- Don’t Look Up
- Drive My Car
- King Richard
- Licorice Pizza
- Nightmare Alley
- The Power of the Dog
- West Side Story
The Telegraph picks: The Power of the Dog
Why: Based on Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel of the same name, The Power of the Dog is at once a meditative character study and a slow-burn psychological thriller, with a deeply unsettling but satisfying payoff. The film, feted across some of the world’s biggest festivals and award ceremonies, is trademarked by strong performances and striking visual style, touching upon themes like love, grief, masculinity and sexuality. It has a record 12 nominations at the Oscars this year, and is a rare film that has the power to be breathtaking and yet leave you breathless.
Awards so far: Best Motion Picture — Drama at the Golden Globes, Best Film at the BAFTAS, Best Picture at the Critics’ Choice Awards
Close contender: CODA
This coming-of-age story focuses on 17-year-old Ruby (a sparkling Emilia Jones), who is the sole hearing member of an aurally-impaired family. Aiming straight for the heart and not resorting to the theatrics or gimmicks that films in this genre often fall prey to, CODA — short for Children of Deaf Adults — feels familiar but far from formulaic. A warm fuzzy hug that the world so needs right now.
- Javier Bardem for Being the Ricardos
- Benedict Cumberbatch for The Power of the Dog
- Andrew Garfield for Tick, Tick … Boom!
- Will Smith for King Richard
- Denzel Washington for The Tragedy of Macbeth
The Telegraph pick: Will Smith for King Richard
Why: If there is one performance that surely deserves an Academy Award this year, then that is Will Smith's. As Richard Williams — the father of real-life tennis powerhouses Venus and Serena Williams — the actor brings on both cheers and tears in a film that does a good job of transcending the sports biopic form and formula. Smith, in what is being unanimously acknowledged as his career-best performance, is eyeing his first Oscar.
Awards so far: All the big ones — Golden Globe to BAFTA to Screen Actors Guild Awards
Close contender: Benedict Cumberbatch for The Power of the Dog.
Cumberbatch’s brutally beguiling act as Phil Burbank is the catalyst that spurs the action in this film that subverses the Western. In a film boasting some incredible acting, Cumberbatch — raw, compelling, unapologetic — is a standout.
- Jessica Chastain for The Eyes of Tammy Faye
- Olivia Colman for The Lost Daughter
- Penelope Cruz for Parallel Mothers
- Nicole Kidman for Being the Ricardos
- Kristen Stewart for Spencer
The Telegraph picks: Nicole Kidman for Being the Ricardos
Why: The most unpredictable category this year, given Lady Gaga’s much-talked about snub for House of Gucci and the fact that Joanna Scanlan, who won the Best Actress BAFTA for After Love, doesn’t even feature in the nominations. As 'I Love Lucy star Lucille Ball', Nicole Kidman transforms in body and body language, having a ball delivering writer-director with Aaron Sorkin’s sparkling lines. Being the Ricardos is sometimes a slog, but Kidman fully realises an oddball character with sly wit and assured gait.
Awards so far: Best Actress — Drama at the Golden Globes
Close contender: Olivia Colman for The Lost Daughter
When there is Olivia Colman on the list, you can rarely look at anyone else, with the gifted actor bringing alive a difficult character with depth and intelligence. And then there is a remarkable turn from Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers.....
- Kenneth Branagh for Belfast
- Ryusuke Hamaguchi for Drive My Car
- Paul Thomas Anderson for Licorice Pizza
- Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog
- Steven Spielberg for West Side Story
The Telegraph picks: Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog
Why: Campion, the only woman to be nominated twice for Best Director in the 94-year history of the Oscars, seems almost a lock-in in this category. The Power of the Dog, her first feature in 12 years, has the veteran film-maker bringing in her A-game, meshing the sublime with the soulful, and making the film a contemplation on masculinity, toxic or otherwise, as seen through the female eye. Campion tackles the film’s dense themes with virtuoso-like control, balancing a sprawling Western with an intimate story.
Awards so far: The Silver Lion at the Venice International Film Festival, the BAFTA and a Golden Globe.
Close contender: Steven Spielberg for West Side Story
The master film-maker, who already has two Best Director Oscars to his name, brings both dazzle and deep respect to the classic. Spielberg’s sweeping take is solidly entertaining and has the auteur in top form. What’s interesting is that Spielberg and Campion last went head-to-head for Best Director 28 years ago, with the former winning for Schindler’s List.
What else to expect...
(L-R) Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes will have hosting duties this year
After going without a host since 2018, this year’s ceremony will have three — comedians Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer, and actress Regina Hall.
Some of the high-profile presenters include Kevin Costner, Jamie Lee Curtis, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Hopkins, Samuel L. Jackson, Lady Gaga, Rami Malek, Shawn Mendes, Uma Thurman and John Travolta.
Billie Eilish and brother Finneas will also be performing
Among the performances to look out for will be Beyonce singing Be Alive, the theme song she co-wrote for King Richard. Sebastian Yatra will sing Dos Oruguitas from Disney’s Encanto, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas will perform the James Bond theme No Time to Die.
Tune in to the 94th Academy Awards at 5.30am on March 28 on STAR World and STAR Movies