A dark and psychological western about toxic masculinity, The Power of the Dog previously led the way in predictions for the Oscars for best feature film, in what would be a historic victory for the giant Netflix, never again sacred in this flagship category.
But in recent weeks the competition has intensified, and the outsider is back at full speed: CODA, a dramatic comedy full of emotion and optimism, which has won one after the other prizes awarded by the associations of American film industry professionals.
Experts are also keeping an eye on Belfast, Kenneth Branagh’s black-and-white film inspired by the director’s childhood in Northern Ireland, which is still going on.
“It’s a race between two or three horses,” sums up Clayton Davis, film awards specialist for Variety magazine, an authority on the subject.
He noted a “strong momentum” in favor of KODA. “The last two years have been very difficult for everyone. And CODA is positive, comforting. I think the voters are set to feel good,” he said.
“It’s a very tight race,” confirms Scott Feinberg, a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter.
While many have praised The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion’s film has been resented by others who criticize it for its clinical coldness and lack of emotion in particular. “Not everyone likes it,” says Scott Feinberg.
This can be a disadvantage due to the odd multi-stage preference voting system used in the best feature category, which tends to favor films with the highest consensus.
The competition “has never been so open,” one of the voters from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, said on condition of anonymity.
Another asset on the cover of KODA is a low-budget ($15 million) independent film that was seen as an underdog this year and could thus win voters’ sympathy.
“Some of the Academy members I talk to are still reluctant to vote for a Netflix movie in the Best Feature category,” this voter explains, jokingly noting that “CODA” is being streamed by Apple TV+, another platform video on request. .
Will Smith and Jessica Chastain?
Among the actors, a big favorite this year is the always very popular Will Smith, who plays the father of champions Serena and Venus in The Williams Method.
KODA co-star Troy Kotzur holds the rope for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. The deaf actor, who plays the loving but sometimes helpless father of a hearing teenager, has been an award-winning hit this season.
The game causes much more controversy from the actress. For Scott Feinberg, “any one of the five candidates could really win” this year, although Jessica Chastain, unrecognizable in her role as a televangelist on “In the Eyes of Tammy Faye,” seems “most likely.”
Clayton Davis admits it’s the safest bet, but points out that Penélope Cruz also has wind in her sails and could surprise with her performance in Pedro Almodóvar’s Madres Paralelas.
Steven Spielberg should win Ariana DeBose for the second female role in the West Side Story remake, but the latter will have to work hard to defeat Jane Campion, experts say.
In terms of absolute number of Oscars, it’s the stupendous space opera Dune that should emerge victorious this Sunday night thanks to nominations in several technical categories, from photography to sound and special effects.
After two years of health restrictions, the Oscars are returning to their traditional Dolby Theater on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The organizers and broadcaster ABC are hoping to win back their audience, which has been in free fall in recent years.
The 2021 edition attracted just 10 million viewers, down 56% from the previous year, which already recorded its lowest level ever.
To attract fans, the organizers launched this year a “fan prize” designed to vote on social networks. It’s about the Oscars “who see how they can reach a new audience, that’s the TikTok generation,” says Clayton Davis.
Queen of pop Beyoncé and her young runner-up Billie Eilish will also be hunting audiences on the Oscars stage, where they claim their song “The Williams Method” and the latest James Bond film, respectively.
But if audiences stall, “or even drop a little more, they’re in really big trouble,” warns Scott Feinberg.