2022 Academy Awards Predictions

Never before have I been less tuned-in to the Academy Awards. For many years, I have written in-depth coverage of the Oscars, including predictions for nominees and winners in every category. This year, I have been more invested in what teams will make the NCAA March Madness Tournament than what movies will be nominated for Oscars.

With that in mind, I do have some thoughts about the movies involved in this year’s contest. I have thoughts about who is in the races, I have some opinions on who didn’t make the cut, and I even have some (half-researched) predictions.

Here are my picks as of today (which may or may not end up on my final ballot come Oscar Sunday).

Best Picture

  • Belfast
  • CODA
  • Don’t Look Up
  • Drive My Car
  • Dune
  • King Richard
  • Licorice Pizza
  • Nightmare Pizza
  • The Power of the Dog
  • West Side Story

We have a full slate of Best Picture nominees this year (most of which are pretty solid flicks). The Power of the Dog is the unlikely favorite of this year’s awards season and looks to be the odds-on favorite. A Producer’s Guild Award for the Netflix film would shore it up as the clear favorite, but we won’t know the result there until the day before the Oscars.

CODA is a fan favorite which has some awards season play, and Belfast has Oscar-bait written all over it. The critics love Drive My Car (and Power of the Dog, for that matter). West Side Story has a Hollywood classicism to it; Dune has the elaborate and technically-sound sense of scale. But to my mind, this race is a two-horser between Dog and Belfast, with Campion’s film holding the edge.

  • Prediction: The Power of the Dog
  • Should Win: The Power of the Dog
  • Should Have Been Here: Titane

 

Best Director

  • Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
  • Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
  • Ryusuke Hamaguchi – Drive My Car
  • Steven Spielberg – West Side Story
  • Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza

Jane Campion recently won the Directors Guild Award, solidifying her position as the front-runner in this category. The Power of the Dog has been cleaning up in critics associations and looks primed for a good Oscar night (notably, though, the film was shutout when the Screen Actor trophies were handed out).

This really doesn’t seem to be a category Campion can lose, unless there is some form of split in the Picture and Director categories. In this case, though, I would think the Director trophy goes to Campion and Best Picture goes somewhere else.

  • Prediction: Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
  • Should Win: Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
  • Should Have Been Here: Julia Ducournau – Titane

 

Best Actress

  • Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter
  • Penelope Cruz – Parallel Mothers
  • Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos
  • Kristen Stewart – Spencer

Chastain locked up the SAG award, leap-frogging her over the competition. I would not have thought the film The Eyes of Tammy Faye big enough to push Chastain into serious conversation, but following her SAG and Critics Choice wins and looking at the competition, it seems likely she will win.

Kidman is playing the most Oscar-baity type role, i.e. a transformative, classical Hollywood role. The reaction to Being the Ricardos kind of tanks her chances some, I would think. All the same, she is the dark horse candidate here. Meanwhile, Cruz and Stewart did not make the SAG cut, and disparities between the two award shows is generally telling. Cruz is a particular surprise nom here, given how under-seen Parallel Mothers was. But I suppose Tammy Faye is similarly under-seen. The difference here is that Cruz has won before, Chastain has not.

  • Prediction: Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Should Win: Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter
  • Should Have Been Here: Agathe Rouselle – Titane

 

Best Actor

  • Javier Bardem – Being the Ricardos
  • Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
  • Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…BOOM!
  • Will Smith – King Richard
  • Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth

This award seems pretty locked up for Will Smith. He won the SAG over critics’ favorite Benedict Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch has upset potential, being the most striking performance in a Best Picture front-runner. And Garfield is an outlier, a far-off dark horse pick. Smith, though, should take this one. He’s a huge name who has never won an Oscar, and his performance is the most talked-about thing about King Richard. This seems to be his year.

  • Prediction: Will Smith – King Richard
  • Should Win: Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
  • Should Have Been Here: Simon Rex – Red Rocket

 

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jessie Buckley – The Lost Daughter
  • Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
  • Judi Dench – Belfast
  • Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog
  • Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard

We can keep this one short, as Ariana DeBose will win this award. It is a virtual guarantee. She has swept every precursor. As I am writing this, she is accepting her BAFTA award. I can give quick shout-outs to Aunjanue Ellis, wonderful in King Richard, and Kirsten Dunst, great as usual in The Power of the Dog. But this race is a done deal.

  • Prediction: Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
  • Should Win: Aunjanue Ellis – King Richard
  • Should Have Been Here: Riley Keough – Zola

 

Best Supporting Actor

  • Ciaran Hinds – Belfast
  • Troy Kotsur – CODA
  • Jesse Plemons – The Power of the Dog
  • J.K. Simmons – Being the Ricardos
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog

Troy Kotsur is the breakout star of this awards season. He crash-landed into the Oscar race, and his stock is perhaps too high to eclipse. It is a strange category as it is, given the dual noms for Power of the Dog and the Simmons nod. I could see Smit-McPhee or Hinds pulling a huge upset, given how sturdy both Dog and Belfast have been in the Oscar conversation. But Kotsur winning the SAG seems to have locked it up. It is a thoroughly charming performance in a populist film that people love.

  • Prediction: Troy Kotsur – CODA
  • Should Win: Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Power of the Dog
  • Should Have Been Here: Mike Faist – West Side Story

 

Best Cinematography

  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • West Side Story
  • Prediction: Dune
  • Should Win: West Side Story
  • Should Have Been Here: The Green Knight

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • CODA
  • Drive My Car
  • Dune
  • The Lost Daughter
  • The Power of the Dog
  • Prediction: The Power of the Dog
  • Should Win: Drive My Car
  • Should Have Been Here: Benedetta

 

Best Original Screenplay

  • Belfast
  • Don’t Look Up
  • King Richard
  • Licorice Pizza
  • The Worst Person in the World
  • Prediction: Belfast
  • Should Win: The Worst Person in the World
  • Should Have Been Here: Pig

 

Best Editing

  • Don’t Look Up
  • Dune
  • King Richard
  • The Power of the Dog
  • tick, tick…BOOM!
  • Prediction: The Power of the Dog
  • Should Win: Dune
  • Should Have Been Here: In the Heights

 

Best Documentary Feature

  • Ascension
  • Attica
  • Flee
  • Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
  • Writing with Fire
  • Prediction: Summer of Soul
  • Should Win: Flee
  • Should Have Been Here: Procession

 

Best Animated Feature

  • Encanto
  • Flee
  • Luca
  • Raya and the Last Dragon
  • The Mitchells vs The Machine
  • Prediction: Encanto
  • Should Win: Flee
  • Should Have Been Here: The Summit of the Gods

 

Best International Film

  • Drive My Car
  • Flee
  • Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
  • The Hand of God
  • The Worst Person in the World
  • Prediction: Drive My Car
  • Should Win: Drive My Car
  • Should Have Been Here: Titane

 

 

Best Production Design

  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • West Side Story
  • Prediction: Dune
  • Should Win: Nightmare Alley
  • Should Have Been Here: Spencer

 

Best Costume Design

  • Cruella
  • Cyrano
  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • West Side Story
  • Prediction: Cruella
  • Should Win: West Side Story
  • Should Have Been Here: Last Night in Soho

 

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

  • Coming 2 America
  • Cruella
  • Dune
  • House of Gucci
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Prediction: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Should Win: Dune
  • Should Have Been Here: West Side Story

 

Best Sound

  • Belfast
  • Dune
  • No Time to Die
  • The Power of the Dog
  • West Side Story
  • Prediction: Dune
  • Should Win: West Side Story
  • Should Have Been Here: The Last Duel

 

Best Original Score

  • Don’t Look Up
  • Dune
  • Encanto
  • Parallel Mothers
  • The Power of the Dog
  • Prediction: The Power of the Dog
  • Should Win: The Power of the Dog
  • Should Have Been Here: Spencer

 

Best Original Song

  • Belfast – “Down to Joy,” Van Morrison
  • Encanto – “Dos Orugitas,” Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • Four Good Days – “Somehow You Do,” Diane Warren
  • King Richard – “Be Alive,” Beyonce, Dixson
  • No Time to Die – “No Time to Die,” Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell
  • Prediction: Encanto
  • Should Win: King Richard
  • Should Have Been Here: The Harder They Fall – “Guns Go Bang,” Jay-Z, Kid Cudi

 

Best Visual Effects

  • Dune
  • Free Guy
  • No Time to Die
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Prediction: Dune
  • Should Win: Dune
  • Should Have Been Here: The Green Knight

As always, thanks for reading!

—Alex Brannan (Twitter, Letterboxd, Facebook)

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