Our Oscars predictions – and the contenders who might cause an upset

The campaigning is over, the voting is closed – as Hollywood’s biggest night approaches, there’s little more for the nominees to do than show up looking fabulous and wait to see who has won what.

Unlike recent years, in which front runners have been little-seen indie films the academy has chosen to shine a spotlight on, this year sees box office behemoth Oppenheimer in poll position to take the most prizes.

But if we know anything about the Oscars it’s that it can be a ceremony of surprises, so let’s take a look at the main categories and which nominees might be the ones to watch…

Best supporting actor

Robert Downey Jr stars as Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer. Pic: Universal Pictures
Robert Downey Jr stars as Lewis Strauss in Oppenheimer. Pic: Universal Pictures

First out of the gates is looking a likely win for Oppenheimer’s Robert Downey Jr, who plays the man keen to bring down the titular character in the smash biopic. The Iron Man star has been giving great speeches throughout awards season, so voters will be keen to hear more from him – plus, he has the comeback narrative so beloved by the industry, after a very public battle with drugs and even a prison sentence in the 1990s. It feels like this is his time and even Ryan Gosling hasn’t done Ken-ough to beat him, though I suspect the Barbie star may have been the front runner if Downey Jr wasn’t in the mix this year.

Best supporting actress

Da'Vine Joy Randolph stars as Mary Lamb in director Alexander Payne's The Holdovers. Pic: Focus Features/Seacia Pavao
Da’Vine Joy Randolph stars as Mary Lamb in The Holdovers. Pic: Focus Features/Seacia Pavao

Another person who’s been winning throughout awards season is The Holdovers star Da’vine Joy Randolph, who seems certain to pick up the Oscar for her portrayal of a grieving mother in the comedy-drama about the staff and children stuck at a prestigious boarding school over the Christmas holidays. She may not be the most famous person on stage on Sunday, but she still exudes star power – and while there’s a lot of love for Jodie Foster and her supporting role in Nyad, this one seems like a dead cert.

Best actor

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer. Pic: Universal Pictures
Cillian Murphy has already won a BAFTA and other awards for his performance in Oppenheimer. Pic: Universal Pictures

At one point this looked to be a two-horse race between Cillian Murphy for Oppenheimer and Paul Giamatti for The Holdovers, but recent wins at the BAFTAs and SAG Awards for Murphy suggest the Peaky Blinders star will ultimately be victorious. However, I can’t help but hope it will be Giamatti who ends up taking home the Oscar, not least because after the Golden Globes he was spotted in a local burger joint with his trophy – I like the idea his Oscar might be similarly treated to a meal out. Plus, Giamatti is one of those character actors who feels like he should have an Oscar by now – perhaps academy voters will feel the same?

Best actress

Emma Stone in Poor Things. Pic: Yorgos Lanthimos/Searchlight Pictures
Emma Stone (pictured in Poor Things) is joint favourite with Killers Of The Flower Moon’s Lily Gladstone to take home the best actress prize. Pic: Yorgos Lanthimos/Searchlight Pictures

Without doubt the hardest to call of the acting races, the front runners for best actress are Lily Gladstone for Killers Of The Flower Moon and Emma Stone for Poor Things. Both have won elsewhere this awards season and both are undeniably brilliant in their roles. Gladstone has already made history as the first Native American actress to be Oscar nominated, so a win for her would be a big moment for progress, while Stone has won before which perhaps puts her at a disadvantage. I still think it could go either way.

Best director

Sandra Huller in The Zone Of Interest. Pic: A24
The Zone Of Interest director Jonathan Glazer is one to watch in the this category – but can he beat the mighty Christopher Nolan? Pic: A24

Christopher Nolan has never won an Oscar. I know – it seems so unlikely, the team had to triple check this was definitely the case when this year’s nominations were announced. However, after this weekend it’s almost certain that statement will no longer be true as the Inception and Dark Knight film-maker should finally get his flowers for Oppenheimer. If anyone were to cause an upset, I’d look at fellow British film-maker Jonathan Glazer, whose Zone Of Interest is unsettlingly impressive – but the momentum is definitely with Nolan.

Best picture

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer. Pic: Universal Pictures
Oppenheimer looks likely to clean up at the Oscars. Pic: Universal Pictures

After its wins elsewhere, Oppenheimer looks likely to take the night’s big prize as well, and when it does it will have cemented itself as the rare beast of being both a box office and critical hit. But the great thing about this year’s Oscars is there are no real duds in the best picture shortlist, all are worth seeing and also prove that despite the various challenges it’s facing, the film industry is producing exciting and innovative work – and that work is resonating with cinemagoers. A win for both the moviemakers and audiences.

Check the Sky News website and app from 8pm on Sunday night to follow all the glitz and glamour in our Oscars live coverage

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