The 94th Academy Awards are almost upon us. The ceremony will be held on Sunday, March 27 (Monday morning, in India), and some of the best films of the past year will be honoured. While some favourites have already emerged, as always, there are certain categories that are anybody’s for the taking. As we build towards the 2022 Oscars, we predict the favourites in the top six categories–Supporting Actor and Actress, Lead Actor and Actress, Director and Picture–and also reveal who we’d want to see as the winners.
Best Supporting Actress
Who will win: Ariana DeBose
While all nominees delivered credible and convincing performances, West Side Story actor Ariana DeBose is likely to take home the coveted trophy. It’s so exciting to see a breakout star emerge from a Steven Spielberg movie after so many years, in such a big way. DeBose isn’t just a talented actor, but she can also sing and dance with equal ease.
Who should win: Kirsten Dunst
It would nice to see Kirsten Dunst take home the Oscar from her first-ever nomination. Dunst has always made daring choices (Interview with the Vampire, The Virgin Suicides and Melancholia, to name a few), and almost always excelled. Her performance as the troubled, vulnerable mother in the Netflix film The Power of the Dog is no exception.
Best Supporting Actor
Who will win: Troy Kotsur
If Troy Kotsur takes the award for CODA, it will not just be recognition for a great performance, but will also mean a big step in the right direction for representation. He has already made history multiple times this awards season, and should, in all likelihood, take home the Oscar for his empathetic, poignant performance.
Who should win: Kodi Smit-McPhee
25-year-old Kodi Smit-McPhee was a revelation in Jane Campion’s Montana-set (shot in New Zealand) Western The Power of the Dog. He plays a soft-spoken, delicate-seeming teenage boy who unbeknownst to even his mother is more strong-willed than he let on. While we would not mind if the hot favourite Troy Kotsur were to take the trophy, Smit-McPhee deserves it more.
Who will win: Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart’s turn as Diana Spencer in Spencer, with its supreme command of her peculiar accent and mannerisms, may prove to be an upset. It is, however, unlikely, and Chastain should take the trophy.
Who should win: Jessica Chastain
Jessica Chastain gave it her all as the tevangelist Tammy Faye Messner in Michael Showalter’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye. She did not let makeup and prosthetics do the acting for her, and balanced several over-the-top scenes with little moments of vulnerability.
Who will win: Will Smith
Will Smith as Richard Williams in Reinaldo Marcus Green’s sports drama King Richard is the performance to beat. The Academy does not necessarily award the most high-quality performance. Sometimes, actors who the voters thinks are due an Oscar also are also awarded a statuette. Smith was great in the movie, and is a clear favourite, though not necessarily the best actor this year.
Who should win: Benedict Cumberbatch
Cumberbatch gives a career-best performance as the charismatic-but-cruel rancher Phil Burbank in Jane Campion’s Western The Power of the Dog. The improbable casting (Cumberbatch is British) works wonders, despite the actor’s imperfect grasp on the Montana accent. His deep-set eyes sport a curiously pining and vulnerable gaze when alone, shedding the laddish exterior to give a glimpse into his otherwise inscrutable psyche.
Who will win: Jane Campion
Despite her recent foot-in-mouth moment, Jane Campion is poised to become the third woman ever to win the Academy Award for Best Director, for her Netflix Western The Power of the Dog. Like the film, Campion has been a frontrunner in the awards race, crucially picking up the all-important DGA award in the run-up to the Oscars. This will also mark the first time ever that two women have won the honour in back-to-back years. Chloe Zhao won for Eternals last year.
Who should win: Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Spielberg has two Best Director Oscars already, Paul Thomas Anderson has none, but he isn’t winning for Licorice Pizza. Kenneth Branagh could’ve been a frontrunner had Belfast been a better movie, but his career Oscar will have to wait. CODA, as we know, directed itself, going by Sian Heder’s snub in the category. So, let’s go wild and pick Ryusuke Hamaguchi for Drive My Car, because nobody else could’ve made this movie.
Who will win: The Power of the Dog
Despite a significant slowdown late in the game, it looks like Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog is still the favourite to win the big award. It does, after all lead with 12 nominations this year. A win for the meditative Western will mean a first Best Picture win for a streaming service. The Power of the Dog is a Netflix movie; and the streamer has produced several Best Picture nominees in the past–Roma, The Irishman, Marriage Story, Mank, The Trial of the Chicago 7 and once again this year, with Don’t Look Up.
Who should win: CODA
While the Academy has had a spotty track record when it comes to the Best Picture category in the recent past–who can forget The Social Network, Roma, and La La Land all failing to win in their respective years–it would be a real upset if a lowkey Apple TV+ drama released many months ago ends up beating The Power of the Dog. Ironically, it will also mean that Apple walks away with the bragging rights of being the first streamer to win Best Picture, despite having never been nominated in the past, unlike Netflix.