2022 Oscars Predictions

If you want to know how I feel about the nominated films I’ve seen, here is a tier list (made with Tiermaker).

This is not a ranking; the films in each tier are not arranged in any particular order (i.e. – Spencer is not necessarily better than The Mitchells vs. the Machines because the former is to the left of the latter in the A+ tier.)

If you cannot recognize the films from their posters, here are the titles written out (Best Picture nominees are bolded):

A+ (EXCEPTIONAL): The Power of the Dog, Spencer, Drive My Car, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Summer of Soul, The Mitchells vs. The Machines, Flee, The Worst Person in the World

A/A- (EXCELLENT): West Side Story, Parallel Mothers, tick, tick…BOOM!, CODA, The Lost Daughter, Licorice Pizza

B+/B (SOLID): Don’t Look Up, Encanto, King Richard, Nightmare Alley, Belfast, Dune, Luca

B-/C+ (FAIRLY DECENT): Raya and the Last Dragon, Free Guy, Being the Ricardos, Through the Eyes of Tammy Faye

C/C- (MEDICORE): House of Gucci, Coming 2 America


The Upper Echelon of 2020s Cinema (So Far)?

Now that I’ve gotten the negativity of the Razzies out the way, I am very excited to share with you all my annual Oscars predictions!

Doing these predictions is probably one of my favorite creative activities to do each year.  I’ve been making these predictions for years, but it was only last year that I started sharing them to publicly.  This is really fun for me because this is when I get to watch and reflect on some of the most highly acclaimed films each year.  I learn new things; I get some great insight into multiple points of view; I feel a range of emotions; and maybe, I get to look at the world a bit differently, whether or not I agree with what the filmmakers are trying to say.

The most popular films of each year, one the other hand, hardly find themselves in these award ceremonies, regardless of critical acclaim.  If I had to guess, the most popular Oscar-nominated films from this past year are Dune, Coming 2 America (yes, it got a well-deserved nomination for Best Makeup & Hairstyling), Free Guy, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, but with the exception of Dune, these films are only nominated in a few technical categories, which, unfortunately, are not the most immediately known categories. While I hope that we can see more popular films in a variety of categories (i.e. – Avengers: Endgame probably could have gotten a Best Actor nomination for Robert Downey Jr. if he wanted it), I must remember that I’m ultimately reacting to a reflection of the thoughts of the people within the film industry, mainly Hollywood.

In addition to having probable bias against blockbusters, among other biases, the voters (i.e. – the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) are not all a reflection of everyone’s thoughts about the best in cinema.  Whether it be the focus on mainly American, English-speaking films or perceived distaste from films made by streaming services, the Academy has never been known for being the most inclusive when it comes to determining nominees and winners.  While I know they have been making efforts to become more inclusive, I just think that this awards ceremony does not need to be the authority on whether or not a movie is good, and given the decline in viewership of the ceremony itself, this is not an unpopular opinion.

Regardless, this is still a fun activity for me, and I had a great time watching most of these movies!  I don’t think this is one of the strongest groups of Oscar contenders, but given that they were largely filmed and produced after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, these films might just be some valuable insight into what’s to come for the 2020s in cinema.

Here are my overall thoughts on the nominations:

  • I gotta be honest here, y’all.  This is a fairly weak list of Best Picture nominees.  As you can see in my tier list, only two of the “greatest movies of 2021” are an A+ in my book.  Usually, it’s at least half for me.
    • If I could make a few replacements to this Best Picture list, I’d replace Dune, Nightmare Alley, and King Richard with The Tragedy of Macbeth, Spencer, and Parallel Mothers.
  • I had quite a difficult time predicting the Best Actress category.  Not only because this category’s been inconsistent across different award shows, but also because each actress gave incredible performances.  I wish there were a way, though, to add Rachel Zegler (West Side Story as María Vasquez) and Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza as Alana Kane) to this category.  It would have been much easier because these two, along with Kristen Stewart, gave the best performances among these already excellent performances.
    • Oddly enough, Best Supporting Actress (and to a lesser extent, Best Supporting Actor) was the easiest category to predict.  No one’s touching Ariana DeBose (shout-out to a fellow North Carolinian),
  • Spencer, in my opinion, is probably the most underrated film I’ve seen for these predictions.  When viewed as psychological horror instead of a historical drama, it’s really powerful.
  • No nominations for The French Dispatch?Not even Production Design or Cinematography?
  • I don’t care about this new Fan Favorite/Cheer Moment thing.  It’s just a weird way to appease credible complaints about the lack of highly acclaimed blockbusters among the regular Oscar nominees.
  • Due to time constraints, I was not able to watch the following films in time for this list:
    • The Hand of God
    • Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
    • Ascension
    • Attica
    • Writing with Fire
    • Audible
    • Lead Me Home
    • The Queen of Basketball
    • Three Songs for Benazir
    • When We Were Bullies
    • Ala Kachuu
    • The Dress
    • The Long Goodbye
    • On My Mind
    • Please Hold
    • Affairs of the Art
    • Bestia
    • BoxBallet
    • Robin Robin
    • The Windsheild Wiper
    • No Time to Die
    • Four Good Days
    • Cruella
    • Cyrano
    • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
    • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Because of this, I am also unable to provide predictions for the following categories:
    • Best Documentary Short Subject
    • Best Live Action Short Film
    • Best Animated Short Film
    • Best Visual Effects

Alright, let’s talk about our Best Picture nominees!


The Supposed Best of 2021

Dune            

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures

It’s a shame that I’ve never read the book before watching this.  Either way, Dune is a spectacular sci-fi epic whose greatest strength is its worldbuilding.  This is a film that takes its time to establish its characters and situations as carefully as possible; however, this feature-length worldbuilding exercise, given this effort, feels more like a required prequel to what will be a more action-packed, plot-driven sequel.  Dune: Part 2 will most likely see itself in this category, and it might go on to win Best Picture.

My Grade: B

Nightmare Alley

Image via Searchlight Pictures, TSG Entertainment, Double Dare You Productions

I may have graded Nightmare Alley higher than Dune, but this Guillermo del Toro-directed adaptation of the 1946 novel of the same name is probably the least deserving of a Best Picture nomination in my opinion.  While I appreciate how this neo-noir psychological thriller adds stylistic diversity to the Best Picture nominees, I just think there are more impactful and better told films that should have gotten nominated instead.  Nonetheless, this is still a great movie – especially in its strong acting performances and in how its slow pace pays off quite well at the end.

My Grade: B+

King Richard

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures, Westbrook Studios

I appreciate how King Richard’s Best Picture nomination helps it not just be regarded as a “Will Smith vehicle.”  Yes, Smith gives one of his greatest career performances, but it is also important to view this film as an inspiring snapshot of a piece of the real-life story of the Williams sisters’ upbringing and journey to become two of the greatest tennis players of all time.  I don’t think this movie needed to be as long as it was; for example, I think some of the suspenseful moments were a bit stretched out, which I don’t was necessary since we know how this biographical film ends.  That aside, this is still a great watch!

My Grade: B+

Belfast

Image via Universal Pictures, Northern Ireland Screen, TKBC

I was really excited to watch a film about how childhood can be affected by political conflict and disruption, and Belfast effectively delivered on that premise.  However, it just seemed that the movie could have been much better if it didn’t focus too much on Buddy, the little boy who serves as the protagonist.  His “Ma” and “Pa” in my opinion, had much more interesting stories, but I imagine if the film focused on Buddy’s parents, it might solicit further comparisons to Roma, another black-and-white historical drama based on the childhood of a well-known filmmaker (Of course, I don’t think that’s why Kenneth Branagh decided to make Buddy the protagonist).

Nonetheless, this is still a very beautifully crafted coming-of-age tale.

My Grade: B+

Don’t Look Up

Image via Netflix, Hyperobject Industries

Don’t Look Up is a definitive black comedy that humorously showcases a fairly plausible, 21st Century response to an existential, apocalyptic crisis.  This is the film that made me think the most out of all the nominees, and that is because it is an intentionally painful reminder that moments of adversity can show one’s true character – in this case, the “one”, to me, is the dominating systems of power in our world.  Unfortunately, some of the minor details behind that point come across as shallow and obvious, and despite its lengthy runtime, I think put it too much focus and attention on the United States when the film is supposed to cover a global crisis.

My Grade: B+

Licorice Pizza

Image via United Artist Releasing, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Focus Features, Bron Creative

I have never seen a Paul Thomas Anderson film prior to Licorice Pizza, and it is a shame that it took me so long to finally get to one of his works.  That is because Licorice Pizza is a refreshingly humanizing, sympathetic take on flawed characters – a take that does not, in my opinion, glorify the flaws themselves.  Both the script and cinematography make this film feel like it was written and filmed in the 1970s and then upscaled for modern screens in the 2020s, which I think is nice.  Some audiences may find discomfort in the relationship between the 25-year-old Alana (Alana Haim) and high schooler Gary (Cooper Hoffman), which I think is valid, as I felt that quite a few times during the film.  I never thought of this relationship as romantic (at least not until the very end), but rather an unusual friendship indicative of the desperation of Alana and the desires of a teenage boy.

My Grade: A-

CODA

Image via Apple TV+, Vendôme Pictures, Pathé Films

CODA is an amazing coming of age comedy-drama about a teenage girl who is the only hearing member of her deaf family.  Not only does this film boast a strong cast and great story, it is also one of the funniest movies I’ve seen among the nominees (also, as someone who likes “weird” music, I appreciate the shoutout to the Shaggs).  CODA makes me hopeful that the 2020s will continue to bring refreshing, more realistic takes on the struggles of teenagers and young adults (and their families).  I wish, though, that the father, portrayed by Troy Kotsur, had an even bigger part in the movie.

My Grade: A-

West Side Story

Image via 20th Century Studios, Amblin Entertainment, TSG Entertainment

Steven Spielberg directs a retelling of the classic musical that manages to set itself apart from the 1961 film adaptation in quite a few ways.  With the power of modern filmmaking techniques, 2021’s West Side Story is livelier and offers much greater insight into the world and society of the Jets, the Sharks, and everyone else caught in the midst of their rivalry.  There was a clear emphasis on selecting incredibly talented actors, singers, and dancers for this film, and they gave, in my opinion, the best performances in a musical the past couple of years.  The only exception to this is Ansel Elgort (Tony), whose vocal performances, while decent on their own, uncomfortably pale in comparison to those of his fellow cast members.

My Grade: A

Drive My Car

Image via Bitters End, C&I Entertainment, Culture Entertainment

I tend to complain about slow pacing in films sometimes, but that is not because I think slow pacing is a bad thing in and of itself.  For example, Drive My Car, a movie that doesn’t show its opening credits until 40 minutes into its 3 hour runtime, is a slowly paced exploration of a man’s grief, identity, and relationships with people that never lost a second of my interest.  If you excuse me, I need to check out the play Uncle Vanya.

My Grade: A+

The Power of the Dog

Image via Netlfix, New Zealand Film Commission, Bad Girl Creek, Max Films

Jane Campion demonstrates a mastery of subtlety when adapting The Power of the Dog into a feature film.  This film could have easily used verbal exposition to establish and explore the relationships among all its unique characters, but instead, we most clearly get to learn who these people are through their physical motions, the expressions on their faces, their interactions within their beautifully shot setting, and the meticulously delivered dialogue that all come together to leave a huge impact, which, I believe, is one of the most beautiful things about films in general.

My Grade: A+


And (May) the Oscars Go to…

Best Picture

Image via Netlfix, New Zealand Film Commission, Bad Girl Creek, Max Films
  • Should Win: The Power of the Dog
    • Second Choice: Drive My Car
  • Will Win: The Power of the Dog
    • Second Guess: CODA
  • Also nominated: Belfast, Don’t Look Up, Dune, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, West Side Story

Best Director

Image via Netlfix, New Zealand Film Commission, Bad Girl Creek, Max Films
  • Should Win: Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)
    • Second Choice: Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car)
  • Will Win: Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)
    • Second Guess: Kenneth Branagh (Belfast)
  • Also nominated: Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)

Best Actor

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures, Westbrook Studios
  • Should Win: Will Smith (King Richard as Richard Williams)
    • Second Choice: Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth as Lord Macbeth)
  • Will Win: Will Smith (King Richard as Richard Williams)
    • Second Guess: Andrew Garfield (tick, tick…BOOM! AS Jonathan Larson)
  • Also nominated: Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog as Phil Burbank), Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos as Desi Arnaz)

Best Actress

L: Image via Neon, Topic Studios, Komplizen Film, Fabula; R: Searchlight Pictures, TSG Entertainment
  • Should Win: Kristen Stewart (Spencer as Diana, Princess of Wales)
    • Second Choice: Penélope Cruz (Parallel Mothers as Janis Martínez Moreno)
  • Will Win: Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye as Tammy Faye Bakker)
    • Second Guess: Oliva Colman (The Lost Daughter as Leda Caruso)
  • Also nominated: Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos as Lucille Ball)

Best Supporting Actor

Image via Apple TV+, Vendôme Pictures, Pathé Films
  • Should Win: Troy Kotsur (CODA as Frank Rossi)
    • Second Choice: Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog as Peter Gordon)
  • Will Win: Troy Kotsur (CODA as Frank Rossi)
    • Second Guess: Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog as Peter Gordon)
  • Also nominated: Ciarán Hinds (Belfast as Pop), Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog as George Burbank), J. K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos as William Frawley)

Best Supporting Actress

Image via 20th Century Studios, Amblin Entertainment, TSG Entertainment
  • Should Win: Ariana DeBose (West Side Story as Anita)
    • Second Choice: Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter as Young Leda Caruso)
  • Will Win: Ariana DeBose (West Side Story as Anita)
    • Second Guess: Judi Dench (Belfast as Granny)
  • Also nominated: Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog as Rose Gordon), Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard as Oracene “Brandy” Price)

Best Original Screenplay

Image via United Artist Releasing, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Focus Features, Bron Creative
  • Should Win: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson)
    • Second Choice: The Worst Person in the World (Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier)
  • Will Win: Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson)
    • Second Guess: Don’t Look Up (Adam McKay, screenplay; McKay and David Sirota, story)
  • Also nominated: Belfast (Kenneth Branagh), King Richard (Zach Baylin)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Image via Netlfix, New Zealand Film Commission, Bad Girl Creek, Max Films
  • Should Win: The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion; based on the novel by Thomas Savage)
    • Second Choice: Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe; based on the short story by Haruki Murakami)
  • Will Win: The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion; based on the novel by Thomas Savage)
    • Second Guess: The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhall; based on the novel by Elena Ferrante)
  • Also nominated: CODA (Sian Heder; based on the original motion screenplay La Familie Bélier written by Victoria Bedos, Thomas Bidegain, Stanislas Carré de Malberg, and Éirc Lartigau), Dune (Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth; based on the novel by Frank Herbert)

Best Animated Feature Film

L: Image via Netflix, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation; R: Image via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
  • Should Win: The Mitchells vs. the Machines
    • Second Choice: Flee
  • Will Win: Encanto
    • Second Guess: The Mitchells vs. the Machines
  • Also nominated: Luca, Raya and the Last Dragon

Best International Feature Film

Image via Bitters End, C&I Entertainment, Culture Entertainment
  • Should Win: Drive My Car (Japan)
    • Second Choice: The Worst Person in the World (Norway)
  • Will Win: Drive My Car (Japan)
    • Second Guess: Flee (Denmark)
  • Also nominated: The Hand of God (Italy), Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan)

Best Documentary Feature

Image via Searchlight Pictures, Hulu, Onyx Collective
  • Should Win: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
    • Second Choice: Flee
  • Will Win: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
    • Second Guess: Flee
  • Also nominated: Ascension, Writing with Fire, Attica

Best Original Score

L: Image via Netlfix, New Zealand Film Commission, Bad Girl Creek, Max Films; R: Image via Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures
  • Should Win: The Power of the Dog (Jonny Greenwood)
    • Second Choice: Dune (Hans Zimmer)
  • Will Win: Dune (Hans Zimmer)
    • Second Guess: Encanto (Germaine Franco)
  • Also nominated: Don’t Look Up (Nicholas Britell), Parallel Mothers (Alberto Iglesias)

Best Original Song

  • Should Win: “Dos Orguitas” from Encanto (music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda)
    • Second Choice: “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die (music and lyrics by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell)
  • Will Win: “No Time to Die” from No Time to Die (music and lyrics by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell)
    • Second Guess: “Dos Orguitas” from Encanto (music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda)
  • Also nominated: “Be Alive” from King Richard (music and lyrics by DIXSON and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter), “Down to Joy” from Belfast (music and lyrics by Van Morrison), “Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days (music and lyrics by Diane Warren)

Best Sound

L: Image via 20th Century Studios, Amblin Entertainment, TSG Entertainment; R: Image via Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures
  • Should Win: West Side Story
    • Second Choice: The Power of the Dog
  • Will Win: Dune
    • Second Guess: West Side Story
  • Also nominated: Belfast, No Time to Die

Best Production Design

L: Image via Apple TV+, A24, IAC Films; R: Image via Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures
  • Should Win: The Tragedy of Macbeth
    • Second Choice: West Side Story
  • Will Win: Dune
    • Second Guess: West Side Story
  • Also nominated: Nightmare Alley, The Power of the Dog

Best Cinematography

L: Image via Apple TV+, A24, IAC Films; R: Image via Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures
  • Should Win: The Tragedy of Macbeth
    • Second Choice: The Power of the Dog
  • Will Win: Dune
    • Second Guess: West Side Story
  • Also nominated: Nightmare Alley

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures
  • Should Win: Dune
    • Second Choice: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Will Win: Dune
    • Second Guess: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Also nominated: Coming 2 America, Cruella, House of Gucci

Best Costume Design

Image via 20th Century Studios, Amblin Entertainment, TSG Entertainment
  • Should Win: West Side Story
    • Second Choice: Dune
  • Will Win: West Side Story
    • Second Guess: Dune
  • Also nominated: Cruella, Cyrano, Nightmare Alley

Best Film Editing

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures
  • Should Win: Dune
    • Second Choice: tick, tick… BOOM!
  • Will Win: Dune
    • Second Guess: The Power of the Dog
  • Also nominated: Don’t Look Up, King Richard

Best Visual Effects

Image via Warner Bros. Pictures, Legendary Pictures
  • Should Win: Dune
    • Second Choice: Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Will Win: Dune
    • Second Guess: Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • Also nominated: Free Guy, No Time to Die, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Published by Miles Ndukwe

Some guy with glasses.

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