Reacting to the 2022 Oscar Nominations


By: Hopster
February 08, 2022

the power of the dog The Power of the Dog [2021]

This morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their nominations for this year's Academy Awards ceremony, which is scheduled for March 27th, 2022. As I was opening up Twitter, rubbing the sleep crust from my heavy eyes, and taking my first sips of coffee for the day, I was preparing my body for the roller coaster ride of highs and lows that comes with the release of Oscar nominations. Despite my annual dismay about the institutional shortcomings of the Academy (underrepresentation for minority filmmakers and productions, lack of voter diversity, organizational stagnancy in responding to evolutions in the film industry, etc.), I'm inexplicably coming back with the hopes that things have improved -- that things might be different this year. I'm not supposing that this years' slate of nominees is without its flaws, but hopefully the lineup (for the most part) will signal a credible step forward in the promotion-for and production-of broader representation and the celebration of modern cinema. Kind of like what @Isaac P. Ale was praising the BAFTAs for just last week! For now, I'm going to recap and analyze 20 of the categories (discluding Best Animated Short, Best Documentary Short, and Best Live-Action Short -- I haven't seen ANY of these yet but I eagerly await the opportunity to do so) and see how things played out. There are a few movies I still haven't seen, so forgive my limitations. We have plenty of time to dig into everything at a more granular level in the coming weeks as we've had time to digest this field of nominees, so I'm going to keep things brief and share my knee-jerk reactions. Hopefully there'll be more "woo!"s than "boo!"s after we've scanned the list...

Isaac P. Ale: Just popping in here to throw in my half-brained 2-cents every now and then. I shall henceforth refer to these little moments as "IPA Bitterness Check" because I find it really stinking cute and fun. Whimsical some might say.


belfast Belfast [2021]

Nominees for 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: Caitríona Balfe (Belfast); Ruth Negga (Passing); Ann Dowd (Mass); Kathryn Hunter (The Tragedy of Macbeth)

This is a complicated category to figure out right off the top. Ariana DeBose was an with-a-doubt no-brainer and seeing Aunjanue Ellis (who I previously praised) and Jessie Buckley (who is great in everything) get nods is a great start! After a single viewing, I'm still not completely won over by Dunst's performance in The Power of the Dog, but her absence here would've also been suspicious. I'm excited to give it a second viewing and see how I feel, so for now I think her inclusion here is correct. As for the Judi Dench nomination... if that spot was going to someone from Belfast, I'd rather have seen Caitríona Balfe get some shine. Balfe's restrained performance completely grounded the film, and I walked away thinking more about her time on screen than Dench's -- but maybe that's just my read on it. If I'm really being picky, Ruth Negga scene-stealing presence in Passing, Anna Dowd's heartbreakingly real turn in Mass, and Kathryn Hunter's haunting work (in The Tragedy of Macbeth) were a few performances I might've preferred to see recognized instead.

IPA Bitterness Check: The omission of Balfe is mind-boggling but some whispers in the film Twitter-sphere mention the possibility of the Academy moving her from "Supporting" to "Lead". Which is pretty irritating, because she absolutely should be lauded for her work in Belfast.

  • 8/10 (Pretty Bitter)

Nominees for Costume Design

  • Cruella
  • Cyrano
  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • West Side Story

Snubs: House of Gucci; Spencer; Licorice Pizza

How the hell did House of Gucci not get nominated for this? Wasn't that half the point of making the movie to begin with? While I'm happy for Nightmare Alley grabbing a spot here, I'm mildly shocked that Gucci and Spencer (with its committed reenactment of Princess Diana's wardrobe) were shut out of this category. By the way, I'm expecting this to be the beginning of many nominations between Dune and West Side Story in the technical categories...

dune Dune [2021]

Nominees for Sound

  • Belfast
  • Dune
  • No Time to Die
  • The Power of the Dog
  • West Side Story

Snubs: CODA; tick, tick... BOOM!; Spider-Man: No Way Home

Would you look at that?! Dune and West Side Story -- no surprises there. While this wasn't a spot where I necessarily assumed we'd see The Power of the Dog get a nod, it does signal that Academy voters respect the below-the-line technical aspects of the film as they do the above-the-line talent. As far as Belfast and No Time to Die goes, I'm fine with those choices, though Spider-Man fans should be wary -- if there wasn't room for No Way Home here, I wouldn't assume there'll be much room in other categories either.

Nominees for Original Score

  • Don't Look Up
  • Dune
  • Encanto
  • Parallel Mothers
  • The Power of the Dog

Snubs: Spencer; The French Dispatch; King Richard

I was fully expecting Johnny Greenwood to double-dip in this category after his phenomenal year (like how Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross were doubled up last year for Mank and Soul). As it turned out, only his work in The Power of the Dog got recognized, and Spencer was left on the sideline (and if I had to pick one, that's where I would've landed, too). I'm happy to see Alberto Iglesias grab a spot for his work in Parallel Mothers, and the only thing I'd probably swap out is Don't Look Up (no offense to Nicholas Britell whose work on Succession is absolutely brilliant) for Alexandre Desplat's dynamic work in The French Dispatch.

coda CODA [2021]

Nominees for Adapted Screenplay

  • CODA
  • Drive My Car
  • Dune
  • The Lost Daughter
  • The Power of the Dog

Snubs: Passing; Nightmare Alley; The Green Knight

YES! Recognizing Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe for Drive My Car here is a bold but correct call! There is a deep pool of options to pick from in this category, and I'm overall I'm pleased with where they landed. Passing on Rebecca Hall sceenwriting debut for Passing, Tony Kushner for West Side Story, Joel Coen for The Tragedy of Macbeth, and Guillermo del Toro and Kim Morgan for Nightmare Alley feels surprisingly okay considering the how many viable contenders were in play. If it were me, I would've really tried to vote in David Lowery for The Green Knight, but I'm having trouble making room for him.

IPA Bitterness Check: I was definitely vying for The Green Knight to get some love in this category. Lowery's interpretation of an anyonymously written 14th century epic poem translated incredibly on the big screen. That being said I'm not really sure what I would kick out for it? I thoroughly enjoyed all of these adapted screenplays. Huge shoutout to Hamaguchi and Oe for Drive My Car

  • 5/10 (Not that Bitter)

Nominees for Original Screenplay

  • Belfast
  • Don't Look Up
  • King Richard
  • Licorice Pizza
  • The Worst Person in the World

Snubs: The French Dispatch; The Card Counter; C'mon, C'mon; A Hero

There is much weaker competition in this category than there was in Adapted Screenplay. While I'm not necessarily disappointed, I'm surprised Aaron Sorkin's work in Being the Ricardos was passed over here; the fact that Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier were chosen instead for The Worst Person in the World is one of the best surprises so far!! Even still, swapping out Don't Look Up and/or King Richard would be more than fine by me (they must be here for a reason...); I'd rather have seen Paul Schrader's The Card Counter or Mike Mills' C'mon C'mon get in the mix.

IPA Bitterness Check: I didn't think the writing in Don't Look Up was anything to write home about. I would've much more preferred any of the snubs Hopster listed.

  • 8/10 (Pretty Bitter)

Nominees for Animated Short Film

  • Affairs of the Art
  • Bestia
  • Boxballet
  • Robin Robin
  • The Windshield Wiper

(waiting to share an opinion until I've seen these and have something to say)

Nominees for Live Action Short Film

  • Ala Kachuu - Take and Run
  • The Dress
  • The Long Goodbye
  • On My Mind
  • Please Hold

(waiting to share an opinion until I've seen these and have something to say)

power of the dog 2 The Power of the Dog [2021]

Nominees for 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: Jeffrey Wright (The French Dispatch); Mike Faist (West Side Story) Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza); Jamie Dornan (Belfast)

Okay yikes. Much like Supporting Actress, this category is kind of a hot mess. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Troy Kotsur, in my opinion, are deservingly recognized; but as for Ciarán Hinds, Jesse Plemons, and J.K. Simmons, I'm pretty shocked that this is the trio of performers the Academy landed on. Doubling up here for The Power of the Dog is surprising (though I can hardly be against kicking out Jesse Plemons), gravitating towards Hinds instead of his screen counter part Jamie Dornan in Belfast feels like a 'vote for seniority' choice, and including J.K. Simmons is just flat out a miss. Leaving Jeffrey Wright, Mike Faist, and Bradley Cooper on the cutting room floor is not something to be proud of; if I had to pick, I'd swap Simmons for Wright, whose work in The French Dispatch completely took over the screen. If it were up to me, this category would look a lot different.

IPA Bitterness Check: WHERE IS MIKE FAIST

  • 10/10 (Extremely Bitter)

Nominees for Film Editing

  • Don't Look Up
  • Dune
  • King Richard
  • The Power of the Dog
  • tick, tick... BOOM!

Snubs: Belfast; CODA; West Side Story

I used to think this category served as a bellwether of sorts at the Oscars -- if a film was a frontrunner for Best Picture won Best Editing earlier in the evening, it was a good sign that it would also go on to win the ceremony's top prize. However, since 2010, only one Best Picture winner has also won Best Editing (Argo in 2012). So, I'm not sure winning here would mean anything for The Power of the Dog, though it certainly wouldn't be a surprise. If this category is for this year's technical darling, then I anticipate that Dune is the nominee to beat -- that is unless Academy voters want to try and spread the wealth and look to tick, tick... BOOM! or Don't Look Up (please don't try and get cute and overthink this, voters).

Nominees for Makeup & Hairstyling

  • Coming 2 America
  • Cruella
  • Dune
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • House of Gucci

Snubs: West Side Story; No Time to Die

For one reason or another, my outlook on this category also varies from that of those voting. For me, I gravitate towards the makeup & hairstyling that is effective in enhancing the story -- I think Academy voters tend to pick the most makeup & hairstyling. If you're looking for the most here, look no further than The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which completely buries its titular lead (played by Jessica Chastain) under pounds and pounds of gawdy makeup and prosthetics; it's the kind of display that wins Oscars. Dune, House of Gucci, and Cruella all seem like appropriate choices, and while Coming 2 America is completely out of left field, it has just as every right to be considered as No Time to Die or West Side Story.

luca Luca [2021]

Nominees for Animated Feature Film

  • Encanto
  • Flee
  • Luca
  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines
  • Raya and the Last Dragon

Snubs: The Summit of the Gods; Sing 2

Easily the most chalkiest category so far. Encanto, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Luca are Disney-/Pixar-sponsored Oscar catnip, while The Mithcells vs. The Machines has been pegged as a worthy contender for months. But here is the beginning of Flee, along with its cross-category apppeal, to secure as many nominations as possible this year. I'm hoping we see this pop up in a handful of other categories... Oh, and if I had to pick any bones otherwise, I would swap in The Summit of the Gods for either Raya or Luca, both of which feel like lesser entries than the rest of the bunch.

IPA Bitterness Check: Honestly, this is one of the most pleasing categories to me, the fact that Flee got in here is fantastic.

  • 1/10 (Not Bitter At All - Possibly Sweet)

Nominees for Original Song

  • "Be Alive" (King Richard)
  • "Dos Oruguitas" (Encanto)
  • "Down to Joy" (Belfast)
  • "No Time to Die" (No Time to Die)
  • "Somehow You Do" (Four Good Days)

Snubs: "Just Look Up" (Don't Look Up); "Guns Go Bang" (The Harder They Fall)

Tough look for Scott Mescudi, aka Kid Cudi. In a year where he could've potentially doubled his Oscar nominations, he was shut out. What a weird sentence to have just read, huh? I'm not sure there I have much more to say other than repeating this from when I reacted to the Golden Globes' nominations: nominating both Beyoncé and Billie Eilish is good business.

IPA Bitterness Check: Very excited for Beyoncé v. Billie Eilish, that indeed is good for business. However I might be a little bitter if Beyoncé loses to that goddamn Bond song spell that just somehow always walks away with an Oscar

  • 3/10 (Not Currently Bitter)

Nominees for Best Documentary Short Subject

  • Audible
  • Lead Me Home
  • The Queen of Basketball
  • Three Songs for Benazir
  • When We Were Bullies

(waiting to share an opinion until I've seen these and have something to say)

Nominees for Best Documentary Feature

  • Ascension
  • Attica
  • Flee
  • Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
  • Writing With Fire

Snubs: The Velvet Underground; The Rescue; Procession

There are a few holes in my resume in this category, though there were a handful of docs I did see (as mentioned in my list of snubs) that were left out in the cold. I'll have more to say in the coming weeks (hopefully I can catch up), but I will say that Summer of Soul is an incredible achievement (shoutout to Questlove who is a cross-medium, artistic legend) and deserves to be here. Also, this is Flee's second nomination, and it's fast-approaching a historic triple crown at this rate...

Nominees for Visual Effects

  • Dune
  • Free Guy
  • No Time to Die
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

Snubs: The Matrix: Resurrections; Godzilla vs. Kong

Spoiler alert: if Dune doesn't win this category, there's an exceedingly high likelihood that I'll cease participation in Oscar punditry forever.

IPA Bitterness Check: Spider-Man: No Way Home should not have touched this category with a 10 foot pole. Keeping that movie here instead of The Matrix: Resurrections or even Godzilla vs. Kong (which had fantastic VFX btw) is not only shocking, but nauseating.

  • 9/10 (Bitter AF, Man)

west side story West Side Story [2021]

Nominees for Cinematography

  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • West Side Story

Snubs: *Licorice Pizza; Belfast; No Time to Die

This is a more a competitive category, but I feel similarly about this category as I did with Visual Effects -- Dune has to be considered the frontrunner. However, the sweeping Western vibes in The Power of the Dog, the stark black and white contrast in The Tragedy of Macbeth, the neo-noir flourishes in Nightmare Alley, and the depth and gritty realism in West Side Story make this one of the most stacked categories of the bunch. Winning from this group will be hard-earned.

Nominees for Production Design

  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • West Side Story

Snubs: The French Dispatch; The Green Knight

Wait a second? Aren't these the same five nominees from the last category? Yes, you have that correct. These are clearly the technical darlings, and I again think this is a very competitive collection of nominees. Dune might be the headliner, but this is a deep bench.

Nominees for International Film

  • Drive My Car
  • Flee
  • The Hand of God
  • Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom
  • The Worst Person in the World

Snubs: A Hero (Asghar Farhadi); Compartment No. 6 (Juho Kuosmanen)

Not including an Asghar Farhadi film (in this case, A Hero) in the mix would typically be a major surprise, but this year, it might be a credit to the amount of talent contending for five spots. I haven't seen The Hand of God or Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom, but their inclusion here isn't all that shocking. Drive My Car and The Worst Person in the World are two of the best films I saw last year, so obviously I'm thrilled they're both reocgnized here. And then there's Flee, which picked up its third nomination -- with that, it becomes the first film to receive Oscar nominations for Best Animated Film, Best Documentary Film, and Best International Film all in the same year. That alone should make it eligible to receive an honorary award -- if it somehow swept all three categories and won three Oscars, it should get a fourth one for free.

the tragedy of macbeth The Tragedy of Mabeth [2021]

Nominees for 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: Bradley Cooper (Nightmare Alley); Hideotoshi Nishijima (Drive My Car)

It's Will Smith time, baby. The rest doesn't really matter (though I would've rather seen Hideotoshi Nishijima or Bradley Cooper get folded into the mix rather than a very okay performance by Javier Bardem). In another year, Benedict Cumberbatch might win his first Oscar, Denzel Washington might take another victory lap, or hell even Andrew Garfield might win because he's so damn likable. But no, this time it's Will's turn. This is a slam dunk on paper. After years of searching for the right role, Smith came through and delivered a great performance in an pretty good movie. One of our last true movie stars is in line to make good and get his glory -- I sure hope this happens.

IPA Bitterness Check: Very strong category here, one that I'm a fan of. I loved Will Smith in King Richard and this very much should be his time to shine. But I wouldn't mind a Benedict Cumberbatch win. Only thing to bitter of is the lack of Nicolas Cage who was transcendent in Pig.

  • 0/10 (Sweeeeeeeet)

Nominees for 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: Renate Reinsve (The Worst Person in the World); Tessa Thompson (Passing); Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza)

Hmmmmm. Not sure where to start here. There were so many women in polling position for these five spots that I didn't even feel the need to mention 3-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand (for The Tragedy of Macbeth) or the one and only Lady Gaga (for House of Gucci), two women who command the screen but delivered some lesser work this year (relative to their competition). Based on right now, I can't exactly peg who is the betting favorite. Olivia Colman's work in The Lost Daughter continues to highlight her versatility and range; Jessica Chastain completely disappears behind her makeup and hairspray in The Eyes of Tammy Faye; and both Kristen Stewart and Penélope Cruz deliver what might be some of the best work of their respective careers. I'm not sure that Nicole Kidman (for Being the Ricardos) is more deserving of a nomination than some of the other performers who were passed over; Kidman is committed enough (my uneasiness likely has more to do with the film around her than her actual performance), so I might've swapped in Renate Reinsve, Tessa Thompson, or Alana Haim instead. Even still, I'll be curious to see who wins at SAG and some of the other guilds in the coming weeks -- for now, this is anyone's race.

IPA Bitterness Check: I'm pretty upset we couldn't have the Renate Reinsve nomination that we the world deserve, but most importantly the nomination Reinsve deserves. Although I would counter that "upset" with the happiness from Kristen Stewart getting the nod for Spencer, something the previous awards circuits have been fairly timid in doing. It is also worth noting that none of the nominees in this category are in any of the Best Picture nominees! Not sure the odds of that happening or anything, but interesting to note nonetheless.

  • 5/10 (Umami)

licorice pizza Licorice Pizza [2021]

Nominees for Directing

  • Belfast
  • Drive My Car
  • Licorice Pizza
  • The Power of the Dog
  • West Side Story

Snubs: Dune; Nightmare Alley; The Lost Daughter; CODA

Kenneth Branagh, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Paul Thomas Anderson, Jane Campion, and Steven Spielberg comprise a more than respectable (if not great) final five directors. That being said, snubbing Denis Villeneuve (for Dune) is a huge fucking whiff (pardon my use of completely warranted profanity). Seriously, what the hell? Normally I can understand it, and while I'm more than thrilled for Hamaguchi (who likely got the last spot here), it's really hard to believe that Villeneuve was the one who got the shaft. Ugh. Well, it might not matter either way, because as of now (until something changes), this is looking like Campion's to lose.

IPA Bitterness Check: My anger towards this category is kind of a two-fold situation. First, the Denis Villneuve snub for Dune is about as awful as it comes. Second, Jane Campion being nominated here marks the first time in history that a woman has received two nominations for Best Director! So while I am over the moon overjoyed that we are living in a time where this kind of historic event happens, I'm just utterly disgusted that its such a low fucking bar for the Academy.

  • 7/10 (Quite Bitter)

P.S. Its not a 10/10 because I am ecstatic that Hamaguchi, Campion, and PTA all received noms.

Nominees for 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: The Lost Daughter; The Worst Person in the World; Pig; The Green Knight; The French Dispatch; Passing

After everything I've laid out (and promised to revisit in the coming weeks), what other takeaways do I have? There was little doubt in my mind that Belfast, Dune, and The Power of the Dog would be here; moreover, Licorice Pizza and West Side Story also felt like safe bets considering the masters at the helm of both projects -- which leaves us five other films. CODA is a feel-good film that has been in the conversation for months, so its inclusion isn't a shock (but more of a pleasant surprise); King Richard is solid but headlines with the leading contender for Best Actor in Will Smith; and Nightmare Alley, which does feel like a legitimate surprise in this category, is the follow-up picture for Guillermo del Toro after winning Best Picture and Best Director just a few years ago (inviting back a revered auteur should just be normal procedure). So we're down to the final two: Don't Look Up and Drive My Car. I feel like these two movies are in complete opposition to one another -- one of them I found to be completely audacious and engaging... and the other is Don't Look Up. Neither of these films are bad, it's just that one could very well be in the conversation for the best film of the decade (so far). Could a foreign film win Best Picture only two years after Parasite did back in 2020? That would represent the continued dramatic departure from the Oscar-norm as we know it -- a seemingly full transition of the Academy Awards into a diversified, globalized enterprise. I'm not quite sure we're there yet, but a win (or at least widespread support) for Drive My Car feels like progress. And that is worth my emotional investment!

What I am sure is that we have arrived at the crossroads of mainstream-streaming as a means for consuming film -- five out of the ten nominees this year debuted first (or exclusively on streaming): CODA, Don't Look Up, Dune, King Richard and The Power of the Dog. Last year, Nomadland won Best Picture, a film that quickly jumped to Hulu in an effort to be seen by a wider audience considering the limitations of in-person theater-going due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Since 2018, Netflix has been aiming to win Best Picture (Roma, The Irishman, Marriage Story, Mank, The Trial of the Chicago 7 have all been nominated but none of which have won) -- with two horses in the race this year (The Power of the Dog and Don't Look Up), will this be their year? And should a streaming conglomerate like Netflix win their illustrious prize, what then? Will we experience an even more dramatic shift away from 'cinema at the theater' to 'cinema at home?' Will big blockbusters slowly fade away and at some point feel rather prehistoric? Broadening the access of great film to audiences obviously feels virtuous until it doesn't.

Like so many others, I watched more movies at home this year than ever before, but even still, there's something you can't replicate at home, a certain magic that happens when the lights go down and the silver screen illuminates the entire theater. When a streamer wins Best Picture, I'd wager that the prestige and business gained from that single accolade will further diminish and disadvantage the old business of theater-going. Why go out when you can stay home, watch at your pace and pause whenever you like, and not compromise the quality of what you're watching? Again, there are obvious pros for increasing the access to the best that cinema has to offer (particularly for those who cannot or would otherwise not leave their homes) -- I'm just afraid if we go too far, there won't be theaters to try and save.

Existential dread aside... there is a lot to be excited about! We have so much time to digest these nominees in greater detail over the next month or so, and there's still opportunity to catch up on a few things we've missed, too. Until next time, I'll be brainstorming as many pseudo-nicknames as I possibly can come up with for Benedict Cumberbatch -- a teaser example to tie you over: Bubblespop Crumblersnack.

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