Apple Might Be the Surprise Winner in the Streaming Race to Win Best Picture

The best picture Oscar race is in a dead heat, with any number of paths to victory. But there’s another fierce competition, years in the making, to be the first streaming giant to win the Academy Awards’ most coveted honor.

On the television side, Netflix and Amazon each made a play to become the first streamer to win the Emmy Award for either of the top series categories, but Hulu shattered the glass ceiling with “The Handmaid’s Tale” in 2017. On the film side, could Apple Original Films be the surprise streaming giant to take home the Oscar statuette for best picture with the delightful family drama “CODA”?

Read more: Variety’s Awards Circuit Predictions Hub

Directed and written by Oscar nominee Siân Heder, “CODA” has captured the hearts of many industry voters. Starting its journey at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, where it was purchased for a record-setting $25 million, the film has generated a slow but steady rise in buzz and projections. Now, with high-profile wins from the Screen Actors Guild Awards for cast ensemble and supporting actor for Troy Kotsur, can the film go the distance?

To do that, it will have to overcome historical precedent, as only the second film to win best picture without a DGA nom following “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989). “CODA” also isn’t nominated for directing or any artisan categories either. It would be the second film to win without any nominations below-the-line after “Grand Hotel” (1931/1932).

Netflix garnered the most Oscar nominations overall, with Jane Campion’s lush Western “The Power of the Dog” leading the way with 12. Having won the drama series Emmy for “The Crown” and another for the limited series “The Queen’s Gambit” last year, the streamer is in a solid position to nab the prize it so desperately has sought since “Roma” (2018), “The Irishman” (2019) and “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (2020) all stumbled in the run-up to the Oscar goal.

But suppose the Academy isn’t ready to reward one of the streamers? In that case, traditional, more familiar studios like Focus Features with “Belfast” or Warner Bros. with “Dune” and “King Richard” could win the ultimate prize on Oscar night.

Final Oscar voting begins on March 17.

Oscar winner predictions for the week of March 3 are below:

Best Picture: “CODA” (Apple Original Films) – Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger

Director: Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)

Actor: Will Smith, “King Richard” (Warner Bros)

Actress: Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (Searchlight Pictures)

Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur, “CODA” (Apple Original Films)

Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story” (20th Century Studios)

Original Screenplay: “Belfast” (Focus Features) – Kenneth Branagh

Adapted Screenplay: “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix) – Jane Campion

Animated Feature: “Encanto” (Walt Disney Pictures) – Jared Bush, Byron Howard, Yvett Merino and Clark Spencer

Production Design: “Dune” (Warner Bros) – Patrice Vermette, Zsuzsanna Sipos

Cinematography: “Dune” (Warner Bros) – Greig Fraser

Costume Design: “Dune” (Warner Bros) – Jacqueline West, Robert Morgan

Film Editing: “Dune” (Warner Bros) – Joe Walker

Makeup and Hairstyling: “Cruella” (Walt Disney Pictures) – Nadia Stacey, Naomi Donne and Julia Vernon

Sound: “Dune” (Warner Bros) – Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett

Visual Effects: “Dune” (Warner Bros) – Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer

Original Score: “Dune” (Warner Bros) – Hans Zimmer

Original Song: “Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto” (Walt Disney Pictures) – Lin-Manuel Miranda

Documentary Feature: “Flee” (Neon) – Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie

International Feature: “Drive My Car” from Japan (Janus Films/Sideshow)

Animated Short: “Robin Robin” (Netflix) – Dan Ojari and Mikey Please

Documentary Short: “Audible” (Netflix) – Matt Ogens, Geoff McLean

Live Action Short: “The Long Goodbye” (WePresent) – Aniel Karia, Riz Ahmed

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