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Perfect Predictions!

I’m thrilled to announce that my Oscar prediction scorecard this year came up perfectly! This is the first time in a number of years where that has been the case, but I’m thankful that I finally got everything right (even if I didn’t completely agree with the results). Here are the details:

Best Picture

The Field:  “Belfast,” “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car” (“Doraibu mai kâ”), “Dune,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Power of the Dog,” “West Side Story”

Projected Winner:  “CODA”

Actual Winner:  “CODA”

Result:  Correct call

The “CODA” juggernaut – which had been gaining strength ever since the film’s win for best ensemble cast at the Screen Actors Guild Award ceremony several weeks ago – reached its goal on Oscar night, crossing the finish line ahead of onetime-favorite “The Power of the Dog.” In many ways, this is a classic example of the Hollywood success story, the underdog “little movie that could” saga about a film that managed to rise to the top with the kind of heart-tugging uplifting message that Tinsel Town likes to beam a big, broad, self-satisfied smile about. Its run for the top award couldn’t have been more perfectly timed, either, seizing on the momentum generated by the picture’s SAG Award and multiple wins by Troy Kotsur for best supporting actor in a number of competitions leading up to the Oscars. In a backhanded way, it also probably benefitted from negative reactions to offhanded comments made by filmmaker Jane Campion when accepting her Critics Choice Award for best director, remarks that may have very well taken “The Power of the Dog” out of the running for best picture, despite being able to hold on to the Oscar in the directing category. And, of course, there was the fan favorite factor, which undoubtedly had to have had some influence with Academy voters. It was the “perfect storm” of factors coming together at the right time. In fact, even though I termed the projected win by “CODA” an upset in my predictions blog, the pendulum had swung so far in the movie’s favor that many weren’t even looking upon its eventual victory as an upset any more.

While “CODA” certainly had an inspiring message, in the annals of film history, I believe it will quickly be forgotten. As a production that ranks only slightly higher in quality than a made-for-TV movie, this is not an offering that future generations will look back upon as a piece of epic filmmaking. There were other films in this field of nominees – “Belfast,” “Don’t Look Up” and “West Side Story” – that were far better and more deserving. See those instead.

Best Actor

The Field:  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”

Projected Winner:  Will Smith, “King Richard”

Actual Winner:  Will Smith, “King Richard”

Result:  Correct call

Having won virtually every award in the run-up to the Oscar’s, Will Smith’s victory came as no surprise, even if the same can’t be said of his behavior at the awards ceremony on Oscar night. While opinions vary widely about the appropriateness of his response to comedian Chris Rock’s feeble attempt at a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada, it’s not wise for one to engage in an altercation like this while on the brink of a career milestone with the whole world watching. It certainly changed the energy in the auditorium and significantly distracted viewers and the theatrical audience from the much deserved award that was about to be presented to “Summer of Soul” for best documentary feature. What this will mean for Smith’s future as an actor and producer remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he torpedoed himself through his actions. He’d better enjoy his Oscar; he may never get another statue or nomination ever again.

As solid a performance as this was, I still don’t see it as Smith’s best or as the best in the field. That distinction belongs to Denzel Washington for “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” I suppose it’s understandable that his two previous wins for “Glory” (1989) and “Training Day” (2001) may have worked against him for another victory for anything other than a career-defining performance, but, in my opinion, he was still the class of this category and was more deserving of the statue.

Best Actress

The Field:  Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”; Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter”; Penélope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers” (“Madres paralelas”); Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos”; Kristen Stewart, “Spencer”

Projected Winner:  Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”

Actual Winner:  Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”

Result:  Correct call

While my preference here would have been for Kristen Stewart in “Spencer,” Jessica Chastain’s win in this category was nevertheless a well-deserved victory. As the most competitive of the acting categories this year, no clear-cut winner emerged in this field until late in the game. But Chastain managed to capitalize on the momentum when it counted, finally capturing an Oscar on her third nomination (far short of the number she actually should have earned for a repertoire of fine performances over the years). Chastain may not have been my first choice, but I’m not disappointed with this result. Congratulations to her.

Best Supporting Actor

The Field:  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”

Projected Winner:  Troy Kotsur, “CODA”

Actual Winner:  Troy Kotsur, “CODA”

Result:  Correct call

After a slow start, Kotsur claimed virtually every supporting actor honor during awards season, and there was no reason to believe that the outcome would turn out any other way on Oscar night. However, while Kotsur’s performance was solid enough and helped to draw attention to the deaf actors’ community, I still felt there were other better nominees in this field, most notably Ciarán Hinds for “Belfast” and Kodi Smit-McPhee for “The Power of the Dog.” That may not be a popular or politically correct opinion, but I stand by it.

Best Supporting Actress

The Field:  Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter”; Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”; Judi Dench, “Belfast”; Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog”; Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”

Projected Winner:  Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”

Actual Winner:  Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”

Result:  Correct call

As I wrote in my predictions blog, Ariana DeBose’s victory for “West Side Story” truly is a case of the right performer winning for the right performance. She swept all of the honors in this category throughout awards season and deservedly so. Her win at the Oscars was no surprise and certainly well deserved. Good for her!

Best Director

The Field:  Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”; Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”; Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”; Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car” (“Doraibu mai kâ”); Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”

Projected Winner:  Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”

Actual Winner:  Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”

Result:  Correct call

Jane Campion’s win for “The Power of the Dog” came as no surprise, given her multiple victories throughout awards season. What’s a little surprising, however, is a film receiving this award without winning any others. Directorial achievements typically follow the bestowing of statues in other – often many other – categories. And, even though this film received 11 nominations for other prizes, it didn’t collect on any of them, including best picture, actor, adapted screenplay and cinematography, categories in which it had at one time been considered either a favorite or strong contender. Some have even speculated that Campion was lucky to take home this prize in the wake of her offhand comments at the Critics Choice Awards, as noted earlier. Her track record through awards season and being the only woman nominated in this category might well have sustained her, though, if the Oscars had taken place several weeks later than they did, we may have well seen a different outcome in this category.

Personally, I wouldn’t have been particularly upset with a different winner. I would have much rather seen this award go to Kenneth Branagh for “Belfast” or possibly even Steven Spielberg for “West Side Story.” Those filmmakers created much better pictures and were more deserving of the accolades in this category.

For more on how I arrived at my predictions for the winners, please see my previous blog, “Who Will Win the 2022 Oscars?”

Copyright © 2022, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

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