Demystifying the 2022 Oscars: Who is Set to Win?
The 94th Academy Awards are fast approaching, and yet the ceremony itself remains unpredictable and frankly baffling. From the controversial omission of several key categories rewarding the form of filmmaking, including editing, original score, production design and many more, to the re-integration of a yet undecided host of the event for the first time since 2018, the Academy have indicated their desire to boost audience ratings and provide an ‘entertaining’ show. These heavily criticised decisions, alongside last years’ unusual ceremony (which spotlighted Best Actor as the most important category, only to not give the award to the late Chadwick Boseman), have caused a lot of frustration and confusion around the ceremony. In this article, however, I attempt to break down the nominations and see if the awards will be as chaotic and unpredictable as the ceremony seems.
The flagship event, Best Picture, is this year a two-horse race. The clear standout and favourite to win the award is Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, a beautiful slow-burn Western with twelve nominations, the most of any film this year, helmed by acclaimed director Jane Campion. Boasting brilliant performances across the board and terrific writing, it will be difficult to overpower this for Best Picture.
However, that’s what second favourite Belfast attempts to do. Seemingly missing the online buzz of other films on this list, but making up for it with awards popularity, Kenneth Branagh’s ode to both the Northern Irish capital and filmmaking is bound to be a tough contender, especially given the Academy’s penchant for films romanticising films.
Two movies that could have a chance despite their divisive reception are Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, a critically acclaimed coming-of-age comedy that’s controversial subject matter holds it back from being a stronger contender, and Don’t Look Up, a satirical allegory for the climate crisis. This film may be completely devoid of any semblance of nuance; however, this doesn’t necessarily hinder its chances, nor does the all-star cast and Academy favourite Adam McKay being director.
Other films, such as CODA and King Richard, stand a slight chance due to their uplifting nature, whilst blockbusters Dune and West Side Story, both spearheaded by acclaimed directors Denis Villeneuve and Steven Spielberg respectively, stand more of a chance in technical categories. Unfortunately, Drive My Car, one of the best films of the year, and Nightmare Alley, another intriguing film by Guillermo Del Toro, stand very little chance of success. Ultimately, this award is The Power of the Dog’s to lose.
Despite his recent Golden Globe win, Andrew Garfield is unlikely to take home Actor in a Leading Role for tick, tick… BOOM! in competition with Benedict Cumberbatch’s layered performance in The Power of the Dog and the current frontrunner Will Smith for King Richard, likely to take home the award due to the Academy’s fondness of biopics.
Similarly, the Actress in a Leading Role award is a two-horsed race between Jessica Chastain as Tammy Faye and Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana. The Best Supporting Actress and Actor categories are a little less clear-cut; however, I expect breakout performances from Ariana DeBose and Kodi Smit-McPhee to take home the awards.
Writing and Directing
The writing categories grant welcome nominations to The Worst Person in the World and Drive My Car (alongside a directing nomination for Hamaguchi), and I believe the latter has a good chance of beating The Power of the Dog for adapted screenplay.
In the Original Screenplay category, I believe Paul Thomas Anderson will receive his long-awaited Oscar for the heartfelt and complex characters of Licorice Pizza. The Best Director category sees Kenneth Branagh and Jane Campion come head-to-head as favourites again, with Campion’s assured direction more likely to take it home.
Animated and International Features
These awards are perhaps the most predictable of the whole event. Disney seems set to take home Best Animated Feature yet again, with the box office, Billboard Chart and streaming hit Encanto garnering a lot of buzz. The addition of brilliant Danish animation Flee to both the animated and international categories is welcome, even if it won’t win either. Drive My Car, with its multitude of other nominations, looks set to take home a heavily competitive International Feature award.