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2022 Oscars Predictions: What Will Win, What Should Win

Our picks for who will likely go home with an Academy Award on Sunday night — and who we’d love to see win

Oscars 2022: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Power of The Dog'; Ariana Debose in 'West Side Story': Jessica Chastain in 'The Eyes of Tammy Faye.'Oscars 2022: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Power of The Dog'; Ariana Debose in 'West Side Story': Jessica Chastain in 'The Eyes of Tammy Faye.'

Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Power of The Dog'; Ariana Debose in 'West Side Story': Jessica Chastain in 'The Eyes of Tammy Faye.'

Netflix, Warner Bros, Searchlight Pictures

So who would you like to see with Oscars nestled in their arms next weekend? Are you Team Dune or Team Don’t Look Up? Do you believe in The Power of the Dog or the power of the Saab? Bardem or Benedict? Chastain or Colman? Will you find yourself hopefully singing “When you’re a Jet” as the Best Director envelope is opened, or “We are the ‘Campions'”?

Related: How to Watch the Oscars Online

The process of predicting the Oscars is always one part tea-leaf reading, one part pattern recognition and one part personal fandom — there are compelling narratives that come and go during the long campaign season leading up to that glamorous evening at the Dolby Theatre. Frontrunners and dark horses can switch places in a blink. What’s favored one week may find itself out in the cold the next. By this point, after many of the other awards shows, various guilds and other predictors have weighed in, it’s pretty clear who’s looking good and who’s a long shot leading up to next Sunday. (For a complete list of which films, actors, directors etc. are nominated this year, click here.)

These are our predictions for who will likely be going home with the tiny gold men; who we think should win; and who we’d love to see win in the six top-tier categories. We’ve studied the trades, crunched the numbers and consulted a host of different mediums and psychics — so consider the following to be some highly educated guesstimations.

Emilia Jones and Eugenio Derbez in “CODA.”


Apple TV+

First things first: We’d like to state for the record that we’re ecstatic that Drive My Car, our favorite movie of last year, is up for Best Picture. Even if Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s drama about grief, art and connection does not win the grand prize, the fact that it managed to find a place among the 10 nominees — and thus become part of a larger conversation, involving a far bigger audience than you would expect for a three-hour Japanese film — counts as a huge victory in our book. Ditto Hamaguchi scoring a Best Director nomination. We look forward to cheering it on when it hopefully wins the Best International Feature.

Currently, however, the race seems to be a three-way horse race between Belfast, The Power of the Dog and CODA. Kenneth Branagh’s semi-autobiographical look back at a childhood interrupted by the Troubles felt like a sure thing when it first started screening back in September; it had the exact combination of pedigree, chops, sentimentality (but not too much sentimentality) and gravitas that screamed Oscar-winner. A few months later, Jane Campion’s rage-and-repression-fueled Western began enticing folks while angering others, and that felt like it had the momentum. All roads appeared to lead from a ranch in Montana to a podium in Hollywood. Then the Screen Actors Guild awards happened ….

What Will Win
It wasn’t surprising that this story of a working-class New England child of deaf adults who dreams of being a singer won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance; it really does feel like it’s three or four Sundance movies all rolled into one. Once Apple picked it up, filmmaker Sian Heder’s drama felt destined to become a modest, word-of-mouth hit and that was that. And while it was a little shocking to hear its name among the Oscar nominees in this category, you felt like it fulfilled a particular slot: The little indie (with a big patron saint) who could.

After the SAG awards gave the cast the Best Ensemble award, however, it was as if voters began paying a little more attention to this charming underdog of a contender. You could sense the pendulum beginning to swing. And given what’s happening around the world right now, you could also see why voters might view “feel-good” as a boon instead of a burden. After the Producer Guild of America handed this film the big prize last night, CODA suddenly felt like it moved up several notches. While the PGAs and the Oscars haven’t always been simpatico (the organization gave their 2020 prize to 1917; the Oscars went with Parasite), it’s still more of an awards-season bellwether than most. Reluctantly or not, we see this going all the way now.

What Should Win
The Power of the Dog
Campion’s first movie in 12 years is both epic and intimate, a film that feels like a classic Western even as it turns the notion of frontier masculinity on its ear and uses its literary source material as a jumping-off point. It’s a gorgeous, substantial work of art, cerebral without being chilly (at least we were moved by it) and a great example of capital-C Cinema that’s accessible yet challenging. It couldn’t be more deserving.

What We’d Love to See Win
Licorice Pizza
Give Paul Thomas Anderson an Oscar, you cowards!

Caption: (L-r) DEMI SINGLETON as Serena Williams, SANIYYA SIDNEY as Venus Williams and WILL SMITH as Richard Williams in Warner Bros. Pictures’ inspiring drama “KING RICHARD,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Will Smith

Chiabella James/Warner Bros

You’ve got a previous Oscar winner doing Shakespeare; one half of a modern showbiz couple playing one half of a legendary showbiz couple; a beloved young actor playing a gamechanging playwright, in a musical directed by another gamechanging playwright; one of the last movie stars left standing who gets incredibly jiggy with a paternal biopic role; and a British actor playing an American archetype (in a film shot in New Zealand). It’s around-the-world-in-a-day with category.

Who Will Win
Will Smith, King Richard
Smith winning the BAFTA, Critics Choice and SAG awards for his turn as Richard Williams, father and coach of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, in King Richard suggests that people a) actually did see King Richard, went felt like it came and went way too quickly last year, and b) still really love Will Smith, despite the misses-to-hits ratio of the last few years. Whether you like the movie of not, Smith does some career-best work here, and the role feels perfectly tailored to his strengths. He’s been nominated twice before, for Ali (should won) and The Pursuit of Happyness (GTF outta here), and this may finally be the year he clinches it. You may insert your own tennis-related pun here.

Who Should Win
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog

Cumberbatch dominated most of the critics’ group awards, and his layered, complex portrayal of one very complicated cowpoke feels unlike anything else he’s ever done (compare his work here to what he’s doing in the previous film he was nominated for, The Imitation Game, and it’s like you’re watching an entirely different actor). He’s both perfectly in harmony with his costars and the overall mood of Campion’s drama, while also feeling like he’s lifting the movie up a few pegs every time he’s onscreen. You don’t have to be Bronco Henry to recognize it’s the best performance of the year, period.

Who We’d Love to See Win
Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth
In which the star turns the Bard’s cursed, power-hungry monarch into a classic Denzel Washington character — and still makes it feel like Shakespeare. He’s puttin’ cases on all you witches! King Kong ain’t got shit on Mac-B!

Jessica Chastain in 'The Eyes of Tammy Faye.'

Jessica Chastain

Fox Searchlight

For a long time, this category felt like a wild card — everyone assumed Lady Gaga was a shoo-in to get nominated (she wasn’t), that Kristen Stewart was outta luck when it came to the final round of nominees (she wasn’t), and that Nicole Kidman and Jessica Chastain’s prosthetics-heavy performances as real-life famous ladies were likely to be overlooked (they weren’t). And now, one of those aforementioned actors seems to be latex-covered head and padded shoulders above her competition.

Who Will Win
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
The irony is as thick as the mascara in Michael Showalter’s biopic on former-televangelist-slash-disgraced-wife-slash-LGBTQ-icon Tammy Faye Baker, but the performance by Chastain — from spiritually hungry young woman to fallen angel — couldn’t be more sincere. It’s provides a faint heartbeat amid the sound and fury here, and while it’s tempting to to focus on the metric ton of prosthetics being applied to her mug during Ms. Baker’s later-years edition, remember: Chastain still has to act underneath all that goop. Which she does. Wonderfully, even if the film itself is lacking. As with CODA and Smith, the SAG awards helped build momentum behind her Faye take, and considering the overlap between those two voting bodies, Chastain may be praising more than just the Lord come Sunday.

Who Should Win
Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
Talk about a performance that both impresses and wallops you upon a first viewing, and adds a whole other level of depth and tragedy to the narrative after a second watch! Cruz has long done her most outstanding work with Spanish auteur extraordinaire Pedro Almodovar — the first of her four Oscar nominations to date was for his 2007 movie Volver, and she should have been nominated in 2009 for his masterpiece Pain and Glory — and what she’s doing in this tale of two matriarchs (and a country finally able to grieve its lost children) deserves recognition. Specifically, the gold, baldheaded and engraved kind.

Who We’d Love to See Win
Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Speaking of mothers: Sure, Colman has been nominated twice already in the last three years and won once. But she’s amazing in this. She’s amazing in everything. Can we go back and nominate her for previous years then retroactively reward her for those earlier roles as well?

Troy Kotsur, second from the right

Apple TV+

There were more than a few surprises when this category’s nominees were announced, from the inclusion of a breakout star to the addition of a great actor in a so-so movie (we love you, J.K. Simmons, but wtf?). Both of The Power of the Dog‘s players who made the cut had more than earned their right to be here, though we’re wondering if they end up canceling each other out — that said, both Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee can now put “Oscar-nominated actor” on their resumes, so there you go. And damned if a Celtic character actor didn’t just level up as well.

Who Will Win
Troy Kotsur, CODA
It’s an ensemble movie, and spreads the love between its young protagonist, her earthy family and her cranky-yet-lovable music teacher. But it pays to remember that the Supporting Actor categories are where the Academy feels its safe to reward eccentric and outré portrayals, scene-stealing turns and memorable “smaller” performances that become best-in-show stand-outs. (Think Joe Pesci in Goodfellas, Heath Ledge in The Dark Knight, Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda … the list goes on.) And that’s Troy Kotusr in a nutshell here. His perpetually horny, paternally caring fisherman pops in CODA is a minor comic miracle while also being soulful as hell. And in a movie that desperately wants to turn the faucet on re: your tear ducts, the scene where his dad listens via vibrations to his daughter sing effortlessly brings the waterworks into play.

Who Should Win
Troy Kotsur, CODA
Yeah, no argument here.

Who We’d Love to See Win
Ciarán Hinds, Belfast
We’ve been a fan of this veteran Irish actor since we first spotted him in the HBO series Rome way back in 2005; he’s the sort of reliable journeyman that made you go “Oh, it’s that guy, ok!” every time he’d show up in a bit part. His affectionate grandfather in Branagh’s Belfast gets a handful of scenes that might get trotted out as Hinds’ “and the nominees are—” clip. Each of them help add color, texture and a sense of history to this memory piece. It’s a perfect example of how a supporting part should work.

Ariana DeBose as Anita in 20th Century Studios’ WEST SIDE STORY.

Ariana DeBose, center

Niko Tavernise/Twentieth Century Studios

History could very well be made in this category tonight, as the Academy awarded Rita Moreno the Best Supporting Actress award in 1962 for playing Anita in West Side Story — and now the 2022 version of Anita finds herself nominated as well. She finds herself in excellent company, alongside a British Dame (Judi Dench), an up-and-coming talent (Jessie Buckley) and not one but two clutch players with years of extraordinary work under their belts (Aunjanue Ellis and Kirsten Dunst). Seriously, this is one of the few all-killer-no-filler big categories of the night.

Who Will Win
Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Imagine you accepted an iconic role in movie musical history, one that requires you’re a top-notch singer and dancer and actor, then had to perform that role across from the person who defined it for generations of filmgoers and won an Oscar for it! Then imagine that you now only knocked the whole thing out of the proverbial part, but added your personal, subtle grace notes and sense of pride and rage to it, this completely making it a starmaking turn that’s all your own. Take a bow, Ms. DeBose. After winning the BAFTA, the Golden Globe and the SAG award for Anita, you’re about to add one more statue to the pile.

Who Should Win
Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
[To the tune of “America”] Give Ar-i-an-a the Os-car/She is this year’s wi-nn-er by-yyy far/Dances so fierce but’s ea-sy on the ear/Cor-o-nate what will be a long caaaa-reeeeeer!

Who We’d Love to See Win
Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Pretty sure you know where we stand at this point.


‘The Power of the Dog’


I mean, come on: Spielberg. PTA. Kenneth Branagh, for what is his best film in years. Jane Campion, for what is her first movie in a dozen years. And Ryusuke Hamaguchi, who had already earned his world-cinema “master filmmaker” status and can now say he’s been blessed by Hollywood, USA as well. We’d note there are few other filmmakers we’d love to see in here as well (del Toro and Villeneuve, for starters) but there’s nobody we’d kick out, either. The level of directorial talent here makes us lightheaded.

Who Will Win
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
From its opening shots of riders on an unforgiving range to its last-gasp climax, there isn’t a false not that’s struck in this screen version of Thomas Savage’s novel. What you will find an abundance of, however, is a filmmaker working at the top of her game, with a handful of shots that leave you breathless. We’ve always loved Campion’s work, yet it’s not hard to feel like so much of her back catalog was leading up to this one film. And she would be third female director to take home the Best Directing Oscar, a fact that’s certainly worth noting but that should not take away from the idea that her work here constitutes the best marshaling of forces toward realizing the a single vision — the best “direction” — of the year.

Who Should Win
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Take it home, Jane, and tell those homophobic haters where they can stick it.

Who We’d Love to See Win
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
Still angry about that There Will Be Blood loss after all these years.

In This Article: 2022 Oscars, Oscars


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