The Academy Awards will take place on the 27th of March – still much later than usual – whereas the nominations will be announced on the 8th of February. Still quite some time for a shake-up in the favourites. The Golden Globes already came and went (as a matter of fact, very quickly, due to the subdued format), so their shortlist can be used to determine a majority of the titles present on the Oscar nominee list. As always, I expect to have one or two discrepancies, and I firmly except to have a different winner. So here are the five films which currently hold the likeliest odds to win the big prize – listed in order of their odds. Interestingly, all 5 are period films, taking place in the 19th century, 50s, 60s, 70s and 90s.
The big winner from the Golden Globes – which means, judging by how most of the awards from last years panned out, that it isn’t likely to also be the Best Picture at the Oscars. But you never know until you know. The Western film about a charismatic rancher starts Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, and is available to view on Netflix.
More realistically, the frontrunner for Best Picture – its case somewhat resembles that of Roma a few years ago, which of course didn’t win. This might pan out differently this time, and the big advantage is that the film seems to find success with both critics and audiences alike, which can’t be said about many of the entries on this list. Directed by Kenneth Branagh and set in 1960s Ireland, it centers around a tightly knit family that has to make due in the years of the Troubles. What city does it take place in? No idea.
The most recent re-imagining of the classic 1957 musical, West Side Story was initially inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – if the two were the offspring of street gangs in New York. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film has been very well received and could undoubtedly score big at the Oscars – the odds are thus far very, very tight.
Another tale about tennis these days, but this one has nothing to do with Australia and players who refuse to get vaccinated. Instead, the focus of the film falls on sisters Serena and Venus Williams, both of whom are absolute legends of the sport. Or rather, their father, Richard Williams – brilliantly played by Will Smith – who coached them into and through the world of tennis.
Finally, a bit of an odd title makes for yet another quite-likely-to-win entry on the list. But the very pleasant oddness is not just in the title, since this is a film written and directed by Paul Thomas Andersen, in his first project since Phantom Thread. It’s a dramatic story that takes place in the San Fernando Valley back in the 1970s and has, at least on paper, been the most warmly received film of the bunch. Whether that will make a difference in how the Academy votes are casts, we shall see.
My prediction? Belfast will end up winning.