Oscars cliffhanger: How many blockbusters will be nominated?

Will the Oscars be dominated by indie fare and streaming movies for the second year in a row? Or might a few blockbusters manage to reap nominations? In the era of Covid, the word “blockbuster” has a slightly different meaning. Indeed, only one film in 2021 opened with $100 million at the domestic box office (“Spider-Man: No Way Home”), something that routinely happened before the pandemic reared its ugly head.

For the purposes of this exercise, let’s consider anything in the Top 15 to be a blockbuster, as those films all made a respectable $90 million at the domestic box office during their theatrical runs. (See photos above.) How many of these money-makers might hear their names called on Oscar nominations morning, according to Gold Derby predictions? And might their presence at the ceremony help increase those anemic Academy Awards ratings?

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” features the return of Tom Holland as Peter Parker, only this time around he joins forces with Dr. Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to stop villains from the multiverse. This 27th movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe scored $536 million domestically in the final weeks of 2021, and continues to rake in moolah as the calendar flips over to 2022. Gold Derby predicts Spidey will get in for Best Visual Effects and we have it in 15th place for a Best Picture nomination; it’s also shortlisted for Best Sound.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” is the second highest-grossing film of the year, amassing $224 million in the states. It tells the origin story of the eponymous superhero (Simu Liu), a gifted martial artist who must confront his past, which includes a power-hungry father. This MCU entry, the first to feature a predominately Asian cast, is predicted to receive an Oscar bid for Best Visual Effects.

“No Time to Die,” the much-delayed 25th film in the James Bond franchise, marks Daniel Craig’s final stint as 007. The action flick earned $160 million and is now predicted to win Best Song (for Billie Eilish‘s “No Time to Die”), plus it comes in third place for Best Sound. It also made it onto three other Oscar shortlists: Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Score and Best Visual Effects.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” was one of the first major releases of the year in the midst of the pandemic and wound up with $99 million domestically. The film featuring the two legendary monsters is predicted to come in fifth place for Best Visual Effects.

“Dune” finally hit theaters in mid-October after a long delay and is now a front-runner to win six Oscars: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Score, Best Sound and Best Visual Effects. The Warner Bros. sci-fi epic is also forecasted for nominations in Best Picture, Best Director (Denis Villeneuve), Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. It scored $93 million stateside.

“Encanto” is Disney’s latest animated film, this time centering around a mystical family who lives hidden in the mountains of Colombia in the Encanto, where every child is blessed with a unique gift. Our odds-makers predict the $89 million success story will be gifted with a pair of Oscar bids: Best Animated Feature and Best Song (“Dos Oruguitas”).

The other top-grossing films in the Top 15 aren’t predicted to receive any Oscar love, as of this writing: “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” “Black Widow,” “F9: The Fast Saga,” “Eternals,” “A Quiet Place Part II,” “Free Guy,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “Jungle Cruise” and “Halloween Kills.”

PREDICT the 2022 Oscar nominees through February 8

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