Results of My Predictions: 80/105 (76%)
As always, we received a mix of good, bad, surprising, and confounding choices from the Academy this morning. Overall, I would say I was mostly pleased with this year’s nominees. There were a handful of genuinely exciting nominations that help illustrate the positive ways in which the Academy has been evolving over the past few years. They also avoided making some of the big mistakes we’ve seen them make in the past. With that being said, I think there was something a bit dull about this year’s nominees as well. In many ways that can be seen as a good thing because it means the Academy didn’t make many absurd choices. But, I also can’t imagine the Oscars telecast getting great ratings when I look at the full list of nominees. We’ll have to wait and see on that front though. For now, let’s delve deeper into all the good and bad that came with this year’s nominations.
I’m going to try to focus more on snubs that I thought actually had a chance, instead of things that I personally wanted to see that I knew were never going to happen. In my opinion, the biggest snub by far was the absence of Denis Villeneuve in the Best Director category. Before this morning, most people assumed this was a foregone conclusion so it was shocking to hear his name not be announced. To be fair, this is a snub that is hard to get truly mad about because I also think all five of the directors who were nominated were deserving. I’m honestly not even sure who I would kick out if I were to include Villeneuve in this category. Still though, Villeneuve took on a project that many people thought was literally unfilmable, Dune, and churned out one of the best and most impressively directed films of the year. This is definitely a baffling snub. Unfortunately, I also think it basically destroys any chance Dune had of winning Best Picture.
The next snubs I want to touch on all occurred in the most discussed and difficult-to-predict category, Best Actress. The five nominees that ultimately got the nod from the Academy were Jessica Chastain, Olivia Colman, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, and Kristen Stewart—which means Alana Haim, Rachel Zegler, and Renate Reinsve were all snubbed. There were around 8-10 legitimate contenders in this category so obviously some people were going to be left out. But, I was really hoping one of the three snubs I mentioned, especially Haim or Reinsve, would find a way to sneak in here. I’ll touch more on the Being the Ricardos nominations later, but Kidman would definitely be the nominee I would take out in this category. It’s important to note that many people were predicting Lady Gaga in this category as well, but I wasn’t too upset about her omission honestly.
Another actress that I felt was snubbed was Ruth Negga for her work in Passing, a film that ultimately received zero nominations. This snub took place in the Best Supporting Actress category though. There was a lot of praise for her performance, deservedly so. Unfortunately, it feels like the surprise nomination for Judi Dench kept Negga out of this category.
Now I want to quickly run through a few snubs that were all long shots and always unlikely to happen, but I feel still deserve to be mentioned. It would have been great to see Simon Rex recognized in the Best Actor category. His omission reminded me a lot of the Adam Sandler snub in 2019 for his work in Uncut Gems. Once again this felt like the Academy unable to do something fun/non-traditional. Though I didn’t expect either of these things to happen, I would have really liked to seen either Ben Affleck or Mike Faist be nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category. The last three long shots I was hoping for were Mike Mills in Best Original Screenplay, The Velvet Underground in Best Documentary, and “So May We Start” in Best Song.
Luckily, most of the big surprises that took place this morning were positive. I already briefly touched on the Dench nomination in Best Supporting Actress. While that wasn’t something I cared too strongly about, I was definitely happy to see the other surprise nominee in this category, Jessie Buckley. Buckley’s performance in The Lost Daughter, a film I hoped would have gotten a bit more love from the Academy, was remarkable and definitely deserved to be recognized. The next positive surprise was the amount of success Drive My Car had this morning. This film, which landed high on my top ten movies of the year list, earned four total nominations including one for Best Picture. I don’t think it can be understated how incredible that is. It’s rare to see any international film receive a Best Picture nomination, but especially one that is a deliberately paced three-hour epic about grief, Chekhov, and the complexities of our own emotions and actions. This nomination signals the ways in which the Academy has changed over the past few years. It is no secret that they’ve taken massive steps to try to become younger and more international. We’re seeing the results of these changes with nominations like this, as well as the next positive surprise I want to touch on. Joachim Trier & Eskil Vogt being nominated in Best Original Screenplay for The Worst Person in the World was maybe the thing that made me happiest this morning. It also reconfirms my belief that the best films usually show up in the screenwriting categories.
Three of the other biggest surprises of the day came in the acting categories. As I noted earlier, a lot of people expected to see Lady Gaga in Best Actress. A lot of people also thought we might see her co-star, Jared Leto, get nominated in Best Supporting Actor—which ultimately didn’t happen. The one surprise that did end up being included in Best Supporting Actor though was J.K. Simmons. While I don’t think he gave a bad performance by any means, I truly don’t understand all the love that Being the Ricardos received in the acting categories. I’m just glad it didn’t end up getting nominated anywhere else.
Best Documentary is usually a weird and difficult category to predict, but I didn’t expect to see Writing With Fire earn a nomination there. Also, I was pretty shocked to see Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom get nominated in Best International Feature over A Hero. The final Best Picture surprise was Nightmare Alley. While I wasn’t completely stunned to see this nomination, I definitely didn’t predict it. I do think it is a far better film than some of the other nominees that could have taken that spot though, so I’m not complaining.
In my opinion, there was one clear winner from the this morning’s announcement that stood above the rest. The Power of the Dog not only led all films with a total of 12 nominations, but it clearly established itself as the frontrunner to win Best Picture. It got nominated in just about every category that it could have, and dominated the acting categories as well. Honestly, the second biggest winner of the day might even be The Power of the Dog‘s director, Jane Campion. With her Best Director nomination this morning, she became the first woman in history to receive two Best Director nods.
As I touched on earlier, Drive My Car was obviously one of the big winners today. I also want to highlight King Richard and Flee though. King Richard, a film that struggled at the box office and hasn’t been talked about a ton during awards season outside of Will Smith’s performance, quietly earned six nominations this morning. It was one of only five films to nab more than four nominations. In fact, it got more nominations than any film not titled The Power of the Dog, Dune, West Side Story, or Belfast. Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee pulled off an incredibly impressive feat this morning as well. It became the first film in history to receive nominations in Best Animated Feature, Best International Feature, and Best Documentary in the same year.
Another person that was a winner this morning was Kristen Stewart. I say that not because I think she is going to win Best Actress—but because she avoided going from the favorite in that category to not even getting nominated like many predicted. I also want to give a shoutout to Kenneth Branagh who became the first person in the history of the Oscars to be nominated seven different times in seven different categories throughout the course of their career. This year, he was nominated for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay. Previously, he has been nominated in Best Actor, Best Live-Action Short, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The final winners I want to highlight are traditional studios. In a world dominated by streaming services, only three of the ten Best Picture nominees were distributed by streaming-first studios. For reference, those three films are CODA (Apple Tv+), Don’t Look Up (Netflix), and The Power of the Dog (Netflix). The film industry may be going through monumental changes right now due to streaming and the internet, but as always, it seems the Academy is lagging a bit behind. Despite that, it’s still looking like Netflix may finally receive their first Best Picture win this year.
From a film perspective—the three biggest losers this morning were The French Dispatch, Passing, and House of Gucci. I wasn’t completely shocked by the lack of nominations for The French Dispatch, but I definitely thought it had a chance in a couple of the below-the-line categories. Instead, it was completely shut out. As I mentioned earlier, Passing also failed to earn a single nomination from the Academy. House of Gucci did earn one nomination, it came in the Best Makeup and Hairstyling category. With many people predicting nominations for Gaga and Leto though, that film only coming away with one nomination definitely feels like a failure. The lack of love for The French Dispatch was definitely the most disappointing for me out of these three films. While I think Passing is good, I never really expected the Academy to nominate it much anyway. And even though I enjoy House of Gucci for the beautiful mess that it is, I was never clamoring for it to be included in this year’s Oscars. On the other hand, The French Dispatch was genuinely one of my favorite films of the year and I wanted to see it get more appreciation from the Academy.
It can be argued that tick, tick… Boom! was a big loser this morning because it didn’t receive a Best Picture nomination like some people thought it would. However, it still earned two total nominations. And, I think the fact that Andrew Garfield is a legitimate dark horse contender in the Best Actor category means that film can’t be considered that big of a loser. It probably should have never been in the Best Picture conversation in the first place anyway.
The two individuals that had the roughest mornings were Bradley Cooper and Aaron Sorkin. Even though Cooper earned a nomination as a producer on Nightmare Alley, he failed to show up in Best Actor for that film. Perhaps more notably, he didn’t earn a nomination in Best Supporting Actor for his work in Licorice Pizza either. A lot of people, including myself, were expecting that to happen so to be omitted from that category while also failing to sneak into Best Actor must’ve been disappointing for Cooper. Sorkin is probably the biggest individual loser though. As I mentioned earlier, Being the Ricardos had some success in the acting categories but a lot of people thought it would be nominated in Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture as well. Instead, it didn’t receive a single nomination outside of Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. Sorkin’s writing or directing didn’t receive any nominations and the film itself was obviously excluded from Best Picture as well.
The final losers I want touch on are the Best Picture chances of literally any film other than The Power of the Dog. Now, I’m not saying that The Power of the Dog is 100% guaranteed to win Best Picture, but I truly don’t think any other film’s chances were boosted today. For a while now, this has been considered a two-film race between The Power of the Dog and Belfast. But, I think this morning’s nominations showed us that Belfast is clearly running in second place and the gap between them is growing. The Power of the Dog nearly doubled the amount of nominations that Belfast got. And in the ever-important Best Editing category, The Power of the Dog was nominated and Belfast wasn’t. For those who are not aware, there is a strong correlation between the Best Editing category and the Best Picture winner. For 32 consecutive years, the Best Picture winner was also nominated in Best Editing. That streak was broken in 2015 when Birdman won Best Picture, but restarted the following year and has continued ever since. Therefore, only one film in the last 39 years has won Best Picture and not been nominated in Best Editing. In fact, since editing became an Oscar category in 1934, only 10 films have won Best Picture without at least a nomination for editing. Considering everything that The Power of the Dog has going for it, it is going to be hard for Belfast to join those 10 films.
The 94th Oscars take place on March 27th and I’m ready to be surprised, delighted, and disappointed with many of the winners just as I was with many of the nominees.