Art by Dillion Payne

 It’s certainly felt like  94 years in the past three months since the long winding road to awards season began in January. Due to the lingering COVID-19 era setbacks; actors, studios, critics and other award shows have been running the gamut much longer than usual, and well… I know everyone has to be tired. And luckily awards season is finally coming to a close with the Oscars this upcoming Sunday, which are back in full throttle and in-person, baby! A cool side effect of the extended submission and voting period resulted in surprising nominations and egregious snubs. However, if you’re anything like me, a relatively medium-tier Oscars junkie (meaning you love awards season but aren’t good at strategy and math —just vibes), then you’ve trotted through the nominated categories and picked your favorites (or least favorites) and are ready—ballot in hand—for one of the most spectacular nights in Hollywood. 

Let’s check out my predictions and probable winners for 13 of the 23 categories below.  

 (Don’t @ me!!!) 

Best Actor: Andrew Garfield, “tick, tick … Boom!” 

I hear you, pundits. I know, Andrew Garfield missed a nomination at the BAFTAS, gathered a couple of losses at the Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice Awards, but lest we forget, he did win for Best Actor at Golden Globes and several other local critics awards for his magnetizing performance in Netflix’s “tick, tick…Boom!” Also, the man has shown up at every single hootenanny and soirée he’s been invited to campaigning his crumpets off.  No shade to the other brilliant actors in this category. With competition as stiff as Benedict Cumberbatch and Will Smith, Garfield certainly has his work cut out for him. However, his emotional depth and raw kinetic talents shine as he embodies Rent playwright Jonathan Larson, in a way that far outweighs the range of Cumberbatch’s gruff cowboy or Smith’s painfully devoted tennis dad. Garfield had to learn how to sing and play the piano for his role and the gravitas he carries radiates off the screen, this is undoubtedly his greatest role to date and it would be a shame for him to not be awarded for it. (Also, I don’t want him to be remembered for being nominated for “Hacksaw Ridge.” Someone please help.)

[others nominated: Javier Bardem, Benedict Cumberbatch, Will Smith, Denzel Washington] 

Best Actress: Kristen Stewart, “Spencer” 

This category is bonkers this year, so if I had to soak in the chaotic vibes and choose, I’m sticking with Kristen Stewart’s ghostly vibes for her role as Princess Diana, the KFC connoisseur. Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say here as I wasn’t too fond of the film, but did appreciate that at least it provided a different take on a specific event in her life. And, ya know … Stewart did what she had to do while filming that haunted pearl soup scene. You go, girl! She’s only won a few local critic awards, but you never know. The Oscars always have at least one or two surprises, and I’m on the side of Stewart beating the “Twilight” allegations. 

[others nominated: Olivia Colman, Penelope Cruz, Jessica Chastain, Nicole Kidman] 

Best Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur, “CODA” 

Troy Kotsur and his “CODA” character Brady Rossi are one and the same. Kotsur infuses his off-screen energy into playing the world’s most embarrassing and frustrating dad in the most charming way possible. He’s adorably cheeky, brash, and great at carrying a heartfelt moment. As a deaf actor himself, Kotsur has been on the awards circuit educating the masses about the lack of representation and roles for deaf creatives in front of and behind the camera. I would love to see him take home an Oscar just for the gravity of that historic win alone, and for his damn good performance that left me in tears. 

[others nominated: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jesse Plemons, J.K. Simmons, Ciarán Hinds] 

Best Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story” 

I mean, have you seen this vibrant recreation of “America?” Need I say more? Ariana DeBose is an absolute tour de force as Anita in the Steven Spielberg remake of “West Side Story.” From her strong vocals—in particular her vocal fry with the line:  “Very smart, Maria! Very smart!” —, tight dance moves, and flirty banter with Bernardo, Ariana DeBose was serving the girlies with lewks, dramatics, and a performance of a lifetime. And I fear for anyone else who is in her way of that sweet Oscar win. 

(side note: Jessie Buckley, Aunjanue Ellis I loved ya’ll too, but maybe next time!) 

[others nominated: Jessie Buckley, Judi Dench, Kirsten Dunst, Aunjanue Ellis] 

Best Original Screenplay: “The Worst Person in the World”, Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier

I know everyone wants that movie “Twizzlers Lasagna” (as I call it) to win because it’s an awkward coming-of-age love story set in the San Fernando Valley in the 70s or whatever, but … sorry the Norwegians reign supreme here. I wasn’t a huge fan of the film, but there were three distinct scenes that stood out to me in particular that pushed it into my winning category: 1) the stop-motion running through the streets scene, 2) the peeing in front of each other at the party scene, 3) the shroom party – period meltdown scene … if you’ve seen the film, I certainly don’t need to go into why those were the best of the bunch… if you haven’t seen the film godspeed. 

[others nominated: “King Richard”, “Belfast”, “ Don’t Look Up”, “Licorice Pizza”] 

Best Adapted Screenplay: “CODA”, Siân Heder

Though the screenplay is not perfect as the film runs a little too long at the end, and certain scenes with the music teacher almost feel like a different movie entirely, it’s one of the best heartwarming films of 2021. Sure, it could be considered fodder amongst the heavier films it’s nominated against, but the sheer importance of this win would be powerful for the deaf and disabled community. 

[others nominated: “Drive My Car”, “Dune”, “ The Lost Daughter”, “The Power of the Dog”] 

Best Cinematography:  “West Side Story”

Not many people can make a tattered alleyway, cobblestone puddle, or high school gymnasium look sexy, and yet “West Side Story”’s Janusz Kamiński managed to do just that. Is that a rocket in my pocket or am I just happy to see the beautiful Catholic framework of “One Hand, One Heart?” 

[others nominated: “The Tragedy of Macbeth”, “The Power of the Dog”, “ Nightmare Alley”, “Dune”]

Best Costume Design: “Cruella”

Cruella was out here turning rags and (alleged) faux fur into lewks to serve the girls. She was doing it flawlessly, and costume designer Jenny Beavan deserves all the accolades and more for that newspaper-trash dress

[others nominated: “Cyrano”, “Dune”, “ Nightmare Alley”, “West Side Story”]

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”

I don’t want Jessica Chastain nor Aaron Sorkin to talk about me on the notes app. So I will say ‘great gowns, beautiful gowns’ and wonderful makeup to the hardworking folks on that film. In all seriousness though, the team helmed by Linda Dowds and Stephanie Ingram did an impeccable job turning Chastain into the 80s icon, and un-handsome-ing Andrew Garfield (a difficult feat!) so, they certainly deserve their flowers. 

[others nominated: “House of Gucci”, “Cruella”, “ Coming 2 America”, “Dune”]

Best Film Editing: “tick, tick…Boom!” 

The Devil works hard, but “tick, tick…Boom!” editors Andrew Weisblum and Myron Kerstein worked harder. The editing category is undeniably stacked with the smooth two-hour goodness of the sports drama “King Richard,” and the cascading desert sands of Arrakis in “Dune.” But the challenging split and the delicate balance between narrative, narration, and music in the film’s songs “Therapy” and  “Why” showcase the best of the editing process. 

[others nominated: “King Richard”, “The Power of the Dog”, “ Don’t Look Up”, “Dune”]

Best Director: Jane Campion

The legendary director Jane Campion guides us through the wilds of Montana to explore the femininity of men and suppressed homosexuality in cowboy culture with elegance and grace. Admittedly, I’m not well-seasoned when it comes to describing a director’s choice in angles and shots, but damn was this movie full of them (lol). The subtle and discreet camera movements deployed as Peter sculked around the house to plot his revenge, were fantastic. 

[others nominated: Paul Thomas Anderson, Kenneth Branagh, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Steven Spielberg]

Best Animated Film:  “Encanto” 

In this house, we DO talk about Bruno because he was the best part of the film and Dolores was the villain. Dolores knew where Bruno was hiding the entire time and said nothing to no one for years, but couldn’t keep Mirabel’s secret for five seconds? Anyway, where was I going with this… it’s a GREAT family movie. My heart is with “The Mitchells vs The Machines” for the LGTBQ+ community, but I have a feeling “Encanto”’s story about familial trauma, self-worth, and togetherness is going to resonate more with voters. #JusticeforMitchellsvTheMachines

[others nominated: “Luca”, “The Mitchells vs The Machines”, “ Luca”, “Flee”, “Raya and the Last Dragon” ]

Best Picture: “CODA”

This charming coming-of-age film centers itself around a graduating teen (Emilia Jones), a child of deaf adults (aka CODA), as she tries to navigate life outside of her tight-knit family in order to follow her passions. It’s biting, endearing, and funny–-that scene where she has to explain to her parents to stop having sex for two weeks, an automatic win in my book. In a category with much meatier and narratively succinct stories, I’m going to stick with the one with the most heart and laughs.

[others nominated: “Belfast”, “The Power of the Dog”, “ Nightmare Alley”, “Dune”, “Don’t Look Up”, “Drive My Car”, “King Richard”, “ Licorice Pizza”, “West Side Story”]

Honorable Mention  “The Green Knight” / “Passing” 

Dev Patel, Rebecca Hall, Tessa Thompson, Ruth Negga… The Academy did ya’ll dirty, and we will never forgive them for this. I’m so sorry, I’m so very sorry. 

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