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Ahead of the Oscars ceremony this weekend, Eve considers the prospects of victory for the nominated pictures.

The 94th Academy Awards will be taking place this weekend, pitting some of the best films released this year against each other. The relevance (or lack thereof) of awards ceremonies is an ongoing debate and it’s hard to tell which films will become the future “greats” and which will fade into the background of cinema history. Luckily, there are some real gems within this year’s best picture nominees. So without further ado, here are the 10 best picture nominees in ascending order of their winning chances:

Nightmare Alley

Guillermo Del Toro’s latest outing—a stylish neo-noir about the exploits of a mentalist (Bradley Cooper) in the ‘40s—is least likely to take home the best film award. There has been considerably less buzz around it than Del Toro’s 2017 best picture winner The Shape of Water, but it is a visually stunning film with a brilliantly executed ending, and certainly one to watch for those that like dark, grounded horror.

Don’t Look Up

One of the two Netflix features up for best picture, Don’t Look Up follows two scientists (Leonardo di Caprio and Jennifer Lawrence) as they try to avoid an extinction level asteroid collision. This stark warning of the apocalyptic potential of the current climate crisis garnered mixed reviews from critics and although some humour fell flat, part of me wonders whether this film is so contentious because it errs a tad too close for comfort.

Drive My Car

The only film nominated that is not in the english language, Drive My Car is adapted from a short story by Haruki Murakami. Clocking in at three hours, it follows the blossoming relationship between a widower and his young chauffeur. It is a favourite to win best international film.

CODA

Before I looked at the list of nominees, I had not heard of CODA, an Apple TV project about the only hearing member of a close knit family (Emilia Jones) discovering her love of music. Troy Kotsur’s portrayal of a loving, supportive father could certainly win the Oscar for best supporting actor, but it may be too slight a film to win best picture. Hopefully its nomination will bring this touching film about family and identity to a wider audience. 

King Richard

This biopic about the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams is the definition of a feel-good film. Sports films aren’t really my thing, and I found this overly saccharine at times, but Will Smith puts in a great performance as the title character which may prove a third time lucky for his chances at a best actor Oscar. 

Dune

Denis Villenue’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic will probably win best cinematography for its stunning desert landscapes. As it only follows the events of the start of the first book, it is more an exercise in setting the stage for what is to come rather than offering a complete narrative in itself. I think the planned sequel has the potential to be a much stronger best picture contender in a few years.

Licorice Pizza

My favourite film on the list, Licorice Pizza focuses on the relationship between 25 year-old Alana Kane (Alana Haim) and 15 year-old Gary Valentine (Cooper Seymour-Hoffman) in 1970s California. It is the first acting role for both stars, and likely the start of very successful careers. In a reversal of the norm, this is not a male adolescent bildungsroman, but centres on Haim’s 20-something woman plagued by ennui and unsure of her place in the adult world. It’s currently one of the favourites for best original screenplay, and I would be pleasantly surprised to see it win best picture.

West Side Story

As we are in the midst of a musical resurgence, it was only a matter of time before we were given a remake of West Side Story. Spielberg’s version is a joyous spectacle: great visuals, choreography, and a particularly stand-out performance of Anita by Ariana DeBose.

Belfast

Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical Belfast is a very strong contender. Although personally not as memorable as others in this list, it is a heartfelt tribute to home, family and films themselves. 

The Power of the Dog

Proof that Netflix is going from strength to strength, Jane Campion’s adaptation of Thomas Savage’s novel is set in Montana in the 1920s, following a cruel rancher (Benedict Cumberbatch) who offers a frosty welcome to his brother’s (Jesse Plemons) new wife (Kirsten Dunst) and her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee). All four of the main cast are up for acting awards, with Cumberbatch vying with Will Smith for best actor. Smit-McPhee delivers a terrific performance as an introverted, self-possessed teen and is currently favourite for best supporting actor. I will take any opportunity to gush about Kirsten Dunst, and she 100% deserves best supporting actress for her portrayal of a tormented wife. Jane Campion is also up for best director and if she were to win (which is quite likely) she would be only the third female director to do so. As is evident, I would happily see The Power of the Dog do a clean sweep of its nominated categories.


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