Who will (and who should) win this year’s Oscars: part two

We’ve made our picks for the major categories, now Steve Newall goes further down the ballot with tips for the rest of this year’s Oscars.

Always struggled to know the difference between sound mixing and sound editing in your Oscar picks? Well, that’s less of an issue now that they’ve been merged this year, but you get the drift—the technical categories can be a puzzle to predict. And never mind the shorts, most of which we don’t even get a chance to see before the Academy Awards take place.

But that’s what we’re here for. Flicks has watched the wins at other awards this season and perused the pundits, bringing you this list of well-reasoned theories as to who’s winning what at the Oscars this year.

Dominic Corry led the charge last week with his picks for the major categories, here Steve Newall goes further down the ballot, to where many a pick-the-winners sweepstake has come unstuck.

Animated Feature Film

What should win: The Mitchells vs The Machines rules—it’s relentlessly creative and hugely entertaining as the presence of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Oscar winners Phil Lord and Christopher Miller as producers attests.

What will win: Having won the Golden Globe, BAFTA and PGA, Disney’s Encanto is the firm favourite. Its soundtrack is the number one album in the US, and the Oscars is in love—somewhat controversially, the show will include a performance of We Don’t Talk About Bruno, not even submitted for Best Original Song (“This is really putting the thumb on the scale gang” tweeted Phil Lord when this was announced—while Oscar voting was still open).

Potential upset: Animated doco Flee made Oscar history with its multiple nominations, but The Mitchells vs The Machines  may be the only chance of upsetting Encanto. Hard to see that happening.


What should win: Dune looks a million bucks (not that this gets you very far in Hollywood these days, make that 165 million). Having won awards at the BAFTAs and American Society of Cinematographers, Greig Fraser looks a shoo-in for their great work here.

What will win: Dune

Potential upset: A win for The Power of the Dog’s Ari Wegner would set records as the first female cinematographer to take home an Oscar, but despite the often sumptuous look of the film, Dune’s artfulness and strong run to the finish make it hard to beat.

Costume Design

What should win: Cruella may be many things, but for some, being a good movie was not one of them. It’s hard to fault the costuming on display though, and wins at Critics’ Choice, BAFTA and Costume Designers Guild tend to agree.

What will win: Cruella

Potential upset: Dune, but this feels like a lock.

Documentary Feature

What should win: Summer of Soul is a remarkable documentary achievement for multiple reasons. It showcases incredible live performances from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone and Sly and the Family Stone; restores lost footage of a massive Black community event that’s largely forgotten; and captures a sense of time and place. It’s also a directorial debut, a stunning achievement by Ahmir ‘?uestlove’ Thompson.

What will win: Summer of Soul. PGA and BAFTA wins, along with six Critics’ Choice Doco Awards pave the way.

Potential upset: Flee‘s intimate animated doco style is both innovative and effective, but won’t upstage Summer of Soul

Documentary Short Subject

What should win: Courtesy of the New York Times and director Ben Proudfoot (nominated last year for A Concerto Is a Conversation) The Queen of Basketball looks a frontrunner here. This doco short tells the story of Lusia “Lucy” Harris, the first and only woman to be drafted in the N.B.A.

What will win: The Queen of Basketball, especially after winning at Critics’ Choice.

Potential upset: Netflix has a trio of nominees in AudibleLead Me Home and Three Songs for Benazir. Not sure if any can overtake The Queen of Basketball—and will they get in each others’ way?

Film Editing

What should win: Dune is a good bet throughout the technical categories, as everyone who’s seen it will agree. But other awards ceremonies this season have been anything if uniform with best editing, giving awards to a number of different pics. This might be the category where even seasoned tipsters crash out.

What will win: Dune is probably the safest bet—but what if all bets are off?

Potential upset: King Richard won at the American Cinema Editors guild awards—but couldn’t even get nominated at the BAFTAs or Critics’ Choice… tick, tick…BOOM! is another potential upset, having also won at ACE (as a comedy).

Makeup and Hairstyling

What should win: Look, Coming 2 America is a pretty terrible movie, but its prosthetics can’t be faulted. Mike Marino followed in the footsteps of Rick Baker (nominated for 1988’s Coming to America) with new makeups that lovingly and diligently aged Baker’s creations.

What will win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye took home the BAFTA and Critics’ Choice—and may be riding on the goodwill being shown to Oscar fave Jessica Chastain (as well as the prominence of makeup and hairstyling in the film).

Potential upset: Coming 2 America was a triple winner at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards.

Original Score

What should win: Hans Zimmer has already won the Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice and BAFTA for Dune, putting him in the box seat for his second Oscar (after 1994’s The Lion King).

What will win: Dune. Inventing instruments, disguising others, Zimmer’s score is truly otherworldly.

Potential upset: Jonny Greenwood did solid work on The Power of the Dog, but don’t overlook chart-topper Encanto.

Original Song

What should win: Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell’s No Time To Die from No Time To Die.

What will win: No Time To Die. The last two 007 songs to be nominated, won. Factor in Eilish and this should be a good pick.

Potential upset: We’ve already gone on about Encanto’s success. Plus, if Lin-Manuel Miranda wins for Encanto’s Dos Oruguitas, we’ll have the youngest ever EGOT winner at age 37… The Oscars love a story!

Production Design

What should win: The world-building of Dune was jaw-dropping to behold, a richly-created universe that managed to bring Frank Herbert’s novel (in part) to the screen, while carving out its own niche and distinguishing itself from prior adaptations and the many, many impersonators.

What will win: Dune has already scored awards from Critics’ Choice, Art Directors Guild, Set Decorators Society and BAFTAs.

Potential upset: Nightmare Alley may have the best—if very, very low odds—shot.

Animated Short Film

What should win: Stop-motion animation from Aardman, the voices of Gillian Anderson and Richard E. Grant, a young robin raised by a family of mice… “half-hour-long Christmas chuckle machine” Robin Robin has great pedigree and comes highly recommended.

What will win: Netflix’s Robin Robin is gonna be tough to beat.

Potential upset: Maybe the hand-drawn animation of Affairs of the Art? The rest of the nominees feel at a similar place in the field, far behind Robin Robin.

Live Action Short Film

What should win: The Long Goodbye has a built-in advantage by starring Riz Ahmed, a familiar face in a typically not star-driven category—but in merging a terrifying tale of a police raid and ethnic cleansing with Ahmed’s rap-to-camera, may feel like too much of a music video for some voters.

What will win: Twice Oscar-nominated, Ahmed’s participation in The Long Goodbye boosts its chances.

Potential upset: Mourning, karaoke, and the music of Willie Nelson collide in touching short On My Mind, a different flavour to the dystopian vision of The Long Goodbye or Please Hold.


What should win: Another category where great work has contributed to Dune’s superb world-building (and we ain’t done yet).

What will win: Dune has already won at BAFTAs, Motion Picture Sound Editors and Cinema Audio Society awards.

Potential upset: West Side Story or No Time To Die.

Visual Effects

What should win: The final, perhaps most immediately impressive, category in which Denis Villeneuve and his team expressed their vision for Dune. Just thinking about how it looks makes me want to go back to IMAX again.

What will win: Best Picture noms do well in this category, and Dune is the only one nominated here. Not that it needs any help, having won at Critics’ Choice, BAFTAs and the Visual Effects Society.

Potential upset: Spider-Man: No Way Home might be the best of a batch of very, very outside chances. Even if it sucked (don’t @ me).

The 94th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday March 27 (US time).

Watch in New Zealand on Monday March 28 on TVNZ2. Red carpet footage will screen in the morning, with the awards ceremony starting 1pm.