New from Kevin Wozniak on Kevflix: 2022 Oscars Best Picture Nominees Ranked

The Oscars are here! Following a bizarre and chaotic 2020 Oscar season, the 2021 one felt more of the usual. It was an exhausting year and I cannot wait for the 2021 movie year to be officially over, but there were a lot of good movies in 2021, so it wasn’t all bad.

Overall, the 2022 Oscar Best Picture nominees are very good. Though only two of the nominees made my personal top ten movies of the year, seven of them landed in my top twenty-five, which I think is pretty good. Here is my ranking of the 2022 Oscars Best Picture nominees.

1. Licorice Pizza

Cooper Hoffman as Gary Valentine and Alana Haim as Alana Kane in LICORICE PIZZA
LICORICE PIZZA (MGM)

Licorice Pizza was my favorite movie of 2021 and despite slightly underperforming in terms of nominations (it only received three total nominations), I am still very happy that it earned a Best Picture nomination. Anderson takes us to the San Fernando Valley in the 1970s, where 25-year-old Alana (a revelatory Alana Haim) befriends 15-year-old Gary Valentine (Cooper Hoffman) and they wander through life and the California sun. There is almost no plot to the film, but Anderson masterfully immerses us in the story because of the gorgeous sets and costumes, the terrific ensemble, and establishing an atmosphere and world you never want to leave. The funny, chill vibe of the film is a different approach for the usually intense Anderson, but it is one of the best movies of his career.

Licorice Pizza is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

2. The Power of the Dog

Benedict Cumberbatch as Phil Burbank in THE POWER OF THE DOG
THE POWER OF THE DOG (Netflix)

Jane Campion is all but locked up to win Best Director as this year’s Oscars for her stunning work behind The Power of the Dog. Benedict Cumberbatch earned an Oscar nomination for his performance as Phil Burbank, a menacing and charismatic rancher who brings fear and awe to those who encounter him, sees his world start to change after his brother (Oscar-nominee Jesse Plemmons) brings home a new wife (Oscar-nominee Kirsten Dunst) and her son (Oscar-nominee Kodi Smit-McPhee). The four main actors all earned Oscar nominations and they all deserved it. But this is the Campion show. This is a movie rich in detail and the way Campion slowly reveals character motives makes this movie incredibly rewatchable. I can’t wait for Campion to walk on stage on Oscar night.

The Power of the Dog is available on Netflix.

3. West Side Story

The Jets and the Sharks battle it out on the dance floor in WEST SIDE STORY
WEST SIDE STORY (20th Century)

Steven Spielberg has been nominated for Best Director at the Oscars at least once in the last six decades. You read that right. SIX DECADES! With all his awards and accolades, you wonder how he could possibly impress us anymore.

Well, he did just that with West Side Story. Not only did Spielberg make the best musical of 2022, a year that saw a surplus in musicals, but he made one of the greatest remakes of all time in remaking one of the most beloved and celebrated Hollywood movies ever made. He stayed close to the material, yet made it feel different and his own. The film is full of life, passion, colors, and mastery. West Side Story was one of the most exciting movies of 2021 and one of Spielberg’s most impressive achievements.

West Side Story is available on HBO Max and Disney+.

4. Nightmare Alley

Cate Blanchett as Dr. Lilith Ritter and Bradley Cooper as Stanton Carlisle in NIGHTMARE ALLEY
NIGHTMARE ALLEY (Searchlight Pictures)

Nightmare Alley was a bit of a surprise Best Picture nominee on nomination morning, but you’ll get no complaint from me. Guillermo del Toro’s follow-up to his Best Picture-winning The Shape of Water follows a conman (Bradley Cooper, should have earned a Best Actor nomination) who works at a traveling circus for a while, only to get greedy and go on his own where things get complicated. Rightfully earning three other nominations for Production Design, Cinematography, and Costume Design is a chilling and gorgeous noir with the best final shot of 2021.

Nightmare Alley is available on HBO Max and Hulu.

5. Drive My Car

DRIVE MY CAR (Janus Films)

One of the great surprises on nomination morning was seeing Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car earn nominations in Best Picture and Best Director. Hamaguchi adapted the film from a short story of the same name that looks at a stage actor and director (Hidetoshi Nishijima) who learns to cope with the sudden passing of his wife as he directs his next play. This is a hypnotic three-hour-long meditation about life, grief, and moving on with Nishijima giving one of the best performances of the year. Drive My Car is a challenging, thought-provoking watch, but one you won’t forget.

Drive My Car is available on HBO Max.

6. King Richard

Will Smith in KING RICHARD
KING RICHARD (Warner Bros.)

I recently rewatched King Richard and the movie played better the second time around. This is the inspiring true story of Richard Williams (sure-fire Best Actor winner Will Smith) and his raising of his daughters, tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams. Smith gives an excellent performance as the passionate but flawed Richard and, much like Richard in the movie, has great supporting performances around him from Jon Bernthal, Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams, and Oscar-nominee Aunjanue Ellis as Richard’s wife Brandy. It perfectly mixes humor and drama with thrilling sports action and tons of heart and emotion. King Richard is a real winner.

King Richard is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

7. CODA

Emilia Jones in CODA
CODA (Apple)

The little-movie-that-could this Oscar season has now become one of the favorites to win Best Picture. Sian Heder’s CODA is a wonderful family drama centering around Ruby (Emilia Jones) a hearing girl living with her entirely deaf family. Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin and Best Supporting Actor frontrunner Troy Kotsur play Ruby’s parents. This is a really sweet, really funny movie about the family bond and finding your voice and one that will really pull at the heartstrings. If it does end up pulling off the Best Picture win, it will be a triumphant win for independent cinema and the CODA team.

CODA is available on Apple TV+.

8. Belfast

Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judie Dench, Jude Hill, and Lewis McAskie in BELFAST
BELFAST (Universal Pictures)

Belfast is writer/director Kenneth Branagh’s love note to growing up in Ireland. Branagh, known for his Shakespeare adaptations and directing the first Thor film for Marvel, has never made a movie this personal before. The film follows a young boy (Jude Hill) and his family as they live through a tumultuous time in 1960s Belfast. This is a lovely movie about the importance of family and is filled with a terrific cast. It isn’t a perfect movie, but you can’t help but be smitten by Belfast’s charm and earnestness.

Belfast is available to rent on Amazon Prime.

9. Dune

Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in DUNE
DUNE (Warner Bros.)

Probably my most controversial pick here, but I was not the biggest fan of Dune. On a technical level, this movie is a masterpiece. The visual effects, score, costumes, everything on screen is remarkable and well done and will definitely snag a few awards come Oscar night. Where the movie fails me is on an emotional and story level. The plot is a bit confusing at times, and the characters aren’t developed very well, which makes it very hard to care about their fates in the movie. I know this is only part of the story, but a film should be able to stand on its own and not have to rely on the other films for it to make sense or make you care about its characters.

Still, this is a jaw-dropping visual triumph.

Dune is available on HBO Max.

10. Don’t Look Up

Leonardo DiCaprio in DON'T LOOK UP
DON’T LOOK UP (Netflix)

My least favorite Best Picture nominee is another Adam McKay misfire. Don’t Look Up features the flashiest and biggest ensemble of the group, with the likes of past Oscar-nominees Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Mark Rylance, Jonah Hill, and Timothée Chalamet, but they are all mostly wasted because of McKay’s weak direction and horribly chaotic editing (which egregiously is nominated for an Oscar). There are a few funny moments and some solid performances, but Don’t Look Up beats us over the head with its message and overlong runtime. This is far and away the weakest of the 2022 Best Picture nominees.

Don’t Look Up is available on Netflix.

 

 

 

 

 

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