Dune or The Power of the Dog are the sensible picks though both have their issues and are by no means all-time classics. Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story has its fans and the subject matter could boost his chances but cinema goers, on the whole, stayed away and wondered why he went to all the trouble in the first place. As for the rest, If the voters are suddenly overcome by a wave of irrational sentimentality, Belfast could sneak in the back door.
Winner: Dune’s visual flair outperforms Power of the Dog.
If Nicole Kidman gets the nod for her turn as Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos nobody would be surprised but when you’re up against Olivia Colman these days, you often come off second best and her turn in Lost Daughter could easily take home the trophy. Truth be told, Jessica Chastain’s shapeshifting performance as Tammy Faye Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye deserves the win but will there be enough muscle behind her campaign?
Winner: Nicole Kidman by a nose.
A fairly weak category after a fairly uninspiring year for male actors. Benedict Cumberbatch is due and his performance in The Power of the Dog was solid, but not as meaty as some critics led us to believe. Denzel Washington is always going to be a strong contender and The Tragedy of Macbeth deserves a look if you haven’t yet paid homage. Rumours are swirling that Andrew Garfield’s surge in popularity following the last Spider-Man movie could sneak him the Oscar for Tick, Tick…Boom.
Winner: Cumberbatch’s power pips King Denzel to the post.
Best Original Screenplay
Don’t Look Up divided opinion with critics firing asteroids at the movie and the general public enjoying the ride into space. Writer/director Adam McKay is a strong favourite to scoop the statue but a flutter on Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson’s coming of age comedy is a worthy investment. California based, big name cameos and actors playing actors — the kind of fodder the Academy can’t help but reward.
Winner: Licorice Pizza passes the taste test
It’s difficult to see beyond Jane Campion taking home the Best Director award for The Power of the Dog. Licorice Pizza and Belfast are too light-weight and Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car doesn’t have the word-of-mouth praise that made Parasite the surprise winner in 2020. West Side Story might not have set the box-office on fire but Spielberg has only won the category once for Saving Private Ryan back in 1999 and it’s not unknown for the Academy to gift a prize to a lesser effort and reward them for their cumulative work.
Winner: Spielberg snatches it from Campion's grasp