New Oscar Predictions: Women Look to Another History-Making Year in Key Categories

It’s a big week and therefore time to shake things up with some fun things to think about here in this third week of November.

Is the 94th Oscars on track to really be the year of the woman? If Jane Campion is nominated for Best Director, it will be the first time we’ve had women nominated in the category in back-to-back years. Campion would also be the first woman nominated for Best Director twice. And if she wins Best Adapted Screenplay, she would become the first woman to win Oscars for both Original Screenplay (The Piano) and Adapted Screenplay (The Power of the Dog).

As Variety’s Clayton Davis pointed out, if Frances McDormand is nominated for Best Actress and The Tragedy of Macbeth is nominated for Best Picture, McDormand would be the first person ever nominated for acting and producing two years in a row. The only other person to be nominated for both more than once is Warren Beatty, but he did not do it in consecutive years.

We very well could have our first female DP winning for Best Cinematography. Four years after Rachel Morrison became the first woman nominated in the category, this could be the year a woman finally wins. And not only that, but we *could* have more than one woman in that lineup too.

And jumping back to that Adapted Screenplay lineup, which we’ll discuss a bit more when we get to that category, but we could have a full slate of women writer/directors nominated there this year for the first time ever.

What a year. Potentially. Of course we know better than to get our hopes up, but right now, this is shaping up to be a very good year for women filmmakers.

Here is a look at our predictions for the week of November 15, 2021.

Rob Youngson / Focus Features

Best Picture

Belfast is still going strong. The early word for Being the Ricardos hit this weekend, though, and this late season entry seems to be coming in hot. So if Ricardos is in, who gets left out? It’s a tough call because Flee still has a hill to climb if it’s going to make Oscar history as the first documentary nominated for Best Picture. But with what is sure to be strong support from the documentary branch, plus animation and the international community, if any film is up to the task, it sure seems like this one. As for what might yield to Sorkin’s Lucy movie, my money, sadly, is on CODA. It’s a charming, lovely movie with a lot of heart and important things to say. But looking down the list of categories, it is likely to turn up in very few places. Possibly supporting actress and adapted screenplay, perhaps an original song. It could pull off the nomination, and would be a delightful inclusion on the ballot, but it seems the most vulnerable right now.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Belfast” (Focus Features)
  2. “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
  3. “King Richard” (Warner Bros)
  4. “Dune” (Warner Bros)
  5. “Licorice Pizza” (United Artists Releasing/MGM)
  6. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple Original Films)
  7. “tick, tick…Boom!” (Netflix)
  8. “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios)
  9. “Flee” (Neon)
  10. “C’mon C’mon” (A24)

Next Up:

11. “CODA” (Apple Original Films)
12. “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures)
13. “A Hero” (Amazon Studios)
14. “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)
15. “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)
16. “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics)
17. “Passing” (Netflix)
18. “House of Gucci” (United Artists Releasing/MGM)
19. “Spencer” (Neon and Topic Studios)
20. “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix)

Rob Youngson / Focus Features

Best Director

There’s no movement in the predicted five, but with the apparently strong praise for Being the Ricardos, there needs to be some consideration for its director, Aaron Sorkin. There are a couple of potential solo directors in this mix, with Pedro Almodóvar and Asghar Farhadi’s films circling other categories but not likely Picture contenders. And there’s still a lot of hope for Guillermo del Toro’s remake of the 1947 Nightmare Alley, although I’m not convinced that’s going to do much outside of the technical categories.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast” (Focus Features)
  2. Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
  3. Denis Villeneuve, “Dune” (Warner Bros)
  4. Reinaldo Marcus Green, “King Richard” (Warner Bros.)
  5. Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza” (United Artists Releasing/MGM)

Next Up:

6. Pedro Almodóvar, “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics)
7. Aaron Sorkin, “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios)
8. Lin-Manuel Miranda, “tick, tick…Boom!” (Netflix)
9. Guillermo del Toro, “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures)
10. Asghar Farhadi, “A Hero” (Amazon Studios)

KING RICHARD — Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Best Actor

I said it last week and I’m saying it again, if Neon launches a campaign for Pig, Nicolas Cage absolutely can (and should) be nominated. Time is ticking and they need to do it now. But I’m keeping him here for at least another week out of stubborn determination if nothing else. New to the lineup this week is Andrew Garfield in Tick, tick…Boom!. The praise for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first feature is a bit all over the place, but even among those of us who aren’t head-over-heels, the general consensus is that Garfield’s performance is strong. The same is true for Clifton Collins Jr in another first-time director’s film, Jockey. Collins elevates the material as any gifted actor of his caliber can. If Neon (and Nicolas Cage) decide not to launch a campaign, look out for first-time nominee Clifton Collins, Jr.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Will Smith, “King Richard” (Warner Bros)
  2. Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
  3. Andrew Garfield, “tick, tick…Boom!” (Netflix)
  4. Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple)
  5. Nicolas Cage, “Pig” (Neon)

Next Up:

6. Clifton Collins, Jr., “Jockey” (Sony Pictures Classics)
7. Joaquin Phoenix, “C’mon C’mon” (A24)
8. Javier Bardem, “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios)
9. Jude Hill, “Belfast” (Focus Features)
10. Peter Dinklage, “Cyrano” (United Artists Releasing/MGM)

Courtesy of Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures Inc
© 2021 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Best Actress

There are no locks, no matter what anyone tries to say. Kristen Stewart is heavily favored by many pundits, Oscar fans, and Film Twitter for her performance as Princess Diana. But even with mixed reactions to House of Gucci, one thing voters seem to agree on is that Lady Gaga is outstanding. Look out for the Oscar-winning singer to add another statuette to her collection. Elsewhere, Nicole Kidman has entered the race as Being the Ricardos seems to be winning over the skeptical. The previous Oscar winner is looking for her fifth nomination and her Lucille Ball could be the one to do it.

  1. Lady Gaga, “House of Gucci” (United Artists Releasing/MGM)
  2. Kristen Stewart, “Spencer” (Neon)
  3. Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)
  4. Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios)
  5. Frances McDormand, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple)

Next Up:

6. Tessa Thompson, “Passing” (Netflix)
7. Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (Searchlight Pictures)
8. Penélope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics)
9. Emilia Jones, “CODA” (Apple)
10. Jennifer Hudson, “Respect” (Netflix)

Rob Youngson / Focus Features

Best Supporting Actor

If that viral video was a sign of things to come, Jamie Dornan is about to have the time of his life this awards season. There have been a few changes just outside of the predicted five, with previous winner JK Simmons looking for another shot and Robin de Jesús, the heart of Tick, tick…Boom! eyeing the lineup. But for now, these five are still the same.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Jamie Dornan, “Belfast” (Focus Features)
  2. Ciaran Hinds, “Belfast” (Focus Features)
  3. Jared Leto, “House of Gucci” (UA/MGM)
  4. Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
  5. Ben Affleck, “The Tender Bar” (Amazon Studios)

Next Up:

6. J.K. Simmons, “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios)
7. Robin de Jesús, “Tick, tick…Boom!” (Netflix)
8. Jesse Plemons, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
9. Corey Hawkins, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple)
10. Jason Isaacs, “Mass” (Bleecker Street)

Rob Youngson / Focus Features

Best Supporting Actress

No changes here for now, although Kirsten Dunst is going to be busy making her case and she could definitely do it.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Caitríona Balfe, “Belfast” (Focus Features)
  2. Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
  3. Judi Dench, “Belfast” (Focus Features)
  4. Ann Dowd, “Mass” (Bleecker Street)
  5. Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard” (Warner Bros)

Next Up:

6. Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)
7. Marlee Matlin, “CODA” (Apple)
8. Ruth Negga, “Passing” (Netflix)
9. Martha Plimpton, “Mass” (Bleecker Street)
10. Regina King, “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)

Rob Youngson / Focus Features

Best Original Screenplay

For the time being, I’m still giving the edge to the presumed Best Picture winner, but Paul Thomas Anderson is making a compelling case for his next Academy Award nomination.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Belfast” (Focus Features); Kenneth Branagh
  2. “Licorice Pizza” (UA Releasing/MGM); Paul Thomas Anderson
  3. “C’mon C’mon” (A24); Mike Mills
  4. “King Richard” (Warner Bros); Zach Baylin
  5. “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix); Jeymes Samuel, Boaz Yakin

Next Up:

6. “A Hero” (Amazon Studios); Asghar Farhadi
7. “Mass” (Bleecker Street); Fran Kranz
8. “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon); Aaron Sorkin
9. “Bergman Island” (IFC Films); Mia Hansen-Løve
10. “Pig” (Neon); Michael Sarnoski

THE POWER OF THE DOG | Netflix

Best Adapted Screenplay

Let’s take just a moment to consider the very real fact that we could have an Adapted Screenplay lineup comprised entirely of women. This isn’t just wishful thinking. This is absolutely within the realm of possibility. And not only that, but the five ladies I have predicted right now also directed their films. This would be multiple firsts rolled into one category. The film that probably needs to work the hardest is Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby, but oh my would it be a very deserving nominee. Of course there are some other contenders looking for a way in, but just take a moment to consider how great this group is.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix); Jane Campion
  2. “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix); Maggie Gyllenhaal
  3. “Passing” (Netflix); Rebecca Hall
  4. “CODA” (Apple); Siân Heder
  5. “Shiva Baby” (Utopia); Emma Seligman

Next Up:

6. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple); Joel Coen
7. “Dune” (Warner Bros); Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth
8. “The Tender Bar” (Amazon Studios); William Monahan
9. “The Green Knight” (A24); David Lowery
10. “House of Gucci” (United Artists/MGM); Becky Johnston, Roberto Bentivegna

Courtesy of Neon

Best Animated Feature Film

The first reviews are out and critics love Encanto. Will the Academy love it too? Or is Disney fatigue going to factor in? I’m still calling it for Flee, but Encanto is going to make it a heck of a fight. And for two films that couldn’t be any more different from each other, that is pretty exciting.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Flee” (Neon)
  2. “Encanto” (Walt Disney Pictures)
  3. “The Mitchells vs. The Machines” (Netflix)
  4. “Belle” (GKIDS)
  5. “Luca” (Disney/Pixar)

Next Up:

6.”Ron’s Gone Wrong” (20th Century Studios)
7. “Raya and the Last Dragon” (Walt Disney Pictures)
8. “The Summit of the Gods” (Netflix)
9. “Vivo” (Netflix)
10. “Cryptozoo” (Magnolia Pictures)

Best Documentary Feature Film

This category might be about to get a shakeup, but not this week. More to come…

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “The Rescue” (National Geographic); dir. Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
  2. “Flee” (Neon); dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen
  3. “Becoming Cousteau” (National Geographic); dir. Liz Garbus
  4. “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” (Searchlight Pictures); dir. Quest Love
  5. “Introducing, Selma Blair” (Discovery+); dir. Rachel Fleit

Next Up:

6. “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America” (Sony Pictures Classics); dir. Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler
7. “Procession” (Netflix); dir. Robert Greene
8. “The Velvet Underground” (Apple Original Films); dir. Todd Haynes
9. “Julia” (Sony Pictures Classics); dir. Julie Cohen, Betsy West
10. “Francesco” (Discovery+); dir. Evgeny Afineevsky

Neon

Best International Feature Film

Be sure to check out the official submissions from each country and territory here.

There are always some really exciting international features in the race, but this year is an embarrassment of riches. How is the committee going to whittle dozens of films into a shortlist of 15? We’ll be looking closer at the International Features next week since so many of them are making their way to audiences now.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “The Worst Person in the World” (Neon) — Norway, dir. Joaquim Trier
  2. “Flee” (Neon/Participant) — Denmark, dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen
  3. “A Hero” (Amazon Studios) — Iran, dir. Asghar Farhadi
  4. “Compartment No. 6” (Sony Pictures Classics) — Finland, dir. Juho Kuosmanen
  5. “Drive My Car” (Janus Films) — Japan, dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Next Up:

6. “Hive” (Zeitgeist/Kino Lorber) — Kosovo, dir. Blerta Basholli
7. “Titane” (Neon) — France, dir. Julia Ducournau
8. “Lamb” (A24) — Iceland, dir. Valdimar Jóhannsson
9. “I’m Your Man” (Bleecker Street) — Germany, dir. Maria Schrader
10.  “Escape from Mogadishu” (Well Go USA) — South Korea, dir. Seung-wan Ryoo

Cinematography

THE POWER OF THE DOG | Netflix

Predicted Nominees:

Okay, so I know Dune seems like the foregone conclusion in some of these tech categories, but Netflix has the power of the Ari Wegner. Her work in The Power of the Dog is breathtaking, she is a brilliant cinematographer who speaks beautifully and poetically about her art, and that doesn’t even take into account the fact that she would be the long-overdue first woman ever to win the category. Greig Fraser’s work is lovely, but when placed side-by-side with Wegner’s, there’s a clear winner here.

  1. “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix); Ari Wegner
  2. “Dune” (Warner Bros); Greig Fraser
  3. “Belfast” (Focus Features); Haris Zambarloukos
  4. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple); Bruno Delbonnel
  5. “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures); Dan Laustsen

Next Up:

6. “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios); Janusz Kaminski
7. “C’mon C’mon” (A24); Robbie Ryan
8. “Licorice Pizza” (United Artists/MGM); Michael Bauman and Paul Thomas Anderson
9. “Cyrano” (United Artists/MGM); Seamus McGarvey
10. “tick, tick…Boom!” (Netflix); Alice Brooks

Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Dune” (Warner Bros); Jacqueline West, Bob Morgan
  2. “House of Gucci” (United Artists/MGM); Janty Yates
  3. “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures); Luis Sequeira
  4. “Cyrano” (United Artists/MGM); Massimo Cantini Parrini
  5. “Licorice Pizza” (United Artists/MGM); Mark Bridges

Next Up:

6. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24); Mary Zophres
7. “Belfast” (Focus Features); Charlotte Walter
8. “Spencer” (Neon); Jacqueline Durran
9. “Last Night in Soho” (Focus Features); Odile Dicks-Mireaux
10. “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios); Paul Tazewell

DUNE | Warner Bros.

Film Editing

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Dune” (Warner Bros); Joe Walker
  2. “Belfast” (Focus Features); Úna Ní Dhonghaíle
  3. “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix); Peter Sciberras
  4. “King Richard” (Warner Bros); Pamela Martin
  5. “tick, tick…Boom!” (Netflix); Myron Kerstein, Andrew Weisblum

Next Up:

6. “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures); Cam McLauchlin
7. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple); Lucian Johnston
8. “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix); Hank Corwin
9. “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics); Teresa Font
10. “C’mon C’mon” (A24); Jennifer Vecchiarello

HOUSE OF GUCCI | United Artists Releasing/MGM

Makeup and Hairstyling

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “House of Gucci” (United Artists/MGM)
  2. “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (Searchlight Pictures)
  3. “Dune” (Warner Bros)
  4. “King Richard” (Warner Bros)
  5. “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios)

Next Up:

6. “Spencer” (Neon)
7. “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures)
8. “Licorice Pizza” (United Artists/MGM)
9. “Last Night in Soho” (Focus Features)
10. “The French Dispatch” (Searchlight Pictures)

Music – Original Score

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Jonny Greenwood, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
  2. Hans Zimmer, “Dune” (Warner Bros)
  3. Carter Burwell, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple)
  4. Nicholas Britell, “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix)
  5. Kris Bowers, “King Richard” (Warner Bros)

Next Up:

6. Jonny Greenwood, “Spencer” (Neon)
7. Jonny Greenwood, “Licorice Pizza” (United Artists/MGM)
8. Alexandre Desplat, “Nightmare Alley”
9. Alberto Iglesias, “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics)
10. Alexandre Desplat, “The French Dispatch” (Searchlight Pictures)

Music – Original Song

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Down to Joy” from “Belfast” (Focus Features)
  2. “Guns Go Bang” from “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)
  3. “No Time to Die” from “No Time to Die” (MGM)
  4. “Be Alive” from “King Richard” (Warner Bros)
  5. “Columbia, Mi Encanto” from “Encanto” (Walt Disney Animation)

Next Up:

6. “Beyond the Shore” from “CODA” (Apple)
7. “Every Letter” from “Cyrano” (United Artists/MGM)
8. “So May We Start” from “Annette” (Amazon Studios)
9. “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from “Respect” (MGM)
10. “The Anonymous Ones” from “Dear Evan Hansen” (Universal Pictures)

Production Design

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Dune” (Warner Bros)
  2. “Belfast” (Focus Features)
  3. “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures)
  4. “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
  5. “Cyrano” (United Artists/MGM)

Next Up:

6. “The French Dispatch” (Searchlight Pictures)
7. “Licorice Pizza” (United Artists/MGM)
8. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple)
9. “House of Gucci” (United Artists/MGM)
10. “Last Night in Soho” (Searchlight Pictures)

Sound

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Dune” (Warner Bros)
  2. “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
  3. “The Matrix: Resurrections” (Warner Bros)
  4. “Eternals” (Marvel)
  5. “Belfast” (Focus Features)

Next Up:

6. “tick, tick…Boom!” (Netflix)
7. “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)
8. “Cyrano” (United Artists/MGM)
9. “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures)
10. “The Last Duel” (20th Century Studios)

Visual Effects

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Dune” (Warner Bros)
  2. “Eternals” (Marvel)
  3. “The Matrix: Resurrections” (Warner Bros)
  4. “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (Marvel)
  5. “Free Guy” (20th Century Studios)

Next Up:

6. “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures)
7. “Godzilla vs. Kong” (Warner Bros)
8. “A Quiet Place II” (Paramount Pictures
9. “The Tomorrow War” (Amazon Studios)
10. “The Suicide Squad” (Warner Bros)

Best Animated Short Film

Coming soon!

Documentary Short Subject

Coming soon!

Short Film – Live Action

Coming soon!

The 94th Academy Awards will be held Sunday, March 26, 2022.

Written by
Karen Peterson is the Awards Editor for We Live Entertainment. She previously worked as the Assistant Editor at Awards Circuit, now owned by Variety. Her work can also be found at Citizen Dame and at the Watch and Talk podcast. Her non-awards season hobbies include Angels baseball, taking pictures of other peoples' pets, and tweeting about The Bachelor franchise.

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