2022 Oscars: Predictions and Picks

I don’t know if I’ve ever had as many conflicting feelings going to the Oscars as I do this year. The lead-up to this year’s show has been filled with more confusing and frustrating announcements than any Oscars of my lifetime. It feels strange to start off this blog on such a dour note though because when the nominations for this year’s show were announced a lot of film fans, including myself, seemed to be fairly pleased with them. It felt like the Oscars were starting to embrace better movies, but—to borrow an idea from Justin Chang’s piece in the LA Times—the show itself seemed embarrassed by that fact.

Virtually every decision the Academy has announced since the morning nominations were released has been met with widespread criticism from film fans. Of course, this all started with the announcement that they were cutting eight categories—production design, sound, original score, makeup and hairstyling, film editing, documentary short, live-action short and animated short—from the live telecast. Film fans and Oscar viewers hated this decision, and our disdain for it grew exponentially when we found out some of the things that actually were going to make the telecast. At least five musical performances, a bizarre list of presenters including names like Shaun White and DJ Khaled for some reason, an underwhelming team of hosts, and embarrassingly desperate Twitter-driven segments called #OscarsFanFavorite and #OscarsCheerMoment (whatever the fuck that means), just to name a few.

It’s important to note that it’s hard to fully blame the Academy for all these decisions since it has been reported that ABC is behind many of them, especially the cutting of the eight categories, because they are looking to boost show ratings. Increasing the viewership of the telecast has been a much debated topic over the past few years. Everyone seems to have their own ideas for how to make the show relevant again. I’ve even written about it on this site. But I’ve shifted my perspective a little bit, away from being worried about the show’s ratings, in the lead-up to this year’s telecast. The main reason for that shift is simply because I don’t think the numbers are as bad as we all, and ABC, think they are. Sure, the show’s ratings hit a historic low last year. But obviously there were some extenuating circumstances there, given that a global pandemic shut down Hollywood and movie theaters around the country for quite a while. If we go back to the 2020 Oscars though, which honored the films of 2019, it was the 8th most watched primetime telecast of the year. And last year’s show might not have done great, but it was still the most watched award show of 2021. That fact is especially important to note because, despite the Oscars remaining the top award show every year, they seem to be the only ones pandering so heavily to uninterested viewers. Maybe it’s because I don’t follow or care about these other shows as much as I do with the Oscars, but I don’t see the Grammys or Emmys making as many baffling, loathed-by-fans decisions as the Oscars do.

My wish for the Oscars is that they would start catering to the people who actually are invested in their show, and stop catering to people who have no interest in watching. Obviously, we live in a capitalistic society and ABC wants to make money, so that’s not going to happen anytime soon. But even if their main goal is to get the most eyeballs on their show as possible, they’re still just not doing a very good job. Cutting the runtime by 30 minutes, or getting random celebrities with no connection to the film world, are not effective ways of boosting ratings. There is not a single soul out there who is going to tune into a show because it is two hours and 57 minutes, as opposed to three hours and 32 minutes. I truly feel that the people that want to watch are going to tune in and the people that don’t, aren’t. It’s as simple as that. Sure, the films that are nominated have a lot to do with whether or not people care about the show, but that doesn’t mean we need to shoehorn in a Twitter segment just so the words “Spider-Man: No Way Home” can be said on the broadcast. Decisions like that are so easy to see through that it’s almost insulting.

Another reason I’ve stopped giving attention to the debates about how to increase ratings is because it seems like with all of our focus centered on those conversations, we’ve forgotten what the purpose of the show actually is. The Oscars, and the Academy as a whole, exist to celebrate and honor film. And yes, I know they have a contract with ABC and an obligation to get people to tune in, but that shouldn’t mean you completely disregard what you claim your ultimate goal is. The Oscars shouldn’t pander to the average member of the public by filling their show with things and people from outside the film world. Instead, they should try to enhance that average member of the public’s interest in film, and filmmaking, by properly honoring those things. The show should inform people on how their favorite films are actually made. It should highlight the artists at the top of their crafts. Which is why things like cutting eight categories, some of which celebrate craftsmanship that are incredibly important to the construction of film, is such an idiotic, backwards, and disrespectful decision.

Now, if you somehow made it through that overindulgent rant, I know what you’re thinking: “I thought this was supposed to be a predictions blog.” And you would be right, which is why now is the time to get to the actual fun part. As I mentioned earlier, the Academy actually did a pretty solid job with a lot of their nominations this year so I’m excited to get into this. I’m going to give my predictions for each award, as well as share what I personally would pick as the winner. The only categories I will not be giving a prediction for are the short film categories, and that is simply because I have not had the opportunity to see all of the shorts yet.

Achievement In Sound:

  • Belfast
  • Dune
  • No Time to Die
  • The Power of the Dog
  • West Side Story

My Prediction: Dune. My Pick: Dune.

I expect Dune to do incredibly well in the below-the-line categories on Oscar night. I wouldn’t consider it a lock in this category, but it seems to at least be the front-runner. Personally, I thought the use of sound throughout Dune added a lot to the experience of watching it in the theater.

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling:

  • Coming 2 America
  • Cruella
  • Dune
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • House of Gucci

My Prediction: The Eyes of Tammy Faye. My Pick: Cruella.

I would be pretty surprised if The Eyes of Tammy Faye didn’t walk away with the win in this category. I can certainly see why it’s the frontrunner, but for me personally, I thought the work done in Cruella was actually incredibly impressive. I’m choosing it as my pick here because I think it’s tough to bring a cartoon character to life as successfully as that film did.

Achievement in Costume Design:

  • Cruella
  • Cyrano
  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • West Side Story

My Prediction: Cruella. My Pick: Cruella.

I’ll be honest, it definitely feels odd spending this much time of my Oscar predictions blog on Cruella, but it definitely deserves the win in this category. The costumes were by far the best part of that film, and I hope they get the recognition they deserve on Sunday night.

Achievement in Cinematography:

  • Greg Fraser, Dune
  • Dan Laustsen, Nightmare Alley
  • Ari Wegner, The Power of the Dog
  • Bruno Delbonnel, The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • Janusz Kaminski, West Side Story

My Prediction: Greg Fraser, Dune. My Pick: Greg Fraser, Dune.

I think we’re looking at a two-horse race between Ari Wegner and Greg Fraser here. Personally, I wouldn’t be upset if either of them won because Dune and The Power of the Dog are both incredibly looking films. Their visuals are also integral to the stories that each of those films tell. I happen to think Dune is one of the most impressively shot films I’ve seen in a while though, which is why I chose it as my winner here.

Achievement in Production Design:

  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • West Side Story

My Prediction: DuneMy Pick: Dune.

I expect Dune‘s dominance to continue on in this category. I hesitate to pick it as my winner in some of these categories for fear of being repetitive, but I genuinely thought it was one of the most expertly crafted films I’ve seen in recent years. If I had to pick a dark horse in this category, it would be Nightmare Alley.

Achievement in Film Editing:

  • Hank Corwin, Don’t Look Up
  • Joe Walker, Dune
  • Pamela Martin, King Richard
  • Peter Sciberras, The Power of the Dog
  • Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum, tick, tick… Boom!

My Prediction: King RichardMy Pick: Dune.

This is a bit of a bold prediction that I don’t feel 100% confident in. Dune is the front-runner in this category, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Pamela Martin might walk away with it. Sports films are incredibly difficult to edit because it can be hard to make the dramatized action look and feel authentic. I thought the tennis matches in King Richard were edited exceptionally well though, and I think the Academy may just reward that. Still though, I really was just so impressed by the work everyone did on Dune.

Achievement in Visual Effects:

  • Dune
  • Free Guy
  • No Time to Die
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

My Prediction: DuneMy Pick: Dune.

This category feels like a lock so I’m honestly not going to spend that much time on it. Instead, I’ll just take this moment to express how upsetting I find it that Free Guy is an Oscar nominated film. Shame on you, Academy.

Best Original Song:

  • “Be Alive,” King Richard
  • “Dos Oruguitas,” Encanto
  • “Down to Joy,” Belfast
  • “No Time to Die,” No Time to Die
  • “Somehow You Do,” Four Good Days

My Prediction: “Dos Oruguitas,” EncantoMy Pick: “No Time to Die,” No Time to Die.

This is usually the most confounding and, if I’m being harsh, maybe unnecessary category at the Oscars ever year. “Dos Oruguitas” and “No Time to Die” definitely seem to be the front-runners going into the ceremony. I just think the Academy enjoys celebrating Disney in this category, which is why I’m predicting “Dos Oruguitas.” Moreover, I think some Academy members will view a vote for “Dos Oruguitas” as sort of an honorary vote for “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” which was not submitted by Disney. Personally, I just happen to think “No Time to Die” is the better song.

Best Original Score:

  • Nicholas Britell, Don’t Look Up
  • Hans Zimmer, Dune
  • Germaine Franco, Encanto
  • Alberto Iglesias, Parallel Mothers
  • Jonny Greenwood, The Power of the Dog

My Prediction: Hans Zimmer, DuneMy Pick: Hans Zimmer, Dune.

We’re getting to the end of the Dune predictions here, but I had to go with it in this category because I would be fairly surprised if Hans Zimmer does not win this award. Jonny Greenwood is probably his main competitor in this category, but it feels like Zimmer will walk away with this deserved win on Sunday night.

Best Animated Feature:

  • Encanto
  • Flee
  • Luca
  • The Mitchells vs. the Machines
  • Raya and the Last Dragon

My Prediction: EncantoMy Pick: The Mitchells vs. the Machines.

It feels like every year there is either a stone cold lock in this category, or it is wide open. While I don’t think Encanto is a 100% guarantee, I would be pretty surprised to see it not win. Historically, the Academy favors Disney/Pixar in this category, and while the team behind The Mitchells vs. the Machines has been campaigning pretty hard, I don’t see an upset coming on Sunday night. For me, while I enjoyed both, Mitchells is the superior movie to Encanto.

Best International Feature Film:

  • Drive My Car
  • Flee
  • The Hand of God
  • Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
  • The Worst Person in the World

My Prediction: Drive My Car. My Pick: The Worst Person in the World.

Sometimes a film nominated in Best Animated Feature or Best International Feature will also be nominated in Best Picture. While I always appreciate the Academy nominating different types of films in Best Picture, the downside is that it kind of ruins the suspense in these categories. I would be pretty shocked if Drive My Car somehow didn’t win here. For my personal pick, I actually love Drive My Car and The Worst Person in the World a pretty even amount so I had to come up with some sort of tiebreaker. Ultimately, I gave the edge to The Worst Person in the World because I think it will be the film I end up returning to more often.

Best Documentary Feature:

  • Ascension
  • Attica
  • Flee
  • Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
  • Writing With Fire

My Prediction: Summer of SoulMy Pick: Summer of Soul.

Historically, the Academy is prone to doing some weird stuff in this category (see: The Octopus Teacher winning last year). But, I’m happy to report that I feel like they are going to do the right thing this year. Summer of Soul was a really incredible accomplishment, and they probably deserve an award for just for finding and sharing all of that footage in the first place.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Siân Heder, Coda
  • Ryusuke Hamaguchi & Takamasa Oe, Drive My Car
  • Jon Spaihts & Denis Villeneuve & Eric Roth, Dune
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter
  • Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

My Prediction: Siân Heder, CodaMy Pick: Ryusuke Hamaguchi & Takamasa Oe, Drive My Car.

This very well could be where the Coda momentum starts on Oscar night. I don’t necessarily think Siân Heder picking up the win here means anything too significant in terms of the Best Picture race, but it would definitely be fascinating to see Coda come out as the victor in their first real competition against The Power of the Dog. Personally, I don’t think either of those films should win here. While I enjoy, to varying degrees, all five of these screenplays—the complexity and the emotion in the Drive My Car script elevates it to the next level for me.

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
  • Adam McKay & David Sirota, Don’t Look Up
  • Zach Baylin, King Richard
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
  • Eskil Vogt & Joachim Trier, The Worst Person in the World

My Prediction: Kenneth Branagh, BelfastMy Pick: Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza.

This quite possibly will be the most important category to me personally on Oscar night. I am rooting incredibly hard for Paul Thomas Anderson here, I would really love to see him finally earn his long overdue first Oscar. Also, I happen to think Licorice Pizza is the best screenplay out of the five nominees. Ultimately, while Belfast is far from a lock, I went with that as my prediction here because the Academy does love Kenneth Branagh, and I still think they have a soft spot for this movie as well. Belfast has had a strange awards season because there was a time it was considered a front-runner for Best Picture, and then it seemed to have that spot completely stolen by Coda. Still, I don’t see it getting completely shut out at the ceremony, and I think this might be where it gets its one win. I’m not getting my hopes up, but I really hope my prediction turns out to be wrong here.

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Ciarán 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

My Prediction: Troy Kotsur, CodaMy Pick: Troy Kotsur, Coda.

At one point, this was a two horse race between Troy Kotsur and Kodi Smit-McPhee. But now, it seems like Kotsur has this win all but wrapped up. There is still a slim chance Smit-McPhee pulls off the upset here, but I would be incredibly shocked to see that happen. Personally, I’ll be happy to see Kotsur take home this award on Sunday night. He gave a great performance in Coda, and is at the center of a lot of the most emotional moments in that film. He deserves this award.

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

My Prediction: Ariana Debose, West Side StoryMy Pick: Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter.

Along with Kotsur in Supporting Actor, Ariana Debose is probably the biggest lock out of any of the acting categories. She gave an incredible performance in West Side Story, and she’s been winning this award at other shows all season long. While I really admire her performance, and honestly do think she deserves this win, I went with Jessie Buckley as my pick in this category. I did this mainly because I wanted to give a shoutout to the performances in The Lost Daughter, which I think are truly some of the best of the year. I think Buckley got overshadowed a little bit by Olivia Colman in that film, but she deserves a lot of praise for her work as well. I also think it’s important to note that Debose’s win here could be the only award West Side Story ends up with on Sunday night. Something about that just doesn’t feel right.

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

My Prediction: Will Smith, King RichardMy Pick: Will Smith, King Richard.

Will Smith has run a near-perfect campaign and it should all finally culminate in a win on Sunday night. I don’t see anyone, outside of maybe Benedict Cumberbatch, stealing this award from him. There has been a few people predicting Andrew Garfield in an upset here, but I don’t see that happening. While I sometimes criticize the Academy’s propensity to award actors for playing real people in these categories, I think Smith deserves this award. Even though the film is filled with several great performances, Smith really does carry King Richard throughout. Also, it would be nice to see a throwback, movie-star-in-a-movie-star-role type of win here. I can’t say I would be too upset if Cumberbatch did manage to pull off the upset here, because his performance was phenomenal, but I think Smith deserves it.

Best Actress:

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

My Prediction: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy FayeMy Pick: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Throughout all of awards season, Best Actress has been the strangest and most difficult category to predict, which is why I expect it to be the one of the most interesting moments of the night. There is no clear front-runner in this race. It’s hard to look at who has been winning elsewhere because the nominees in this category have been different in a lot of other awards shows this season. For instance, none of these five nominees even earned a nomination at the BAFTAs. Ultimately, I’m predicting Jessica Chastain takes home the award here. I’m not happy about, as her performance in The Eyes of Tammy Faye is probably my fourth or fifth favorite out of these five. However, as I mentioned before, the Academy likes to reward actors for playing real people—and I don’t see Nicole Kidman or Kristen Stewart winning here. Another thing the Academy likes to do that bodes well for Chastain is reward the most acting, instead of the best acting. I think Olivia Colman gave the best performance out of these five nominees, but it was a pretty subtle performance in a quiet film—whereas Chastain is approaching the over-the-top line in Tammy Faye. With all that being said though, I genuinely don’t know what is going to happen in this category. I could even see Penélope Cruz walking away with the trophy. I guess we’re just going to have to watch to find out.

Best Director:

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

My Prediction: Jane Campion, The Power of the DogMy Pick: Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

Despite her incredibly foolish and unnecessary misstep in her speech at the Critics Choice Awards, I still think Jane Campion is a strong lock to win in this category. It’s hard to deny the excellence within the construction of The Power of the Dog. Despite that films masterful performances, Campion really is the driving force behind its success. With that being said, I still think Ryusuke Hamaguchi did the best work out of these five directors in 2021. Drive My Car is a deliberately paced movie, and it’s not easy to pull something like that off and keep your audience engaged throughout the runtime of your film. Hamaguchi accomplished that though. He also managed to cram so many different ideas, and so much complexity, into his story. It’s definitely not the most flashy directing in the world, but it was the perfect approach for the story he sought out to tell. Campion is a master of her craft and I’m not going to be disappointed when I watch her win on Sunday night, but if I were in charge, Hamaguchi would take home this award.

Best Picture:

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

My Prediction: CodaMy Pick: Licorice PizzaMy Pick From The Films That Actually Have A Chance: The Power of the DogWhat I Think Would Be The Most Fun: Dune.

First off, I want to say I’m genuinely glad that there is some intrigue in this category going into Sunday night. Now that awards season has become longer, it feels like a lot of the big races are already decided upon by the time the Oscars roll around. Despite the fact that neither of the front-runners in this category were even in my top 15 films of 2021, I’m still glad that there will be some drama when this award is announced at the ceremony. Now, I think it’s important to note that, despite the fact I just mildly insulted them, I really do enjoy both Coda and The Power of the Dog. I think there is an incredible amount to love and admire in both of those films. This is a classic case of the heartwarming crowd-pleaser, Coda, vs. the expertly-made and more challenging art house film, The Power of the Dog. And personally, I just prefer The Power of the Dog. But also, I wouldn’t be that upset if Coda really does manage to pull off the win here. I get it, it’s an incredibly likable film and it worked on me. It’s not the best movie of the year or anything, but I understand why so many people fell in love with it. I also think it’s important to note that I believe the preferential ballot system favors Coda over The Power of the Dog. All in all, I’m excited to see what happens on Oscar night. And I’m also excited that it doesn’t seem like there’s any reasonable scenario in which a film I don’t like ends up winning this award.

My Best Picture Ballot:

  1. Licorice Pizza
  2. Drive My Car
  3. Dune
  4. West Side Story
  5. The Power of the Dog
  6. King Richard
  7. Coda
  8. Belfast
  9. Nightmare Alley
  10. Don’t Look Up

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