Oscar statue illustration on white background

And the award goes to…

Harry Moore

This year’s list of Academy Award nominees is out, and the race is still wide open in many categories. Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog led the nominations with 12, while Dune followed up, scoring 10. The Academy’s shift toward being an international awards body continued with multiple nominations for the highly-acclaimed Japanese film Drive My Car from director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi. With the ceremony set for March 27, let’s see who the favorites are for some of the major categories and who just might cause an upset.

Best Picture

The front runner: The Power of the Dog

Netflix’s period drama set in 1920s Montana has become something of a juggernaut this awards season. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September and has since gone on to win awards at multiple critics’ groups and top several year-end best-of lists. At this stage in time, it is the clear front runner which was solidified with its high tally of nominations.

The potential upset: West Side Story

In years past, Steven Spielberg’s showy rendition of the rumble between the Jets and the Sharks would be a probable front runner, but its lackluster box office and public enthusiasm may hold it back from taking home the gold.

Best Director

The front runner: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion made her long-awaited return to feature filmmaking with this taut dissection of masculinity. The Power of the Dog showed a master of the craft at the height of her powers and, it is likely she will be rewarded for her prowess. Campion became the first female director to be nominated on two separate occasions with this nod. 

The potential upset:  Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

PTA is beloved in the industry and Licorice Pizza has been met with near universal acclaim. There is also a sense that perhaps one of the best living filmmakers should at some point win Hollywood’s highest prize. 

Best Actress

The front runner: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

This is arguably the widest open of the categories with nobody really taking the pole position so far. But I’m backing the always brilliant Olivia Colman to end up winning this award yet again. Simply one of the finest actresses giving yet another great performance.

The potential upset:   Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

Cruz re-teamed with her longtime collaborator Pedro Almodóvar in his latest movie in which she gives one of the finest performances of her career.

Best Actor

The front runner:  Will Smith, King Richard 

This is Will Smith’s award to lose. Smith gives one of his best performances in King Richard and having been a widely beloved movie star for a long time, he should be able to ride a wave of goodwill all the way to the awards stage. 

The potential upset: Andrew Garfield, tick, tick… Boom!

Andrew Garfield had a strong year, giving well-regarded performances in three different films, with his song and dance performance in tick, tick… Boom! showing a new level of range to his acting repertoire. Though don’t be surprised if a Power of the Dog sweep carries Benedict Cumberbatch to the podium. 

Best Supporting Actress

The front runner:  Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

The Hamilton alum stole the show in West Side Story and left a lasting impression on everyone who saw the film.

The potential upset:  Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Like the rest of the film’s ensemble, Kirsten Dunst gives a phenomenal performance and could well win this category. Another strong entry in her impressively varied career.

Best Supporting Actor

The front runner: Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

Jesse Plemons is one of the best character actors of his generation, always giving interesting performances and almost always appearing in great films. It is likely that he will be awarded for delivering yet another well measured performance.

The potential upset:  J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos

Being the Ricardos is by no means a great film. But J.K. Simmons is great in it, as he usually is, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him win again in this category after taking home the statue back in 2015 for Whiplash.