The Playmaker
Let's play
PLAYMAKER
  • It's Thursday
    What day is it?
  • Now
    What time is it?
  • Anywhere in Sydney
    Where are you?
  • What do you feel like?
    What do you feel like?
  • And what else?
    And what else?
  • LET'S PLAY

Predicting the Oscars: Who Should, Could and Will Win at the 2022 Academy Awards

Who'll emerge victorious at this year's Oscars? Who should earn a shiny trophy, but won't? Here are our predictions.
By Sarah Ward
March 25, 2022
  shares
By Sarah Ward
March 25, 2022
  shares

Every year, when red carpets are rolled out, Hollywood's who's who get dressed to the nines and movie lovers around the world indulge in their favourite sport — awards season — it's easy to forget two undying truths. Firstly, receiving a shiny trophy doesn't instantly mean that a film is better than everything else. Secondly, missing out on a statuette doesn't mean that a flick is terrible, either.

Amazing, astonishing and exceptional movies can earn coveted awards (see: 2020 and 2021 Oscar Best Picture-winners Parasite and Nomadland, for instance), and so can barely even average-at-best features as well (aka 2019's Green Book). Also, the list of masterpieces that haven't ever been nominated for an Academy Award is staggering. Still, when the contenders are revealed for another year, picking who should, could and will win is all part of the fun. In fact, it's up there with taking a shot of whatever you're sipping (tea, water, the hard stuff) if Jack Nicholson is seen wearing sunnies in the Oscars audience, a speech gets drowned out by music after going overtime, the host makes a gag that doesn't land or someone announces the wrong winner.

From 2022's batch of Academy Awards nominees, there are plenty of worthy recipients — most of which you can watch right now in Australia and New Zealand, too. Hopefully NZ filmmaker Jane Campion will make history by becoming just the third woman to win Best Director. Fingers crossed that Aussie The Power of Dog cinematographer Ari Wegner becomes the first woman ever to win Best Cinematography as well.

In those fields and a heap of others, we've done some prognosticating, all before the 94th Academy Awards take place on Monday, March 28, Australian and New Zealand time. Here are our predictions:

cp-line

BEST MOTION PICTURE

The nominees:

Should win: The Power of the Dog

Could win: CODA

Will win: The Power of the Dog

Sometimes, the best film of the past year truly and deservingly does pick up the biggest Oscar of them all, Best Picture — as Parasite and Nomadland both did. And, that should prove true in 2022, too, with Jane Campion's exquisite revisionist western last year's best movie, and this ceremony's worthiest winner.

That said, with its feel-good story about a teenager in a family that's otherwise deaf, CODA has been nabbing key awards in the lead up to the Oscars. And, if voters can't decide between the two, perhaps West Side Story will swoop in and beat 'em both — it is a glorious film and a technical marvel, and Steven Spielberg has also just announced that it's his first and last musical.

cp-line

Kirsty Griffin/Netflix

BEST DIRECTOR

The nominees:

Should win: Jane Campion

Could win: Steven Spielberg

Will win: Jane Campion

History is Campion's to be made — although she's already broken barriers at this year's Oscars just by being nominated for Best Director. She's now the first female filmmaker to ever score two nods in this field (after also being nominated for The Piano back in 1993) and, if she ends up clutching a statuette, she'll become just the third woman to ever win.

Again, don't discount Spielberg, though. It's been more than two decades since he last won for Saving Private Ryan, and West Side Story's visual wonders have been picking up more attention since it hit streaming earlier this month.

cp-line

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

The nominees:

Should win: Penélope Cruz

Could win: Kristen Stewart

Will win: Jessica Chastain

If anyone wins this category other than Nicole Kidman, that'll be perfectly acceptable (Being the Ricardos isn't great, and neither are its performances, although the Academy clearly disagrees). But Jessica Chastain looks likely to come out on top not just because she's excellent in The Eyes of Tammy Faye — the best thing about it, in fact — but because she's reached that point in her career (and should've already won for Zero Dark Thirty).

Penélope Cruz's has an Oscar for Vicky Christina Barcelona, but her performance in Parallel Mothers is something else. It's sublime in every second, and lingers long after the film has stopped rolling. Alas, the same proved true of fellow Pedro Almodóvar regular Antonio Banderas in 2020, but didn't amount to an Academy Award.

cp-line

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

The nominees:

Should win: Benedict Cumberbatch

Could win: Benedict Cumberbatch

Will win: Will Smith

If there was an award for most forceful performance while playing a real-life figure, Will Smith, Andrew Garfield and Javier Bardem would be in a dead heat. Given they're all nominated for Best Actor this year, this category has basically taken that skew anyway. And Smith is impressive in King Richard, but it always feels like a performance — although, that's what'll likely get him a trophy.

If Benedict Cumberbatch manages to lasso the win, it'd be glorious — as his complicated work in The Power of the Dog is, too. And this field did throw up a huge surprise in 2021, even after the Academy changed the traditional order of ceremony to put Best Actor last in what looked like an expected chance to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman.

cp-line

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

The nominees:

Should win: Ariana DeBose

Could win: NA — because Ariana DeBose will win.

Will win: Ariana DeBose

Whoever wins whatever awards, and for which films, Ariana DeBose getting the nod for West Side Story will be one of the stories of the night. We all know that it's going to happen. Shock-wise, it'd be up there with the whole Moonlight/La La Land debacle if it didn't. And, when she does, it'll see her win for the same role that Rita Moreno nabbed her Oscar for six decades ago.

They'll be the first women of colour to ever achieve the feat — winning for the same role, that is — and only the third pair of performers ever, following Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone in The Godfather and The Godfather Part II, plus Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker in The Dark Knight and Joker. You'd best start humming 'America' now, because you're going to hear it during the Oscars.

cp-line

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

The nominees:

Should win: Kodi Smit-McPhee

Could win: Kodi Smit-McPhee

Will win: Troy Kotsur

A remake of French film La Famille Bélier, CODA improves upon its source material in a number of ways. The most of important: casting actors who are deaf to play characters who are deaf. Their portrayals are naturalistic and lived-in as a result, and the movie around them is as well, even while still being such an obvious crowd-pleaser — and, alongside past Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin, Troy Kotsur is a delight.

Kodi Smit-McPhee's performance in The Power of the Dog couldn't be more different — including in tone — but it's a powerhouse, and one of the best projected onto a screen anywhere (or a streaming queue) in the past year. If he loses to the equally deserving Kotsur, it's safe to expect the Aussie actor to earn more shots in the future; he's only 25, after all, although he's been turning in attention-grabbing performances for almost a decade and a half.

cp-line

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The nominees:

Should win: Licorice Pizza

Could win: Belfast

Will win: Licorice Pizza

The Oscars always adore movies about real-life people, as well as the performances that bring those figures to life. They're also fond of tales that are personal to their directors in some way — Roma a few years back, and Belfast and Licorice Pizza now. The latter, set in the San Fernando Valley where Paul Thomas Anderson grew up, is the better film and script, and not just because it tasks Alana Haim with yelling "fuck off, teenagers!" like she was born to do it.

So smartly and devastatingly exploring the reality of being in your twenties, The Worst Person in the World would be a fantastic winner in this field, too.

cp-line

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The nominees:

Should win: The Power of the Dog

Could win: The Lost Daughter

Will win: The Power of the Dog

Every adapted screenplay contender this year also earned other nominations. Every script in both screenplay categories did, in fact. But these fields often reward films that don't end up picking up many or any other trophies — which is why Maggie Gyllenhaal's masterful script for The Lost Daughter, her directorial debut as well, could emerge victorious.

It'd be an excellent choice. Just as phenomenal is The Power of the Dog, of course. Indeed, the work that Jane Campion has done to translate her western tale from the page to the screen, and to flesh out its subtext, is the stuff that adapted screenplay dreams are made of.

cp-line

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM

The nominees:

Should win: Drive My Car

Could win: The Worst Person in the World

Will win: Drive My Car

The first-ever Japanese film to be nominated for Best Picture, Drive My Car won't win that category — but it will become the first Japanese movie since 2008 to win the Academy's field for features in languages other than English. Its three hours roll by, thoughtfully and movingly so, in a feature that couldn't be more layered or affecting.

Its biggest likely challenger: The Worst Person in the World, which deserves just as much praise. And while Flee would be a perfect winner, it might be fated to become the history-making movie — for getting nods for International Feature, Documentary Feature and Animated Feature, a feat never achieved before — that goes home empty-handed.

cp-line

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

The nominees:

Should win: Flee

Could win: The Mitchells vs the Machines

Will win: Encanto

More on Flee: as an animated documentary about an Afghan refugee's quest to find a new place to belong after being forced to leave his homeland as a boy, it couldn't be more different to its fellow Best Animated Feature nominees. Family-friendly fare always wins here, however, but this'd be a wonderful year to break that trend.

Expected winner Encanto is an all-ages gem a, of course — and don't discount the lively and clever The Mitchells vs the Machines — but Flee takes animated filmmaking to another level.

cp-line

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

The nominees:

Should win: Flee

Could win: Flee

Will win: Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Even more on Flee: again, it deserves to win every field that it's in. That said, if it loses Best Documentary, it'll be to a film as similarly astonishing — because Questlove's Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, is a tremendous piece of filmmaking.

Music documentaries hit screens almost every week, or so it seems, but there's never been one like this before. And, about vastly dissimilar topics — modern-day China and a prison riot — Ascension and Attica would be easy winners in a less-competitive year, too.

cp-line

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The nominees:

Should win: Dune

Could win: The Power of the Dog

Will win: Dune

Hans Zimmer, have another Oscar! Jonny Greenwood, have your first! Alas, the Academy isn't like Oprah, giving gongs to everyone — but, as different as they are, it's difficult to split Zimmer and Greenwood's two immensely powerful scores.

Sand as far as the eye can see is great, but Zimmer's thrumming sounds set Dune's mood from start to finish, all while constantly surprising (especially if you're a fan of his work). And there's a jaunty yet needling, determined yet melancholy twang to Greenwood's compositions for The Power of the Dog that make just as much of an impact.

cp-line

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

The nominees:

Should win: 'No Time to Die'

Could win: 'Dos Oruguitas'

Will win: 'No Time to Die'

We shouldn't talk about Encanto's 'We Don't Talk About Bruno', because it wasn't submitted to even be selected to be nominated for an Oscar. Regretful move, that — and one that magic can't fix. The song will still be performed live at the awards, though, because trying to escape that earworm is impossible.

Also getting a spin live on the night: Billie Eilish and Finneas O'Connell's 'No Time to Die'. It's the Bond song that came out almost two years before the movie it's from, and a lingering 007 anthem (and a fine winner, most likely).

cp-line

Kirsty Griffin/Netflix

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The nominees:

Should win: The Power of the Dog

Could win: Dune

Will win: The Power of the Dog

All five films nominated in this category look gorgeous and glorious on-screen. Each one boasts cinematography so magnificent that it's breathtaking — whether roving over all that sand, making New Zealand look like Montana a decade ago, stripping Shakespeare down to its shadows and fury, lapping up carnival noir, or dancing through a famed and fated love story.

That said, this award is a battle of the Aussies: Dune's Greig Fraser and The Power of the Dog's Ari Wegner. Whoever wins, Australia wins — but Wegner is the only one who'd make history as the first female recipient in this field. Also, her work on Jane Campion's film is hauntingly lush and captivating.

cp-line

BEST FILM EDITING

The nominees:

Should win: Dune

Could win: The Power of the Dog

Will win: Dune

If you pay attention to all of the awards given out before the Oscars — accolades ahoy!; it really is that time of year — then Best Editing looks wide open. A heap of different movies have won different gongs all over the place, including King Richard and Tick, Tick... Boom!.

Dune feels like this year's Mad Max: Fury Road, though — the film that picked up a heap of nominations, wins big in the technical categories but misses the big prize (and misses Best Director as well, given that Denis Villeneuve isn't even one of the five contenders).

cp-line

Top image: Netflix.

Published on March 25, 2022 by Sarah Ward
  •   shares
      shares
  • VIEW COMMENTS
Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x
Counter Pixel