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Oscar nominations 2022: Complete predictions in all 23 categories

A man in armor holds up a sword.
“Dune,” starring Timothée Chalamet, is a prime Oscar contender across multiple categories.
(Warner Bros. / Legendary)
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Nominations for the 94th Academy Awards — a.k.a., The One After the Train Station Ceremony — arrive bright and early Tuesday morning. If you’re so inclined, you can set your alarm clock or, if you live in the Greater Los Angeles area, you might simply find yourself awoken by the sounds of cellphones ringing and pinging, mimosas being poured in celebration and, conversely, the weeping and gnashing of teeth by those who are not thrilled because they have not been nominated.

Or ... you can save yourself the trouble and simply peruse this complete set of Oscar predictions, which I guarantee will be 100% accurate. Or at least more accurate than my colleague Bill Plaschke’s Super Bowl picks ... which, I know, is not saying much. (Pleeeeeeeeeease, for the love of God and Los Angeles, pick the Bengals over the Rams this year, Bill!)

A man puts his face to a woman's ear, both of them smiling
Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons in “The Power of The Dog.”
(Kirsty Griffin/Netflix)

BEST PICTURE

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“Belfast”
“CODA”
“Don’t Look Up”
“Dune”
“King Richard”
“Licorice Pizza”
“The Power of the Dog”
“Tick, Tick ... Boom!”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
“West Side Story”

Possible snub: “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Possible surprise: “Being the Ricardos”

The film academy restored the best picture category to a fixed 10 nominees this year, as it was when the slate was first expanded in 2009. For two years, voters had 10 slots on their nomination ballots and picked popular fare like “Up” and “The Blind Side,” much to the dismay of many academy members who thought that the category had been cheapened. (They don’t make best picture nominees like “The Towering Inferno” anymore, do they?) In response, the academy changed the rules again and, for the next decade, eight or nine movies were nominated, depending on voters’ enthusiasm.

What movies are voters excited about this year? Mostly films they’ve watched from the comfort of their homes and probably not the one movie — the well-reviewed “Spider-Man: No Way Home” — that moviegoers flocked to theaters to see. It’s going to be a big day for streaming platforms, and the main question here is whether a great indie film like “The Tragedy of Macbeth” or “Drive My Car” can wedge its way into the field. Otherwise, the lineup, aside from “Belfast,” “Licorice Pizza” and “West Side Story,” will be comprised of films that arrived on Netflix, HBO Max, Apple and Amazon. Make sure your subscriptions are up to date!

As Oscar voting begins, the producing, directing and writing guilds all announce their nominations for the year’s best. Spoiler: It’s good news for “Licorice Pizza” and “Dune.”

Jan. 27, 2022

DIRECTOR

Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”
Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car”
Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”
Denis Villeneuve, “Dune”

Possible snub: Hamaguchi
Possible surprise: Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”

The Directors Guild nominated Anderson, Branagh, Campion, Spielberg and Villeneuve. But the academy’s directors branch rarely rubber-stamps the DGA’s lineup, and in recent years, thanks in part to a significant influx of international members, has rewarded the likes of Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”) and Paweł Pawlikowski (“Cold War”). That could be good news for Hamaguchi and “Drive My Car,” the moving drama that won best picture from the Los Angeles and New York critics and the National Society of Film Critics. Hamaguchi’s inclusion would bump someone — likely Branagh or Spielberg. My hunch is Branagh, the guy known more as an actor.

A woman in a fur hat and puffy jacket
Lady Gaga stars as Patrizia Reggiani in “House of Gucci.”
(Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures)

LEAD ACTRESS

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Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter”
Penélope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers”
Lady Gaga, “House of Gucci”
Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos”

Possible snub: Gaga
Possible surprise: Kristen Stewart, “Spencer”

This category is a minefield with only Colman and Kidman assured of spots. After that, probably Gaga, owing to the fact that she brought the same level of intense Haaaaaa-ahhhh-ahhh-ohhhh-ahhaaaaaa-ahhhh-ahhh-ohhhh-ah!!!” cuckoo commitment to “Gucci” as she did to “A Star Is Born.” Plus, don’t you want to see if she breaks out another gown with a 20-foot train for the ceremony? (Yes, that is a rhetorical question.)

After that, you have an actor in a movie that most everyone loves (Cruz in “Parallel Mothers”), an actor in a movie most everyone seems to hate (Stewart in “Spencer”), an actor in a movie people might not even remember (Jennifer Hudson in “Respect”) and an actor who might be overshadowed by the layers of makeup she had to endure (Chastain in “Tammy Faye”). Plus, “Licorice Pizza’s” Alana Haim, who, if nominated, should bring her sisters to the ceremony and host the damn show.

Which two make it in? Your guess might be as good as mine. Just be prepared for a lot of “snubbed” talk come Tuesday morning.

LEAD ACTOR

Javier Bardem, “Being the Ricardos”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog”
Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick ... Boom!”
Will Smith, “King Richard”
Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”

Possible snub: Bardem
Possible surprise: Bradley Cooper, “Nightmare Alley”

Unlike lead actress, this field is pretty firmly set, though I could see support swing toward Cooper’s intense work in “Nightmare Alley” (who will forget that devastating final shot?) or perhaps Peter Dinklage for his wistful turn in the musical “Cyrano.” But more voters have seen “Being the Ricardos” than either of those movies, making Bardem the likely nominee for that final spot.

A woman standing up comforts a man who is sitting
Will Smith and Aunjanue Ellis in “King Richard.”
(Warner Bros. Pictures)
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SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Caitriona Balfe, “Belfast”
Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”
Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog”
Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”
Ruth Negga, “Passing”

Possible snub: Ellis
Possible surprise: Marlee Matlin, “CODA”

DeBose is the front-runner and she could be joined by co-star Rita Moreno, should voters be feeling sentimental about the latter’s return to the musical that won her an Oscar six decades ago. Sentiment also could elevate warm performances like Matlin’s loving turn as the mother in “CODA” or Judi Dench in “Belfast,” a movie that ends with a memorable closeup of her that is so good, it took Branagh’s breath away as he watched. One other possibility: Ann Dowd’s grieving mother in “Mass,” a sublime film about an incomprehensible sorrow that doesn’t seem to have been seen by enough people.

Our BuzzMeter experts tell us what films and performances will win on Oscar night. Think you can do better?

March 24, 2022

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Bradley Cooper, “Licorice Pizza”
Ciarán Hinds, “Belfast”
Troy Kotsur, “CODA”
Jared Leto, “House of Gucci”
Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog”

Possible snub: Leto
Possible surprise: Jamie Dornan, “Belfast”

This is another spot, in addition to director and supporting actress, where we’ll find out just how much voters were moved by “Belfast.” The entire adult cast is running in the supporting categories. Could they all be nominated? If so, expect Jude Hill, who plays the young boy in the film, to do something adorable in response.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“CODA,” Siân Heder
“Drive My Car,” Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe
“The Lost Daughter,” Maggie Gyllenhaal
“The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion
“West Side Story,” Tony Kushner

Possible snub: “Drive My Car”
Possible surprise: “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” Joel Coen

Those paying attention to the discussion around the year’s best film probably are aware that the delicate drama in “Drive My Car” unfolds over the course of a leisurely pace that clocks in a minute shy of three hours. Less known is that it’s taken from a Haruki Murakami short story that is all of 40 pages long. It’s a remarkable adaptation that retains the intimacy of its source material while expanding it to a grand, simmering story of love and regret. It’d be a travesty if it didn’t earn a nomination here.

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A man, left, and a woman talk to each other on a couch
Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence in “Don’t Look Up.”
(Niko Tavernise / Netflix)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“Being the Ricardos,” Aaron Sorkin
“Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh
“Don’t Look Up,” Adam McKay, David Sirota
“King Richard,” Zach Baylin
“Licorice Pizza,” Paul Thomas Anderson

Possible snub: “King Richard”
Possible surprise: “Parallel Mothers,” Pedro Almodóvar

Baylin is the outlier in a category filled with auteurs, some doing great work (Anderson, Almodóvar), others delivering films with their fair share of flaws (McKay, Sorkin). The Writers Guild nominees included Wes Anderson for “The French Dispatch,” while Branagh’s “Belfast” was ineligible. Expect it to place here, likely over the busy, inert “Dispatch.” As for “Parallel Mothers,” the academy hasn’t distinguished itself in rewarding Almodóvar over the years ... which now has me second-guessing that Cruz lead actress pick.

In-person schmoozing is hard to do in the lead-up to Oscars 2022, the second COVID-affected ceremony. Can this awards season be saved?

Jan. 28, 2022

ANIMATED FEATURE

“Encanto”
“Flee”
“Luca”
“The Mitchells vs. the Machines”
“Raya and the Last Dragon”

Possible snub: “Raya and the Last Dragon”
Possible surprise: “Belle”

Danish filmmaker Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s extraordinary refugee story “Flee” probably will make Oscar history, becoming the first film to earn nominations for animated feature, documentary feature and international feature. But after that sweep, what comes next? It won’t win animation, going against the sweet magic of “Encanto” and all those catchy Lin-Manuel Miranda songs. Its main competitor should be the gorgeous sci-fi fairy tale, “Belle,” which earned a 14-minute standing ovation at its Cannes premiere. But I’m not even sure it’ll be nominated.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

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“Ascension”
“Flee”
“Procession”
“The Rescue”
“Summer of Soul”

Possible snub: “Procession”
Possible surprise: “Attica”

And “Flee” probably won’t prevail here, not with the presence of Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s acclaimed “Summer of Soul,” a rousing chronicle of a 1969 music festival that was filmed and then forgotten. The movie features a parade of music legends — Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach, and B.B. King — as well as a thought-provoking history lesson about the Black cultural and political transformation taking place outside the festival. It’s something special. I’d nominate it for best picture.

A man blows smoke into a woman's mouth
Herbert Nordrum and Renate Reinsve in “The Worst Person in the World.”
(Neon)

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE

“Drive My Car”
“Flee”
“The Hand of God”
“A Hero”
“The Worst Person in the World”

Possible snub: “The Worst Person in the World”
Possible surprise: “Compartment No. 6”

“Flee” could possibly win here if the two-hour, 59-minute running time of “Drive My Car” puts off some voters. (I don’t think it will.) My fear for the nominations is that two movies centering on a woman’s journey to self-discovery might be one too many for an academy membership that still largely skews male. I’ll be rooting for both “The Worst Person in the World” and “Compartment No. 6” to find a way in.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

“Dune,” Greig Fraser
“Nightmare Alley,” Dan Laustsen
“The Power of the Dog,” Ari Wegner
“The Tragedy of Macbeth,” Bruno Delbonnel
“West Side Story,” Janusz Kaminski

Possible snub: “West Side Story”
Possible surprise: “Belfast,” Haris Zambarloukos

Only one female director of photography has ever been nominated for an Oscar — Rachel Morrison for Dee Rees’ sprawling 2017 drama “Mudbound.” Wegner stands to make it two for her meticulous collaboration with Campion in creating “Dog’s” grand, dusty, sun-bleached world. Wegner also shot the audacious “Zola,” so she’s had a pretty good year. I think it’s going to get even better when the Oscars are awarded.

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PRODUCTION DESIGN

“Dune,” Patrice Vermette (production designer), Zsuzsanna Sipos (set decorator)
“The French Dispatch,” Adam Stockhausen (production designer), Rena DeAngelo (set decorator)
“Nightmare Alley,” Tamara Deverell (production designer), Shane Vieau (set decorator)
“The Tragedy of Macbeth,” Stefan Dechant (production designer), Nancy Haigh (set decorator)
“West Side Story,” Adam Stockhausen (production designer), Rena DeAngelo (set decorator)

Possible snub: “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Possible surprise: “Belfast,” Jim Clay (production designer), Claire Nia Richards (set decorator)

Stockhausen won this Oscar for Wes Anderson’s last live-action film, “Grand Budapest Hotel,” and figures to return to the fold for creating the numerous precise and visually dense environments in the filmmaker’s love letter to the New Yorker. It will likely be one of two nominations for Stockhausen and set decorator DeAngelo, who also gave moviegoers a fresh take on New York in “West Side Story,” emphasizing the grit of a vanishing neighborhood.

A woman holds a mirror up to a man combing his hair
Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman in “Licorice Pizza.”
(Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.)

FILM EDITING

“Belfast,” Úna Ní Dhonghaíle
“Don’t Look Up,” Hank Corwin
“Dune,” Joe Walker
“Licorice Pizza,” Andy Jurgensen
“The Power of the Dog,” Peter Sciberras

Possible snub: “Don’t Look Up”
Possible surprise: “West Side Story,” Sarah Broshar, Michael Kahn

The American Cinema Editors ignored “West Side Story” — and that is a group that has categories for both drama and comedy. Not a good sign, but not a death knell either. “West Side Story” owed a lot of its kinetic energy to its superb editing.

COSTUME DESIGN

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“Cruella,” Jenny Beavan
“Dune,” Jacqueline West, Robert Morgan
“House of Gucci,” Janty Yates
“Nightmare Alley,” Luis Sequeira
“West Side Story,” Paul Tazewell

Possible snub: “Nightmare Alley”
Possible surprise: “Cyrano,” Massimo Cantini Parrini & Jacqueline Durran

Durran should be showing up for “Spencer.” Those costumes took me on a roller-coaster ride! But the guild overlooked the film, and I don’t see the academy setting that right.

MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

“Cruella,” Nadia Stacey, Carolyn Cousins
“Dune,” Donald Mowat, Love Larson, Eva von Bahr
“The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Linda Dowds, Stephanie Ingram, Justin Raleigh
“House of Gucci,” Jana Carboni, Giuliano Mariano, Göran Lundström
“The Suicide Squad,” Heba Thorisdottir, Janine Thompson

Possible snub: “The Suicide Squad”
Possible surprise: “West Side Story,” Judy Chin, Kay Georgiou

The Oscar likely will come down to which image lingered longer in voters’ minds: Stellan Skarsgård’s bald, often-nude, 600-pound “Dune” villain, Jared Leto’s bald, aged, overweight “Gucci” misfit or Chastain’s mascara-burdened televangelist in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.” (All those coats of makeup may have damaged Chastain’s skin. “It’s fine,” she told The Times. “It’s for my art.”)

Animated scene of people dancing
The Madrigal family in Disney’s “Encanto.”
(Disney)

SCORE

“Don’t Look Up,” Nicholas Britell
“Dune,” Hans Zimmer
“Encanto,” Germaine Franco
“The French Dispatch,” Alexandre Desplat
“The Power of the Dog,” Jonny Greenwood

Possible snub: “The French Dispatch”
Possible surprise: “Parallel Mothers,” Alberto Iglesias

Between “The Power of the Dog,” “Spencer” and a smaller contribution to “Licorice Pizza,” Greenwood is the composer of the year. His wide-ranging work on “Spencer” ranks a notch above “The Power of the Dog,” mixing plaintive Baroque piano and off-kilter jazz to create an often jarring soundscape that matches the film’s haunting visuals and often off-putting portrait of a princess. But again, like the rest of “Spencer’s” estimable work, it seems destined not to be crowned.

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SONG

“Just Look Up” from “Don’t Look Up”
“Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto”
“Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days”
“Be Alive” from “King Richard”
“No Time to Die” from “No Time to Die”

Possible snub: “Be Alive”
Possible surprise: “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from “Respect”

Only the academy could mess things up by not nominating Beyoncé for her “King Richard” song. I suppose there’s no guarantee she’d perform, but why take that chance? Invite her to the Oscars! The rub is that voters are judging the songs by how they’re used in the movies, and “Be Alive” plays over the closing credits. Now, I’d argue that it caps the movie’s emotional journey and sends you out of the theater on a high note. But if you didn’t see “King Richard” in a theater, that means nothing. Anyway, I guess we can count on Billie Eilish (“No Time to Die”) and Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi (“Just Look Up”). Just don’t bother nominating Van Morrison (“Down to Joy” from “Belfast”) as he probably wouldn’t be down with the ceremony’s likely vaccination requirements.

SOUND

“Dune”
“No Time to Die”
“The Power of the Dog”
“Tick, Tick ... Boom!”
“West Side Story”

Musicals and action movies always attract the most attention. Of course, “The Power of the Dog,” with all that whistling and banjo playing and cattle castration, had both music and action. Plus, Kodi Smit-McPhee repeatedly running his fingers across the teeth of that comb, a sound that haunts my dreams months after seeing the movie.

Spider-Man flies onto a man with another man flying out behind them
Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Holland in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
(Sony Pictures)

VISUAL EFFECTS

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“Dune”
“Godzilla vs. Kong”
“The Matrix Resurrections”
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
“Spider-Man: No Way Home”

Possible snub: “Godzilla vs. Kong”
Possible surprise: “No Time to Die”

The Bond movie could make it in as this branch is dominated by older men who wouldn’t need CGI to show their own tears at the thought of Daniel Craig’s tenure as 007 coming to a close.

ANIMATED SHORT

“Affairs of the Art”
“Namoo”
“Robin Robin”

“Us Again”
“The Windshield Wiper”

DOCUMENTARY SHORT

“Coded: The Hidden Love of J.C. Leyendecker”
“The Queen of Basketball”
“Terror Contagion”
“Three Songs for Benazir”
“When We Were Bullies”

LIVE-ACTION SHORT

“Censor of Dreams”
“The Criminals”
“Tala’vision”
“The Long Goodbye”
“When the Sun Sets”

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