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The Best Picture Oscar Race: What Films Will Be Nominated?

Don't Look Up, The Power of the Dog, and Dune posters
(Image credit: Netflix, Warner Bros)

With Oscar nominations right around the corner, CinemaBlend is taking a look at which films and performances are likely to be in contention for nominations. Let’s look at a the Best Picture race. 

Locked In

Nine films this year received Best Picture nominations from the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, and Producer’s Guild awards. Those are The Power of the Dog, Belfast, Dune, Licorice Pizza, King Richard, Don’t Look Up, CODA, West Side Story and Tick, tick… Boom! With ten guaranteed slots this year, it’s a good bet that nearly all of these films, if not all, will be nominated. 

The flimsiest of the bunch is likely Tick, tick… Boom!, which has succeeded as a passion pick this season, but hasn’t picked up a lot of support outside of Andrew Garfield in lead actor. Still, it could join films like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Post, and The Blind Side as films that coupled their Best Picture nominations with just one acting nomination. 

Likely Bets

The last slot is a real wildcard. Being the Ricardos has strong support for Nicole Kidman’s performance and Aaron Sorkin’s script, but mixed reviews might mean it doesn’t have the passion to go all the way. Drive My Car is the opposite. It’s an international film with no star power, and is in the conversation solely due to word of mouth. The film is currently the International Feature frontrunner, and could score nominations in Adapted Screenplay and Director as well. Passion could carry this one a long way. It’s possible that fewer voters will watch it, but that it may rank higher on the ballots of those who have seen it.

Dark Horses

Nightmare Alley has all the hallmarks of a Best Picture nominee: a star-studded cast, stunning visuals and Oscar-winning director behind it. However, reviews weren’t through the roof, and the film was unfortunately a box office failure. It looks like it’ll be hanging on in just a few tech categories.

House of Gucci was embraced heavily at SAG with nominations for Gaga, Leto, and the ensemble cast. However, reception was very mixed for this one. It could surprise due to having a higher profile than other contenders, but I’m not counting on it.

It’s possible that The Tragedy of Macbeth or The Worst Person in the World find themselves embraced more heavily than they were with other precursors. Certainly both films have passion behind them, and could score surprise nominations elsewhere. 

The 10th slot this year could be just another generic, lackluster Oscar bait film, or something really special. We’ll find out soon.