Oscars 2022: who should win – and who will win – the Academy Awards?


hen the Academy voters get it right, they really get it right. Recent big winners Parasite and Nomadland are truly astounding works of art and the fact that gazillions of people were encouraged to seek out those films as a result of the Oscar hoo-ha justifies all the hype that film studios and streaming companies engage in to get their pet projects on the map.

The contenders this year are all deserving of attention; none, for example, are as manipulative as notoriously sappy 2019 winner, Green Book. But some are still better than others and it’s possible, nay highly likely, that some dubious decisions will be made. Here’s our guide to the films that deserve to take home prizes (and the ones that definitely will – not always the same thing).

Best Picture



Don’t Look Up

Drive My Car


King Richard

Licorice Pizza

Nightmare Alley

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Should win The Power of the Dog

Will win CODA

Until a few weeks ago, Jane Campion’s knotty and feverishly sensual Western was a dead cert in this category, which, obviously, was cause for jubilation. But now people in the know are suggesting Sian Heder’s sweet yarn, about the only hearing member of a deaf family, could cause an upset. Wah! CODA has many great qualities, but it’s first half is woefully generic and though Britain’s Emilia Jones does her damndest to convince as a conflicted, angel-voiced Massachusetts teen, she’s extremely average, both as an actress and as a singer. She drains the Sundance hit of juice and makes it feel “small”. If this picture is lauded as the year’s best, future generations will rightly conclude that 2022 was the year Academy voters lost the plot.

Best director

Belfast – Kenneth Branagh

Drive My Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Licorice Pizza – Paul Thomas Anderson

The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion

West Side Story – Steven Spielberg

Should win Jane Campion

Will win Jane Campion

This one, thank goodness, is in the bag. The Power of the Dog is so obviously Campion’s baby. It’s not just that practically every frame is filled with the kinds of big skies and glowing colours the 67 year-old New Zealander adores. She also optioned Thomas Savage’s obscure book, wrote every word of the script and took the path less travelled in terms of casting. Consider too, that she hasn’t enjoyed Oscar success since The Piano, which makes it the best comeback story since Marlon Brando took a certain role in The Godfather. If Campion pulls it off, she’ll also be making history: it will be the first time the directing award has gone to a woman two years in a row.

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter

Penelope Cruz in Parallel Mothers

Nicole Kidman in Being The Ricardos

Kristen Stewart in Spencer

Should win Olivia Colman or Kristen Stewart

Will win Jessica Chastain

The Lost Daughter is about a sour and witty woman who steals a child’s doll. Spencer is a Princess Diana biopic. Both movies are hilarious, genre-flouting gems, that allow their sublime leads to go where they’ve never gone before. Olivia Colman won for The Favourite, so you can see why voters might view her as less deserving. But this is Kristen Stewart’s first nomination. She’s also famously ungushy and willing to shock. Her acceptance speech would have been a must-see.

Anyhoo, Jessica Chastain has the momentum. She’s triumphed at just about every major US awards ‘do’ this year. And, in that she’s truly scrumptious as quirky, pro-gay-rights tele-evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, I suppose things could be worse. By the way, Tammy’s convicted fraudster husband Jim (who the film implies was a barely-repressed bisexual), is now a Trump supporter and has lost none of his talent for scamming (he was recently rapped on the knuckles for peddling iffy, “Covid-beating” supplements). Should Chastain get the big prize, all the resulting attention will surely fuel lots of lively debates. In other words, a win for Chastain is Jim’s worst nightmare.

Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch in The Power of the Dog

Will Smith in King Richard

Javier Bardem in Being The Ricardos

Andrew Garfield in tick, tick…BOOM!

Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth

Should win Benedict Cumberbatch

Will win Will Smith

By making us care about brutal Montana rancher Phil Burbank, Cumberbatch has all but created a new entity: the anti-villain. The Power of the Dog requires the famously pleasant British actor to be elastic and he allows himself to be stretched, most obviously when he’s swaggering around, or dancing with a scarf, but also when his character meets his match. Thanks to Cumberbatch, Phil’s hurt eyes will haunt you forever.

Smith simply isn’t given as much to work with. King Richard is the upbeat story of how the pugnacious Richard Williams hustled his two incredibly talented daughters into sporting history. For all sorts of reasons – not least that Venus, Serena and their mother Oracene (brilliantly played by Aunjanue Ellis) deserve to be central to the proceedings – Smith doesn’t have a lot to do in the third act. That said, he still manages to be electrifying and conclusive recognition from the Academy does feel overdue. For years, Smith has been weaving nuance into feel-good fables. Smith, famous since the age of 16, was arguably as prodigious as the William sisters and, like them, has stayed the course. Finally giving the 53 year old an Oscar – this is his third nomination – makes total sense.

Best Supporting Actress

Jessie Buckley in The Lost Daughter

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story

Judi Dench in Belfast

Kirsten Dunst in The Power of the Dog

Aunjanue Ellis in King Richard

Should win Ariana DeBose

Will win Ariana DeBose

Despite every actress in this category being sensational, DeBose is simply the best-est. She slips into the role of West Side Story’s Anita as if it were a second skin, somehow as sexy and smart as Rita Moreno, whose Oscar-winning performance in the 1961 film, once seemed definitive. DeBose forges her own path and has done so with Moreno’s blessing. Moreno, one of the new film’s producers, has a crucial cameo, as a shop-owner who stands up for Anita. Sunday night will be a big deal for both actresses. Just the thought of DeBose waving that statuette, with 90 year old Moreno in the audience, makes me want to cry.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Ciaran Hinds in Belfast

Troy Kotsur in CODA

Jesse Plemons in The Power of the Dog

J.K. Simmons in Being The Ricardos

Kodi Smith-McPhee in The Power of the Dog


Should win Troy Kotsur

Will win Troy Kotsur

53 year-old Kotsur is a formidable actor who has excellent taste in hats (I can’t wait to see what he wears on the big night). The chemistry between him and CODA co-star Marlee Matlin is palpable and they have a blast as Frank and Jackie Rossi, the deaf, droll and libidinous parents of two beleaguered children, including resentful, horny Leo (Daniel Durant; fabulous). Matlin was the first deaf actress to win an Oscar, in 1987. Should Kotsur become the first deaf actor to snag one, a highlight of the ceremony is likely to be Matlin watching him, at the podium, thank her.

Best original screenplay

Belfast – Kenneth Branagh

Don’t Look Up – Adam McKay

King Richard – Zach Baylin

Licorice Pizza – Paul Thomas Anderson

The Worst Person in the World – Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier

Should win Belfast or Licorice Pizza

Will win The Worst Person in the World

Branagh’s chirpy memoir doubles as a Twilight Zone take on ethnic cleansing (it helps us understand how good neighbours become people who throw rocks at your car and turf you out of your home). Licorice Pizza is a blissfully jaunty “age gap romance”, that finds new things to say about misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism and corruption. Both films employ humour to tackle horror. The same could be said of whimsical, raunchy, Oslo-set drama The Worst Person in the World. I think Vogt and Trier’s screenplay takes some cheap shots, but if Branagh or Anderson miss out on the prize, I won’t be gutted if it goes to the Norwegians.

Best adapted screenplay

CODA – Sian Heder

Drive My Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe

Dune – Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth

The Lost Daughter – Maggie Gyllenhaal

The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion

Should win The Lost Daughter

Will win CODA

It just feels like CODA’s year and the fact that The Lost Daughter didn’t make the Best Picture list suggests Academy voters don’t really rate it. The fools. Maggie Gyllenhaal reworks Elena Ferrante’s elliptical novel with so much finesse. Like the book, the screenplay is a sentiment-free zone and Gyllenhaal creates a rant, inspired by a disastrous visit to the cinema, that will be quoted for decades. In fact, Eeyore-ish heroine Leda, is such a tangible presence that one can all but imagine her reaction to the Oscars themselves. She wouldn’t turn a hair at her story being snubbed. She’d smile, tightly, and say, “We lost. Quelle surprise!”

Source link