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‘Power of Dog’ could have big Oscars night


Greg W. Locke

Whatzup Features Writer

Published February 16, 2022

This year’s crop of Oscar nominations is in! With no further delays, let’s dive right in to the big honors …

Best Director

Generally speaking, not a bad year for nominees overall. I’m especially happy to see P.T. Anderson and his Licorice Pizza getting a whole lot of love. Will PTA win Best Director this year? No, I don’t think so. He probably has two or three of those in his future, but this ain’t the one.

I think the race will be between Steven Spielberg (West Side Story) and Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog). It looks like it might be The Power of the Dog’s year, with not just Campion, but with four of the actors nominated. Outliers are Kenneth Branaugh (Belfast) and Drive My Car’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi, whose nomination was a bit of a surprise.

Who got snubbed? Many thought Dune director Denis Villeneuve was a sure-thing nomination, and probably the most likely to win. Snubbed. Wes Anderson (The French Dispatch) is always in the conversation. Snubbed.

Don’t Look Up director Adam McKay should get a nomination every time he makes a film these days. He’s operating at such an incredibly high level, making large-scale, high-concept, star-studded ensemble pieces that are both funny and meaningful every time out. If it were up to me, McKay would win this year, but no. Snubbed.

And, lastly, we have David Lowery’s The Green Knight, a film a whole lot of people thought might be the big surprise of the 2022 Oscars. Nope. Sorry, David.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Let me start by saying that no, I’m not going to talk about CODA. It got a lot of nominations. I saw it. I thought it was super-cheesy and had the feel of a late ’90s Hallmark movie. I hated it. I don’t know why it’s being honored, but I have to assume Hollywood politics are involved.

The big story here is The Power of the Dog actors Jesse Plemons and Kodie Smit-McPhee got nominations, with most believing Smit-McPhee is a sure-thing winner. If I were betting on this category, I’d also bet on him.

Also in the running are the great Cirian Hinds (Belfast) and J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos). You can’t ever count out Simmons. Aside from the Dog duo, I thought this category was super-weak. A lot of folks feel Ben Affleck (The Tender Bar) and Mike Faist (West Side Story) were sure-things this year. Nope.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

This category is stacked. ScreenTime favorites Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog) and Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter) are in the running, as is legend Judi Dench (Belfast), and newcomers Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) and Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard).

How is Jennifer Lawrence (Don’t Look Up) not nominated?! Massive oversight. Lawrence gave a big, wild, nuanced, manic, soulful performance that I think will be looked back on very fondly over time. Bummer. No Lady Gaga nomination for The House of Gucci? Wow. Another huge mistake. Not having Gaga and J-Law at the Oscars is a bit of a travesty. Cate Blanchett didn’t get nominated, nor did Gaby Hoffman (C’mon C’mon). Bummer. If it were up to be, Dunst would win. Or Buckley. Two of the best out there right now, in my opinion. I have a feeling Dench will win.

BEST ACTOR

Now we’re getting down to it. Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick … Boom!), Will Smith (King Richard), and Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth) are nominated. Wow. Bardem and Garfield are not in the running and should feel lucky to get nominations. Washington has an outside shot, with the real battle being between Cumberbatch and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. The pundits seem to be leaning toward Big Willy, but a lot of folks think there’s a chance The Power of the Dog sweeps. I don’t think sweeps are going to be a thing anymore, now that the Academy has grown and diversified so much.

Cumberbatch is a beast of an actor who is going to have a long career, full of nominations; Smith is an American Classic who has done just about everything but win an Oscar. I think Smith takes it.

If it were up to me, Nicolas Cage would win for Pig, Joaquin Phoenix would have been nominated for C’mon C’mon, and Simon Rex would have nabbed a nomination for his performance in Red Rocket.

BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter), Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers), Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos), and Kristen Stewart (Spencer) all received nominations.

This one is up in the air. I don’t think Chastain or Cruz are in the running, and if K-Stew wins it’ll be a surprise. The two front-runners seem to be Colman and Kidman, who have both won in the past. I’m a longtime Peep Show fanatic, so Colman is always going to get my vote. Her performance in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter was all-time great in my book. I hope she wins.

Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza) was probably the year’s biggest snub, if not Villeneuve. No Frances McDormand for The Tragedy of MacBeth? Really? Oscars, you crazy.

BEST PICTURE

Ding ding, the main event. Here are the nominees, followed, of course, by my personal score for the film: Belfast (80/100), CODA (50/100), Don’t Look Up (95/100), Drive My Car (90/100); Dune (92/100), King Richard (85/100), Licorice Pizza (95/100), Nightmare Alley (91/100), The Power of the Dog (94/100), and West Side Story (88/100). So, as you can see, aside from one of this year’s films (ahem, CODA), I hold this year’s crop of nominees in high regard. I think there’s a chance Belfast, The Power of the Dog, or West Side Story could go on a small run and pick up a bunch of wins. The Power of the Dog is great, but if it wins Best Picture I think it’ll be looked back on as yet another classical Oscar Best Picture winner: old-timey, white, slow, pretty, epic. Dune had the loudest fans of the year, so that would be a fun win. Drive My Car was the critic’s pick from 2021, and should be happy just to have a nomination. I loved it, but it doesn’t have a chance to win, I don’t think. My two favorites of the nominees are Don’t Look Up and Licorice Pizza. I need to see Licorice again before I can pick between the two, but I think that would probably be my pick.

What are you Oscar predictions? Send them my way: gregwlocke@gmail.com

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