which you can find on Netflix). I’m going with Robin Robin.

Will win: Robin Robin

Best Documentary Short

  • Audible
  • Lead Me Home
  • The Queen of Basketball
  • Three songs for Benazir
  • When we were Bullies

The only one I did not see is When we were Bullies (it apparently won’t be available for viewing until after the Oscars, which is strange). Audible is my personal choice, but it is hard to argue against The Queen of Basketball (which is available on YouTube)when it is produced by Shaq and Stephen Curry.

Will win: The Queen of Basketball

Should win: Audible

Best Live Action Short

  • Ala Kachuu – Take and Run
  • The Dress
  • The Long Goodbye
  • On my Mind
  • Please Hold

I only got around to seeing one of these, but it is apparently the favorite, and rightly so. Riz Ahmed helped bring The Long Goodbye to YouTube, and while it is not an easy watch, it is a vital one.

Will win/Should Win: The Long Goodbye

Best Visual Effects

Movies in the MCU have yet to win an Oscar in this category, and this year…is not the year for them. One of the easiest of the night to predict, this category will go to Dune.

Will win/Should Win: Dune

Best Sound

This won’t be the last time you hear me predicting Dune.

Will win/Should win: Dune

Best Make-up/Hairstyle

Even with Dune projected to get a lot of wins, I’m going with The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Will Win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Best Costume Design

  • Cruella
  • Cyrano
  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • West Side Story

Your movie has a strong case in this category if the plot revolves around making dresses, so expect it to go to Cruella.

Will win: Cruella

Best Production Design

  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • West Side Story

If it weren’t for Dune, this may be the one chance for Nightmare Alley to get an Oscar. Oh well.

Will win: Dune

Best Cinematography

  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • Nightmare Alley
  • West Side Story

There is a chance that Ari Wegner could be the first female winner in this category for The Power of the Dog, but it will more than likely go to Dune‘s Greig Fraser (who also did the sublime work in The Batman).

Will win: Dune

Best Original Song

  • “Be Alive” – King Richard
  • “Dos’ Oruguitas” – Encanto
  • “Down to Joy” – Belfast
  • “No Time to Die” – No Time to Die
  • “Somehow you do” – Four Good Days

It is most likely that Lin Manuel Miranda will get the “O” of his EGOT, but not this time (it should be noted he submitted “Dos’ Oruguitas” as the film’s best song before the viral sensation of “We Don’t talk about Bruno”.) Expect the duo of Finneas and Billie Eillish to be the winners for the titular song of No Time to Die.

Will win: “No Time to Die” – No Time to Die

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

Hans Zimmer actually created his own instruments for the score of Dune. How can that not be a winner?!?!

Will win/Should win: Dune

Best Film Editing

The Dune train could continue here, but I am going with one of the ACE eddie award winners, King Richard.

Will win: King Richard

  • 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)

I have heard many a good thing about The Worst Person in the World, but there is no way this is not going to Drive my Car.

Will win/Should win: Drive my Car.

Of it’s three nominations, this is probably the best shot at a win for Flee. Still, I can’t say no to the sensation that was Summer of Soul (…or, when the Revolution could not be televised).

Will win/Should win: Summer of Soul (…or, when the Revolution could not be televised).

Even with the aforementioned three nominations, I can’t see Flee beating the mega hit that is Encanto, which I am sure is still being played by the kids of members of the Academy.

Will win: Encanto

Should win: Mitchells or Raya

  • CODA – Siân Heder
  • Drive my Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe
  • Dune – Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth
  • The Lost Daughter – Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion

This may be the most important award of the night, as it would likely be the outcome of the upcoming two way battle for Best Picture. There is a chance that The Lost Daughter upsets, but I am going with CODA.

Will win/Should Win: CODA

  • Belfast – Kenneth Branagh
  • Don’t Look Up – Adam McKay, David Sirota
  • King Richard – Zach Baylin
  • Licorice Pizza – Paul Thomas Anderson
  • The Worst Person in the World – Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier

I was almost certain that this would be going to PTA’s Licorice Pizza, but after losing at the WGAs, as well as remembering some people were turned off a bit by some of the choices in the film (i.e., the Asian stereotypes), it seems like the one chance for Belfast to get a win here.

Will win: Belfast

Should win: Licorice Pizza

  • Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter
  • Ariana Dubose – West Side Story
  • Judi Dench – Belfast
  • Kristen Dunst – The Power of the Dog
  • Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard

There is no way around it: If anyone has their name called and it isn’t Ariana Dubose, it will be nothing short of a shock.

Will win/Should win: Ariana Dubose

  • 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

Toward the beginning of awards season, this category was a two horse race with Mcphee and Kotsur. Now, it is going (and rightfully so) to the overall heart of CODA, Troy Kotsur. With the exception of the Best Actor winner, Kotsur could have one of the night’s more memorable speeches.

Will win/Should Win: Troy Kotsur

  • Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter
  • Penélope Cruz – Parallel Mothers
  • Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos
  • Kristen Stewart – Spencer

Last year, I had the hardest of times trying to predict the winner (and I was wrong). This year is even more confusing. Logic does say it will be Jessica Chastain (who I do give a tip of the cap to for her recent decision to skip the red carpet in order to support her hair & make up team in the likely hood they win the award that will not air on TV), but it honestly could be anyone, even Kristen Stewart, who would be my choice. If there is any category for the night that is still open, it is this one.

Will win: Jessica Chastain

Should win: Kristen Stewart

  • 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

While I would love to see the award go to Garfield, this is a for sure win for Will Smith. Game, Set, and Match for the Fresh Prince.

Will Win: Will Smith

Should Win: Andrew Garfield

  • 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

Despite her comment toward Serena and Venus Williams (for which she did apologize), Jane Campion is winning Best Director.

Will win: Jane Campion

  • Belfast
  • CODA
  • Don’t Look Up
  • Drive My Car
  • Dune
  • King Richard
  • Licorice Pizza
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • West Side Story

The win for Nomadland last year ended my embarrasing (at least to me) streak of missing Best Picture for six years. This year, it seemed at first to be the year for Netflix to finally get a win in the category for The Power of the Dog. Then a CODA wave came, as it won the Best Picture equivalent at the Screen Actors Guild and Producers Guild Awards. This is an echo of what happened with Little Miss Sunshine, which I predicted would win Best Picture, but the winner was eventually The Departed. However, that was before the Academy voted in this category with preferential balloting (which they made a nice video of that explains how it works). While other factors include that some celebrities may not like the subject matter of The Power of the Dog (most notably Sam Elliot), perhaps one of the main reasons why I am voting for CODA is because, deep down, it just makes you feel good (and with all the crummy news in the world nowadays, a movie that makes you feel good can go a long way.) It also helps that Apple has been promoting this to the extreme (even having the actors go to the White House). Finally (and I have yet to mention this) but this year’s Oscars are a rarity in that they actually fall on my birthday. It has been over fifteen years since my favorite movie of the year won Best Picture. It would be a rather brilliant present the Academy could give me.

Will win: CODA

How I would rank them:

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

Oh, and one last plea for the Academy. As a birthday present, please do not let your fan vote winner be Cinderella.

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