The Power of the Dog surpassed nearly everyone’s expectations on Oscar nomination morning, becoming the most nominated film since 2017’s The Shape of Water with 12 nods overall. So the question is, how many of those nominations can it win?
Netflix may finally have their first Best Picture winner in Jane Campion’s patient, carefully constructed Western. It’s the only film this year that checks all the boxes a Best Picture nominee normally does – the fall festival premiere, a DGA nomination, an editing nomination, several SAG nominations, and a strong chance to win either Screenplay or Director. It has Best Picture wins from the vast majority of critics groups, as well as the top prize from the Critics Choice, Golden Globes, and BAFTA awards. The PGA picked SAG winner CODA, but even so, the film’s nomination haul is so strong it’ll still be tough to deny.
Jane Campion is a lock to win Best Director. Many take issue with the term “lock”, but I’m confident that I’ll have no regrets using it here. Even if the film won no other awards, this one would happen. She’s the only female director to receive a second nomination in this category, and her film has been endlessly praised for her its careful, detailed craftsmanship. Her “thoughtless” Critics Choice comment won’t even make a dent.
A few weeks ago, it looked as though Jane Campion would be winning three Oscars, as producer, director, and screenwriter. This all changed when CODA shocked everyone by winning the BAFTA for Adapted Screenplay. CODA’s victory comes right after a major SAG Ensemble win, indicating strong momentum for the film overall. As with Chloe Zhao last year, Campion’s director win is so expected that it’s possible voters could spread the wealth in the Screenplay category, which Campion already won for 1993’s The Piano. There may not be any category I’m struggling with predicting more. May as well flip a coin.
Ari Wegner stands a chance to be the first woman to ever win the Best Cinematography award for her work as the film’s DP. She won the Critics Choice Award, but will face stiff competition from BAFTA winner Grieg Fraser’s work on Dune, and six-time nominee Bruno Delbonnel for his work on The Tragedy of Macbeth. This category could go in any direction, and Wegner’s chances are about as good as anyone’s.
Kodi Smit-McPhee’s momentum in Best Supporting Actor came to a halt when Troy Kotsur won the SAG award. McPhee swept critics awards and won a Golden Globe for his quiet, elusive performance as Peter, but it’s Kotsur’s more overtly emotional work in CODA that seems to be winning voters over. BAFTA and Critics Choice were all in agreement with SAG. However, if anyone can spoil, it’s McPhee. Benedict Cumberbatch, like McPhee, won the lion’s share of critics awards for Best Actor, but has lost all major awards to Will Smith. Cumberbatch is almost certainly the runner-up, but it would be a major shock if he were to win.
The Best Editing award is very up in the air, given that the BAFTA, Critics Choice, and ACE award all went to different films. Dune feels like the frontrunner here, as it is likely to take Best Sound, a category that correlates heavily with the Editing award. It’s worth noting that aside from Dune, The Power of the Dog is the only Sound nominee also nominated for Editing. While it’s not looking likely, there’s a chance it could spoil here. Jonny Greenwood is also a potential spoiler for his work as the film’s composer, but for him to beat Hans Zimmer’s work in Dune would be highly unlikely.
The Nomination is the Reward
Kirsten Dunst is destined to lose to Ariana DeBose in the Supporting Actress category, and her fiancé Jesse Plemmons is just lucky to be nominated in Supporting Actor. Nominations for the film’s sparse Production Design and sound design were surprises on nomination morning, and wins seem almost entirely out of reach.
Strangely enough, there is a world where The Power of the Dog takes just Director and Picture. It would be a pretty flimsy package, especially considering the film’s 10 other nominations, but those were the only two awards it won at BAFTA. A good day for the film might look something like the Critics Choice Awards, where it picked up four awards including Adapted Screenplay and Cinematography. Considering no other awards group dared nominate the film for 12 awards, maybe we’re in for an additional upset in an acting category or a craft category.
I predict The Power of the Dog will take three awards: Picture, Director, and either Cinematography or Adapted Screenplay. Check back here at CinemaBlend for more awards analysis.