My Oscars 2022 Picks

More than a few subscribers have noticed that I haven’t posted much this year. That’s due to a few factors, all of which have affected my mood of late. To start, covid is raging here in Hong Kong, though the worst now seems to be behind us, and our cinemas have been closed since January 6th. It’s looking like they will reopen on April 20th if the daily number of new cases continues to fall. Then I’ve had health and family issues to deal with.  Those are now calming down too. Finally, I’ve had a lot of work on my plate, not that I’m complaining about that, but everything combined has put my head somewhere else.

The Oscars, though, are coming up and I just can’t let that event pass without my annual predictions. I haven’t heard if the show will be broadcast here in Hong Kong this year. It wasn’t last year with the broadcaster saying that it was a financial decision. There may be some truth to that claim, though the primary reason was probably because Chloé Zhou was up for an award and our government, which kowtows to its northern masters at every opportunity, didn’t want to risk having its highly impressionable population hearing her diss the Motherland in her acceptance speech. But back to the financial angle, viewership in the US has been falling for years and it’s likely the same here. Also working against the local broadcaster’s bottom line is social media. Although the broadcaster used to air both a live telecast at 8 am and a taped telecast at 8 pm, few people were able to watch the show live because of work and school commitments. Now, with social media being as ubiquitous as it is, few people now watch the taped telecast, relying instead on tweets, posts and photos to get their Oscar fix well before 8 pm.

THE POWER OF THE DOG leads the field this year with 12 nominations. (I have seen it along with quite a few other films; I just haven’t written about them.) Based on the quality of the awards it has won so far – Best Film and Best Director at last week’s BAFTAs; Outstanding Director – Feature Film at the DGA Awards; Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture, and Best Director at the Golden Globes; the Silver Lion for Best Direction at the Venice Film Festival; and dozens more, there’s a good chance that it will take home the big awards come Oscars night as well.

Next in line is DUNE with a very respectable 10 nominations. That makes me happy as it was my favourite film from 2021. Unless there are some serious upsets though, it probably won’t win anything other than the technical awards.

And now, here are my predictions…

Actress in a Supporting Role

The nominees are:
Jessie Buckley for THE LOST DAUGHTER
Ariana DeBose for WEST SIDE STORY
Judi Dench for BELFAST
Kirsten Dunst for THE POWER OF THE DOG
Aunjanue Ellis for KING RICHARD

All of these women are very deserving of the award for their performances but the favourite appears to be Ariana DeBose for her electric performance as “Anita”. I’m going to go with Ariana too but Judi Dench might just upset the apple cart.

Actor in a Supporting Role

The nominees are:
Ciarán Hinds for BELFAST
Troy Kotsur for CODA
Jesse Plemons for THE POWER OF THE DOG
J. K. Simmons for BEING THE RICARDOS
Kodi Smit-McPhee for THE POWER OF THE DOG

As much as I like J. K. Simmons as an actor, his name doesn’t belong here. BEING THE RICARDOS was rubbish and his performance as William Frawley was nothing special. Troy Kotsur appears to be the favourite, having taken home the BAFTA, but I’m going to throw caution to the wind and put my virtual money on Kodi Smit-McPhee here.

Animated Feature

The nominees are:
ENCANTO
FLEE
LUCA
THE MITCHELLS VS. THE MACHINES
RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON

ENCANTO appears to be the likely winner here but my preference is for FLEE.

Documentary Feature

The nominees are:
ASCENSION
ATTICA
FLEE
SUMMER OF SOUL (…OR, WHEN THE REVOLUTION COULD NOT BE TELEVISED)
WRITING WITH FIRE

This one had better be a no-brainer for the Academy voters. SUMMER OF SOUL was glorious and educational!

Original Screenplay

The nominees are:
BELFAST
DON’T LOOK UP
KING RICHARD
LICORICE PIZZA
THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD

I really don’t understand all the love for DON’T LOOK UP.  That film had all the subtlety of someone who farts in an elevator. BELFAST is another one I don’t get, though I know my British friends all rave about it. There are more Irish singers out there than just that anti-vaxxer, anti-Semite Van Morrison. Even though it involves a relationship between a young woman and a minor, LICORICE PIZZA is the kind of story that Hollywood loves so that film is getting my vote.

Adapted Screenplay

The nominees are:
CODA
DRIVE MY CAR
DUNE
THE LOST DAUGHTER
THE POWER OF THE DOG

I think this category is a bit of a toss up as all the films are worthy of the award. I’m going to go with DUNE, although I wouldn’t be upset if CODA won.

Production Design

The nominees are:
DUNE
NIGHTMARE ALLEY
THE POWER OF THE DOG
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH
WEST SIDE STORY

This is another category where any of the films could take the award and I wouldn’t be upset. Again, I’m going to cast my virtual vote for DUNE.

Costume Design

The nominees are:
CRUELLA
CYRANO
DUNE
NIGHTMARE ALLEY
WEST SIDE STORY

When I reviewed CRUELLA last year, I wrote the following, “Even though it’s only May, I’m predicting an Oscar nomination for [Jenny] Beavan for her creations here. It’s worth seeing CRUELLA for the costumes alone.” I’m now going to go one step further and predict that she will take home her third Oscar for this film.

Makeup and Hairstyling

The nominees are:
COMING 2 AMERICA
CRUELLA
DUNE
THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE
HOUSE OF GUCCI

Oooh, tough category. I’m going to go with THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE. I thought the movie was one notch above trashy TV Movie of the Week but I appreciate the craft that went into making Jessica Chastain look like Tammy Faye.

Visual Effects

The nominees are:
DUNE
FREE GUY
NO TIME TO DIE
SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS
SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME

This is a one-horse race. DUNE.

Sound

The nominees are:
BELFAST
DUNE
NO TIME TO DIE
THE POWER OF THE DOG
WEST SIDE STORY

Again, a one-horse race. DUNE.

Film Editing

The nominees are:
DON’T LOOK UP
DUNE
KING RICHARD
THE POWER OF THE DOG
TICK, TICK… BOOM!

Part of me wants to cast my virtual vote for DUNE but part of me was impressed with the tennis scenes in KING RICHARD. TICK, TICK… BOOM! was edited really well too. Decisions, decisions. I’m going to go with KING RICHARD.

Cinematography

The nominees are:
DUNE
NIGHTMARE ALLEY
THE POWER OF THE DOG
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH
WEST SIDE STORY

This category is also a tough one to predict as all the films had excellent cinematography. In my review of WEST SIDE STORY, the only film I’ve been able to see in a cinema this year, I wrote that “Spielberg makes heavy use of brightly lit exterior shots for the impeccably choreographed dance numbers, relying on long-time collaborator, two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kamiński (SAVING PRIVATE RYAN; SCHINDLER’S LIST) to expertly capture the spectacle both from the ground and overhead”. I was impressed then and I’m still impressed now. My vote is for WEST SIDE STORY.

International Feature Film

The nominees are:
DRIVE MY CAR (Japan)
FLEE (Denmark)
THE HAND OF G-D (Italy)
LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM (Bhutan)
THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD (Norway)

The only film in this list that I haven’t seen yet is LUNANA so I can’t comment on that one. Of the others, I think THE HAND OF G-D is the weakest of the bunch and probably doesn’t deserve to be here. I thought FLEE was very good though the subplot involving the main character’s sexual identity was an unnecessary distraction to the main story. Yes, I get that the film is based on a true story but that wasn’t the reason why he fled his country. That then leaves DRIVE MY CAR and THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD. I enjoyed both films a lot but I had a problem, as did so many other people, with the Japanese film’s length. Nevertheless, I’m going to cast by virtual vote for DRIVE MY CAR.

Original Score

The nominees are:
DON’T LOOK UP
DUNE
ENCANTO
PARALLEL MOTHERS
THE POWER OF THE DOG

Again, no contest. DUNE and Hans Zimmer.

Original Song

The nominees are:
“Be Alive” from KING RICHARD
“Dos Oruguitas” from ENCANTO
“Down to Joy” from BELFAST
“No Time to Die” from NO TIME TO DIE
“Somehow You Do” from FOUR GOOD DAYS

There has been much Internet chatter about the song that isn’t on this list – “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” from ENCANTO – so I don’t want to rehash it here. Perhaps Academy voters will give the award to Lin-Manuel Miranda for “Dos Oruguitas” to recognise his work or maybe they’ll surprise everyone and give it to Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell for “No Time to Die”. Both scenarios seem possible. Or maybe Diane Warren will finally take home her first Oscar after 13 swings at the ball. This is a tough one but I’m going to go with ENCANTO.

Directing

The nominees are:
Kenneth Branagh for BELFAST
Ryusuke Hamaguchi for DRIVE MY CAR
Paul Thomas Anderson for LICORICE PIZZA
Jane Campion for THE POWER OF THE DOG
Steven Spielberg for WEST SIDE STORY

This one is clearly Jane Campion’s to lose.

Actress in a Leading Role

The nominees are:
Jessica Chastain for THE EYES OF TAMMY FAYE
Olivia Colman for THE LOST DAUGHTER
Penélope Cruz for PARALLEL MOTHERS
Nicole Kidman for BEING THE RICARDOS
Kristen Stewart for SPENCER

For a while there, the bookies were touting K-Stew as the odds-on favourite to win in this category. Interesting. Here’s my take: Yes, she was good but not Oscar good. Nicole Kidman should not be in this group. I liked Penélope Cruz in PARALLEL MOTHERS but I can’t think of a film where I didn’t like her performance. She wasn’t outstanding here. I’ve liked Olivia Colman since her PEEP SHOW days and I thought she was very good here but, again, not Oscar good, especially when compared to her performances in either THE FAVOURITE or THE FATHER. Finally, there’s Jessica Chastain, who was good in a mediocre movie. She seems to be the favourite to win now that she’s won the SAG Award. I’m going to go with her only by default.

Actor in a Leading Role

The nominees are:
Javier Bardem for BEING THE RICARDOS
Benedict Cumberbatch for THE POWER OF THE DOG
Andrew Garfield for TICK, TICK… BOOM!
Will Smith for KING RICHARD
Denzel Washington for THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH

Again, one of these men should not be here and that’s Javier Bardem. Nicolas Cage should be here for PIG. All the other performances were excellent but the one that wowed me the most was Will Smith, and I don’t even like the guy. If life were fair, Cumby would get the Oscar but he won’t… not this year, at any rate. Will Smith will and my vote is for him.

Best Picture

The nominees are:
BELFAST
CODA
DON’T LOOK UP
DRIVE MY CAR
DUNE
KING RICHARD
LICORICE PIZZA
NIGHTMARE ALLEY
THE POWER OF THE DOG
WEST SIDE STORY

While I would love to see DUNE win, I think the momentum is clearly on the side of THE POWER OF THE DOG. It’s a worthy film and I wouldn’t be upset if it did win but DUNE was epic filmmaking. Unfortunately, the Academy often blows this category and doesn’t choose the “best” film. The voters choose the “nice” film. This year that might be CODA so brace yourself. We may be in for a big surprise here!

As I was writing this, I was informed that the awards show will not broadcast here in Hong Kong again this year. Fortunately, we Hongkongers are nothing if not resourceful and many of us will figure out a way to watch it live.

Enjoy the show and let me know your predictions.

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