Reel Talk: 2022 Oscar Predictions

I’ll be honest, these nominations get harder to predict every year. The introduction of more and more streamers into the mix, in addition to genuinely excellent performances, have left me scratching my head at a number of categories these year — which is precisely what will make the 2022 Oscars so intriguing to watch and to predict.

Here are my predictions in the six major categories for this year’s Oscars (in alphabetical order):

Best Picture

Being the Ricardos

Belfast

CODA

Don’t Look Up

Dune

King Richard

Licorice Pizza

The Lost Daughter

The Power of the Dog

West Side Story

Potential Spoilers: tick, tick…BOOM!

This list of predictions matches the Producers Guild nominations almost exactly — with one notable exception. I’ve slotted in The Lost Daughter, a quieter movie led by awards darling Olivia Colman, over the buzzier musical tick, tick…Boom. There seems to be one dark horse every year that makes the cut in the Best Picture race; last year, that was The Father. This year, The Lost Daughter seems to fit that bill with its critical reception. It’s possible that Being the Ricardos is ousted in favor of another film as well, but Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood, so I’m keeping it in contention here. The rest of the films feel pretty secure, with The Power of the Dog and Belfast vying for the top prize.

Best Director

Denis Villeneuve (Dune)

Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)

Kenneth Branagh (Belfast)

Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza)

Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car)

Potential Spoilers: Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), Sian Heder (CODA)

I know I said in my best of 2021 list that we should never underestimate Steven Spielberg, and the fact that he’s garnered a Directors Guild nomination isn’t something to be taken lightly. However, in recent years the Academy has recognized more international directors who were not nominated by the DGA — including Thomas Vinterburg in 2021 and Paweł Pawlikowski in 2019. Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car is a contender in the International Features race, and of these well-known directors already in the race, Spielberg seems the most likely candidate on the outside looking in. As far as the actual trophy is concerned, Campion looks to be the director to beat, but it’s a competitive field with a lot of stalwarts in the industry vying for these five spots.

Best Actress

Lady Gaga (House of Gucci)

Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos)

Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter)

Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers)

Rachel Zegler (West Side Story)

Potential Spoilers: Kristen Stewart (Spencer), Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye)

Writing out these five names has caused me physical pain. I desperately want Kristin Stewart to not only be nominated in this category, but to win it. But she simply lacks the momentum she began the awards season with. Her lack of a Screen Actors Guild or ​​British Academy Film Awards nomination and the fact that she lost to Nicole Kidman in the Golden Globes race doesn’t justify her name being included here. I suppose the same logic could be applied to Zegler and Cruz, but their respective films are a bit more buzzworthy than Spencer is at this time. This race more than anything is an open field, with only Colman and Kidman as seemingly surefire bets.

Best Actor

Andrew Garfield (tick, tick…BOOM!)

Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog)

Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth)

Leonardo DiCaprio (Don’t Look Up)

Will Smith (King Richard)

Potential Spoiler: Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos)

As it currently sits, this is a three-way race between Garfield, Cumberbatch, and Smith. Washington also feels like a safe choice to give The Tragedy of Macbeth some recognition (although it’s possible the film could pose a bigger threat in the race than I’m currently anticipating). The final slot could really go either way between DiCaprio and Bardem, but I’m giving the edge to the former given his starpower and the fact that Don’t Look Up has gained so much traction in the last two months.

Best Supporting Actress

Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard)

Ariana DeBose (West Side Story)

Caitríona Balfe (Belfast) 

Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog)

Ruth Negga (Passing)

Potential Spoiler: Cate Blanchett (Nightmare Alley)

DeBose, Balfe, and Dunst have been in lockstep in this race together, with either DeBose or Balfe poised to win (side note: Balfe has been incredible since Outlander began, and I’m thrilled she’s finally getting recognized for her greatness). The other two spots are up for grabs, with Negga looking fairly secure after both her SAG and BAFTA nominations. I’m going with Ellis based mostly on a gut feeling, but given Blanchett’s work in Nightmare Alley and even in Don’t Look Up, I could see her being recognized for her collective performances in this category instead.

Best Supporting Actor

Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza)

Ciarán Hinds (Belfast)

Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog)

Mike Faist (West Side Story)

Troy Kotsur (CODA)

Potential Spoilers: Jamie Dornan (Belfast), Jared Leto (House of Gucci)

I’m calling my shot here with Faist, just to shake things up a bit. His recent BAFTA nomination, combined with the general awards attention for West Side Story, could tip the scales in his favor. I’m also delighted that Cooper stands a more than fair chance for his wildly entertaining turn in Licorice Pizza. With regards to Belfast, it’s possible Jamie Dornan could sneak in alongside or in place of Hinds, but his lack of nominations up to this point doesn’t bode well for him. Smit-McPhee feels like the only lock in this category, with the trophy his to lose.


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