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Oscar Predictions: A closer look at who will walk away winners

PHOTOS PROVIDED After winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Picture, “CODA” (above) is one of the favorites to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday. Other films nominated for Best Picture include “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “King Richard” and “Licorice Pizza.”

It’s that time of year again.

The 94th Academy Awards will air on Sunday night and because of streaming services, I have seen my fair share of nominated films and performances. With that in mind, I thought I would use this space to make some Oscar predictions, something I have never done during my 30-plus years in journalism.

Hey, there’s a first time for everything.

A caveat: I am going to select the winners of who should win and who I think will win. Hedging my bets, if you will. I will break down the big categories and simply make predictions for the lesser ones.

Let’s get right into it!

PHOTOS PROVIDED After winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Picture, “CODA” is one of the favorites to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday. Other films nominated for Best Picture include “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “King Richard” and “Licorice Pizza.”

Best Picture nominees: “Belfast,” “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “Dune, “ “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Power of the Dog” and “West Side Story”

Should win: “CODA” — This was the best film of the year. The Apple TV exclusive was an amazing, emotional piece of filmmaking about a young woman living with her deaf family. It did win the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Picture, so maybe there’s a chance.

Will win: “The Power of the Dog” — For the record, I hated “Power of the Dog.” The plot was boring and the film dragged along. However, it is a period piece about the old west and is beautifully shot. It has nothing to do with modern life, so it’s just the kind of film the Academy loves.

Best Director nominees: Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast,” Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car,” Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza,” Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog” and Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”

Should win: Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story — It’s been awhile for Spielberg. One of the all-time greats, he’s probably due for one, so we will go with him. While I didn’t love “West Side Story,” his direction was top notch, as usual.

PHOTOS PROVIDED After winning the Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Picture, “CODA” is one of the favorites to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday. Other films nominated for Best Picture include “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “King Richard” and “Licorice Pizza.”

Will win: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog” — Campion is considered one of the best in the business and the Academy won’t pass on the chance to give the statuette to a woman in a category that is historically dominated by men. Book it. Also, Best Picture and Best Director usually go hand-in-hand.

Best Actor nominees: Javier Bardem, “Being the Ricardos,” Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog,” Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick … Boom!” Will Smith, “King Richard” and Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”

Should win: Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick … Boom!” — Garfield transforms himself into Jonathan Larson, the man behind “Rent.” Garfield handled this role with ease and was impressive in the Netflix musical. Chances are that Garfield won’t win simply because he has played a superhero in the past.

Will win: Will Smith, “King Richard” — I have no problem with Smith winning. Smith did an amazing job turning into Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena Williams. He truly disappeared into the role, always looking worn out by work, coaching and, well, life in general. This is Smith’s best chance to win a statuette since “Ali.”

Best Actress nominees: Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter,” Penelope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers,” Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos” and Kristen Stewart, “Spencer.”

Should win: Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” — Chastain knocked this one out of the park. If she doesn’t win, it will be the biggest Oscar snub since Michael Keaton, who didn’t win for “Birdman.” We watch her become Tammy Faye — from innocent church goer to televangelist and recovering addict.

Will win: Chastain. Bet the house.

Best Supporting Actor nominees: Ciaran Hinds, “Belfast,” Troy Kotsur, “CODA,” Jesse Plemons, “The Power of the Dog,” J.K. Simmons, “Being the Ricardos,” Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog.”

Should win: Troy Kotsur, “CODA” — Kotsur is the first deaf actor to be nominated for an Oscar. He totally nailed the role of Frank Rossi, a fisherman who is struggling to make ends meet and relate to his older children — one who isn’t deaf. His performance is genuine. For that, he deserves the statuette.

Will win: Kotsur. Going out on a bit of a limb here, but he already grabbed the SAG. If he doesn’t win, it will likely go to Smit-McPhee.

Best Supporting Actress nominees: Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter,” Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story,” Judi Dench, “Belfast,” Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog” and Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard.”

Should win: Aunjane Ellis, “King Richard” — It’s a small role, but isn’t that what “supporting” means? Ellis does a phenomenal job portraying Oracene Williams, the wife of Richard Williams. She pushes back at the right moments as she defends Serena and Venus and their right to be children.

Will win: Judi Dench, “Belfast” — Dench is a legendary actress. She doesn’t need another accolade, but that has never stopped the Academy before.

Best Original Screenplay nominees: “Belfast,” “Don’t Look Up,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza” and “The Worst Person in the World.”

Should win: “King Richard” — Loved the story of Richard Williams and his struggles to raise his girls right and make them champions along the way. Should be a no-brainer for the Academy, which means it won’t be.

Will win: “Licorice Pizza” — For the record, I thought this was a very average film. However, the screenplay is original, but I wonder how the Academy will justify giving the award to a film with some predatory overtones in it.

The best of the rest:

Best Animated feature: Should win and will win — “Encanto”

Cinematography: Should win — “Nightmare Alley” Will win — “Dune”

Costume design: Should win — “West Side Story” Will win — “Cruella”

Documentary feature: Should win — “Attica” Will win — “Summer of Soul”

Documentary short subject: Should win — “Lead Me Home” Will win — “The Queen of Basketball”

Film editing: Should win — “Tick, Tick Boom!” Will win — “The Power of the Dog”

International feature film: Should win and will win — “Drive My Car”

Original score: Should win and will win — “Dune”

Original song: Should win — “Be Alive” from “King Richard” Will win — “Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto”

Production design: Should win “Nightmare Alley” Will win — “Dune”

Animated short film: Should win and will win — “Robin Robin”

Live action short film: Should win and will win — “The Long Goodbye”

Sound: Should win — “West Side Story” Will win — “Dune”

Visual effects: Should win — “Spider-Man: No Way Home” Will win — “Dune”

Adapted screenplay: Should win — “CODA” Will win — “The Power of the Dog”

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