Of all the Best Picture Nominees which is most likely to win? —
The Academy Awards are just around the corner and the speculation over winners and losers is reaching a fever pitch.
Will Denzel Washington’s brooding and twisted Macbeth beat Benedict Cumberbatch’s even more brooding and twisted evil Rancher? Will Olivia Coleman win her second best actress trophy? Does anyone care about the Sound category nominees?
As always the category getting the most noise is Best Picture, this year carrying a selection of movies which have delighted, disgusted and (in the case of ‘Don’t Look Up’) divided audiences around the world.
The Best Picture always attracts controversy and has provided some wins that leave us asking; are the Academy just trolling us?
But aside from ‘Crash’ beating ‘Brokeback Mountain’ in 2006 and ‘Shakespeare in Love’ beating ‘Saving Private Ryan’ in 1998, we all live in dread of another cock up like that which led to truly cringe-worthy scenes 2017 when “La La Land’ was mistakenly given the gong instead of ‘Moonlight’.
This year there will be one winner and nine losers, let’s take a look at who’s most likely to win and why.
10. NIGHTMARE ALLEY
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Cate Blanchett starred in del Toro’s ‘Nightmre Alley’ his first Oscar nominated film since ‘The Shape of Water’ won Best PictureAP/Chris Pizzello
Guillermo del Toro’s film noir stars Bradley Cooper as a grifter who joins a carnival and ends up triggering a sequence of twisted events that lead to an unedifying climax. Featuring star turns from Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Toni Collette, ‘Nightmare Alley’ boasts a twist that will leave you unsettled for days and while the film may be least favourite to win, it certainly matches up to del Toro’s other Best Picture winning film ‘The Shape of Water’.
‘Nightmare Alley’ has been widely praised by critics, despite some criticism for its long running-time and ‘bloated’ scenery. Can the Oscar-winning director’s exploration of fate and the grotesque win big on the night? Only Colette’s clairvoyant can tell (spoiler alert: she’s a fraud).
9. DRIVE MY CAR
‘Drive My Car’ would be only the second non-English language film to win Best Picture after ‘Parasite’ in 2020AP
This Japanese entry for Best Picture tells the story of a stage actor coming to terms with the untimely death of his screenwriter wife. Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi and starring Hidetoshi Nishijima and Reika Kirishima, the film has been a surprise hit with the Academy, receiving nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best International Feature Film.
Already winning at last year’s Cannes for Best Adapted Screenplay and this year’s BAFTAs for Best Film Not in the English Language, ‘Drive My Car’ could yet come up on the outside lane to take the prize for Best Picture. It was once unthinkable for a subtitled film to win the top award, but since ‘Parasite’ in 2020 all bets are off.
8. LICORICE PIZZA
‘Licorice Pizza’ has already won at the BAFTAsAP Photo
In this odd couple story, a 15-year-old child actor falls in love with a woman 10 years his senior, and the two form a bond as they have adventures in 1970s San Fernando Valley.
Whilst attracting ire from gen Z on TikTok for treading the line on age-appropriate romance as well as a problematic subplot involving Bradley Cooper, ‘Licorice Pizza’ has been lauded for its 70s aesthetic and early foray into acting by musician Alana Haim.
Director Paul Thomas Anderson has already picked up a BAFTA for Best Original Screenplay, so don’t count the quirky underdog out just yet.
7. DON’T LOOK UP
DiCaprio and Lawrence both take star turns in the climate change allegory that divided critics and audiencesNiko Tavernise/ 2021 Netflix, Inc.
Whether you think Adam McKay’s ‘Don’t Look Up’ was a timely commentary on climate change or a hacky allegory with a completely unnecessary plotline about an extramarital affair, it certainly got tongues wagging.
With an all-star cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Timothee Chalamet (because why not?), the film was highly commended by award selection panels. However, despite a breadth of nominations at the BAFTAs, SAGs, and Golden Globes, ‘Don’t Look Up’ has so far failed to pick up a single win. Could Best Picture at the Oscars be the first?
6. KING RICHARD
Will Smith has already won at the BAFTAs, SAG and Golden Globes for his leading performance in ‘King Richard’AP
Chronicling the story of tennis royalty, Venus and Serena Williams’ father, Richard, and his plan to make the pair famous, ‘King Richard’ is the only biopic to make the Best Picture list in a year that the genre dominated cinemas.
Smith has already picked up a Best Actor Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA, and looks well set to win in that category on Oscar night. Could Smith’s leading actor wins be enough to serve up a Best Picture trophy on the night? All bets are on.
Chalamet leads the cast of a sci-fi which could be the third ever fantasy genre film to win Best PictureAP Photo/Chia Bella James/Warner Bros.
‘Dune’ stars the ubiquitous Timothee Chalamet as Paul Atreides, a member of an aristocratic warrior family destined for greatness. Playing opposite fellow gen Z favourite Zendaya he pursues a path which sees him defending his family’s position as guardians of the galaxy’s most precious natural resource, spice.
Boasting a charismatic cast, special effects and the dubious honour of an NFT scandal, a win for ‘Dune’ would be historic. Del Toro’s ‘The Shape of Water’ holds the crown for only the second-ever sci-fi or fantasy Best Picture winner after ‘Lord of the Rings: Return of the King’. Could ‘Dune’ soon be swelling the ranks?
4. WEST SIDE STORY
The remake of the classic musical has received many accolades but most wins have gone to star Ariana DeboseNiko Tavernise/Twentieth Century Fox
In a tale as old as time (or is that retold many times?), ‘West Side Story’ chronicles the star-crossed romance of Maria and Tony who hail from opposite sides of a gang war in 1950s New York.
The Steven Spielberg remake of a classic musical, which stars Rita Moreno from the original cast, has jettisoned Ariana Debose to international fame, picking up a BAFTA and SAG for Best Supporting Actress. Will this momentum continue to Best Picture?
‘Belfast’ stars big hitters like Judi Dench and Jamie Dornan in a tale of family and strifeAP Photo/Rob Youngson/Focus Features
Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical film about one family’s idyllic community life in Northern Ireland hurtling headfirst into the Troubles is as nostalgic as it is poignant.
For some an emotional journey into an overlooked period of British history and for others cloyingly sentimental, Branagh’s black and white film has already won Outstanding Film at the BAFTAs and Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes. Will this pave the way to victory on Oscar night?
Kotsur has won a BAFTA, SAG and Golden Globe for his role in ‘CODA’, will the film go on to win Best Picture?Joel C Ryan/Invision
Not widely considered a serious contender since the nominations were announced, ’CODA’ has since gathered favourable momentum after it won Outstanding Performance by a Cast at the SAG awards.
The story of a close-knit deaf family in a small coastal village supporting their teenage daughter in her chosen music career, ‘CODA’ has tugged at the heartstrings and raised disability awareness in equal measure.
Star Troy Kotsur has won Best Supporting Actor awards at the SAGs, BAFTAs, and Independent Spirit Awards and looks all but certain to win again on Oscar night. Can his performance help to carry the film to best picture victory as well? If the big win at the Oscar-predicting Producers Guild Awards is anything to go on, the answer is surely yes.
1. THE POWER OF THE DOG
‘Power of the Dog’ is Campion’s first Oscar-bait film since ‘The Piano’ in 1993Kirsty Griffin/AP/Netflix
Not since ‘Brokeback Mountain’ has a film combined simmering homosexuality with the aesthetics of the American west in such an effective manner. Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ stars Benedict Cumberbatch as a bullying rancher whose cruelty to gentle teenager played by Kodi Smit-McPhee and Kirsten Dunst’s farm wife leads to a toxic atmosphere in 1920s Montana.
The buzz surrounding ‘The Power of the Dog’ has reached fever pitch after Campion won Best Director at the BAFTAs and the film itself picked up Best Motion Picture at the Golden Globes, and the movie is now favourite to win on Oscar night.
After winning both Best Director and Best Picture at Critics Choice Awards, Campion courted controversy over her remarks to sisters Venus and Serena Williams, a moment which some believe could cost ‘The Power of the Dog’ the top spot.
This is Campion’s first big Oscar night since her hit ‘The Piano’ received eight nominations in 1993. After so long, could she do it again?
Find out here on Euronews Culture’s LIVE OSCARS BLOG beginning at Midnight CET on Monday 28 March.