This awards season has been 1) INTERMINABLE, and 2) CHAOTIC. Dramatic momentum shifts, wild nominations at precursor award shows, races too close to call—these Oscars are so chaotic, they should be called the Chaoscars . 


Predicting Oscar wins is tougher than usual for a number of reasons, ranging from the ongoing pandemic still resulting in hurly-burly film releases and questions about what and how much the Academy has actually seen, to the recently expanded membership still being a question mark when it comes to taste, to the general air of chaos all awards season resulting in dramatic momentum shifts and truly unpredictable categories (plus this year is the return the ten-film Best Picture category). Generally, when I do this, I attempt to think like an Oscar voter, considering not what I WANT to win, but how I think the Academy will vote given their history and taste. This year, the Oscars feel like a busted March Madness bracket, and I’m tempted to just make my picks as chaotic as possible, in the hopes that the Oscars deliver maximum drama. I shall try to control myself, and make earnest picks, but just know I am rooting for chaos to consume us all on Sunday night. 


Best Picture

However this turns out, I suspect it’s a close vote. The Power of the Dog was the presumptive favorite for much of the season, but CODA peaked at the right time, and it has the benefit of being a feel-good film at a time when people are looking for uplifting escapism. That will leave a good impression that lingers in voters’ minds. Just don’t call it Green Book.

Favorite: CODA

Upset: The Power of the Dog

Dark Horse: King Richard

The Rest:


Don't Look Up

Drive My Car 


Licorice Pizza 

Nightmare Alley 

West Side Story 


Best Director

Despite recent controversy, this is still Jane Campion’s to lose, which would make her just the third woman to win, and the first time—if she does win—Best Director will be handed from one woman to another.

Favorite: Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog

Upset: Kenneth Branagh – Belfast 

Dark Horse: Steven Spielberg – West Side Story

The Rest:

Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza 

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi – Drive My Car


Best Actress

I just can’t shake the feeling Penelope Cruz is going to shock us all, and truly make these the Chaoscars.

Favorite: Penelope Cruz – Parallel Mothers

Upset: Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Dark Horse: Kristen Stewart – Spencer 

The Rest:

Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter 

Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos 


Best Actor

Will Smith is virtually unstoppable at this point.

Favorite: Will Smith – King Richard

Upset: Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog

Dark Horse: Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…Boom!

The Rest:

Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth 

Javier Bardem – Being the Ricardos 


Best Supporting Actor

The two safest bets in your Oscar pool are Troy Kotsur…

Favorite: Troy Kotsur – CODA 

Upset: Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog

Dark Horse: Ciaran Hinds – Belfast 

The Rest:

Jesse Plemons – The Power of the Dog 

J.K. Simmons – Being the Ricardos 


Best Supporting Actress

…and Ariana DeBose.

Favorite: Ariana DeBose – West Side Story

Upset: Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard

Dark Horse: Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog

The Rest:

Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter  

Judi Dench – Belfast 


Best Original Screenplay

This is another category I suspect is close, and despite Don’t Look Up winning the WGA award, I suspect it comes down to PTA and Sir Kenneth.

Favorite: Kenneth Branagh – Belfast 

Upset: Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza

Dark Horse: Joachim Trier and Eksil Vogt – The Worst Person in the World

The Rest:

Aaron Sorkin and David Sirota – Don’t Look Up 

Zach Baylin – King Richard 


Best Adapted Screenplay

This is one of the most chaotic, too close to call categories, but it is also a preview of Best Picture. The screenplay awards are usually handed out early in the show, and if CODA loses, it’s over for its Best Picture hopes, but if it wins, Best Picture will be a nail-biter.

Favorite: Sian Heder – CODA 

Upset: Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog

Dark Horse: Maggie Gyllenhaal – The Lost Daughter

The Rest:

Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth – Dune 

Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe – Drive My Car 


Best Editing   

This is one of the categories being handed out before the telecast starts, but it is also one of the tightest races going into Oscar night. In olden times, Best Editing and Best Picture usually went hand-in-hand, but with ten nominees for Best Picture and only five here, there will likely be more splits between those categories, as I am expecting this year.

Favorite: Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum – tick, tick…BOOM! 

Upset: Joe Walker – Dune 

Dark Horse: Hank Corwin – Don’t Look Up

The Rest:

Pamela Martin – King Richard 

Peter Sciberras – The Power of the Dog 


Best Cinematography

Should she win, Ari Wegner would be the first woman to win this category, but Greig Fraser, who also lensed The Batman, has been building momentum over the last month. Given that he did back-to-back super stylish blockbusters, a feat his peers recognize, I think he has the edge.

Favorite: Greig Fraser – Dune 

Upset: Ari Wegner – The Power of the Dog

Dark Horse: Janusz Kaminski – West Side Story

The Rest:

Dan Laustsen – Nightmare Alley 

Bruno Delbonnel – The Tragedy of Macbeth


Best Score

Hans Zimmer is the favorite, despite being name-checked in an exposé of how top score composers use musical ghostwriters to pump out their movie scores. That might account for why so much of Zimmer’s music over the last twenty years sounds the same.

Favorite: Hans Zimmer – Dune 

Upset: Jonny Greenwood – The Power of the Dog

Dark Horse: Germaine Franco – Encanto 

The Rest:

Nicholas Britell – Don’t Look Up 

Alberto Iglesias – Parallel Mothers 


Best Original Song

It feels weird to go against Beyoncé, but Bond songs are pretty much automatic wins, even when they’re not good, and “No Time To Die” is pretty good, and the Encanto soundtrack has been topping the charts for months, giving it the pop edge (plus it has the Lin-Manuel Miranda boost).

Favorite: “No Time To Die” – No Time To Die

Upset: “Dos Oruguitas” – Encanto 

Dark Horse: “Be Alive” – King Richard 

The Rest:

“Down To Joy” – Belfast 

“Somehow You Do” – Four Good Days


Best Costume Design

This will be Jenny Bevan’s third Oscar.

Favorite: Cruella

Upset: Cyrano

Dark Horse: Dune

The Rest:

Nightmare Alley 

West Side Story 


Best International Film

The time for Drive My Car to shine.

Favorite: Drive My Car

Upset: The Worst Person in the World

Dark Horse: Flee

The Rest:

The Hand of God

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom


Best Animated Feature Film

The category I jokingly call “Pixar’s Annual Oscar” is one of the most chaotic of the year and is not a lock for Pixar. 

Favorite: Encanto

Upset: The Mitchells vs. The Machines

Dark Horse: Flee

The Rest:


Raya and the Last Dragon 


Best Documentary Feature Film

Questlove’s Summer of Soul is great and lauded, but triple-nominee Flee feels like the best fit to win in this category. 

Favorite: Flee  

Upset: Summer of Soul (Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) 

Dark Horse: Attica

The Rest:


Writing With Fire 


Best Sound

These are all solid nominations, but once again it’s probably going to the big action movie, it’s just a question of Dune or Bond, and I lean Dune because of the combination of action and contemplative sequences that made for an interesting quiet-loud balance.

Favorite: Dune

Upset: No Time To Die

Dark Horse: West Side Story

The Rest:


The Power of the Dog 


Best Production Design

The craft categories are where Dune will shine.

Favorite: Dune

Upset: Nightmare Alley

Dark Horse: West Side Story

The Rest:

The Power of the Dog 

The Tragedy of Macbeth 


Best Makeup and Hairstyling

This is another category that I suspect is closer than we’d expect. Tammy Faye is obvious, given the sheer amount of prosthetics and wiggery, but while Coming 2 America is a garbage movie, it has a distinctive visual style and elaborate individual looks.

Favorite: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Upset: Coming 2 America

Dark Horse: Cruella

The Rest:


House of Gucci 


Best Visual Effects

One thing to know about this category is that despite being nominated virtually every year since 2009, Marvel has never won a VFX Oscar, not even for Black Panther, which won in other craft categories. The Marvel bias is real and will favor Dune.

Favorite: Dune

Upset: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Dark Horse: Free Guy

The Rest:

No Time to Die 

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 


Best Animated Short Film

Ah, the shorts, the categories most likely to f-ck up your Oscar pool.

Favorite: Robin Robin

Upset: Boxballet

Dark Horse: The Windshield Wiper

The Rest:

Affairs of the Art 



Best Live Action Short Film

Favorite: The Long Goodbye

Upset: The Dress

Dark Horse: Ala Kachuu - Take and Run 

The Rest:

On My Mind 

Please Hold


Best Documentary Short Film 

Favorite: The Queen of Basketball

Upset: Audible

Dark Horse: Three Songs for Benazir 

The Rest:

Lead Me Home 

When We Were Bullies