2022 Oscars Discussion, Vol. 1: The Race For Best Picture

Belfast / Focus Features

Gentlemen, start your engines. We’re on a one-way trip to the 2022 Oscars.

Right now, we’re about five months away from the 2022 Oscars, which airs on March 27, 2022. That may seem like a long time away, but the races are starting to take off in each major category. “Oscar movies” will be released every single week until the end of the year. which means it’s time to start up the “2022 Oscars Discussion” column.

The first and (probably) last column in this discussion will cover the ceremony’s top prize, Best Picture. Will this year’s winner be the next Parasite or The Artist?

Early Breakdown Of The Race For Best Picture

As of November 5, there is no clear-cut Best Picture frontrunner, which is a change from last year after many experts predicted Nomadland would win the top prize after its victory at the Venice Film Festival in Sept. 2021. Having no true frontrunner isn’t a bad thing. I’m all for a competitive race with a variety of films trading wins at major guilds and festivals throughout awards season. Those tight races lead to wonderful surprises like Parasite‘s win back in 2019.

As of Nov. 5, the favorites to win Best Picture are Belfast and The Power of the Dog. Belfast is a black-and-white period piece from Kenneth Branagh about a working-class family from Northern Ireland in the 1960s. I haven’t seen the film yet, but it’s giving me major “Roma in Northern Ireland” vibes.

Some critics have cited the film as Branagh’s most personal film ever, a personal love letter to his childhood. Belfast features performances from Caitríona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, and great child performance from Jude Hill, the latter campaigning for Best Actor. It’s currently tied with The Power of the Dog for the best odds (15/2) to win Best Picture via Goldderby.

Belfast has history on its side thanks to its People’s Choice Award win at TIFF. Since 2012, every film that won this award received a Best Picture nomination and three of those films went on to win at the Oscars. In other words, Belfast is guaranteed to be in contention for Best Picture.

Belfast premieres in the U.S on November 17.

Speaking of The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion’s western starring Benedict Cumberbatch is the other frontrunner for Best Picture. Without giving too much away, Cumberbatch plays a domineering rancher who torments his brother’s new wife and son, until a secret may tear him apart.

Campion has a good history with the Academy as she was the second woman ever to be nominated for Best Director for 1993’s The Piano. She’ll probably become the first two-time female nominee at this year’s ceremony. Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst are shoe-ins for nominations in Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Plus, The Power of the Dog was second-runner up at TIFF.

Just like Belfast, The Power of the Dog will be a Best Picture nominee come March.

The Power of the Dog streams on Netflix starting Dec. 1.

The Contenders

After those two films, there’s a bit of a drop-off. Some of that has to do with the fact that no one has seen the film yet. I haven’t seen one word from a critic about Licorice Pizza, West Side Story, Nightmare Alley, House of Gucci, and Don’t Look Up. Seriously, not one single word about five films from Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning directors.

King Richard and Dune should make the final list of Best Picture nominees. The Tragedy of Macbeth from Oscar-winner Joel Coen has six Academy Awards between the two stars, Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand, so expect the film to be in the mix. Other than that, a few smaller films like The Lost Daughter and CODA will try to claw their way into the contention.

My prediction for Best Picture nominees as of 11/5.

  • Belfast
  • The Power of the Dog
  • Nightmare Alley
  • House of Gucci
  • King Richard
  • Dune
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Licorice Pizza
  • West Side Story
  • Don’t Look Up

Let the games begin.

Tell us your predictions for Best Picture in the comments below or tweet us, @danny_giro.

2022 Oscars: Way-Too-Early Predictions

Steven Spielberg's West Side Story

To quote Alan Garner from The Hangover, “How ’bout that ride in?” Before we move on to the 2022 Oscars, we must address the 2021 Oscars. Due to that thing they call “the pandemic,” the Oscars looked a lot different in 2021. With a new date and venue, change isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

After the 2021 ceremony, I found myself wanting a show from years prior. I appreciated some of the risks the producers (Steven Soderbergh was one of the producers) took including the decision to allow winners as much time for as long as they wanted. Without that decision, we don’t get Thomas Vinterberg’s beautiful speech or Daniel Kaluuya’s sex joke. Then again, some people did need to be played off, but that’s the risk.

However, the show desperately needs a host to hold things together. In a year where the films were barely seen by the general public, not including clips for all of the categories was bizarre. Finally, moving Best Picture ahead of Best Actress and Best Actor was a risk that didn’t pay off. The show awkwardly ended with Joaquin Phoenix accepting the award for Anthony Hopkins*, who wasn’t in attendance for his Best Actor win. The producers clearly believed Chadwick Boseman would win and the show would end with a beautiful tribute to a wonderful actor who died too soon. That didn’t happen, and the ending fell flat.

*I was shocked that Boseman didn’t win. However, saying Hopkins didn’t deserve to win is outrageous. Hopkins gave a career-defining performance in The Father. I wanted Boseman to win, and Hopkins gave an incredible, award-winning performance. Both can be true!

With the 2021 Oscars in the rearview, it’s time to look ahead to the 2022 Oscars. I admit that I’m crazy for looking so far ahead, but I love this shit. To all of the studio heads, please release your movies this year. Stop delaying!

2022 Oscars: Initial Thoughts

Steven Spielberg Controls The Board

Mr. Spielberg, the ball is in your court. Type in “most-anticipated movies of 2021” into a search engine and 98% of the articles will include Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, which arrives in theaters this December. Adapting West Side Story, which won 10 Oscars in 1962 including Best Picture, will be Spielberg’s most ambitious task since 1993’s Schindler’s List. I have no idea what to expect from Spielberg’s musical. It could mirror the sucess of 1961’s adaptation or be a dud like Cats. Actually, I can guarantee it won’t be like Cats so expect West Side Story to receive multiple Oscar nominations. With good reviews and a strong box office performance, West Side Story might be the favorite to win Best Picture next awards season.

Will PTA Finally Win Some Gold?

One of the most acclaimed and well-respected filmmakers of his generation is Paul Thomas Anderson (PTA). If you called PTA a master of his craft, you won’t hear any argument from me. PTA is the only person to win the top directing prizes at the film festivals in Venice, Berlin, and Cannes. However, PTA has zero individual wins at Oscars despite eight nominations over 20-plus years.

PTA will have another chance at Oscar glory with Soggy Bottom, a film about a high school student’s attempt to become an actor in 1970s Los Angeles. If PTA is going to win his first Oscar, odds are it’s in the screenplay category. A showdown between Wes Anderson and PTA in the screenplay category is imminent. Sign me up for that battle!

Will Dune be a hit with the Academy?

West Side Story might be at the top of many lists for anticipated films of 2021, but my pick is Dune, the sci-fi epic from Denis Villeneuve. Sci-fi rarely gets rewarded in the top categories at the Oscars, but Villeneuve did just that with a Best Picture and Best Director nomination for 2016’s Arrival. With a star-studded cast headlined by Timothée Chalamet, Dune has all the makings of an Oscar hit.

Dune‘s success will predicate on its release strategy. As of now, Dune will have a simultaneous release in theaters and on HBO Max. Villeneuve is clearly opposed and upset with this decision as evidenced in his open letter to Warner Bros. Dune debuting on HBO Max would be a huge win for the streaming service, but it would piss of its director. I think there’s a compromise on the horizon similar to what Paramount+ will do with its new 45-day release window.

Quick Hits

  • Leonardo DiCaprio will have two high-profile releases in Killers of the Flower Moon and Don’t Look Up. It looks like he’ll run supporting for Flower Moon and lead for Don’t Look Up. A double nominee is not out of the question.
  • Speaking of Scorsese, he’s taking his talents to a new streaming service, Apple TV+, for the aforementioned Killers of the Flower Moon. Up to this point, this is Apple’s best chance to win Oscars.
  • Every year, Netflix has one golden goose to push during awards season. Last year, it was Mank. In 2021, it will be Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up, with a cast that’s more stacked than the 2020-2021 Nets.
  • Will Frances McDormand tie the record for most acting Oscar wins with four? It’s possible, but after her win for Nomadland, she has to be included with Meryl Streep for the best living actress.

I wrote a way-too-early article for the 2021 Oscars in Feb. 2020. In Best Picture, these were my predictions.

In my defense, most of these films were pushed to 2021. However, I will pat myself on the back for Nomadland, Trial of the Chicago 7, and Mank. We don’t have to talk about my Hillbilly Elegy prediction.

Without further ado, my way-too-early predictions for the 2022 Oscars. Keep in mind that Best Picture will be set at 10 nominees as part of the Academy’s diversity and inclusivity initiative.

2022 Oscars: Predictions

Best Picture

  • Don’t Look Up
  • Dune
  • The French Dispatch
  • House of Gucci
  • Killers of the Flower Moon
  • Nightmare Alley
  • Passing
  • Soggy Bottom
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • West Side Story

Best Actor

  • Adam Driver – House of Gucci
  • Oscar Isaac – The Card Counter
  • Richard Jenkins – The Humans
  • Jesse Plemons – Killers of the Flower Moon
  • Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth

Best Actress

  • Lady Gaga – House of Gucci
  • Jennifer Hudson – Respect
  • Jennifer Lawrence – Don’t Look Up
  • Frances McDormand – The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Tessa Thompson – Passing

Best Supporting Actor

  • Bradley Cooper – Soggy Bottom
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – Killers of the Flower Moon
  • Bryan Tyree Henry – Red, White and Water
  • Jared Leto – House of Gucci
  • Jesse Plemons – Power of the Dog

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jodie Comer – The Last Duel
  • Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
  • Regina King – The Harder They Fall
  • Rooney Mara – Nightmare Alley
  • Ruth Negga – Passing

Best Director

  • Paul Thomas Anderson – Soggy Bottom
  • Jane Campion – Power of the Dog
  • Adam McKay – Don’t Look Up
  • Martin Scorsese – Killers of the Flower Moon
  • Steven Spielberg – West Side Story

Leave your predictions in the comments below or tweet me, @danny_giro.