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Columns Eleanor Ringel Cater

Eleanor’s 2022 Oscar ruminations and predictions

Eleanor's prediction for Best Picture. "The Power of the Dog"

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

So here we are with the nominees for the Academy Awards.

True, there have been distractions since they were announced last week. Super Bowl LVI. Valentine’s Day. Ukraine (Yes? No? Maybe?) And something about Donald Trump flushing documents down the toilet. Why didn’t Richard Nixon think of that?

Scene from “The Lost Daughter” – one of Eleanor Ringel’s favorite movies of the year

Still, the Oscars soldier on, trailed by the usual lists of snubs, surprises and early predictions. Since Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story” has nabbed several important nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director, I thought I’d pass along what Jerome Robbins, who won Best Director and Best Picture for the original 1961 version had to say about his coveted trophies.

“The Oscars,” he noted, “have no faces, no fingers, no asses, no balls, no nothing…they’re bland like Hollywood, they’re gold and glued over.”

Robbins kept his in his basement.

Below are the nominees in the top categories (I’ve never been an Oscar completist).

Also below are my thoughts on – yes – snubs, surprises and early predictions. And if a particular nominee is unfamiliar to you, it’s probably quicker to google it than try to interpret whatever my description might be.

Best Picture

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

SNUBS: Well, I don’t miss any of these titles, but there are others who do.

“Spiderman: No Way Home”: It made more money and more moviegoers happy than the rest of Hollywood’s 2021 pictures put together. Or close enough.  When nobody tunes in to the TV broadcast (on March 27), the blame is going to go to Oscar voters’ failure to nominate Spidey.

“House of Gucci”: Because it’s Lady Gaga and Adam Driver and Jared Leto.

“No Time To Die”: Not so much to honor 007, but to say goodbye to Daniel Craig.

“The Green Knight”: A personal favorite. It never stood a chance.

“The Lost Daughter”: Ditto.

I would’ve voted for any of these titles above “Dune” (dumb), “Nightmare Alley” (dumber) and “Don’t Look Up” (dumbest).

SURPRISES: The three-hour Japanese film, “Drive My Car,” snagged a nomination, along with the more expected one for Best International Film.

EARLY PREDICTION: “The Power of the Dog.”

Best Director

Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

SNUBS:

Maggie Gylllenhaal (“The Lost Daughter”)

Lin-Manuel Miranda (“tick, tick…BOOM!”)

Rebecca Hall (“Passing”)

Interestingly, all three are first-time directors. Annoyingly, all three are better than Branagh.

SURPRISES: Hamaguchi, I guess, but not really.

EARLY PREDICTION: Campion or Branagh.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

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

SNUBS:

Lady Gaga (“House of Gucci”) She was so-so, but she is Lady Gaga.

Jennifer Hudson (“Respect”) She was Aretha’s personal choice for the role. At least she already has an Oscar (“Dreamgirls”).

Frances McDormand (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”) She’s a stunning Lady Macbeth, but she did just win (again) last year.

SURPRISES: Stewart got no pre-Oscar love from critics or guilds (like, the Screen Actors Guild). But she picked herself up and got back in the race. That’s life. That’s Oscar.

EARLY PREDICTION: Your guess is as good as mine. I’m pulling for Colman, but Stewart or Kidman are the likely frontrunners.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

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

SNUBS:

Leonardo Di Caprio (“Don’t Look Up”) Not because he’s any good – he’s not – but because he’s Leo.

Matt Damon (“Stillwater”) Watch the picture. He’s really good.

SURPRISES: Garfield—He’s amazing but that is no guarantee of a nomination.

EARLY PREDICTION: Looks to me like it’s Smith vs. Cumberbatch. Normally, I wouldn’t count out Washington, but he’s already won twice.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

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

SNUBS:

Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson (“Passing”) Both do surprising work in surprising parts. And both are better than Ellis, likable as she is.

SURPRISES: Cate Blanchett’s showy performance in “Nightmare Alley” didn’t knock aside Jessie Buckley’s expert one in “The Lost Daughter.”

EARLY PREDICTION: I wish Buckley could win, but Dunst certainly deserves it. The winner, however, is probably DeBose.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

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

SNUBS: I wish there had been some love for Ed Harris in “The Lost Daughter.”

SURPRISES: Very glad to see both Plemons and Simmons included. Didn’t see that coming. And delighted that neither was displaced by Ben Affleck (“The Tender Bar”).

EARLY PREDICTION: Smit-McPhee. It’s a very clever performance.

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Eleanor Ringel

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

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1 Comment

  1. JayB February 15, 2022 10:25 am

    The Power of the Dog could take it all, and I would be happy. Colman or Stewart as best actress but all nominees in that category are deserving. Plemons or Smit-McPhee could split the vote. An overlooked talent: Jamie Dornan. Watch him in The Fall – not 50 Shades. Willem DaFoe ignored in Nightmare Alley. With all my interest in the movies and performances, I am not likely to watch The Oscars. Red carpet “look at me” is a turn-off, as well as telecast itself. Has become too political, and this is from someone leaning liberal.Report

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