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Academy Awards: Aspen Times coverage of the nominees

Interviews with nominees and predictions of who will win

The Academy Awards have arrived and will be broadcast on ABC this Sunday, March 27 at 6 p.m. MT hosted by Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes.

As Hollywood’s big night approaches, we’re revisiting our coverage of the nominees and Aspen Times arts editor Andrew Travers is attempting to predict the winners.

Read our interview with ‘The Power of the Dog’ editor Peter Sciberras HERE.




Now nominated for Best Editing, Sciberras discussed editing remotely during the pandemic shutdown, working with director Jane Campion on her first feature since 2009’s “Bright Star,” and cutting the film to Jonny Greenwood’s creepy score.

“Jane is incredibly attuned to her instincts,” he said in November before an Aspen Film early screenimg of the film. “And she trusts them in a way that I haven’t really seen before. She just trusts herself so much in a way that she’s developed over a really long career.”




“The Power of the Dog” is nomintated in 12 categories including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor (for both Kodi Smit-McPhee and Jesse Plemons), Best Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Production Design, Score and Sound.

Read our interview with “Drive My Car” director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi HERE.


The universally acclaimed Haruki Murakami adaptation was already a frontrunner for the Best International Feature prize when it screened at Aspen Film’s Academy Screenings in December. But it shocked and pleased its global fans when it was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Asked about his embrace by Hollywood’s mainstream and the possibility of Oscar nods and working in the U.S., Hamaguchi said “I’m definitely not uninterested in shooting in Hollywood. If that were to happen, I would almost be in disbelief.”

The film is likely to win the International Feature prize alone, but in a just world it would also be recognized for its screenplay, which Hamaguchi wrote with Takamasa Oe. It takes the plot and the germ of ideas in Murakami’s 2017 short story and adds characters and themes and spins it into an epic portrait of love and loss, performance and language and collaboration that also includes, broken up throughout, what must be a complete production of “Uncle Vanya.”

Read our feature on Questlove’s “Summer of Soul” HERE.


Now favored to win the Best Documentary award, I interviewed producers Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein on-screen at an early drive-in sneak preview of the film in June 2021, hosted by Aspen Film in the Snowmass Rodeo Lot.

The producers told the extraordinary backstory of how the vivid and revelatory footage of the “Black Woodstock” 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival surfaced and how Questlove shaped it into a celebratory cinematic portrait of an overlooked historical moment.

The film speaks to the current moment and the movement for Black lives without directly addressing the parallels between 1969 now. As Patel said: “When George Floyd was murdered and the subsequent uprising happened around the country, I think it was very clear that we didn’t need to do that. It was obvious to people now, if it hadn’t been before. So we didn’t really need to draw a line very overtly. People would be able to see it for themselves.”

PICKING THE WINNERS

 

BEST PICTURE

Predicted winner: ‘The Power of the Dog’

Nominees:

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Drive My Car

Dune

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Based on earlier awards in the season, this is a toss-up between “CODA” and “The Power of the Dog.” I’m picking the latter because I think it’s many nominees indicates it has broader support.

I’m also rooting for it because I believe it’s going to end up being a classic that people will rewatch in the years to come. One overlooked aspect of “The Power of the Dog,” which I tuned into on a second viewing, is its extraordinary sense of humor. Yes, it’s dark and its themes are cruelty and repression and it addresses the life-altering and -ending effect of what we now call toxic masculinity. But I argue it’s also funny as hell. It’s so intense on first watch that you miss some of the humor, but watch it again and the over-the-top macho drag of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Phil Burbank will make you grin, as will his dastardly cruelty and his Bill Brasky-style stories of the superhuman Bronco Henry. The internet memes are already laying the groundwork for what I hope is going to be remembered as both a cinematic masterpiece and a quotable rewatch we can laugh more than we cry with.

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Predicted winner: Jane Campion, ‘The Power of the Dog’

Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

 

BEST ACTOR

Predicted Winner: Will Smith, ‘King Richard’

Nominees:

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

 

BEST ACTRESS

Predicted Winner: Jessica Chastain, ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’

Nominees:

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos

Kristen Stewart, Spencer

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Predicted Winner: Troy Kotsur, ‘CODA’

Ciarán 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

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Predicted Winner: Ariana DeBose, ‘West Side Story’

Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Judi Dench, Belfast

Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Predicted Winner: Paul Thomas Anderson, ‘Licorice Pizza’

Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Adam McKay and David Sirota, Don’t Look Up

Zach Baylin, King Richard

Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier, The Worst Person in the World

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Predicted Winner: Jane Campion, ‘The Power of the Dog’

Nominees:

Siân Heder, CODA

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe, Drive My Car

Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth, Dune

Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

 

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE

Predicted Winner: ‘Drive My Car’

Nominees:

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)

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Predicted Winner: ‘Encanto’

Nominees:

Encanto

Flee

Luca

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Raya and the Last Dragon

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Predicted Winner: ‘Summer of Soul’

Nominees:

Ascension

Attica

Flee

Summer of Soul

Writing With Fire

 

ADDITIONAL CATEGORIES

The best argument I’ve found for the value of a theatrical experience over the at-home streaming viewing that’s taking over – and was our only option for much of the pandemic – is the fact that I slept through the second half of “Dune” watching it from the couch. Yes, I had an infant sleeping in the next room and, sure, I had not had a good night’s sleep in months, but still I couldn’t stay conscious while witnessing on HBO Max what has been hailed as a technical leap forward for cinema, an overpowering experience of sight and sound, a generational achievement in on-screen science fiction and what is going to win most of the craft categories at the Oscars.

So. Sorry, “Dune.” Sorry, Denis Villeneuve. I’ll try to see “Dune: Part Two” in theaters where it belongs.

My predictions are that Best Score goes to Hans Zimmer for “Dune,” Best Song to “Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto,” Best Cinematography to Greig Fraser for “Dune” (though I’m rooting for Ari Wegner to win for “Power of the Dog”), Best Editing to Pamela Martin for “King Richard” (though I’m rooting for Peter Sciberras for “Power of the Dog”), Best Costume Design to Jenny Beavan for “Cruella,” Best Production Design to Patrice Vermette and Zsuzsanna Sipos for “Dune,” Best Makeup and Hairstyling to Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram, and Justin Raleigh for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Best Sound to Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill, and Ron Bartlett for “Dune,” Best Visual Effects to Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor, and Gerd Nefzer for “Dune.”

In the short film categories, I’m predicting Riz Ahmed’s “The Long Goodbye” in Live Action, Aspen Shortsfest Best Comedy award-winner “Affairs of the Art” in Animated and the deaf high school football drama “Audible” in documentary.

atravers@aspentimes.com


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