Oscars 2022 nominations: there are no sure things

That sound you’re hearing is a thousand personal publicists racing to position their clients for the next month of campaigning. The nominations for the 94th annual Academy Awards have been announced, and there are no sure things.

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune – a cerebral, meditative and deliberately incomplete adaptation of one of the hardest sci-fi novels out there – landed a genuinely surprising 10 nominations including best picture, best adapted screenplay and best cinematography. It didn’t manage any acting nominations, which isn’t surprising – genre work is rarely recognized in those categories – but Villeneuve himself was locked out of the director category, which was taken up by Belfast’s Kenneth Branagh, Drive My Car’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Licorice Pizza’s Paul Thomas Anderson, The Power Of The Dog’s Jane Campion and West Side Story’s Steven Spielberg.

Villeneuve shares a nomination with Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth for the adapted screenplay, and as a producer of the film he’d share in the best picture award should the film win… which it almost certainly won’t, since only five films have snagged the top prize without an accompanying best director nomination: Wings, Grand Hotel, Driving Miss Daisy, Argo and Green Book.

Campion’s The Power Of The Dog seems a more likely best picture contender, having picked up 12 nominations including key acting nods for star Benedict Cumberbatch and supporting actors Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee. New Zealand’s Campion is now the first woman to be nominated for best director more than once; her first nod came for The Piano three decades ago. She lost to Steven Spielberg and Schindler’s List; her chances are considerably better this time around.

History was also made in the best supporting actor category, where CODA’s Troy Kotsur became the first deaf male actor nominated for an Oscar. His CODA co-star Marlee Matlin was nominated for best actress, and won, for the 1986 drama Children Of A Lesser God.

I don’t know that we can count out Belfast, though. The Academy clearly loves Branagh’s semi-autobiographical rhapsody to growing up poor during The Troubles, showering it with a total of seven noms including picture, director, original screenplay and supporting nods for Ciaran Hinds and Judi Dench.

As the nominations rolled out, it was surprising to realize Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s delicate drama Drive My Car was faring as well as it did, earning slots for picture, international feature, director and adapted screenplay. It was a bit sad to realize The Lost Daughter, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s equally delicate study of conflicted motherhood, came up a little short in the rankings, scoring recognition for lead Olivia Colman, supporting actress Jessie Buckley and Gyllenhaal’s adapted screenplay but falling short of the director and picture. And Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza landed major nominations for picture, director and original screenplay… but no love anywhere else. Bradley Cooper, who plays a frenzied version of Hollywood producer Jon Peters, was as much of a lock as anyone for a supporting actor nomination, but that didn’t happen; on the upside, Jared Leto wasn’t nominated for his feature-length hate crime in House Of Gucci, either.

And again, it was a very overcrowded field this year, as evidenced by the Academy’s willingness to fill all 10 available best picture slots. (They rarely get past nine.)

It was great to see a project as weird and challenging as Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley make the cut – though again, the lack of further nominations for del Toro or star Bradley Cooper means the nomination is the award this time – and I was happy to see Steven Spielberg’s muscular adaptation of West Side Story do as well as it did, with seven nominations in total including Spielberg’s eighth best director nomination and a best supporting actress nod for Ariana DeBose.

Another surprise was how well King Richard fared: with six nominations including best picture, best actor (for producer/star Will Smith), best supporting actress for Aunjanue Ellis and best original screenplay, it can’t be counted out as a serious contender. This could be Smith’s year, especially if the Academy finds Cumberbatch’s Power Of The Dog performance too mannered on a rewatch… though who knows, since Denzel Washington’s doing incredible work in The Tragedy Of Macbeth and everyone loves Andrew Garfield in tick, tick… BOOM.

The fifth best actor contender is something of a head-scratcher: Javier Bardem is up for his interpretation of Desi Arnaz in Aaron Sorkin’s Being The Ricardos, and Nicole Kidman landed her own best actress nomination as Lucille Ball. This is foolishness and I shall not countenance it further. Instead, let’s look at the other best actress nominee who finds the humanity in a celebrity caricature through several pounds of latex: it’s Jessica Chastain in The Eyes Of Tammy Faye. She’s up against some serious competition in Parallel Mothers’ Penélope Cruz, Spencer’s Kristen Stewart and The Lost Daughter’s Colman, all of whom do exquisite work, but I’m very curious to see where this one lands.

Remember, it’s all about predicting the mood of the Academy, which of course is not a hive mind but a group of thousands of artists with individual points of view and a propensity to argue amongst themselves.

And as with all awards shows, the rules are made up and the points don’t matter. Hell, Don’t Look Up is in the running for picture, original screenplay, film editing and original score! Nothing means anything, man.


Complete list of Oscar nominations

Best picture

Belfast
CODA
Don’t Look Up
Drive My Car
Dune
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
Nightmare Alley
The Power Of The Dog
West Side Story

Actor in a leading role

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

Actress in a leading role

Jessica Chastain, The Eyes Of Tammy Faye
Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
Nicole Kidman, Being The Ricardos
Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Actor in a supporting role

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

Actress in a supporting role

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

Directing

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

Cinematography

Dune
Nightmare Alley
The Power Of The Dog
The Tragedy Of Macbeth
West Side Story

Writing (adapted screenplay)

CODA
Drive My Car
Dune
The Lost Daughter
The Power Of The Dog

Writing (original screenplay)

Belfast
Don’t Look Up
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
The Worst Person In The World

Film editing

Don’t Look Up
Dune
King Richard
Power Of The Dog
tick, tick… BOOM!

International feature film

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

Animated feature film

Encanto
Flee
Luca
The Mitchells Vs. The Machine
Raya And The Last Dragon

Animated short film

Affairs Of The Art
Bestia
Box Ballet
Robin Robin
The Windshield Wiper

Original song

Be Alive
Dos Orugitas
Down to Joy
No Time to Die
Somehow You Do

Original score

Don’t Look Up
Dune
Encanto
Parallel Mothers
The Power Of The Dog

Sound

Belfast
Dune
No Time To Die
The Power Of The Dog
West Side Story

Documentary feature

Ascension
Attica
Flee
Summer Of Soul
Writing With Fire

Documentary short subject

Audible
Lead Me Home
The Queen Of Basketball
Three Songs For Benazir
When We Were Bullies

Makeup and hairstyling

Coming To America
Cruella
Dune
The Eyes Of Tammy Faye
House of Gucci

Costume design

Cruella
Cyrano
Dune
Nightmare Alley
West Side Story

Live action short film

Ala Kachuu – Take And Run
The Dress
The Long Goodbye
On My Mind
Please Hold

Production design

Dune
Nightmare Alley
The Power Of The Dog
The Tragedy Of Macbeth
West Side Story

Visual effects

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

The Oscars will be broadcast live on Sunday, March 27

@normwilner

Stay In The Know with Now Toronto

Be the first to know about new and exclusive content