Film News: Ranking the 2022 Oscar Nominees in Six Categories

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CHICAGO – The nominees for the 94th Academy Awards … taking place on March 27th, 2022 … were announced on February 8th. 23 categories will be up for Oscar, and the favorites will be will be debated as the Awards season plays out. The 94th Academy Awards will be broadcast on ABC-TV.

For the Top Six categories – Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress – I will rank by preference, and will provide a link in the Best Picture category to the original on-air and audio reviews (if available).This is preference only, not a predictor of who will win.The rest of the nominations are listed below the rankings.

“PowerDog"
12 Noms for ‘The Power of the Dog’ at the 94th Oscars
Photo credit: Netflix

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The supporting categories are often introductory or outlier nominations, and three actresses are nominated for the first time. All the categories ranked in ascending order … Judi Dench for “Belfast” (the hook hits for the Oscar bait, her role was barely there); Aunjanue Ellis (first time) for “King Richard” (her role overshadowed by Will Smith as the title character); Jessie Buckley (first) for “The Lost Daughter” (aptly portrayed the difficulties of motherhood); Kirsten Dunst for “The Power of the Dog” (a great performance in an underwritten role); and Ariana DeBose (first) for “West Side Story” (the triple threat … singing, dancing and performing … is impossible to ignore).

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Two actor nominees in this category from “The Power of the Dog, always frustrating for those nominated. In ascending order, J.K. Simmons for “Being the Ricardos” (as old timey character actor William Frawley he just didn’t seem right); Clarán Hinds for “Belfast” (a bit more developed than co-star Dench, but another hook of Oscar bait); Jesse Plemons for “The Power of the Dog” (subtle and understated, but ultimately disappears); Troy Kotsur for “CODA (first deaf actor to be nominated, was great in his frustration); and Kodi Smit-McPhee for “The Power of the Dog” (had to do a range of feeling to gain his power).

BEST ACTRESS

The strongest category, with each of the performances stellar. This is hard to rank. But, in ascending order, Penélope Cruz for “Parallel Mothers” (she was marvelous within her perplexed and frustrated nature); Olivia Coleman for “The Lost Daughter” (she’s amazing as a guilty Mom, just disagreed with the story direction for her); Kristen Stewart for “Spencer” (her Princess Diana is sublime, again just story issues); Nicole Kidman for “Being the Ricardos” (the pre-film buzz was that she couldn’t pull off Lucille Ball. She killed it.); and Jessica Chastain for “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (created an infamous lifetime that had several different lifetimes).

BEST ACTOR

Another strong category, with each performance fairly equal, Andrew Garfield for “Tick, Tick…Boom” (singing and acting with equal aplomb); Denzel Washington for “The Tragedy of Macbeth” (a classical performance, tossing aside his usual Denzel-ness); Javier Bardem for “Being the Ricardos” (he never got in his own way in performing a too well known Desi Arnaz); Will Smith for “King Richard” (as the tennis Dad mentor of the Williams sisters, Smith turns in his best performance on film); and Benedict Cumberbatch for “The Power of the Dog” (it’s difficult to find a balancing act in portray a sympathetic a-hole, but Cumberbatch turns it up and in).

BEST DIRECTOR

Another strong category, with bold-faced legends and one sensational newcomer. In ascending order, Kenneth Branagh for “Belfast” (this Oscar baited film was personal for KB … too personal); Ryûsuke Hamaguchi for “Drive My Car” (occasionally a visionary comes along, here he is); Paul Thomas Anderson for “Licorice Pizza” (an episodic madness that ultimately is perfectly rendered); Jane Campion for “The Power of the Dog” (the New Zealand legend is nominated for a second time, a record for women directors); and Steven Spielberg for “West Side Story” (Mr. S imbued a glorious life back into an old chestnut).

BEST PICTURE

Always difficult, but based more on the experience of the film … five of these films were in my 10 Best. Click on the link for full review (where applicable), NIGHTMARE ALLEY (an indulgent film, handicapped by those indulgences), BELFAST (as noted above, a too personal Oscar bait memoir), DON’T LOOK UP (a chilling shooting-fish-in-a-barrel film, but effective); KING RICHARD (Will Smith carries this surprisingly cogent film on his back); DRIVE MY CAR (multi-layered, multi-textured, transcends culture); CODA (emotionally soaring, with a terrific heart rending conclusion); THE POWER OF THE DOG (remarkably out-broke-backed “Brokeback Mountain”); LICORICE PIZZA (a love story, a romantic look back to a time that didn’t exist, etc.); DUNE (the unfilmable book is corralled by director Denis Villeneuve. Epic!); WEST SIDE STORY (Fantastic, emotional and those songs! … Spielberg for the win).

The rest of the nominees are on PAGE TWO …

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