For the past year, local independent movie theaters have been screening the films that are now Oscar frontrunners. Finally, the time has come for these theaters to place their bets on what movies will emerge victorious from this Sunday’s 94th Academy Awards.
Ahead of the Oscars ceremony, we asked staff at Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brattle Theatre, and Amherst Cinema to tell us their forecasts for the major categories. Creative manager and programmer Alex Hornbeck gave predictions for Amherst Cinema; executive director Ivy Moylan shared the Brattle’s; and spokesman Darren DeLuca sent responses on behalf of the entire theater staff at the Coolidge. Below are their e-mailed responses, which have been lightly edited for clarity.
Not every theater is jazzed about Hollywood’s biggest night. Somerville Theatre declined to provide predictions. “All I can predict is that the Oscars seem less relevant each year to both people who value the artistry and craft of filmmaking and most definitely to movie audiences,” wrote creative director Ian Judge in an e-mail to the Globe. “The Academy is out of touch with both, it seems.”
Do you agree with the predictions? Disagree? Throw your hat in the ring and vote for who you think will take home the awards in our reader survey, or read our critics’ takes on the nominees. And don’t forget to tune into ABC at 8 p.m. on March 27 to see which movies (and which movie theater) comes out on top.
Coolidge Corner Theatre: “CODA” and “The Power of the Dog” toss-up
This category has become notoriously difficult to predict in recent years, largely due to the sheer volume of nominees (all other categories are limited to five) and ranked-choice voting system that the Academy adopted in 2009. Our sense is that it’s a toss-up between “CODA” and “The Power of the Dog” (with the former having a slight edge due to its crowd-pleasing nature and recent Producers Guild win), but we might see an upset from “Drive My Car.” If the latter happens, expect to hear loud cheers coming from the Coolidge. Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s film runs three hours long, but we were captivated by every moment, and audiences turned out in droves for it.
Brattle Theatre: “The Power of the Dog”
I’ve consulted my crystal ball and I predict that “The Power of the Dog” is going to grab up most, if not all, of its nominations, including best picture and best director. And with good reason — it’s an excellent film.
Amherst Cinema: “CODA”
While “The Power of the Dog” felt like a best picture lock earlier in the season, its momentum seems to have slowed right when it needed to surge, perhaps due in part to the backlash against director Jane Campion’s dig at Venus and Serena Williams at the Critics Choice Awards. “CODA” may emerge as the broadly appealing, feel-good victor — I could see it being a lot of voters’ second choice, which can be a big factor in races without a runaway first choice.
Coolidge Corner Theatre: Will Smith, “King Richard”
This appears to be a lock for Will Smith, though a Benedict Cumberbatch upset isn’t outside the realm of possibility. Still, our money is on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air winning the big prize, and deservedly so; after a decades-long career that has spanned TV sitcoms, blockbusters, and under-seen gems like “Six Degrees of Separation” and “Ali,” Smith is overdue for Oscar gold.
Brattle Theatre: Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog,” and Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth” toss-up
It would be nice to see Denzel win for “The Tragedy of Macbeth” for best actor instead of Cumberbatch, but I don’t think it’s likely.
Amherst Cinema: Will Smith, “King Richard”
This has been Smith’s race to lose since before “King Richard” was even released, and there are no signs that he’s dropping the ball.
Coolidge Corner Theatre: Kristen Stewart, “Spencer”
This is one of the most highly anticipated moments of the night, as the race appears to be wide open. Kristen Stewart was notably shunned from the SAG Awards, but her unforgettable turn as Princess Diana should resonate with Oscar voters. Our second choice would be Penélope Cruz, who gives a career-best performance in “Parallel Mothers.”
Brattle Theatre: Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter,” and Kristen Stewart, “Spencer” toss-up
The best actress category is really tight. I am rooting for Olivia Colman for her killer performance in “The Lost Daughter” (and she does give a charming acceptance speech) but I also have hopes to see Kristen Stewart win as well.
Amherst Cinema: Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
In acting categories, Academy voters often lean toward starring roles in biopics or intense physical transformations, and Chastain checks both boxes with her role as Tammy Faye Bakker. Her recent comments about skipping the red carpet to be in the room when the hair and makeup Oscar is announced could also play in her favor, resonating with voters who disagree with the decision to move eight awards (including hair and makeup) off the live telecast.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Coolidge Corner Theatre: Troy Kotsur, “CODA”
While we adored Kodi Smit-McPhee (and Jesse Plemons!) in “The Power of the Dog,” it’s hard not to root for Kotsur, who plays a deaf fisherman struggling to relate to his teenage daughter.
Brattle Theatre: Troy Kotsur, “CODA”
I hope that Troy Kotsur wins for “CODA,” and by the other awards he has won, it does look possible. That would be an amazing moment!
Amherst Cinema: Troy Kotsur, “CODA”
Troy Kotsur skillfully balances so much in “CODA,” providing the core of the film’s biggest laughs and most cathartic cries. And Kotsur’s real-life story — breaking out in a big film after decades of theater and smaller TV and movie roles — could help earn him Oscar gold.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Coolidge Corner Theatre: Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”
Six decades after Rita Moreno won for playing Anita in “West Side Story,” expect history to repeat itself, with DeBose winning for her electrifying performance in the same role.
Brattle Theatre: Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog”
Since Kirsten Dunst is nominated, we assume (and hope!) she will win in our “The Power of the Dog” prediction.
Amherst Cinema: Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”
If Will Smith leans toward impersonation with his portrayal of the Williams family patriarch, Aunjanue Ellis as matriarch Brandy provides counterpoint with a subtler performance that seems to come from somewhere more internal. Ultimately, I find myself remembering and responding to the dynamic Ellis more than Smith in their shared scenes, and I can’t imagine Smith being such a success without their stylistic contrast. Their characters’ onscreen partnership could translate to a real-life dual victory.
Coolidge Corner Theatre: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
Campion appears to be a lock for this category, and deservedly so. Her first film in 12 years is a stunning, slow burn western that demands repeat viewing.
Brattle Theatre: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
See best picture comment.
Amherst Cinema: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
While I’m unsure if “The Power of the Dog” has the power to take best picture, Jane Campion has been winning directing awards left and right, including Directors Guild, BAFTA, and Critics Choice. With a whopping 12 nominations for the film across all categories, it’s likely that Campion will be rewarded for helming the film and bringing all its pieces together.