February 8, 2022

2022 Oscar Nominations Breakdown

Note from 3/29: The Academy Awards have now come and gone, and many of the following predictions are embarrassingly wrong. Please direct all ridicule to the comments. Now on to the original article!

The time is upon us again! Film Twitter has been engaged in some civil (and some uncouth) discourse throughout the day, as the nominations for the 94th Academy Awards were announced today!

The ceremony is being held later than usual this year so as to avoid attention conflicts with the Olympics, which end February 20. The Oscars ceremony will be held March 27, which will make it one of the latest Oscars shows (behind last year’s, held April 25). I will be watching live, but we have a little under two months before the actual show — so let’s make our predictions now, shall we! In this article, I’ll also discuss what I believe should have been nominated that wasn’t (and vice versa), with some commentary in between!

Best Picture

  • Belfast
  • CODA
  • Don’t Look Up
  • Drive My Car
  • Dune
  • King Richard
  • Licorice Pizza
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • West Side Story

What Will Win: The Power of the Dog

What Should Win: Belfast

What Should Have Been Nominated: The Worst Person in the World

I was initially surprised to see Nightmare Alley and CODA nominated for Best Picture, but those are both well-deserved nominations. I am disappointed at the total lack of attention for The Green Knight, as well as an under-appreciation for The Worst Person in the World — however, I am glad to see that some foreign language films are getting the attention that they deserve, and the nominees are appropriately diverse. 2021 was an incredible year for film, and there are many that weren’t included that I could make a strong case for. I do fear that the films I like more (especially Belfast and King Richard) will lose it all to The Power of the Dog, a film I liked but didn’t love. I suppose there’s no accounting for taste, but I do think the aforementioned films are better-structured and are the most appealing from the list.

Best Director

  • 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

Who Will Win: Jane Campion

Who Should Win: Kenneth Branagh

Who Should Have Been Nominated: Denis Villeneuve, Dune

If Power of the Dog a lock for Best Picture, Jane Campion has a very strong chance of winning Best Director as well, despite the strong case I could make for Branagh and Spielberg for their respective films. I will admit that, despite my problems with it, Power of the Dog is a very well-made film with an absurdly massive amount of skill behind it. Campion’s win will be will-deserved.

Best Actor

  • 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

Who Should Win: Andrew Garfield

Who Should Have Been Nominated: Nicolas Cage, Pig

A genuine surprise was seeing Javier Bardem nominated for Being the Ricardos, and while I knew a nomination for Denzel Washington was coming, I didn’t think he was that remarkable in Tragedy of Macbeth. The other three, on the other hand…it’s a toss-up. I think Garfield delivered the most impactful performance of the year, but there’s even more of a case for Will Smith — he clearly put his all into his King Richard role, and he’s long overdue for an Academy Award. This is probably the category I feel strongest about, honestly, primarily because of how much I loved tick, tick…BOOM!, but I do believe Smith is a shoe-in for the award this year. Honestly, who can say for sure after last year’s upset…

Best Actress

  • Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
  • Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
  • Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos
  • Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Who Will Win: Nicole Kidman

Who Should Win: Kristen Stewart

Who Should Have Been Nominated: Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza

I’ve mentioned my love of Kristen Stewart’s performance on The Lenient Critic Podcast, and while I do think she’s the most deserving of the Best Actress award (especially since her performance in Spencer completely redeems her professional and unprofessional belittlement in the wake of Twilight), but I think Nicole Kidman’s expert portrayal as not one, but two characters in Being the Ricardos is what will ultimately win over Academy voters. I actually haven’t yet seen Parallel Mothers, The Lost Daughter or The Eyes of Tammy Faye, but I will make sure to before the ceremony to have a full picture and understanding of the nominees.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter
  • Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
  • Judi Dench, Belfast
  • Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog
  • Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Who Will Win: Aunjanue Ellis

Who Should Win: Ariana DeBose

Who Should Have Been Nominated: Gaby Hoffmann, C’mon C’mon

This is one of the most interesting categories this year — not only because Judi Dench somehow edged in a nomination over Caitriona Balfe for Belfast, but also because the two frontrunners deliver such incredible performances that it’s almost impossible to choose which is the better one. Both Ellis and DeBose are the emotional cores of their respective films, and I genuinely believe it’s a toss-up between the two. 

Best Supporting Actor

  • Ciarán Hinds, Belfast
  • Troy Kotsur, CODA
  • Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog
  • JK Simmons, Being the Ricardos
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Who Will Win: Kodi Smit-McPhee

Who Should Win: Ciarán Hinds

Who Should Have Been Nominated: Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza

Kodi Smit-McPhee is the clear frontrunner here in his biggest star turn thus far, but my personal pick will always be Ciarán Hinds — his relatively minor Belfast role carried the movie emotionally, and his scenes were some of the best in the entire film — not to mention that he is an incredible actor who has not yet been formally recognized by the Academy. The rest of the nominees are nothing to shake a stick at — Plemons and Simmons are amazing, as they always are, and Kotsur is absolutely stunning in CODA. This is another strong group of contenders, as this year has proven to be.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • CODA, Sian Heder
  • Drive My Car, Ryusuke Hamaguchi & Takamasa Oe
  • Dune, Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts & Denis Villeneuve
  • The Lost Daughter, Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion

What Will Win: The Power of the Dog

What Should Win: CODA

Jane Campion is at the top of her game this year, and this category is only further proof of it. I haven’t read the source material, but the script joins the direction and cinematography in being an absolute masterclass of filmmaking…even if the themes and actual execution didn’t add up to an all-time favorite. It’s great to see Maggie Gyllenhaal getting a nomination for her very first film, which is always nice to see…even if the odds of winning aren’t on her side.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Belfast, Kenneth Branagh
  • Don't Look Up, Adam McKay & David Sirota
  • King Richard, Zach Baylin
  • Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson
  • The Worst Person in the World, Joachim Trier & Eskil Vogt

What Will Win: Licorice Pizza

What Should Win: Don’t Look Up

I am an unabashed fan of Don’t Look Up and Adam McKay’s peculiar and hysterical comedic style, and I personally think his script is the strongest of this bunch, even when put up against Branagh’s personal and heartfelt Belfast and the stellar Worst Person in the World. Ultimately, though, I believe Paul Thomas Anderson will win the day with an arguably more peculiar (but, yes, very expertly-written) screenplay for the interestingly-titled Licorice Pizza. He’s a favorite of Academy voters regardless, and since he likely won’t win Best Director, this will be his “consolation prize.”

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