It’s been a rough couple of years for the Oscars. Declining ratings, the impossibility of finding a host that will please anyone (let alone someone who won’t spark outrage and controversy), and oh yeah, a worldwide pandemic that made getting large groups of people together in an enclosed space a bad idea. As much as we all complain about the Oscars, one of the few things it had going for it was the pageantry. That’s never been my favorite part of it, but people like to see their favorite stars get dressed up and do glamorous things on the red carpet and so on.
For a second there, I thought that Steven Soderberg would manage last year’s ceremony well. It started with a great, long tracking shot following Regina King as she made her way to the stage to present the first award. It was a cinematic way to start the proceedings, but alas, the host-less nature and continued weird choices throughout the ceremony quickly bogged the whole thing down. Not to mention that the pandemic year produced odd shortlists. It’s usually fun snarking about the awards on Twitter, but it felt a little like shooting fish in a barrel last year, and I think everyone knew it.
Will things return to “normal” this year? The producers continue to make some bizarre choices, including leaving some pretty hefty categories out of the broadcast (notably film editing, makeup and hairstyling, original score, and sound), not to mention shuffling the lifetime achievement awards out of the main ceremony. Look, I get that the producers have a difficult job and they have to balance the artistic against the popular, but, like, Samuel L. Jackson got a lifetime achievement award. He’s gotta be one of the most popular actors in the history of cinema and one of the great success stories of the industry. As presenter Denzel Washington (um, also a pretty popular dude) noted:
“152 movie titles,” Denzel Washington said, beginning to rattle off Samuel L. Jackson’s accomplishments in a tribute to the actor. “I got IMDB Pro. $27 billion in box office.”
Jackson reflected on a 50-year career that began with roles with names like “gang member number two,” “bum” and “Black guy.” He thanked his agent, manager, lawyer and publicist for “making sure I lived in the comfort zone of knowing what the next two jobs would be.”
Jackson and Washington embraced (multiple times), and Washington was clearly overjoyed that Jackson had finally gotten some recognition from the Oscars (he’d previously only been nominated once, for Pulp Fiction). It was a very moving moment that would have been fantastic on the main broadcast. Again, I don’t want to underappreciate how difficult it is to produce something like the Oscars, but this particular Lifetime Achievement Award seems like a no brainer.
Alright, enough complaining, it’s time for the annual reminder that the Oscars broadcast is the biggest source of income for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is actually a very useful organization. As Steven Soderberg noted a few years ago, what the Academy does for film archiving and preservation alone should be praised, and it’s all paid for by the broadcast. So while most complaints about the ceremony are valid and we all have our own strategy for shortening the ceremony (mine has always been remove the shorts categories and the musical performances), actually putting on the show is difficult and it does have a lot of benefits for the industry and cinema as a whole. Anyway, let’s look at the categories and make some predictions:
2022 Oscars Predictions
- Best Picture – CODA. The buzz was that The Power of the Dog would take this and I suppose there’s still an off chance of that, but support fell off a cliff after some awards season missteps, and I suspect voters will still be able to recognize it elsewhere. The notion that Best Picture and Best Director are coupled has pretty much disappeared since they instituted the longer list of Best Picture nominees, so I think CODA will take it this year. There’s maybe an off chance that Belfast will win, and an even more off chance that West Side Story will win. I’ve seen 9 of the nominees, and 3 of those did make my Top 10, which is actually a decent showing. Of course, there’s an approximately 0% chance that any of those 3 will win. I think CODA is a fine movie, but it is so cliched and predictable that I find it hard to call it the best of the year. It’s your standard inspirational artist coming of age story about following your dreams etc… and it’s a pretty well done version of that, but you’ve seen this movie before. Maybe not with a deaf family, but there’s been a surprising amount of much better, much more subtle looks at the deaf community in the past couple of years. Look no further than last year’s Sound of Metal (also nominated for best picture, but nowhere near a contender) or even this year’s Drive My Car (which has a deaf side character). Anyway, I think CODA is going to win. My choice amongst the nominees would have been Nightmare Alley or Dune, but again, no chances there.
- Best Director – Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog. She’s long been a favorite for director and her film for picture, but some recent controversy involving some ill advised comparisons has maybe dulled the shine a bit. I think she’s still a favorite as director though. I suppose it’s possible that Kenneth Branagh will pull an upset, or maybe even Steven Spielberg (though I suspect we take him for granted these days – I would probably vote for him this year though, even if I don’t love West Side Story).
- Best Actress – Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Penelope Cruz had some early buzz but seems to be falling behind the popular Chastain.
- Best Actor – Will Smith in King Richard. Pretty much a sure thing.
- Best Supporting Actress – Ariana DeBose in West Side Story. This is probably the only place voters think they can show some love to WSS, and to be fair, she is great in that movie. Maybe Kirsten Dunst could sneak in, but I’m doubting it.
- Best Supporting Actor – Troy Kostur in CODA. He’s got buzz and the only competition comes from two nominees from The Power of the Dog, which historically means the vote gets split and someone else wins.
- Best Original Screenplay – Belfast. I suspect voters will want to award this movie, but that it won’t be in Best Picture or Director, so it’ll be here. There’s a strong possibility that it won’t win though, as Licorice Pizza has a similar situation going on and Andersen could easily take this.
- Best Adapted Screenplay – CODA. Though again, The Power of the Dog could sneak in. It’s really going to be a battle between those two movies this year.
- Best Cinematography – West Side Story. I honestly don’t know about this category, it could easily go to most of the nominees. Maybe I should have picked Dune? It’s absurd that The French Dispatch and/or The Green Knight didn’t get nominated.
- Best Visual Effects – Spider-Man: No Way Home, as appeasement for not nominating in Best Picture. Or they’ll just give it to Dune (which is probably the better choice, actually)
- Best Production Design – Dune.
- Best Costume Design – Dune. Maybe Cruella? That’s a movie that exists, right?
- Best Makeup and Hairstyling – The Eyes of Tammy Faye. I have no idea on some of these.
- Best Animated Film – Encanto. Pixar dominance is over, welcome back Disney (yes, I know, I know, but still).
- Best Documentary – Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised). I have no idea here, haven’t even seen any of the nominees…
- Best International Film – Drive My Car. I mean, it’s the only one of these that is also on the Best Picture ballot…
- Best Song – No Time to Die. I don’t know, I like Bond, I suspect it’ll do well here.
And that’ll about cover it. If, for some odd reason, you want to plumb the depths of the Kaedrin archives for old Oscars commentary (if you go far back enough, you can even read what used to be called “liveblogging” of the event, you know, back before Twitter was a big deal and blogs were still a thing), all my previous entries are here:    | [2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004] (I didn’t post in 2020 because I was lazy and ran out of time before posting my top 10, and I didn’t post last year because I had much more important films on my mind on the day of the ceremony). If you feel like watching along, I’ll be on Twitter @mciocco (and when the musical performances start, I’ll be posting alcohol @kaedrinbeer). I won’t post that often, but feel free to say hi…