As the year ends, it’s once more time for the movies aiming for Oscars to come out and play. This year is going to be a bit different, however, considering what happened with the 2021 Oscars.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic shutting down theaters for most of the year, the nominations were given extra time to be released, extending the due date into February. This meant that a number of films released in early 2021 won’t be on the docket for the 2022 Oscars. This includes such last-minute entries as “Judas” and the “Black Messiah” (which won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Daniel Kaluuya) and “Nomadland” (which won the Academy Award for Best Picture).
The extended date didn’t seem weird for most audiences. After all, most Oscar nominated films tend to release at the very end of the year and most don’t even have a wide release until January. You’re very much going to see that this year with the slow release of such films as “Red Rocket”, “Licorice Pizza”, and “The Tragedy of MacBeth”.
So which films are looking to be favorites at the Oscars this time? A sure-bet for films that will go for Oscars will be biopics. Will Smith plays the father/coach of Richard Williams in the sports drama “King Richard”, a real audience pleaser with Smith bringing forth a profound performance. He could be looking at a Best Actor nomination and even a win. However, he’s got some steep competition. Consider Javier Bardem playing the role of Desi Arnaz in the biopic “Being the Ricardos”. Bardem and director/writer Aaron Sorkin are no strangers to the Oscars and it’s likely this film may see a few other nominations.
If there’s one thing the Academy Awards love more than biopics, it’s historical dramas. Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” is set in 1920s Montana and covers a tale of questioning masculinity. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the antagonistic centerpiece of this picture and it’s by far one of his finest film roles. He’s looking to be a strong contender in this category. You also can’t forget Denzel Washington delivering a powerhouse delivery of Shakespeare in “The Tragedy of MacBeth”.
The Best Actress category seems pretty locked at this point. The top contenders right now are Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, Olivia Colman in “The Lost Daughter”, Nicole Kidman in “Being the Ricardos”, Lady Gaga in “House of Gucci”, and Kristen Stewart in “Spencer”. It’s anybody’s game for this category though it seems like the heat is rising for both Gaga and Stewart, considering they were major highlights of their respective films.
There’s also a lot of ensemble pieces this year with all-star casts to take note of for most categories. Films like the societal satire “Don’t Look Up”, the tense thriller “No Sudden Move”, and the whimsical “The French Dispatch” all have real shots at nominations, including Best Picture.
Festival favorites like “Belfast”, “C’mon C’mon”, and “Spencer” are no doubt going to be real contenders. But what about some more mainstream films? Every year it feels like there’s always one or two pictures released more towards the general public that can jump into the Oscar race quite easily. While no superhero pictures will be protruding this year (considering the lukewarm reactions to “The Eternals” as well as the less prestigious giddiness of “The Suicide Squad”), there is one audience favorite that is worth keeping an eye on.
Denis Villenueve’s “Dune” has become his greatest box office success and is garnering a sequel by Warner Bros. The massive critical praise the picture received from both general audiences and festival goers has led to it becoming a mainstream favorite of the year. It’s likely that one of its all-star castings will receive a nomination but 100% likely that will be nominated for technical awards, such as Best Visual Effects.
The most interesting category is the Best Foreign Language Picture, considering how varied this category can be. Front-runners for this category are currently the festival favorite of the surreal thriller “Titane” (France) as well as the rising reverence of the drama “Drive My Car” (Japan). One film you may want to keep an eye on is Hungary’s “Post Mortem”, considering that it was nominated for an Oscar by the National Film Institute.
The Best Animated Picture category may have an upset this year. There were some Disney animated films that were released in 2021 with “Raya and the Last Dragon” early in the year and “Encanto” closing out the year. While Encanto has received much praise and is looking to easily gain a nomination, one dark horse to keep an eye on is “The Mitchells versus The Machines”.
This comical sci-fi adventure was released on Netflix early this year but became so revered by critics and audiences alike that it would make a brief trip to the theater for awards consideration. There’s a lot of buzz for this picture and it’s possible that it could gain the nomination and even a win for Best Animated Picture. Be aware, however, that Best Animated Picture also includes foreign-language films such as “Flee” and “My Sunny Maad”. These films are less likely to win given the history of foreign-language animated films in these categories but there could be a surprise.
In terms of Best Music and Best Song, there’s some tough competition this year. This is mostly because there are some rising musicals this year with “In The Heights”, “Tick Tick Boom”, “Annette”, and “West Side Story”, all of them containing toe-tapping and memorable songs. It’s a toss-up as to who could win in these categories. We’ll just have to wait and see how the buzz shapes up in the following weeks.
Much of the Oscar nominations will ultimately come down to the campaign and how willing the studios are to push their pictures. Films that have debuted at festivals are sure to become a big draw as well as films released at the end of the year to take advantage of the hype so close to the awards ceremony. Time will ultimately tell but hopefully we’ve given you a good idea of how the competition is shaping up for the 2022 Oscars.