If I Had an Oscar Ballot | Andrew Korpan

As the title may give away, I am not (yet) a part of the lucky group that gets to vote on the Academy Award nominations. But, more so than in past years, I feel even more connected to this year’s Oscars race. So, unlike many of the acceptance speeches, I will just get right into the reason you came into this article.

Note: I haven’t seen enough shorts in any form to be able to comment on them, thus, they will be exempt from this list.

Best Picture

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+.
  1. “CODA”
  2. “The Worst Person in the World”
  3. “The Power of the Dog”
  4. “The Mitchell’s vs. the Machines”
  5. “tick, tick…BOOM!”
  6. “Licorice Pizza”
  7. “Spencer”
  8. “Drive My Car”
  9. “Bergman Island”
  10. “Last Night in Soho”

Best Director

Siân Heder on the set of “CODA.” Photo courtesy of Apple TV.
  1. Siân Heder (“CODA”)
  2. Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”)
  3. Joachim Trier (“The Worst Person in the World”)
  4. Rebecca Hall (“Passing”)
  5. Denis Villeueneve (“Dune”)

Blurb: This is “CODA”‘s world, and we’re all just living in it. Siân’s work behind the camera should not go unrecognized; she brought representation to the screen and a budding star in Emilia Jones.

Best Actor

Andrew Garfield in “tick, tick…BOOM!” (photo credit: Netflix)
  1. Andrew Garfield (“tick, tick…BOOM!”)
  2. Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”)
  3. Will Smith (“King Richard”)
  4. Nicolas Cage (“Pig”)
  5. Hidetoshi Nishijima (“Drive My Car”)

My take: I know Andrew Garfield has brought this same sort of neurotic energy to some of his other performances, but the man had an amazing year between “tick, tick…BOOM!” and “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” more on that film later, and Garfield is so deserving of the award after not getting one for “Silence,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” or of course, “The Social Network.”

Best Actress

Kristen Stewart in “Spencer.” Photo courtesy of NEON.
  1. Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”)
  2. Renate Reinsve (“The Worst Person in the World”)
  3. Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”)
  4. Jennifer Hudson (“Respect”)
  5. Emilia Jones (“CODA”)

My take: Now, I haven’t seen “Parallel Mothers” yet, but it’d be crazy for anyone else to get this award but Stewart. Chastain shouldn’t go completely under the radar for her turn as Tammy Faye, but Stewart embodied the role of Princess Diana like no other. Jodie Comer (“The Last Duel”) and Rebecca Hall (“The Night House”) are two others who should be in the running.

Best Supporting Actor

Ben Affleck and Tye Sheridan in “The Tender Bar.” Photo courtesy of Prime Video.
  1. Ben Affleck (“The Tender Bar”)
  2. Troy Kotsur (“CODA”)
  3. Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”)
  4. Al Pacino (“House of Gucci”)
  5. Jamie Dornan (“Belfast”)

My take: Okay, okay. Before anyone who knows me personally accuses my Al Pacino craze to be the reasoning behind him being nominated, you would be partly correct. But in all fairness, did anyone better understand the assignment in “House of Gucci”? Maybe, just maybe, save for Jared Leto, but the way Pacino signs the papers towards the end is all that needs to be on his Oscar reel, teeth seething and all. Dornan is an actor that you wouldn’t believe could act after seeing any clips of the “Fifty Shades” movies, but lo and behold, the man is quite delightful. “Belfast” isn’t perfect, but nothing bad can be said about the cast. Finally, Affleck just needs a damn Oscar. “The Way Back” should have gotten him said award, but his endearing turn as the most lovable uncle in “The Tender Bar” would be enough for my vote.

Best Supporting Actress

Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin in “CODA.” Photo courtesy of Apple TV+.
  1. Marlee Matlin (“CODA”)
  2. Anya Taylor-Joy (“Last Night in Soho”)
  3. Ruth Negga (“Passing”)
  4. Jesse Buckley (“The Lost Daughter”)
  5. Cate Balnchett (“Nightmare Alley”)

My take: I also was not a fan of “Nightmare Alley,” but Blanchett was easily the best part of the damn thing. The same goes for “The Lost Daughter,” but Buckley is so good as a younger Olivia Coleman and brings all of the heart to the film. In a rewatch of “Last Night in Soho,” I realized just how good both leads are. Anya Taylor-Joy just gets the nod over Thomasin McKenzie, but both are on track to win one at some point. Aunjanue Ellis and her monologue are close to getting her in for “King Richard,” but ultimately, there are only five spots, and leaving Dunst off also felt wrong.

Best Original Screenplay

  1. “Dont Look Up”
  2. “Bergman Island”
  3. “Licorice Pizza”
  4. “Belfast”
  5. “The Worst Person in the World”

My take: I feel like I was one of the few who actually enjoyed “Don’t Look Up.” I found the script to be very well-written and it had me laughing on more occasions than it did not. “Bergman Island” needs some love, and I believe it is eligible in this category.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. “CODA”
  2. “The Power of the Dog”
  3. “Passing”
  4. “Drive My Car”
  5. “Dune”

My take: The top two are consistent with my overall Best Picture predictions, Rebecca Hall killed it with “Passing,” and Denis Villeneuve did an amazing job with his adaptation of “Dune.”

Best Animated Feature

A still from ‘The Mitchells vs. the Machines.” Photo courtesy of Netflix.
  1. “The Mitchells vs. the Machines”
  2. “Flee”
  3. “Raya and the Last Dragon”
  4. “Sing 2”
  5. “Encanto”

My take: “Flee” is tricky, because it’s also eligible for Best International Feature. And while it is a tremendous film, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” was such an emotionally-mature film. I didn’t love “Encanto,” but I can appreciate the art style and music. “Sing 2” may not carry as much emotional weight as these other films, but U2’s song, “Your Song Saved My Life,” resonated as a big fan of the group whose life was indeed saved by the band.

Best International Feature

Renate Reinsve and Anders Danielsen Lie in “The Worst Person in the World.” Photo courtesy of NEON.
  1. “The Worst Person in the World”
  2. “Drive My Car”
  3. “Flee”
  4. “The Hand of God”
  5. “Lamb”

My take: I actually never finished “A Hero,” apologies, Prime Video, and in an effort to be completely fair, I put Icelandic film, “Lamb” in my fifth spot. I wasn’t blown away by “Lamb” by any means, but I can appreciate the atmosphere and the mystique that the film builds up. Maybe after finishing “A Hero,” it’ll find its way into this list.

Best Documentary Feature

Val Kilmer in “Val.” Photo courtesy of A24 and Prime Video.
  1. “Val”
  2. “Flee”
  3. “The Velvet Underground”

My take: Does “The Beatles: Get Back” count? I assume it does not and classifies as a “mini-series,” though it did have a theatrical release for the concert portion, I digress. “Val” not being in the conversation blows my mind; I thought it was brilliant. I don’t watch enough documentaries, but “Flee” was revolutionary for the genre with the way it utilized animation to tell its story. “The Velvet Underground” gave a peek into the wild side of the group that I wasn’t too familiar with coming in.

Best Original Score

  1. “Spencer” — Jonny Greenwood
  2. “Shiva Baby” — Ariel Marx
  3. “The Power of the Dog” — Jonny Greenwood
  4. “Dune” — Hans Zimmer
  5. “The French Dispatch” — Alexandre Desplat

My take: Must be nice to be Jonny Greenwood and have two amazing scores in one year be talked about so much. Both “Spencer” and “Shiva Baby” heightened the claustrophobic feeling in both films, bravo to both Greenwood and Ariel Marx.

Best Original Song

  1. No Time to Die” — Billy Ellish for “No Time to Die”
  2. “Your Song Saved My Life” — U2 for “Sing 2”
  3. “Dos Oruguitas” — Lin-Manuel Miranda for “Encanto”
  4. “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home” — Jennifer Hudson for “Respect”
  5. “Just Look Up” — Nicholas Britell, Ariana Grande, Scott Mescudi, Taura Stinson for “Don’t Look Up”

My take: TAs much as I want to give U2 their first Oscar win, I have to be unbiased and go with Ellish’s “No Time to Die.” The song is a bop, and it feels like it’s been out for so long that when it actually played at the “No Time to Die” screening, I was hit with a nostalgic feeling.

Best Cinematography

A still from “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” Photo courtesy of Apple TV+.
  1. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” — Bruno Delbonnel
  2. “Passing” — Eduard Grau
  3. “The Power of the Dog” — Ari Wegner
  4. “Dune” — Greg Fraser
  5. “Belfast” — Haris Zambarloukos

My take: “The Tragedy of Macbeth” combined Shakespeare and Ingmar Bergman in a beautiful clash of two worlds. “Passing” should not be overlooked as the black-and-white style is the perfect frame to enhance the thematic elements of the plot. As for “The Power of the Dog,” which was my favorite for this category after I saw it, it does feature some of the most breathtaking shots of the past decade, but “Macbeth” and “Passing” both enhance their own films with their cinematography.

Best Production Design

A still from “Nightmare Alley.” Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.
  1. “Nightmare Alley” — Tamara Deverell, Shane Vieau
  2. “The French Dispatch — Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo
  3. “Dune” — Patrice Vermette, Richard Roberts, Zsuzsanna Sipos
  4. “Last Night in Soho” — Victoria Allwood, Emily Norris, Judy Farr
  5. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” — Stefan Dechant, Nancy Haigh

My take: The first forty minutes of “Nightmare Alley,” which focused on the circus itself, features some of the most haunting, yet imaginative sets of the year. “The French Dispatch,” if nothing else, is a technical achievement and a delight to look at, mostly due to its creative sets. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” sneaks in because a.) I haven’t seen “Cyrano” yet, and b.) they perfectly replicated Kanye and Kim Kardashian’s house.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

A still from “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.
  1. “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” — Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram, Justin Raleigh
  2. “Dune” — Donald Mowat, Love Larson, Eva von Bahr
  3. “Cruella” — Nadia Stacey, Carolyn Cousins
  4. “House of Gucci” — Jana Carboni, Giuliano Mariano, Göran Lundström
  5. “The Suicide Squad” — Heba Thorisdottir, Janine Thompson

My take: Come on, we cannot let “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” go so far under the radar just because it was a generic biopic about an infamous evangelical figure. The makeup of Tammy Faye is absolutely nailed, and Chastain is unrecognizable, and that’s just a fact. “Cruella” has a fair shot as well, but the team on “Dune” nailed characters such as Stellan Skarsgård’s. Let’s also just not forget about Jared Leto’s unrecognizable turn as Paolo Gucci.

Best Costume Design

  1. “Dune” — Jacqueline West
  2. “Cruella” —Jenny Beavan
  3. “West Side Story” — Paul Tazewell
  4. “The French Dispatch” — Milena Canonero
  5. “Spencer” — Jacqueline Durran

My take: “Dune” feels like a no-brainer, but once again, “Cruella” deserves recognition in this category.

Best Editing

  1. “Belfast” — Úna Ní Dhonghaíle
  2. “No Time to Die” — Tom Cross, Elliot Graham
  3. “CODA” — Geraud Brisson
  4. “The Power of the Dog” — Peter Sciberras
  5. “Dune” — Joe Walker

My take: Not much to say on this category, it feels like “Belfast”‘s to lose.

Best Sound

  1. “CODA”
  2. “Dune”
  3. “West Side Story”
  4. “Last Night in Soho”
  5. “tick, tick…BOOM!”

My take: If you haven’t seen the concert scene in “CODA,” I recommend you do so and then come back to argue with me on this one. Just breathtaking.

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