Did you happen to watch the Oscars? Well if you didn’t, they gave out some awards, edited some speeches, and oh yeah, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock across the face.
Like anyone who has been on the Internet for over a decade, I thought this was fake.
I was wrong.
This was as real as it gets.
This moment is heading full-speed into the Take Cycle. I’m expecting think pieces with the following themes to dominate the Internet:
Will Smith is going through a mental breakdown.
Chris Rock needs to be canceled.
It was just a joke.
Talk shit, get hit.
You never know the battles someone is going through.
It was a cheap shot joke.
You can’t hit someone like that.
Whatever your take might be, tonight is why I “lace ’em up.” This is why I spend hundreds of hours watching movies, writing about the Oscars, and reading every piece of journalism I can get my hands on about actors and actresses. I will NEVER forget this moment.
I’m going to be a dweeb here, but I want to celebrate CODA running a fantastic campaign, capping it off with a win for Best Picture. I’ll let Twitter settle the Smith/Rock debate for me.
After the long and winding road, awards season has reached the end of its journey with the 2022 Oscars.
Remember when Belfast was the frontrunner for Best Picture and House of Gucci was going to dominate the acting categories? That was Fall 2021, which feels like 10 years ago.
Things have drastically changed the last few weeks as new contenders have emerged. I won’t waste anymore more time. Below are my predictions for every category.
P.S. Please move the Oscars back to February 2023.
Belfast CODA Don’t Look Up Drive My Car Dune King Richard Licorice Pizza Nightmare Alley The Power of the Dog West Side Story
This is a two-horse race between The Power of the Dog and CODA. The Power of the Dog dominated critics’ circles and picked up huge wins at the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and Critics’ Choice Awards. On the other hand, CODA is the sentimental favorite and surged to wins at the SAGs and PGAs.
Best Picture is a preferential ballot, which means voters rank the nominees from most favorite to least favorite (1-10). If a film gets 50% of the first-place votes on the first try, it’s over. That’s not going to happen. The film that receives the least number of votes is eliminated. For the ballots that were eliminated, the Academy then takes their number two selections and applies those votes to ballots with that film at number one. This process happens with selections three and four until one film receives 50% of the vote. Here’s a quick diagram to explain.
Voter A: 1) The Power of the Dog 2) CODA 3) Don’t Look Up Voter B: 1) Nightmare Alley 2) CODA 3) The Power of the Dog Voter C: 1) CODA 2) West Side Story 3) Dune
Let’s say Nightmare Alley comes in at 10th place after round one so it’s eliminated. Go to Voter B’s number two selection, which is CODA. Essentially, CODA becomes Voter B’s new number one so it’s redistributed to ballots with CODA at one (like Voter C) and adds to CODA‘s first-place tally. The elimination process will occur until a film receives 50% of the vote.
Because of this balloting system, Best Picture is an award given to the film that voters liked the most, or close to it. Don’t think about which film is number one on ballots, but think about which film will fall at numbers two and three. This is why CODA has a legit shot at winning because it will probably fall within the top 3 on many ballots. Can the same be said for The Power of the Dog?
My heart says Coda, and after thinking it over, so does my head. From Sundance to the Oscars, what a run for this heartwarming film.
Who Should Win:Dune Who Will Win: CODA
Kenneth Branagh, Belfast Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog Stephen Spielberg, West Side Story
This is Jane Campion’s award to lose. The Power of the Dog is not my favorite movie, but I can’t deny Campion’s expertise and execution. Plus, she’s virtually won every directing award on the circuit. My vote would be for Denis Villeneuve and Dune… oh wait, he was completely snubbed. You deserve better, Denis.
Who Should Win: Denis Villeneuve, Dune (not nominated) Who Will Win: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
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
The kid from West Philadelphia should give the speech of the night. I can’t wait.
Who Should Win: Will Smith, King Richard Who Will Win: Will Smith, King Richard
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos Kristen Stewart, Spencer
Do you want chaos? Then this is the category for you! Jessica Chastain is the favorite, and as much as I love Chastain, Olivia Colman is tied with Frances McDormand as the best working actress in Hollywood. Colman is a master of her craft. I like all of these actresses so I won’t be upset with whoever wins. I’ll go with Colman in a slight upset because the Academy loves her.
Who Should Win: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter Who Will Win: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Ciarán Hinds, Belfast Troy Kostur, CODA Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog
Troy’s Oscar moment.
Who Should Win: Troy Kostur, CODA Who Will Win: Troy Kostur, CODA
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter Ariana DeBose, West Side Story Judi Dench, Belfast Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard
Ariana is the lock of the century.
Who Should Win: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story Who Will Win: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Belfast, Kenneth Branagh Don’t Look Up, Adam McKay; Story by Adam McKay & David Sirota King Richard, Zach Baylin Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson The Worst Person in the World, Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier
The screenplay categories are the hardest of the night. Is this the spot where the Academy rewards Belfast? Does Don’t Look Up have enough momentum following its win at the WGAs? I’m predicting the Academy rewards the man who has been knocking at the door for over two decades, looking for his first Oscar win. That man is Mr. Paul Thomas Anderson.
Who Should Win:Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson Who Will Win: Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
CODA, Sian Heder Drive My Car, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe Dune, Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth The Lost Daughter, Maggie Gyllenhaal The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion
If Coda or The Power of the Dog wins this category, then they become the favorite for Best Picture. CODA picked up a huge win at the WGAs, but The Power of the Dog was ineligible. Campion previously won an Oscar for screenplay, and she’s a lock for Best Director. Does the Academy spread the wealth and reward Sian Heder of Maggie Gyllenhaal? I think they share the love so my pick is Heder.
Who Should Win:Dune, Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth Who Will Win: CODA, Sian Heder
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Encanto Flee Luca The Mitchells vs. The Machines Raya and the Last Dragon
The Encanto momentum is real.
Who Should Win:The Mitchells vs. The Machines Who Will Win: Encanto
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
Drive My Car, Japan Flee, Denmark The Hand of God, Italy Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, Bhutan The Worst Person in the World, Norway
Had Drive My Car not been nominated for Best Picture, this would go to The Worst Person in the World. Both films are worthy of this win.
Who Should Win:Drive My Car, Japan and The Worst Person in the World, Norway (tie) Who Will Win: Drive My Car, Japan
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Ascension Attica Flee Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised) Writing with Fire
Will Questlove be drumming on Fallon the next night after his win? That is the million-dollar question.
Who Should Win:Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised) Who Will Win: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not be Televised)
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Don’t Look Up, Nicholas Britell Dune, Hans Zimmer Encanto, Germaine Franco Parallel Mothers, Alberto Iglesias The Power of the Dog, Jonny Greenwood
Who Should Win:Dune, Hans Zimmer Who Will Win: Dune, Hans Zimmer
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Be Alive, King Richard, Music and Lyric by DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter Dos Oruguitas, Encanto, Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda Down To Joy, Belfast, Music and Lyric by Van Morrison No Time To Die, No Time To Die, Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell Somehow You Do, Four Good Days, Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
Why Encanto submitted this song over “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is something I’ll never understand. This comes down to who the Academy wants to give an Oscar to, Lin-Manuel or Billie & Finneas? I think not submitting“Bruno” will come back to haunt Encanto. James Bond wins the Oscar.
Who Should Win: No Time To Die, No Time To Die, Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell Who Will Win: No Time To Die, No Time To Die, Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
Dune, Greig Fraser Nightmare Alley, Dan Laustsen The Power of the Dog, Ari Wegner The Tragedy of Macbeth, Ari Wegner West Side Story, Janusz Kaminski
Let me just say that all five of these films look spectacular. But Dune is on another level, and its dominance in the technical categories continues.
Who Should Win:Dune, Greig Fraser Who Will Win: Dune, Greig Fraser
Belfast Dune No Time To Die The Power of the Dog West Side Story
I’m running out of ways to explain how Dune is a stunning technical achievement.
Who Should Win:Dune Who Will Win: Dune
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Dune Nightmare Alley The Power of the Dog The Tragedy of Macbeth West Side Story
One word: Arrakis.
Who Should Win:Dune Who Will Win:Dune
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Coming 2 America Cruella Dune The Eyes of Tammy Faye House of Gucci
With Jessica Chastain the favorite to win Best Actress because of her big transformation,it makes sense to reward the people behind her makeup and hairstyling.
Who Should Win:Cruella Who Will Win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Cruella Cyrano Dune Nightmare Alley West Side Story
Who Should Win:West Side Story Who Will Win: Cruella
BEST FILM EDITING
Don’t Look Up Dune King Richard The Power of the Dog Tick, Tick… Boom!
King Richard picked up a surprising victory at the ACE Eddies. However, Dune avenges its loss and wins yet another Oscar.
Who Should Win:Dune Who Will Win: Dune
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Dune Free Guy No Time To Die Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Spider-Man: No Way Home
In 10 years, we are going to look back and question why Dune won so many technical awards, but not Best Director nor Best Picture.
Who Should Win:Dune Who Will Win: Dune
***Full disclosure – I haven’t seen any nominees in the final three categories. I’m using my best judgment as well as gambling odds to determine winners.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Audible Lead Me Home The Queen of Basketball Three Songs for Benazir When We Were Bullies
Who Should Win:The Queen of Basketball Who Will Win: The Queen of Basketball
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
Ala Kachuu – Take and Run The Dress The Long Goodbye On My Mind Please Hold
Who Should Win:The Long Goodbye Who Will Win: The Long Goodbye
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Aairs of the Art Bestia Boxballet Robin Robin The Windshield Wiper
Who Should Win:Robin Robin Who Will Win: Robin Robin
Thank you for reading my discussions about the Oscars all year. I really appreciate it. Follow me on Twitter, @danny_giro.
We’re almost there, everyone. The Oscars are just over two weeks away, but there’s still work left to be done with the BAFTAs and Critics’ Choice Awards. In a strange move, both the BAFTAs and Critics’ Choice will air on Sunday, Mar. 13, which means we’ll have twice the amount of answers to apply to our Oscar predcitions.
The Double Up
As an avid fan of sports gambling, my friends and I have a term where you bet on one team – spread and moneyline – in the same game and win both. We call it “The Double Fuck.” For the kids reading at home, let’s call it “The Double Up.”
The BAFTAs and Critics’ Choice Awards are the two biggest remaining barometers for predicting the Oscars. Final voting does not even begin until March 17 so these results have the potential to sway voters. If a film or actor can pull off the Double Up on Sunday, then it will be a lock to win the Oscar.
In the major categories, these are the films and entertainers with the best chances of winning twice on Sunday.
Best Film/Picture – The Power of the Dog
Best Director – Jane Campion
Actor – Will Smith
Supporting Actress – Ariana DeBose
Supporting Actor – Troy Kotsur/Kodi Smit-McPhee
Original Screenplay – Paul Thomas Anderson
If The Power of the Dog wins both the BAFTA and Critics’ Choice, it’s pretty much a wrap on Best Picture. Belfast at the BAFTAs and CODA at the Critics’ Choice are the biggest threats to the Dog’s Double Up potential. Selfishly, I would love for CODA, a movie I thoroughly enjoyed more than The Power of the Dog, to win the Critics’ Choice to make the Oscar race more interesting. Before Nomadland in 2021, the last film to win Best Picture at the Critics’ Choice, BAFTAs, and Oscars was 12 Years a Slave.
The acting categories can get a little weirder. The only true locks at both ceremonies are Ariana DeBose and Jane Campion, who will use both ceremonies to practice their acceptance speeches. The Kotsur/Smit-McPhee matchup is mirroring the Slyvester Stallone/Mark Rylance battle for supporting actor in 2015. Kostsur/Stallone is the acclaimed, feel-good performance while Smit-McPhee/Rylance seems to be the critics’ guild choice.
Every critical pundit and their mother are using the Chadwick Boseman/Anthony Hopkins analogy from last year to compare this year’s Best Actor race between Will Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch. To refresh your memory, Boseman was the heavy favorite throughout the awards season. However, Hopkins’ win at the BAFTAs propelled him to pull off the upset at the Oscars over Boseman. If Cumberbatch can win the BAFTA, then the analogy will gain even more traction. Plus, the BAFTAs like to take care of their own and Cumberbatch is an English man so you do the math.
I don’t care what happens to PTA this weekend as long as he wins the Oscar. To quote Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight, “It’s time.”
The First Streamer To Win Best Picture Will Be…
Though the winner is still up in the air, I can confidently say that Best Picture will go to a streaming service for the first time ever. Barring a last minute surge for West Side Story or Belfast, Best Picture will most likely come down to Netflix’s The Power of Dog and Apple TV+’s CODA. Netflix has been at the door the past few years, trying to get into the Best Picture club. Roma was the favorite going into the 2019 Oscars, but the Academy had other plans in Green Book. This year, The Power of the Dog is the clear favorite to win, and if it doesn’t take home the top prize, I’ll be shocked. If Netflix can’t win Best Picture this year, I truthfully don’t know if it will ever happen.
On the flip side, Apple TV+ started just over two years ago, and they’ve cracked the Best Picture category with CODA. The service has been steamrolling the competition at other awards’ shows thanks to Ted Lasso. If CODA does the unthinkable and wins Best Picture, expect a lot of changes to occur at Netflix in regards to their handling of prestige dramas.
One of the most important checkpoints on the road to the Oscars is the SAG Awards, which aired on Feb. 27. Before the ceremony, I tweeted out one prediction.
As The Office’s Kevin Malone once said, “It’s just nice to win one.”
Can Coda Win Best Picture?
The movie that best represents the “little engine that could” this awards season is Apple TV+’s Coda, the story of Ruby Rossi (Emilia Jones), a teenage CODA (child of deaf adults) who grapples between pursuing her musical dreams or staying at home to support her family’s business. After winning the top prize at Sundance and finding itself on many “top 10” lists, the feel-good story added another chapter to its Cinderella run with a triumphant victory for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture at the SAG Awards.
Coda seemingly checks off a new “first” with every nomination and win. Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin, and Daniel Durant, who play Ruby’s father, mother, and brother respectively, became the first deaf/non-hearing actors to be nominated and win a SAG. Kotsur also won Outstanding Supporting Actor earlier in the night. For the Oscars, not only is it the first film to be nominated with the majority of the starring roles played by deaf actors, but Coda will be Apple’s first film in Best Picture.
According to Goldderby, both the cast of Coda and Kotsur had the second-best odds of winning in their respective categories behind Belfast and Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog. With the huge win at the SAGs, can Coda pull off the unthinkable and win Best Picture at the Oscars?
Coda‘s win at the SAGs completely shook up the race for Best Picture. While The Power of the Dog remains the favorite due to its 12 Oscar nominations, Coda now slides itself into second place ahead of Belfast, which lost a ton of momentum with its SAG loss.
There are a couple of things in Coda‘s favor. SAG winners for Outstanding Performance by a Cast went on to win Best Picture in three of the last seven Oscars. Two of those winners – Parasite and Spotlight – were considered upsets, and many cite the SAG win as the springboard it needed to win over voters. Kotsur’s Oscar nomination for supporting acting helps its cause because only three films (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Slumdog Millionaire, and Parasite) in the 21st century won Best Picture without an acting nominee.
From a worldly perspective, things aren’t so great in the world. Between a pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many are looking for signs of hope and happiness. Coda is a delightful, feel-good story that should play well with the Academy’s preferential ballot.
Two important ceremonies to circle: The Critics’ Choice Awards on March 13 and the Producers Guild of America Awards on March 19. Three of the last six best picture winners at the Critic’s Choice and Producers Guild went on to win Best Picture. If Coda can win the top prize at least one of these awards, it has a legitimate shot to pull off the upset at the Oscars.
Unpredictable Best Actress Race
Good luck predicting who wins Best Actress.
In things I did not expect to see, Jessica Chastain winning the SAG for Outstanding Leading Actress ranks at the top of the list. Chastain won for her role in The Eyes of Tammy Faye as the titular character. I will admit that I have not seen this film nor do I know anyone who saw it. However, Chastain is a well-respected actress who transformed into an unrecognizable person due to makeup and prosthetics, which is something that major guilds like SAG and the Oscars typically reward.
If you asked me three months ago who will win Best Actress, my pick would have been Kristen Stewart. Two months ago and I would have said Olivia Colman. One week ago and Nicole Kidman would be the selection. Now, is it Chastain? At this point, don’t count out Penelope Cruz as well.
With none of these films competing for Best Picture, this category is on an island. Your guess is as good as mine. As of March 1, my guess is Colman.
Let’s travel to the future together. It’s March 28, 2022. The ratings for the Oscars come out, and the show managed to increase from 2021’s career-low 10 million viewers. However, the number of viewers was less than 2020’s ceremony, which accumulated 23.6 million. There will be multiple “how-to” posts all over Twitter, providing solutions on various ways to fix the telecast.
I’m beating those writers to the punch. I can’t fix the Academy, nor is it my place to do so. I’m interested in the telecast itself. For the second time, I came up with a few ideas to implement into future ceremonies.
Improving The Telecast
The Oscars need to remember that it’s a television show first and foremost. Rewarding incredible achievements and spotlighting the Hollywood elite, though important, is secondary to running an informative and entertaining broadcast. The days of 30 million viewers are behind us. Cinephiles like myself who love movies will always watch. The key is to figure out how to bring back the casual fan.
Move The Nominations To Primetime
Announcing the Oscar nominees on a Tuesday at 8:15 am ET/515 am PT is malpractice. Why haven’t entertainment journalists rallied together and protested against the morning announcements? Being nominated for an Oscar is life-changing, but it’s hard to generate excitement before most people drink a cup of coffee.
The nominations should be a one-hour primetime special on ABC. One or two hosts can announce the nominations throughout the hour. Create a panel of movie experts and entertainment journalists to live-react to the surprises and snubs. Conduct virtual interviews with nominees to generate excitement for one of the highest honors of their lives. Stream the special on Twitter so those without cable can take part in the action. Selfishly, it will be easier for writers (like myself) to blog about the nominations at a normal hour instead of the wee hours of the morning.
Cut The Check For A Host
Hosting the Oscars used to be one of the most prestigious gigs in Hollywood. Icons like Bob Hope, David Letterman, Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, and Chris Rock all hosted the Oscars. After the Kevin Hart controversy in 2019, there has been no host, and the show has suffered from three straight shows with an average of 20 million viewers, the lowest three years in 35 years.
Besides the Internet dragging a host through the mud for every little mistake in their past, the financial compensation to host is extremely low. Jimmy Kimmel said he was paid $15,000 to host. For a high-risk, high reward project that requires a lot of time and attention to detail, the Academy should compensate the host financially at a fair number. Maybe it’s not enough money to captivate an A+ list star, but it could attract an A-/B+ host to take on the challenge.
I would just like to put it on the record that I want to host the Oscars. If any member of the Academy reads this article and wants my services, please hit me up.
Best Picture Eliminator
Best Picture is the biggest award of the night that’s usually the last award announced*. Presenters will spotlight each Best Picture nominee throughout the ceremony with a short speech and clips. The clips can stay. However, I want to drum up even more anticipation for the greatest award. What if a few nominees were eliminated from the race at the end of each hour?
*Do NOT even get me started on last year’s decision to put Best Picture second-to-last and end the show with a picture of Anthony Hopkins because he wasn’t there to accept his award for Best Actor.
I call it “The Eliminator.” At the end of the first hour, a presenter announces the elimination of three to four films from the Best Picture race. At the end of the second hour, three more films are eliminated from contention. The plan is to have the final three going into the last hour. Halfway through the last hour, eliminate one more film so it gets down to two. Then, announce the winner from the remaining two films at the end of the night.
Don’t tell me this wouldn’t garner attention from those watching at home and those following along on Twitter. Tense eliminations work! Just ask American Idol, Survivor, The Challenge, The Bachelor, etc. Some might argue that eliminating films throughout the night will diminish their value. Who wants to come in tenth place in any competition? To avoid this, don’t announce the number of votes placed for spots four through ten. Don’t publicly rank the films from ninth place, eighth place, seventh place, and so on and so forth. Randomly determine which ones to eliminate for those first two hours. Only the order of the final three should matter. The crowd’s reactions to these eliminations will generate loud, viral reactions. Think of the memes!
Award Stunt Ensembles
Looking back, the most popular award was ahead of its time. #FilmTwitter begs and complains about the Oscars 24/7. I mean I’m literally writing an article about changing the telecast! You know what would bring in high ratings? Tom Holland and Zendaya accepting an award for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
The show needs popular movies featured in the telecast. If we can’t agree on the popular Oscar, then the next best thing is an award for stunt ensembles, similar to the award given at the SAGs. Rewarding stunt ensembles is long overdue. These daredevils deserve to be rewarded on the same stage where the actors they portray collect Oscars. Plus, it’s a good way to incorporate more action blockbusters into the ceremony.
Fan Voting For Non-Awards
The Oscars should be a celebration of the year in film for the fans. Without these fans, movies would never be made. It’s time to make their voices heard throughout the broadcast. The Academy will never let fans vote on the awards, which is fine by me. However, there needs to be a fan element to the broadcast. Fans should be able to vote on who they think will win each category. A ticker can run at the bottom of the screen to reveal the fan vote before the announcement for each category is made.
I’d also consider adding fun categories for fans to vote on like best dressed, best speech, the best performance of the year, the best film of the year, etc. Hold a prediction contest to see who can predict the most winners of the night and announce their name on the broadcast. There needs to be more social interaction between the host and the viewers. Make the audience at home feel like their opinion matters.
Start It Earlier
The Super Bowl is the most-watched event in the country and it starts at 6:30 PM EST. The Oscars are not the Super Bowl, but the ceremony should not air from 8 PM – 11 PM. Casual viewers are not staying up that late to watch. Either do it from 6:30 PM – 10 PM or 7 PM – 10 PM. Then, run a post-game interview show from 10 PM – 11 PM.
I’m writing this article as someone who adores this ceremony. I only want this show to thrive, not struggle, in the future. Here’s to an open mind.
We did it, everyone. We made it to the end of 2021. Movie theaters aren’t dead, television continues to thrive, and the Knicks made the playoffs for the first time since 2013. It wasn’t such a bad year, all things considered.
For movies and television, 2021 was far superior to 2020. A lot of the 2020 movie releases that were pushed to 2021 because of the pandemic finally hit theaters (yes, theaters). Prestige television is still rocking thanks to hits like Succession and Mare of Easttown.
Below is a list of my favorite performances of 2021. It’s a mix of Oscar buzz with underrated performances. Enjoy!
Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza
As one of the most prolific filmmakers of his generation, Paul Thomas Anderson can work with anyone he wants. In 2021, PTA chose two first-time actors, Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman, to headline his movie, Licorice Pizza. Haim, known for her work in the band, HAIM, and Hoffman, the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, were stunning revelations. Whenever the two interacted, I couldn’t look away. Their chemistry was magnetic, and these were two movie-star performances.
Kieran Culkin, Succession
Jeremy Strong gives the best performance on Succession. However, the MVP of Season 3 was Kieran Culkin. I’m sure most of his one-liners are in the script, but Culkin’s comedic delivery and improvisation are superb. Throughout the season, Roman went from an immature suckup to one of Logan’s most trustworthy allies. It’s why Roman’s revelation that Logan will do anything to win even if it means fucking over his children was so heartbreaking to watch. Also, his face after sending the dick pic to Logan is a first-ballot meme hall of fame.
Frank Grillo, Boss Level
I want to give a shoutout to my favorite “B” action movie of the year, Boss Level. The film is a fun, thrilling addition to the time-loop genre. I found it on Hulu on a random Sunday night in the Spring and loved it. I didn’t know Frank Grillo could be this witty and charming. I hope to see him in more of these half-asshole/half-good guy roles aka the Ryan Reynolds.
Rachel Zegler, Mike Faist, And Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
We, as a society, look silly for every doubting Steven Spielberg. The legendary director loves musicals, and yet most people had doubts about his reimagined West Side Story. The egg is on our face because Spielberg crafted one of the five best movies of 2021. For a story set in the 1950s, Spielberg made it feel modern and injected a new energy and fresh reinterpretation of a classic. The three standout performances come from Rachel Zegler as Maria, Mike Faist as Riff, and Ariana DeBose as Anita. These three actors jump off the screen thanks to their charisma and confidence. I can’t wait to watch this again.
CT, The Challenge
CT is pulling a Tom Brady, winning challenges in the latter part of his career. Bananas is still the GOAT with 7 season wins, but things are starting to get very interesting has won 3 of the last 5 challenges, bringing his total to 5 season wins. Does Bananas come out of retirement to put an end to CT’s dominance? MTV, pay CT and Bananas whatever they want because the fans need to see this epic showdown.
Jason Momoa, Dune
To quote the kids, Jason Momoa “knew the assignment.” Momoa is having so much fun in Dune. While most of the characters are doom and gloom, Momoa’s Duncan Idaho will put a smile on your face.
Tom Hiddleston and Sophia Di Martino in Loki
Florence Pugh in Black Widow and Hawkeye
Ana de Armas in No Time to Die
Andrew Garfield in Spider-Man: No Way Home
Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrerain In The Heights
Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog
Leonardo DiCaprio in Don’t Look Up
Evan Peters in Mare of Easttown
William Zabka in Cobra Kai
Tom Thibodeau on the sidelines at Knicks games
What were your favorite performances this year? Leave your thoughts in the comments or tweet me, @Danny_giro.
If you’re reading this, then it’s too late. There’s no turning back now. The biggest movie of the year is Spider-Man: No Way Home, and I’m ready to talk about it. Spoilers are on the way. You have been warned.
Seriously, turn around if you haven’t seen the film yet.
I’m running out of videos so this is your final warning.
Spider-Man: No Way Home Thoughts And Reactions
– Where do I even begin? Let’s start with the most obvious talking point. We got the meme.
I knew this moment was coming and it still surprised me. When Ned opened a portal and Spider-Man ran closer to it, you knew it was Andrew Garfield or Tobey Maguire. Once Garfield removed his mask, my theater exploded like it was a buzzer-beater in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. People were screaming with joy, jumping out of their seats with huge smiles on their faces. As Ned tried to open the second portal, the same murmur began as the entire theater waited for Tobey Maguire to enter. Tobey enters the screen, and the theater once again broke the sound barrier. These reactions are exactly why Sony and Marvel choose not to reveal these former heroes in the trailer.
– One of the first swerves of the film occurred when Doctor Strange agreed to cast the spell for Peter, which would make the entire world forget about his identity. However, Strange decided to stop the spell when Peter asked for multiple exceptions as to who would remember him.
Here’s my issue. Doctor Strange is supposed to be one of the smartest and most powerful sorcerers in the world. This is the same guy who went forward in time to view alternate futures to see all the possible outcomes of the battle with Thanos. I’m supposed to believe that Peter’s requests would distract Doctor Strange from completing the spell? Peter asked for MJ, Ned, Aunt May, and Happy to remember his identity as well as anyone else who previously knew his identity. It’s not like he named his entire high school by name. There’s no way Doctor Strange messes this spell up. I refuse to believe it.
– The best part of this trilogy is the relationship between Peter, MJ, and Ned. No Way Home went out of their way to emphasize this three-way friendship. From the college decisions to their final goodbye, you could argue that Ned is just as important to Peter as MJ. These three young stars have such good chemistry that I would love to explore these characters in another film. Perhaps they go to MIT and Peter tries to be Spider-Man in Boston.
– The villains. For me, superhero films are only as strong as their villains. The Dark Knight went from great to iconic because of Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. In No Way Home. The film had five supervillains from previous iterations of Spider-Man including Electro, Lizard, and Sandman. But, the two that deserve the most praise are Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin and Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus. In my opinion, these two performances are on the Mount Rushmore of Supervillains in the 21st century. When highly-trained actors like Dafoe and Molina get to play in the comic book sandbox, great things will happen.
Dafoe’s over-the-top and downright evil performance as Green Goblin is so effective that it works as the main antagonist of the film. Another swerve I enjoyed involved Molina’s Doctor Octopus. The trailer sets up Doc Ock as a true villain, but once Peter cures the harness, he becomes an ally of the Spider-Men. (Can we call them the “Spider-Men?”)
– Everything about the Spider-Men team-up worked. The inside jokes, the speeches about grief, the interactions during the fight, etc. It was all executed to perfection. Jokes about Tobey’s back and Peter 1’s inclusion in the Avengers were crowdpleasers. I couldn’t stop smiling when the three Peters’ were onscreen.
– Garfield’s dive to save MJ as a callback to when Gwen died absolutely wrecked me.
– Speaking of Garfield, he probably channels the essence of Peter Parker the best out of the three actors. Peter is supposed to be this witty and charming persona and Garfield’s the best when it comes to these characteristics. Tobey had the tough job of going first while Holland played teenage Parker admirably, but Garfield is the best actor to play the role. He stole the show out of the three Spideys. I just wish he had better superhero movies to showcase his talents. As it turns out, he may get the chance!
– Tom Holland is a really good Spider-Man. I’m excited to see where he goes from here since he’s now an A-list actor.
– I liked the ending of this film. I’m a fan of conclusions, and this felt like the ending of a successful trilogy. However, it does leave the door open to see how Peter has moved on in a world post-spell. Did he make new friendships? Did he make new enemies? Can he win back MJ and Ned? I’d be interested in a fourth film.
Overall, No Way Home lived up to the hype. It’s a theater experience that I will never forget.
My official rankings:
What are your thoughts on No Way Home? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.
In my first column for the 2022 Oscars, I talked about how Belfast and The Power of the Dog were 1 and 1A in the Best Picture race with a lot of unknowns trailing behind. Two of those unknowns arrived this past week and became legit contenders. Buckle up.
Licorice Pizza And West Side Story Have Arrived
Never count out the power of well-respected directors. Coming into the Fall, very little was known about Licorice Pizza and West Side Story besides the two powerhouses behind the camera, Paul Thomas Anderson and Steven Spielberg. Projects from two of the best directors of their respective generations will garner a lot of attention.
In both cases, the hype was real.
Licorice Pizza landed the best debut at the independent box office during the pandemic with $335,000. PTA’s coming-of-age story set in the 1970s San Fernando Valley received overwhelmingly positive reviews, with RogerEbert.com calling it the “best movie of the year.”
Fittingly, another organization called it the best film of the year. The National Board of Review named Licorice Pizza the Best Film of 2021. In addition to the top prize, PTA won Best Director, and Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman won breakthrough performance.
The win at the NBR foreshadows an Oscar nomination. Since 2010, only two films* that won Best Film did not go on to receive a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. With a Best Picture nomination all but guaranteed, PTA should receive at least one more nomination for screenplay or direction with the former being his best chance to win.
*2014’s A Most Violent Year and 2020’s Da 5 Bloods
While PTA searches for his first Oscar, Spielberg is trying to win his fourth Oscar with West Side Story. When Spielberg first announced he would remake one of the greatest musicals of all time, many questioned why take on this legendary work of art.
Not this guy!
We should know better than to question a 17-time Oscar nominee.
According to the first reactions, West Side Storyis a “true Spielberg classic.”
West Side Story quickly inserted itself into the Best Picture race with its inclusion on NBR’s 10 Best Films of the Year. The film is a lock for nominations in Best Picture and Best Director. Expect newcomer Rachel Zegler (Best Actress), who won Best Actress at NBR, Ariana DeBose (Supporting), and Rita Moreno (Supporting) to be major players in their respective races.
Gotham Awards And National Board of Review Results
This past week, the Gotham Awards gave out some hardware. The biggest winner was Netflix’s The Lost Daughter, which won four awards: Best Feature, Breakthrough Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress. Will it translate to Oscar nominations? It will be difficult for Maggie Gyllenhaal to crack the directing category, but she’s a shoo-in for an Adapted Screenplay nomination. Olivia Colman is a guarantee for a Best Actress nomination while the film still has some work to do for Best Picture.
As for the rest of the NBR winners, Will Smith began his “I’m going to win every award in site” campaign with a victory for King Richard.
Until next time, my friends.
After strong premieres, Licorice Pizza and West Side Story are now contenders in the race for Best Picture at the 2022 Oscars.
So that Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer looks pretty awesome, huh.
It’s hard to put into words how much of grip No Way Home has on pop culture. It’s easily the most anticipated film of the year, andnot since Avengers: Endgame have we seen a film dominate the conversation on the Internet to this extent. Between spoilers, leaks, predictions, you can’t go a few hours without another writer or publication posting an article about No Way Home.
The film’s first trailer smashed the record for the most viewed trailer in 24 hours with 355.5 million views. That record will be hard to beat, but the second trailer served more as a preview of what’s to come.
“We started getting visitors… from every universe.”
The big reveal for this trailer revolved around the return of previous villains from multiple movies in different universes. Doctor Octopus, Sandman, and the Green Goblin returned from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films while the Lizard and Electro arrived from Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man films. These five supervillains could form the Sinister Six, but that begs the question about the sixth and final member. Will there be a sixth villain?
More importantly, who is the true villain of No Way Home? Perhaps it’s Ned, who arrives from another universe as the Hobgoblin. Maybe, Kang, the Conquerer, shows up to wreak havoc on the timeline once again as he did in Loki. It’s crazy to say this, but could Doctor Strange be the “bad guy” since he’ll do anything to shut the door on the multiverse even if that means taking out Peter Parker?
Your guess is as good as mine.
Here’s what I do know. The trailer revealed just enough to satisfy the audience without giving away too much. Most of the villains appeared, but not every villain. The main idea of the plot is known, and yet there’s still so much unknown.
If No Way Home is a game of Texas Hold ’em, then we just saw the flop. The river, or the fifth and final card, is the end of the movie and how it sets up the future of the MCU. Every fan including myself is focused on the fourth card known as “the turn.” That’s the moment went Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield show up to give us our three Spider-MEN.
Look, it’s going to happen. Do not believe anything that Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield are saying. They are paid to deny this earth-shattering reveal. It’s going to be an awesome moment in the theaters that might rival the moment when Doctor Strange opened the portals to form the Avengers Army in Endgame.
For those still skeptical, the moment when Doctor Octopus pins Spider-Man to the wall and says, “You’re not Peter Parker” is a dead giveaway that Maguire and Garfield will appear at some point. He’s looking for “his” Peter. Marvel will make sure to pay off this moment. Would it have been cool to see the reunion in the trailer? Of course, but this special moment will fucking rule on the big screen.
I can’t wait for December 17. Say your prayer that no leaks or spoilers hit the Internet. I’m looking at you, critics.
Leave your predictions for Spider-Man: No Way Home in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.
Leonardo DiCaprio is one of the best actors of his generation and one of the most desirable men in Hollywood. In other news, the sky is blue and the grass is green.
We know Leo is great at what he does. With six Oscar nominations including one win for Best Actor, the proof is in the pudding. Countless actors who have worked with Leo have praised his talent, with Carey Mulligan calling him “the most incredible actor on the planet.”
It also helps to be one of the most attractive men ever, but that’s neither here, nor there.
On November 11, Leo turned 47. First of all, happy birthday to one of my acting heroes. Second, I started to reflect on Leo’s career, and one thing stood above the rest.
It wasn’t his acting ability or good looks or legendary paparazzi photos. All of those things are important, but it’s not his best quality.
Leo’s taste is his best quality.
No, I’m not referring to the time he ate raw bison liver in The Revenant.
I’m referring to his taste in projects. Leo arguably has the best taste in all of Hollywood. He consistently chooses great project after great project with very little misses on his filmography. In a time where superhero movies dominate the box office and streamers churn out new movies every week, DiCaprio continues to play by his rules and only participates in movies that he wants to make.
Leo is one of the last true movie stars in Hollywood. Leo hasn’t made the jump to prestige television just yet and up until this year, never headlined a movie for a streamer. (This will change with Netflix’s Don’t Look Up.) Every Leo movie feels like an event, which is rare. The days of actors being able to generate high box office returns based on their name alone is a thing of the past, and yet DiCaprio still has that power.
I view Leo’s career in two phases. B.S. and A.S. – Before Scorsese and After Scorsese. Leo rarely misses, meaning the film is either received negative reviews or flopped at the box office. Most of his “misses” came before his first collaboration with Martin Scorsese, which occurred in 2002 with Gangs of New York.
Below are Leo’s movies B.S.
Is The Man in the Iron Mask or Celebrity going to be shown on DiCaprio’s highlight tape? Probably not. I haven’t even seen Total Eclipse, but I’d imagine it won’t be on the tape, either. However, most actors would kill for an 11-year span that includes a supporting acting nomination at age 19, a leading role in the highest-grossing movie ever at the time, and a starring role beside Tom Hanks in a Steven Spielberg movie.
Leo had a lot of juice in 2002 and can headline any movie he wants. But he does the smart thing and pairs himself with one of the greatest directors ever, Martin Scorsese. Aligning himself with Scorsese was the smartest thing Leo could have ever done.
Below are Leo’s movies A.S.
Look at this success rate. Time and time again, DiCaprio chose movies that succeeded both critically and financially. The run of Gangs of New York, The Aviator, The Departed, and Blood Diamond is better than Murderers’ Row. There are no bad misses on this list. I’m not a fan of J. Edgar, but that movie was still named as one of the top ten films in 2011 by the National Board of Review.
The man doesn’t miss, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.