Updated Oscar Predictions as ‘Spencer’ and ‘Belfast’ Make Their Way to Theaters

It’s the point where we’re at a little bit of a holding pattern. There hasn’t been much movement in any direction, although the next few weeks are going to be very important for hopefuls as Belfast, King Richard, and The Power of the Dog find their way to audiences. In some cases, the chatter has slowed down, but there is a lot of enthusiasm for a few others. November is the time to shine as we head into the holidays and voters start to amass piles of screeners to view over the break. This month will also see some critics groups attempt to push the momentum for some of their favorites and the Gotham Awards are approaching fast. This week we also have a bit of a plea for Neon, Pig, and Nicolas Cage.

Here is a look at our predictions for the week of November 8, 2021.

Rob Youngson / Focus Features

Best Picture

Belfast still feels like the movie to beat. On one hand, it’s become uncommon in recent years for the frontrunner this early on to sustain the momentum throughout the season. But Nomadland did it last year, and this week’s release date puts Belfast in prime position to maintain the good buzz it has had since it appeared at Telluride and TIFF. So the question, of course, is more about what else will join the lineup. Last week I mentioned that House of Gucci had some potential to get into the lineup, with some early word being very positive on two key performances. But the film itself is in the conversation in a much different way, so we are definitely not moving it into the predicted nominees at the moment. There has been a lot of talk about Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley, which hits theaters at Christmas. It does look like an exciting remake of the 1947 film, but I’m not quite ready to put it in too many places beyond a few techs. Although it is now just outside my predicted ten.

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. “CODA” (Apple Original Films)
  9. “Flee” (Neon)
  10. “C’mon C’mon” (A24)

Runners Up:

11. “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

We’re still in “Branagh or bust” mode, although there is a world where Picture and Director could split. The question then is, which director swoops in? There is a lot of love for Jane Campion, who would become the first woman nominated for Best Director twice. (For the record, 27 men have had this distinction, 21 of which won at least two.) There is also the surefire tech player, Dune. With the enthusiasm for Dune‘s technical achievements, Denis Villeneuve might be in a good position to nab his first directing statuette. A crowd-pleaser in a different way from Belfast, King Richard is one that will surely delight audiences and voters alike. This bodes well for Reinaldo Marcus Green whose third feature is also his best so far. After going back and forth on it in recent weeks, Licorice Pizza director Paul Thomas Anderson is officially back in my lineup. The film has started screening and the early word is favorable. This would be Anderson’s fourth directing nod, so the Academy definitely likes him.

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)

Runners Up:

6. Asghar Farhadi, “A Hero” (Amazon Studios)
7. Pedro Almodóvar, “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics)
8. Joel Coen, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple)
9. Mike Mills, “C’mon C’mon” (A24)
10. Lin-Manuel Miranda, “tick, tick…Boom!” (Netflix)

KING RICHARD — Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Best Actor

Will Smith is still definitely the one to beat, although look to Benedict Cumberbatch to make it a competition. I’m not making any shifts this week, but am using this moment to say that while I’m not totally sure if Neon is going to do a lot with Pig, if they campaign it right I really, truly think Nicolas Cage has a shot. It’s his best performance since Leaving Las Vegas, and maybe even better than that. The film itself kind of flew under the radar with its late summer release, but it’s such a good film that if voters take the time to watch it, the movie could be the surprise player no one expected.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. Will Smith, “King Richard” (Warner Bros)
  2. Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
  3. Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple)
  4. Clifton Collins, Jr., “Jockey” (Sony Pictures Classics)
  5. Nicolas Cage, “Pig” (Neon)

Runners Up:

6. Joaquin Phoenix, “C’mon C’mon” (A24)
7. Peter Dinklage, “Cyrano” (United Artists Releasing/MGM)
8. Jude Hill, “Belfast” (Focus Features)
9. Andrew Garfield, “tick, tick…Boom!” (Netflix)
10. Leonardo DiCaprio, “Don’t Look Up” (Netflix)

Kristen Stewart is Princess Diana in SPENCER — Courtesy of Neon

Best Actress

There is a lot of increasing buzz for Lady Gaga, but after Spencer‘s release this past weekend, everyone is talking about Kristen Stewart’s Princess Diana. KStew fans rejoice because now more than ever this feels like it may really be happening.

  1. Kristen Stewart, “Spencer” (Neon)
  2. Lady Gaga, “House of Gucci” (United Artists Releasing/MGM)
  3. Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)
  4. Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (Searchlight Pictures)
  5. Frances McDormand, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple)

Runners Up:

6. Penélope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers” (Sony Pictures Classics)
7. Tessa Thompson, “Passing” (Netflix)
8. Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios)
9. Emilia Jones, “CODA” (Apple)
10. Jennifer Hudson, “Respect” (Netflix)

 

Rob Youngson / Focus Features

Best Supporting Actor

Which is the stronger performance in Belfast? Is it Ciarán Hinds or Jamie Dornan? That’s a really difficult question to answer and may actually split the votes enough that neither of them ends up winning. Hinds definitely has some beautifully tender moments with the film’s lead, newcomer Jude Hill. But Dornan is such an integral part of the story and his presence is so strong that you feel his absence whenever he is off screen. But is either of them able to pull enough votes from the other to win? And if not, who comes up the middle? Is this really Ben Affleck’s big chance? Does Kodi Smit-McPhee rise with the power of Jane Campion? Does Jared Leto win his second? Or does a new contender emerge?

Predicted Nominees:

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

Runners Up:

6. Idris Elba, “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix)
7. Corey Hawkins, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple)
8. Jesse Plemons, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
9. Jason Isaacs, “Mass” (Bleecker Street)
10. Bradley Cooper, “Licorice Pizza” (United Artists Releasing/MGM)

Rob Youngson / Focus Features

Best Supporting Actress

This may be one of the toughest races this year as we have Kirsten Dunst, who many have been rooting for since her breakout role as a 10-year-old, vying for the award against Belfast‘s heart and soul, Caitríona Balfe. If these really are the top two films of the awards year, it will surely be a tight competition all season. Which also means there is room for Balfe’s co-star Judy Dench, as well as the beloved Ann Dowd and Aunjanue Ellis. It feels pretty good saying this is the lineup, but there are a few other ladies whose performances are impossible to ignore.

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)

Runners 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

With the wide praise for Mike Mills and his magnificent screenplay, he is looking for his first Oscar five years after his nomination for 20th Century Women. And while Branagh and his Belfast script don’t, strictly speaking, need to win Screenplay in order to pick up Picture and Director, a win here certainly helps solidify its overall chances. But look for Paul Thomas Anderson to join the party too.

Predicted Nominees:

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

Runners 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

This could go a number of different ways, so when in doubt, pick the film that looks like a top three Best Picture contender. This is probably one place Dune is vulnerable, whereas Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter has a strong chance. And love for CODA puts that in a good spot. As for the rest, never count out the Coens, and word is that William Monahan is back in top form after a few less than stellar projects in the years since he won for The Departed.

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix); Jane Campion
  2. “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix); Maggie Gyllenhaal
  3. “The Tender Bar” (Amazon Studios); William Monahan
  4. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24/Apple); Joel Coen
  5. “CODA” (Apple); Sian Heder

Runners Up:

6. “Dune” (Warner Bros); Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth
7. “Passing” (Netflix); Rebecca Hall
8. “House of Gucci” (United Artists/MGM); Becky Johnston, Roberto Bentivegna
9. “tick, tick…Boom!” (Netflix); Steven Levenson
10. “The Green Knight” (A24); David Lowery

Courtesy of Neon

Best Animated Feature Film

It’s not a runaway for Disney or Pixar this year, although the word on Encanto is really strong. Netflix is trying hard to remind voters of the delightful, hilarious The Mitchells vs. The Machines. Meanwhile, Neon is looking for their first award in animation with the incredible animated doc, Flee. At the moment, the Danish film has a really good chance of being the first film nominated in all four feature categories — animation, documentary, international, and Best Picture — and perhaps this is the place where it wins. After all, only 3 animated films have been nominated for Best Picture, one before animated feature was its own category. The other two, Up and Toy Story 3, both won in animated.

Predicted Nominees:

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

Runners 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

What a story it would be if Flee won two major categories on the night. And it certainly could win here. But I’m still going with The Rescue, especially if people are voting for Flee in other places.

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

Runners 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.

Most of this lineup is currently the same, with the exception that Weerasethakul’s Memoria from Columbia has been moved out, and Japan’s Drive My Car is now in. The word around Drive My Car is getting louder and many are calling it one of the very best films of the year. Memoria, on the other hand, is going to be an endurance test for some voters. There is also going to be a question of eligibility as large portions of the movie, which stars Tilda Swinton, are in English.

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

Runners Up:

6. “Titane” (Neon) — France, dir. Julia Ducournau
7. “Leave No Traces” (TBD) — Poland, dir. Jan P. Matuszyński
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

DUNE | Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Cinematography

Predicted Nominees:

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

Runners 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

SPENCER | Neon and Topic Studios

Costume Design

Predicted Nominees:

  1. “Spencer” (Neon); Jacqueline Durran
  2. “House of Gucci” (United Artists/MGM); Janty Yates
  3. “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures); Luis Sequeira
  4. “Belfast” (Focus Features); Charlotte Walter
  5. “Dune” (Warner Bros); Jacqueline West, Bob Morgan

Runners Up:

6. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24); Mary Zophres
7. “Cyrano” (United Artists/MGM); Massimo Cantini Parrini
8. “Licorice Pizza” (United Artists/MGM); Mark Bridges
9. “Last Night in Soho” (Focus Features); Odile Dicks-Mireaux
10. “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios); Paul Tazewell

DUNE | Warner Bros.

Film Editing

There are some really well edited films this year, but Editing so often correlates to Sound that we’re sticking with this — for now.

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

Runners 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. “Spencer” (Neon)

Runners Up:

6. “Licorice Pizza” (United Artists/MGM)
7. “Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures)
8. “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Studios)
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)

Runners 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. “Every Letter” from “Cyrano” (United Artists/MGM)

Runners Up:

6. “Beyond the Shore” from “CODA” (Apple)
7. “So May We Start” from “Annette” (Amazon Studios)
8. “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from “Respect” (MGM)
9. “The Anonymous Ones” from “Dear Evan Hansen” (Universal Pictures)
10. “Columbia, Mi Encanto” from “Encanto” (Walt Disney Animation)

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)

Runners 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)

Runners 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)

Runners 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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