Hollywood awards season culminates on March 27 with the biggest gong-fest of them all: the Oscars. The Academy will be hoping that a witty trio of hosts – Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes – will bring back some sparkle after last year’s lacklustre affair. Either way, there are bound to be some surprises on the night, so here’s our guide to who will, and should, win what.
Who will win: Jane Campion’s Gothic western The Power of the Dog is the frontrunner, and for good reason: it won at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice Awards. It also leads the Oscar nominations with 10. But in the last few weeks, Sian Heder’s warm and moving coming-of-age story CODA, in which Emilia Jones plays a young woman growing up as the only hearing member of a deaf family, has been gaining momentum. It’s just the sort of feel-good affair the Oscars like rewarding.The Power of the Dog remains favourite, but CODA is chasing its tail.
Who should win: Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical Belfast is sweet, Denis Villeneuve’s Dune is a technical marvel, and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story is a glitzy blast, but The Power of the Dog ticks the most boxes.
Who will win: Will Smith has this one clinched for his riveting portrayal of Richard Williams, father of tennis aces Venus and Serena, in King Richard. The Power of the Dog‘s Benedict Cumberbatch is probably his closest rival, but in all honesty, he’s not that close.
Who should win: Smith deserves it both for this performance and as a kind of career achievement award. Like Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock, both of whom have won in the past, he’s a proper movie star who can really act. Andrew Garfield would also be a worthy winner for his compassionate work in Tick, Tick… Boom!.
Who will win: This category actually looks pretty open. Like Smith, Jessica Chastain seems overdue an Oscar after a run of fine performances over the years. She also has the momentum after winning the prestigious SAG Award for her performance as televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. However, Nicole Kidman won at the Golden Globes for portraying Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos, so we shouldn’t count her out.
Who should win: Kristen Stewart is transcendent as Princess Diana in Spencer, but sadly the film itself seems too arthouse-y to have gained much traction this awards season.
Best Supporting Actor
Who will win: The Power of the Dog‘s Kodi Smit-McPhee looked like the favorite in this category after winning at the Golden Globes, but since then he’s been pipped by CODA‘s Troy Kotsur at the BAFTAs, SAG Awards and Critics’ Choice Awards. Kotsur would make history by becoming the first deaf male actor to win an Oscar, which definitely enhances his narrative.
Who should win: It’s got to be Kotsur, who delivers an incredibly touching performance and has been MVP when it comes to acceptance speeches this awards season.
Best Supporting Actress
Who will win: West Side Story‘s Ariana DeBose has already collected the Golden Globe, BAFTA and SAG Award in this category. At this point, she looks unbeatable.
Who should win: DeBose, who gives a truly luminous breakthrough performance. Still, Kirsten Dunst stans will be hoping she pulls off a major upset for her typically subtle work in The Power of the Dog.
Who will win: Campion has already made history by becoming the first woman to receive two Oscar nominations for Best Director. The last time she was shortlisted, for The Piano in 1993, she lost out to Steven Spielberg for Schindler’s List. This time, she seems likely to reverse the damage, despite a slightly tone-deaf moment at the recent Critics’ Choice Awards.
Who should win: Campion, whose film is both technically impressive and tonally unique. Spielberg’s dazzling work on West Side Story makes him a worthy runner-up, though.
Who will win: Despite being more than two years old, Billie Eilish‘s ‘No Time To Die’ triumphed in this category at the Golden Globes. It’s favourite to do the same at the Oscars, though Lin-Manuel Mirando’s ‘Dos Oruguitas’ from Encanto isn’t too far behind.
Who should win: Beyoncé deserves her nomination for ‘Be Alive’ from King Richard, but it’s hard to look beyond Eilish, whose Bond theme has an understated grandeur that’s incredibly tough to pull off.
Best Original Score
Who will win: Hans Zimmer, who really brings the epic to Dune, the movie that’s likely to hoover up prizes in technical categories. Surprisingly, Zimmer has only won one Oscar from 11 previous nominations, so he’s kind of due a second win.
Who should win: Radiohead‘s Jonny Greenwood, who bathes The Power in the Dog in sounds that are brooding, moody and suitably dramatic. He also deserved a second nomination this year for his cleverly intense Spencer score.
Who will win: This is a two-horse race, surely, between Dune‘s Greig Fraser and The Power of the Dog‘s Ari Wegner. Fraser’s recent win at the BAFTAs gives him the edge.
Who should win: In all honesty, both would make worthy winners, but Fraser probably deserves it a little bit more. Whatever you make of Dune‘s leisurely storytelling, there’s no denying it’s a stunning film to look at.
Best Original Screenplay
Who will win: Because Belfast will probably miss out on Best Picture and Best Director, Kenneth Branagh seems likely to scoop this one as a consolation prize. But don’t count out Licorice Pizza‘s Paul Thomas Anderson, who won at the BAFTAs despite Branagh having the home advantage.
Who should win: Anderson, whose screenplay was in some ways just as personal as Branagh’s, but a little more inventive with it.