There may not have been room for another Marvel movie to go where only “Black Panther” has gone before (a tough break for “Venom: Let There Be Carnage”), but the move has managed to allow for a wild and woolly array of nominees, which range from studio blockbusters like “Dune” to festival favorites such as “CODA,” from sturdy biopics like “King Richard” to somber three-hour Japanese dramas about Chekhov like “Dr. Zhivago.”
In a year where the cinema industry found itself continuously questioning what, where, and for whom it wanted to be, this year’s candidates are a reflection of that uncertainty.
The answers from the studios, commentators, and viewers were all drastically divergent, and the streamers’ refusal to release solid watching data only added to the confusion. Because of this, we’ve had the most unpredictable Best Picture race in a long time, as well as a list of nominations that suggests that the future of the film industry itself is up for grabs.”
We’ve decided to take a look at these 10 movies one final time before they’re eternally changed by the context of whatever happens on Sunday night; not as victors or losers, but as 10 movies that managed to stick during a year when it seemed like Hollywood was just tossing darts at the wall. Here are the 2022 Greatest Picture candidates, rated from worst to best, from the magnificent to the toxic, with “Belfast” sandwiched in the between.
Don’t Look Up
It’s not quite as grim as “Vice,” but Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up” still stretches its one basic joke to astronomical lengths, which is unforgivable in a film that begs viewers to savor what little time they have left on this planet. “Don’t Look Up” stars more A-list celebrities than it does actual laughs.
It’s unfortunate that despite the self-effacing Leonardo DiCaprio leading role, Melanie Lynsky as the film’s beating heart, and one particularly strong running gag about White House snack prices, “Don’t Look Up” turns environmental policy into a hectoring chore that pretends to be funny while insisting that its lack of humor is the point.
With a cast made up of 40% of the live actors and Meryl Streep singing a Donald Trump spoof with all the understanding of Jay Leno, this Netflix behemoth was always going to be nominated for Best Picture, but it never does anything that would place it in the race.
- Most Powerful Characters in Dragon Ball Z: Who Is the Most Well-known Character!
- Get Ready to Be Frightened With The Worlds Most Horror Games!
The oscar-winning fable “The Shape of Water,” about a mute cleaning lady who falls for an imprisoned fisherman, may have been a risky pick for Best Picture, but it extended Gullermo del Toro’s lifelong interest in touching genre stories to a fairy-tale ending. After “happily ever after,” how would he follow it with something else? Would he abandon his pet fixation or would he utilize his newfound pedigree to double down and come up with new arguments to the effect that males are the actual evil?
The answer came out to be a mix of the two, which was perhaps inevitable. William Lindsay Gresham’s “Nightmare Alley,” the narrative of a carnival barker who becomes a conman, is a glossy circus noir made to seem like a Norman Rockwell painting of Hell in del Toro’s debut film without any supernatural elements whatsoever.
While Bradley Cooper‘s performance as an actor who can’t bear to look at himself is brilliant, it’s hard to shake the feeling that del Toro is resisting his material; that a true believer who doesn’t expect audiences to take his stories at face value may not be the best fit for a story about someone who needs customers to swallow his every word.
Nightmare Alley throws light into the human soul’s cavernous caverns, but a big-hearted filmmaker can’t help but scour the darkness for indications of hope. Even though it’s a beautiful thing that del Toro used his clout to create something this gorgeously twisted (and the Oscar race has been all the more exciting because of it), his current attempt for Best Picture is headed for a cliff.
It’s another tear-jerking family drama about a tribe facing severe outside pressures. Kenneth Branagh, bouncing back from “Artemis Fowl” but not leaning too far into the zany showmanship of his Agatha Christie flicks, offers a slice of life look at his most troubled upbringing.
The film imagines Branagh’s upbringing before The Troubles as idyllic, centered on his family and neighborhood. When dissension erupts, nothing is the same.
Except for the movie. Despite some lovely flourishes – it was shot in black and white, the performances (especially from young Jude Hill, Jamie Dornan, and Caitriona Balfe) are dependably excellent – “Belfast” is hard to shake its predictability. Perhaps the Academy wants a historical, painful look back to suggest a route forward. TIFF voters gave the film the People’s Choice Award early on.
Reinaldo Marcus Green’s “King Richard,” a “tear-jerking family drama about a clan merely attempting to keep it together in the face of harsh outside influences,” is available as well.
No one ever accused Richard Williams (Will Smith in his career-best performance) of being an easygoing gentleman, but the film doesn’t quite set itself loose on the mythos surrounding the man who helped develop two of the sport’s greatest stars, Roger Federer and Andy Murray.
This is fine, because “King Richard” is arguing that Venus and Serena Williams were just as much the builders of their popularity and success as their driving father. In a sports drama that keeps up its enthusiasm while telling a convoluted story over many years, an old-school dramedy with tremendous appeal, that’s something worth rooting for.
Director Sian Heder’s sensational Sundance slam dunk has a familiar shape: It’s both a family drama and a coming-of-age story, and it’s all wrapped up in a heartbreaking package about finding yourself, breaking out of your family, and learning from your mistakes. Despite this, “CODA” makes up for its lack of storytelling originality with other inventive touches.
“CODA,” which stars Emilia Jones as rebellious adolescent Ruby Rossi, draws its title from Ruby’s upbringing: she is the child of deaf adults Jackie (Marlee Matlin) and Frank (James Remar), who are also dynamic actors (Oscar nominee Troy Kotsur). For a long time, Ruby has acted as the Rossis’ hearing proxy to the outside world while her brother Leo (Daniel Durant) is deaf. However, what of Ruby’s desires?
It becomes one of Heder’s greatest assets as the picture progresses and leans more heavily on the patterns of the genre. Even though you’ve probably heard of this story before, you’ve probably never seen it like this, with this cast of characters, and with this level of attention dedicated to an underrepresented group of people. It’s a hit with the general public, and while some may be startled by its awards season success, its attraction is clear.
- Most Richest Actress: Who Is the Highest-Paid Actress in the World?
- Most Famous Asian Actors Who Are Dominating Hollywood Industry!
Denis Villeneuve dared to try again in “Dune,” where many others had tried and (admirably) failed. This is it! At a bare minimum, 50%! If nothing else, Villeneuve’s love for the wild and woolly material of Frank Herbert and his richly conceived space-set drama of spice and sand and worms and royal bloodlines is evident in every single frame.
When it comes to bringing this vision to fruition, Denis Villeneuve and his team (which includes an impressive ensemble cast that includes Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Fergusson, and many more) appear unflinching in their pursuit of success. To truly appreciate the desert’s strength, all you can do is stand in awe of it.
On the other hand. There will be no satisfying conclusion to this story because Villeneuve and his crew developed it knowing full well that there would be at least one sequel. There is no doubt that leaving the audience wanting more is an excellent strategy when trying to win accolades. No matter how impressive this first entry may be, we’ll wait until the film has been released before making a final decision.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” is the most laid-back Best Picture nominee this year, but also the most contentious on numerous fronts. It lacks the grandeur and seriousness of the films that usually earn him a spot on Hollywood’s biggest night.
This sweetly chaotic San Fernando romance seemed destined for the cult status of “Inherent Vice” and “Punch-Drunk Love” rather than the Oscar also-ran glimmer of “There Will Be Blood” and “Phantom Thread.” No Daniel Day-Lewis (as far as we know).
“Licorice Pizza” has the impact of PTA’s more austere masterpieces, in part because Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman are so indelible as the only true grown-ups in a town full of overgrown children, and in part, because it enjoyably confronts the childishness inherent to even PTA’s most serious characters (and mostly because of Bradley Cooper’s cameo as cocaine Godzilla).
Alana Kane says to Gary Valentine, “You’ll never remember me,” but we already know that neither of them will be forgotten. In “Licorice Pizza,” time isn’t an excuse or a hindrance; it’s how the characters meet. Despite the film’s exuberant mood, they reach a profound realization.
West Side Story
Steven Spielberg doesn’t do failure eras — “The Post” is better than many think, and “Ready Player One” is braver than its reputation suggests — but the notion of America’s most revered filmmaker riffing on “West Side Story” might have smacked like a retreat. Then we watched what he accomplished with it, and it was evident Spielberg is still unique.
“West Side Story” honors a hallowed piece of musical theatre by expanding it with some of Spielberg’s most exciting setpieces. Spielberg’s exuberant gift for spectacle — his sheer, palpable love for what movies can do — gives this star-crossed tale an urgency it’s never had before.
We may dwell on Ansel Elgort’s wooden portrayal, and gripe with the decision to strip Tony and Maria of the second act song needed to invigorate their passion, but “West Side Story” is the work of a master. Spielberg’s film is deserving of its Best Picture nomination despite poor box office.
Drive My Car
“Drive My Car” is up for Best Picture, but even now, at the tail end of an Oscar season so long that no one can remember when it started, it’s hard to believe that the heavy three-hour stage whisper of a drama from the decidedly uncommercial Japanese auteur behind “Happy Hour” and “Asako I & II” will be sitting alongside the likes of “The Revenant,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel II.” How bizarre.
Hamaguchi’s exquisite and enchanting translation of Haruki Murakami’s (about a mourning theatre director!) is a must-see. Chekhov is one of my favorite authors.
Is there anyone who doesn’t want to have sex with the enigmatic young woman recruited to serve as his chauffeur? it wouldn’t be such a compelling examination of the space between individuals and the mechanisms that allow them to get closer to each other; otherwise Hidetoshi Nishijima and Tôko Miura’s outstanding performances in “Drive My Car” encourage us to discover our peace in the stillness beyond words and insist that even the ones we love most are liable to get lost in translation. That is, of course, what subtitles are for, as Nishijima’s character would be pleased to demonstrate.
The Power of the Dog
Her ability to mine the depths of humanity, particularly in the kind of people who have geared themselves to not share in any way, is unsurpassed, and in her latest masterwork, she takes that theme to a variety of exhilarating ends.
When Thomas Savage’s book about a troubled cowboy is turned into an investigation of human desires by Campion, the result is an unforgettable film. In addition to all of that, there was an anthrax murder? Go for it! And if you missed the anthrax murder, please watch the film again for yourself and director Damien Campion.
However, the extraordinary level of craftsmanship displayed in every area of Campion’s picture sets it apart from the rest. There’s no denying why the picture received the most Oscar nominations of any film this year (12 nominations in categories ranging from directing to acting to other craftwork). Will it, however, be able to compete with the heavy hitters? When it comes to great works of art, it doesn’t matter — this one will be there for a long time.