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And The Oscar Goes To…

Posted 03/24/2022 by Eleanor Benson

Rows of the Oscar Statuettes given to winners of an Academy Award. photo Credit LA Times

The year’s night for films may come with more surprises than expected.

In the excitement of the award season, many film fans have their eyes on the Academy Awards. One of the most anticipated award shows of the year has a few surprises in its nominations, which can lead to the expectation of a couple of shocks during the award show. The Best Picture nominations are Belfast, CODA, Don’t Look Up, Drive My Car, Dune, King Richard, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, Power of the Dog, and West Side Story. Though there were a few unexpected nominations for Best Picture, including Don’t Look Up and the first Japanese film nominated, Drive My Car, some snubs and surprises were in other nominations. But based upon the trends of the award season, one can determine the possible Best Picture winner.

This year, the snubs were mainly within the Best Actress category. Many were stunned to see that Jennifer Hudson’s role as Aretha Franklin in Respect was not nominated for Best Actress. Though the film itself fell short with the critics, Hudson’s performance was stunning. Not only did she honor Franklin’s memory, but her acting was wonderful and captured the personality of the iconic musician. For these reasons and a Screen Actors Guild Award (SAG) nomination, it was difficult for the public to see the Best Actress category without her. However, Hudson was not the only actor left out of this category; Ruth Negga, who played Clare Kendry in the film Passing, was not nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Negga has won awards from the National Society of Film Critics and an outstanding nomination from the SAG Awards for her role as Kendry, so the expectation for an Oscar nomination was high. Due to how critics praised the film, Negga’s heart-moving performance and Rebecca Hall’s impressive directorial debut shocked people when the film was not nominated for any Oscars. Similarly, Lady Gaga was also nominated for a SAG Award and left out of the category. The SAG Awards are usually a vital indicator of a Best Actor or Actress award nomination. So when three of the nominees were left out of the Oscars it was one of the biggest snubs of this season, especially since the Best Actor nominations are parallel with the SAG award nominees.

Next up are the surprises in the nominees. To continue with the Best Actress category, the nomination of Kristen Stewart for the role of Princess Diana in Spencer was unexpected. Again, based upon the SAG Award nominations, many assumed she was out of the running for the Oscars, even though many previously expected one. However, whether or not she wins, she will walk out of the award show with her first Oscar nomination, which is well deserved. The second surprise was the nomination of Don’t Look Up. Critics found the movie’s plot lacking and the star of the show was the literal stars, like Leonardo Dicaprio, Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawerence, and Rob Morgan, to name a few. With such a talented cast list, when they stole the show from a minimal plotline was not surprising. The film itself may have been a better fit in actor and actress nominations rather than Best Picture. Another surprise in the Best Picture category is Drive My Car which earned four different Oscar nominations. With the lack of a Producers Guild of America Award (PAG) nomination, the film was expected to be left out of the Oscars; thankfully, it was not. Not only was Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s directing of the film masterful, but the screenplay was a true testament of the masterpiece. The chillingly slow weave between emotions of love, grief, and guilt connects every audience member to the characters and their experiences. Though it was a surprise, the public was glad that the film took its place in the Oscar nominations. 

This year, it can be challenging to determine what film will take home the Oscar for Best Picture with all of the surprises. However, critics and trends show that the most likely contenders are The Power of the Dog, Belfast, and CODA. With CODA’s most recent win of the PGA, it has moved up in the ranks and predictions for Best Picture. However, with the lack of a Best Director nominee (which is another snub), it is hard to form a complete decision on CODA’s place in the nominees. With multiple Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards under its belt, The Power of the Dog was first picked for Best Picture when the nominations were released. However recently, The Power of the Dog has been under some necessary scrutiny that has turned the public’s eye away from the film and onto its director, Jane Campion. During her acceptance speech for the Critics Choice Award for Best Director, she made highly insensitive comments about Venus and Serena Williams’s accomplishments and challenges in their field compared to her own. Campion stated, “You are such marvels. However, you do not play against the guys like I have to.” Some think it could cost The Power of the Dog an Oscar with such a confusing, ignorant, and backhanded compliment towards the sisters’ accomplishments and challenges of being booed off of courts and called racial slurs during competitions. On top of that, Belfast and CODA have received more of the critical indicator awards leading to Best Picture. Throughout the season, Belfast has been a critic and fan favorite. With a similar award lineup as The Power of the Dog and a nomination for Best Director and Screenplay, Belfast also has a high chance of winning the Best Picture category. 

Ultimately, films can break trends, and predictions are just conjectures. With so many snubs this Oscar season, many are frustrated to see some lackluster movies and performances in the nominations. However, with multiple notable films, actors, directors, writers, and crews, the public can expect an unanticipated Academy Awards.