In my first column for the 2022 Oscars, I talked about how Belfast and The Power of the Dog were 1 and 1A in the Best Picture race with a lot of unknowns trailing behind. Two of those unknowns arrived this past week and became legit contenders. Buckle up.
Licorice Pizza And West Side Story Have Arrived
Never count out the power of well-respected directors. Coming into the Fall, very little was known about Licorice Pizza and West Side Story besides the two powerhouses behind the camera, Paul Thomas Anderson and Steven Spielberg. Projects from two of the best directors of their respective generations will garner a lot of attention.
In both cases, the hype was real.
Licorice Pizza landed the best debut at the independent box office during the pandemic with $335,000. PTA’s coming-of-age story set in the 1970s San Fernando Valley received overwhelmingly positive reviews, with RogerEbert.com calling it the “best movie of the year.”
Fittingly, another organization called it the best film of the year. The National Board of Review named Licorice Pizza the Best Film of 2021. In addition to the top prize, PTA won Best Director, and Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman won breakthrough performance.
The win at the NBR foreshadows an Oscar nomination. Since 2010, only two films* that won Best Film did not go on to receive a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. With a Best Picture nomination all but guaranteed, PTA should receive at least one more nomination for screenplay or direction with the former being his best chance to win.
*2014’s A Most Violent Year and 2020’s Da 5 Bloods
While PTA searches for his first Oscar, Spielberg is trying to win his fourth Oscar with West Side Story. When Spielberg first announced he would remake one of the greatest musicals of all time, many questioned why take on this legendary work of art.
Not this guy!
We should know better than to question a 17-time Oscar nominee.
According to the first reactions, West Side Story is a “true Spielberg classic.”
West Side Story quickly inserted itself into the Best Picture race with its inclusion on NBR’s 10 Best Films of the Year. The film is a lock for nominations in Best Picture and Best Director. Expect newcomer Rachel Zegler (Best Actress), who won Best Actress at NBR, Ariana DeBose (Supporting), and Rita Moreno (Supporting) to be major players in their respective races.
Gotham Awards And National Board of Review Results
This past week, the Gotham Awards gave out some hardware. The biggest winner was Netflix’s The Lost Daughter, which won four awards: Best Feature, Breakthrough Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress. Will it translate to Oscar nominations? It will be difficult for Maggie Gyllenhaal to crack the directing category, but she’s a shoo-in for an Adapted Screenplay nomination. Olivia Colman is a guarantee for a Best Actress nomination while the film still has some work to do for Best Picture.
As for the rest of the NBR winners, Will Smith began his “I’m going to win every award in site” campaign with a victory for King Richard.
Until next time, my friends.
After strong premieres, Licorice Pizza and West Side Story are now contenders in the race for Best Picture at the 2022 Oscars.
Tweet me, @danny_giro, with your best Oscar predictions!