Film reviews and more since 2009

My predictions for the 94th Academy Awards
By: Steve Pulaski

The fact that the Academy Awards has dwindled in popularity is something that can’t be ignored. I would be lying if I said I still hold it in the same regard as I did, say, five years ago.

There are multiple factors to this. Perhaps it’s the fact that anytime “The Oscars” trends on Twitter, it’s a mix of fans decrying the Academy’s obnoxious changes to the telecast (a fruitless task to try and make it a sub-three hour affair), lambasting their continued prejudice against horror movies, or simply asking what’s the point of the awards show anymore.

The Oscars aren’t the only ones to take a dip. Every single awards show — even prior to the pandemic — has taken a serious dip in viewership. I think part of the problem is there are too many in the first place. Moreover, you would think that with the bulk of the Oscar nominations now being more accessible than ever, thanks to streaming platforms and VOD rental services, that people would actively be talking about the nominees more than ever before. Overtime, I’ve pondered whether or not the accessibility is the very reason the Oscars, and the Golden Globes, the Tony’s, and other award ceremonies have lost their prestige.

Movies and shows are consumed in such a hasty way these days. No longer do you need to put on pants and drive to the theater. You can start anything on Netflix, figure out you don’t like it within ten minutes, and then hit the “back” arrow on your remote and bounce to the next item. Watching a movie has literally become a more weightless task. By not throwing real dollars down, to rent the DVD or buy a ticket, there’s not the usual barrier that demands such an investment.

I’m getting way ahead of myself. Don’t get it twisted either. I still enjoy the Oscars. I still enjoy fretting over my picks and answering many emails, texts, and messages from readers and friends asking my opinion of “said movie.”

I suppose all I’m saying is that when changes such as certain awards not being televised and more of an emphasis on brevity and song performances have seemed to overtaken the movies themselves, my excitement has dampened as of late. All of this work to cater to an audience that, quite frankly, is lost, no longer gives a damn about the show, and wasn’t going to watch it in the first place.

That said, hiring the cast of Jackass to host the ceremony this year would’ve been the kind of ballsy, attention-getting, viewer-upping move the Academy is just simply not brave enough to make.

Without further adieu, as I still eagerly plan my forthcoming Sunday-night-in, here are my picks for this year’s Oscars. If you want to win your office pool, follow my lead:

Predicted winners will be in bold.

Best Picture:
“Don’t Look Up”
“Drive My Car”
“King Richard”
“Licorice Pizza”
“Nightmare Alley”
“The Power of the Dog”
“West Side Story”

This is as wide open a Best Picture race as I can remember. There seem to be three frontrunners. The Power of the Dog still seems to be the lock for me, but CODA has gained unusual steam in recent weeks, making it the best possible upset candidate. Furthermore, we know the Academy bedazzles Old Hollywood, and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story could take the top prize as well. I wouldn’t be mad at that at all. That said, I’m going with The Power of the Dog — although, personally, it’s my second least favorite of the nominees.

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

Despite not being able to stop saying the wrong thing, be it about the Williams sisters or Sam Elliott, I think Jane Campion takes home Best Director. In a crowded field of men, she’ll undoubtedly have something to say about that should she win.

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”

I’m not saying any award is a lock after the Academy brutally botched last year’s Best Actor category, not so much by not giving it to the perceived shoe-in Chadwick Boseman, but for reordering the announcements to set the stage for a finale dedicated to Boseman only to give it to Anthony Hopkins, who wasn’t even in attendance. My internet is crowded with my thoughts on what an unforgivable cluster that whole charade was. Hopkins was a worthy winner, but by allegedly not knowing the winner before that envelope was opened, the Oscars bungled it miserably.

Will Smith is my pick this year. I say no more.

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

I’m fighting my own nudging belief Nicole Kidman is going to win by taking the chalk, Jessica Chastain, although I have not yet seen The Eyes of Tammy Faye. I hope I don’t regret it.

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”

This appears to be the most divisive category this year, outside of Best Picture. Some are confident in picking Kodi Smit-McPhee. I’m saying Troy Kotsur, who, to me, was the best part of CODA. It’s about time the veteran actor got his just dues on a big stage.

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”

I’d give it to Jessie Buckley for more reasons than the fact that it pains me to see how unloved The Lost Daughter has gone on to be, both by viewers and the Academy as a whole. That said, Ariana DeBose isn’t a bad choice whatsoever. Neither is Judi Dench.

Best Original Screenplay:
“Don’t Look Up”
“King Richard”
“Licorice Pizza”
“The Worst Person in the World”

Adapted Screenplay:
“Drive My Car”
“The Lost Daughter”
“The Power of the Dog”

Best Animated Feature:
“The Mitchells vs. the Machines”
“Raya and the Last Dragon”

Best Production Design:
“Nightmare Alley”
“The Power of the Dog”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
“West Side Story”

Best Costume Design:
“Nightmare Alley”
“West Side Story”

Best Cinematography:
“Nightmare Alley”
“The Power of the Dog”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
“West Side Story”

Best Editing:
“Don’t Look Up”
“King Richard”
“The Power of the Dog”
“Tick, Tick … Boom!”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
“Coming 2 America”
“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
“House of Gucci”

Best Sound:
“No Time to Die”
“The Power of the Dog”
“West Side Story”

Best Visual Effects:
“Free Guy”
“No Time to Die”
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
“Spider-Man: No Way Home”

Best Score:
“Don’t Look Up”
“Parallel Mothers
“The Power of the Dog”

Best 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”)

Best Documentary Feature:
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”
“Writing With Fire”

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

Word of advice: if one of the nominees for Best International Feature is also in the running for Best Picture, it will probably win the former category at the very least.

Best Animated Short:
“Affairs of the Art”
“Robin Robin”
“The Windshield Wiper”

Best Live-Action Short:
“The Dress”
“The Long Goodbye”
“On My Mind”
“Please Hold”
“Ala Kachuu — Take and Run”

Best Documentary Short:
“Lead Me Home”
“The Queen of Basketball”
“Three Songs for Benazir”
“When We Were Bullies”

I got the Chartreuse liqueur on hand and my ballot locked. Here’s to a beautiful, memorable Sunday!

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Kevin 'Sody' Elias
Kevin 'Sody' Elias
2 years ago

* Nicely done kid! This has all the earmarks of a tight race! But at this point in time, I give your predictions 2 thumbs up! 👍👍

About Steve Pulaski

Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!

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