The Awards Report: Predicting The 2022 Oscars

The 2021 Academy Awards saw one of the most diverse pool of winners in all Oscar history. Chloé Zhao became the first woman of color to win Best Director. Minari‘s Youn Yuh-jung is the first Korean to win in any of the acting categories. Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson are now the first black-lead team to win Best Makeup and Hairstyling. The list goes on, but with such a riveting awards season now down in the books, there’s no better time to look towards the 2022 Oscars.

The months leading into the Oscars saw Awards Editor Diego Andaluz excel in his predictions right here on DiscussingFilm. In the end, we accurately predicted over 80% of the final nominees and winners. He now tries his luck by sharing early thoughts for next year’s Academy Awards. His picks and analysis (sprinkled with exclusive inside information) will help you get a stronger understanding of the upcoming awards season, but more importantly, what films you definitely should be prepping to see.

Best Picture

Editor’s Picks:
  1. Don’t Look Up (Netflix)
  2. Soggy Bottom (MGM/UA)
  3. The French Dispatch (Searchlight)
  4. Nightmare Alley (Searchlight)
  5. West Side Story (20th Century Studios)
  6. Canterbury Glass (20th Century Studios)
  7. The Power of The Dog (Netflix)
  8. House of Gucci (MGM/UA)
  9. Being The Ricardos (Amazon)
  10. Eternals (Marvel Studios) 
Next In Line: 
  • Mass (Bleecker Street)
  • Dune (Warner Brothers)
  • Spencer (Neon)
  • In The Heights (Warner Brothers)
  • Red White and Water (A24)
  • King Richard (Warner Brothers)
  • Swan Song (Apple TV+)
  • The Many Saints of Newark (Warner Brothers)
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth (A24)
  • and more…

The category that everyone will be looking towards the most is currently filled with a mix of delayed releases and new contenders. At the top of the list, we currently have Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up. From what sources have told us about the production, this could be the one to bring the top award home for McKay and his team. With a bold screenplay that presents itself as an allegory for virtually every major social issue in the past political cycle (tackling COVID, climate change, big corp, and more), McKay’s cunning style of criticism holds an urgent relevance that could be compared to The Big Short had it released in 2009, the year after the economic collapse.

In past seasons, year-in-advance traditional picks such as Mank and The Irishman have failed to win. A pattern has emerged of more “out of the box” films that don’t normally look like winners (also tackling relevant issues in their own idiosyncratic ways) prevailing with Best Picture. Nomadland, Parasite, The Shape of Water, and Moonlight are prime examples. This combined with the Academy’s affinity for McKay results in a film that could take the crown at the end of the night

‘The French Dispatch’ courtesy of Searchlight

Next up, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Soggy Bottom, Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch, Guillermo Del Toro’s Nightmare Alley, and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story are looking to capitalize on their respective director’s consistency. Paul Thomas Anderson’s upper hand will seemingly be his story rooted in 1970s California, while Wes Anderson can get by with just his powerful ensemble. Additionally, select footage screened from Nightmare Alley confirms Del Toro’s deep dive into a period aesthetic that previously clicked with voters, resulting in his 2018 Oscar wins. The Power of The Dog and Being The Ricardos have much promise that can pay off if prioritized and campaigned correctly by their respective streamers (Netflix and Amazon).

Further down the lineup, Spencer and Eternals both possess the right elements to become the surprise contenders of the season, only if they play their cards right. Delivering various nominations in 2016 with Jackie, Pablo Larrain’s take on Princess Diana seems to feature similar qualities that meld the biopic genre with arthouse sensibilities, though it’s now powered by a transformative performance from Kristen Stewart that can get her a Best Actress nomination as well. The cherry on top, Neon has proved to be an impressive distributor that knows how to expertly carry somewhat unconventional picks to the finish line (eg. Parasite). 

Sources tell us that Chloe Zhao’s Eternals “plays like an Oscar-caliber film” and is “unlike anything Marvel has done before”, sidestepping many of the audience-friendly conventions that tend to hold other blockbusters of its kind back from major awards success. Assuming it succeeds at the box office and becomes a global sensation, in a year with 10 fixed nominees, it can surely slide into a final populist slot that has been occupied by well-made, innovative blockbusters that come out of nowhere like Avatar, The Lord of The Rings Trilogy, District 9, Up, Toy Story 3, and even recent offerings like Black Panther, Get Out, and Joker, We know that when films like these campaign with a strong narrative, they campaign hard, so expect this one to make a splash. 

‘Eternals’ courtesy of Marvel Studios

However, Marvel’s competition is another innovative blockbuster: Dune. We’ve heard from a source close to the production that Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation is “amazing” and that it has a surprising amount of “mainstream appeal” while still being faithful to the director’s masterfully pensive vision. Due to the Academy’s notable dislike of recognizing too many films from similar subcategories and/or that touch on similar themes (such as last years omission of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom that we correctly predicted for these same reasons), it’s likely that only Eternals or Dune shall get in. 

Keeping this in mind, we could see John Chu’s In The Heights (or even Lin Manuel Miranda’s Tick-Tick Boom) knocking out West Side Story if the Academy’s disposition doesn’t change in such a crowded year. But a wild card everyone should be looking towards is the festival favorite Mass. Its recent acquisition by Bleecker Street, a distributor that hasn’t proved themselves on the major awards stage, does bring some doubt. Yet, it has been said that they “know what they have.” So if they campaign correctly, we could witness a breakout season for Bleecker that positions Mass at the center of a wider race (due to its sheer quality as well as its achingly relevant topic). This push could harken back to Amazon’s campaign for Manchester By The Sea and Neon’s immaculate handling of Parasite.

Another aspect that must be factored into this analysis, studio-mandated campaign prioritization does have a large effect on many of the releases we have relegated out of the top ten. Successful campaigns from studios tend to pool the majority of their resources into just a few films they prioritize, so we expect contenders like Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel (20th Century Studios) to be lightly campaigned in favor of other frontrunner projects, although that could also change. Because of this element, we expect Searchlight titles such as Taika Watiti’s Next Goal Wins and The Eyes of Tammy Faye to only make a minimal impact as The French Dispatch and Nightmare Alley take center stage (although from what we’ve seen, Jessica Chastain’s lead performance in Tammy Faye could go far if campaigned well).

This highly competitive season is sure to result in some great races and shocking turns. We may have left out anticipated projects such as Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling and Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho for now, but the season is still young and they will surely be discussed in more of our breakdowns in the future. In the meantime, keep reading for our full current thoughts on the other major categories!

Best Actor

Editor’s Picks:

  1. Brendan Fraser (The Whale)
  2. Jason Issacs (Mass)
  3. Will Smith (King Richard)
  4. Peter Dinklage (Cyrano)
  5. Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth)

NEXT IN LINE: Michael B. Jordan (A Journal For Jordan), Adam Driver (House of Gucci/Annette/The Last Duel), Joaquin Phoenix (C’mon, C’mon), Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley), Leonardo Di Caprio (Don’t Look Up), Andrew Garfield (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), Timothee Chalamet (Dune).

Best Actress

Editor’s Picks:

  1. Ana De Armas (Blonde)
  2. Kristen Stewart (Spencer)
  3. Frances McDormand (The Tragedy of Macbeth)
  4. Lady Gaga (House of Gucci)
  5. Rachel Zegler (West Side Story)

NEXT IN LINE: Jennifer Hudson (Respect), Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), Nicole Kidman (Being The Ricardos), Jennifer Lawrence (Red, White, and Water/Don’t Look Up), Martha Plimpton (Mass), Cate Blanchett (Nightmare Alley), Florence Pugh (Don’t Worry Darling).

Best Supporting Actress

Editor’s Picks:

  1. Ann Dowd (Mass)
  2. Margot Robbie (Canterbury Glass)
  3. Sally Hawkins (Spencer) 
  4. Ariana DeBose (West Side Story)
  5. Kirsten Dunst (The Power of Dog)

NEXT IN LINE: Anya Taylor Joy (Canterbury Glass/The Northman/Last Night In Soho), Jodie Comer (The Last Duel), Marlee Matlin (CODA), Olga Merediz (In The Heights), Toni Collette (Nightmare Alley), Glenn Close (Swan Song), Zendaya (Dune).

Best Supporting Actor

Editor’s Picks:

  1. Bradley Cooper (Soggy Bottom)
  2. Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog)
  3. Richard Jenkins (The Humans) 
  4. Willem Dafoe (Nightmare Alley) 
  5. Jared Leto (House of Gucci)

NEXT IN LINE: Al Pacino (House of Gucci), Christian Bale (Canterbury Glass), John David Washington (Canterbury Glass), Robert De Niro (Canterbury Glass), Harry Styles (Don’t Worry Darling), Jack Farthing (Spencer), Corey Hawkins (The Tragedy of Macbeth), Stellan Skarsgard (Dune).

Best Director

Editor’s Picks:

  1. Guillermo Del Toro (Nightmare Alley)
  2. Paul Thomas Anderson (Soggy Bottom)
  3. Adam McKay (Don’t Look Up)
  4. Wes Anderson (The French Dispatch)
  5. Joel Coen (The Tragedy of Macbeth)

NEXT IN LINE: David O’Russell (Canterbury Glass), Asghar Farhadi (A Hero), Pablo Larrain (Spencer), Steven Speilberg (West Side Story), Denis Villeneuve (Dune), Chloe Zhao (Eternals), Olivia Wilde (Don’t Worry Darling), Benjamin Cleary (Swan Song), Jonathan Glazer (The Zone of Interest). 

Additional Categories

Original Screenplay:

  1. Don’t Look Up 
  2. Soggy Bottom
  3. The French Dispatch
  4. Mass 
  5. Being The Ricardos

Adapted Screenplay:

  1. Nightmare Alley
  2. The Power of The Dog
  3. The Humans 
  4. A Journal For Jordan
  5. The Tragedy of Macbeth

Animated Feature:

  1. Encanto 
  2. Flee
  3. The Mitchell’s vs The Machines
  4. Luca
  5. Raya and The Last Dragon

Production Design:

  1. Nightmare Alley
  2. Soggy Bottom
  3. The French Dispatch
  4. West Side Story 
  5. Eternals

Costume Design:

  1. House of Gucci
  2. The French Dispatch
  3. West Side Story 
  4. Don’t Worry Darling
  5. Spencer

Cinematography:

  1. The French Dispatch
  2. The Tragedy of Macbeth
  3. Passing
  4. Dune
  5. Nightmare Alley

Editing:

  1. Don’t Look Up
  2. The French Dispatch
  3. Canterbury Glass
  4. Soggy Bottom
  5. Nightmare Alley

VFX:

  1. Eternals
  2. Spider-Man: No Way Home
  3. The Matrix 4
  4. The Suicide Squad
  5. Dune

Makeup and Hairstyling:

  1. House of Gucci
  2. Eternals
  3. Old 
  4. The Whale
  5. The Suicide Squad

Sound:

  1. A Quiet Place: Part II
  2. Eternals
  3. Dune
  4. Top Gun: Maverick
  5. The Suicide Squad

Best Original Score:

  1. Dune 
  2. The French Dispatch
  3. Spencer
  4. Nightmare Alley
  5. Eternals

OTHER FILMS IN THE RACE: Next Goal Wins, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Blonde, Stillwater, The Last Duel, A Journal For Jordan, Flee, Don’t Worry Darling, Cyrano, The Card Counter, The Whale, The Brutalist, Belfast, A Hero, Blue Bayou, A Journal for Jordan, The Last Duel, C’mon C’mon, Cry Macho, Coda, The Triangle of Sadness, The Survivor, Annette, Last Night In Soho, The Northman, The Zone of Interest.

The Final Award Winners of 2021:

Follow Awards Editor Diego Andaluz on Twitter: @thediegoandaluz

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1 comment

Rena Low May 11, 2021 || 10:53 am - 10:53 am
predicting Jennifer Hudson (Respect) vs Amanda Seyfried (A Mouthful of Air) for best actress in 2022.
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