But significant year-end support from critics’ groups helped “Drive My Car” crash the Oscar race, where it claimed nominations for picture, director, adapted screenplay and international feature. Hollywood doesn’t know Hamaguchi as well as it got to know the “Parasite” auteur Bong Joon Ho during that film’s prepandemic Oscar season, so multiple wins may be hard to come by, though there’s at least one category where “Drive My Car” should cruise to an easy victory.
Likeliest win: Best international feature.
Look, it’s no mean feat for a massive sci-fi film to make its way into the best-picture race, and “Dune” scored 10 nominations total, one of only two movies to earn a double-digit haul. (“The Power of the Dog” is the other.) It also helps that even though “Dune” debuted simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters, it can still boast the biggest box-office performance of all the best-picture nominees, having earned nearly $400 million worldwide.
But the absence of Denis Villeneuve from the best-director race was shocking, given his Directors Guild nomination and the recent tendency for this academy branch to nominate technically audacious work. Any chance that “Dune” could leverage that snub into an “Argo”-like best-picture win may be muted by the announcement of the film’s sequel: Perhaps the academy is more inclined to see how well Villeneuve wraps things up.
Likeliest win: Best visual effects.
You knew it would be a good nomination day for “King Richard” when the first category announced, for supporting actress, included the film’s terrific Aunjanue Ellis. Sure enough, this inspirational tennis drama picked up a solid six nominations, including original screenplay, editing, and best song for Beyoncé’s “Be Alive.”
But let’s be honest, this is the Will Smith show. Smith has never won an Oscar, but his charismatic performance as the father of the tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams has now given the 53-year-old actor his strongest shot yet. I’d feel more certain if there had already been some televised precursors where Smith’s acceptance speeches could have brought the house down, but as long as he triumphs at the Screen Actors Guild Awards at the end of this month, he should segue smoothly to an Oscar victory.
Likeliest win: Best actor.
Any best-picture nominee that also picks up director and screenplay nods is doing something right, but I’m a little surprised that’s all “Licorice Pizza” has to work with. Previous Paul Thomas Anderson movies like “Phantom Thread,” “There Will Be Blood,” “The Master” and “Boogie Nights” earned plenty of nominations for their cast members, but the “Licorice Pizza” lead Alana Haim and its showy supporting actor Bradley Cooper didn’t manage to punch through. None of the film’s below-the-line department heads were recognized, either.