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The Independent Critic

 The 2022 Oscar Picks!  

It nearly always goes without saying, but I'll say it, that I disagree with a good majority of the Academy Award nominations and I'll disagree with a good majority of the winners. While I'm far more of an Independent Spirit devotee, even they've become a little too close to a studio mouthpiece for my taste. There's some feel-good stories waiting to happen this year and I'm all for it after the last couple of years. I've seen every nominated film in every category and while I couldn't quite get myself excited enough to do a top ten this year, I'm fulfilling my film journalist obligations and doing Rick's Picks once again. 

I'll pick my own favorite and who I believe will win. I'll toss out a few editorial comments along the way, especially when some of my most favored films either weren't nominated or don't stand a chance. Of course, there's also a few nods that have me scratching my head. 

Ready? Here we go:

Best Picture Nominees 

Belfast
CODA
Don't Look Up
Drive My Car
Dune

King Richard
Licorice Pizza
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog

Will Win: CODA
Should Win: The Power of the Dog

Editorial Comment:   I should first confess that I absolutely love CODA and will be thrilled if it wins for a myriad of reasons. However, I simply think The Power of the Dog is a better made film.  I have a nightmare that CODA and The Power of the Dog split votes and Dune squeezes in there. I loved Drive My Car and everyone knows I'm a Paul Thomas Anderson devotee, however, neither film stands a chance here. Films like Mass, Pig, and The Worst Person in the World should be here. Films like King Richard, Don't Look Up, and Belfast should not. 

Best Actress Nominees

Jessica Chastain, "The Eyes of Tammy Faye"
Olivia Colman, "The Lost Daughter"
Penelope Cruz, "Parallel Mothers"
Nicole Kidman, "Being the Ricardos"
Kristen Stewart, "Spencer"

Will Win: Jessica Chastain, "The Eyes of Tammy Faye"
Should Win: Penelope Cruz, "Parallel Mothers"

Editorial Comment: Kristen Stewart's fans will go bonkers if she doesn't win. She likely gives her best performance here, though for a film that was available streaming "Spencer" still didn't get much of an audience. There's a growing sense that Chastain is due - I liked her here, but I just don't see this as award-worthy. Kidman was great in an otherwise forgettable film. My money is between Colman and Cruz. I'd prefer Cruz - she truly is due and I'd say this is a career-best performance. However, since playing disabled is no longer trendy the Academy will likely give it up for playing underneath all that make-up. Plus, who doesn't love Jessica Chastain? Tessa Thompson in the under-appreciated "Passing" should be here. 

Best Actor Nominees

Javier Bardem, "Being the Ricardos"
Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Power of the Dog"
Andrew Garfield, "Tick, Tick ... Boom!"
Will Smith, "King Richard"
Denzel Washington, "The Tragedy of Macbeth"

Will Win: Will Smith, "King Richard"
Should Win: Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Power of the Dog"

Editorial Comment: 

It will be a stunning upset if Smith doesn't take hold the statuette here. Truthfully, I'd pick him fourth in this group with Bardem's nomination being ludicrous. Nicolas Cage should have gotten Bardem's nomination. I really loved Garfield's performance here, though Cumberbatch gives the performance of his lifetime and he's given some amazing performances in that lifetime. However, Cumberbatch couldn't even snag the BAFTA (Smith did). Oscar Isaac in "The Card Counter" also likely gave a career-best but the film didn't snag a single nomination.

Best Supporting Actress Nominees

Jessie Buckley, "The Lost Daughter"
Ariana DeBose, "West Side Story"
Judi Dench, "Belfast"
Kirsten Dunst, "The Power of the Dog"
Aunjanue Ellis, "King Richard"

Will Win: Kirsten Dunst, "The Power of the Dog"
Should Win: Jessie Buckley, "The Lost Daughter"

Editorial Comment:

This is a tough category. I preferred Aunjanue Ellis to Smith in "King Richard," but that's not happening. Dench is wonderful in "Belfast" and if that film starts picking up awards it could swing her way. Most folks think DeBose has this locked up - I'm not convinced, though the Spielberg sway could win out. My gut tells me that "The Power of the Dog" is going to pick up a few and will carry Dunst to a win here for a long under-appreciated actress. Personally? I prefer Buckley. I'd be thrilled with Buckley or Dunst. I'd have loved to see Ann Dowd pick up a nomination here for "Mass."

Best Supporting Actor Nominees

Ciaran Hinds, "Belfast"
Troy Kotsur, "CODA"
Jesse Plemons, "The Power of the Dog"
J.K. Simmons, "Being the Ricardos"
Kodi Smit-McPhee, "The Power of the Dog"

Will Win: Troy Kotsur, "CODA"
Should Win: Troy Kotsur, "CODA"

Editorial Comment: Other than wishing Reed Birney could have snagged a nomination for "Mass," I'm pretty okay with this category. In fact, I even agree with the nomination for J.K. Simmons - easily my favorite performance in "Being the Ricardos." Kotsur has been winning the majority of the pre-Oscar awards and it's almost unimaginable he won't take this home. 

Best Original Screenplay Nominees

Kenneth Branagh, "Belfast"
Adam McKay and David Sirota, "Don't Look Up"
Zach Baylin, "King Richard"
Paul Thomas Anderson, "Licorice Pizza"
Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier, "The Worst Person in the World"

Will Win: Paul Thomas Anderson, "Licorice Pizza"
Should Win: Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier, "The Worst Person in the World"

Editorial Comment: 

I think this is the year Anderson takes home an Oscar. It won't be as director and I think this will be his prize, though I consider this script more mid-tier Anderson. Truthfully, I'd place it second here after the remarkable script for "The Worst Person in the World." Sentimentally, Baylin or Branagh could sneak in here. This is especially true if there's a strong desire to give "Belfast" something. I'd have loved to see "Mass" or "Pig" nominated here. 

Best Adapted Screenplay Nominees

Sian Heder, "CODA"
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe, “Drive My Car”
Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth, “Dune”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, "The Lost Daughter"
Jane Campion, "The Power of the Dog"

Will Win: Maggie Gyllenhaal, "The Lost Daughter"
Should Win: Maggie Gyllenhaal, "The Lost Daughter"

Editorial Comment:

If the Academy decides to really reward "CODA," Heder could end up snagging this one. I love the script, but it's not really the best adaptation here. That belongs to Gyllenhaal, who has picked up some awards in award season and tends to be popular in Hollywood. Campion is a darkhorse here, though I tend to think she's more likely as director.  I'd have loved to have seen "Tick, Tick ... Boom!" here. 

Best Director Nominees

Kenneth Branagh, "Belfast"
Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
Paul Thomas Anderson, "Licorice Pizza"
Jane Campion, "The Power of the Dog"
Steven Spielberg, "West Side Story"

Will Win: Jane Campion, "The Power of the Dog"
Should Win: Jane Campion, "The Power of the Dog"

Editorial Comment:

I can't fathom a win by Spielberg, Branagh, or Hamaguchi. That leaves Anderson and Campion. I'd be astounded if anyone but Campion takes this home. 

Best Documentary Feature

Ascension
Attica
Flee
Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Writing With Fire

Will Win: Summer of Soul
Should Win: Attica

Editorial Comment:

I'm admittedly biased, but Procession should definitely be here. I look for this to be between Flee and Summer of Soul - I personally think both films are overrated. I fully expect Summer of Soul to win, though among these nominees I lean toward Attica. 

Best Documentary Short Nominees

Audible
Lead Me Home
The Queen of Basketball
Three Songs for Benazir
When We Were Bullies

Will Win: Lead Me Home
Should Win: Lead Me Home (The Queen of Basketball is a darkhorse here)

Best Animated Feature Nominees

Encanto
Flee
Luca
The Mitchells vs. The Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon

Will Win: Encanto
Should Win: The Mitchells vs. The Machines 

Editorial Comment: Belle should have been nominated. There's a major push for Flee, though it would be a woefully weak animated winner. Among these films, "The Mitchells vs. The Machines" is a clear winner for me. That said, even it didn't blow me away.

Best Animated Short

Affairs of the Art
Bestia
Boxballet
Robin Robin
The Windshield Wiper

Will Win: Aardman's Robin Robin
Should Win: I probably lean more toward Boxballet, though Robin Robin won't disappoint me. 

Best Live-Action Short Nominees

The Dress
The Long Goodbye
On My Mind
Please Hold
Ala Kaachuu - Take and Run

Will Win: On My Mind
Should Win: On My Mind

Best International Feature Nominees

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
Flee
The Hand of God
Drive My Car
The Worst Person in the World

Will Win: Drive My Car
Should Win: The Worst Person in the World (Parallel Mothers should also be here; Lamb is my #1 movie of the year)

Best Cinematography Nominees

Greig Fraser, Dune
Dan Laustsen, Nightmare Alley
Ari Wegner, The Power of the Dog
Bruno Delbonnel, The Tragedy of Macbeth
Janusz Kaminski, West Side Story

Will Win: Ari Wegner, The Power of the Dog 
Should Win: Ari Wegner, The Power of the Dog (Wegner would be the first female to win this prize)

Best Editing Nominees

Hank Corwin, Don't Look Up
Joe Walker, Dune
Pamela Martin, King Richard
Peter Sciberras, The Power of the Dog
Andrew Weisblum/Myron I. Kerstein, Tick, Tick ... Boom!

Will Win: Joe Walker, Dune
Should Win: Joe Walker, Dune

Best Sound Nominees

Belfast
Dune
No Time to Die
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

Will Win: Dune
Should Win: No Time to Die

Best Production Design Nominees

Dune
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
The Tragedy of Macbeth
West Side Story

Will Win: The Tragedy of Macbeth (Dune cannot be ruled out here, of course)
Should Win: Nightmare Alley

Best Original Score Nominees

Nichola Britel, Don't Look Up
Hans Zimmer, Dune
Germaine Franco, Encanto
Alberto Iglesias, Parallel Mothers
Jonny Greenwood, The Power of the Dog

Will Win: Hans Zimmer, Dune
Should Win: Greenwood, The Power of the Dog

Best Original Song Nominees

Be Alive, King Richard
Dos Oruguitas, Encanto
Down to Joy, Belfast
No Time to Die, No Time to Die
Somehow You Do, Four Good Days

Will Win: No Time to Die
Should Win: No Time to Die

Best Makeup and Hair

Coming 2 America
Cruella
Dune
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
House of Gucci

Will Win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Should Win: Cruella

Best Costume Design Nominees

Cruella
Cyrano
Dune
Nightmare Alley
West Side Story

Will Win: Cruella
Should Win: Cyrano

Best Visual Effects Nominees

Dune
Free Guy
No Time to Die
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Spider-Man: No Way Home

Will Win: Dune
Should Win: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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