Notes on the 2022 Oscars

Best Picture

We did it! After years of dancing around with 8 or 9 or 7 Best Picture nominees, the Academy finally brought it back to 10 nominees. Not an amazing crop this year but save one of the nominated films, I at least liked all of the selections in this field and I loved a few of them. My beloved Pig got stuffed but I can’t count that as a surprise; it did well among critics groups but recency bias always factors in with the Academy and a July release gutted its chances. The inclusion of Drive My Car is a welcome surprise; I hope the rest of the country will be able to see it one way or another sooner rather than later. The Power of the Dog leads the tally with 12 nominations and it will be difficult to overcome; the overwhelming awards love for it still confounds me but hey, at least Netflix will finally have the Best Picture trophy they’ve wanted for the past few years. Still, I’ll be stumping for CODA, a movie I met last February and have tried to champion ever since.

My Prediction: The Power of the Dog
My Vote: CODA
Overlooked: Pig

Best Director

Two jaw-dropping headlines here: Steven Spielberg is the first director to have been nominated in six different decades and Jane Campion is the only female director to have been nominated more than once in the category. She didn’t take home the statue for The Piano in 1994 — incidentally, Spielberg did for Schindler’s List — but she should have a much better chance this time for her sinewy storytelling in the Awards frontrunner. I’m never going to be upset with a Paul Thomas Anderson nod and again, Hamaguchi is a welcome surprise with his focused and thoughtful direction in what should be a lock for Best International Feature. The absence of Denis Villeneuve is puzzling, given that his film is second in nomination tally only to Dog and his vision of Dune is mesmerizing and unforgettable. Academy members know that he was also in charge of bringing together all the technical aspects that were nominated, right…?

My Prediction: Jane Campion
My Vote: Paul Thomas Anderson
Overlooked: Denis Villeneuve – Dune

Best Actor

This may come down to Cumberbatch and Smith but I’d give the edge to the latter. Smith’s been playing at an Oscar for 20 years since his nomination in Ali and his work in awards season weepies like The Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds and Collateral Beauty (difficult to type that last one without laughing) suggests that he’s finally worn the Academy down. Bardem slept-walked through Ricardos but at least Garfield didn’t get nominated for The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Washington should win this but the Academy doesn’t award Shakespeare like it used to and Macbeth‘s absence in the other major categories all but guarantees that he’ll be overlooked. Speaking of overlooked, if Pig was going to get nominated for anything, I figured it would’ve been here for one of Cage’s absolute best performances. Obviously the Academy prefers their animals to be Cage-free.

My Prediction: Will Smith
My Vote: Denzel Washington
Overlooked: Nicolas Cage – Pig

Best Actress

All things considered, this is a pretty strong field. The most surprising inclusion to me is Cruz, who was indeed excellent in Parallel Mothers but that movie hasn’t had much of an impact on the whole of the awards conversation. The Kidman nod is totally expected and the cynical side of me thinks she’ll go home with gold again after winning for The Hours almost 20 years ago. She and Chastain bet that the Academy would still have a soft spot for biopic leads and the wager seemed to pay off. Colman’s upset win for The Favourite was one of the sole joys for me in watching the 2019 ceremony but I’m still mixed on The Lost Daughter; I actually preferred her sinister voice work in The Mitchells vs. the Machines. The headline leading the “snub cycle” yesterday was Lady Gaga’s absence here but I would say a performance in another Ridley Scott film from last year, Jodie Comer’s in The Last Duel, was even more deserving of attention.

My Prediction: Nicole Kidman
My Vote: Kristen Stewart
Overlooked: Jodie Comer – The Last Duel

Best Supporting Actor

My Prediction: Kodi Smit-McPhee
My Vote: Troy Kotsur
Overlooked: Richard Jenkins – The Humans

Best Supporting Actress

My Prediction: Ariana DeBose
My Vote: Ariana DeBose
Overlooked: Martha Plimpton – Mass

The most disappointing aspect of both of these Supporting categories is the lack of performers from Mass, particularly Martha Plimpton. Maybe the film was always going to be a tough sell to the Academy for other major categories but it’s difficult to deny the power behind the ensemble work of the IFJA Best Film winner. The Humans, another bruising but terrific film marked by a stellar ensemble cast, could have been recognized here too. I know Richard Jenkins has been nominated two times before but he really is one of the best around; I hope he finds the “right” Oscar-friendly role at some point. Smit-McPhee is the one to beat in the Supporting Actor field but I’ll be rooting hard for Kotsur, the first deaf actor ever to be nominated for an Oscar and an huge part of CODA‘s emotional resonance. Dunst was thought to be the frontrunner for Supporting Actress for a bit but recent awards have pushed favor towards DeBose, one of the best aspects of a film filled with highlights.

Best Original Screenplay

My Prediction: Licorice Pizza
My Vote: Licorice Pizza
Overlooked: C’mon C’mon

Best Adapted Screenplay

My Prediction: The Power of the Dog
My Vote: CODA
Overlooked: The Green Knight

Best Animated Feature Film

My Prediction: Encanto
My Vote: The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Overlooked: Cryptozoo

Best International Feature Film

My Prediction: Drive My Car
My Vote: Drive My Car
Overlooked: Riders of Justice

Best Documentary – Feature

My Prediction: Summer of Soul
My Vote: Flee
Overlooked: The Velvet Underground

Best Documentary – Short Subject

  • Audible
  • Lead Me Home
  • The Queen of Basketball
  • Three Songs for Benazir
  • When We Were Bullies

My Prediction: The Queen of Basketball
My Vote: —
Overlooked: —

Best Live Action Short Film

  • Ala Kachuu – Take and Run
  • The Dress
  • The Long Goodbye
  • On My Mind
  • Please Hold

My Prediction: The Long Goodbye
My Vote: —
Overlooked: —

Best Animated Short Film

  • Affairs of the Art
  • Bestia
  • BoxBallet
  • Robin Robin
  • The Windshield Wiper

My Prediction: Robin Robin
My Vote: —
Overlooked: —

Best Production Design

  • Dune – Production Design: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Zsuzsanna Sipos
  • Nightmare Alley – Production Design: Tamara Deverell; Set Decoration: Shane Vieau
  • The Power of the Dog – Production Design: Grant Major; Set Decoration: Amber Richards
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth – Production Design: Stefan Dechant; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
  • West Side Story – Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo

My Prediction: Dune
My Vote: Dune
Overlooked: The French Dispatch

Best Cinematography

My Prediction: Dune
My Vote: West Side Story
Overlooked: Passing

Best Costume Design

My Prediction: Cruella
My Vote: Cruella
Overlooked: House of Gucci

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Coming 2 America – Mike Marino, Stacey Morris and Carla Farmer
  • Cruella – Nadia Stacey, Naomi Donne and Julia Vernon
  • Dune – Donald Mowat, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye – Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh
  • House of Gucci – Göran Lundström, Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras

My Prediction: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
My Vote: Dune
Overlooked: Nightmare Alley

Best Original Score

My Prediction: Dune
My Vote: Dune
Overlooked: The Harder They Fall

Best Original Song

My Prediction: “No Time to Die”
My Vote: “No Time to Die”
Overlooked: “So May We Start” from Annette

Best Sound

  • Belfast – Denise Yarde, Simon Chase, James Mather, Niv Adiri
  • Dune – Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill, Ron Bartlett
  • No Time to Die – Simon Hayes, Oliver Tarney, James Harrison, Paul Massey, Mark Taylor
  • The Power of the Dog – Richard Flynn, Robert Mackenzie, Tara Webb
  • West Side Story – Tod A. Maitland, Gary Rydstrom, Brian Chumney, Andy Nelson, Shawn Murphy

My Prediction: Dune
My Vote: Dune
Overlooked: Last Night in Soho

Best Film Editing

My Prediction: Dune
My Vote: Dune
Overlooked: Licorice Pizza

Best Visual Effects

My Prediction: Dune
My Vote: Dune
Overlooked: The Suicide Squad

Enjoy the show!