August on the Oscars: Nominations

Updated: Feb 14

It’s Oscar nominations day, which means it’s Christmas for losers (me) leading up to the Super Bowl for losers (also me) when the 94th Academy Awards take place on March 27. Every year, the announcements that start at the ungodly hour of 5:00 AM PST bring about a slew of surprises with snubs and upsets abound, and this year is no different. With the big ceremony only a month and a half away, let’s get into who missed, who got in, and who might go home with the gold next month.*

The Power of the Dog dir. Jane Campion

*Note: I have not seen any of the animated, live-action, or documentary shorts, nor have I seen enough of the feature documentaries to have a well-rounded opinion. I liked Flee, though, and I will be rooting for it.


Technicals

Starting with the technical nominations, or "Below The Belt” as some dub it, there were a few solid surprises. The Academy doesn’t usually issue any massive surprises here, but there are a few great nominations regardless. Let’s get into it...


Best Visual Effects

Who Got In: Dune, Free Guy, No Time to Die, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Spider-Man: No Way Home

Dune dir. Denis Villeneuve

Standard fare. Dune will take this one easily with the prestige of the movie and the scope of its effects overshadowing the more juvenile Marvel movies and the less showy effects of Daniel Craig’s last Bond movie, and for good reason. It’s a massive spectacle with behemoth ships looming over vast planets and they all look scarily photorealistic, so I, like many others, am pulling for Dune.

Who Should Be Here: Godzilla vs Kong, for all its big dumb lumbering stupidity, did have some of the most astounding effects last year and it’s a shame the big lizard and monkey didn’t slide in here. The same goes for The Matrix Resurrections which I thought might’ve had more pull due to its late release, although that favorability might’ve leaned toward Spidey considering that the latter is currently the sixth highest-grossing movie of all time.

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: Free Guy. Buff Ryan Reynolds does not a visual effects nomination make!


Makeup & Hairstyling

Who Got In: Coming 2 America, Cruella, Dune, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, House of Gucci

The Eyes of Tammy Faye dir. Michael Showalter

Pretty standard; I don’t know how Coming 2 America got here, but why not. House of Gucci’s only nomination makes its presence known. The Eyes of Tammy Faye will enter the long list of movies winning an Oscar for adding prostheses to an actor and not much more. There is nothing of note here. Moving on!


Sound Design

Who Got In: Belfast, Dune, No Time to Die, The Power of the Dog, West Side Story

Dune dir. Denis Villeneuve

Once again: standard. I like 4/5 of the nominations, but Dune will definitely win; those IMAX speakers didn’t blow my eardrums out for nothing. The Power of the Dog has some great and subtle sound design which is not usually the Academy’s jam, so I’m very happy that it got in. No Time to Die and West Side Story were also mixed beautifully! No notes!*

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: *Okay, one note: why is Belfast here? You could hear the mic feedback.


Editing

Who Got In: Don’t Look Up, Dune, King Richard, The Power of the Dog, Tick, Tick...Boom!

Don't Look Up dir. Adam McKay

These nominations kind of suck. It’s a weird category with perpetually weird winners (I have not forgotten Bohemian Rhapsody nor have I forgiven) which will probably lead to the award going to Don’t Look Up because it was the most frantically edited movie of the year, and we all know that the most editing means the best editing! Belfast being shut out here is a good sign for The Power of the Dog, which has a greater chance of taking home the big trophy at the end of the night. I’ll sleep soundly when that happens.

Who Should Be Here: The French Dispatch, Drive My Car, Titane, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Spencer, No Sudden Move… really any movie with interesting or compelling editing that contributes something to the pace of the film.

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: Everyone, go home and sit down! The Power of the Dog, you can stay.


Production Design

Who Got In: Dune, Nightmare Alley, The Power of the Dog, The Tragedy of Macbeth, West Side Story

The Tragedy of Macbeth dir. Joel Coen

Really great stuff here! No notes.


Costume Design

Who Got In: Cruella, Cyrano, Dune, Nightmare Alley, West Side Story

Cruella dir. Craig Gillespie

Also pretty great. I would’ve tossed a coin to Passing here but I also would’ve tossed a coin to Passing anywhere in the ceremony because it’s one of the best pictures of the year. More on that later.


Cinematography

Who Got In: Dune, Nightmare Alley, The Power of the Dog, The Tragedy of Macbeth, West Side Story

West Side Story dir. Steven Spielberg

OK, pretty good choices. Every single one of these films is vibrant and interesting which is almost never the case in this category so I’m glad that this year is the exception. The Tragedy of Macbeth should be the clear winner but I’ll be happy with any of them; there’s an abundance of beauty for once.

Who Should Be Here: Spencer got shut out of the nominations for the most part which is most sorely felt here, as is The French Dispatch which got the ax entirely. Linus Sandgren’s work on No Time to Die is also missing.


The “Sexy” Technicals

These awards are still seen as “Below the Belt,” but in a sexier, more mainstream way. Basically, they’re categories that the Golden Globes – that prestigious and respected establishment of the HFPA – also nominate.


Original Song

Who Got In: Be Alive from King Richard, Dos Oruguitas from Encanto, Down to Joy from Belfast, No Time to Die from No Time To Die, Somehow You Do from Four Good Days

King Richard dir. Reinaldo Marcus Green

The Diane Warren industrial complex persists! I don’t like this lineup. They’re very dry picks other than Beyoncé and Billie, and they even got the wrong song from Encanto. Maybe that’s on Disney for not submitting the song that hit #1 on the charts, surpassing Frozen’s Let It Go.

Who Should Be Here: Anything else. The Leos Carax x Sparks Brothers collab Annette should’ve dropped later in the year, The Mitchells vs The Machines has a great indie-pop closer, Nine Days should’ve been a frontrunner, hell even CODA has a decent credits song!

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: There are FOUR things you can count on in life: birth, taxes, death, and Diane Warren being nominated at the Oscars for a song you have never heard! Somehow You Do should be the title of her autobiography, with major emphasis on “Somehow.”


Original Score

Who Got In: Nicholas Britell for Don’t Look Up, Hans Zimmer for Dune, Germaine Franco and Lin-Manuel Miranda for Encanto, Alberto Iglesias for Parallel Mothers, Jonny Greenwood for The Power of the Dog

Parallel Mothers dir. Pedro Almodóvar

I am praying on the downfall of Don’t Look Up in every category except this one because Nicholas Britell is a genius and I wish him only the best. I like this lineup overall. Dune will probably win just because it feels like a Dune sweep for technicals this year and Hans hasn’t won since The Lion King, so a second win is long overdue. Parallel Mothers or The Power of the Dog would be my pick here.

Who Should Be Here: Justice for most movies; there were some great scores this year, like Drive My Car, The Lost Daughter, and Nine Days. I will scream into the void! Also, it’s very strange to exclude known Academy darling Alexandre Desplat for his work on The French Dispatch.

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: Encanto is truly a weird choice!


Adapted Screenplay

Who Got In: CODA, Drive My Car, Dune, The Lost Daughter, The Power of the Dog

Drive My Car dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Finally, some good food. Three of these are some of the best nominees in the last few years with near-perfect scripts that deserve their nominations and then some! I’m riding for Drive My Car and The Lost Daughter here, but I will be very happy when Campion inevitably goes home with another Oscar.

Who Should Be Here: Passing was snubbed and I will be outside the Academy’s doors all night screaming and shouting about it.

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: Dune is a good movie when it’s just Denis showing off his directorial might... the script adaptation isn’t mind-blowing. CODA, on the other hand, is a Disney Channel original movie that made its way to film festivals.


Original Screenplay

Who Got In: Belfast, Don’t Look Up, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, The Worst Person in the World

Licorice Pizza dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

I’ll take all the crumbs (Licorice Pizza and The Worst Person in the World) I can get!

Who Should Be Here: The French Dispatch, Mass, Nine Days, Pig, and the first mention of my darling underdog: C’mon C’mon.

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: King Richard reads like a glossy Nike ad, Belfast is trite, and Don’t Look Up has one of the worst screenplays of any year but will most likely win because Adam McKay is an evil force that cannot be stopped.


The Other Features

Decades back, the Academy decided that they needed a whole category for international features because they were too stingy to nominate them for real categories with the rest of the bunch. A few decades after that, they did the same for Animated Features, and now we’re here with this year’s nominees.


International Feature

Who Got In: Drive My Car, Flee, The Hand of God, Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, The Worst Person in the World

The Worst Person in the World dir. Joachim Trier

I do not know what Lunana is but it would be funny if it won like that octopus movie did last year. I have also not seen The Hand of God, but twinks frolicking in Italy seems to be its own genre now. Outside of that, great nominees! Big category for NEON with two movies here, and Drive My Car is winning, duh. It’s up for best picture and director, c’mon.


Animated Feature

Who Got In: Encanto, Flee, Luca, The Mitchells vs the Machines, Raya and the Last Dragon

Encanto dir. Byran Howard & Jared Bush

A predictable lineup that further proves how Disney is really the only thing that matters anymore. Encanto and Flee are duking it out here considering that they’re the only two nominated for Oscars in other categories, and I’d give it to Flee. Mitchells and Luca are also great in their own right, but Raya is confusing me here.

Who Should Be Here: Sing 2, according to pundits, was a lock and yet the weird singing animals have lost out to other, probably better, movies.


The Headliners

Now, the celebrity contest. The big awards are here; the ones that are plastered across tweets and newspapers (except for the directors, let’s be real). These are the ones you’ll hear your friends actually talk about in the following few hours after the ceremony and then never again despite how much you want them to.


Actor in a Supporting Role

Who Got In: Ciarán Hinds for Belfast, Troy Kotsur for CODA, Jesse Plemons for The Power of the Dog, J.K. Simmons for Being the Ricardos, Kodi Smit-McPhee for The Power of the Dog

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog dir. Jane Campion

Boring, overall. I hope the hula hoop boy wins, but I’m just happy to see Plemons nominated.

Who Should Be Here: By every pundit’s standards, Jared Leto should be here for his Wario impression in House of Gucci, but by the grace of the Academy, the man is not. Timothy Spall and Woody Norman are revelations in Spencer and C’mon C’mon respectively and deserve their time in the sun. David Knell showed everybody how to steal a scene in Pig. André Holland in, you guessed it, Passing, is missing. Take your pick from the cast of The French Dispatch.

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: Belfast is not memorable and its performances are fine at best. J.K. Simmons is always a delight but I don’t know why he’s here, as he hasn’t been in any of the other award body nominations. Kotsur is a bright spot in a dark place, though, so he can stay.


Actress in a Supporting Role

Who Got In: Jessie Buckley for The Lost Daughter, Ariana DeBose for West Side Story, Judi Dench for Belfast, Kirsten Dunst for The Power of the Dog, Aunjanue Ellis for King Richard

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story dir. Steven Spielberg

Not my picks, but there are still some strong performances here. The joy I’m filled with now that I can say Academy Award Nominee Kirsten Dunst is unquantifiable. Buckley is brilliant, and Ellis is the best part of an unremarkable movie. DeBose is clearing this and for good reason, as she’s an absolute star and this is her moment.

Who Should Be Here: Gaby Hoffman is wonderful in C’mon C’mon and Kathryn Hunter is otherworldly as the weird sisters in The Tragedy of Macbeth. Harriet Sansom Harris gives the best single scene performance in Licorice Pizza. However, the biggest snub from the entirety of the nominations is Ruth Negga in Passing. Arguably the best performance of the year, Negga is transfixing in a way only a true Capital T Talent can be. She’s vexing and almost ethereal yet always grounding herself with what she wishes she had. It’s the worst snub of the last few years.

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: Dame Judi, why are we here? You know you shouldn’t be here, we know it, Kenny Branagh knows it... and yet!


Actor in a Leading Role

Who Got In: Javier Bardem for Being the Ricardos, Benedict Cumberbatch for The Power of the Dog, Andrew Garfield for Tick, Tick...Boom!, Will Smith for King Richard, Denzel Washington for The Tragedy of Macbeth

Andrew Garfield in Tick, Tick... Boom! dir. Lin Manuel Miranda

The most predictable lineup of the whole bunch, but for good reason. There is mostly great work all around here. Washington and Garfield are my picks and if either wins, I will cheer. Cumberbatch as faux machismo is a great idea that toes the line for a bit but ultimately works. Decent lineup.

Who Should Be Here: Nicolas Cage’s turn in Pig is just gold and deserved more flowers, and Winston Duke’s turn in Nine Days should’ve been a moment for him. Hidetoshi Nishijima carries Drive My Car from start to finish and in a just world should’ve been in the crew.

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: Will Smith does an SNL character in King Richard. It’s goofy and not in a good way. As for Javier Bardem... the bare minimum.


Actress in a Leading Role

Who Got In: Jessica Chastain for The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Olivia Colman for The Lost Daughter, Penélope Cruz for Parallel Mothers, Nicole Kidman for Being the Ricardos, Kristen Stewart for Spencer

Olivia Colman in The Lost Daughter dir. Maggie Gyllenhaal

K-Stew hive, today is a good day Over the moon that the people’s princess got in despite being snubbed by every awards precursor. Cruz is also a welcome sight; she’s at her best with Almodovar and it’s good to see her nominated for it. However, Colman should win, plain and simple. She gives the best leading role and performance of the year, bar none, no contest, everyone should go home.

Who Should Be Here: Once again, if every awards pundit had their way, Lady Gaga’s Italian extravaganza would be here, but alas, the Academy has smiled on me! I still want her at the ceremony however and I truly think she should host. I would’ve liked to see Renate Reinsve get in for The Worst Person in the World, as well as Toko Miura for Drive My Car, but we all know that those pesky foreign films don’t count for acting. Alana Haim would’ve been a welcome surprise for Licorice Pizza, but the lack of Mass is the most devastating. Martha Plimpton should have a shelf full of trophies right now. And of course, Tessa Thompson’s performance in Passing is nowhere to be seen.

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: Nicole is not bad by any means in Ricardos but it’s a weird performance to be nominated and probably win for. Chastain, like Smith, is lost in an SNL sketch.


Director

Who Got In: Kenneth Branagh for Belfast, Jane Campion for The Power of the Dog, Ryusuke Hamaguchi for Drive My Car, Steven Spielberg for West Side Story, Paul Thomas Anderson for Licorice Pizza

The Power of the Dog dir. Jane Campion

Father, Son, and House of Hamaguchi. Spielberg’s proving he’s still got the magic touch and is flexing new cinematic muscles well into his career. PTA’s doing his thing. Campion will take this award home for good reason, as it’s the best-directed movie nominated by a wide margin.

Who Should Be Here: Joel Coen’s expressionist vision of The Scottish Play is like nothing we’ve seen from a Shakespeare adaptation and should absolutely be here. Maggie Gyllenhaal does great understated work with The Lost Daughter, and once again, not for the last time, Passing! Justice for Rebecca Hall.

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: Kenny Branagh, please sit down.


Best Picture

Who Got In: Belfast, CODA, Don’t Look Up, Drive My Car, Dune, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, The Power of the Dog, West Side Story

Drive My Car dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi

In one of the more disappointing lineups of the last few years, the Academy played it really safe. It’s great to see Drive My Car get in, and Licorice Pizza, The Power of the Dog, and West Side Story are welcome additions, but that’s about it. Everything else ranges from fine to truly awful and that’s a bummer in a year where cinema really came back to life after a year of uncertainty about the industry and its future. Maybe that’s why there are so many safe picks this year: simply because the familiarity of mediocrity is comforting after looking into the abyss and jumping to an unknown fate.

Who Should Be Here: The Tragedy of Macbeth is a monument and should have been nominated. C’mon C’mon, Flee, Mass, Parallel Mothers, Pig, Spencer, Titane, The Worst Person in the World are all better picks than what we got. And, last but certainly not least: Passing. It deserves better.

Who Shouldn’t Be Here: Dune and Nightmare Alley... great gowns, beautiful gowns. Belfast, CODA, and King Richard all operate on a certain level of comfort that just ends up being dull, and as for Don’t Look Up... clownery!


That wraps up the 2022 Oscar nominations. They are characteristically goofy and everything we’ve come to expect from Hollywood’s biggest night outside of every Marvel movie’s opening weekend box office report. And in just a few short weeks, we’ll see who takes home the gold, who gets snubbed, and whether Lady Gaga crashes the party still in character as Patrizia Gucci. Will Cruella win for costumes just because it’s about costumes? Most likely. Will Don’t Look Up be crowned the best original screenplay simply because it tells people not to focus on celebrity, all while Leonardo DiCaprio and Ariana Grande share scenes together? Almost definitely. No matter what, many millionaires will receive gold-plated trophies for crying a little bit while documentarians who risked their lives in war zones have to sit back and watch. Good night, and good luck.


-August

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