A preview of the 94th Academy Awards | Arts

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On March 27, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the winners of the 2022 Oscars. Favorite, Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” leads the fray with 12 nominations, followed closely by 10 nominations for ” Dune” by Denis Villenueve, which is expected to dominate the design categories.

Best Picture

2022 could be the year Netflix finally snags the Best Picture category for “The Power of the Dog,” a strong contender since its successful debut at the Venice Film Festival. Jane Campion’s seemingly unassuming Western story is a refreshing take on the genre that cuts through the emotions of its protagonists with surgical precision. The methodical buildup of tension as the film explores the troubled psyches exposed by the conflict between Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his brother’s (Jesse Plemons) new family makes for a surprisingly powerful psychological drama, reminiscent on some level of the contemplative , at a slow pace. “Nomadic land”.

The film, however, is by no means a shoe. If Campion were to follow in Chloe Zhao’s footsteps, “The Power of the Dog” would first have to beat a strong contender in Kenneth Branagh’s “Belfast.” Both titles have already garnered numerous nominations, with recognition from the BAFTAs and Critics’ Choice Awards. ‘Belfast’ may have had the upper hand at the Toronto International Film Festival by winning the People’s Choice Award, but it was ultimately ‘The Power of the Dog’ that won at the Golden Globes with a total of three awards , including Best Drama. against the single from “Belfast” for Best Screenplay. More importantly, Branagh’s picture was snubbed in the Best Editing category, a nomination that has always been strongly correlated with the Best Picture award.

Best Director

Only two women won in the Best Director category: Katheryn Bigelow in 2010 for “The Hurt Locker” and Chloé Zhao in 2021 for “Nomadland”. Jane Campion had the chance to join the exclusive group in 1993, when she was nominated for “The Piano”, but she ultimately lost out to Steven Spielberg. This year’s rematch between Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”) and Steven Spielberg (“West Side Story”) is likely to go the other way – over the past 20 years there has been no Not once has anyone not nominated for a BAFTA won the Oscar for Best Director, and Spielberg has been snubbed by the British Academy. Indeed, it might be worth looking to Britain for Campion’s main competitor: Kenneth Branagh could once again give the New Zealand director a hard time, but the prize seems to be lost for Campion, especially in light of his Golden Globe.

Best actor

Will Smith has already generated Oscar buzz after “King Richard” premiered in September 2021 at the Telluride Film Festival. “Will Smith is going to win this Oscar,” said Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair. Smith seems to be, quite literally, the safe bet, with gaming sites such as Oddschecker showing him as having the highest odds. And the performance amply justifies it. Smith skillfully portrays the vulnerabilities and wounds of Richard Williams, turning what might be a mundane achievement into a deeply touching and gripping family drama.

If third time is the charm, Smith could finally get the best actor award after his nominations in 2002 for “Ali” and 2007 for “The Pursuit of Happyness.” Nevertheless, Campion’s image should not be overlooked. Benedict Cumberbatch, the only Oscar nominee other than Smith recognized by BAFTA, certainly remains a contender with his role as hyper-masculine cattle rancher Phil Burbank.

Best Actress

When Kristen Stewart, hailed as “the crowned queen of awards season,” appeared on the cover of Entertainment Weekly in October, her victory seemed inescapable, and for good reason: Stewart’s smooth transitions between bouts of madness and maternal love scenes in “Spencer” were breathtaking. But Nicole Kidman’s surprise Golden Globe win over Stewart for her role as Lucille Ball in ‘Being the Ricardos’ means she could have a shot at adding another Oscar to her long list of accolades.

Best Supporting Actor

With nominations for two BAFTAs (Rising Star in addition to Best Actor in a Supporting Role), SAG and Critics’ Choice awards as well as a Golden Globe win, Kodi Smit-McPhee of “The Power of the Dog” looks good. up for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. There is, however, a potential obstacle in his path: age. If the 25-year-old wins, he will be the second-youngest winner in the category (Tony Hutton, at 20, was the youngest to receive the ‘Ordinary People’ award in 1980). If he doesn’t, “Coda”‘s Tony Kotsur has a shot at becoming the first deaf man to win an acting award.

Best Supporting Actress

Despite formidable competition in the form of Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”) and Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”), “West Side Story’s” Ariana DeBose looks favored to win, especially after defeating both. at the Golden Globes. And if she adds a Golden Globe Oscar for her role as Anita to her list of accolades, she’ll go down in history, becoming just the fourth Latina to win an Oscar in an acting category. Coincidentally, the first to do so was Rita Moreno, who 60 years earlier played the same role in the 1961 version of “West Side Story.”

Best Original Screenplay

The story of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” is brilliant, epitomizing the comedy-drama genre by blending romance, humorous misadventures and business endeavors with heartbreak and family struggles. With its slew of nominations, it’s a strong contender in the category. But he will have to fight tooth and nail against Branagh’s Golden Globe-winning ‘Belfast’, whose evocative story rich in sharp juxtapositions brilliantly portrays the experience of Ireland’s troubles through the eyes of a child.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Academy seems to love surprising audiences with its Best Adapted Screenplay award, and the category has seen its fair share of underdogs. Last year, the statue went to the otherwise snubbed “promising young woman”. The victory of “JoJo Rabbit” in 2019 was considered a huge upset. And so, as ‘The Power of the Dog’s’ Jane Campion is favored to win her second Oscar in the category, Japan’s ‘Drive My Car’, a deeply touching dive into grief and guilt, just might snatch the prize. .

—Writer Zachary J. Lech can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @zacharylech.

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