The Oscars are upon us once again, and while movie releases are still staggered and slightly weird feeling due to a constant stream of variants, movies are more back than they were in prior years, and tinseltown’s big night is here! A handful of us on the Observer editorial team have given our predictions, opinions and guesses who might take home an Oscar Sunday night. Through the extremely scientific means of “Majority Rule,” we’ll be presenting the Observer Oscar Guesses for select categories. Read the nominees and make your own guess below! We’ll update this post with the real results as they roll in.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
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
Our business reporter Sissi Cao guesses Benedict Cumberbatch for this one along with our executive editor James Ledbetter, while our arts reporter Helen Holmes put her guess towards Will Smith, along with our managing editor Samantha London, our arts editor Erin Taylor, and our senior business editor Oliver Staley. Our media reporter Isabella Simonetti and myself both threw our weight behind Denzel Washington.
Observer’s Guess: Will Smith, King Richard.
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
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
Sissi’s guess is for Jesse Plemons. Helen, James, and Oliver put their bets behind Kodi Smith-McPhee, with Oliver saying “In a lot of ways, The Power of The Dog tried too hard, but Smit-McPhee’s performance seemed effortless. He managed to appear simultaneously weak and vulnerable and yet completely in control. He was mesmerizing.” Isabella, Samantha, Erin, and I all guess Troy Kotsur.
Observer’s Guess: Troy Kotsur, CODA
Actual Winner: Troy Kotsur, CODA
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
JESSICA CHASTAIN, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
OLIVIA COLMAN, The Lost Daughter
PENÉLOPE CRUZ, Parallel Mothers
NICOLE KIDMAN, Being the Ricardos
KRISTEN STEWART, Spencer
Sissi’s throwing her weight for a second Best Actress win for Olivia Colman (she earned it after years of her character suffering on Peep Show). Erin and James are putting their chips on Penelope Cruz, with James citing her as a “sentimental favorite.” Helen and I might riot if Kristen Stewart doesn’t get the award this year, and Isabella, Samantha, and Oliver all say it’s going to Jessica Chastain, with Oliver noting how much she physically disappeared into the role.
Observer’s Guess: Jessica Chastian, The Eyes of Tammy Faye.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
JESSIE BUCKLEY, The Lost Daughter
ARIANA DEBOSE, West Side Story
JUDI DENCH, Belfast
KIRSTEN DUNST, The Power of the Dog
AUNJANUE ELLIS, King Richard
Sissi says Jessie Buckley. Erin is all in for Kirsten Dunst. Oliver and James say Judi Dench, Isabella, Samantha, Helen and I all say it’s going to Ariana DeBose, but Helen and I would like to say that we need Kirsten to win one soon.
Observer’s Guess: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story, (with a small twinge of sadness for Kirsten Dunst.)
Actual Winner: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
ENCANTO, Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer
FLEE, Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie
LUCA, Enrico Casarosa and Andrea Warren
THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES, Mike Rianda, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Kurt Albrecht
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON, Don Hall, Carlos López Estrada, Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho
Helen has opted out of a guess for the animation category. “I don’t care. You can run that.” James said “no idea.” Erin guesses Raya and the Last Dragon. Sissi says Luca. I say with a weirdly split field between 3 critically well received Disney movies there might be a shot in hell for Flee, which was very good. Isabella, after asking “what is Encanto” guesses Encanto along with Samantha and Oliver.
Observer’s Guess: Encanto. Sorry none of us really saw animated movies this year.
Actual Winner: Encanto, Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer.
DUNE, Greig Fraser
NIGHTMARE ALLEY, Dan Laustsen
THE POWER OF THE DOG, Ari Wegner
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH, Bruno Delbonnel
WEST SIDE STORY, Janusz Kaminski
Sissi says Bruno Delbonnel for The Tragedy of MacBeth. Oliver guesses Greig Fraser for Dune! Samantha says Dan Laustesen for Nightmare Alley. Isabella, Erin, Helen and myself all are putting our money on Ari Wegner for The Power of the Dog, with Helen adding “YOUNG QUEEN ARI WEGNER!”
Observer’s Guess: Young Queen Ari Wegner, The Power of the Dog.
Actual Winner: Greig Fraser, Dune
CRUELLA, Jenny Beavan
CYRANO, Massimo Cantini Parrini and Jacqueline Durran
DUNE, Jacqueline West and Robert Morgan
NIGHTMARE ALLEY, Luis Sequeira
WEST SIDE STORY, Paul Tazewell
Helen says Jacqueline West and Robert Morgan for Dune! Sissi’s guessing Jenny Beavan for Cruella. Isabella, Samantha, Erin, Oliver and I all think Paul Tazewell’s taking it home for West Side Story.
Observer’s Guess: Paul Tazewell, West Side Story.
Actual Winner: Jenny Beavan, Cruella
WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)
CODA, Screenplay by Siân Heder
DRIVE MY CAR, Screenplay by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe
DUNE, Screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth
THE LOST DAUGHTER, Written by Maggie Gyllenhaal
THE POWER OF THE DOG, Written by Jane Campion
Oliver thinks it’s Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth’s time to shine here for Dune. Sissi says Siân Heder for CODA. Isabella and Erin are standing behind Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe for Drive My Car. Helen, Samantha and I are guessing Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog.
Observer’s Guess: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog.
Actual Winner: Siân Heder, CODA
WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)
BELFAST, Written by Kenneth Branagh
DON’T LOOK UP, Screenplay by Adam McKay; Story by Adam McKay & David Sirota
KING RICHARD, Written by Zach Baylin
LICORICE PIZZA, Written by Paul Thomas Anderson
THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD, Written by Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier
Sissi says Adam McKay and David Sirota for Don’t Look Up. Helen is going with Paul Thomas Anderson for Licorice Pizza, noting “It’s hard to be funny!” Samantha and Oliver think it’s going to Kenneth Branagh for Belfast, and Isabella Erin, and I thinking this is Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier’s category for The Worst Person in the World.
Observer’s Guess: Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier, The Worst Person in the World.
Actual Winner: Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
DON’T LOOK UP, Hank Corwin
DUNE, Joe Walker
KING RICHARD, Pamela Martin
THE POWER OF THE DOG, Peter Sciberras
TICK, TICK…BOOM!, Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum
Sissi is the lone wolf guess for Hank Corwin and Don’t Look Up. Helen and Samantha and I think Peter Sciberras for The Power of the Dog. Isabella, Erin, and Oliver guess Joe Walker for Dune. We have a tie!
Observer’s Guess: Joe Walker for Dune or Peter Sciberras, The Power of the Dog.
Actual Winner: Joe Walker, Dune
INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
DRIVE MY CAR, Japan
THE HAND OF GOD, Italy
LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM, Bhutan
THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD, Norway
Sissi says Flee, while Samantha says The Hand of God. The two big western crossover hits are in a showdown here, with Isabella and Erin guessing The Worst Person in the World, and Helen and Oliver thinking this is Drive My Car’s category. I’m torn, but I think I’ll be the tiebreaker and say Drive My Car.
Observer’s Guess: Drive My Car, with apologies to Lunanan: A Yak in the Classroom being the only movie none of us guessed.
Actual Winner: Drive My Car, Japan
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
COMING 2 AMERICA, Mike Marino, Stacey Morris and Carla Farmer
CRUELLA, Nadia Stacey, Naomi Donne and Julia Vernon
DUNE, Donald Mowat, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE, Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh
HOUSE OF GUCCI, Göran Lundström, Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras
With Helen being the lone vote for Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh and their work on The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and Oliver guessing Donald Mowat, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr for Dune, Isabella, Samantha, Erin Sissi, and I all think this is House of Gucci and Göran Lundström, Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras’s category.
Observer’s Guess: Göran Lundström, Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras, (Father Son, and) House of Gucci.
Actual Winner: Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh, The Eyes Of Tammy Faye
MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)
BE ALIVE from King Richard; Music and Lyric by DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
DOS ORUGUITAS from Encanto; Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel MirandaDOWN TO JOY from Belfast; Music and Lyric by Van Morrison
NO TIME TO DIE from No Time to Die; Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
SOMEHOW YOU DO from Four Good Days; Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
Samantha and Oliver are guessing Dos Oruguitas from Encanto, Erin says Somehow You Do from Four Good Days, and Isabella, Helen, Sissi, and I all say this is Billie’s Oscar to win for the theme from No Time To Die. Is it me or is it a little weird that Encanto didn’t nominate their massive chart topping hit “We Don’t Talk About Bruno?”
Observer’s Guess: Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell for “No Time To Die.”
BELFAST, Kenneth Branagh
DRIVE MY CAR, Ryusuke Hamaguchi
LICORICE PIZZA, Paul Thomas Anderson
THE POWER OF THE DOG, Jane Campion
WEST SIDE STORY, Steven Spielberg
Oliver thinks this is Branagh’s year. Foolishly, I think the Academy might hand it to Paul Thomas Anderson despite them REFUSING TO in years past. Isabella and Erin think Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s going to take it, and Helen, Samantha, Sissi and have placed their bets on Jane Campion.
Observer’s Guess: Jane Campion, Power of the Dog
Actual Winner: Jane Campion, Power of the Dog
BELFAST, Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas, Producers
CODA, Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger, Producers
DON’T LOOK UP, Adam McKay and Kevin Messick, Producers
DRIVE MY CAR, Teruhisa Yamamoto, Producer
DUNE, Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter, Producers
KING RICHARD, Tim White, Trevor White and Will Smith, Producers
LICORICE PIZZA, Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson, Producers
NIGHTMARE ALLEY, Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale and Bradley Cooper, Producers
THE POWER OF THE DOG, Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier, Producers
WEST SIDE STORY, Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers
Alright. The Big One. Before we go any further, if you place any weird monetary bets around this based on our guesses? Don’t do that. Why did you do that. When I saw The Tragedy of MacBeth I was so elated my theater was empty I recreated the time Hulk Hogan took a photo in an empty theater at a screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’m not an expert, I’m a goofball! We are merely guessing, because the Oscars are fun and it’s fun to guess. You should, ideally, see these movies yourself and decide what your personal favorite was, because that’s how you should see movies and experience art!
Bearing that in mind, Oliver thinks Belfast is going to take the Big Award. Helen thinks West Side Story’s gonna do it. Isabella and Erin think it’s the year for Drive My Car, and Samantha, Sissi and I think this is The Power of the Dog’s award.
Observer’s Guess: Power of the Dog, Produced by Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier.
And there you have (some) of our guesses. We definitely don’t feel everyone who should have been nominated was- Erin is shocked Memoria wasn’t nominated, I think it’s heinous Simon Rex didn’t get recognition for Red Rocket, or Nicholas Cage for Pig. Helen raised some really great points about the year overall, saying “It felt like a genuinely weird and stimulating year for movies, which I do not feel has been the case of late. I physically Need Kristen Stewart to win an Oscar — ever since Personal Shopper I’m convinced she’s the most watchable person alive. Alana Haim is a huge snub. She was luminous in Licorice Pizza.” Isabella feels Jennifer Lopez should have an award by now but “Marry Me is eligible for next year.” J Lo hive will rise. Enjoy the Oscars! Enjoy movies!