A little over two weeks ago on Feb. 8, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the upcoming 2022 Academy Awards ceremony. The ceremony will be held in the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on March 27.
Starting with the most prestigious award, the Best Picture nominees are as follows:
“Don’t Look Up”
“Drive My Car”
“The Power of the Dog”
“West Side Story”
The far and away favorite for Best Picture is Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog,” which has dominated the festival awards circuit for the past few months. Though there are quite a few guild and film association awards prior to the Academy ceremony, it is expected that “The Power of the Dog” awards hype will last until late March. If there is to be an underdog or dark horse candidate for Best Picture, I would likely lean towards “Belfast.” The Best Picture is decided in a sort of ranked-choice voting manner, meaning films that people consistently rank second to fourth may possibly hold a better chance than more decisive films that waver between being placed first and last on the ballot. “Belfast” is a tough film to see people ranking low. Thus, if any of them could take down “The Power of the Dog,” I would say “Belfast” stands the best chance.
The Best Director nominees are:
Kenneth Branagh — “Belfast”
Ryusuke Hamaguchi — “Drive My Car”
Paul Thomas Anderson — “Licorice Pizza”
Jane Campion — “The Power of the Dog”
Steven Spielberg — “West Side Story”
Like the Best Picture race, “The Power of the Dog” is the obvious favorite, with Jane Campion likely heading towards a win for Best Director. She has won several times during awards season thus far and all signs are pointing towards Campion earning the trophy on March 27 in her second lifetime nomination. If I had to choose a second option, I would say it is between Thomas Anderson and Kenneth Branagh. This is Anderson’s third time nominated for Best Director and Branagh’s second, and the Academy may want to finally give them the prestigious award. That being said, it’s tough to see them passing up Campion.
The Best Actor nominees are:
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”
Unlike the previous two races, the race for the next Academy Award winner for Actor in a Leading Role is much more unclear. The winner will likely be Benedict Cumberbatch, Andrew Garfield or Will Smith, as they are getting the most buzz at the moment. I personally think it’s between Smith and Cumberbatch, and if the Academy is choosing between the two of them, then Smith will likely end up the winner since “The Power of the Dog” will likely win several other awards during the ceremony and “King Richard” likely will not.
The Best Actress nominees are:
Jessica Chastain — “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
Olivia Colman — “The Lost Daughter”
Penélope Cruz — “Parallel Mothers”
Nicole Kidman — “Being the Ricardos”
Kristen Stewart — “Spencer”
This is probably the most wide open race of the night, as there is not a clear favorite for this award. To start, Olivia Colman and Nicole Kidman are both former Best Actress winners, and Penélope Cruz has won for Best Supporting Actress. The Academy usually leans toward giving newcomers awards, and thus that brings us to either Jessica Chastain or Kristen Stewart. This is Chastain’s third nomination and Stewart’s first, so by that measure one would lean toward Chastain. “Spencer” is not nominated in any category other than for Stewart’s performance, while “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” only earned a Makeup & Hairstyling nod. If I had to lean one way on this, I would say Chastain will win, but honestly this award can go to any of the candidates this year. The guild awards in the coming weeks will make this race a lot more clear, or maybe they will make it even more murky.
The Best Supporting Actor nominees are:
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”
In this category, “The Power of the Dog” becomes the fourth movie in the last five Oscars to earn two nominations, following “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” “The Irishman” and “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Both Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee are being praised for their performance in Netflix’s western, though it has been Smit-McPhee who has been going home with the hardware. I think it is highly likely that Smit-McPhee will be the winner on March 27. If it is not him, the next most likely winner would probably be Plemons or perhaps Ciarán Hinds for “Belfast.”
The Best Supporting Actress nominees are:
Jessie Buckley — “The Lost Daughter”
Ariana DeBose — “West Side Story”
Judi Dench — “Belfast”
Kirsten Dunst — “The Power of the Dog”
Aunjanue Ellis — “King Richard”
This is another interesting race, as there is no clear favorite. I think the race is between Kirsten Dunst and Ariana DeBose, who both have won a decent number of awards from critics associations. The question is, will the success of “The Power of the Dog” in other categories hurt its chances going down the ballot? I think the film will take home Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor for Smit-McPhee or Plemons, but its success in those categories may hurt Cumberbatch and Dunst’s chances at Oscar gold, due to voters distributing their votes among other films. For that reason, I think DeBose will be the winner on March 27.
Ultimately, this is one of the more interesting Oscars in recent memory. The film industry is still rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, but with almost all the nominees now on popular streaming services, in the month leading up to the awards ceremony, the viewership of the nominees should be fairly high. We will keep a careful watch on the public sentiment surrounding nominees and films as we get closer to the ceremony date in late March.