Chris Pix for the 2022 Academy Awards

Well, it wasn’t as bad as LAST year, as all the movie theaters opened back up again (yaay!). We got a bumper crop of great films, ranging from a blockbuster musical remake to a black & white retelling of a classic Shakespearian tale. Even previous superheroes donned cowboy hats and roamed the backwoods or became scientists trying to warn the world about a threatening comet. In short, there were a lot of movies to see! Here are my personal pix for the golden statues awarded on March 27th. 


Wow! Ten pictures to choose from! I can pretty much guess which one will win right off the bat, but let’s go through the process anyway, okay? Take away CODA as it was an Apple+ movie, along with Drive My Car, the three-hour movie that’s gotten 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Licorice Pizza. Don’t Look Up is a scathing political comedy and they rarely win, just like sci-fi movies like Dune. Nightmare Alley is too mainstream, King Richard is a bio-pic, and West Side Story is a musical remake. Which leaves The Power of the Dog, and Belfast. The Academy loves “people pictures” and so I’m gonna say Belfast will take home Oscar, but don’t rule out The Power of the Dog, which may sweep the Oscars this year. Look for CODA to be the dark horse, as it was both a SAG/Critic’s Choice hit.


This is gonna be a tough one, as each actor deserves that gold statue. Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos) was excellent, Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog) showed us he’s more than just an MCU superhero, and Andrew Garfield (Tick, Tick. . .Boom!) proved Spider-man could really sing! Will Smith (King Richard) turned in another great performance, as did Denzel Washington in The Tragedy of Macbeth. Each one I applaud, but this year I think Cumberbatch has the edge over the others, but don’t discount Smith as a fan-favorite. 


Who should win vs who needs to win vs who’s gonna win. Let’s face it, this category has some films that are less than fan-favorites. The Lost Daughter (A Netflix movie) had terrible reviews, but Olivia Colman was praised. Parallel Mothers has barely been seen, yet Penelope Cruz is said to be outstanding in it. Then you have the odd-duck, Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart in another break-out role. The only two truly mainstream movies out there are The Eyes of Tammy Faye with Jessica Chastain as the title character, and Nicole Kidman playing the iconic Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos. Whereas I’d like to see Stewart win, I foresee Chastain taking the gold for her role as Tammy Faye.

It’s all going to come down to two incredible actors and their powerful performances. First, forget Ciaran Hinds in Belfast and Jesse Plemons in The Power of the Dog. Guys, you’re good, but not quite good enough to match the ferocity of J. K. Simmons playing a curmudgeon William Frawley in Being The Ricardos, or the painfully awkward, but jaw-dropping medical student that Kodi Smit-McPhee portrays in The Power of the Dog. Both should win, both deserve to win, but the real underdog coming in from left field is deaf actor Troy Kotsur from CODA. I’m guessing Troy will pull an upset and take the gold.


This one is anybody’s guess. Judi Dench (Belfast) can be ruled out, along with Jessie Buckley from The Lost Daughter. The trouble with Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) is that she’s in a musical, and that’s a tough sell to get an Oscar. So, you’re down to Kirsten Dunst giving a riveting, dramatic performance in The Power of the Dog or Aunjanue Ellis as the strong-willed and loving mother of Venus & Serena Williams in King Richard. Both women are equally terrific and both need to walk away with Oscar in their hands, but knowing the way the Academy votes, look for Ellis to win this year.   

This year’s line-up of directors is an eclectic bunch: you got your seasoned pros like Steven Spielberg with his West Side Story remake, once-in-awhile’s Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), and Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), and then you have actors who dabble in directing, like Kenneth Branagh (Belfast). The out-of-left-fielder is Japanese director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car), who has only done a handful of movies & docs since 2003. As much as the Academy is pressured to give the Oscar to women directors, look for Campion to win. 


Why my hero, Aaron Sorkin, wasn’t nominated this year is a crime, but. . . there it is. However, these writers are damn good. I love a great screenplay and one that stays with me long after I leave the theater. I don’t see Eskil Vogt & Joachim Trier (The Worst Person in the World), Zach Baylin (King Richard), or Adam McKay’s deliciously satirical Don’t Look Up to make any waves. It’ll be a race between Kenneth Branagh’s explosive Belfast and Paul Thomas Anderson’s nostalgic Licorice Pizza. Look for Belfast to take home the Oscar.


Much like Original Screenplays, it’s all about the words and adapting them into a script that sings. The odds-on favorite here is obviously adapting Frank Herbert’s massive tome, Dune, by Jon Spaights, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth. But that was sorta-kinda already done in 1984, so that leaves us with CODA by Sian Heder (an Apple+ film), The Lost Daughter, Maggie Gyllenhall’s movie34 that’s on Netflix, and Drive My Car (the little-seen Japanese film by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi & Takamasa Oe). The only one I can imagine that has the strength to pull off a victory here is Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog which, if you saw it, has an emotional one-two punch.  


A cinematographer can make or break a movie and these movies are no exceptions as each is incredible and will be a difficult choice. You have Ari Wegner for The Power of the Dog, Dan Laustsen for Nightmare Alley, and Greig Fraser for Dune, nice as they are, my money’s on either Bruno Delbonnel for The Tragedy of Macbeth or Janusz Kamiński for West Side Story. Both are exceptional and both deserve to win. Tough call, but Kamiński has the edge, I feel. Look for Wegner to pull a hat-trick and win it!  


Once again, the all-powerful Disney juggernaut shows no signs of slowing down as they have not one, not two, but three films in this category! Why even bother nominating others? So, forget Flee and The Mitchells vs The Machines, this year will be Disney vs Disney/Pixar vs Disney as they fight amongst themselves for the gold with Encanto, Luca, and Raya & the Last Dragon. Anyway, each is a terrific movie, but I’m gonna go with Encanto since it’s very hot right now, but personally, I’d like Luca to win. I’m Italian, so you know why! LOL! 

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