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July 17, 2024
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Good As Gold Predicts the Nominees in all 23 Categories – Awardsdaily


For those who feverishly play the Oscar game, this is the best time of year. Predicting the winners of the Oscars is fun in its own right, but the precursor trail often leaves little debate over who will win. What gets nominated, however, is a game for grown-ups. The precursors are often scattered and help with the top three in most categories, but figuring out what the four and five spots is where it gets a little cloudy and a bit more fun.

So what is the method to the madness?

In previous years, I have broken down the methods I use to predict Oscar nominations. You can find a more detailed version here, there are three major pillars to my approach:

      Pillar One: Data Analysis – Using statistics and historic outcomes to identify a trend or tendency that we might not have connected otherwise
      Pillar Two: Cultural Zeitgeist – How do the awards reflect the era we live in today?
      Pillar Three: Gut Instinct – Intuition that comes from years of Oscar-watching/predicting

While it all seems a bit simple, I assure you it is not. Otherwise, we’d all be batting a thousand at this game. There are plenty of nominations that will be impossible to hit on and that no one sees coming. The way I play the game is to minimalize risk, especially in the “above-the-line” categories. For example, you will not see me swaying far from Producers Guild of America (PGA), Directors Guild of America (DGA), and Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Their membership overlaps a good amount with AMPAS voters, so it gives us a nice preview of what to expect.

Below the line, in the crafts categories, is where I might go out on a limb a little bit.

If you want to cut to the chase, you can see my final predictions in all 23 categories here, on the Good As Gold pages. For those more interested in the breakdown, I have provided a little of my thought process below.

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PICTURE

This is an odd year where we have a general consensus for all ten Best Picture slots. Usually one or two PGA nominees will miss, but the Producers went with the two International films – Anatomy of a Fall and The Zone of Interest – leading most of us to believe it will match 10/10 for the first time ever. It’s challenging to bet against the PGA, which employs the same preferential voting style used by the Oscars for Best Picture. To provide further context, over the past 13 years, 108 out of 125 Oscar nominations for Best Picture were preceded by a nomination from the PGA (86.4%).

The Big Board (pictured above) indicates the important precursors each contender has heading into phase two. ACE (Editors Guild) and WGA (Writers Guild) are the only two yet to weigh in. You will notice that Oppenheimer has not missed a single precursor, and won both Picture and Director for Globes and Critics. While those two bodies do not overlap with AMPAS, they still provide contenders a stage and can influence the race a good amount.

I have a feeling we are headed towards a sweeper with Oppenheimer. It’s been a while since we’ve seen anything like that, not since Argo (2012). A sweeper – by my definition – would win the top prize for PGA, DGA, SAG, BAFTA (the British Academy), Globes, and Critics Choice Association (CCA). See the grid below for a good sense of how this race typically gets split up amongst awards bodies. Since 1995 (SAGs first year), only American Beauty (1999), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Slumdog Millionaire (2008), and Argo have pulled off what I believe Oppenheimer is about to achieve. We will see.

Tier One (citations listed, bold signifies winner):

Oppy is in a tier of its own. That’s how dominant this film has been so far. Citations from every guild. Winner of CCA and Globes. Appearances on AFI, NBR, and just about every critics group from New York to Los Angeles, there really hasn’t been a group yet to recognize the brilliance of Christopher Nolan’s masterpiece.

1. Oppenheimer (Universal Pictures) – PGA; DGA; SAG; BAFTA; ASC; MPSE; VES; CAS; ADG; CDG; MUAH; SCL; Scripter; CCAGlobes; AFI; HCA; AFCC; NBR;                Chic; Vegas; DC; StL; LA; NTX; IFJA; IFJA; PHX; FLA; AACTA; NYFCO; SD; BosOn; Utah; DFW; IPA; Phil; SEFCANTX; OAFFC; Dublin; London; BFCC; NC;                      GWNY; DFCANevUKFCAGA; COCFA; CACF; SEA; OFCC; SF; NSFC; PortMCFCAND; Hou; AARP; AFCA; Den; AAFCA; LEJA; OFCS; CIC

Tier Two:

This group has hit the majority of the big precursors and seems like a safe bet to get in. The Holdovers missed SAG Ensemble but showed up surprisingly well at BAFTA, receiving seven nominations including Picture, Director, and Screenplay; Barbie missed with BAFTA; Killers did less than expected with BAFTA; and Poor Things missed SAG and BAFTA Director.

2. The Holdovers (Focus Features) – PGA; DGA; BAFTA; CCA; Globes; AFI; HCA; MMCG; AFCC; NBR; DC; St.L; Bos; NTX; IFJA; PHX; NYFCO; SD; BosOn; Utah; DFW; IPA; London; NC; GWNY; GA; COCFA; SEA; OFCC; MCFCA; Hou; AFCA;  LEJA; IFCA; OFCS;

3. Barbie (Warner Brothers) – PGA; DGA; SAG; CAS; MPSE; ADG; CDG; MUAH; SCL; CCA; Globes; AFI; HCAMMCG; AFCC; NBR; Chic; Vegas; DC; St.L; NTX; IFJA; AACTA; BosOn; DFW; IPA; OAFFC; Dublin; London; BFCC; NC; GWNY; DFCA; UKFCA; GA; COCFA; CACF; SEA; OFCC; BAFTA Longlist; Port; MCFCA; Hou; AARP; AFCA; HFCS; AAFCA; LEJA; OFCS;

4. Killers of the Flower Moon (Apple) – PGA; DGA; SAG; BAFTA; VES; ASC; MPSE; CAS; ADG; CDG; SCL; Scripter; CCA; Globes; AFI; HCA; NYFCC; AFCC; NBR; Chic; Vegas; St.L; NTX; IFJA; PHX; FLA; AACTA; NYFCO; SD; BosOn; Tor; Utah; DFW; IPA; PFCS; Dublin; London; NC; GWNY; DFCA; UKFCA; GA; COCFA; SEA; OFCC; SFBA; Port; MCFCA; Hou; AARPAFCA; AAFCA; LEJA; OFCS;

5. Poor Things (Searchlight Pictures) – PGA; DGA; BAFTA; ASC; MPSE; ADG; CDG; MUAH; Poor Things; CCA; Globes; AFI; MMCG; AFCC; NBR; Chic; NTX; IFJA; PHX; AACTA; NYFCO; BosOn; Utah; DFW; IPA; Phil; OAFFC; London; BFCC; NC; GWNY; DFCA; GA; COCFA; SEA; OFCC; SFBA; Port; MCFCA; ND; Hou; AFCA;  AAFCA; LEJA; OFCS;

Tier Three:

These films either did very well with the major precursors (American Fiction – PGA and SAG), did very well with the guilds (Maestro – nominated by nine different branches), or have showed up well where we might not have expected (Anatomy of a Fall made PGA and won the Globe for Screenplay). While not entirely safe, I would be surprised if any missed the cut.

6. American Fiction (MGM) – PGA; SAG; CDG; SCL; Scripter; CCA; Globes; AFI; HCA; MMCG; AFCC; Spirits; TiFFDC; St.L; NTX; IFJA; AACTA; NYFCO; SD; BosOn; DFW; IPA; BFCC; NC; GA; COCFA; SEA; OFCC; MCFCA; Hou; AFCA; AAFCA; GLAAD;

7. Maestro (Netflix) – PGA; ASC; MPSE; CAS; ADG; CDG; MUAH; CCA; Globes; AFI; HCA; NBR; Vegas; St.L; NYFCO; DFW; IPA; BFCC; BAFTA Longlist; AARP;

8. Anatomy of a Fall (Neon) – PGA; BAFTA; MPSE; Globes; MMCG; AFCC; EFA; St.L; NYFCO; BosOn; DFW; OAFFC; Dublin; London; BFCC; DFCA; ND; OFCS;

Tier Four:

The other two PGA nominees missed with both SAG, DGA, and BAFTA Best Picture. Along with PGA, both have a few other important precursors to boost their chances. Past Lives did very well with the Globes, being nominated for Picture, Director, and Screenplay, as well as being nominated for Picture and Screenplay by CCA. Zone was nominated for Globe Picture, and received Director and Screenplay nominations from BAFTA.

If any were to miss, one of these films would be most likely.

9. Past Lives (A24) – PGA; CCA; Globes; AFI; HCA; Gothams; MMCG; AFCC; Spirits; NBR; DC; St.L; IFJA; PHX; FLA; NYFCO; BosOn; Utah; DFW; IPA; OAFFC; Dublin; London; BFCC; NC; GWNY; DFCA; UKFCA; GA; COCFA; SEA; OFCC; BAFTA Longlist; SFBA; NSFC; MCFCA; ND; Hou; AFCA; AAFCA; LEJA; OFCS;

10. The Zone of Interest (A24) – PGA; MPSE; SCL; Globes; LA; St.L; Bos; PHX; BosOn; Tor; London; NC; DFCA; COCFA; SEA; OFCC; BAFTA Longlist; SFBA; NSFC; MCFCA; OFCS;

Outside looking in:

While there are about a dozen films that could sneak into the race, there are four that stand out above the others. The Color Purple has the SAG Ensemble and CCA Picture nominations; Saltburn did surprisingly well with guilds (ADG, CDG, MUAH, SCL) and with a CCA Picture nod; All of Us Strangers might have some strong British support after receiving BAFTA noms for Director and Screenplay; and May December hit on a couple guilds, CCA Picture, and made the AFI 10.

My gut says stick with the PGA ten.

DIRECTOR

Tier One:

The four main precursors for Director are DGA, BAFTA, CCA, and Globes. Only one director was nominated for Best Director by all four voting groups (and won for the latter two): Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer). Similar to the Picture category, Director Tier One comprises a single member.

1. Christopher Nolan (Oppenheimer) – DGA; BAFTA; CCAGlobesHCANYFCCAFCC; MMCG; Chic; VegasDCStL; Bos; IFJA; NTX; PHX; FLA; SD; NYFCO; AACTA; Utah; BosOnSEFCA; Phil; PFCS; IPA; DFW; OAFFC; NTX; Dublin; London; BFCC; NC; GWNYDFCANevUKFCAGA; COCFA; CACF; SEA; NSFC; SF; PortMCFCAND; Hou; AARPAFCADenHFCS; LEJA; IFCA; OFCS;

Tier Two:

Five directors have hit on a combination of three of the groups above. The most accurate precursor is DGA, whose winner has only differed from the eventual Oscar winner nine times in 76 years (88% efficient). Of the five directors to hit three of DGA, BAFTA, CCA, and Globes, four were DGA noms. Greta Gerwig (Barbie), Martin Scorsese (Killers of the Flower Moon), and Yorgos Lanthimos (Poor Things) all missed BAFTA, while Alexander Payne (The Holdovers) missed Globes.

2. Greta Gerwig (Barbie) – DGA; CCA; Globes; HCA; MMCG; Chic; Vegas; DC; St.L; IFJA; NTX; PHX; SD; AACTA; Utah; IPA; OAFFC; Dublin; London; NC; GWNY; GA; COCFA; CACF; SEA; BAFTA Longlist; SF; Port; MCFCA; Hou; LEJA; OFCS; 

3. Martin Scorsese (Killers of the Flower Moon) – DGA; CCA; Globes; HCA; MMCG; NBR; Chic; DC; St.L; IFJA; NTX; PHX; SD; AACTA; Utah; Tor; IPA; DFW; Dublin; London; NC; GWNY; DFCA; UKFCA; GA; COCFASEAOFCC; BAFTA Longlist; SF; Port; MCFCA; ND; Hou; AARP; OFCS;

4. Yorgos Lanthimos (Poor Things) – DGA; CCA; Globes; HCA; MMCG; Chic; Vegas; DC; LA; IFJAPHX; AACTA; Utah; Phil; IPA; DFW; OAFFC; London; NC; DFCA; COCFA; SEA; BAFTA Longlist; Port; ND; Hou; LEJA; OFCS; 

5. Alexander Payne (The Holdovers) – DGA; BAFTA; CCA; HCA; IFJA; NTX; IPA; DFW; MCFCA; ND; Hou; AARP; IFCA

Outside looking in:

Bradley Cooper (Maestro) missed DGA but received Director nominations at BAFTA, CCA, and Globes, making him a strong contender for a fifth spot. There are a few others who could sneak in, including Jonathan Glazer (The Zone of Interest) and Justine Triet (Anatomy of a Fall). This due makes for an interesting pair based on recent trends in the category. There have been seven international features nominated for Best Director in the last five years. Many will predict one for this reason. Both received BAFTA nominations for Director. Celine Song (Past Lives) and Cord Jefferson (American Fiction), whose films are predicted to get into the Best Picture lineup, could be dark horses in the category.

LEAD ACTOR

Safest bets: Bradley Cooper (Maestro), Paul Giamatti (The Holdovers), and Cillian Murphy (Oppenheimer) all received recognition from SAG, BAFTA, CCA, and Globes. All three of their films are predicted to be up for Best Picture.

Where I struggled: From there it gets a little more challenging. Jeffrey Wright (American Fiction) and Colman Domingo (Rustin) are my predictions to round out the category. The former missed only BAFTA and the latter is missing only a film with a shot at Best Picture. There is one strong contender poised to pluck a spot from one of these two – Leonardo DiCaprio (Killers of the Flower Moon). Leo missed with both SAG and BAFTA, but his film is one of the strongest Picture contenders and, well, he’s Leo. After missing with BAFTA, I am not expecting Andrew Scott (All of Us Strangers) to be as big of a threat as he was a few weeks ago, so I really feel this is a six horse race.

LEAD ACTRESS

Safest bets: Emma Stone (Poor Things), Margot Robbie (Barbie), and Carey Mulligan (Maestro) received the quartet of main precursors, with Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon) missing only BAFTA, and Sandra Hüller (Anatomy of a Fall) missing only SAG. I have a hard time pulling any of these ladies out of my predictions.

Where I struggled: Annette Bening (Nyad) was my early prediction to win the Oscar. She hit on SAG and Globe, and was longlisted by BAFTA, so there is definitely support there. It’s unfortunate that her film wasn’t met with higher regard. Greta Lee (Past Lives), Fantasia Barrino (The Color Purple), and Natalie Portman (May December) are other strong players, but there just isn’t a good enough case to argue for predicting any to get in.

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Safest bets: Two of the most difficult categories to predict are the Supporting Actor and Actress races. I think Robert Downey, Jr. (Oppenheimer), Ryan Gosling (Barbie), and Robert De Niro (Killers of the Flower Moon) are all in. They received the four main precursors and all star in major Best Picture contenders. It gets real ugly after that.

Where I struggled: These are the cases for the other two spots: Mark Ruffalo (Poor Things) – CCA and Globes, strong film, won NBR and NY; Willem Dafoe (Poor Things) – SAG and Globes, strong film (however, these two could split votes among Poor Things fans); Sterling K. Brown – SAG and CCA, film is in the running for a Picture nomination; Dominic Sessa (The Holdovers) – BAFTA, strong Picture contender (to win) with two co-stars as the favorites to win in Lead Actor (Giamatti) and Supporting Actress (Da’Vine Joy Randolph). Since 1995 (the first year of SAG), there have been seven* instances where two actors from the same film emerged as Oscar winners in their respective acting categories. Six of those seven times, a third actor was nominated alongside them. In 1997 Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt won for As Good As It Gets, while Greg Kinnear tagged along for a nomination. In 1998, Geoffrey Rush did the same while Gwyneth Paltrow and Judi Dench won for Shakespeare in Love. In 2003, it was Marcia Gay Harden’s turn to ride the coattails of Sean Penn and Tim Robbins for Mystic River. In 2004, Clint Eastwood got swept in with wins by Morgan Freeman and Hilary Swank for Million Dollar Baby. The Fighter brought wins for Melissa Leo and Christian Bale in 2010, while Amy Adams became the third nominee for the film. This occurred again in 2017, when Sam Rockwell and Frances McDormand won for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, and Woody Harrelson came along for the ride with an additional nod. The only time in that span where two winners did not bring a third party: 2013, when Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto won for Dallas Buyers Club. This gives me enough confidence to bet on Sessa. I’ll bet on Dafoe getting the edge over Ruffalo for the final spot.

*This does not count 2022, where Everything Everywhere All At Once had THREE acting winners. But even in this case, an additional nominee was brought along in the form of Stephanie Hsu.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Safest bets: Lock it in for Da’Vine Joy Randolph (The Holdovers). She’s a sweeper on her way to Oscar glory. The next safest nominations are Danielle Brooks (The Color Purple) and Emily Blunt (Oppenheimer), who both received the big four precursors alongside Randolph.

Where I struggled: From there you have Jodie Foster (Nyad) who was longlisted but missed BAFTA; Julianne Moore (May December) who missed SAG and was longlisted for BAFTA; Sandra Hüller (The Zone of Interest) who landed at BAFTA; and Penelope Cruz (Ferrari) who only showed up in SAG. America Ferrera (Barbie) is another longshot, but only receiving a CCA nom isn’t the strongest resume heading into Oscar voting. A few others could surprise, like Claire Foy (All of Us Strangers) or Rosamund Pike (Saltburn), both of which received BAFTA nods. Foster seems the strongest bet of this group. It feels like this is such a chaotic category that the smartest move might be to go with the “It girl” of the awards season – Sandra Hüller is my bet to show up as a double-nominee on the coattails of her magnificent performance in Anatomy of a Fall.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Safest bets: Once Barbie moved to Adapted, it felt the entire category became the easiest predict. How can one bet against Oppenheimer, Killers of the Flower Moon, Barbie, and Poor Things – all top tier Picture candidates with matching Directors in DGA? The fifth spot should be reserved for American Fiction, quite possibly the best adapted screenplay this year. The big precursors for Adapted are Scripter, BAFTA, CCA, Globes, and WGA. Unfortunately, we won’t know the WGA nominees until February 21st, a good 29 days after Oscar nominations are announced. So take WGA out of the equation, and the only film to collect citations from the big four is Oppenheimer. Barbie missed Scripter due to being ineligible (something to do with not being based on a book or printed material, according to Clayton Davis at Variety). American Fiction missed Globes. Killers missed BAFTA. Poor Things missed CCA.

Where I struggled: Nowhere, really. The surprise Scripter nomination for Ava DuVernay’s Origin was most welcome. But it stirred up buzz that we might be looking at another “grass roots” movement from actors in the Academy for DuVernay’s film, similar to what we saw for Andrew Riseborough in To Leslie just last year. In the end, I think Origin will be the most overlooked film this awards season, and that DuVernay’s movie was simply placeholding for the ineligible Barbie. All of Us Strangers is probably the casualty for Barbie moving to Adapted.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Safest bets: Original is a much harder to predict category, and it only got harder once Barbie vacated the field. There are only four PGA noms (aka Best Picture predictions) that are up for Original Screenplay: The Holdovers, Past Lives, Anatomy of a Fall, and Maestro. So either way, we have a wildcard nominee. While those first three seem like the safest bets, I’m a little more concerned about Maestro. The big three precursors are BAFTA, Globes, and CCA. Somehow, The Holdovers missed Globes. Anatomy missed CCA, but won Globes. Maestro missed Globes. The only film to hit all three was Celine Song’s Past Lives.

Where I struggled: I loved Maestro, but if I had any gripe about the film (which I really don’t) it might be it’s screenplay. A miss here would not shock me at all. I still have it in, but on the bubble. So what gets that last spot? Samy Burch and Alex Mechanik’s May December is a strong contender. With a CCA nomination and wins from NY and Boston critics groups, it has a pretty strong resume coming into voting. Not to mention, its a dark horse for Picture, Director, and three acting nominations. But watch out for Air and Saltburn, two highly acclaimed films that also sit just outside the PGA ten. I think Saltburn needed the BAFTA nom, so I’m throwing a dart at May December to round out the above the line categories.

ANIMATED FEATURE

Safest bets: Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and The Boy and the Heron are the only two I feel really confident in, especially after the historic snub of the Disney and Pixar films at the Annies. There are a few precursors to look at here, but I would place PGA, BAFTA, Globes, CCA, and Annies at the top. I would also consider which films received praise from other guilds like visual effects (VES), sound (MPSE and CAS), and art direction (ADG). In this regard, Spider-Man and Heron are the only two to hit the big five, with Spider-Man acing the four additional Guilds mentioned.

Where I struggled: Those last three spots are tricky. The Disney/Pixar bloc is among the biggest in the Academy. I doubt they will meet the same fate with AMPAS that they did at the Annies. That being said, Wish (Disney) isn’t very good. The best part about it was the original song (sung by Ariana DeBose) which failed to make the shortlist in that category. Since Annies are its only miss, I am betting Elemental (Pixar) fills the third spot. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem missed BAFTA, crippling its chances of winning the Oscar – no film has won Animated without a BAFTA nom as well – but its presence everywhere else makes me want to take it at #4. That last spot is tricky. Bet on Disney (Wish)? The highly successful box office hit, The Super Mario Bros. Movie? Perhaps the Annies nomination leader, Nimona? There is an argument for and against any of these filling that last spot, but I will lean towards the Annies love for Nimona to tip the scales.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Safest bets: Is there really any “safe bet” in this category? In recent years, the doc frontrunner seems to be the most at-risk of missing a nomination. The PGA winner for Doc was not nominated for Oscar three years in a row (2017-2019) before My Octopus Teacher broke that stretch. Since then, the PGA winner has matched Oscar three years in a row. Prior to Summer of Soul breaking the trend in 2021, the four preceding doc winners at CCA were not nominated for Oscar (Jane, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Apollo 11, and Dick Johnson is Dead). Then in 2022, the CCA winner, Good Night Oppy, failed to earn an Oscar nomination. So who’s to say what will happen here? The good news is AMPAS has narrowed the field down to 15 for us. The four I have a hard time betting against are American Symphony, Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, 20 Days in Mariupol, and Beyond Utopia. All four showed up at BAFTA and CCA, and all but Still received PGA mentions. While Still missed PGA, it also won CCA and The National Board of Review (NBR), and is the most recognize doc amongst critics groups around the globe. If one of these four is to miss, my guess is Still.

Where I struggled: It feels like we are primed for a big surprise for that fifth spot. Four Daughters won Gothams and The Golden Eye at Cannes; NY went with The Eternal Memory; and 32 Sounds has a couple guilds in its corner. My magic 8-ball said to go with Four Daughters, what does yours say?

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE

Safest bets: What could have been for France… The Taste of Things is a good film, and has a good chance to get nominated, but the vastly more popular Anatomy of a Fall could have gone all the way here if France had chosen the latter as its official submission. Alas, they did not, and so The United Kingdom’s The Zone of Interest seems like the favorite to bring home the Oscar. The biggest threat to Zone – and next strongest contender to be nominated – is Spain’s Society of the Snow. Society and Zone both hit with BAFTA, CCA, and Globes, while Taste only landed with CCA and was longlisted by BAFTA.

Where I struggled: After that trio, there is no real indication of what else could get in. Germany’s The Teacher’s Lounge might be the best of the shortlisted films (it’s certainly way up there as far as I’m concerned). It made BAFTA’s longlist, but didn’t do too well on the awards circuit otherwise. Finland’s Fallen Leaves hit with Globes and the BAFTA longlist. Japan’s Perfect Days made CCA but wasn’t even longlisted for BAFTA. Could 20 Days in Mariupol find a spot in both Doc and International? It was nominated here by BAFTA. Then there is Italy’s Io Capitano, which received a Globe nomination. I have a feeling we are in for some madness in this category on Oscar nomination morning, but I’ll go with Germany and Ukraine here.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Safest bets: Hoyte van Hoytema (Oppenheimer) has been sweeping the season. Aside from piling up tons of regional critics group awards, van Hoytema won CCA and has been nominated by the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), British Society of Cinematographers (BSC), and BAFTA, the three most prestigious honors for cinematographers leading up to the Oscars. Rodrigo Prieto (Killers of the Flower Moon), Robbie Ryan (Poor Things), and Matthew Libatique (Maestro) all achieved this trio of precursors as well.

Where I struggled: The fifth spot is a little tougher to determine. My pick is Linus Sandgren (Saltburn), who took the final spot with BSC, was nominated by CCA, and made the longlist for BAFTA. His biggest competitors are likely Edward Lachman (El Conde), who took the fifth spot with ASC, and Łukasz Żal (The Zone of Interest) who took the fifth spot for BAFTA. Lachman did not make the BAFTA shortlist, but that ASC nom makes him the favorite here. I can’t help but be biased by Sandgren’s masterwork, my favorite cinematography of 2023.

EDITING

Safest bets: The ladies should dominate this group of nominees, with three of the best edited films coming from Jennifer Lame (Oppenheimer), Thelma Schoonmaker (Killers of the Flower Moon), and Michelle Tesoro (Maestro). The first two feel like easy calls, while Tesoro might have a tad lower odds to get in. I mentioned previously that ACE has not announced their nominees. That group will declare two days after Oscar unveils their nominations, not a lot of help there. The next three most important precursors are BAFTA, CCA, and a strong Best Picture contender. In the fourteen years the Oscars have used the preferential ballot system, there have been ten instances where all five films with Editing nominations were also nominated for Best Picture. In that span, there’s an overlap of 65 out of 70 editing-nominated films that were also up for Picture (93%). I think it’s a smart bet to pick strong Picture contenders here. I like Lame, Schoonmaker, and Yorgos Mavropsaridis (Poor Things) – all of whom meet the Picture criteria and have BAFTA and CCA nods – as the safest bets.

Where I struggled: This leaves Tesoro, Nick Houy (Barbie), Kevin Tent (The Holdovers), and Laurent Sénéchal (Anatomy of a Fall) as the strongest odds to round out the five nominees. Tesoro and Houy received CCA nominations and made the BAFTA longlist, and I expect both films to have a strong showing on nomination morning. The Holdovers, however, is surging at the moment, and could upset Oppenheimer for Picture on Oscar Sunday. Tent would be a reasonable prediction here as well. Finally, Sénéchal’s work on Anatomy feels undeniable, and is the only one of these four nominated for BAFTA. This is without question one of the toughest categories to predict (thanks, ACE). In fact, this was the final category I locked in before hitting publish. In the end, I decided to go with the two films with the most momentum at the bell  – The Holdovers and Anatomy of a Fall – who are both surging at just the right time. Maestro and Barbie, conversely, seem to be limping across the finish line. I think that will make the difference here.

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Safest bets: The key precursors for Production Design are the Art Directors Guild (ADG), Set Decorator Society (SDSA), BAFTA, and CCA. Four films received the quartet: Barbie, Poor Things, Oppenheimer, and Killers of the Flower Moon. Makes it easy to pencil them in.

Where I struggled: The final spot is a little more open, but I like Maestro to grab this nomination. Maestro received ADG and SDSA, and made the longlist for BAFTA. It’s biggest competition is Asteroid City, which has the same citations plus a CCA nom.

COSTUME DESIGN

Safest bets: When it comes to Costumes and Makeup, precursors matter a little less to me. I typically go a little more off the eye test. Designs from Poor Things, Barbie, Napoleon, Killers of the Flower Moon, and Oppenheimer stand out on their own merit. Of course, nominations from the Costume Designers Guild (CDG) don’t hurt here. All five films have CDG noms.

Where I struggled: But so does Maestro and The Little Mermaid, both which could find a place or two amongst the five. It also doesn’t hurt that these two films were dressed by legends. Mark Bridges (two-time Oscar-winner and four-time nominee) designed Maestro, while Colleen Atwood (four-time winner and twelve-time nominee) was responsible for the costumes in The Little Mermaid.

HAIR AND MAKEUP

Safest bets: While I have Maestro missing Costumes, I have it in for Makeup. Again, the eye test is all you need here for this one. Same can be said for Poor Things and Oppenheimer. The three all received nominations from the Hair and Makeup guild (MUAH) as well as BAFTA.

Where I struggled: The other two spots are tricky. Golda received MUAH and was longlisted for BAFTA. Aging and prosthetics are often key indicators of a Makeup nom, and Golda helped transform Helen Mirren into Golda Meir in the same way Maestro turned Bradley Cooper into Lenny Bernstein. I think stuck to Society of the Snow for the final spot, despite missing both MUAH and BAFTA longlists. This one is solely based on the eye test and would be very much deserved if it gets in. Killers of the Flower Moon and Napoleon both received BAFTA nominations and could easily show up here as well.

VISUAL EFFECTS

Safest bets: The Visual Effects Society (VES) is the guild to watch here, though somewhat surprisingly, Poor Things missed with VES. I still feel Poor Things could win, but the first challenge is to get the nomination. In the meantime, the new frontrunner is The Creator, with VES, BAFTA, and CCA nods. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3 and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning also received the trinity of precursors.

Where I struggled: Poor Things missed VES and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse failed to turn its BAFTA longlist into an actual nomination, but otherwise these two seem like the next best bets. Napoleon whiffed with CCA while Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny remained longlisted by BAFTA and missed with CCA. Godzilla: Minus One and Society of the Snow landed with VES, but were both completely ignored by CCA and BAFTA. I’m sticking with Poor Things. As far as Spider-Man, only three wholly animated films have ever received a nomination for Effects: The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Kubo and the Two Strings (2016), and The Lion King (2019). It feels like too much of a risk to place it ahead of something like Society of the Snow, which I went with for my fifth spot.

SOUND

Safest bets: The Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) and Cinema Audio Society (CAS) are the two guilds (Editors and Mixers) that carry the most weight in Sound. BAFTA rounds out the trifecta leading to Oscar nominations. Films recognized by all three groups include Oppenheimer, Ferrari, and Maestro. I would not bet against that strength.

Where I struggled: Killers of the Flower Moon and Barbie landed MPSE and CAS, and at least received a mention on the BAFTA longlist. The Zone of Interest would be such an incredible nod here. So much of the horrors of that movie are created by outstanding sound design. MPSE and BAFTA recognized this, while CAS missed the boat. All three are good bets to join Oppy, Ferrari, and Maestro, but only two can get into the five. I’ll take Barbie (great mixing) and Zone (great editing) and leave Killers on the outside.

ORIGINAL SCORE

Safest bets: The Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) is the premier organization for music creators, and is an interesting group to watch in both Score and Song categories. Aside from that group, we have the BAFTAs, Globes, and CCA to help elevate the music of a film. The Academy also does us a favor in both categories by condensing the lists down to shortlists of 15 for each group. In Score, we have a heavyweight contender in Ludwig Göransson (Oppenheimer). Not only did he land nods with all four groups, he has won both CCA and the Globes, and is likely headed to an Oscar win as well. After that, you have the touching storyline of the late, great Robbie Robertson (Killers of the Flower Moon), who was the only other artist to hit the quartet of precursors.

Where I struggled: From there it’s a little more take your best shot. I went with Jerskin Fendrix (Poor Things), a first-time film composer whose bizarre arrangement accompanies its odd film as well as any pairing this year. Fendrix received nominations from BAFTA and Globes. Daniel Pemberton (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse) also landed with BAFTA and Globes, as well as CCA. It’s an expansive piece of work that really piques the action sequences and dramatic elements of the Spider-Verse. My final pick is one I am making with my heart over my gut. I rarely do this, but the captain must go down with the ship, as they say. Michael Giacchino is my favorite film composer working today, and has been since 2004 when LOST premiered. His work on Society of the Snow is breathtakingly beautiful and inspirational. It is my favorite composition this year, and I am hoping others will feel the same way. Giacchino’s big precursor was its CCA nom (I’m taking full credit here). Other contenders that might be safer bets are Mica Levi (The Zone of Interest) and Joe Hisaishi (The Boy and the Heron), both whom received SCL and Globes nods. Watch for Anthony Willis (Saltburn) if that film sneaks into Picture, Screenplay, Supporting Actress, or somewhere else unexpected. Willis’ work resonated with BAFTA and SCL voters.

ORIGINAL SONG

Safest bets: There is an odd rule with the Academy that no film can have more than two nominations for Original Song. This is likely to protect that film from having three contenders split votes in round two. Unfortunately for the lovely and talented Dua Lipa, her catchy “Dance the Night” (Barbie) is likely falling victim to this decision. Barbie has two other songs that are thought to be much stronger contenders, and one of the pair is the probable winner on Oscar night. “I’m Just Ken” by Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt and “What Was I Made For?” by Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connel are the easiest bets in the category. I like the five-time Grammy-winner, Jon Batiste, to get in for “It Never Went Away” which he co-wrote with Dan Wilson (American Symphony). “Road to Freedom” by Lenny Kravitz (Rustin) feels like a typical, inspiration ballad to get in. And to finish it out, I’ll take “The Fire Inside” by Diane Warren (Flamin’ Hot). I treat Diane Warren the same way I treat Meryl Streep when it comes to Oscar predicting: NEVER bet against them.

Where I struggled: These five feel the safest bets, though anything can happen in a category like this. I will be pulling for “Meet in the Middle” by Gary Clark and John Carney (Flora and Son) to snag a spot.

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

Safest bets: There are no safe bets in the Short Film categories.

Where I struggled: This year, the films shortlisted for Animated Short Film were the best of the Shorts categories. While the Live Action and Doc Shorts were far too heavy and agenda-driven, the Animated shorts were both powerful and compellingly put together. Striking images and differing styles of animation often make this category stand amount as far as the short films are concerned. My favorite was Humo (Smoke), a devastating tale of a child in a Nazi prison camp. I took Humo along with Disney’s ode to their 100th anniversary, Once Upon a Studio at the top of my list. I thought both Letter to a Pig and War Is Over! Inspired by the Music of John & Yoko were good stories with unique animations. And to finish the category I am going with Pete, which should be right up voters alley.

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

Safest bets: I said, there are no safe bets in the Short Film categories.

Where I struggled: There are a lot of big stars in this year’s selection of shortlisted Live Action shorts. I have to say, I have a bit of an issue with that. I feel the shorts should almost be reserved for upcoming filmmakers, writers, and actors. I might be alone with that, but it’s something I feel oddly strong about. That being said, I went with a couple of the favorites which all feature bigger stars/directors. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar is directed by Wes Anderson and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes, Dev Patel, and Ben Kingsley. So, yeah, not your typical cast for a short film. I took Pedro Almodóvar’s Strange Way of Life, starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal. The Shepherd has John Travolta in a supporting role, while The Anne Frank Gift Shop has several faces you might recognize, including Ari Graynor, Jason Butler Harner, Chris Perfetti, and Josh Meyers. The last film I am predicting has been a big player at Netflix, and won the HCA and AAFCA awards for short film – The After, starring David Oyelowo.

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT FILM

Safest bets: Are you not listening?? THERE ARE NO SAFE BETS IN THE SHORT FILM CATEGORIES!!

Where I struggled: I watched all 15 shortlisted Doc Shorts, and enjoyed Deciding Vote, The Last Repair Shop, and Last Song From Kabul the most. I’ll take those three and add two other films I feel will inspire passion in voters: The ABCs of Book Banning (a very liberal perspective on something that both sides of the aisle should be resistant to) and The Barber of Little Rock.



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