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Close-Up with Camenker Volume XXX, Final Oscar Predictions 2022

This Week for “Close-Up with Camenker,” Final Oscar Predictions

(March 22, 2022)

Photo credit: LA Times

Do you ever have a plan that goes slightly sour, even if only by accident? Count me as one of those folks! This past weekend, I had a busy slate of activities on hand, including a plan to get to Red River to see the Norwegian Oscar-nominated film THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD for its final show. I was planning to go Sunday evening as it worked best for me. Except I had in my head that it was a 7:30 showing. You can imagine my surprise when I went to pull up my phone to double check the time at 7:05 before leaving my house, only to see it was a 7:00 showing.

I made the most of the situation and watched THE WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD, now gone from Red River, on Amazon where it is available to rent. As it was one of the few Oscar films I had left to see, I was excited for it and it did not disappoint! While I could go into detail about my thoughts on the film, I will instead dive into some insights on who I think will win (and who should) at this year’s Oscars.

I will highlight the six major categories of picture, director, and the four acting trophies, as well as a quick look at the other races. As I said, I’ve seen most of the films nominated across the board this year and hope to catch up on my final few between now and Sunday evening at 8 when the awards start!

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: The Power of the Dog

Should Win: Belfast

Most Robbed: Mass

Shouldn’t Be Here: Dune

Having seen all 10 nominees and tracked awards season precursors, I feel this is a bit of a close call. We’ve seen that more frequently in the last several years, but this may be a year where it really could go either way between THE POWER OF THE DOG or CODA, the two frontrunners. I *much* prefer CODA, but feel that the former film has a lot going for it in the eyes of the Academy, including the fact that Netflix has yet to take home a Best Picture trophy despite contentious battles the last few years. As heartwarming as CODA was, I found BELFAST even more heartwarming, a truly intergenerational piece that so many could identify with and beautifully made from start to finish. CODA has a lot of the same going for it, but is a “simpler” film, something the Academy may not like. Unfortunately, this is a year where half of the 10 nominees, in my opinion, are not nearly as good as a host of other films that could have been included. MASS was my favorite film of the year. It is a fantastic and intimate portrayal of grief with an all-star ensemble that has, to my surprise, been overlooked all season.

Best Director nominees: Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog), Ryúsuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car), Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)

Will Win: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Should Win: Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Most Robbed: Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter

Shouldn’t Be Here: Ryúsuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

As contentious as Best Picture is, this race is the sure guarantee of the night. Jane Campion has it in the bag and will undoubtedly bring a lot of pride to female filmmakers for her outstanding work on a film that was ultimately, well… meh. My vote would be for Spielberg, which I never thought I’d say when I first heard about the WEST SIDE STORY remake. Nearly as good as its original, he was just the man to remount it and his execution is phenomenal. Fewer films made me cheer more for craftsmanship than THE LOST DAUGHTER, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut. Surely the Academy had room for her here even without a Picture nom! The lack of CODA director Sian Heder is another reason I see her film losing the big trophy, though films have won without a director nod before!

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, King Richard

Should Win: Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick… Boom!

Most Robbed: Jude Hill, Belfast

Shouldn’t Be Here: Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

As usual, there are some huge talents nominated here and plenty of huge talents left out of the race. Young Jude Hill, whose powerhouse performance in BELFAST made the picture shine even brighter, belongs amongst the revered and legendary without a doubt. While this is one of the other most predictable races of the night and belongs to Will Smith, my vote is for Andrew Garfield. Smith is terrific as Richard Williams, a character who you kind of love to hate and hate to love, but Garfield’s transformation as Jonathan Larson is powerful and touching, versatile beyond belief. Benedict Cumberbatch is becoming as known for his overacting as he is for his variation in accents, at least in my eyes. He and Bardem are the weakest links here and while neither will win, this is still a pretty stacked crew…

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: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Should Win: Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter

Most Robbed: Lady Gaga, House of Gucci

Shouldn’t Be Here: Kristen Stewart, Spencer

A bit of a wild card race as it was last year. Jessica Chastain has surprised recently for her marvelous lead performance in a decent film, though I’m not as convinced as some that she’s a lock. Lady Gaga didn’t even make it in despite the fact that she rocked HOUSE OF GUCCI. Kristen Stewart seemed to be the frontrunner before the season started. Colman has my vote despite the fact that this is a super strong category. Stewart has lost a lot of momentum and the fact she got in is the bigger deal. Not enough have seen Cruz’s great performance in the brilliant PARALLEL MOTHERS. Chastain and Kidman are both in films that have received mixed reviews and despite the Academy’s love for awarding portrayals of real people, I ultimately see them canceling each other out. That leaves Colman whose film has been quite loved but underperforming all season. What better way to give it some love than to shower her again? It’ll sure bring a damn good second Oscar speech! My money’s on her… and my fingers are crossed!

Best Supporting Actor nominees: 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)

Will Win: Troy Kotsur, CODA

Should Win: Troy Kotsur, CODA

Most Robbed: Mike Faist, West Side Story

Shouldn’t Be Here: Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog

This is often a favorite category of mine and it’s been disappointing the past few years as they’ve awarded it to people who played co-leads. The biggest rob this year was Mike Faist, whose edgy portrayal of Riff in WEST SIDE STORY steals the show. Hinds is heartwarming as can be though he should be competing alongside BELFAST co-star Jamie Dornan, Simmons is fine but the writing of his character is flawed, and THE POWER OF THE DOG co-stars did nothing to wow me, though Smit-McPhee has some chops and we’ll see more of him. Plemons got in out of sympathy since his three other co-stars were locks in their categories. The five chosen are not who I’d pick with the exception of Hinds and Kotsur, but it’s refreshing to see that the Oscars are getting it right in two ways this year with frontrunner Troy Kotsur because one, he is not a co-lead and two, he is the most deserving of the bunch. Early tea leaves suggested Smit-McPhee would dominate, so to see Kotsur triumph is wonderful for so, so many reasons. Go, Troy!

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 DeBose, West Side Story

Should Win: Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Most Robbed: Rita Moreno, West Side Story

Shouldn’t Be Here: Judi Dench, Belfast

Believe me when I say that I will be thrilled for Ariana DeBose, who is most definitely going to win. Not only will she be the first openly queer performer to win an acting Oscar, but she is superb as Anita. My only beef with her winning is that I don’t see her performance as *the* best supporting actress in the film. Instead, that belongs to Rita Moreno, who originated Anita in 1961 and delights as Valentina. DeBose is a supporting character, but almost anchors the film as a lead would. Moreno captures what a supporting performer should in every sense of the word and belongs alongside these fine ladies. While Dench is great in BELFAST, it is not a standout compared to the other adults in that film. The lady who best captures what makes a supporting role so special of the five here is Aunjanue Ellis. To star alongside Will Smith yet to still chew at the scenery is a huge feat in and of itself. She’s got my vote, though I fully realize it belongs to Ariana DeBose, whose praises I will sing on Oscar night and beyond.

My predicted winners in the other categories are…

Best Adapted Screenplay: CODA

Best Original Screenplay: Belfast

Best Animated Feature: Encanto

Best International Film: Drive My Car

Best Documentary Feature: Summer of Soul

Best Cinematography: The Power of the Dog

Best Costume Design: Cruella

Best Film Editing: Dune

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Best Original Score: The Power of the Dog

Best Original Song: “Be Alive” from King Richard

Best Production Design: Dune

Best Sound: Dune

Best Visual Effects: Dune

Best Animated Short: The Windshield Wiper

Best Documentary Short: Audible

Best Live Action Short: The Long Goodbye

Stay tuned for Volume XXXI of “Close-Up with Camenker,” which will return on Wednesday, April 6. I will review one of the new releases at RRT, as well as recap on Oscar night!

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