This is an opinion article. Any views expressed belong solely to the author and are not representative of The Cluster.
As the Oscars approach, many people have begun filling out their prediction ballots and starting conversations online about which films are nominated, which were left out and the film that will come away with the most awards.
Amidst these discussions, the Oscars has released information about how the ceremony will be executed, and it is clear that this year, the Oscars are set to run a little differently.
To begin with, the Academy just released a statement that eight Oscar categories will not be televised during the airing of the ceremony, including Best Documentary Short, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup/Hairstyling, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Animated Short, Best Live-Action Short and Best Sound.
The awards will still be given for these categories, but due to them pulling in fewer viewers than the other categories in previous years, they will not be televised to the audience. I believe this is a great disservice to the filmmakers and artists who have worked so hard to make these films, and due to this, I will be giving my predictions for these categories first.
I want to note that many of my predictions represent which films I believe the Academy will vote for and not necessarily which ones I believe are best. The members of the Academy are not required to see every film nominated and largely make their votes for winners based on advertising, image and whichever film uses more money to send them promotional material or advertisements.
The Academy is composed of an overwhelming majority of older white men, and this singular demographic often sway votes in a direction that doesn't represent the most deserving film for each category.
Noting these issues, the following predictions reflect that process.
Best Documentary Short: “The Queen of Basketball” (Ben Proudfoot)
Best Film Editing: “Don’t Look Up” (Hank Corwin)
This was an incredibly hard category from which to choose a distinct winner. All of the films nominated truly deserve the award, and I believe the final choice comes down between this film and “Dune.” However, I think that based on marketing, this film will take a statue home.
Best Makeup/Hairstyling: “Cruella” (Nadia Stacey, Naomi Donne and Julia Vernon)
This was a tricky pick given that I believe, in the Academy’s eyes, that “House of Gucci” will give “Cruella” a run for its money in this department purely based on reputation alone.
Best Original Score: “Dune” (Hans Zimmer)
There is no way Hans Zimmer isn't walking away with this Oscar for best soundtrack. If you haven't seen “Dune” yet, the soundtrack alone makes it worth it.
Best Production Design: “Dune” (Production Design: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos)
“Nightmare Alley” could also potentially clinch the win for this category, but given “Dune's" budget and scope, I believe it will come out on top by the Academy’s standards.
Best Animated Short: “Robin Robin” (Dan Ojari and Mikey Please)
I would love to see “Boxballet” or perhaps “The Windshield Wiper” take home this award, but due to “Robin Robin’s” larger budget and its release under Netflix, I think it will take home the win. All of the animated shorts nominated in this category are visually stunning and brilliantly presented, and all of them deserve some consideration. “Robin Robin” is actually the one I would least recommend to someone, but it is on top of the market, so I believe the Academy will vote for it.
Best Live-Action Short: “The Long Goodbye” (Aneil Karia and Riz Ahmed)
Everyone should watch this short immediately. It is phenomenal, and it is so well executed that I was in awe when I watched it the first time. This film’s nomination could also potentially lead to groundbreaking territory, as winning would mean that Riz Ahmed would be the first Muslim person to win the live-action short category.
Best Sound: “No Time to Die” (Simon Hayes, Oliver Tarney, James Harrison, Paul Massey and Mark Taylor)
While I do not agree with this film winning best sound, I think it runs a good chance at replicating its predecessor “Skyfall's" success, as that film took home Best Sound for the Oscars in 2013, beating out “Zero Dark Thirty.” I think “Belfast” may be a good runner-up for this category, and I can potentially see “Dune” as a contender as well. Overall, no one film of the nominees stuck out to me as being truly on top.
Best Picture: “Dune” (Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter, Producers)
This was undoubtedly the most difficult category to determine. I believe that “CODA” and its producers deserve the award; however, I believe the Academy will award the honor to “Dune.”
Actor in a Leading Role: Andrew Garfield (“tick, tick…BOOM!”)
This category is a toss-up between Garfield and Will Smith, and Smith’s recent SAG Award may push him over the edge to win this for his role in “King Richard.” It is an honest gamble between the two for me, but I believe that Garfield showed much more nuance and versatility portraying legendary playwright Jonathan Larson.
Actor in a Supporting Role: Jesse Plemons (“The Power of the Dog”)
Actress in a Leading Role: Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”)
Actress in a Supporting Role: Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”)
Animated Feature Film: “Encanto” (Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer)
Cinematography: “Dune” (Greg Frasier)
Costume Design: “Cruella” (Jenny Beavan)
Directing: Stephen Spielberg (“West Side Story”)
In an ideal world, I would love it if Jane Champion won for “The Power of the Dog,” as she is the only woman nominated for this category, and she is the first woman to be nominated twice for this category. However, given the Academy’s track record when it comes to female nominees, the most likely recipient of this award based on their process is Stephen Spielberg for “West Side Story.” I really hope that I am wrong.
Documentary (Feature): “Summer of Soul (...or, When The Revolution could not be Televised)” (Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein)
Best International Feature Film: “Drive My Car” (Japan)
Best Original Song: “Dos Oruguitas” (from “Encanto;” Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda)
I think “No Time To Die” by Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell from the new James Bond film of the same name may be pitted against this film, but overall I believe “Encanto” will walk away with the award purely because the film itself is not part of a franchise. This paired with the advertising aspect makes me believe that “Encanto” will win by the margins.
Best Visual Effects: “Spider-Man: No Way Home” (Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein and Dan Sudick)
This was a difficult decision because I believe the academy will want to give this award to “Dune” but given that “No Way Home” is on the fast track to surpass “Avatar” for the highest-grossing film, I think the movie has gained notoriety and even more significance than before. I don’t know if this is enough for the Academy members to separate the film from its Marvel connotation of "less prestigious, money-making action movie," but I think it has a shot.
Writing (Best Adapted Screenplay): “CODA” (Screenplay by Siân Heder)
I believe that this is the most deserving of the adapted screenplays, both in terms of difficulty and elegance onscreen. “Dune” may take this purely due to Academy preference or a bigger budget, but the writing and screenplay were two of the things I had the most trouble with while watching the film, as I had read the book before watching it. For casual moviegoers, this may not seem so significant.
Writing (Best Original Screenplay): “Don't Look Up” (Screenplay by Adam McKay; Story by Adam McKay & David Sirota)
While I think that the film “Licorice Pizza” may give this film competition in this category, I do not agree with the movie and will refrain from choosing it because of the content and nature of the film. “Licorice Pizza” has sparked controversy in the last few weeks after its release because it portrays a relationship between a 15 and 25 year old and made many viewers uncomfortable (including myself), and many outlets labeled the film problematic and poorly executed.
Overall, the film I have picked to win the most awards would be “Dune,” and the second film would be “The Power of The Dog.” These two films had the leading number of nominations, so naturally, they have a greater chance at taking home multiple wins.
However, the films I would recommend out of all of these selections include “CODA” and “The Long Goodbye.” These two productions are truly some of the most well-done films that have come out of this year and will not disappoint when watching.