5 reasons why ‘The Power of the Dog’ will win the Best Picture Oscar

It’s Oscar weekend. So I’ll get straight to the point. While everyone seems to be jumping on the “CODA” bandwagon for Best Picture, it just doesn’t make sense to me. And please understand that it has nothing to do with my personal feelings about the film. I tweeted my enthusiastic support of “CODA” back in August, and was thrilled when both star Emilia Jones and soon-to-be Best Supporting Actor champ Troy Kotsur responded. But as an official Gold Derby Expert, I have to be completely objective. It’s about analysis. It’s about history. It’s about the facts. With all of that in mind, here are my five reasons why Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog” will win the Best Picture Oscar.

1. It’s seen as the most serious artistic achievement of the year.

And in recent years, that is what it has been all about. Especially with the preferential ballot. Almost every time the race has come down to an artistic, highbrow entry and a mainstream crowd-pleaser, the former has usually won. “12 Years a Slave” over “Gravity.” “Moonlight” over “La La Land.” “The Shape of Water” over “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” “Nomadland” over “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” The one noticeable exception was “Green Book” prevailing over “Roma.” But there was a key factor in that match-up. As many journalists reported in the weeks before the ceremony, many of the academy’s old guard were reluctant to give a foreign language/streaming release (and a pretty boring one at that) the Best Picture Oscar. “Parasite” would break the first wall the following year. And it looks inevitable that the second will be broken this year. But as the cerebral film with far more snob appeal, “The Power of the Dog” would seem to be more in line with the academy’s tastes than the delightful but much more conventional “CODA.”

SEE 2022 Oscar nominations: Full list of nominees in all 23 categories

2. It will perform better on the preferential ballot.

As we have to remind ourselves, it’s no longer passion votes that lead to Best Picture victory. It’s high-ranking votes across the board. If you’re not number one, you had better be number two or three. Between “Power” and “CODA,” which do you think will have more of those twos and threes? One of them has a whopping 12 nominations – including all of the major categories as well as several technical fields. The other has only three noms. Has any film with a nine-nomination deficit still managed to win Best Picture? There is simply no precedent for that. Think of all the branches that nominated “The Power of the Dog” but not “CODA.” The directors. The designers. The cinematographers. The editors. The musicians. Isn’t it logical to assume that “Power” will rank higher than “CODA” on most of those ballots? And despite “CODA” taking the SAG Award ensemble prize over the overlooked “The Power of the Dog,” the latter still generated four individual acting noms while “CODA” received just one. We can’t be certain that “CODA” will even decisively win with the Actors Branch. Broad support among multiple branches suggests that “Power” will be the preferred choice.

3. “CODA” lacks both Best Directing and Best Editing nominations.

This point has been made over and over, so let me present this argument in a different light. Directing and editing bids are important because both are such key components to a film’s success. It’s hard to have a great movie if it isn’t directed well. It’s similarly hard to have a great movie if it isn’t edited well. The two recent Best Picture champions that missed directing (2012’s “Argo” and 2018’s “Green Book”) both reaped DGA nominations, suggesting they probably just missed out on Oscar slots. Did “CODA” come close to earning a directing nom? Did it even finish in the Top 10? I would venture to guess that “Dune,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and “Parallel Mothers” all came closer than “CODA.” Meanwhile, both “Argo” and “Green Book” had editing nominations, and “Argo” even won. (“Green Book” lost to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” while its key rival “Roma” was snubbed.) We have to wonder where “CODA” finished on the ballots of the Film Editors Branch members. Did it make the Top 10? “Belfast,” “Licorice Pizza,” “West Side Story,” “Nightmare Alley” and even “Drive My Car” might have gotten in over it. So does it make sense for the academy to collectively determine that “CODA” is the year’s best motion picture when it wasn’t even considered one of the best in terms of directing or editing? You do the math.

4. “The Power of the Dog” will do better with the international members.

The academy has grown considerably in the past five years, and many of those new cardholders reside overseas. While it’s obviously set in the United States, “The Power of the Dog” features work by numerous international artists and actors. (It was filmed in New Zealand.) It also showcases the same high cinematic standards demonstrated by those new international members in order to gain entry into the academy. “Power” notably triumphed at the BAFTA Awards, where “CODA” didn’t even contend in the top category. Support from voters across the globe could provide “Power” with enough power to conquer “CODA.”

5. The academy will reward “CODA” in other categories.

I’m of course referring to the only other categories in which it is represented. Troy Kotsur has turned into a virtual lock for Best Supporting Actor. And “CODA” looks very likely to claim Best Adapted Screenplay, allowing creator Sian Heder the recognition that she deserves. With two major victories, “CODA” should enjoy a better night than heavyweight challengers like “Belfast,” “Licorice Pizza” and “West Side Story.” Fans of “CODA” will have plenty of reasons to rejoice. But all signs point to the biggest prize going in a different direction, as “The Power of the Dog” goes from underdog to top dog after one of Oscar’s doggone craziest showdowns in memory.

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