A Guide to the 2022 Oscars

By: Colleen Bailey

Best Picture

The Power of the Dog

Belfast

CODA

West Side Story

Dune

Licorice Pizza

King Richard

Drive My Car

Don’t Look Up

Nightmare Alley

Netflix’s western drama, The Power of the Dog, is almost unchallenged in the Best Picture race. Director Jane Campion unfolds the story of a poor mother and son marrying into a wealthy ranching family which carefully follows the developing relationships between domineering rancher, Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch), his new sister-in-law (Kirsten Dunst) and nephew (Kodi Smit-McPhee).  Contending The Power of the Dog in the Best Picture category is Belfast and CODA, both of which are comforting yet conventional films produced for a broad audience. 

Best International Feature

Drive My Car

The Worst Person in the World

The Hand of God

FLEE

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

Drive My Car, a slow burning Japanese drama, is almost guaranteed to bring home the Oscar for Best International Feature as it was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay. Drive My Car depicts a renowned actor learning to cope with his wife’s unexpected passing and the development of a special relationship between the recently widowed actor and his chauffeur. This year in film has been overflowing with great foreign language contenders; the record-breaking number of international films nominated outside of just the international category (8) shows this all too well. Other international nominees, The Worst Person in the World and The Hand of God are both masterful foreign films from Norway and Italy that chronicle the journey of young adults finding themselves and their way in the world.

Best Director

Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)

Kenneth Branagh (Belfast)

Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)

Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza)

Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car)

Jane Campion is expected to win the Oscar for Best Director for The Power of the Dog alongside her Best Picture win—which is completely deserved. The tense and erotic scene between Benedict Cumberbatch and Kodi Smit-McPhee set in the barn is all the convincing one would need to give Campion the Oscar. However, Spielberg’s work on West Side Story raises an argument for this to be a possible 4th Oscar win. No scene this year can top the energy Spielberg and his ensemble brought to the “America” dance number, which once again reminds all movie-goers that Spielberg is in fact one of the greatest directors ever. 

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Power of the Dog

CODA

The Lost Daughter

Drive My Car

Dune

Jane Campion is predicted to win yet another Oscar, this time for Adapted Screenplay. She adapted the novel The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage into a quiet and uneasy film—opposite of the novel’s direct and explanatory nature. Meanwhile, renowned director Denis Villeneuve adapted the acclaimed sci-fi novel Dune by Frank Herbert. Or, rather, adapted half of the novel; Dune: Part 2 is set to be released in October of 2023. Villeneuve directed an authentic and vivid film counterpart to the famous novel which was appreciated by Herbert and Villeneuve fans alike. 

Best Original Screenplay

Licorice Pizza

Belfast

The Worst Person in the World

King Richard

Don’t Look Up

Paul Thomas Anderson’s screenplay for Licorice Pizza is currently the front-runner in the Original Screenplay category. The old-Hollywood reminiscent, coming-of-age film starring Alan Hiam (from the rock band, HIAM) and Bradley Cooper has been praised by critics but berated by casual movie-goers. Additionally, Anderson has been chastised for including racist caricatures in his screenplay. A far more worthy candidate for the Oscar is The Worst Person in the World, but the Academy consistently resists awarding international films in “above the line categories”. 

Best Leading Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog)

Will Smith (King Richard)

Andrew Garfield (tick, tick…BOOM)

Denzel Washington (Tragedy of Macbeth)

Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos)

Leading Actor is a tight race between Benedict Cumberbatch and Will Smith. Cumberbatch was nominated for his technical and intense performance in The Power of the Dog. Meanwhile, Smith has received praise for his portrayal of Venus and Serena Williams’ father in the biopic, King Richard. Cumberbatch gives an objectively more impressive performance than Smith; however, an Oscar has been in order for Will Smith since the turn of the 21st century, and his role as Richard Williams is the Academy’s excuse to finally send him home with one. 

Best Leading Actress

Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye)

Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter)

Kristen Stewart (Spencer)

Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos)

Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers)

Jessica Chastain’s portrayal of the evangelist, television personality Tammy Faye has rightfully garnered critical acclaim and Oscar buzz. Chastain ticked all the boxes needed to receive that golden statue next week—she sang, danced, cried, and did all three at the same time. Fellow nominee, Kristen Stewart delivered an arguably more profound and heart-touching performance as the infamous Princess Diana. But Stewart’s movie, Spencer, has had a rough awards season, being overlooked at almost every awards show in every category. It’s a miracle Stewart was even nominated for the Oscar despite her personal commitment to the role and the masterful artistry of everyone on set.  

You can watch the Oscars March 27 on ABC at 8:00 pm EDT.

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