New Review from Jon Espino of Hollywood Chicago: Oscar Week: HollywoodChicago.com 2022 Oscar Predictions

CHICAGO – Here we go again. Welcome to the annual Oscar Predictions on HollywoodChicago.com, for 2022 (the 94th Academy Awards). The film/entertainment contributors – Patrick McDonald, Spike Walters and Jon Lennon Espino – are joined by guest Michael Glover Smith, the director of the upcoming film “Relative.”

Michael Glover Smith is a locally-based Chicago filmmaker. “Relative” is his fourth feature film (after “Cool Apocalypse,” “Mercury in Retrograde” and “Rendezvous in Chicago”) and will have its Chicago debut at a sold-out screening at the Gene Siskel Film Center on April 5th, 2022, as part of the Midwest Film Festival. The general release is scheduled for the upcoming summer.

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The PREDICTORS! The Oscars are on ABCTV, March 27th, 2022
Photo credit: File Photo

TEN films of 2021 – “Belfast,” “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “Dune,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” “The Power of the Dog” and “West Side Story” – will vie for the Best Picture Award. The HC.com predictors will opine on six categories … BEST Picture, Actor/Actress, Supporting Actor/Actress and Director. As in previous years, the predictions are broken down into thoughts on who WILL WIN, SHOULD WIN and SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED (for one last gasp of WTF?). Separately, Patrick, Spike, Jon and Michael will comment on a WILD CARD guess in four other categories, and the latest odds on the rest of the field – provided by www.BetOnline.ag – will be highlighted to fill out your ballot for Oscar Night. Have a great Oscar weekend!

PREDICTOR GUIDE: Patrick McDonald = (PM), Spike Walters = (SW), Jon Lennon Espino = (JLE) and Michael Glover Smith = (MGS).

BEST PICTURE
NOMINEES: “Belfast” … “CODA” … “Don’t Look Up” … “Drive My Car” … “Dune” … “King Richard” … ”Licorice Pizza” … “Nightmare Alley” … “The Power of the Dog” … “West Side Story”

Will Win: “Power of the Dog” (PM, JLE), “Belfast” (MGS), “CODA” (SW)

Should Win: “West Side Story” (PM), “Licorice Pizza” (SW), “Drive My Car” (MGS), “Power of the Dog” (JLE)

Should Have Been Nominated: “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy” (PM, MGS), “Passing” (JLE), “The French Dispatch” (SW)


The Power of the Dog
Photo credit: Netflix

The old three way split to begin …

MGS: The smart money is on “The Power of the Dog” to take the top prize but I smell an upset. I suspect Jane Campion’s revisionist western is just a little too weird, a little too challenging and a little too, well, good to triumph over something as safe and crowd-pleasing as “Belfast” with this particular group of voters. Remember “Green Book?”

JLE: This is always one of the toughest category, not only because there are so many choices but because more than a few of them are always the deserving few. This year’s contenders are a particularly strong group, with “The Power of the Dog” leading the pack with both its engrossing story and engaging performances. There are always a ton of films that get pushed out of this category for more mainstream choices, but how the Academy passed on “Passing” I will never understand.

PM: Tough tough category, but I think the “Dog” has enough momentum to bark. “Belfast” was nominated just because Kenneth Branagh is well liked, “Nightmare Alley” also doesn’t belong, but the rest are noble choices. If Belly making a run, and the excellent “CODA” is garnering votes, their splitting will allow “Dog” back in da house (I think). This category is the hardest, and I’m glad Ryusuke Hamaguchi was honored with “Drive My Car,” but I preferred his outrageous “Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy.” Whatta year for that visionary.

SW: It’s the little indie film that could, as “CODA” appears to be chugging along to an improbable win at Oscar time. The fact that it’s on Apple stream and not Netflix is also giving it some slight edge. For those on its wavelength, “Licorice Pizza” is an invigorating romp, full of movie star turns. But it just floors me that “The French Dispatch” got no love from the Academy. It as easily the most enjoyable and most exquisitely detailed film I saw all year.

BEST ACTRESS
NOMINEES: Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” … Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter” … Penelope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers” … Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos” … Kristen Stewart, “Spencer”

Will Win: Jessica Chastain (PM, SW, MGS), Kirsten Stewart (JLE)

Should Win: Chastain (PM, JLE, SW), Kristen Stewart (MGS)

Should Have Been Nominated: Alana Haim “Licorice Pizza” (PM), Jennifer Hudson/Alana Haim “Respect”/“Licorice Pizza” (JLE), “Anyone other than Kidman!” (SW), Honor Swinton Byrne “The Souvenir Part Two” (MGS)

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Jessica Chastain in ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’
Photo credit: Searchlight Pictures

It’s Jessica rabid …

JLE: There is so much talent in this group that any of them could win and everyone would be happy. I’m rooting for K-Stew – as is the Academy probably – but Jessica Chastain’s performance as Tammy Faye Bakker holds a special place in my little queer heart. I couldn’t just pick one, but there are two noticeable standouts this year that are missing from the selections, and no, I’m not talking about Lady Gaga. Jennifer Hudson and Alana Haim each were a shining light in their respective films, and they deserved the recognition more than, say, a certain A-list actress whose awkward pantomime performance of a legendary comedian’s life felt so shoe-horned it felt like schtick.

PM:It’s Jessica Chastain all the way, she simply envisioned that familiar character, imbued her with in-sight, and overcame a too-fat story to deliver a stunning illumination. After seeing “Eyes,” there was no other way to go for me, not on my watch. The film debut of Alana Haim in “Licorice Pizza” is unforgettable, except of course in the eyes of the Academy voters.

SW: I think the stars have finally aligned for the perpetual bridesmaid for this Oscar year. Jessica Chastain has given many great performances over the years over the years, and she manages to breathe real life into a figure that could have easily stumbled into parody. As for the rest, the Academy voters were really asleep at the switch, choosing lazy familiarity. As for who should have been nominated, it could literally be anyone, anyone other that Nicole Kidman who never should be allowed anywhere near the ceremony for her tone deaf and stupefyingly-bad-interpretation of comic icon Lucille Ball.

MGS: In a battle of performances by fiercely talented actresses portraying recently deceased gay icons, Jessica Chastain, in her third nomination, will defeat Kristen Stewart, in her first. Perhaps Stewart should have worn a prosthetic schnozz.

BEST ACTOR
NOMINEES: 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”

Will Win: Will Smith (PM, MGS, SW), Benedict Cumberbatch (JLE)

Should Win: Benedict Cumberbatch (PM, MGS), Denzel Washington (SW, JLE)

Should Have Been Nominated: Adam Driver “House of Gucci”/“The Last Duel” (SW), Peter Dinklage “Cyrano” (PM), Clint Eastwood “Cry Macho” (MGS), Nicolas Cage “Pig” (JLE)

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Will Smith in ’King Richard’
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

The Fresh Prince shall be crowned (unless JLE gets his way) …

PM: Although I thought Benedict gave the strongest performance among the nominees, Will Smith was a noble second for finally creating a fully drawn character that has nuance and subtlety … so no worries if he takes home the gold, for he certainly has made enough gold for the industry. Was “Cyrano” eligible this season? You wouldn’t know it by Oscar. Peter Dinklage gave an all-out, high-level adventurous and romantic performance. Also note to MGS, get over Clint already. Hahahaha

SW: The Academy is know to atone for past mistakes with “make-up” awards, which are about an actor’s career rather than any particular role … and it appears to be Will Smith’s year. Not that his performance as Richard Williams isn’t dynamic, but it does serve as a reminder of better performances in past where he should have won instead. Denzel Washington continues to be at the top of his game and shows it in his stark Shakespearian interpretation. As for the Should Win, Adam Driver continues to be a dynamic actor and more than held his own in two Ridley Scott-directed films in 2021 … “House of Gucci” and especially “The Last Duel.”

MGS: This is the closest thing to a sure thing in all of the major categories. In addition to sweeping the current awards season, Will Smith has also simply done too much for Hollywood — going all the way back to the late 20th century — in order to be denied here.

JLE: Fuck what Sam Elliott thinks of “The Power of the Dog” because if it sweeps the Oscars the way I think it is going to, then that win is definitely deserved, with Benedict Cumberbatch likely taking this award. Although it would be great if a person of color won in this category, Denzel probably has a better chance at a BAFTA for his straight-forward approach to Shakespeare. We need to send out the truffle pigs to see if they can find out why Nic Cage wasn’t nominated for the powerful “Pig.”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
NOMINEES: Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter” … Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story” … Judi Dench, “Belfast” … Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog” … Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard”

Will Win: Ariana Dubose (PM, SW, MGS), Aunjanue Ellis (JLE)

Should Win: Dubose (PM, SW, JLE), Kirsten Dunst (MGS)

Should Have Been Nominated: Abigail Breslin “Stillwater” (PM), Rita Moreno “West Side Story,” Ruth Negga “Passing,” Ariana Grande “Don’t Look Up” (JLE), Park Yoo-Rim “Drive My Car” (MGS), Ruth Negga “Passing” (SW)

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Ariana DeBose in ‘West Side Story’
Photo credit: 20th Century Studios

She likes to win in Amerrriiica …

SW: Sometimes an actor or actress grabs the momentum and never lets it go … and that is what has happened to Ariana DeBose of “West Side Story.” She is the musical’s strongest shot for winning a trophy at the ceremony. While she was always a long shot, it would have been nice to see Ruth Negga find a spot in the final five for her subtly nuanced work in “Passing.”

MGS: Aside from the fact that Kirsten Dunst was terrific in a tricky and vulnerable role, she will always have my unwavering support because she looks uncannily like my beautiful wife.

JLE: This might be the category where “The Power of the Dog” is all bark and no bite since Dunst is up against some tough competition. My heart wants Ariana DeBose to win for the iconic role of Anita, but my head says that Aunjanue Ellis is more deserving for the sheer fact that “King Richard” isn’t a remake. When it comes to who was snubbed in this category, I must go with what my body tells me. My heart: Rita Morena as Valentina in “West Side Story” simply because. My heart: Ruth Negga for the complex “Passing”. My funny bone: Ariana Grande as a hilarious caricature of herself in “Don’t Look Up.”

PM: When is the last time a triple threat was nominated? I’m too lazy to look it up. Ariana DeBose sings, dances like there is no other dancer and is a grittier interpreter of Anita in “West Side Story.” It will amazing when the same character wins the same award for the same musical fricking 60 years later, and I’m sure Rita Moreno will be there to cheer her on. Again, why no love for “Stillwater” in the Awards Season? The Matt Damon-led low key drama had a European feel to it, and Abigail Breslin was essential in her support of the narrative.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
NOMINEES: Ciaran 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”

Will Win: Troy Kotsur (PM, MGS, SW), Kodi Smit-McPhee (JLE)

Should Win: Kodi Smit-McPhee (PM, JLE), Jesse Plemons (MGS), Kotsur (SW)

Should Have Been Nominated: Jeffrey Wright “The French Dispatch” (PM, SW), Simon Helberg “Annette” (MGS), Jamie Dornan “Belfast” (JLE)

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Troy Kotsur in ‘CODA’
Photo credit: Apple TV+

Congrats to Troy for making history …

MGS: Another tragic case of two actors from the same film (Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee) “splitting” the proverbial vote.

JLE: If we go strictly by the numbers, “The Power of the Dog” has a great chance of winning this category, likely with Kodi Smit-McPhee as its champion. It would have been a real toss up if Jamie Dornan also received a nomination for this category for his fantastic performance in “Belfast,” but at least the film still got some love in this category thanks to Ciarán Hinds’ nom.

PM: This favorite built momentum over the Awards Season, and it is a good way to honor “CODA” while acknowledging its essence. Troy Kotsur will win this category by having created the emotion of a deaf father to his hearing daughter beyond his (real-life) handicap. However, I thought Kodi Smit-McPhee knocked it out of park in “Dog,” having to shade his character in seemingly a hundred different directions, with a character of personal victory in the end. And I simply loved Jeffrey Wright as a James Baldwin-inspired writer in “The French Dispatch.” He did a variation of Baldwin that was different yet similar, a fine line to walk.

SW: Oscar loves to make history, and Troy Kotsur appears poised to do so on Oscar night … he’ll be the first deaf actor to take home gold, and deservedly so. And in this stacked category, I wish there had been some room for Jeffrey Wright. While admittedly “The French Dispatch” is an ensemble piece, Wright had the biggest and juiciest role, purring dialogue that proved to be a four course meal for the ears and soul.

BEST DIRECTOR
NOMINEES: Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast” …Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car” … Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza” … Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog” … Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story”

Will Win: Jane Campion (PM, SW, JLE, MGS)

Should Win: Steven Spielberg (PM, SW), Campion/Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (JLE), Campion (MGS)

Should Have Been Nominated: Rebecca Hall “Passing” (JLE), Wes Anderson “The French Dispatch” (SW), Denis Villeneuve “Dune” (PM), Alma Har’el “Shadow Kingdom: The Early Songs of Bob Dylan” (MGS, proving he is nothing but consistent)


Director Jane Campion On Set for ‘The Power of the Dog’
Photo credit: Universal Pictures

Campion is the Champion as she gets the only predictor clean sweep …

JLE: Like most Oscar categories, this one is stacked with the usual suspects like Spielberg, Branagh and P.T. Anderson. Yes, they make good films … but not often enough does this category actually award the director that truly takes the most risks. This year we have a woman from New Zealand who does an amazing job of deconstructing the cowboy archetype and examines the idea of what makes a man, and a Japanese man with a three-hour slow burn that tackles loss, grief, and a movie within a movie. Jane Campion and Ryûsuke Hamaguchi are the front runners, as they should be, but I can’t help but still feel that Rebecca Hall earned a spot among them with her strong and especially timely film, “Passing”.

PM: Jane Campion gets the rare double … a deserving Oscar for Best Director and an acknowledgement of her brilliant and eclectic career. Get this … Campion’s deconstruction of Wild West mythos was so effective that pretend cowboy Sam Elliott exposed his homophobia. Steven Spielberg, who has run hot and cold with me throughout his career, is building steam towards the latter part of his run and had the audacity to remake a film from a 1961 Best Picture musical that no one thought was “remake necessary,” and inject it with grit, atmosphere, fresh choreography and just sheer cinema. I literally was in tears-in-the-eyes awe of his accomplishment. Live long and prosper, SS. Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” adaptation, through to be “un-filmable” – David Lynch exception – was brought to glorious and tell-me-a-tale life.

SW: The shots are pretty, but for me Jane Campion’s “Dog” has no soul … however Campion is poised to win her first Best Director Oscar. For my money, Steven Spielberg delivered an unexpectedly spellbinding interpretation of “West Side Story.” And I think Wes Anderson is one of the most interesting and enjoyable directors working today, and “The French Dispatch” is one of his best.

MGS: Jane Campion will make history on March 27th by becoming just the third woman to take home the Best Director Oscar. Female filmmakers will soon have more Oscars than actors who’ve played the Joker. Yay!

Go to PAGE TWO for the Predictor Crew’s WILD CARDS … categories near and dear for them to ponder, PLUS the odds for the rest of the categories. It’s Oscar week!

WILD CARD

The guest shall go first …

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM (Michael Glover Smith)
NOMINEES: Japan, “Drive My Car” … Denmark, “Flee” … Italy, “The Hand of God” … Bhutan, “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” … Norway/France/Denmark/Sweden, “The Worst Person in the World”

Will Win: “The Worst Person in the World”
Should Win: “Drive My Car”


The Worst Person in the World
Photo credit: Neon

I still haven’t caught up with “The Worst Person in the World” but a critic whom I respect referred to it as “aggressively middlebrow,” which is all the evidence I need that it will be the surprise winner over odds-makers’ favorite “Drive My Car.” (MGS)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE (Spike Walters)
NOMINEES: “Encanto”… “Flee” … “Luca” … “The Mitchells vs. The Machine” … “Raya and the Last Dragon”

Will Win: “Encanto”
Should Win: “Encanto”

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Encanto
Photo credit: Walt Disney Studios

It’s hard to argue with the global sensation that is “Encanto.” After a slow start, it’s a film that had the whole world singing. You’ll find no grumbling from me, even if “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is destined to be the new “Let It Be”-style ear worm that parents will have to endure. However, I would have liked to see some space made in the category for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s other toe-tapping animated musical, “Vivo.” (SW)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG (Jon Lennon Espino)
NOMINEES: “King Richard” Be Alive … “Encanto” Dos Oruguitas … “Belfast” Down to Joy … “No Time to Die” No Time to Die … “Four Good Days” Somehow You Do

Will Win: “Encanto” with “Dos Oruguitas”
Should Win: “Encanto”

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Dos Oruguitas’ is a Song in ‘Encanto’
Photo credit: Walt Disney Studios

There is no doubt that this is a category just for “Encanto,” and its tune “Dos Oruguitas” is the perfect song to metamorphose Lin-Manuel Miranda into an EGOT-er. “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” should have been nominated, but at least it’s getting performed because this song highlights the visual and rhythmic allure that made “Encanto” a viral sensation. A film that I loved, but got no love this Awards Season is the brutal and beautiful black-led “The Harder They Fall,” whose soundtrack is fire, with my favorite song being “Guns Go Bang” by Kid Cudi and Jay-Z. (JE)

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILM (Patrick McDonald)
NOMINEES: “Audible” … “Lead Me Home” … “The Queen of Basketball” … “Three Songs for Benazir”… “When We Were Bullies”

Will Win: “The Queen of Basketball”
Should Win: “When We Were Bullies”

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’The Queen of Basketball,’ Directed by Ben Proudfoot
Photo credit: Breakwater Studios

This is the first year I’ve indulged in this particular Short Film category (always Live Action and Animation, never Documentary) and while “The Queen of Basketball” is practically a Nike shoe-in … sport celebrities Steph Curry and Shaq O’Neal (Executive Producer) are both behind it … “When We Were Bullies” was a simple-yet-complex and poignant look at a bullying incident on the playground back in the 1960s that may or may not have affected the victim for life – that conundrum is the clear strength of this short directed by Jay Rosenblatt. The graphic elements of “Bullies,” mostly using old school pictures, was also a surprising artistic element.

Regardless of whatever happens in any of these categories … Happy Oscar! (PM)

ODDS FOR THE REST

To complete the rest of the categories, here are the latest odds for each …

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Licorice Pizza 1/1
Belfast 12/1
Don’t Look Up 4/1
King Richard 25/1
The Worst Person in the World 25/1

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
CODA 4/7
The Power of the Dog 3/2
The Lost Daughter 172
Drive My Car 14/1
Dune 20/1

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Dune 1/10
The Power of the Dog 4/1
The Tragedy of Macbeth 12/1
West Side Story 25/1
Nightmare Alley 33/1

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Summer of Soul 1/4
Flee 12/5
Attica 12/1
Ascension 20/1
Writing with Fire 25/1

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
The Long Goodbye 10/3
Ala Kachuu: Take and Run 4/1
The Dress 4/1
Please Hold 9/2
On My Mind 9/2

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Robin Robin 16/5
The Windshield Wiper 4/1
Bestia 4/1
Boxballet 9/2
Affairs of the Art 9/2

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Dune 1/5
The Power of the Dog 3/1
Encanto 12/1
Don’t Look Up 16/1
Parallel Mothers 25/1

BEST FILM EDITING
Dune 5/6
King Richard 9/5
The Power of the Dog 7/2
Tick . Tick .. Boom 10/1
Don’t Look Up 18/1

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Dune 2/3
Spider-Man: No Way Home 5/2
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings 9/2
Free Guy 11/2
No Time to Die 25/1

BEST SOUND
Dune 1/12
West Side Story 11/2
No Time to Die 12/1
The Power of The Dog 16/1
Belfast 22/1  

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Cruella 1/6
Dune 3/1
West Side Story 12/1
Nightmare Alley 25/1
Cyrano 33/1

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Dune 2/7
Nightmare Alley 8/5
West Side Story 11/5
The Power of the Dog 20/1
The Tragedy of Macbeth 22/1

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIR STYLING
The Eyes of Tammy Faye 4/13
Cruella 5/1
Dune 11/2
Coming 2 America
15/1 
House of Gucci 18/1

The 94th Academy Awards will take place on March 27th, 2022, at Hollywood’s Dolby Theater, and will be broadcast on ABCTV beginning at 7pm ET/6pm CT. Thanks always to Jimmy Shapiro for the odds that were determined by click here. Please, no wagering.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald By PATRICK McDONALD
Editor and Film Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2022 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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