Movies

Who Will Win (And Who Should Win) At The 2022 Oscars

Can you name the movie that could win the same award at the Oscars and the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards? Here’s a hint: James Corden thrusting in a mouse costume. That’s right, Cinderella is among the nominees for the much-derided fan favorite award at the 2022 Oscars, and it will compete against Space Jam: A New Legacy and Clifford the Big Red Dog for Favorite Movie at the Kids’ Choice Awards.

So it goes for the Oscars, which corrected last year’s mistake of saving Best Actor for last instead of Best Picture with fresh new mistakes. And yet! If the Oscars get more people to watch Drive My Car, The Worst Person in the World, Licorice Pizza, and The Power of the Dog, four of the best movies nominated this year, I can’t stay mad at them.

Unless Cinderella wins.

I can’t predict every nightmare scenario of the fan favorite award, but I can guess the winners for every other category (with three exceptions: Best Live Action Short, Best Documentary Short Subject, and Best Animated Short — I haven’t watched enough of the nominees, but of the ones I have seen, I would pick The Long Goodbye, The Queen of Basketball, and Robin Robin). To quote next year’s Best Actor winner, let’s a-go!

Best Visual Effects

Dune
Free Guy
No Time to Die
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Spider-Man: No Way Home

Who Will Win: Dune
Who Should Win: Dune

The easy pick here is Spider-Man: No Way Home, the movie that almost singlehandedly “saved” movie theaters in 2021, for better and worse (for better in the short term, for worse in the long term). But come on, have you seen that space worm? Also, Spider-Man 2 Doc Ock looks between than No Way Home Doc Ock. This one’s going to Dune.

Best Film Editing

Don’t Look Up
Dune
King Richard
The Power of the Dog
tick, tick…BOOM!

Who Will Win: Dune
Who Should Win: Dune

I don’t think it will win, but Andrew Garfield and Vanessa Hudgens’ manic performance of “Therapy” intercut with Garfield arguing with Alexandra Shipp in tick, tick…BOOM! is a good example of editing in movie musicals; the Bohemian Rhapsody-like cutting in Dear Evan Hansen is not. As for the actual winner, my money’s on Dune (this will be true for a number of technical categories). Editor Joe Walker, who was previously nominated for 12 Years a Slave and Arrival, skillfully weaved together a massive, action-packed story with dream sequences. Not an easy feat. Dune is a famously difficult source material to adapt, but Denis Villeneuve’s vision wasn’t punishing, it was entertaining. That’s partially because of Oscar Isaac’s handsome face, but also due to the editing.

Best Costume Design

Cruella
Cyrano
Dune
Nightmare Alley
West Side Story

Who Will Win: Cruella
Who Should Win: Cruella

The last five winners for Best Costume Design are Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Little Women, Black Panther, Phantom Thread, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. What do these five films have in common? They either take place decades ago and/or they’re set in a fantasy world. That applies to all five of this year’s nominees, from the 1950s flowing dresses of West Side Story to the desert-ready stillsuits of Dune. But considering Cruella is a movie literally about fashion, it has to (and should) be considered the frontrunner. It’s the closest the Oscars will ever get to acknowledging punk (Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains was robbed).

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Coming 2 America
Cruella
Dune
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
House of Gucci

Who Will Win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Who Should Win: House of Gucci

Please let it go to House of Gucci, please let it go to House of Gucci, please let it…

Jared Leto House of Gucci
20th Century Studios

Instead, things are going to get real awkward when it goes to The Eyes of Tammy Faye.

Best Cinematography

Dune
Nightmare Alley
The Power of The Dog
The Tragedy of Macbeth
West Side Story

Who Will Win: Dune
Who Should Win: West Side Story

Best Cinematography isn’t as simple as “which film looks the best?” But also: it kind of is? Nightmare Alley’s noir carnival, The Tragedy of Macbeth’s bleak kingdom, West Side Story’s upper Manhattan streets (the best shot of the year?), and The Power of the Dog’s wide-open landscapes are all visual treats, but the American Society of Cinematographers handed its top prize to Dune for a reason. It’s one of the best-looking blockbusters in years, thanks to a unique process from cinematographer Greig Fraser where it was shot in digital, transferred to film, then scanned back into digital.

Best Production Design

Dune
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
The Tragedy of Macbeth
West Side Story

Who Will Win: Dune
Who Should Win: The Tragedy of Macbeth

It’s boring to give nearly every technical award to Dune. But this interview with production designer Patrice Vermette, which involves water bottles full of sand, caves, and human-crushing stones, is why Dune looks like a million bucks… plus another $399 million. This would be a good place for Nightmare Alley to play spoiler, though.

Best Sound

Belfast
Dune
No Time to Die
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

Who Will Win: Dune
Who Should Win: Dune

Best Original Song

“Be Alive,” King Richard
“Dos Oroguitos,” Encanto
“Down to Joy,” Belfast
“No Time to Die,” No Time to Die
“Somehow to Do,” Four Good Days

Who Will Win: “No Time to Die”
Who Should Win: “No Time to Die”

Disney has made a lot of dumb decisions over the years (and weeks), but failing to submit “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” for Best Original Song is not one of them. No one, not even Lin-Manuel Miranda, thought it would become the biggest song in the company’s history. That being said, “Dos Oruguitas” is a snooze. So is (with all due respect to Beyoncé) “Be Alive”… and “Somehow You Do” (a song from a movie that does not exist, Four Good Days)… and while “Down to Joy” is pleasant enough, it’s no “No More Lockdown.” Billie Eilish and Finneas will add to their collection for the stirring “No Time to Die,” the second-best Bond theme of the Daniel Craig-era after “Skyfall.”

Best Original Score

Don’t Look Up
Dune
Encanto
Parallel Mothers
The Power of the Dog

Who Will Win: Dune
Who Should Win: Dune

Hans Zimmer’s “BRAAAM” score for Inception might be the most influential score of the 21st century. Other movies have copied it to lesser impact, and soundalikes are in seemingly every trailer. But he didn’t win the Oscar that year; Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross did for the nearly-as-prominent soundtrack to The Social Network. Zimmer, who previously won for 1994’s The Lion King, should be considered the favorite this year for his “music from another world, from another time” accompaniment to Dune. Hans understood the assignment (to give musical life to a desert in space, and not have it sounds like Star Wars). But there’s a chance that Johnny Greenwood could take home the Oscar instead. It wouldn’t make up for him losing for Phantom Thread — and not even being nominated for There Will Be Blood — but his haunting, creaky score for The Power of the Dog is another triumph for the Radiohead guitarist.

Best Documentary Feature

Ascension
Attica
Flee
Summer of Soul
Writing With Fire

Who Will Win: Summer of Soul
Who Should Win: Summer of Soul

Forget Benedict Cumberbatch and Nicole Kidman, Stevie Wonder gave the best performance of 2021 (and 1969). Directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Summer of Soul is a remarkable showcase for some of the greatest Black musicians of the 1960s, including Nina Simone, the Staple Singers, and Gladys Knight & the Pips. It succeeds as an informative documentary (there were two successful music festivals in 1969, despite what self-mythologizing boomers might have you believe) and a joyous celebration of the arts. Summer of Soul is simply one of the greatest concert films ever made.

Best Animated Feature

Encanto
Flee
Luca
The Mitchells vs the Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon

Who Will Win: Encanto
Who Should Win: The Mitchells vs the Machines

“We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is the reason people talk about Encanto, less so the movie itself. It’s good, but there are better nominees in the category, like The Mitchells vs the Machines, a frantic and fun gem from Sony Pictures Animation (the same studio behind Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), and Luca, Pixar’s best movie in years (at least until, some would argue, Turning Red). Flee is also a historic nomination, as it’s the first film in Oscars history to be nominated for Best International Feature Film, Best Animated Feature, and Best Documentary Feature. Bong Joon-ho called Amin Nawabi’s harrowing journey from Afghanistan to Denmark as a refugee “the most moving piece of cinema” he saw in 2021, but this category has never gone to a PG-13-rated film, like Flee. Which brings us back to Encanto. It’s the biggest hit, and the likely winner.

Best International Feature Film

Drive My Car
Flee
The Hand of God
Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
The Worst Person in the World

Who Will Win: Drive My Car
Who Should Win: Drive My Car or The Worst Person in the World (it’s a tie)

Drive My Car and The Worst Person in the World were two of my three favorite films in 2021 (shout out to my beloved Titane). That makes choosing one over the other a tough choice. Drive My Car is an exquisite three-hour examination on grief that never feels its length; The Worst Person in the World is mandatory viewing for anyone in their 20s and 30s, and anyone else who’s Going Through It. (So, everyone. Everyone should watch The Worst Person in the World.) But I think the Academy tipped its hand by nominating Drive My Car in three other categories, including Best Picture. It’s unlikely to take home the biggest prize of the night, unfortunately, but it will win Best International Feature Film.

Best Adapted Screenplay

CODA
Drive My Car
Dune
The Lost Daughter
The Power of the Dog

Who Will Win: CODA
Who Should Win: Drive My Car

CODA is up for three Oscars. It’s conceivable that it could win all three.

Best Original Screenplay

Belfast
Don’t Look Up
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
The Worst Person in the World

Who Will Win: Licorice Pizza
Who Should Win: The Worst Person in the World

Best Original Screenplay comes down to two writers looking back at their childhoods. Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, a black-and-white movie about “The Troubles” in Ireland in the late 1960s, is the more “traditional” Oscar pick, but Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza has Bradley Cooper playing eccentric Hollywood producer Jon Peters, and you know how much the Academy loves movies about Hollywood, however indirectly. This is a coin flip, but I’m going with PTA to win his first Oscar after eight previous attempts (and three more nominations this year). Licorice Pizza has a better, funnier, and less twinkly-eyed screenplay than Belfast, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything when it comes to the Oscars. But let me be hopeful (note: my hope is gone if Don’t Look Up wins).

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: Ariana DeBose
Who Should Win: Ariana DeBose

As much as it pains me to root against Jessie Buckley, who I haven’t shut up about since seeing her in Wild Rose, this is one of those near-lock categories: Best Supporting Actress deserves to go to Ariana DeBose for West Side Story. She gives the most effortlessly exuberant performance in a movie full of them, but she’s equally powerful when she’s not singing and dancing, like in the tough-to-watch scene in Doc’s near the end of the film. Her win would also be a historical achievement: she and Rita Moreno, who played Anita in 1961’s West Side Story, would be the first pair of actresses to win for portraying the same role in different movies. It’s only happened twice among actors: Marlon Brando (The Godfather) and Robert De Niro (The Godfather: Part II) as Vito Corleone and Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) and Heath Ledger (Joker) as the Joker.

Best Supporting Actor

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
Who Should Win: Troy Kotsur

It’s a close race between a rumpled fisherman and a murder-twink (Vin Diesel voice: “The movies”). Kodi Smit-McPhee won the Golden Globe and was considered the frontrunner for months, but Tony Kotsur was the favorite at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, British Academy Film Award, and Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. The CODA star, who is only the second deaf performer to be nominated for an Oscar (the first: his co-star, Marlee Matlin, who won for Children of a Lesser God), was a charming scene-stealer in the coming-of-age movie, and he’s been equally charismatic in his acceptance speeches. If Smit-McPhee wins, The Power of the Dog is a lock for Best Picture. If Kotsur wins, as I think he will, things could get interesting.

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: Jessica Chastain
Who Should Win: Penelope Cruz

This feels like one of the more “well, it has to go to someone, so it could go to anyone” races in recent Best Actress history. Of the five nominated actresses, Kristen Stewart and Penelope Cruz gave the best performances, but Spencer is too esoteric and Parallel Mothers too criminally underseen for either of them to be considered the favorites. That leaves Jessica Chastain, Olivia Colman, and Nicole Kidman. None of the films they (or Stewart and Cruz) were nominated for is up for Best Picture, an Oscars rarity, which likely means the showiest performance will win. That tips the scale toward three-time nominee Chastain, who unlike Colman, Kidman, and Cruz, hasn’t won before. Neither has Stewart, but I’m certain she will eventually, maybe for the Avril Lavigne biopic.

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: Benedict Cumberbatch

I was recently talking to a friend who said that while she thought The Power of the Dog was a good movie, she wasn’t sure if she liked Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance. “It felt like he was in a different movie than everyone else” was her reasoning. That’s exactly why I think he’s so good in The Power of the Dog: his character, Phil Burbank, is putting on a performance for his brother, his sister-in-law, and their creepy kid. Deep down, I don’t think he’s the surly, malicious cowboy that he presents himself to be. He’s an insecure bully who feels lost without his beloved Bronco Henry. It’s a fascinating, towering performance from Cumberbatch… but Will Smith is going to win for the same reason that Martin Scorsese won Best Director for The Departed. Neither film, King Richard or The Departed, is frequently considered to be their best, but they’re good enough to be considered Oscar-worthy, and they’re both overdue. Smith should probably leave out the vomiting after orgasming stuff in the acceptance speech, though.

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: Jane Campion

You are probably already aware of the following depressing statistics, but they’re worth repeating: in the 94-year history of the Oscars, only seven women have been nominated for Best Director. Only two (Chloé Zhao for Nomadland and Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker) have won, and only one has been nominated more than once: Jane Campion for The Piano and The Power of the Dog. She’s already won Best Director at the Golden Globes and Outstanding Directing – Feature Film at the Directors Guild of America Awards for her simmering Western about masculinity that gets better and more revealing with every viewing. On Sunday, she’ll join Zhao and Bigelow.

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

Who Will Win: The Power of the Dog (or CODA, idk!)
Who Should Win: Drive My Car

Not to go all analytical on you (I’m sorry in advance), but Best Picture could come down to math. The Oscars’ top prize is decided by ranked choice voting, where rather than voting for only one movie, Academy voters declare their preferences in order, from their favorite to their least favorite of the nominees. Let’s say, for instance, you have 10 voters and four of them have The Power of the Dog in the top slot on the ballot (if any film gets more than 50 percent of #1 votes, it automatically wins; that will not happen this year, or most years). That sounds promising for Jane Campion being on stage at the end of the night, but if six voters have The Power of the Dog in the bottom half of the top-10 and CODA in the second slot, CODA could pull an upset. (Again, sorry for the math.)

The preferential ballot is handy for heart-warming films that maybe aren’t the “best picture,” but most voters really like. And It’s hard to not like CODA, despite what the internet (OK, mostly Twitter) wants you to think. The words “lovely” and “inspiring” and “fuzzy” come up a lot when reading about CODA, whereas some voters consider The Power of the Dog to be too “cold.” They would be wrong, which is why democracy simply doesn’t work.

A month ago, I was convinced that The Power of the Dog — my third favorite of the nominees, behind Drive My Car and Dune — would easily take Best Picture. But then CODA (which I also enjoyed) won the top prize at the Producers Guild of America Awards, which uses the same ballot system as the Oscars, and now I’m not sure.

The Power of the Dog, the prestige pick, and CODA, the crowd-pleaser, reminds me (and others) of the 2018 Oscars, when the odds-on favorite Roma faced a late surge from Green Book, which ended up winning. Could the same thing happen this year? I don’t think it will, but it will be close.

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