Early tomorrow morning our suspicions and predictions about what the none-too-hip, stay-at-home-except-for-groceries, life-has-mostly-possed-them-by Academy members are preferring as far as the allegedly finest film accomplishments of 2021 are concerned.

I can attempt to describe the pit-of-hell depression I’m feeling about what will happen tomorrow, but I’m not sure I can do it justice.

All I know right now is the bottom line, which is that Hollywood Elsewhere has staked out three hills that I’m ready to die on or die for…three contenders that will have to be at least nominated for the Academy to maintain at least a smidgen of respect in my eyes.

Hill #1 is Parallel MothersPenelope Cruz for Best Actress — apparently a dicey situation but who knows? Hill #2 is Spider-Man: No Way Home for Best Picturean apparent no-go despite the obviously necessary hosannah response to a single film having kept exhibition alive in late ’21 plus Anne Thompson saying last weekend that she’s heard that Academy members are having trouble coming up with ten nominations…God! Hill #3 is King Richard‘s Will Smith for Best Actor — a safe bet. (Smith will probably win, in fact.)

It would be outrageous, of course, if West Side Story fails to nab a Best Picture nomination, but it probably will.

Everyone is depressed about the Oscar noms…about life, the pandemic, wokesters working overtime to ensure that the Republicans will take the House and possibly the Senate next November, inflation, everything. Barring a huge surprise or two, the only thing anyone will be talking about tomorrow are the snubs. HE lives for the snubs.

Cutting to the chase, here are Sasha Stone’s predictions plus my own comments in the form of an NGE classification (i.e., Not Good Enough). What that really means is that an Oscar contender should ideally represent an exceptional or transcendent or highly combustible effort. If the effort in question is just respectable or professional or moderately approvable, then it’s not good enough for an Oscar nom. Another NGE factor is a contender who is very popular or even locked in for political reasons. (You know who I mean.) If a contender doesn’t have an NGE, it’s more or less okay in my book,

Best Picture

Belfast (Globes/Critics Choice/PGA/SAG/DGA/BAFTA pic) / no comment
The Power of the Dog (Globes/Critics Choice/PGA/DGA/BAFTA pic)
Licorice Pizza (Globes/Critics Choice/PGA/DGA/BAFTA pic) / NGE, although it’s okay
Dune (Globes/Critics Choice/PGA/DGA/BAFTA pic) / NGE
West Side Story (Globes+/Critics Choice/PGA/DGA)
Don’t Look Up (Globes/Critics Choice/PGA/SAG/BAFTA pic)
King Richard (Globes/Critics Choice/PGA/SAG)
CODA (Globes/Critics Choice/PGA/SAG) / NGE
tick, tick…BOOM! (Globes/Critics Choice/PGA)
Being the Ricardos (PGA)
Alternates: Nightmare Alley (Critics Choice), Drive My Car, House of Gucci.

Best Director

Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog (DGA)
Kenneth Branagh, Belfast (DGA)
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza (DGA)
Denis Villenuve, Dune (DGA) / NGE
Steven Spielberg, West Side Story (DGA)
Alternates: Guillermo del Toro, Nightmare Alley; Adam McKay, Don’t Look Up; Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

Best Actress

Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos / NGE
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Lady Gaga, House of Gucci / NGE
Jennifer Hudson, Respect
Alternates: Rachel Zegler, West Side Story; Tessa Thompson, Passing; Kristen Stewart, Spencer.

Best Actor

Will Smith, King Richard
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth / NGE
Andrew Garfield, tick, tick… BOOM! / NGE
Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos
Alternates: Leonardo DiCaprio, Don’t Look Up; Peter Dinklage, Cyrano

Best Supporting Actress

Ariana DeBose, West Side Story / NGE
Caitriona Balfe, Belfast
Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog / NGE
Aunjanue Ellis, King RichardSHOULD WIN!!
Cate Blanchett, Nightmare Alley / NGE
Alternates: Rita Moreno, West Side Story; Marlee Matlin, CODA; Nina Arianda, Being the Ricardos; Ann Dowd, Mass; Haley Bennett, Cyrano; Martha Plimpton, Mass.

Best Supporting Actor

Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog / NGE
Troy Kotsur, CODA / NGE
Ciaran Hinds, Belfast
Jared Leto, House of Gucci…too broad, Al Pacino was better.
Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza
Alts: Ben Affleck, The Tender Bar / NGE; Mark Rylance, Don’t Look Up / NGE; Mike Faist, West Side StorySHOULD WIN!!; Jonah Hill, Don’t Look Up; J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos.

Again, HE’s top films of 2021:

1. King Richard
2. Parallel Mothers
3. West Side Story
4. Spider-Man: No Way Home
5. The Worst Person in the World
6. A Hero (Amazon)
7. Riders of Justice
8. No Time To Die
9. The Beatles: Get Back
10. Zola
11. Cyrano
12. Licorice Pizza
13. The Card Counter
14. In The Heights
15. The Last Duel