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Here Are RELEVANT’s Predictions for the 2022 Oscars

Well, the Oscars are here, for better or worse. Probably worse, if we’re being honest, since this year’s broadcast has the most “how do you do, fellow kids?” energy of any recent, ostensibly serious art thing in recent memory. Cinematic luminaries like Tony Hawk and DJ Khaled will hand out a few awards while a lot of the categories — score, editing, makeup; you know, the stuff that actually makes up a movie — aren’t even going to be part of the broadcast. And don’t forget the #OscarsCheerMomentwhich feels like it’s trying to muscle in on MTV’s turf.

None of this is the fault of the movies themselves, many of which were very good. Unlike recent years, the popular understanding of the “clear frontrunner” has evolved a lot in recent years, as one-time underdogs are starting to look like sure bets. Here are our predictions for this year’s Oscar winners in the major categories.

Best Picture

Sundance 2021 Saw Record-Low Theatrical Box Office | IndieWire

This one has become a real coin flip between prestige favorite The Power of the Dog and bighearted underdog CODA. Jane Campion’s austere Western has all the hallmarks of being an Oscar favorite, but in these bleak times, the warmth of CODA has proven to be a huge hit and has fueled Sian Heder’s surge. It could go either way, but we’re going with CODA.

Will Win: CODA

Might Win: The Power of the Dog

Should Have Been Nominated: The Worst Person in the World 

Best Director

The Power of the Dog' reactions: 'Masterpiece of modern cinema' - GoldDerby

Even if CODA perseveres, its director didn’t even land a nomination. That leaves the lane pretty wide open for The Power of the Dog director Jane Campion to rack up an Oscar here, becoming just the third woman to ever win, following Kathryn Bigelow for Hurt Locker and Chloé Zhao for Nomadland.

Will Win: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Might Win: Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Should Have Been Nominated: Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

Best Actor

King Richard - Rotten Tomatoes

Will Smith will win. It might be the night’s surest bet. He’s been an early frontrunner, a delightful awards scene presence and has been nominated enough times without a win in the past that voters are probably feeling like it’s time to give him his due. Plus, Smith’s performance in King Richard was genuinely terrific.

Will Win: Will Smith, King Richard

Might Win: Andrew Garfield, tick, tick …BOOM!

Should Have Been Nominated: Nicolas Cage, Pig

Best Actress

The Eyes of Tammy Faye': Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield Are Unrecognizable in First Images - News WWC

This might be the night’s biggest toss-up, as the all the nominees seem to be neck-a-neck. For a while, Jessica Chastain and Kirsten Stewart seemed to be the clear frontrunners for The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Spencer, respectively, but Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter), Penélope Cruz (Parallel Mothers) and Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos) have all had strong showings lately. This could go a lot of directions but we’re going to go with Chastain by a hair.

Will Win: Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Might Win: Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

Should Have Been Nominated: Jennifer Hudson, RESPECT

Best Supporting Actor

Oscar-Nominee Troy Kotsur Can't Let Go of 'CODA' | Vanity Fair

Kodi Smit-McPhee’s The Power of the Dog performance was probably the most striking thing about the very striking movie, but Troy Kotsur is the one to beat here. If he wins here, he’ll be just the second deaf actor to ever to do so.

Will Win: Troy Katsur, CODA

Might Win: Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog 

Should Have Been Nominated: Jeffrey Wright, The French Dispatch

Best Supporting Actress

Five stars for Spielberg's 'moving' West Side Story - BBC Culture

In Oscar history, two different actors have won an Oscar for the same role two different times. Heath Ledger and Joaquin Phoenix both won for playing the Joker, and Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando both won for Vito Corleone. If Ariana DeBose wins for her role as Rita for West Side Story, as she probably will and should, then that will make her the third. Rita Moreno won for the first West Side Story.

Will Win: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Might Win: Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Should Have Been Nominated: Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza 

Best Adapted Screenplay

CODA” Is a Feel-Bad Feel-Good Movie | The New Yorker

This seems like the surest weathervane for Best Picture. If CODA wins here, it’ll win Best Picture. If The Power of the Dog triumphs, then it takes home the prize. If something else wins …well, then things should get interesting. But we’ll go with CODA.

Will Win: Sian Heder, CODA

Might Win: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Should Have Been Nominated: Steven Levenson, tick, tick …BOOM! 

Best Original Screenplay

Belfast (2021) - IMDb

This is a little bit of a three-way heater, since Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza and Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up have all clinched some early awards. Still, Belfast was an early favorite that appealed to middlebrow Oscar voters in a way Pizza didn’t and was widely loved in a way Don’t Look Up wasn’t.

Will Win: Kenneth Branagh, Belfast

Might Win: Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza

Should Have Been Nominated: Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, The Last Duel

Best International Feature

Webster Film Series opens 2022 with "Drive My Car"

Drive My Car has become a minor phenomenon in the weeks since it was nominated, proving that as embarrassing and cringe as the Oscars can be, they can still fuel success for movies that would likely have otherwise flown under audiences’ radars. That momentum will likely carry it to a victory here.

Will Win: Drive My Car

Might Win: The Worst Person in the World

Should Have Been Nominated: Titane

Best Documentary Feature

Questlove's 'Summer of Soul' Doc Goes to Searchlight Pictures and Hulu - Variety

It’s always a little tough to guess these, since even Oscar voters never seem particularly motivated to watch as many documentaries as they do scripted movies. That leaves a lot of this category up to accessibility, and no doc was more accessible than Questlove’s Summer of Soul. The man is about to be one step closer to an EGOT.

Will Win: Summer of Soul 

Might Win: Flee

Should Have Been Nominated: The Rescue

Best Animated Feature

Box Office: Disney's 'Encanto' Disappoints With Mere $40 Million Debut

The Mitchells VS the Machines is more dazzling and Flee more inventive, but voters will almost certainly go for Encanto.

Will Win: Encanto

Might Win: The Mitchells VS the Machines

Should Have Been Nominated: Given the amount of green screens involved …maybe Spider-Man: No Way Home?

Best Editing

Dune (2021) - IMDb

Sometimes, this award tends to be less about the “best editing” and more about the “most editing,” which isn’t necessarily the same thing in a movie. That said, King Richard and tick, tick …BOOM! both showcased a lot of fancy editing tricks, but we expect this will be just one of the many technical awards Dune ends up taking home.

Will Win: Dune

Might Win: King Richard

Should Have Been Nominated: West Side Story 

Best Original Song

With its next feature Encanto, Disney swaps pure fantasy for magical realism - The Verge

This could have been an absolute surefire win for Lin-Manuel Miranda if Disney had submitted “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” but nominations came months before that song became a phenomenon and the more conventional “Dos Oruguitas” was submitted instead. Shouldn’t hurt his chances too much. Welcome to the EGOT Club, Lin-Manuel.

Will Win: “Dos Oruguitas,” Lin-Manuel Miranda

Might Win: “No Time to Die,” Billie Eilish

Should Have Been Nominated: We don’t talk about …that.

Best Score

Stunning New 'Dune' Trailer Is Begging You to See 'Dune' in Theaters | WIRED

See Also

It’d be fun to see Johnny Greenwood take it for The Power of the Dog here, and his nervy work on the movie was indeed excellent. But everyone loves Hans Zimmer going full Hans Zimmer, and he didn’t hold back on Dune. Congratulations, Tuvan throat singers!

Will Win: Hans Zimmer, Dune

Might Win: Johnny Greenwood, The Power of the Dog

Should Have Been Nominated: Antonio Pino, Nine Days

Best Cinematography

Rebecca Ferguson sees the 'Dune' power shift coming - Los Angeles Times

Like we said, we expect to see a lot of Dune in the craft awards here. That’s desert power, baby.

Will Win: Greig Fraser, Dune

Might Win: Ari Wegner, The Power of the Dog

Should Have Been Nominated: Andrew Droz Palermo, Green Knight

Costume Design 

Emma Stone Is Chic and Spooky in the First Trailer for Disney's 'Cruella' | Glamour

If people remembered one thing about Cruella, it’s that the evil puppy killer from 101 Dalmatians became that way because of trauma. If they remember two things, it’s the costumes.

Will Win: Cruella

Might Win: West Side Story

Should Have Been Nominated: Green Knight 

Best Makeup and Hairstying

The Eyes of Tammy Faye' Review: Fall From Grace - The New York Times

A big goal of The Eyes of Tammy Faye was to help people see past the makeup and get to know the real, complex character of Tammy Faye underneath the mascara and hairdo. The problem is, the team did a little too good of a job on the makeup and hair to really ignore it. Oscar voters probably won’t.

Will Win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Might Win: House of Gucci

Should Have Been Nominated: The Suicide Squad 

Best Production Design

Dune' Review: A Hero in the Making, on Shifting Sands - The New York Times

Don’t doubt Dune here, since its vast sci-fi landscapes were genuinely enthralling and altogether more memorable than The Tragedy of Macbeth and The Power of the DogNightmare Alley might sneak in its only win of the night here (and, frankly, kind of deserves to), but it’s a longshot.

Will Win: Dune

Might Win: Nightmare Alley

Should Have Been Nominated: In the Heights 

Best Sound

Movie Review: 'Dune' - Catholic Review

You know your sound is good when your movie is a sprawling tale of sci-fi politics, royal intrigue and sandworms, but you still leave thinking about little things like the slash of Duncan Idaho’s knives and the sand whipping against a spaceship.

Will Win: Dune

Might Win: The Power of the Dog

Should Have Been Nominated: The French Dispatch 

Best Visual Effects

Dune': How the VFX Team Created the Sandworms and Ornithopters | IndieWire

This would have been Spider-Man: No Way Home‘s opportunity to take home at least one award, but some of the green screen trickery left a bit to be desired in the year’s biggest movie. Of the two Marvel entries up for an award, Shang-Chi had the more impressive CGI, but don’t expect anyone to really remember that in our post Spider-verse cinematic landscape. Plus, Oscar voters will pat themselves on the back for voting for a prestige flick over a superhero movie. Dune wins again.

Will Win: Dune

Might Win: Spider-Man: No Way Home

Should Have Been Nominated: Venom: Let There Be Carnage

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