Another Academy Awards ceremony is upon us — and it’s not been without controversy. From last-minute presenter announcements to omissions of various categories from the main telecast, the alleged “biggest night in Hollywood” is shaping up to be a curious — if not outright contentious — affair. I voiced my grievances the last time the Oscars tried to change up their telecast, and those thoughts very much still apply. I will be tuning in on Sunday with a raised eyebrow to see how the show unfolds, but I am nevertheless committed to accurately predicting the winner of every category.
Here are my 2022 Oscar Winner Predictions:
Best Adapted Screenplay: CODA
In years past, I’ve declined to offer a more in-depth analysis for the screenplay categories, but given how competitive these two races have been all awards-season (and my own affinity for the craft), I couldn’t resist this year. At the start of the Oscar race, writer/director Jane Campion felt like a lock with her adaptation of the meditative anti-western, The Power of the Dog on Netflix. In recent weeks, though, Siân Heder’s Sundance-darling CODA, a feel-good family-driven story about a daughter growing up with deaf parents, has burst onto the scene, having garnered numerous accolades that include the Writers Guild Award for Best Adapted Screenplay — the biggest predictor for the Academy Award. Adapted Screenplay isn’t the only category in which CODA has picked up steam (more on that later), but it feels like the best bet in this category.
Best Original Screenplay: Belfast
Original Screenplay contains a crop of heavyweight industry creatives, from Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, to Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up, to Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. Part of me still wants to go with none of these stalwarts in favor of predicting Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World; in a competitive year, Trier’s screenplay reigns above the others in terms of quality. However, I’ve given Belfast the edge because this feels like the most likely category in which the Academy will honor Branagh for his memory-based love-letter to his youth in Ireland. Branagh has been recognized by the Academy many times before, and it would be surprising if his film was completely ousted from the winners circle.
Best Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose (West Side Story)
There is only one name that has consistently dominated the acting races, and that’s Ariana DeBose for her work in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story. Much like Rita Moreno before her, DeBose’s portrayal of Anita is vibrant, bursting off the screen at every turn. She’s racked up every major award precursor, from Screen Actors Guild to BAFTA to Golden Globe. All she has left to do now is to walk across the stage and accept the award that’s rightfully hers.
Best Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur (CODA)
Initially, it seemed like Kodi Smit-McPhee had this race locked down for his performance in The Power of the Dog. However, much like Adapted Screenplay, the team behind CODA has made incredible strides in key categories. That includes Troy Kotsur, who, like DeBose, has won multiple awards for his work, including SAG, Golden Globe, and Critics Choice accolades. Kotsur made history to become the first deaf actor to earn an Oscar nomination, and continues to charm with his heartwarming acceptance speeches. I expect that momentum to carry through to a victory on Sunday.
Best Actress: Kristen Stewart (Spencer)
I’ve saved writing this prediction last, because even as I write this, I continue to go back and forth on who will win. Out of all the major awards races, Best Actress remains the most open — and the most confounding. None of the women recognized in this category overlap with the Best Picture nominees, and some of them were not nominated in other precursor awards ceremonies. Logic may sway some to predict Jessica Chastain for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, namely because she’s a well-established actress who hasn’t won an Oscar, and she’s already earned a SAG award for Best Actress. But what’s an awards show without a curveball? What’s a prediction list without a little risk? There always seems to be one category that surprises people on Oscars night, and the most likely place that will occur is with Best Actress. I doubted Kristen Stewart once when I didn’t predict her nomination this year for Spencer. I will not underestimate her again!
Best Actor: Will Smith (King Richard)
Will Smith has earned nominations and high-praise for past performances, and now, he will look to finally earn his Oscar for portraying Richard Williams — the father of Venus and Serena Williams — in King Richard. He has campaigned perfectly throughout awards season, earning top accolades much like my other predicted winners in the acting categories. Benedict Cumberbatch and Andrew Garfield may pose some competition for their work in The Power of the Dog and tick, tick…BOOM! respectively, but the momentum remains on Smith’s side heading into tomorrow.
Best Director: Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)
One area where The Power of the Dog remains steadfast is Jane Campion’s directing. She’s garnered the Directors Guild Award, a BAFTA award, and recognition from every other society both big and small. She had a slight hiccup in her campaigning for an ignorant comment made during her Critics Choice acceptance speech, but the momentum she’s built over time will most likely be enough to cement her victory. Campion has previously earned an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, but if she wins on Oscar Sunday, she will be the third woman to win the award ever — and the second woman in a row to win, following Chloe Zhao’s win for Nomadland last year.
Best Picture: CODA
It’s always exciting when the most competitive award of the night is also the biggest award of the night. As with other categories, The Power of the Dog dominated the early stages of the awards race. Up until a couple weeks ago, I was convinced that momentum would carry through to the end, but the buzz surrounding CODA has only grown stronger. CODA started turning heads after its SAG win for Best Cast, and with its recent win at the Producers Guild Awards (the biggest precursor award for Best Picture), this Apple TV+ film has the good-will needed to push it over the edge. That being said, the race remains tight, and I wouldn’t be shocked if The Power of the Dog does pull off the win in the end. Regardless of which film wins, though, it will mark the first time a streaming service has been recognized for Best Picture — marking a crucial development in the film (and theatrical) landscape.
Best Cinematography: Dune
Best Animated Feature: Encanto
Best Short Film (Animated): Robin Robin
Best Documentary (Feature): Summer of Soul
Best Documentary (Short): The Queen of Basketball
Best Short Film (Live-Action): The Long Goodbye
Best International Film: Drive My Car
Best Editing: Dune
Best Sound: Dune
Best Visual Effects: Dune
Best Production Design: Dune
Best Costume Design: Cruella
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Best Original Score: Dune
Best Original Song: “Dos Oruguitas” (Encanto)