After last year’s Oscars played with the categories for maximum drama and maximum disappointment as the late Chadwick Boseman was not awarded Best Actor despite the show’s shuffling to make it the final announcement—all but saying that “yes, we’re celebrating this performer’s incredible career” before promptly not doing that—all bets are off for 2022’s ceremony. The Academy has decided to cut some categories entirely from the live broadcast and expanded its pool of announcers to a varied and Fellow Kidsian crop. Whether or not this year’s event hits the nebulous ratings mark that ABC desperately seems to desire, the Oscars are at least showing some interesting improvements (Drive My Car showing strong in non-International categories) while maintaining that old milquetoast flavor that we all love to bitch about (Jessica Chastain wore enough makeup to get that nomination!). At the very least, this long and strange awards season is coming to a close—and we’ve got some ideas about how it’ll all shake out.
Now, we’ve already written extensively about some of the year’s best performances, the best films of the year and the best across genres ranging from comedy to sci-fi to horror to documentary. But for those movies particularly singled out for this year’s awards, we’ll go a little deeper into the good, the bad and the ugly from what we did with the initial nomination announcement. This isn’t just mourning the snubbing that Nicolas Cage and our beloved The Green Knight received, but digging into the major categories like we do every year in order to highlight the discrepancy (or rare correlation) between what the Academy chooses to nod towards and what it actually names its winner.
Like any awards ceremony, there are flaws in both content and structure, but by analyzing both (as we partake in the fun alongside everyone else in the movie world) hopefully everyone can be a little more thoughtful when judging movies based on how many gold statues a bunch of old white folks gave it a few decades back.
Find out how to stream the nominees, and make sure you watch those short films! If you’re looking for more, check out some of our Oscars-related and -adjacent articles and all the writing done in the past year about Oscar-nominated films:
- How Drive My Car Uses Beckett and Chekhov to Redefine Storytelling by Aurora Amidon
- Licorice Pizza’s Teenage Dreams by Brianna Zigler
- After a Year of Watching Movies at Home, There’s No Better Time to Push for Open Captions by Jacob Oller
- I Wish Encanto Addressed its Themes of Power vs. Dependency by Jim Vorel
- The Morbid Crisis of an Art Career and tick, tick…BOOM! by Tiffany Babb
- Movies Are More than Their Message by Jacob Oller
Belfast – Kenneth Branagh
Don’t Look Up – Adam McKay; story by Adam McKay & David Sirota
King Richard – Zach Baylin
Licorice Pizza – Paul Thomas Anderson
The Worst Person in the World – Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier
Who Will Win: Don’t Look Up – Adam McKay; story by Adam McKay & David Sirota
While screenplay awards are usually the bastion for cool movies to get one award and then disappear from the Oscars while their milquetoast competition sweeps the rest, the hubbub surrounding Don’t Look Up (and its star-studded cast, and its cash-flush streaming home, and its self-important subject matter) makes it easy to imagine it claiming a victory here. Also, it’s easy to be a pessimist around the Oscars, especially with dreck like this!
Who Should Win: Licorice Pizza – Paul Thomas Anderson
Who Will Win: The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion
Who Should Win: Drive My Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe
I’ll let an excerpt from our writer Aurora Amidon’s piece on Drive My Car’s relationship to its central plays (and its source material) speak for me here:
It’s worth noting here that the Haruki Murakami short story upon which the film was based takes place almost entirely within the confines of this car. Where Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s adaptation weaves in episodic meditations on our protagonist’s domestic and professional life, Murakami allows all of the information required for us to understand Yusuke—and for Yusuke to understand himself—to manifest as a conversation with a relative stranger.
Snubbed all Christmas Long: The Green Knight – David Lowery
The Green Knight’s fantastic, morbid, playful, artsy take on its fable should’ve been honored with tons of awards, but the way it works with its well-worn and rich text should make fans of the written word absolutely giddy. Any English-loving scribe or myth-loving dork should read a translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight before and after seeing David Lowery’s excellent film.
Best Supporting Actress
Who Will Win: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Who Should Win: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Who’s by Far the Best Part of Their Movie: Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard
Standing out amidst King Richard’s disappointing disinterest is Ellis, who’s fantastic in the few scenes she’s allowed space to act. In one of the strangest and least fitting scenes of the film, Brandy finally lets Richard have it for being such a myopic, credit-taking dick, with Ellis embodying dignity as emotions bubble over. The scene teases us mercilessly with dangled righteous comeuppance—an emotional catharsis that never comes. But Ellis even makes this disappointment work in her favor, as weariness slowly pries her indignation open into a bare-minimum embrace.
Who Will Win: Cruella – Jenny Beavan
Who Should Win: Cruella – Jenny Beavan
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
Who Will Win: Nightmare Alley – production design: Tamara Deverell; set decoration: Shane Vieau
This is a great category, full of beautiful AAA films from stylish filmmakers. I wouldn’t be mad to see any of these films walk away with a victory, but I’m guessing that Nightmare Alley’s flashy carnival (and its black-and-white release that emphasizes its unbalancing shapes and layouts) will have won voters over. That said, Dune’s fucked-up sci-fi elements and Macbeth’s unapologetic brutalism remain strong contenders.
Who Should Win: The Tragedy of Macbeth – production design: Stefan Dechant; set decoration: Nancy Haigh
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
Who Will Win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye – Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram and Justin Raleigh
This is always one of the wildest categories, where Oscar baiters and genre magicians tangle toe-to-toe. 2022’s crop is a weird one, effectively boiling down to which “we made this actor look like a different person for no reason” role the voters liked more. I’m thinking Jessica Chastain’s chipmunky televangelist won more folks over than Jared Leto’s silly middle-aged Italian, mostly because Chastain got an acting nomination.
Who Should Win: Dune – Donald Mowat, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
Wet, nasty, tattooed and creepy. That Dune gives us all that and Timothée Chalamet’s perfect mane is a testament to the work done by the movie’s creative hair and makeup team.
Dune – Greig Fraser
Nightmare Alley – Dan Laustsen
The Power of the Dog – Ari Wegner
The Tragedy of Macbeth – Bruno Delbonnel
West Side Story – Janusz Kaminski
Who Will Win: The Power of the Dog – Ari Wegner
Who Should Win: West Side Story – Janusz Kaminski
Janusz Kaminski is a little divisive, especially in his later collaborations with Spielberg, but the camera moves and colors found in West Side Story are unmatched—a true representation of a master director and familiar DP working in perfect sync. The choreography, the songs and the acting would all fall apart without the tight, dreamy camerawork on display.
Don’t Look Up – Hank Corwin
Dune – Joe Walker
King Richard – Pamela Martin
The Power of the Dog – Peter Sciberras
Tick, Tick … Boom! – Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum
Who Will Win: Tick, Tick … Boom! – Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum
Who Should Win: The Power of the Dog – Peter Sciberras
This is a close one between The Power of the Dog and Tick, Tick … Boom!, two films that are devoted to visual tempo. One slinks along, sly and cruel, while the other grabs you by the shoulders and screams a showtune in your face—full drama kid mode. Both are effective, in their way, but Tick, Tick … Boom! has the American Cinema Editors behind it (as does King Richard, but that movie is ridiculous and terrible and couldn’t piece together a tennis match if it had John McEnroe screaming instructions at it).
Belfast – Denise Yarde, Simon Chase, James Mather and Niv Adiri
Dune – Mac Ruth, Mark Mangini, Theo Green, Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett
No Time to Die – Simon Hayes, Oliver Tarney, James Harrison, Paul Massey and Mark Taylor
The Power of the Dog – Richard Flynn, Robert Mackenzie and Tara Webb
West Side Story – Tod A. Maitland, Gary Rydstrom, Brian Chumney, Andy Nelson and Shawn Murphy
Who Will Win: West Side Story – Tod A. Maitland, Gary Rydstrom, Brian Chumney, Andy Nelson and Shawn Murphy
Who Should Win:
Dune – Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer
Free Guy – Swen Gillberg, Bryan Grill, Nikos Kalaitzidis and Dan Sudick
No Time to Die – Charlie Noble, Joel Green, Jonathan Fawkner and Chris Corbould
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – Christopher Townsend, Joe Farrell, Sean Noel Walker and Dan Oliver
Spider-Man: No Way Home – Kelly Port, Chris Waegner, Scott Edelstein and Dan Sudick
Who Will Win: Dune – Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer
Who Should Win: Dune – Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer
Sorry, Marvel, but Dune and its bonkers bug-like spaceships are way, way better than your fakey action sequences. Even the Oscars voters know that, box office figures be damned.
Short Film (Animated)
Affairs of the Art
The Windshield Wiper
Who Will Win: Robin Robin
Who Should Win: Robin Robin
Animated Feature Film
Who Will Win: Encanto
Let’s not talk about Bruno or the stranglehold Disney has over the world of mainstream animation…
Who Should Win: The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Actor in a Supporting Role
Ciarán Hinds – Belfast
Troy Kotsur – CODA
Jesse Plemons – The Power of the Dog
J.K. Simmons – Being the Ricardos
Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog
Who Will Win: Troy Kotsur – CODA
Who Should Win: Troy Kotsur – CODA
While I made the case that Daniel Durant is the true breakout of CODA, the whole family ensemble is excellent and Kotsur gets the tear-jerkingest moments of them all. It’s no surprise he feels like a lock.
Documentary (Short Subject)
Lead Me Home
The Queen of Basketball
Three Songs for Benazir
When We Were Bullies
Who Will Win: Audible
Who Should Win: The Queen of Basketball
Summer of Soul
Writing With Fire
Who Will Win: Summer of Soul
Boy oh boy, will this Sundance hit be hard to beat (even if Attica recently gave it a run for its money). Its subject is fun, relevant and snappy; its production is sexy; its stars are some of music’s best; its creator is a superstar. Docs rarely get hotter than this.
Who Should Win: Ascension
Short Film (Live Action)
Ala Kachuu — Take and Run
The Long Goodbye
On My Mind
Who Will Win: The Long Goodbye
Riz Ahmed is behind this one, so don’t expect the Academy to look elsewhere.
Who Should Win: The Dress
Best International Feature Film
Drive My Car
The Hand of God
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
The Worst Person in the World
Who Will Win: Drive My Car
Even though The Worst Person in the World earned itself a screenplay nom, Drive My Car is bringing the heat. Picture, Director and Screenplay? Yeah, even if Drive My Car didn’t rule extremely hard, I’m not sure its competition ever stood much of a chance once it started revving up.
Who Should Win: Drive My Car
Music (Original Song)
“Be Alive” — DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (King Richard)
“Dos Oruguitas” — Lin-Manuel Miranda (Encanto)
“Down to Joy” — Van Morrison (Belfast)
“No Time to Die” — Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell (No Time to Die)
“Somehow You Do” — Diane Warren (Four Good Days)
Who Will Win: “No Time to Die” — Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell (No Time to Die)
Beyoncé vs. Lin-Manuel Miranda vs. Billie Eilish…Jesus, that’s quite a category. It’s actually embarrassing that the anti-vax Van Morrison (whose list of “antis” have recently added “anti-Semititic”) is even here and, wait, what is that in the corner? My goodness, how did you get here, Four Good Days? There’s obviously been a mistake, sorry.
Who Should Win: “Be Alive” — DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter (King Richard)
Music (Original Score)
Don’t Look Up – Nicholas Britell
Dune – Hans Zimmer
Encanto – Germaine Franco
Parallel Mothers – Alberto Iglesias
The Power of the Dog – Jonny Greenwood
Who Will Win: The Power of the Dog – Jonny Greenwood
Who Should Win: The Power of the Dog – Jonny Greenwood
Who Could’ve Won for a Completely Different Movie: – Jonny Greenwood (Spencer)
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
Steven Spielberg, West Side Story
Who Will Win: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Who Should Win: Steven Spielberg, West Side Story
In a reversal from 1994, when Jane Campion lost her first Best Director nomination (with The Piano lost to Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, I’m guessing things will pan out in Campion’s favor…though I think Spielberg’s work with West Side is even better.
Actress in a Leading Role
Who Will Win: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Who Should Win: Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
Best of the Baiters: Both Nicole Kidman and Jessica Chastain debased themselves in the makeup chair for our “enjoyment” but only one can reign supreme. If I had to guess: Chastain.
Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick … Boom!
Will Smith, King Richard
Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth
Who Will Win: Will Smith, King Richard
Who Should Win: Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth
Who Stole My Pig: It was a pair of drug addicts, Nicolas Cage. I’m sorry, but you and your pig deserved better.
Don’t Look Up
Drive My Car
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story
Who Will Win: The Power of the Dog
Who Should Win: Drive My Car
Jacob Oller is Movies Editor at Paste Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at @jacoboller.
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