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Who will — or should — get Oscar nominations


Greg W. Locke

Whatzup Features Writer

Published January 26, 2022

With this year’s Oscar nominations coming Feb. 8, I figured I’d do what I do every year around this time: attempt to predict the nominees of the major categories. 

It’s been a weird year at the movies, and trying to pick how the Oscar voters will land feels more impossible than I can remember it ever feeling before. But here we go:

Best Director: This is, sadly, the first time I can ever remember Paul Thomas Anderson being a sure-thing nominee for Best Director. His film, Licorice Pizza, despite being very much a minor work for the auteur, is going to get a whole lot of awards attention this year. And yeah, it is fantastic — though nowhere near as notable as several of his other films. Jane Campion will certainly be nominated for The Power of the Dog, while Steven Spielberg (West Side Story) and Denis Villeneuve (Dune) also seem like sure things. So who takes the fifth spot? Kenneth Branagh (Belfast) and Joel Coen (The Tragedy of Macbeth) seem very possible. Longshots include Adam McKay (Don’t Look Up) and Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car), who made two of the year’s most discussed films. Wes Anderson seems to once again be out of the running.

Best Male Actor: Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth) will almost certainly be nominated, as will King Richard star Will Smith and The Power of the Dog’s Benedict Cumberbatch. From there things get tricky. Vegas odds love Tick, Tick … Boom! star Andrew Garfield, but I’m not convinced. If it were up to me, Nicholas Cage (Pig) and Leonardo DiCaprio (Don’t Look Up) would be the front-runners. Also keep an eye on Javier Bardem, whose performance in Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos has been getting quite a bit of attention. Joaquim Phoenix (C’mon C’mon) and Simon Rex (Red Rocket) still have a chance. Great year for this category.

Best Supporting Female Actor: My beloved Kirsten Dunst’s performance in The Power of the Dog is a sure thing. If Kiki doesn’t get nominated, I won’t watch the show. From there things seem pretty wide open, with Ariana DeBose and Rita Moreno giving quite a bit of attention for their performances in West Side Story. Also keep an eye on Belfast star Cait Balfe, and Passing star (and ScreenTime favorite) Ruth Negga. Not the year’s strongest category as far as big performances go, but there are several more notable ones, including Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep in Don’t Look Up and my personal favorite, Jessie Buckley in The Lost Daughter.

Best Cinematography: An incredible year for this category if the Oscars don’t mess it up. We have a new great really coming into his own with Greig Fraser (Dune); we have all-time legends Bruno Delbonnel (The Tragedy of Macbeth), Janusz Kaminski (West Side Story), and Dariusz Wolski (House of Gucci and The Last Duel); we have arthouse heroes Robbie Ryan (C’mon C’mon) and Linus Sandgren (No Time to Die); and, finally, we have up-and-comer Ari Wegner (The Power of the Dog) and living cult legend Robert Yeoman (The French Dispatch). Incredible crop.

Best Supporting Male Actor: Kodi Smit-McPhee’s performance in The Power of the Dog is the one to beat this year. Also in the running are big names like Ben Affleck (The Tender Bar), Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza), and Jared Leto (House of Gucci). I don’t really think any of those people deserve it. If it were up to me, I’d be voting for either Ciaran Hinds (Belfast), Benecio del Toro (The French Dispatch) or my guy Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog). Troy Kotsur (CODA) and J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos) are also very much in the running.

Best Female Actor: And, finally, the year’s most serious category, with too many great options to count. Here are the frontrunners; Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos); Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter); Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye); Lady Gaga (House of Gucci); Kristen Stewart (Spencer); Jennifer Hudson (Respect); Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza); Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers); and Frances McDormand (The Tragedy of Macbeth). I think It’ll come down to stars, with Kidman, Colman, Gaga, Setwart and “surprise”  Cruz getting the nominations. This was supposed to be K-Stew’s year, but I’d love to see Cruz win for her performance in the new Almodovar flick. All that being said, my money is on Kidman.

Best Picture: Belfast, West Side Story, Licorice Pizza, The Power of the Dog, Dune, and The Tragedy of Macbeth are all sure things. But that’s only six, and we get up to 10 nominees in this category. Also in the running: CODA (a massively overrated flick that felt very Hallmark-y to me); King Richard (also massively overrated); Adam McKay’s brilliant Don’t Look Up (which I could possibly see getting a ton of nominations and awards); the little-seen Tick, Tick … Boom!; Being the Ricardos; The French Dispatch; Drive My Car; The Lost Daughter; and, unfortunately, Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Send your 2022 Oscar thoughts my way at gregwlocke@gmail.com.

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