Final 2022 Oscar Predictions: May God Take Mercy on us

International: Drive My Car

Season sweeper. Only nominee of the category to land a Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay nomination. It’s been a hit since its release at Cannes. It will be the first Japanese winner since Yojiro Takita’s Departures in 2008. Japan has three other “honorary awards” including one for Akira Kurosawa’s Rashômon in 1951. It’s about damn time this country is rewarded for its incomprehensible value they’ve brought to the medium.

Confidence: 99%

Runner-up: The Worst Person in the World

My pick: The Worst Person in the World 

Documentary: Summer of Soul 

Quest Love giving an Oscar speech will be a great moment. The film has won virtually everywhere and the main hurdle to it winning the Oscar was getting past the stingy documentary branch of the Academy. It did and now it’s an undeniable winner here. Although it’s not my personal favorite, an archival footage documentary covering a long forgotten cultural event is a welcomed change to the normal pick of a winner.

Confidence: 90%

Runner-Up: Attica

My pick: Flee

Animated: Encanto 

Few categories have as little meaning as the animated feature. A category dominated by one company that virtually boxes out any smaller studio. Disney and Pixar are too well connected to this particular awards show to believe anyone else has a chance. Even the heavily awarded Annie winner, The Mitchells vs the Machines, has little to no chance at winning over Encanto. The song nomination (and popularity of a song that didn’t get nominated) will push Encanto over the top, as if the category had a serious contender in the bias voting body. Granted, the work is good but that’s not the issue.

Confidence: 80%

Runner-up: The Mitchells vs the Machines 

My Pick: Flee

VFX: Dune

VES winner. Season sweeper. Best picture nominee that relies heavily on CGI to tell the story. Visual effects artists have been fawning over the grandiosity of the work and the practicality of its implementation. More so than the cinematography, the work of Denis Villeneuve collaborators with DNEG has produced awe-inspiring results. One of the easiest picks of the night.

Confidence: 100%

Runner-Up: Free Guy

My Pick: Dune

Best Sound: Dune 

Here begins Dune’s domination of the tech categories. Falling in line with the editing and original score nomination, the brash, bold world of Dune is experienced through the sound design and thus an obvious winner in the category. It was a major winner at MPSE. Winner at BAFTA and Critics choice. The sound is embedded in the Hans Zimmer score and vice versa. It’s another slam-dunk below the line win for Dune.

Confidence: 95% 

Runner-up: West Side Story 

My Pick: Dune

Best Song: No Time to Die

The moment I heard this theme it was a clear Oscar winner. Following the explosion of Billie Eilish’s popularity, the Oscars just had to jump on the hype train and James Bond is the perfect opportunity to do it.

Confidence: 95%

Runner-up: Be Alive, King Richard 

My Pick: No Time to Die

Best Score: Dune

Hans Zimmer is coming into this race with perfect timing to receive his second win. Dune is his 12th nomination and will be his second win. The score reverberates in theaters and it’s built into the sound design for a crescendo of awe-inspiring cinema. He also swept the season. One of the biggest guarantees for Dune on a night where it’s supposed to win often.

Confidence: 95%

Runner-up: The Power of the Dog 

My Pick: The Power of the Dog 

Production Design: Dune

The one comparison I’ve seen for Dune’s production design is George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road and its sand dusted win in 2016. Science fiction has a decent track record in this category, but mainly, the large, embolden visual films with messy, overloaded frames of mise-en-scene and practically built sets or recreations win. That’s Dune. Guillermo’s Nightmare Alley is a close second, but with two wins for Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water in this category, I don’t see the rush to award him again.

Confidence: 70%

Runner-up: Nightmare Alley

My Pick: The Tragedy of Macbeth 

Best Makeup: Tammy Faye

The crossover between best makeup winners and best actress is a strong tell. Especially when the film in question, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, is plastered with heavy makeup and the key phrase here: a transformative performance built through the makeup. Even more so, there’s no strong number two and here the most makeup is the best makeup.

Confidence: 95%

Runner-up: Dune

My Pick: Dune

Best Editing: King Richard

As much as I love the craft of editing itself, the ACE guild and editing branch have picked some truly whack winners over the years. Some picks are truly embarrassing in the grand scheme of the Oscars and left a sour taste in my mouth. Entering 2022, this year is no different. Nominating Don’t Look Up is an affront to good editors everywhere and the overlong King Richard winning here would join the pantheon of bizarre choices. But, as of now, it’s got the best precursor wins, is in the Best Picture discussion, and seems well liked overall. It’s a category no one should feel confident predicting. King Richard is spotty, but I’m going with the ACE winner.

Confidence: 50%

Runner-up: Dune

My Pick: The Power of the Dog

Best Costume: Cruella

Cruella, a film about a dress designer, is one of those obvious 1:1 winners. The guild wins, plus BAFTA and CCA help too. It’s undeniable at this point and the work is good.

Confidence: 95%

Runner-up: Dune

My Pick: Dune

Best Cinematography: Dune

Lately, the biggest films, with the biggest sets and most complicated cinematography wins the day. Or Emmanuel Lubezki and Roger Deakins were nominated and that’s your winner. For Greg Fraiser, who has campaigned hard for a win, it feels like the Blade Runner 2049 winner or 1917 where the complexity of these shots coupled with the beauty stands out. Arthouse films do well here too, especially black-and-white films, but with Tragedy of Macbeth losing at the ASC, Fraiser feels undeniable.

Confidence: 85%

Runner-up: The Power of the Dog 

My Pick: The Tragedy of Macbeth 

Best Original Screenplay:  Belfast

Here’s another volatile category that still feels up in the air. With Don’t Look Up, of all scripts, winning at the WGA over Licorice Pizza, I feel as if that boosted Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast which wasn’t eligible at WGA. The heartfelt, personal story often plays well here and it seems as if it’s Branagh’s time. As with Paul Thomas Anderson or Adam McKay, I see no rush to get them an Oscar for these particular scripts. Belfast winning BAFTA was the major tell for me.

Confidence: 60%

Runner-up: Don’t Look Up

My Pick: The Worst Person in the World 

Best Adapted screenplay: CODA

The CODA BAFTA win in this category set off a chain reaction that changed this race forever. Before then, Jane Campion had this category all but wrapped up, but failing to win at BAFTA and CODA winning WGA during the voting period really spelled trouble for Campion. It’s not a done deal that Dog loses here, but the ground swell of CODA support does point to an upset here. And if it wins here, we might get an upset in another, more noteworthy category. Adapted will decide Best Picture.

Confidence: 60%

Runner-up: The Power of the Dog

My Pick: Drive My Car 

Supporting Actor: Troy Kotsur

Troy Kotsur technically didn’t sweep the season with losing at the Golden Globes, but it feels very much like he did by winning everything else. Industry has a love for him and he’s the face of that film. He’s winning here and it feels pretty close to a lock.

Confidence: 95%

Runner-up: Jesse Plemons

My Pick: Troy Kotsur

Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose

Season sweepers win the Oscar. It’s that simple. DeBose will be West Side Story’s big win on the night with nothing else to show for it. There’s no clear runner-up. She’s been that dominant. 

Confidence: 100%

Runner-up: Aunjanue Ellis 

My Pick: Jessie Buckley

Actor: Will Smith

Will Smith has been my predicted winner since long before Oscar season started. He’s beloved and has the strongest narrative by a mile. People want to see him give a big Oscar speech. He’s also in a role as the father of two universal figures. There’s no real challenger. He swept the season. It’s over.

Confidence: 100%

Runner-up: Benedict Cumberbatch 

My Pick: Benedict Cumberbatch 

Actress: Jessica Chastain

Actress has been an extremely difficult category to predict with Kidman winning the Globe and Chastain not showing up in the race till SAG and Critics Choice. BAFTA didn’t help either and it comes down to trusting the SAG boost. The main reason to predict Chastain outside of precursor support is the type of role and her narrative as overdue. The spoiler here is Pénelope Cruz with her rousing performance in Parallel Mothers.

Confidence: 60%

Runner-up: Pénelope Cruz 

My Pick: Pénelope Cruz 

Director: Jane Campion

I do think there’s a world where Campion loses due to her CCA blunder. Conversely, she’s been the front runner so long no consensus has formed around the next best option. Sweeping the season inducing DGA is as strong a sign as anything that it’s over, but don’t put it past Oscar voters to remember that comment. That said, there’s a good opportunity that this is The Power of the Dog’s only win on the night, which would be absurd considering its status for most of award season.

Confidence: 90%

Runner-up: Kenneth Branagh

My Pick: Ryusuke Hamaguchi 

Best Picture: CODA

It’s amazing that we’ve reached this point, but I always contend that if The Power of the Dog didn’t win PGA, it’s not winning the Oscar. And when the SAG winner with clear passion and a strong narrative enters the race wins PGA, it’s the new de-facto front-runner despite only three nominations to Dog’s twelve. There’s a good chance CODA breaks all the stats – winning with only three nominations and nothing below the line. There’s a groundswell of support forming and it will culminate into a historical Best Picture win.

Confidence: 55%

Runner-up: The Power of the Dog 

My Pick: Drive My Car 

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