- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Tumblr
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
As we pass the two-year mark of the pandemic, we are also well underway in the second Hollywood awards season impacted by COVID-19. Already, we’ve seen postponements for the Grammys, the Critics Choice Awards, and the Producers Guild Awards, among others. And as a domino effect from last year’s Oscar delay, this year will be the shortest eligibility window in history: from March 1 to Dec. 31, 2021. And yet, the show must go on, short of an unexpected wrinkle between now and March 27.
The first big hurdle to clear for Oscar hopefuls arrives on Feb. 8, with the nominations announcement in all 23 categories. But for those of us who can’t wait that long to find out who’s in front, we can turn to math.
In the run-up to Tuesday’s big announcement, a slew of other film honors — including critic circles, guild awards and the BAFTAs — have announced their nominees and winners. I plug each of their results into a formula that gives more weight to those awards that have historically done the best job of predicting nominations — especially the Producers Guild, Directors Guild, and Screen Actors Guild — in each of the eight most prominent categories.
That gives us not only the likelihood each film is nominated, but also an early glimpse into the current standings in the Oscar race. If it’s true that the show must go on, that show begins Tuesday.
For the first time since 2010, we’re guaranteed to have exactly 10 nominees, per a rule change by the Academy. A quintet of films at the top — The Power of the Dog, Belfast, Dune, Licorice Pizza, West Side Story — probably don’t need that added layer of security. All are above 97.5 percent to be nominated for the top category.
But all the films below that are pretty grateful that we’re not heading towards 8 or 9 nominees. King Richard, CODA, and Don’t Look Up are probably-but-not-definitely in. Tick, Tick … Boom! and Nightmare Alley are the next two, so if there isn’t even a single upset, that pair will round out the field.
But there’s a decent chance it doesn’t play out that way. Odds are, at least one film from outside the top ten sneaks in. Alas, the computer gives the 0s-and-1s equivalent of a shrug as to which film that might be. From Being the Ricardos to The Tragedy of Macbeth, no fewer than 10 films sit between 9 percent and 21 percent to get nominated, and all of them are rather nervous right now.
Jane Campion is a near-lock to become the first female director with multiple best director nominations, for her gripping work on The Power of the Dog. After that, unsurprisingly, the model favors the next four most likely best picture winners: Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), and Denis Villeneuve (Dune).
But none of these directors, aside from Campion, are sure things. If one of them falters, look to Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car) as the most likely nominee. True, he didn’t get a Directors Guild, Golden Globe or Critics Choice nomination. But thanks to the BAFTA nod and other critics circle honors, he’s made a strong case for Oscar contention.
Will Smith (King Richard) is a virtual guarantee for his third best actor nomination, and thanks to his Golden Globe win, might be in line for his first Academy victory. But not if a few of his chief competitors have anything to say about it. Namely, Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick … Boom!) and Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth) look to be among Smith’s rivals for the stage.
For the fifth spot? Nicolas Cage (Pig), Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos) and Peter Dinklage (Cyrano) are the most likely to hear their names called, but the math says this last nomination is a toss-up. Bardem picked up SAG and Golden Globe nominations, but Cage has far more nominations from other groups earlier this awards season.
Four actresses received Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice and Golden Globe nominations: Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter), Lady Gaga (House of Gucci) and Golden Globe champion Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos).
And yet, the actress who piled up the critic circle honors, Kristen Stewart (Spencer), was nowhere to be found when the SAGs or BAFTAs announced their shortlists. That could leave open a spot for Critics Choice/BAFTA nominee Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza), or SAG nominee Jennifer Hudson (Respect) or Golden Globe musical/comedy winner Rachel Zegler (West Side Story).
Best Supporting Actor
For fear of spoiling the film, I won’t say too much about Kodi Smit-McPhee’s role in The Power of the Dog. Besides, all sorts of critics groups have said more than enough, by giving him the most honors of anyone this awards season.
Unlike the other three acting categories, there’s a lot less consensus among the major groups as to who the top four or five are this year. Troy Kotsur (CODA) appears to be in second place, but no one else reaches 75 percent, making this the most likely acting category to see some upsets. Ciarán Hinds (Belfast) got a BAFTA and Critics Choice nomination, while Ben Affleck (The Tender Bar) earned the SAG nod, and both received Golden Globe consideration. Jared Leto (House of Gucci) is a weak favorite to round out the top five.
Best Supporting Actress
Ariana DeBose has made nearly a clean sweep of awards season thus far, including a Golden Globe win for her role in West Side Story, and this might be hers to lose. Her fellow SAG nominees Caitriona Balfe (Belfast), Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog) and Ruth Negga (Passing) are all pretty likely to join DeBose at the Oscars, though they can’t book tickets just yet.
The model splits from the Screen Actors Guild on the last pick, going with King Richard’s Aunjanue Ellis over Mass’ Ann Dowd or Nightmare Alley’s Cate Blanchett.
Best Original Screenplay
The screenplays of Belfast, Being the Ricardos, Licorice Pizza and Don’t Look Up are nearly tied for the top spot, with King Richard favored to round out the group.
As to which one will win in March? We can often look to the Writers Guild as one key data point, but this year, both Belfast in the original category and The Power of the Dog in the adapted category are ineligible, and while the model accounts for that, it’s still going to make this a trickier year than most to ascertain the correct percentages in the screenplay races.
Best Adapted Screenplay
We’re still over a month away from the Oscars, but if things continue down this path, we could be looking at a big night for The Power of the Dog. Jane Campion’s film is in first place in four of these eight rankings (picture, director, supporting actor, adapted screenplay), along with second place for actor and third for supporting actress.
If some film is going to knock The Power of the Dog off its adapted screenplay pedestal, look to Dune, The Lost Daughter or CODA. For the fifth spot, Writers Guild nominee West Side Story and BAFTA nominee Drive My Car lead the way.
Ben Zauzmer is the author of Oscarmetrics: The Math Behind the Biggest Night in Hollywood.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
More from The Hollywood Reporter
Tribeca Film Festival
‘Bucky F*cking Dent’ Review: David Duchovny Directs and Stars in an Amusing Father-Son Dramedy
Tribeca Film Festival
‘Our Son’ Review: Luke Evans and Billy Porter Turn a Gay Divorce and Custody Battle Into Same Old Same Old
Cynthia Erivo Opens Up About Filming Pivotal ‘Wicked’ Scene: “My Heart Broke Open and Tears Fell”
Eva Longoria Credits ‘Desperate Housewives’ As Her “Film School” Years Before Directing ‘Flamin’ Hot’
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
‘Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’ Trumps Spidey at Friday Box Office