The Predicted Ten
1. The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion) - The movie would be an amazing return for Jane Campion. It is about ranch-owning brothers in Montana who are suddenly at odds with each other. The only thing that gives me pause about putting this at the top is the title, but that can be overcome. In the age of Yellowstone being one of the most popular shows among older viewers, this type of new age western is exactly what could rise up at the Oscars.
2. The Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese) - This is easily the most hyped Oscar contender of the year, the epic crime story about the Osage murders in the 1920s and the FBI investigation. Scorsese making a movie means it will be nominated for Best Picture, but this movie has been out there for a while. It has De Niro and DiCaprio, and at different times had all of the other Scorsese regulars attached. This could be the one to beat.
3. Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Film - This is a Sandra Bullock/Viola Davis starring remake of the British TV show Unforgiven about a woman returning to society after serving a prison sentence for a violent crime. There is always a new director making waves, and the material, cast, and screenwriter certainly imply that this could be one of the ones to watch.
4. Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro) - The movie has a killer cast, and Del Toro is coming off a Best Picture winner. This is based on a book about a carnival worker who hooks up with a psychiatrist. I expect tons of makeup effects and visuals that are going to make every audience member swoon. If we are fortunate enough to be in theaters at the end of this year, then this will be one of the main attractions.
5. The Northman (Robert Eggers) - Robert Eggers has made a splash with his first couple features, but here we have a Viking era revenge saga, which could be the technical achievement to put his style into the Oscar conversation, being less horror and more psychological and historical. It could be completely ignored, but I really think this is his ticket to the big time.
6. Belfast (Kenneth Branagh) - This seems like the most personal movie that Branagh has ever made. It is not Shakespeare or a murder mystery. It is about a young boy in a working class family in the 1960s. It could be this year’s Boyhood or something similar, and since the Academy already loves Branagh, it could be an easy way to reward him yet again. He has never had a film nominated for Best Picture.
7. Naked Singularity (Chase Palmer) - The movie is about a public defender’s life following their first loss. Palmer is making his first film, but he was a screenwriter on It, which is probably how he got the street credit to gather a cool cast. Maybe it is more of a longshot because these types of movies are better on paper than they actually are, like The Lincoln Lawyer, but you have to take a few stabs every once in a while.
8. The Brutalist (Brady Corbet) - Corbet is a fascinating director, making movies that he would never have acted in. This is about a 20th century architect who emigrated to the US to make his masterpiece. It sounds epic, and if his last two features were any indication, I expect this to be the one that finally gets our most unfairly unheralded director some well-deserved attention.
9. The Billion Dollar Spy (Amma Asante) - The last Asante movie sorta flopped (A United Kingdom), but this movie seems like a much more safe bet. It is about a Pentagon spy during the Cold War. There is some discouraging news that has come out about one of its actors, but I am keeping my lists intact.
10. The Way of the Wind (Terrence Malick) - Malick movies are either a shoo-in, or they are basically never seen by anyone. This film is a retelling of several episodes in the life of Jesus, which sounds unbelievably epic and difficult and strange and a must-see. It is set to premiere at Cannes, so we will know in the next few months if this is a contender or not.
Others in contention
11. Armageddon Time (James Gray) - Gray’s films are usually overlooked by the major awards, but this one, which is likely autobiographical, sounds like something the Academy could get behind. It is a coming-of-age film in 1980s Queens, and the cast is truly amazing. This could finally be Gray’s ticket to the Oscars.
12. Dali Land (Mary Harron) - This is a story connected to Salvadore Dali, which seems like interesting material for such an uncompromising director like Harron. A lot of times these artist movies are left out of this category, but the potential is absolutely still there.
13. Gucci (Ridley Scott) - This movie sounds like a trainwreck on paper, the story of how Patrizia Reggiani plotted to kill the grandson of Guccio Gucci, but Scott’s involvement and the stunning cast imply that this will be more than an American Crime Story in short form. I am just intrigued by this more than anything.
14. Don't Look Up (Adam McKay) - This movie has been making headlines during shooting, but it just sounds too weird and quirky to predict to be a Best Picture nominee at this point. The cast implies that I am wrong, but it is more a curiosity than anything else. The Academy loves McKay now.
15. The Forgiven (John Michael McDonagh) - McDonagh has gathered a fantastic cast for this book adaptation about a random accident’s impact on the locals and visitors in Morocco. It isn’t traditional Oscar material, but McDonagh is at times an even better and more thoughtful filmmaker than his Oscar-nominated brother. Keep an eye on this one. It will likely be completely under the radar.
16. Untitled David O Russell Film - There are absolutely no details about this movie yet, but the cast alone implies that this is a return to form for the director who had a major Oscar player 3 of the first 4 years of the last decade.
17. Untitled Tom George Film - This is his debut film, and it is a murder mystery surrounding the adaptaing of a play into a Hollywood film. Mysteries aren’t always anointed in this category, but if it is more of an Old Hollywood picture, then it will be an easy sell.
18. The Good Nurse (Thomas Lindholm) - This is based on a book about a caregiver who is implicated in the deaths of hundreds of his patients. Lindholm has made some great foreign films in the last decade or so, so it makes sense that he gets a pretty high profile American film coming up.
The Predicted Five
1. Jane Campion - The Power of the Dog - She has not been in the game in almost 30 years, but if the movie is as sweeping as it sounds, then she should be an easy nominee at least if it lives up to the hype. The cast is also to die for, so she could score more points for directing some of the year’s best performances.
2. Guillermo Del Toro - Nightmare Alley - His visual style and imagination make him an easy nominee whenever his movie is good. He has some of the most directing, which we can easily confuse with best directing. This does sound like dynamite material, though.
3. Martin Scorsese - The Killers of the Flower Moon - Nominating Marty is easy, but can he win another Oscar? I think that is a tough ask, but if the movie is as great as the cast and crew implies it will be, then he will make a real run at it. It will likely be as polished and intense as anything he has done, at least since The Departed.
4. Kenneth Branagh - Belfast - He hasn’t been nominated here since 1989. Even if the movie is not a visual spectacle like his last few efforts, it is absolutely more the Academy’s speed in terms of material. I expect this to be a sleeper than winds up showing up just about everywhere.
5. Nora Fingscheidt - Untitled - She had made a couple really popular German films, but this is a huge step up in her profile. To get a screenplay written by Oscar-winner Christopher McQuarrie and get a couple beloved Oscar-winning actresses to star in her drama speaks volumes. I expect her to be a major player in Hollywood in the coming years.
Others in contention
6. Robert Eggers - The Northman - If the movie is more ambitious and less strange than something like The Lighthouse, then this could be the Master and Commander type and get nominated in basically every category. I’m sure he will have the budget and freedom to do his thing, and it should be fantastic. It is always hard to pick up that first director nom when you already have some sort of bias against you.
7. Amma Asante - The Billion Dollar Spy - When she made Belle, I think everyone knew she would eventually have her big project that would vault her into the conversation about up-and-coming directors, and here she gets Mads Mikkelsen and Armie Hammer in her big political thriller. She needs to make it different from the pack, because these types of movies are always popping up, but this material sounds juicy.
8. Brady Corbet - The Brutalist - He gathered a killer cast of character actors for his epic film. After Vox Lux and The Childhood of a Leader, it is clear that he is a genius filmmaker, much more than he was an actor. It is only a matter of time that he gets recognition, and this one seems like his easiest sell so far.
9. Terrence Malick - The Way of the Wind - His films are always highlighted by exquisite direction, and this movie should be no different. We have seen a few films with a lot of Oscar love about Jesus, but Malick will certainly make the most spiritual and beautiful one.
10. Ridley Scott - Gucci - It has been 20 years since his last nomination in this category. It will help his cause this year having the Affleck-Damon film The Last Duel coming out as well. This movie could be a crime classic if it lives up to the hype.
11. Mary Harron - Dali Land - She hasn’t had a real hit in over 20 years, but there is always room for a comeback. It is cool that she gets this movie because it seems much more like a film that a male director would have been given, but her being attached vaults it up the list of anticipated films of 2021.
12. James Gray - Armageddon Time - He is a really interesting visual director, but his style can sometimes be a bit too slow for the Academy’s taste. If this is a Mean Streets-type film, which I think it absolutely could be, then he will move up this list for sure.
13. Chase Palmer - Naked Singularity - The writer of It probably learned a thing or two on that set, but can he pull it off? It will certainly have less hype, but it has much more potential to be an awards player. This is one to certainly keep an eye on.
14. Thomas Lindholm - The Good Nurse - Another Round, A War, and The Hunt are all films that he wrote and/or directed. He is going to be one of our great foreign filmmakers, and this could be his first step toward his inevitable Oscar nomination for one of his brilliant films.
15. John Michael McDonagh - The Forgiven - The cast will likely help make his case for him, but he is a brilliant director visually. He should be in the running, although perhaps the BAFTAs is a more likely destination for this film.
16. David O Russell - Untitled - When he makes a great film, he gets nominated here. It is currently listed as a comedy, so I need to be cautious in how high I put him here.
17. Adam McKay - Don't Look Up - If he can pull greatness out of this strange premise, then putting him down this far will look foolish. We just don’t ever get comedies recognized in this category, but McKay can do wonders with the right material. And he has been nominated in this category twice...somehow.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Oscar Isaac - Armageddon Time - I can’t think of more perfect casting than Oscar Isaac starring in a James Gray film. This is really more out of principle, since I really don’t know if he is the lead, but it is absolutely absurd that he still has no nominations.
2. John Boyega - Naked Singularity - This seems like an easy choice given his rise to fame in the last few years and everyone really wanting to give him some love. He is likely going to win an Emmy and Golden Globe in 2021 for Small Axe, so the Oscar is next. Playing a lawyer is as juicy as it gets for an up-and-coming actor.
3. Benedict Cumberbatch - The Power of the Dog - He is always going to be around the Oscar game, but this one is not one of his typical true story ventures. We rarely get to see him be creative, and him playing opposite Jesse Plemons will showcase each of their varying skill sets.
5. Leonardo DiCaprio - The Killers of the Flower Moon - He plays one of the main people involved in the case, and while he hasn’t had the greatest success getting nominated for Scorsese films, he is easily the most Oscary character in the film. Leo should always get nominated...he’s Leo.
Others in contention
6. Jesse Plemons - The Power of the Dog - It has been since Amadeus that two actors from the same movie get nominated in the Best Actor category, so he will have an uphill climb, but I could see this being the SAG Ensemble winner and the Academy just showering the film with love. He deserves his first nomination. He is one of our very best actors.
7. Andrew Garfield - Tick, Tick...Boom - This is a musical about a theater composer who is trying to write the next great American musical, and it is directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda. This is not a typical Garfield role, and that alone makes it worth putting on here.
8. Geza Rohrig - The Way of the Wind - He is a terrific actor who got some major love for the Oscar-winning Son of Saul. Playing Jesus is a role that doesn’t normally get singled out, and no actor has ever been nominated for a Malick movie. Can he be the first? I don’t think it’s out of the question.
9. Timothee Chalamet - Going Electric - This movie has the brilliant casting of Chalamet as Bob Dylan, directed by James Mangold. The movie’s production is uncertain at this point, but if they can bang it out, then he will be an obvious Oscar frontrunner.
10. Adam Driver - Gucci - He might not be the lead, playing the target of the plotted killing, but he should always be mentioned as a contender. He is also in The Last Duel from Ridley Scott, so he will be front and center throughout awards season.
11. Austin Butler - Untitled Baz Luhrmann Film - This is rising star Austin Butler playing Elvis Presley, which is as Oscary of a role as you can imagine. Luhrmann is an interesting choice for the director of the project. It will likely mean that it will be theatrical and exaggerated, which could actually help his cause.
12. Eddie Redmayne - The Good Nurse - It just seems right that he is playing a nurse who could be a murderer. He hasn’t been nominated since his back-to-back noms 6 years ago, but this role is Oscar stuff.
13. Joel Edgerton - The Brutalist - He has been in and around the awards game for the better part of a decade, but he never gets singled out. If the movie is a big hit, then I can see him finally getting some major awards love. He will need to really go for it though, since sometimes Corbet’s films are more subtle than showy.
14. Adrien Brody - Untitled Tom George Film - I imagine that he is the film producer character in the film, which seems like something that he can really chew on. He hasn’t been nominated since his win in 2002, and he really hadn’t had any potential for a validation nomination. He also has Blonde this year to keep him in our consciousness.
15. Christian Bale - Untitled David O Russell Film - Bale is one of our most beloved actors, and the last time he teamed with Russell he was nominated in this very category. And that was a true ensemble piece. This could become obvious, but I don’t know anything about the movie.
16. Ralph Fiennes - The Forgiven - He hasn’t been nominated since The English Patient, believe it or not. McDonagh has gotten some amazing performances out of Brendan Gleeson in particular, so I expect Fiennes to really chew up his juicy dialogue and make a run at a nomination.
17. Mads Mikkelson - The Billion Dollar Spy - He is an actor who is still unfortunately not a household name in the US, but maybe his performance here as a government spy can make him something other than the baddie in Casino Royale or the TV Hannibal. He is an extraordinary actor, and this is the type of role that could do for him what Bridge of Spies did for Mark Rylance.
18. Nicolas Cage - The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent - This movie actually comes out in March. It is directed by Tom Gormican, and Cage plays himself in something that has to do with a birthday party, the CIA, a drug kingpin, and a Tarantino movie. He has basically no chance at getting nominated, but I am just going to leave this here.
19. Denzel Washington - Macbeth - This is a Joel Coen solo project, and Denzel being able to dial it up as Lord Macbeth should be something to behold. Will enough people care? Will it just be like that Joss Whedon Much Ado About Nothing movie? We will have to wait and see.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Melissa McCarthy - The Starling - McCarthy already has a couple nominations. Here, we get a Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures) film about a woman learning to cope with life while being haunted by the title bird. It sounds a bit kooky, but this is the kind of role that could sweep everyone off their feet if handled right.
2. Ruth Negga - Passing - Negga has one nomination under her belt, and here we have a really exciting movie that is actually premiering at Sundance. It is directed by Rebecca Hall, and it is about obsession that is created when two old high school friends are reunited. She is playing opposite Tessa Thompson, which should be something to see. If Hall has the same dynamics as a director as she does an actor, then this will be one of the more unique movies of the year.
3. Lady Gaga - Gucci - She plays the lead Patrizia Reggiani, who plots to kill Maurizio Gucci in Ridley Scott’s crime film. We now know that she can be taken seriously as an actress, and this could be an even better chance and a more juicy role for her than her star-making turn in A Star Is Born.
4. Sandra Bullock - Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Film - Seeing her play a character who is getting out of prison for a violent crime just sounds strange and fascinating at the same time. She rarely is out of her comfort zone, but this type of potentially unlikable persona definitely is a major step out.
5. Catriona Balfe - Belfast - I am not sure how much her mother role will actually have in terms of screentime, but she is one of those actresses that you just know is bound to break through in films. The Globes already love her from Outlander, and this just seems like the type of movie that makes her a household name.
Others in contention
6. Glenn Close - Sunset Boulevard - This is a musical version of the all time classic film. The director is Rob Ashford, who has only really directed live stage plays. Close is going to get her Oscar at some point. This seems like another chance for her to beg with material that the Academy already loves.
7. Jessica Chastain - The Good Nurse / The Forgiven - I am not sure of her role in the first film, but on paper it should be a performance piece and have room for Chastain to really show off. In the second one she is playing Fiennes’s wife, which should be a really killer combination. It seems about time for her to get back to the ceremony.
8. Marion Cotillard - The Brutalist - I really don’t know what her role will entail, but she is always a solid bet for awards consideration. If it is more of a husband and wife tale than simply one man’s journey, then this should be a performance worth keeping an eye on.
9. Olivia Colman - The Lost Daughter - This movie is directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, and it is about a woman confronting her past while on a beach vacation. Colman is really becoming one of the most beloved Brits, so maybe she is our next Dame Helen Mirren/Judi Dench and will be nominated every year.
10. Penelope Cruz - Madres Paralelas - This is a Pedro Almodovar movie about two mothers who give birth on the same day. Cruz is always in the running for Almodovar films, and this one sounds like the typical beautiful soap opera that he has made throughout his career.
11. Frances McDormand - Macbeth - She plays Lady Macbeth, which is obviously something with potential for nominations. How much love can she get in such a short amount of time? If she wins in a few months, then she would be going for #4.
12. Ana de Armas - Blonde - The Andrew Dominik film about Marilyn Monroe is one of the bigger curiosities of the year. She seems like a strange casting choice, but something about it seems perfect at the same time. We have seen a few iterations of Monroe on screen, but this one promises to be different.
13. Tilda Swinton - Memoria - This is the new film by Cannes winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul about a woman questioning things when she starts hearing strange sounds. Swinton hasn’t been invited back since her win in 2007, and of course she is the one who makes a movie with Weerasethakil...it just makes too much sense. She has so many of these kinds of films, and she is the absolute best at it.
14. Juliette Binoche - Feu - There are no details available about the film, but it appears to be based around a radio program. Claire Denis always makes great films, but they are almost always ignored by the Academy. Binoche needs a return to form. Why can’t it be this?
15. Michelle Yeoh - Everything Everywhere All at Once - She deserves a nomination at some point. This is a sci-fi movie about a woman trying to finish her taxes, directed by the Swiss Army Man filmmakers Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. It sounds weird, but it is worth mentioning. Yeoh is one of our best unheralded actresses.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Jeremy Irons - Gucci - I assume he is playing the legendary fashion designer, and that will be astonishing to see. It could also be Al Pacino. Details on the film are a bit light at the moment, but either way, one of them is winning Supporting Actor...as much as I can guarantee 12-15 months in advance.
2. Ciaran Hinds - Belfast - He plays the grandfather role, I assume, which will be fascinating to watch. He is one of our most interesting character actors, yet he has never gotten a significant solo nomination outside of Ireland. Maybe I am overplaying his potential, but this Branagh movie has the potential to be one of the major players come Oscar time.
3. Willem Dafoe - The Northman - He was left off for The Lighthouse, despite giving the most larger than life performance of his career. This could be an easy makeup nomination for him and his director, being more easily digestible material. He always steals every movie he is in, so I’m sure Hawke, Kidman, and Taylor-Joy will all let him dominate the movie in a supporting role.
4. David Oyelowo - Untitled Tom George Film - He will get a nomination at some point. I know nothing about what his character is, but in that cast, I feel like we will see something completely different from him.
5. Adrien Brody - Blonde - Here is his best chance to finally get that second nomination. He plays a playwright, which seems like easy casting, and the movie will be one that has a lot of press around it all year. Dominik is a subtle director, but Brody always opens it up and can steal the movie without too much trouble.
Others in contention
6. Benny Safdie - Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Film - This might seem a bit weird, but John Cassavetes had his first nomination in this category. Safdie has already proven to be a strong actor, so whatever this role requires I’m sure he can do it. The details on the film are slim, but it follows a high school student in 1970s San Fernando Valley. I expect it to be somewhat autobiographical for PTA.
7. John David Washington - Untitled David O Russell Film - His part was originally supposed to be Michael B Jordan, so you know that it must be something pretty juicy. It is only a matter of time before he gets his first nomination.
8. Robert De Niro - The Killers of the Flower Moon - He got snubbed for The Irishman, so maybe there is some leftover love there. He plays a dangerous cattleman, which is an interesting step for De Niro. If he really goes for it, then this could be an easy nomination and perhaps win, depending on how this all shakes out.
9. Mark Rylance - The Way of the Wind - When he appears in a movie now, we must pay attention. He is the new Christoph Waltz in that way. He is playing Satan in Malick’s epic, which sounds just tremendous.
10. Tom Hanks - Untitled Baz Luhrmann Film - He plays Elvis’s manager, which will be a fun role for him. As the side character, it could be another Catch Me If You Can type role for him. He is back on the Academy’s good side, so maybe he will have a resurgence of nominations in the coming years.
11. Lesie Odom Jr - Needle in a Timestack - I expect him to be a regular in the acting races from now on. I don’t know which character he is playing in this sci-fi movie about a man fighting for his marriage against a rival time traveler, but these types of sci-fi films are much easier for the Academy to take in recent years. It is written and directed by Oscar-winner John Ridley.
12. Armie Hammer - The Billion Dollar Spy - He has been trying to break through for a decade, and here he plays a CIA agent opposite Mads Mikkelsen. The tough part is the recent news that he allegedly admitted to being a cannibal, which doesn’t help anyone’s Oscar chances, but I had already prepared this list, so I am not changing it now.
13. Brendan Gleeson - Macbeth - Gleeson being in a Shakespeare adaptation is interesting enough, but it being a Coen movie implies that this should be one of the must-see performances of the year.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Marie-Josee Croze - The Forgiven - This is strictly speculation, but she can easily walk away with the movie. It has been quite a while since she has made waves in the awards circuits, but I am taking a stab with her here.
2. Tessa Thompson - Passing - She is one of the best young actresses out there, and this Rebecca Hall movie will likely be challenging with her and Ruth Negga in the leads. She seems like she could be one of the future leading women in Hollywood, it’s only a matter of time before she gets that first nomination to launch her.
3. Vanessa Kirby - The Brutalist - If she misses out this year for Pieces of a Woman, then this seems like a much more urgent performance to reward. I don’t know what kind of role she has, but I assume she will be a scene-stealer. I don’t want to oversell this film, but I really am high on its potential.
4. Toni Collette - Nightmare Alley - Del Toro’s last film was showered with love and got 3 acting nominations. This seems like much more of an ensemble piece, which could single out one of our best actresses who is constantly snubbed. It has been way too long since Collette’s lone nomination in 1999.
5. Gemma Chan - Don't Worry Darling - This is me just throwing darts, but this movie is the second feature by Olivia Wilde, which is a 1950s-set psychological thriller about an unhappy housewife. Chan was the best part of Let Them All Talk, and she also has Eternals coming out this year. It could be her breakout year.
Others in contention
6. Barbara Sukowa - Dali Land - She is probably most known for playing the title role in Hannah Arendt, which she was amazing in. She is playing Dali’s wife and muse, which should be a really baity role opposite Ben Kingsley.
7. Margot Robbie - Untitled David O Russell Film - I basically just took random actors out of the cast and put them in my predictions. With no plot details, that is about as good as you can get. Robbie is always fun, and she will fit nicely in a Russell film.
8. Cate Blanchett - Armageddon Time - I really have no idea what her role entails in the James Gray coming-of-age film, but she seems worth mentioning here. It has been 6 years since her last nomination, which feels weird. That should change this year.
9. Judi Dench - Off the Rails / Belfast - She always needs to be considered. The first movie is a road trip movie by Jules Williamson, and the second one she plays the grandmother role in Kenneth Branagh’s 1960s-set family drama. Both sound like potential nominations.
10. Kirsten Dunst - The Power of the Dog - It is hard to say how close she can get to a nomination, but she is acting with her partner Jesse Plemons, which brought about arguably their best performances in the Fargo TV series. She is a really talented actress who can do great work, and the Campion direction only makes this more intriguing.
11. Freida Pinto - Needle in a Timestack - She has been kicking around Oscar-type movies for over a decade, and it is only a matter of time before she gets singled out for one of them. It could be a bad sci-fi picture, but it appears to have the pedigree for greatness. She could be playing the vulnerable wife role, which is always an Oscar favorite.
12. Viola Davis - Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Film - I have come to expect her to be in the running for every movie she makes. I don’t know the extent of her character, but I assume there will be more than a couple emotional or powerful scenes that will allow her to show off her range.
13. Saoirse Ronan - Untitled Tom George Film - She plays the rookie constable opposite Sam Rockwell’s inspector in the murder mystery film. She is nominated consistently, and this looks like her most potential for a nom on her 2021 slate.
14. Nicole Kidman - The Northman - She is always lingering around Oscar movies, and this Robert Eggers Viking drama should be fascinating. I can’t even picture what type of role she would be playing, but I am eager to find out.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Predicted Five
1. Belfast - Kenneth Branagh - Branagh has 5 nominations in 5 different categories, but never for original screenplay. This seems like a solid bet for his first win. If it is as personal as it sounds, then that will play well with the older voters who likely experienced similar things in their childhoods.
2. The Northman - Robert Eggers, Sjon Sigurdsson - Eggers and his Icelandic co-writer are in an interesting spot here. It would be astounding if they could walk away with a victory here, which is definitely a possibility if the movie is as big of a hit as it can be. Maybe screenplay is the safest bet for the film, given Eggers has been a filmmaker more heavy on ideas than actual execution.
3. Armageddon Time - James Gray - When directors make really personal projects, the screenplays are singled out often because of how authentic they are. Gray’s only major nomination was a Scripter nomination for The Lost City of Z, which seems bizarre in retrospect.
4. They Cloned Tyrone - Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier - This script was once on the Blacklist of the best unproduced scripts. It is a comedy-sci-fi about three people involved in a government conspiracy. The cast is pretty awesome with John Boyega and Jamie Foxx. Juel Taylor was the writer of Creed II.
5. Untitled Paul Thomas Anderson Film - Paul Thomas Anderson - He has proven that he can get nominated for almost any movie. He was shockingly left off here for Phantom Thread, but he was nominated for Inherent Vice. This seems like the most easily digestible material that he has dealt with in a long time, which should only help his chances.
Others in contention
6. Triangle of Sadness - Ruben Ostlund - Ostlund has made a couple really popular Swedish films, so here we get an English language film with Woody Harrelson about a pair of models at a crossroads in their careers. Sometimes the first English project for renowned foreign filmmakers hits, and this is a safe educated guess for where it could be rewarded.
7. The Brutalist - Brady Corbet, Mona Fastvold - Corbet and his partner Fastvold are in a great spot here. It wouldn’t be the first time spouses got nominated for their screenplay, and they have already done some incredible work together. This seems like their best chance so far at a nomination, and I expect the budget will be sufficient enough to actually get some eyeballs on it.
8. A Hero - Asghar Farhadi - There are no details about the film available just yet, but when he makes a movie we need to pay attention. Farhadi is returning to Iran for this film, which is where he has been his most effective.
9. Dali Land - Mary Harron, John Walsh - Biopics are often forgotten in the screenplay categories, but Mary Harron will certainly make it something different. I don’t think she is capable of making conventional, so keep an eye out for her first ever nomination here.
10. The Starling - Matt Harris - This is his first screenplay, and it is a step out. He is probably known most for producing Ridiculousness, so this drama must be some sort of passion project for him.
11. Don't Look Up - Adam McKay - The cast is just filled with A-listers from Meryl to Leo to J-Law, which means that none of them are getting nominated, but the screenplay will. It could be this year’s Knives Out, but I am expecting that it will be an even easier sell than that.
12. Off the Rails - Jordan Waller - The movie sounds like a quirky British comedy, directed by a BAFTA-nominated filmmaker. It has a weird cast of Kelly Preston, Judi Dench, and Franco Nero, but it could turn out to be one of those irresistible comedies for adults that picks up some screenplay love throughout awards season.
13. Luca - Jesse Andrews, Mike Jones - Jones student of Pixar, as is the first-time director Enrico Casarosa, who was nominated for his short film La Luna. This is about the friendship between a human and a sea monster. It sounds like classic Pixar stuff, and that usually has a good chance at getting nominated here.
14. Untitled David O Russell Film - David O Russell - I wish I had some idea about what the movie is about, but I expect this to eventually be a contender in all categories.
15. Untitled Tom George Film - Mark Chappell - This is his first script, and the director is also making his first film. It must be a real banger if they were able to get the brilliant cast that is attached. This could be one of the surprise hits of the year if it is treated right.
16. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent - Kevin Etten, Tom Gormican - This screenplay sounds absolutely bonkers. Not since Charlie Kaufman explored this type of territory have we seen anything like it. If it is that good, which is possible in theory, then this could be the type of bizarre comedy that the writer’s branch can really get behind.
17. Red Rocket - Sean Baker - I don’t know what this movie is about, but Sean Baker deserves to be mentioned here. He is one of the most exciting young filmmakers out there.
18. Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Adventure - Richard Linklater - He hasn’t really had much going on with Oscar potential since Boyhood, and maybe this isn’t either, but it is worth mentioning. It is an animated movie coming-of-age story set around the Apollo 11 mission. I’m there...
19. Madres Paralelas - Pedro Almodovar - The details on the film are scarce at the moment, but Almodovar has gone through some really hot streaks with the Academy over the years. He is always going to be mentioned here when he makes a film.
20. Dog - Reig Carolin, Channing Tatum, Brett Rodriguez - I really just wanted to mention this movie. It is Tatum and his Magic Mike crew making a movie about an Army Ranger’s road trip with his dog to attend a funeral. Road trip movies are always an easy sell. I might be Tatum’s biggest fan, and I love seeing what actors do with their directorial debuts.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Predicted Five
1. Untitled Nora Fingscheidt Film - Christopher McQuarrie - He hasn’t been nominated or even gotten close since his win 25 years ago for The Usual Suspects. He has spent his time in franchises, but this seems like one of the times he had a script but he handed it off to a more polished director. Watch out for this movie in all categories.
2. The Power of the Dog - Jane Campion - Campion won in the Original Screenplay category for The Piano, but she really hasn’t had a major contender since. I don’t think she has necessarily lost it since her TV work in Top of the Lake was so riveting, but this material just might not be as obvious of an achievement for the writer as it is for the director.
3. The Killers of the Flower Moon - Eric Roth - Eric Roth is always attached to interesting projects, but only his truly epic scripts get recognized. This seems like the type of material that could be more like The Good Shepherd, but at the same time Scorsese gives everyone a boost with his name attached.
4. Gucci - Roberto Bentivegna - This is his first screenplay, but that isn’t always an issue. If the movie is as big of a hit as it can be, then this will be an easy nomination. The screenplay will need to be tight and creative for the movie to work, and I am betting that it will be.
5. Nightmare Alley - Kim Morgan, Guillermo Del Toro - Del Toro has such unique stories that it is easy to single out the screenplay. Here, we have an adapted screenplay, so that changes the dynamic a bit, but it still seems like a safe bet. He is putting his name on a lot of films, but his directions are always the best products.
Others in contention
6. Naked Singularity - Chase Palmer, David Matthews - Matthews is more of a TV writer, and Palmer has his monster hit horror film under his belt. Courtroom dramas are never the easiest sell in this category, but it is certainly worth mentioning, given the fact that it could wind up being a frontrunner in multiple above-the-line categories.
7. The Forgiven - John Michael McDonagh - His dialogue is always the highlight, but since he is adapting material here, it might keep it a little less indulgent. Sometimes such a unique filmmaker needs that to keep themselves reigned in.
8. Macbeth - Joel Coen - Shakespeare adaptations almost never get nominated here, but it is possible since we know Coen will not make it typical in any way. It is fascinating to think that this is where his head is at, when he has so many crazy ideas. And he does this one without Ethan, which we haven’t seen in quite a while.
9. The Billion Dollar Spy - Benjamin August - He is not a well-known writer, but he does have a couple acclaimed projects to his name. This is an adapted screenplay, and it could easily go into the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy category, but it is a true story. This is one to keep an eye on; details are scarce at the moment.
10. Passing - Rebecca Hall - Something just seems so right about her directing. Her personality on screen is so different from any other actress, so I can see her films being Gerwig-esque and being even more alluring than her acting.
11. The Lost Daughter - Maggie Gyllenhaal - This is Gyllenhaal’s first film. Just like Rebecca Hall, it just feels right that she would be a great director. I am eagerly anticipating seeing what this movie looks like. I love this trend of second tier star actresses getting their chance to show their filmmaking chops.
12. Blonde - Andrew Dominik - It has been so long since Dominik made a film, so this movie must have been something he had been preparing for years. A passion project like this from an outsider like him should be surprising and unique.
13. The Good Nurse - Kristy Wilson-Cairns - She was just nominated for 1917, and she also has the Edgar Wright film Last Night in Soho this year. She is one of the more exciting screenwriters coming up right now, and this type of crime drama is easy to nominate in this category.
So there you have it! You can now look forward to next year’s Oscars before we really hit the heart of this Oscar season. What 2021 projects are you most looking forward to? Let me know!