Following the ratings freefall last year (in what was a spectacular flameout of an awards show), 2022’s Oscars feels like the watershed year – the one that truly decides the future of the Academy Awards and the Oscarcast. Unfortunately, this year’s Academy Awards have not been smooth sailing, and right up to the telecast tomorrow, is still seeing controversies play out, the most prominent of which is the odd decision to pre-tape the awarding of 8 “craft” awards and to edit them into the live Oscarcast. We’ll see – given how bad the ratings were last year, one can optimistically hope that the only way is up.
Now, on to the predictions:
Best Motion Picture of the Year
Should win: The Power of the Dog
It almost seemed like The Power of the Dog had this in the bag, but the little movie from Apple TV+ has seen a very tremendous last minute surge in support, and with CODA bagging SAG, PGA and WGA awards, the odds are now suddenly in its favour. I feel there are far better films deserving of the award in this category, but it probably is wrong to bet against CODA at this point.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Should win: Will Smith, King Richard
Prediction: Will Smith, King Richard
One of the strongest-contended categories of the night, but Will Smith is much loved in the industry and has basically won every award so far leading up to the Oscars. It’s hard to see him losing out in the final leg.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Should win: Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
Prediction: Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
All signs point to Jessica Chastain being the favourite to win, but Cruz’s performance in Parallel Mothers is a superlative one and one of the best I have seen in a long while. Though Cruz has not seen much award action, I am hoping she will be the dark horse here and clinch a deserving win over Chastain.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Should win: Troy Kotsur, CODA
Prediction: Troy Kotsur, CODA
It again seemed like Kodi Smit-McPhee’s nuanced performance in The Power of the Dog was a clear winner, until suddenly he wasn’t, and Troy Kotsur seemed to have supplanted his place in all the awards shows post Golden Globes. A strange turn of tides to be sure, but Troy winning here checks off a lot of boxes.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Should win: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Prediction: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
There are a few unexpected nominations in this category, and coupled with DeBose’s suite of wins this awards season, her winning the Oscar as well feels like a shoo-in.
Best Achievement in Directing
Should win: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Prediction: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Probably the most locked category of the night, and with CODA not even being nominated here, it would be truly surprising if Campion isn’t the winner here. Spielberg has a very small chance of pulling off an upset, but this is pretty much a done deal.
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Should win: Licorice Pizza
A very hard category to predict – given Belfast is unlikely to win major awards despite the number of nominations it garnered, this is likely to be Kenneth Branagh’s consolation prize. Licorice Pizza is one of my favourite movies of the year, however, and it would be a pleasant surprise if it could win here.
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Should win: Drive My Car
I would love for Drive My Car to score a win here, but the likely “consolation” prize for that film would be Best International Feature, to be honest. CODA’s last minute surge included the screenplay category (it won the BAFTA as well as the WGA) and it will also be the first female winner in a long while, plus Sian Heder didn’t even get a nomination in the Best Director category, so this is yet another win that checks off a lot of boxes.
Best Achievement in Cinematography
Should Win: Dune
Dune is definitely one of the most technically well-made movies of the year, and should win a slew of awards in the technical categories. Greg Frasier’s cinematography is excellent and given Denis Villeneueve’s similar penchant for in-camera effects (akin to Christopher Nolan), makes the achievement even more impressive. Every nominated DP this year deserves to win though, to be very honest.
Best Achievement in Editing
Should Win: King Richard
King Richard’s editing work is more subtle but as important as Dune’s, though I am still favoring Dune in the technical awards. This is one of the categories that I feel quite unsure of, but perhaps the Academy voters would feel the same as me and go for the “big” movie instead.
Best Achievement in Production Design
The Academy voters are either going to favor the production design that went into crafting Dune’s massive worlds and environments, or Nightmare Alley’s much more intimate film noir elements. I am again favoring Dune’s largesse to outclass Nightmare Alley and the other contenders here.
Best Achievement in Costume Design
One of the highest points in Cruella are the fantastic costume designs by Jenny Beavan (it is a movie revolving around fashion, after all), and given it has already won at the Costume Designers Guild Awards, seems likely to repeat the feat here.
Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Prediction: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
It’s the typical “transformed star” story for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and given Chastain is already a best actress nominee, gives the film a good head start in the awards race here.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
It’s hard to believe despite Hans Zimmer being behind so many memorable scores, that he has only won the Oscar once. I believe Zimmer’s excellent score for Dune would help deliver him his second Oscar.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Prediction: No Time to Die
If “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” was the nominated song from Encanto, this category would be the firmest lock of the night. That’s not the case, however, which means there’s a good chance it will go to Billie Eilish and bro’s “No Time to Die”, though we should never underestimate Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose win here will make him an EGOT alumni.
Best Achievement in Sound
Dune’s sound design and sound editing were both top notch and really helped in creating an immersive world for the massive film. West Side Story similarly boasts great work in both aspects, but I am still leaning towards Dune in the technical categories.
Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Unless the Academy wants to give a populist award to the box office behemoth that was Spider-Man: No Way Home, this award is really Dune’s to lose.
Best Animated Feature Film
While I am also a huge fan of The Mitchells vs the Machines, it’s hard to bet against both Disney AND Lin-Manuel Miranda, especially given the social resonance Encanto has enjoyed since its release (no, no, no).
Best International Feature Film
Prediction: Drive My Car (Japan)
Given its nominations outside of Best International Feature Film, it does seem most likely for Drive My Car to earn the nod here. I don’t foresee it being able to pull off a massive coup like Parasite to take most of its other nominations, however.
Best Documentary Feature
Prediction: Summer of Soul
Best Documentary Short Subject
Prediction: The Queen of Basketball
Best Animated Short Film
Prediction: Robin, Robin
Best Live Action Short Film
Prediction: The Long Goodbye