Reel 360’s Oscar nomination predictions


So, it comes down to this. Two hundred seventy-six feature films are eligible for a 2021 Oscar nomination, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced.

Tomorrow at 5:18 AM PST, 7: 18 AM CST and 8:18 AM EST, Emmy-winning actor-comedian Leslie Jordan (Will & Grace, The Help) and Emmy-nominated actor-CEO-producer Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish, The High Note) will host the announcement of the 94th Oscars nominations in all 23 Academy Award categories.

Let’s get this off of our chests right now, as much as it deserves to get nominated for Best Picture, the 1.7 billion dollar grossing Spider-Man: No Way Home will not be nominated… except for technical awards.

Yes, we are now at the Big Kahuna point of Awards Season, the Oscar Nominations. What was once thought to be a return to normal after last year’s virtual and barely attended awards show, the Omnicron variant struck, causing most moviegoers to stay home.

Before Omnicron took over, there were small gatherings for contenders. I got to hang with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Vanessa Hudgens for a bit at a special tick, tick… Boom! screening. Sunset Blvd’s billboards were still taken up with FYC ads for films ranging from tick, tick… Boom! to Belfast.

But with the variant spreading, most films were viewed virtually or on screeners. I still scratch my head as to why Netflix and Amazon go to such great lengths with their screeners. Is there really anyone in the industry who votes who doesn’t have Netflix or Amazon?

For the last three months, The Reel 360 Team has attended virtual screenings, virtual Q&As and sat on our comfy couches to watch over 200 films. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. We did brave going to the theaters to see Spider-Man and West Side Story in theaters.

But we did see many award-worthy films from our homes. From Dune to Don’t Look Up to Drive My Car, there were films that literally blew the Reel 360 team and audiences away.

According to the Academy, more members voted in this year’s nominations than ever before with ballots coming in from 82 countries. In a season that has been anything but normal, prepare for some surprises. Ahead of Tuesday morning’s announcement, here are our predictions in eight major categories.

And no, Spider-Man will not be nominated for Best Picture. Here are our best guesses as to what will be nominated for an Oscar tomorrow:

Best Picture

  • Being the Ricardos
    Producer: Todd Black, p.g.a.
  • Belfast
    Producers: Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik, Tamar Thomas
  • CODA
    Producers: Philippe Rousselet, p.g.a., Fabrice Gianfermi, p.g.a., Patrick Wachsberger, p.g.a.
  • Don’t Look Up
    Producers: Adam McKay, p.g.a., Kevin Messick, p.g.a.
  • Dune
    Producers: Mary Parent, p.g.a., Cale Boyter, p.g.a., Denis Villeneuve, p.g.a.
  • King Richard
    Producers: Tim White, p.g.a., Trevor White, p.g.a., Will Smith, p.g.a.
  • Licorice Pizza
    Producers: Sara Murphy, Paul Thomas Anderson, Adam Somner
  • The Power of the Dog
    Producers: Jane Campion, p.g.a., Tanya Seghatchian, p.g.a., Emile Sherman, p.g.a. & Iain Canning, p.g.a., Roger Frappier, p.g.a.
  • tick, tick…BOOM!
    Producers: Julie Oh, p.g.a., Lin-Manuel Miranda, p.g.a.
  • West Side Story
    Producers: Steven Spielberg, p.g.a., Kristie Macosko Krieger, p.g.a.

Reel Insight: This will be one of the few years, since the expansion of the Best Picture slate to 10, that ten films will actually be nominated. The PGA has already nominated all ten of the films listed above and The DGA nominated Power of the Dog, Dune, West Side Story, Licorice Pizza and Belfast for Best Director. We think these will be the films and The Power of the Dog and Belfast will receive 10 – 12 Oscar nominations each.

Best Director

  • Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
  • Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
  • Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up
  • Steven Spielberg, West Side Story
  • Denis VilleneuveDune

The DGA’s selections almost never completely mirror the Oscar five. If someone sneaks in it will most likely be Ryûsuke Hamaguchi for Drive My Car or Kenneth Branaugh for coming-of-age film, Belfast. But it’s hard to beat the Tom Brady of directing, Steven Spielberg.

Best Actor

  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
  • Javier BardemBeing the Ricardos
  • Andrew Garfield, tick, tick … Boom!
  • Will Smith, King Richard
  • Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

This race has felt pretty tight since last fall. Smith and Cumberbatch lept to the top of the pack with success at Telluride. Denzel Washington is always hard to ignore, especially when he is not playing the everyman and turns in a powerful performance such as in The Tragedy of Macbeth. Javier Bardem has a SAG nom on his side, but don’t count out Leonardo DiCaprio. He is nominated for a BAFTA. And honestly, who doesn’t like Will Smith?

Best Actress

  • Olivia ColmanThe Lost Daughter
  • Lady Gaga, House of Gucci
  • Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza
  • Nicole KidmanBeing the Ricardos
  • Kristen Stewart, Spencer

This category is a hard one to call. Olivia Colman has always been a lock since the release of The Lost Daughter. But then she gets snubbed by BAFTA. Once considered a frontrunner, most awards shows have ignored Kristen Stewart’s performance as Princess Diana. But like Colman, she was ignored by SAG and BAFTA. So who knows. But we think the Academy will show her some love. Kidman is a can’t miss for her performance as Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos.

I’m on the fence about Gaga, but she was the best thing about House of Gucci. Would love to see Jennifer Hudson nominated for Respect, but it won’t happen here. That Oscar nod will go to first-timer Alana Haim for Paul Thomas Anderson’s love letter to 1970s Los Angeles, Licorice Pizza.

REELated: Academy chooses two for Gold Fellowship for Women

Best Supporting Actor

  • Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza
  • J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos
  • Ciarán Hinds, Belfast
  • Troy Kotsur, CODA
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

This will come down to a battle between Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ciarán Hinds. Dog seems to have the edge here as it’s been taking awards and nominations left and right. J.K. Simmons knocks out Dog’s other acting great, Jesse Plemons. Hollywood loves stories about Hollywood, so Simmons’ turn in Being the Ricardos as William Frawley will get nominated.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Caitríona Balfe, Belfast
  • Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
  • Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog
  • Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard
  • Ruth Negga, Passing

Power of the Dog will dominate most of the Oscar nominations this year, so don’t expect Kirsten Dunst to be ignored. She was fabulous in the film and will be rewarded with a nomination. Ariana DeBose has been nearly unbeatable for her turn in West Side Story and she will earn her first nomination in 2022. I would not be surprised to see Ruth Negga knocked out for Passing and replaced with Rita Moreno for WSS. Who doesn’t love Rita?

Best Original Screenplay

  • Being the Ricardos, Written by Aaron Sorkin; Amazon Studios
  • Belfast, Written by Kenneth Branaugh; Focus Features
  • King Richard, Written by Zach Baylin; Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Licorice Pizza, Written by Paul Thomas Anderson; United Artists
  • The Power of the Dog, Written by Jane Campion and Thomas Savage, Netflix

No surprises here. Belfast and Power of the Dog were ineligible at the WGA, but they are easy picks for the Oscar lineup, and WGA nominee The French Dispatch is equally easy to dismiss.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • CODA, Screenplay by Siân Heder, Based on the Original Motion Picture La Famille Belier Directed by Eric Lartigau, Written by Victoria Bedos, Stanislas Carree de Malberg, Eric Lartigau and Thomas Bidegain; Apple
  • Dune, Screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth, Based on the novel Dune Written by Frank Herbert; Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Nightmare Alley, Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro & Kim Morgan, Based on the Novel by William Lindsay Gresham; Searchlight Pictures
  • tick…tick…BOOM!, Screenplay by Steven Levenson, Based on the play by Jonathan Larson; Netflix
  • West Side Story, Screenplay by Tony Kushner, Based on the Stage Play, Book by Arthur Laurents, Music by Leonard Bernstein, Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Play Conceived, Directed and Choreographed by Jerome Robbins; 20th Century Studios

Oscar nominations will be announced on Tuesday, February 8, 2022.

Oscar statues will be handed out for the 94th time on Sunday, March 27, 2022, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide. And Spider-Man: No Way Home will not receive a Best Picture nod. Shaking my damn head.

Nominate Someone You know For 4th Annual The Reel Black List OR Reel Women


Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1