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  • Writer's picturePerrin Faerch

2022 Oscar Predictions and Hot Takes

It’s Oscar time again. I know it’s lame to be excited for this kind of stuff, but hey here we are. Although the Oscars have got many picks wrong over the course of their history, they’ve actually been pretty damn great over the past number of years, with the exception of a few poopy wins here and there of course. It’s also cool seeing the best films, or your favourites, at least, actually win. I also do understand that all this eventually boils down to subjective taste and opinion on most occasions, including my own. At the end of the day, people just want the films they resonate with the most to win. But I try to look at each work as objectively as possible, citing why works should be acknowledged as opposed to personal preference. Something which seems to be missing on far too many depressing Anonymous Oscar Voter Ballots which go out of their way to be controversial and just plain dumb with their reasonings behind certain votes. It might just be a few offenders but it doesn't paint a very good portrait of the Academy and its members. Do these people even like movies and should they actually be allowed to vote?

This year’s ceremony is choosing to cut 8 awards from the live show. They will have the awards happen before the main event, then cut them in. It's a decision that sends out a less than favourable message to these categories, showing which ones they deem to be of less importance to the rest of the big spectacle. These throwaway categories are Live Action Short, Animated Short, Documentary Short, Production Design, Wardrobe and Hair Styling, Sound, Original Score and ironically, Editing. This decision to take vital ingredients in what makes the craft the craft out of the actual show is such a slap in the face - especially when you leave the most vital of ingredients in editing out of the equation. The excuse from the producers of the show is so that they can keep the show tight and rolling along smoothly – eliminating long shots of winners walking down the aisle to receive their awards, etc. Bullshit. I get they want to make the show tighter and more interesting to avoid going over, etc. but removing awards from the live broadcast is the one thing NO ONE asked for. They tried to do this years ago and it was quickly overturned due to the massive outrage over it from industry people and movie fans alike. So according to them, Original Song is more important than elements that make a movie a movie. Let's be real, it's only because of Beyonce, Billie Eilish and songs from Encanto that made them decide to prioritize this category over all the others left out with the hopes of improving the ratings. And then you have the added slap in the face to these cut categories by including a live performance of We Don’t Talk About Bruno, a song NOT nominated, in the ceremony. It's so cynical and blatant in their attitude to the other categories, as well as them desperately trying to remain relevant to younger audiences.

Ag. Anyways, leading up to the big night, predictions from publications and experts have often been thrown on their heads. The influx of new members is causing the Oscars to become more unpredictable, and last year was a sign of that - especially in the lead acting categories. So expect it to be no different this year with some of the obvious favourites not being so obvious anymore. In the past, the guild awards of each department would often dictate who would win each category. They’re still a major indicator on who wins, but not as telling anymore with the SAGs being a prime example of Oscar wins going in different directions.

So my predictions are based on a number of factors. First and foremost, it’s the road leading up to this moment through award wins and publicity. Then the next factor I look at is actually anonymous voter ballots. Every year a flurry of these arrive just before the show, indicating to us how these brutally honest voters voted and why they voted a certain way. I based a lot of my predictions last year on what the rumblings were through these voter comments. Everyone I wanted to win, won last year, even in categories where I didn’t predict them to do so. So I am making even bolder choices this year that will probably backfire, but hey, I reckon it’s going to be a wildly unpredictable year in a few battleground categories, so why not bite the bullet? And like the left turns the nominations took, you will see a ton of the experts get it wrong once again.

Anyways, here are my picks of who will win, who should win, who could win, and in some cases, who should’ve been nominated. I will be brutally honest in some of these areas, but at the end of the day, it’s all my subjective opinion. So yeah, take my bullshit hot takes with a pinch of salt I suppose.

NOTE: I have seen every film up for awards this year, with the exception to one Animated Short and one Live Action Short. I will state which ones when we get there…

Best Picture

The Nominees: Belfast CODA Don’t Look Up Drive My Car Dune King Richard Licorice Pizza Nightmare Alley The Power of the Dog West Side Story Who will win: CODA Who should win: The Power of the Dog Who could win: The Power of the Dog / Belfast Who should’ve been here: Flee / The Worst Person in the World For a while, The Power of the Dog led the charge in taking this category, but after gargantuan wins for CODA at the SAGs for Best Ensemble and The Producer’s Guild Awards for Best Picture, CODA is the overwhelming favourite pegged to win. Although Ensemble Cast at the SAGs isn’t necessarily a determining factor in picking Best Picture, it helps. Parasite’s win at the SAGs showed exactly what voters were going for – leading it to the be first film not in the English language to win Best Picture. The Producer’s Guild Best Picture pick has determined 11 of the last 15 winners in this category, so it’s looking good for CODA. From what I have seen from audience responses as well as voter ballots, is that they are opting for a sweet, feel-good movie this time round – with CODA fitting that bill above all else. Its representation of the Deaf community is great as well, and although the groundbreaking Sound of Metal made waves at last year’s ceremony, CODA proves to be the clean-cut, far less gritty, wholesome story the Academy voters are gravitating towards. The only factor that could go against Coda is the lack of an editing nomination – something that is often vital in determining who wins the top prize. It won’t matter though, CODA is taking this.

The Power of the Dog seems to be too polarizing among viewers and voters alike to be considered the front runner anymore. Despite critical acclaim and praise for its technical feats and performances from voters, they always leave a huge but: “It’s boring and too slow”. They either love it or hate it. I loved it (here's a review), and although I understand why people would be bored by it, it's anything but pointless and empty like some voters seem to think. It was number 2 on my 100 Favourite films of last year and I feel that it is a classic in the making - one that will be discussed decades from now. Like it or not, The Power of the Dog is a gorgeously crafted, nuanced affair that takes risks. Although CODA is lovely, I feel we will be barely be talking about it years from now, while The Power of the Dog will spark constant discussion as a grandiose western made by a master at the top of her craft.

Belfast is the potential spoiler to CODA. Although I did not like Belfast whatsoever, it’s exactly the kind of Oscar-baiting movie that voters froth for. An autobiographical film of its director? Check. Told through the rose-tinted glasses of a child? Check. Period-setting during troubling times taking place in the British Isles? Check. It wants to be Roma but has none of its nuance, precision and impact. It wants to be Jojo Rabbit but with none of the heart or humour. It tries to wear its heart on its sleeve but is so calculated in doing so that it feels completely disingenuous to me. But despite its muddled heavy-handedness, it sports the right amount of cheese that tugged on the right heartstrings that pushed it to win the Audience Award at TIFF last year - making it another accessibly resonant film that appeals to wider, more commercially inclined audiences that could push it to a possible, although unlikely, win over the far superior feel-good favourite of the year in CODA.

Flee should’ve been placed here considering it broke records in being nominated for Best Animation, Documentary and International film. Unlike being spread over different categories highlighting excellence in certain departments, Flee is in three categories that determine the best film of three specific formats. Logically, that would mean it’s one of the best films of the year. Period. So why no nomination guys? There has never been a documentary that has been nominated for Best Picture, and that needs to change. We are in the golden age of documentary filmmaking and although Flee isn’t the first film to utilize animation as the driving force in telling its subject’s story (Waltz With Bashir did it and was even nominated for best doccie back in 2008), it would’ve been nice to see it break yet another, deserved record. Best Director

The Nominees: Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza) Kenneth Branagh (Belfast) Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog) Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car) Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)

Who will win: Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog) Who should win: Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog) Who could win: Kenneth Branagh (Belfast) / Steven Spielberg (West Side Story) Who should be here: Denis Villeneuve (Dune) Jane Campion’s exemplary work in nuance and subtext is astonishing in The Power of the Dog. She is so delicate in her approach with not only that of the toxic masculinity of the cowboy but also sexual identity, class and even gender roles. She implores us to read between the lines as we make sense of the masks we chose to put on in order to adapt and survive our hostile environments. She is so elegant with her approach towards something as inelegant as toxic masculinity. Sorry Sam Elliot, but you don’t know shit. Campion is the deserved winner here and The Academy will enjoy making another bit of history by giving just the third woman in Oscar history the directing award (Chloé Zhao and Kathryn Bigelow) – one that is entirely earned and will mark Campion’s second Oscar after winning Best Original Screenplay for The Piano (1993).

Overall, it's a strange category because it shows the Academy clearly have voters who understand good, precise direction, while also completely misunderstanding it. There is no Villeneuve, despite having the second most amount of nominations for Dune through technical crafts and writing. Why is he not considered, then? Hamaguchi rightfully earns his spot with his quiet, unflashy work on Drive My Car that shows a level of expert restrain only the greats could ever dream of achieving. Paul Thomas Anderson is at his breezy best in creating an anecdotal love letter to youth, growing up and The Valley while utilizing the themes and ideas of his filmography that make his work so captivating and insightful. Spielberg somehow bettered a classic musical by giving it a much-needed update that skewers the American Dream even harder than the original. Then you have Kenneth Branagh’s ham-fisted, tonally misguided poor man’s Roma in Belfast that is so cynical in its Oscar bait-ness that it overrides anything that could’ve felt truly personal and heartfelt. I get that he wants to show it through the perspective of a child – not fully understanding the violence around him. But this relentless happy-go-lucky outlook gets tiring as Branagh retreats far too often from tougher topics. It could’ve been a truly insightful work into not only The Troubles but that of his family and Branagh himself. He mixes a multitude of tones that don’t quite match with what he is trying to say, or if he is trying to say anything at all. Every other filmmaker in this category has something to say and it shows in their work with crystal clear clarity. I don't doubt that Branagh has something to say, but the tonal mess and vagueness of its characters and their actions stop us, or me at least, from getting a clear intention from him. But due to it being a story about a tough time in his life, the voters might lean towards this as being a sincere love letter to his youth and his home city. Maybe I’m missing something, but I just didn’t feel that sincerity. Go watch The Hand of God instead if you want the best autobiographical film of the year. Sorry. Rant over. Best Actress in a Leading Role

The Nominees: Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) Penélope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos) Kristen Stewart (Spencer) Who will win: Penélope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) Who should win: Kristen Stewart (Spencer) / Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter) Who could win: Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) Who should’ve been here: Renate Reinsve (The Worst Person in the World) / Martha Plimpton (Mass) / Tessa Thompson (Passing) The Academy loves handing out awards to women playing mothers or historical figures. All of these nominees play mothers going through varying difficulties of motherhood and the anxieties attached to them. Three of the nominees are playing historically beloved figures who also happen to be mothers at the point of their story, with each one also proving to be more than just surface-level impersonations. So it makes this year a really hard one to call. Chastain is most certainly the likely winner according to experts - bagging important awards at both the Golden Globes, SAGs and Critic’s Choice Awards. This momentum could carry her over and a lot of people are in agreement that she is long overdue an Oscar. However, after seeing umpteenth anonymous voter ballots, the picture appears to be shifting towards Cruz. And like the past few Oscars, the SAG winner for Best Actress has not determined the winner on Oscar night. Expect Cruz's win to be both a surprise and none at all.

Personally, I’d love to see Kristen Stewart win as she completely immersed herself in Princess Diana. Spencer is an incredibly tense psychological drama that followed a woman in crisis, with Stewart fully embracing the tragedy and mystique of Larrain's vision that made it breathtaking to watch. It's a film that was just too weird and experimental for some – subverting their hopes and expectations for a straightforward royal biopic. And that’s also what Stewart did with her performance, offering a portrait of a woman in crisis that just happened to be Diana - taking it past it ever being an impersonation. This fluid interpretation will most likely scare voters away and into the arms of someone like Chastain and Kidman who gave the performances you’d expect from fairly straightforward biopics. Colman is also unbelievable in the tense and uncomfortable The Lost Daughter, but a previous Oscar win and a film that remains quite divisive like Spencer, might not be enough for voters to give it to her again so soon. Best Actor in a Leading Role

The Nominees:

Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos) Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog) Andrew Garfield (tick, tick…BOOM!) Will Smith (King Richard) Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth)

Who will win: Andrew Garfield (tick, tick…BOOM!) Who should win: Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog) / Andrew Garfield (tick, tick…BOOM!) Who could win: Will Smith (King Richard) Who should’ve been here: Nicolas Cage (Pig) & Simon Rex (Red Rocket)

Like Chastain, Will Smith appears to be the overwhelming favourite to win this category. He’s generally loved by everyone and a lot of people are feeling he is finally due his Oscar. I like King Richard and I liked Smith in it, but once again, it’s another safe as houses role from Will Smith that I am getting sick of seeing. We barely see him challenge himself, and almost any dramatic feature he does is a blatant play at trying to get that pesky golden statue. He's good, but nothing particularly special that just adds to the tiresome “nice hardworking guy” image that Will Smith refuses to pull himself away from.

Cumberbatch delivered my favourite performance of last year (along with Sir Anthony Hopkins in The Father) as the menacing Phil in The Power of the Dog, but my hot take pick is Andrew Garfield. The Academy tend to love musicals and this year we have a healthy presence of it. Garfield is blowing up again in recognition, and rightfully so. People adore him in pretty much everything he is in and it helps that he’s nice as well. He also challenges himself with every role he picks. His dedication and hard work on tick, tick…BOOM! is evident and well documented by his colleagues that had him learning to sing, dance and effectively become Jonathan Larson. Voters will see and award this immense dedication to the craft that celebrates one of the most influential figures in musical theatre. Best Actress in a Supporting Role

The Nominees: Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter) Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) Judi Dench (Belfast) Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog) Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) Who will win: Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) Who should win: Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) Who could win: Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard) Who should’ve been here: Kathryn Hunter (The Tragedy of Macbeth) / Ruth Negga (Passing)

Ariana DeBose is winning this category. She has won all other awards and has received rightful praise for everything she brought to West Side Story that strengthens the themes and journey of the iconic character in Anita even further - a woman whose sunny and positive perspective gets crushed in an instant, putting a mirror up to America and asking if the American Dream is real and if it’s at all worth it. This win will place the character of Anita alongside the likes of Vito Corleone and The Joker as characters that have won multiple Oscars for actors playing the same role. Aunjanue Ellis is the only other option I can see winning this category as she was considered the runaway favourite before West Side Story made its premiere and generated the rightful buzz for DeBose.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

The Nominees: Ciarán Hinds (Belfast) Troy Kotsur (CODA) Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog) J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos) Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog) Who will win: Troy Kotsur (CODA) Who should win: Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog) Who could win: Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog) Who should’ve been here: Colman Domingo (Zola) / Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza)

Not sure how J.K. Simmons slipped in here, but Plemmons’ nomination was a welcome surprise. Neither of them stands a chance though as this is Troy Kotsur’s category all but locked and loaded – winning literally everything leading up to this moment. He’s wonderful in it, so it’s a win I will gladly welcome. It's a win that will have Kotsur becoming only the second Deaf actor to win an Oscar after CODA co-star Marlee Matlin’s triumph for Best Actress in 1986’s Children of a Lesser God. It’s a full-spirited performance that allows him to show off his comedic and most impressively, dramatic range that gives heart to an already fully-formed character. Kodi Smit-McPhee is the only other plausible actor in this category to upset Kotsur. Although completely different in tone and style, I prefered Smit-McPhee over Kotsur. His performance is brimming with a quiet, calculative cruelty that makes the character of Peter all the more unnerving the longer you sit with The Power of the Dog - deceiving you with its simplicity and purpose in Phi's story.

Best Original Screenplay

The Nominees: Belfast Don’t Look Up King Richard Licorice Pizza The Worst Person in the World

Who will win: The Worst Person in the World Who should win: The Worst Person in the World / Licorice Pizza Who could win: Belfast / Licorice Pizza Who should’ve been here: Spencer / Mass / The Souvenir: Part II

Although the highly polarizing Don’t Look Up won at the Writer’s guild for original screenplay, I think The Worst Person in the World will take this category. It appears to be loved by almost every anonymous ballot voter I’ve seen. Every filmmaker worth their salt is gushing over it as well – including that of fellow nominee Paul Thomas Anderson. This adoration from both audiences, critics and filmmakers alike might sway other voters to go for it as well. I loved Licorice Pizza’s anecdotal structure and I related wholeheartedly with its key theme of reinvention, but The Worst Person in the World hit me harder with its originality and how its protagonist struggles to grow up and find meaning in her life through love, career and everything else in between. It’s the perfect coming-of-age film really, and for me, a better, albeit a different one than Licorice Pizza. Licorice Pizza or Belfast are considered to be the bookie’s favourites though. PTA has been deserving Oscars for a long time and should’ve swept all before him for There Will Be Blood in particular, but Licorice Pizza’s anecdotal, hang-out movie structure will scare off traditionalists looking for a straight-line narrative. Belfast has everything voters look for: it’s personal to the director and is told through the perspective of a child so if my pick is wrong, it'll probably be Belfast.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Nominees: CODA Drive My Car Dune The Lost Daughter The Power of the Dog

Who will win: CODA Who should win: Drive My Car Who could win: The Power of the Dog Who should’ve been here: The Green Knight / Passing

CODA appears to have this one. Which means it will win all three of its nominations. Voters seem to not realise that this is a remake, and although it’s a cleverly done one that adapts cultural and class differences going from a family of dairy farmers in the French original to a family of fishermen in this one, I feel it’s not nearly as impressive in adapting its source material compared to the other titles in this category. Dune won’t win because the Academy never takes Science-Fiction seriously, despite it being a pretty damn accurate adaptation of the biggest sci-fi novel ever. It’s also just the first half of the book, which appears to be an issue for some voters. My vote would go to Drive My Car. The careful and considerate expansion of the short story's depth and themes prevalent to that of Hamaguchi's identity as a filmmaker is astounding - allowing the material's introspective moments and intentions to hit even harder.

Best International Feature

The Nominees: Drive My Car (Japan) Flee (Denmark) The Hand of God (Italy) Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan) The Worst Person in the World (Norway)

Who will win: Drive My Car Who should win: Drive My Car Who could win: Flee Who should’ve been here: Titane (France)

Drive My Car will win here. It’s superb and the level of praise it has received is overwhelming – winning best international film categories at every award show on the road. The fact that it also has nominations for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay will also sway voters to give it the win, even if they haven't seen it. Flee has the slightest of chances here. Not only is it widely adored for its themes and methods with which it tells its subject's story of survival, it being in three major categories helps its chances of splitting the votes with Drive My Car that could send it the way of Flee.

Best Animated Feature

The Nominees: Encanto Flee Luca The Mitchells Vs. The Machines Raya and the Last Dragon

Who will win: Encanto Who should win: Flee Who could win: Flee Who should’ve been here: The Summit of the Gods

Normally, any Pixar film is essentially a slam-dunk guaranteed winner. But Luca is most certainly overpowered by Encanto here. Although not a box office hit by any means, Encanto gained a surge in popularity thanks to its wonderful soundtrack dominating the charts - driving the streams of the film way up on Disney+. It’s also a great little film about generational trauma, one that has earned its popularity through universally relevant themes, catchy songs and pretty visuals that will easily sway voters.

Flee should win though. And although I can’t see anyone really beating Encanto, Flee is the only realistic one to do so. Any and all refugee stories are about displacement, but at the centre of each story's heart, they’re about identity. Sexual, cultural, and national identity help define Amin, but it's the trauma of his past that has stopped him from fully embracing his identity as he still searches for a place to truly call home. It’s a story that is and always will be relevant, even if you aren’t a refugee. But due to the awful refugee crisis sweeping the western world in Ukraine (hypocritical I know – especially considering this shit has been happening in the Middle East and Africa for far too many years), voters might see this relevant tale to be a determining factor in giving it the prize. However, Academy voters tend to believe animated films should only be for kids – making Flee’s mature story, themes and not as sleek animation style play a part in convincing them to go for something more kid-friendly I Encanto. Best Documentary Feature

The Nominees: Ascension Attica Flee Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) Writing With Fire

Who will win: Summer of Soul Who should win: Flee Who could win: Flee Who should’ve been here: Gunda / All Light, Everywhere

Summer of Soul is a phenomenal music doccie that works as such a great companion film to Woodstock. It’s an impressive time capsule of a film that uncovers and reveals an important piece of cultural and music history everyone somehow forgot, but Questlove revived it and we get to see it along with the artists who participated in it, for the first time. It’s joyous, nostalgic and boasts an incredible soundtrack. It will win here. Although I adored Summer of Soul, I really want Flee to win something. It would be such a shame for such a spectacular film to leave empty-handed despite being the only film to score nominations for best animation, best international film and best documentary. Its messages of identity, displacement and the search for a true home ring true for everyone, not just refugees. And with the refugee crisis in Ukraine, audiences might resonate with this as a more relevant piece of filmmaking (despite there having been a refugee crisis going on for years in the region where Amin is actually from). It’s devastating, uplifting and a unique experience that could win voters over in how it makes use of animation to enrich its ideas rather than work as a gimmick.

Best Production Design

The Nominees: Dune Nightmare Alley The Power of the Dog The Tragedy of Macbeth West Side Story

Who will win: Dune Who should win: Dune / The Tragedy of Macbeth Who could win: Nightmare Alley

Dune’s massive, sweeping scope is illustrated so well through its simplistic set design and art direction that genuinely makes us feel like we are in another world. It’ll win here and it’ll be a deserved winner at that. I’d love for Macbeth to win though. Inspired by German Expressionism, Joel Coen’s latest creates a mystic, surreal dreamscape that truly feels not of this world. Its highly minimalistic, allowing for its characters to stand out even more in an entirely unfamiliar, ghostly world we have never seen before from an adaptation of Macbeth – one that allows our focus to be drawn even closer to the characters without the added clutter and over-dressing of the sets that surround them. Nightmare Alley could possibly upset Dune here as it features the dense, gothic intricacies of Guillermo Del Toro and the worlds he creates.

Best Costume Design

The Nominees: Cruella Cyrano Dune Nightmare Alley West Side Story

Who will win: Cruella Who should win: Cruella Who could win: Dune

Cruella has been winning every costume award on the road leading up to this point, so it’s a lock here. Each costume is not just viewed as a flamboyant, wildly imaginative design by its author in Cruella DeVille, but each one works as a character that's as integral to the film and its protagonist’s identity.

Best Makeup and Styling

The Nominees: Coming 2 America Cruella Dune The Eyes of Tammy Faye House of Gucci

Who will win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye Who should win: Dune Who could win: Dune

Although I wasn’t particularly bowled over by The Eyes of Tammy Faye, the make-up and styling were outstanding – letting Jessica Chastain truly transform into her as you could see the make-up and hair stylists had an absolute blast in recreating the famous garishness of Tammy Faye's style. These instances of transformation always wow voters as they are obvious in what they are doing and showing. This is why Dune could have a chance. The grotesque blimp that is Baron Harkonnen is impressive, something that could wow voters into picking Dune.

Best Cinematography

The Nominees: Greg Fraser (Dune) Dan Laustsen (Nightmare Alley) Ari Wegner (The Power of the Dog) Bruno Delbonnel (The Tragedy of Macbeth) Janusz Kaminski (West Side Story)

Who will win: Greg Fraser (Dune) Who should win: Ari Wegner (The Power of the Dog) / Greg Fraser (Dune) Who could win: Ari Wegner (The Power of the Dog) Who should be here: Andrew Droz Palermo (The Green Knight) / Claire Mathon (Spencer)

Greg Fraser will win here. He really transformed us to the universe of Dune - managing to capture and combine breathtaking scale with breathless intimacy. Ari Wegner’s work on Power of the Dog is outstanding though, allowing us to get into the heads of each character as they continue this act of obscuring their true selves to form a false identity to the world. She uses lighting and subtle framing that allows for Campion's subtext to be so important: from the impressive mountains surrounding their farm, to hiding them in the shadows before they come into the light and expose their true selves. It will also be a chance for the Academy voters to be a part of history and give the category its first win ever for a woman.

Best Editing

The Nominees: Hank Corwin (Don’t Look Up) Joe Walker (Dune) Pamela Martin (King Richard) Peter Sciberras (The Power of the Dog) Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum (tick, tick…BOOM!) Who will win: Joe Walker (Dune) Who should win: Joe Walker (Dune) Who could win: Pamela Martin (King Richard) Who should be here: Joshua L. Pearson (Summer of Soul)

The editing category is always a weird one with voters. They often never quite understand its purpose. It’s not just about cutting and transitioning, but it’s knowing when to cut. Editors dictate the flow and rhythm of films, making them the invisible artists that can make or break a movie. But it’s Dune’s Joe Walker and his understanding of fate vs. free will that is among the most impressive interpretations found in Dune - creating a visually seamless conflict between reality and hypothesis that adds to the film’s dreamlike allure. It has all the obvious marks of surface-level editing for voters as well as a deeper, integral meaning to the plot and its protagonist’s premonitions - skipping across time and space that allows Villeneuve's interpretation to leap off the page and truly transport us into this world.

Best Sound

The Nominees: Belfast Dune No Time to Die The Power of the Dog West Side Story

Who will win: Dune Who should win: Dune Who could win: West Side Story Who should be here: A Quiet Place Part II / Memoria

Dune is big, loud and epic – making our return to the cinema that much more satisfying as it washes over us like a typhoon. Again, every technical aspect transports us so effectively to not only Arrakis but the homeworlds of House Harkonnen and House Atreides as well – giving each planet and House their own distinct aural identity. Best Visual Effects

The Nominees: Dune Free Guy No Time To Die Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Spider-Man: No Way Home

Who will win: Dune Who should win: Dune Who could win: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Practical effects always outweigh any CGI-laden films in this category. Dune will win as it’s a marriage of both worlds in the best way possible that has photo-realistic CGI work blending in perfectly with practical effects, immersing us further into Villeneuve's world.

Best Original Score

The Nominees: Nicholas Britell (Don’t Look Up) Germaine Franco (Encanto) Jonny Greenwood (The Power of the Dog) Alberto Iglesias (Parallel Mothers) Hans Zimmer (Dune)

Who will win: Hans Zimmer (Dune) Who should win: Jonny Greenwood (The Power of the Dog) Who could win: Jonny Greenwood (The Power of the Dog) Who should’ve been here: Jonny Greenwood (Spencer)

Although Dune has a lot of the usual and predictable Zimmer-isms, it’s a truly immense score that has Hans Zimmer at the most creative he has been in a long time – going as far as to create instruments with his musicians to give Dune its distinctive voice. It'll be enough to convince the Academy to give him his long-awaited second Oscar after winning it back 1994 for The Lion King. I really loved The Power of the Dog’s score the most though. Jonny Greenwood, the mad genius Radiohead guitarist, should’ve won (he wasn’t even nominated) for his searing work on There Will Be Blood, so I am hoping Academy voters will appreciate his work here – one that had him playing with the internal battles of each character, specifically that of Phil as he steps in and out of the shadows, tugging and prodding along to this battle of being his true self vs. hiding it beneath the menacing mask he shows to the world.

Best Original Song

The Nominees: Be Alive (King Richard) Dos Oruguitas (Encanto) Down to Joy (Belfast) No Time To Die (No Time To Die) Somehow You Do (Four Good Days) Who will win: Dos Oruguitas (Encanto) Who should win: Dos Oruguitas (Encanto) Who could win: No Time To Die (No Time To Die) Encanto’s recent massive chart-topping success will not slow down its march into the Oscars. Lin-Manuel Miranda will beat out the likes of Beyonce Knowles and Billie Eilish here. Everyone loves an EGOT winner, and no one is more deserving of it than someone like Miranda, which the Academy will relish in the opportunity to give him this status held by very few.

Best Live-Action Short

The Nominees: Ala Kachuu – Take and Run The Dress The Long Goodbye On My Mind Please Hold

Who will win: The Long Goodbye Who should win: *Abstaining due to not having seen Ala Kachuu. Who could win: On My Mind

The only film I haven’t seen here is Ala Kuchuu, so I can’t make a call on who I think should win, but The Long Goodbye starring Riz Ahmed will most likely come out on top here. It's a powerful shock to the system that shows the prejudice and anxiety of living as a non-white not just in the UK, but in any western country. It's timely and necessarily angry that channels Riz Ahmed's lyrics into what feels like an alternate music video to one of his tracks. Best Animated Short

The Nominees: Affairs of the Art Bestia Boxballet Robin Robin The Windshield Wiper

Who will win: Robin Robin Who should win: *Abstaining due to not having seen Boxballet Who could win: The Windshield Wiper

Animation tends to draw assumptions that they should be for kids, so Robin Robin’s lightheartedness and family-friendly story and aesthetic should appeal to voters in giving it the Oscar. It’s also easily accessible on Netflix which is such a big factor with these short film categories. I haven’t seen Boxballet so I can’t give a precise informed opinion of everything here, but Bestia affected me the most. It’s a wordless stop-motion animation following a character inspired by Íngrid Olderöck, a Chilean Police Major during the Chilean military dictatorship that killed and tortured many people. It’s a dark portrait of an even darker time in the country’s history that is effective and incredibly unnerving.

Best Documentary Short

The Nominees: Audible Lead Me Home The Queen of Basketball Three Songs for Benazir When We Were Bullies Who will win: Audible Who should win: When We Were Bullies Who could win: The Queen of Basketball Audible will join CODA as the Deaf community will round up four Oscar wins, a thrilling night for representation for a far too marginalised group. I loved When We Were Bullies, though. Its discussion of guilt and trauma was handled in an interesting way, one film that I felt sufficiently tackled its subject that didn't leave it too much in the air like the fellow nominees here who didn't go deep enough for me.

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