The Oscars, also known as “The Gay Superbowl,” are March 27. There has been much controversy about the wrongheaded decision to have several awards — including the three short film award categories, Best Editing, and other prizes — handed out before the ceremony to create a shorter telecast.
But let’s focus on the history that can be made. Two openly LGBTQ actresses, Kristen Stewart and Ariana DeBose, could win top acting awards, and the gay animated documentary from Denmark, “Flee,” could pull a hattrick and get best Animated Film, Best Documentary, and Best International Film. (Alas, only one of those outcomes is realistic).
Here are some educated guesses as to who will win this year’s Academy Awards in the major categories.
Best Picture nominees: “Belfast,” “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “Dune,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Power of the Dog,” “West Side Story.”
Who Will Win: “The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion’s queer frontier drama has been the frontrunner in this category even before the nominations were announced.
Spoiler: “Belfast” had all the buzz and could pull an upset; “West Side Story” would make history as the only film and its remake to win Best Picture, which would be cool.
Best Director nominees: Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast;” Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car;” Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza;” Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog;” Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story.”
Who Will Win: No contest — Campion. And it will be the second year in a row a female filmmaker has won Best Director.
Best Actress Nominees: Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye;” Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter;” Penélope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers;” Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos;” Kristen Stewart, “Spencer”
Who Should Win: In this highly competitive category, Penelope Cruz gave the Best performance. Alas, the Academy often honors the “most” performance.
Who Will Win: Olivia Colman was predicted to win her second Best Actress Oscar for “The Lost Daughter,” and Nicole Kidman’s turn as Lucille Ball in “Being the Ricardos” is a contender because she’s playing a Hollywood legend, which Oscar often rewards. However, Colman and Kidman are likely to cancel each other out. Expect Jessica Chastain to sneak in and claim victory for her “most” performance in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
Best Actor Nominees: Javier Bardem, “Being the Ricardos;” Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog;” Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick … Boom!;” Will Smith, “King Richard;” Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Who Should Win: Cumberbatch for his repressed gay cowboy in “The Power of the Dog.”
Who Will Win: Philly native Will Smith for his outsized work in “King Richard.”
Best Supporting Actor nominees: Ciaran Hinds, “Belfast;” Troy Kotsur, “CODA;” Jesse Plemons, “The Power of the Dog;” J.K. Simmons, “Being the Ricardos;” Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog”
Who Should Win: Kodi Smit-McPhee for his sensitive (and sinister) portrait of an effeminate cowboy.
Who Will Win: Troy Kotsur, who will be the first male actor to win an Oscar for a performance in American Sign Language.
Best Supporting Actress nominees: Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter;” Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story;” Judi Dench, “Belfast;” Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog;” Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”
Who Will Win: No contest — Ariana DeBose, as Anita, in “West Side Story,” — the same character Rita Moreno played fifty years ago and won her Oscar for. DeBose will be the first openly queer woman of color to win an Oscar.
Original Screenplay Nominees: “Belfast,” “Don’t Look Up,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “The Worst Person in the World”
What Should Win: “The Worst Person in the World,” a really thoughtful, complex, emotional, and human drama.
What Will Win: “Licorice Pizza,” a less thoughtful, complex, emotional, and human drama.
Spoiler: “Belfast,” a nostalgic, sentimental family story by an Oscar darling.
Adapted Screenplay nominees: “CODA;” “Drive My Car;” “Dune;” “The Lost Daughter;” “The Power of the Dog”
What Will Win: No contest — ”The Power of the Dog,” adapted from gay author Thomas Savage’s novel.
Animated Feature nominees: “Encanto;” “Flee;” “Luca;” “The Mitchells vs. the Machines;” “Raya and the Last Dragon”
What Should Win: “Flee,” but this haunting story of a gay Afgani refugee is a heavy, albeit uplifting film.
What Will Win: “Encanto” which has enchanted voters. And bisexual actress Stephanie Beatriz voices the lead, so that’s a plus.
Documentary Feature nominees:“Ascension;” “Attica;” “Flee;” “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised);” “Writing With Fire”
What Should Win: “Flee” (see above), or “Attica,” which is staggering, but also depressing.
What Will Win: “Summer of Soul,” the marvelous feel-good doc of the year, directed by Philly native, Questlove.
International Feature nominees: “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom,” Bhutan; “Flee,” Denmark; “The Hand of God,” Italy; “Drive My Car,” Japan; “The Worst Person in the World,” Norway
What Should Win: “Flee” (see above)
What Will Win: “Drive My Car,” which is truly extraordinary and deserving.