Music Video of the Day: Lost Track by HAIM (2022, dir by Paul Thomas Anderson)


At some point, in the future, it will be realized that Paul Thomas Anderson’s Haim videos constitute some of the best short films of the decade.  It’s the perfect collaboration between a group of artists.  This is their latest and video and you better enjoy!

[Verse 1]
Tryin’ to get on top
But it’s never easy
Mastered my own luck
But it wasn’t easy
I’m tryin’ to feel alright
Around all these people
I try, but I’m just numb
This time

[Chorus]
Deepest cut that I can’t feel
Found a grip on the steering wheel
I know a piece’s stuck
You can sit down if you don’t mind me standin’ up (Mind me standin’ up)
I know I was too good to pass (Too good to pass)
So me and you caused a chain reaction (Chain reaction)
I’ll take the smallest crumb
But I’ll never get back what I lost track of

[Verse 2]
Laugh when I’m still cryin’
Yeah, you know the deal
Burn but it’s still fine (Huh)
Yeah, you know the deal
Can’t redeem my love
That’s such a steal
But you can’t say I’m not tryin’
This time

[Chorus]
Deepest cut that I can’t feel
Found a grip on the steering wheel
I know a piece’s stuck
You can sit down if you don’t mind me standin’ up (Mind me standin’ up)
I know I was too good to pass (Too good to pass)
So me and you caused a chain reaction (Chain reaction)
I’ll take the smallest crumb
But I’ll never get back what I lost track of
Oh, I’ll never get back what I lost track of
I’ll never get back what I lost track of
I’ll never get back what I lost track of

[Outro]
I’ll never get back what I lost track
I’ll never get back what I lost track
I’ll never get back what I lost track
I’ll never get back but I’ve lost track

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for December


Well, the year’s nearly over and that means that it is time for me to post my final Oscar predictions for 2021.  The race has gotten much clearer with the start of the precursor season.  The critics love The Power of the Dog.  However, it’s perhaps a bit too early to declare it the front runner.  I want to see how things go with the Guilds in January before I bestow that title on any film.

A few thoughts:

There are ten Best Picture nominees this year so we won’t have any of that, “Here’s a random number of nominees” crap.  In theory, that should open the door for some unconventional nominees that might have missed the cut-off in previous years.  Again, I said, “In theory.”  They tried this 10 nominee thing before and it didn’t really lead to the results that a lot of people were expecting.

Still, I’m going to swing out on a web and predict a Best Picture nomination for Spider-Man: No Way Home.  It’s got Disney and Sony behind it.  It’s making a ton of money despite not playing in China.  It’ the film that’s currently giving the industry hope that there’s a future outside of the streaming sites.  Plus, after the nominations of Black Panther and Joker, it might be time to give the whole “They’ll never nominate a comic book movie!” argument a rest.  

I’m also going to predict a Best Picture nomination for Drive My Car, which has been getting a lot of attention from the critics.  

The critics also loved West Side Story but now, it’s probably best known for being a bust at the box office.  I still think the movie will be nominated but I don’t think it’ll win.  And I think it’s a lot less likely that Rita Moreno will pick up a nomination.  People seem to have moved on from the movie.  Again, this could all change once the Guilds start announcing their nominations.

The critics are split on Don’t Look Up.  I personally think it’s one of the worst films of 2021.  But the film will be nominated for much the same reason that The Big Short and Vice were nominated.  There’s a lot of Academy members who agree with McKay’s politics.  And the people who do like Don’t Look Up really, really like it.  And I also think there’s probably enough people annoyed with Elon Musk that Mark Rylance will sneak into the supporting actor race.

Belfast has not been dominating the early part of awards season but I think it will come on strong once the Guilds start announce their nominations.

Anywya, these are just my guesses, for better or worse.  To see how my thinking has evolved,  check out my predictions for March and April and May and June and July and August and September and October and November!

Best Picture

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Drive My Car

Dune

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog

Spider-Man: No Way Home

West Side Story

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson for Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh for Belfast

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Ryusuke Hamaguchi for Drive My Car

Denis Villeneueve for Dune

Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Andrew Gardield for tick….tick….BOOM!

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Lady Gaga in House of Gucci

Alana Haim in Licorice Pizza

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Rachel Zegler in West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor

Bradley Cooper in Licorice Pizza

Ciaran Hinds in Belfast

Troy Kostur in CODA

Mark Rylance in Don’t Look Up

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story

Ann Dowd in Mass

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis in King Richard

Marlee Matlin in CODA

 

Film Review: Licorice Pizza (dir. by Paul T. Anderson)


Age is one of those strange factors when it comes to relationships.

My Dad was 35 when he married my Mom, who was 10 years his junior. Aaron and Sam Taylor-Johnson have a 23 year age difference between each other and they’re doing fine (I hope). Florence Pugh and Zach Braff have a 21 year difference. Anna Nicole Smith was about 27 when she married a near 90 year old J. Howard Marshall. If your mind is totally shutting down on you on the age differences, I’d tell you that maybe Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza may not be for you, but to still give it a chance. The story is so well written that you’ll often forget there any kind of age differences. If that’s not a problem, the movie is more than worth your time.

A Licorice Pizza is another word for a vinyl album. Although I grew up with records (Purple Rain and Jaws were on constant rotation as a kid), I can’t say I’ve ever heard the term before.

Licorice Pizza is a love story at heart, between 15 year old Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman, son of the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, an Anderson regular) and 25 year old Alana Kane (Alana Haim, of the band Haim) set in the early 1970s. Gary’s young, but is both very curious and confident, actively looking for the next opportunity ahead of him (even if he has to create it). Alana’s successful at what she does, is resourceful in her own right and doesn’t hesitate to call someone out on their crap.

I caught Licorice Pizza on the Friday after Thankgsiving at the Village East by Angelika just below 14th Street in Manhattan. which hosts one of the best 70 MM screens in the borough. This was the same theatre I attended for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master in 70MM. The place is absolutely beautiful and reminds me of the old Ziegfeld. Think of 70MM as what IMAX was before IMAX ever existed.

By far, Licorice Pizza‘s greatest strengths are the plot and cast. For Hoffman and Haim, these are their first acting performances, but they flow so well in every scene (with Haim the stronger of the two) that it feels completely natural. Hoffman is energetic and smooth, and I hope to see him do more in the future. Haim is a marvel, and if she doesn’t end up with some kind of award for all this, I’d be very shocked. She dances with all of these actors as if she’s done it for years, and in the rare instance where there’s a hiccup – there’s a moment regarding the character’s age – the recovery’s so quick that you have to wonder if that was scripted or not. It reminds me of Michael Mann’s Miami Vice, in that being undercover is basically taking on a persona and throwing yourself fully into it to make it believable. Both leads are the heart of all this.

Jack Holden (Sean Penn) takes Alana Kane (Alana Haim) for a ride in P.T. Anderson’s Licorice Pizza

Of course, it helps to have backup to support the leads. Alana Kane’s family is also Alana Haim’s. Her sisters, Danielle and Este, along with their parents are all on hand here. The film is also peppered with stars like Tom Waits (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), Sean Penn playing a variant on Bill Holden(Milk), Christine Ebersole (The Wolf of Wall Street), Benny Safdie (Uncut Gems) and Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, and she’s Anderson’s wife) that help to round out the weirdness of Los Angeles in the 1970s. Of particular note are both George DiCaprio (Father of Leonardo) as a waterbed salesman, and Bradley Cooper as legendary producer Jon Peters (who was responsible for Batman, A Star is Born and Man of Steel). Of all of the supporting cast, Cooper has by far the most positive and zany appearance, with his version of Peters feeling more like a live action Rocket Raccoon. His character here is almost the opposite of the one he plays in Nightmare Alley. I also loved Benny Safdie’s politician here. Each supporting character has a story of their own that Alana & Gary are pulled into.

And then there’s John Michael Higgins, who plays a restaurant owner who makes fun of his Japanese wife’s ability to speak English. He talks to her in a made up broken version of Japanese, which my audience seemed to be okay with. They laughed, mostly. It’s like the Christmas Story Chinese Food scene, where the family has to listen to a broken version of “Deck the Halls”. Depending on who you are, it may come across as cringeworthy, and is honestly the only thing that stumble steps the movie in any way. Then again, one could argue that it’s just the 70s. Things were different. Anyone recollecting what life was life back then is bound to have a relative or someone just like that.

All that aside, I loved the flow of the movie. Between The Master and Inherent Vice, I half expected Licorice Pizza to take some dark turns. While the movie does get a little strange where the effects of the gas shortage plays in (also one of the best scenes), the film is incredibly lighthearted and fun. Like every romantic comedy, you have all of the great elements. Gary pursues Alana, but her attentions are turned towards another. By the time Alana starts to realize that maybe Gary is good for her, he’s kind of moved on. You may find yourself hoping everything works out – it’s hard not to love these characters. All of this is done with a soundtrack from the era that rivals some of the best offerings from Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy. A little Bowie, some Nina Simone, some Paul McCartney and Wings & even Donovan pepper the film. For the score, Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood is back once again as Anderson’s go-to composer.

Overall, Licorice Pizza is a surprisingly lighthearted tale from Paul T. Anderson. It never overreaches or spends too much time in any one place, understanding that love is a complex thing. Grounded by two talented newcomers, a plethora of supporting heavies, a wonderful soundtrack and a screenplay that’ll make you smile, Licorice Pizza is an easy recommendation.

Here Are the 2021 Nominations of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics!


The Washington D.C. Area Film Critics have announced their nominees for the best of 2021!  The winners will be announced tomorrow so that means you have exactly one day to see all the nominees.  GET TO IT!

Best Film
Belfast
The Green Knight
The Power of the Dog
tick, tick…BOOM!
West Side Story

Best Director
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
David Lowery – The Green Knight
Steven Spielberg – West Side Story
Denis Villeneuve – Dune

Best Actor
Nicolas Cage – Pig
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…BOOM!
Will Smith – King Richard
Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Actress
Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter
Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos
Lady Gaga – House of Gucci
Kristen Stewart – Spencer
Tessa Thompson – Passing

Best Supporting Actor
Jamie Dornan – Belfast
Ciarán Hinds – Belfast
Troy Kotsur – CODA
Jesse Plemons – The Power of the Dog
Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress
Caitríona Balfe – Belfast
Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
Ann Dowd – Mass
Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog
Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard

Best Acting Ensemble
Belfast
The French Dispatch
The Harder They Fall
Mass
The Power of the Dog

Best Youth Performance
Jude Hill – Belfast
Emilia Jones – CODA
Woody Norman – C’mon, C’mon
Saniyya Sidney – King Richard
Rachel Zegler – West Side Story

Best Voice Performance
Awkwafina – Raya and the Last Dragon
Stephanie Beatriz – Encanto
Abbi Jacobson – The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Kelly Marie Tran – Raya and the Last Dragon
Jacob Tremblay – Luca

Best Original Screenplay
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
Mike Mills – C’mon, C’mon
Zach Baylin – King Richard
Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza
Fran Kranz – Mass

Best Adapted Screenplay
Siân Heder – CODA
Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth – Dune
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Steven Levenson – tick, tick…BOOM!
Tony Kushner – West Side Story

Best Animated Feature
Encanto
Flee
Luca
The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon

Best Documentary
The First Wave
Flee
The Rescue
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Val

Best International/Foreign Language Film
Drive My Car
A Hero
Lamb
Titane
The Worst Person in the World

Best Production Design
Jim Clay, Production Designer; Claire Nia Richards, Set Decorator – Belfast
Patrice Vermette, Production Designer; Richard Roberts and Zsuzsanna Sipos, Set Decorators – Dune
Adam Stockhausen, Production Designer; Rena DeAngelo, Set Decorator – The French Dispatch
Tamara Deverell, Production Designer; Shane Vieau, Set Decorator – Nightmare Alley
Adam Stockhausen, Production Designer; Rena DeAngelo, Set Decorator – West Side Story

Best Cinematography
Haris Zambarloukos – Belfast
Greig Fraser – Dune
Andrew Droz Palermo – The Green Knight
Ari Wegner – The Power of the Dog
Bruno Delbonnel – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Editing
Úna Ní Dhonghaíle – Belfast
Joe Walker – Dune
Andrew Weisblum – The French Dispatch
Peter Sciberras – The Power of the Dog
Myron Kerstein & Andrew Weisblum – tick, tick…BOOM!

Best Original Score
Bryce Dessner & Aaron Dessner – Cyrano
Hans Zimmer – Dune
Alexandre Desplat – The French Dispatch
Jonny Greenwood – The Power of the Dog
Jonny Greenwood – Spencer

The New York Film Critics Circle Honors Lady Gaga and Drive My Car!


The New York Film Critics Circle announced their picks for the best of 2021 today and there were some surprises. I don’t think anyone was predicting that Drive My Car would win Best Film.  But that’s part of the fun of an unpredictable awards season.  Occasionally, there’s a surprise or two.

Here are the winners in New York:

Best Film
Drive My Car

Best Director
Jane Campion – The Power Of The Dog

Best Screenplay
Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza

Best Actress
Lady Gaga – House Of Gucci

Best Actor
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power Of The Dog

Best Supporting Actress
Kathryn Hunter – The Tragedy Of Macbeth

Best Supporting Actor
Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power Of The Dog

Best Cinematography
West Side Story
​​
​Best Animated Feature
The Mitchells vs. The Machines

Best Non-Fiction Film
Flee

Best Foreign Language Film
The Worst Person In The World

Best First Film
The Lost Daughter

Special Awards
– Maya Cade for the creation of the Black Film Archive
– Diane Weyermann, posthumous award for supporting daring and impactful filmmaking at Sundance and Participant
– Marshall Fine for his years of service as NYFCC’s General Manager and decades on the NY film scene

Lisa Marie’s Oscar Predictions for November


It’s time for my monthly Oscar predictions!  Awards Season is going to begin in just another two days and the Oscar picture has become a lot more clearer.  

Last month, I was ready to write off West Side Story as a contender.  However, following both the film’s recent screening and the death of Stephen Sondheim, it’s now once again very much a contender.  If nothing else, Rita Moreno seems like the clear front runner for Supporting Actress.  This would be her first nomination since she won an Oscar for appearing in the original West Side Story.  Who can resist that narrative?

I’ve also added Licorice Pizza back to my list of nominees.  At first, I thought it sounded too slight to be a contender but the enthusiasm that I’m seeing for the film would seem to indicate that I was incorrect.

As always, keep in mind that I don’t claim to be an expert.  The picture is a bit clearer but I don’t claim to have any inside information or anything like that.  These are just my guesses, for better or worse.  To see how my thinking has evolved,  check out my predictions for March and April and May and June and July and August and September and October!

Best Picture

Being the Ricardos

Belfast

Dune

House of Gucci

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

The Lost Daughter

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson for Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh for Belfast

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Guillermo del Toro for Nightmare Alley

Steven Spielberg for West Side Story

Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Jude Hill in Belfast

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Lady Gaga in House of Gucci

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Rachel Zegler in West Side Story

Best Supporting Actor

Ben Affleck in The Tender Bar

Bradley Cooper in Licorice Pizza

Ciaran Hinds in Belfast

Jared Leto in House of Gucci

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Ann Dowd in Mass

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis in King Richard

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Rita Moreno in West Side Story

 

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza Has A Trailer and A Poster


After weeks of hearing about the trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, I finally got to see it for myself earlier today.

Just a few thoughts:

  1. The film is obviously a return to the 70s mileu of Anderson’s pervious films, Boogie Nights and Inherent Vice.
  2. Bradley Cooper does appear to be playing the legendary Hollywood producer Jon Peters.
  3. So much of the pre-publicity has centered on Cooper Hoffman that it’s interesting to see that the trailer is pretty much dominated by Alana Haim.
  4. Of course, there’s a scene of Alana walking in Los Angeles.
  5. Licorice Pizza was apparently the name of an actual record store. I prefer the title to Soggy Bottom.
  6. I’m always excited for a new Paul Thomas Anderson movie!
  7. Life on Mars is the perfect soundtrack for the trailer.
  8. I have to wonder if Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, Tom Waits, and Benny Safdie have large roles or if they’re basically just doing cameos in this film. We’ll find out soon!

Along with the trailer, the film’s poster was also released. Here it is:

Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions For July


It’s that time of the month again!  It’s time for me to make my early Oscar predictions.

This year, the Cannes Film Festival really didn’t clear much up.  The French Dispatch was acclaimed but, in every review, there was an admission that, for everyone who absolutely loved it, there would probably be someone else who would absolutely hate it.  I did decided to include Red Rocket on my list of predictions, based on the Cannes reaction.  I’m still not a 100% convinced that it’s going to be a contender, of course.  But the idea of a Simon Rex movie being nominated for best picture was just too wonderfully strange for me to ignore.  That’s the same logic that led to me including Pig as a best picture nominee, by the way.

On the Ridely Scott front, the overacting in the trailer for House of Gucci really turned me off so I dropped it from all of my predictions.  The Last Duel looks like it might have a chance, however.

Anyway, the main thing to remember when looking at these predictions is that the majority of them are just random guesses, based on hunches and past Academy behavior.  So, as always, take them with several grains of salt.

If you’re curious to see how my thinking has developed, check out my predictions for March and April and May and June!

Best Picture

Belfast

A Journal For Jordan

The Last Duel

Nightmare Alley

Pig

The Power of the Dog

Red Rocket

Soggy Bottom

The Tragedy of MacBeth

West Side Story

 

Best Director

Pedro Almodovar for Parallel Mothers

Paul Thomas Anderson for Soggy Bottom

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Guillermo Del Toro for Nightmare Alley

Denzel Washington for A Journal For Jordan

Best Actor

Nicolas Cage in Pig

Clifton Collins, Jr. in Jockey

Michael B. Jordan in A Journal For Jordan

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Nicole Kidman in Being The Ricardos

Tessa Thomspon in Passing

Best Supporting Actor

David Alvarez in West Side Story

Bradley Cooper in Soggy Bottom

Adam Driver in The Last Duel

Simon Helberg in Annette

Jesse Plemons in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Chante Adams in A Journal For Jordan

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story

Ann Dowd in Mass

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Ruth Negga in Passing

Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions for June


2013 oscars

It’s the end of the month and that means that it’s time for me to post my monthly predictions!

What has chanced since I last made my predictions in May?  Though it was acclaimed by critics, the box office failure of In The Heights has probably ended that film’s time as an Oscar contender.  For all the musicals that are coming out this year, only Spielberg’s West Side Story really seems like a good bet to emerge as a major contender.  Dear Evan Hansen was pretty much eliminated from consideration as soon as its trailer dropped.  Tick, Tick …. Boom seems to be destined to be loved by theater kids while being dismissed by everyone else.  I’d love to see Joe Wright and Peter Dinklage nominated but my instincts are telling me that Cyrano will probably not be a huge contender.  In the end, West Side Story seems like the most likely musical nominee.

I’ve been reading up on Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, which is set to premiere at Venice and then be released via Netflix.  Based on a novel by Thomas Savage, this sounds like the type of film that could potentially be a strong contender, depending on what approach Campion takes the story.  The main character of Phil Burbank is the type of bigger-than-life role that could lead to Oscar glory.  (The closest recent equivalent to Phil would probably be Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood.)  Phil is a sharply intelligent but cruelly manipulative Montana rancher, the type who brags about castrating cattle while quoting Ovid and who goes out of his way to bully anyone who he considers to be effeminate.  Of course, there’s a secret behind all of Phil’s cruelty and how the film handles that secret will have a lot to do with how strongly the film comes on during awards season.  Phil is being played by Benedict Cumberbatch, which is …. interesting casting.  (Personally, I probably would have begged Michael Fassbender to take the role.)  Still, it seems like Phil could be the type of change-of-pace role that, should Cumberbatch’s casting pay off, could lead to Oscar glory.

Coming up in July, we’ve got Cannes and we’ll be getting our first look at contenders like Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch.  Though Cannes is hardly a reliable precursor, the Oscar race should start to become a bit clearer as the festival start up and the contenders — many of which we’ve been waiting to see for over two years — will finally start to be released.  Until then, take all predictions with a grain of salt!

If you’re curious to see how my thinking has developed, check out my predictions for March and April and May.

Best Picture

The French Dispatch

House of Gucci

A Journal for Jordan

Nightmare Alley

Parallel Mothers

Passing

The Power of the Dog

Soggy Bottom

The Tragedy of MacBeth

West Side Story

Best Director

Pedro Almodovar for Parallel Mothers

Paul Thomas Anderson for Soggy Bottom

Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog

Ridley Scott for House of Gucci

Denzel Washington for A Journal For Jordan

Best Actor

Clifton Collins, Jr. in Jockey

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Michael B. Jordan in A Journal for Jordan

Will Smith in King Richard

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos

Tessa Thompson in Passing

Best Supporting Actor

Adam Driver in The Last Duel

Bradley Cooper in Soggy Bottom

Willem DaFoe in Nightmare Alley

Bill Murray in The French Dispatch

Jesse Plemons in The Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Vera Farmiga in The Many Saints of Newark

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Ruth Negga in Passing

 

Lisa Marie’s Early Oscar Predictions For May


It’s that time of the month again! It’s time for me to go out on a limb and attempt to predict what will be nominated for the Oscars. Of course, trying to do this early in the year is a fool’s errand. We all know that. That’s actually part of the fun.

As of right now, the list below is full of familiar names, a few films that were acclaimed at Sundance, and a few random guesses. A lot of the predicted nominees are films that were expected to be Oscar contenders last year but which were delayed due to the pandemic. (Looking at you, West Side Story.) Some of them are contenders that I personally would just like to see nominated, even though it probably won’t happen. (I’m not going to jinx anything by pointing out which nomination about which I’m specifically thinking. You’ll probably be able to guess for yourself.) Over the next few months, the Oscar picture will become a bit clearer. Many of the contenders listed below will be forgotten about. Meanwhile, new contenders will emerge. My point is, take it all with a grain of salt and don’t put down any money just yet.

Two big developments to keep in mind:

First off, the Academy is officially going back to having a set a number of nominees. Next year, ten films will be nominated for best picture. Not seven. Not nine. Ten. Personally, I’m thrilled by this development. Nothing irritated me more than when they used to announce those weird, seven-picture lineups. (As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like odd numbers.)

Secondly, the Academy is going back to the old eligibility dates. Yay! What that means is that only films that are released between March and the end of this year will be eligible to compete for the Oscars. More importantly, it means that the best film of 2021 will not be released in 2022.

Anyway, here are my predictions for this month! Don’t take them too seriously. If you want to see how my thinking has evolved, check out my predictions for March and April.

Best Picture

CODA

The Duke

The French Dispatch

House of Gucci

A Journal for Jordan

Nightmare Alley

Passing

Soggy Bottom

The Tragedy of Macbeth

West Side Story

Best Director

Paul Thomas Anderson for Soggy Bottom

Guillermo Del Toro for Nightmare Alley

Ridley Scott for House of Gucci

Steven Spielberg for West Side Story

Denzel Washington for A Journal For Jordan

Best Actor

Jim Broadbent in The Duke

Clifton Collins, Jr. in Jockey

Peter Dinklage in Cyrano

Michael B. Jordan in A Journal For Jordan

Will Smith in King Richard

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Ana de Armas in Blonde

Jennifer Hudson in Respect

Nicole Kidman in Being the Ricardos

Tessa Thompson in Passing

Best Supporting Actor

David Alvarez in West Side Story

Bradley Cooper in Soggy Bottom

Adam Driver in The Last Duel

Al Pacino in House of Gucci

Forest Whitaker in Respect

Best Supporting Actress

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story

Vera Farmiga in The Many Saints of Newark

Marlee Matlin in CODA

Frances McDormand in The Tragedy of MacBeth

Ruth Negga in Passing