After the past two pandemic-affected years, the 94th Academy Awards are another big step back toward normalcy, with just as much uncertainty and drama as usual with who and what might be getting Oscars.
netflix western “The Power of the Dog” arrives at Sunday’s ceremony (ABC, 8 ET/5 PT) with a leading 12 nominations, yet has slowly lost frontrunner status over the past several weeks. While several acting categories and best director seem locked up, the races for best picture and best actress could be nail-biters. Not only is there a host again but there are three: Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes. And the Academy’s stoked controversy by announcing it will pre-record eight technical categories for the live show.
How to watch the 2022 Oscars:Everything you should know about Sunday’s Academy Awards
So what to expect for a night usually full of the unexpected? Here are our predictions for all the major categories:
“Don’t Look Up”
“Drive My Car”
“The Power of the Dog”
Will win/should win: “CODA”
“Dog,” Jane Campion‘s psychological cowboy drama, lead the very eclectic pack at the start, and but has since watched as the feel-good”CODA,” a Sundance favorite about a deaf fishing family and its hearing daughter, became the little movie that actually could. A win at the Producers Guild Awards (a major bellwether since they use the same preferential ballot as the Oscars) and being named best cast at the Screen Actors Guild Awards point at a likely “CODA” victory – the last time a film took PGA and SAG but didn’t win best picture was 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine.” This time, the heartwarming choice is the easy one: The world’s a crazy place right now and “CODA” is an inclusive, musically tinged and tear-jerking gem that, unlike many of its competitors, feels needed.
‘An amazing ride’:‘CODA’ earns top prize at PGA Awards. Is Oscar best picture next?
Javier Bardem“Being the Ricardos”
benedict cumberbatch“The Power of the Dog”
Andrew Garfield“tick, tick … BOOM!”
Denzel Washington“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Last time there was a tie in an acting category was 1969 (Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand), so maybe it’s been long enough we could swing another one? After winning at SAG, Critics Choice Awards, BAFTA and Golden Globes, Smith is an overwhelming favorite to finally win Oscar for playing the Venus and Serena Williams‘ coach dad in “King Richard” – and, in a sense, for the rest of an iconic career. (He totally should have won for “Ali.”) But what Garfield does is singularly spectacular in “BOOM!”: He learned how to sing and play piano to embody the late Jonathan Larson in a musical about making something memorable before it’s too late. Garfield will be back in this category again, no doubt.
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Jessica Chastain“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
Olivia Coleman“The Lost Daughter”
Penelope Cruz“Parallel Mothers”
Nicole Kidman“Being the Ricardos”
Will win/should win: Chastain
At one point this race was a wild one, with early favorite Stewart snubbed by SAG and no one pulling ahead. While there’s still a chance for a surprise because of the talent involved – and Colman and Kidman being former winners – this looks like Chastain’s Oscar to lose after going on a run at SAG and Critics Choice. And after a couple previous nominations, Chastain deserves that first win for her transformation from ella into an empathetic portrayal of disgraced televangelist Tammy Faye Bakkerwho embraced love instead of hate while being surrounded by a community of powerful conservative Christians.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Ciarán Hinds, “Belfast”
Jesse Plemons“The Power of the Dog”
JK Simmons, “Being the Ricardos”
Kodi Smit-McPhee“The Power of the Dog”
Kotsur has been riding the waves of goodwill for “CODA,” and his wins at SAG, Critics Choice and BAFTA for his portrayal of a deaf father connecting with his singing daughter in heartfelt fashion have cemented his favorite status. But “Dog” star Smit-McPhee, whose winning streak Kotsur has supplanted, is even more key to his movie. the 25-year-old has a career-best turn in “Dog” as an artistic, seemingly meek bookworm mocked by his cruel new cowboy uncle (Cumberbatch). However, the character has a lot more going on internally than it appears, and proves essential to the film’s gut-punch ending.
‘It would be a historic moment’:‘CODA’ star Troy Kotsur talks best picture Oscar chances
Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter”
Ariana DeBose“Westside Story”
Judi Dench, “Belfast”
Kirsten Dunst“The Power of the Dog”
Will win/should win: DeBose
though this category has often honored big stars (Viola Davis, Anne Hathaway, Angelina Jolie), this year it seems destined to fête a future A-lister, with the multitalented DeBose a near-certain lock. There’s a full-circle nature to the prospect of the Broadway “Hamilton” alum, who’s run the awards table as the feisty and soulful Anita of steven spielberg‘s reimagined “West Side Story,” winning the same Oscar as the original Anita, Rita Moreno, took home 60 years ago. There’s history to be had as well: DeBose would be the first Afro-Latina and openly queer woman to snag an Academy Award. But it also hails a woman of the moment everybody needs to know and a throwback sort of talent who can sing, dance and act with the best of them.
Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”
Ryūsuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”
Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”
After taking the Directors Guild Awards’ top prize, Campion’s riding high in this Oscar saddle with her second golden guy in sight. (She first won best original screenplay for “The Piano” in 1994.) Sorry, Sam Elliott, but she does one heck of a job crafting a Western epic that looks stunning while probing toxic masculinity on the ranch. That said, what Spielberg accomplished is just as impressive and with a certain higher degree of difficulty. The legendary filmmaker tackled a beloved Broadway and movie musical with exciting gusto, putting his own cinematic signature on it, maintaining reverence and also improving the work in terms of storytelling, authenticity and social commentary.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism