Who we would've nominated for the 2022 Oscars

click to enlarge Who we would've nominated for the 2022 Oscars
Not nominated, but hopefully not forgotten: Nic Cage in Pig, Vincent Lindon in Titane, Jodie Comer in The Last Duel, Kathryn Hunter in The Tragedy of Macbeth.

The fact that we collectively can identify what types of movies are "Oscar bait" is probably a bad sign.

While the Academy Awards are theoretically designed to honor the best films of a given year, we know certain types of movies, performances and styles are bound to be excluded. Despite this, the awards can still often get things right. But as a yearly tradition, I love to counter the actual Oscar nominees — which dropped early Tuesday morning — with who I think truly deserves the cinematic spotlight (keeping in mind that a few eligible films like Drive My Car and The Worst Person in the World remain unseen as they're still completely inaccessible for Spokanites).

* indicates who we'd pick as the winner


Don't Look Up
Drive My Car
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story

The French Dispatch
The Last Duel
Licorice Pizza
Riders of Justice
West Side Story

I simply do not understand the fascination with the wildly unremarkable, sanitized and milquetoast Belfast, apart from awards voters being old. It doesn't crack my top 40 films of the year. Likewise, Don't Look Up is basically a dumb version of Idiocracy with only one repeated joke. Neither deserve to be up for a single award.

The Academy got it right nominating the sci-fi wonder of Dune, the '70s Hollywood romance of Licorice Pizza, the propulsive remake of West Side Story, and the heart-warming deaf family dramedy of CODA. The Power of the Dog just missed my list but is a worthy of all its nominations. Nightmare Alley is a surprise nominee but certainly a well-made film. For me, King Richard is neither here nor there, but it fits the Oscar biopic mold.

It feels like the only reason The Last Duel isn't getting any awards love is because it bombed at the box office, which is stupid. I also don't get why people were far less in love with The French Dispatch than other Wes Anderson films, when the New Yorker tribute ranks among his best. The Academy also isn't too fond of smaller off-beat films (the odd Portland foodie revenge journey of Pig), especially when they're international (the off-kilter Danish revenge dramedy Riders of Justice; the vicious/tender French motor-loving Titane). The odds of an anime being up for Best Picture are way below zero, but Belle being snubbed for Best Animated Feature is highly questionable.


Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Denis Villeneuve, Dune*
Julia Ducournau, Titane
Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
Stephen Spielberg, West Side Story
Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch

The scope of Villeneuve's vision for Dune feels totally realized on screen in a way that can be breathtaking and his snub is tough to stomach. Ducournau's distinctive, twisted worldview isn't in the Oscars wheelhouse, but few modern filmmakers have as distinct of a voice. PTA and Anderson both seemed like they were having a gay old time in their respective directoral comfort zones, while Spielberg stepped out of his in a way that makes you question why he hasn't been directing musicals his whole career.


Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick ... Boom!
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth
Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos
Will Smith, King Richard

Cooper Hoffman, Licorice Pizza
Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth
Joaquin Phoenix, C'mon C'mon
Mads Mikkelsen, Riders of Justice
Nicolas Cage, Pig*

Cage is in his minimalist mode in Pig and conveys the world-beaten aesthetic, seeming to carry around tons of trauma with each determined plodding footstep, but apparently it was deemed too weird. C’mon C’mon showcased the softer side of Phoenix (and is much more compelling than his Oscar-winning Joker turn). Washington and Mikkelsen turn on the brooding for contrastingly classic and hyper-modern films.

All the actual nominees have been nominated before. They're all at least solid (though Bardem was miscast as Desi Arnaz), but some fresh blood in the form of Hoffman would've been nice. He turns the fake charm up to 100 in his debut as a fast-talking young schemer and subpar romantic.


Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Kristen Stewart, Spencer
Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos
Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

Agathe Rousselle, Titane
Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza
Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye*
Jodie Comer, The Last Duel
Rachael Sennott, Shiva Baby

Chastain went all in on transforming into Tammy Faye, and she knocks it so far out of the park despite her soap-y surroundings that windshields in the parking lot are in danger. Comer is the real lifeblood — the truth — at the center of The Last Duel.

It was also an astounding year for actresses in feature debuts that the Oscars ignored. Rousselle (wildly unhinged, murderous car-humper), Haim (sweet Hollywood hustler), and Sennott (awkward, hypersexualized, confused young Jewish adult) all delivered standout performances on their first go-round.


Ciarán Hinds, Belfast
Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog
J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos
Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog
Troy Kotsur, CODA

Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza
Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog
Sean Harris, The Green Knight
Troy Kotsur, CODA
Vincent Lindon, Titane*

The shocking turn that Titane takes midfilm works because Vincent Lindon puts in extraordinary work as a steroid-using, grieving, macho dad. Troy Kostur plays a far nicer, wittier and more charming dad in CODA, serving as the connective tissue keeping his mostly deaf family together. Sean Harris plays a quiet, aged King Arthur with captivating subtlety. And speaking of quiet, Kodi Smit-McPhee’s odd, reserved nature allows The Power of the Dog’s brew to slowly boil.

It's shocking that the star-heavy actual nominee list excluded Bradley Cooper, who is an absolute firecracker as the deranged Hollywood wild card Jon Peters. His late intro into Licorice Pizza gives the film an extreme jolt of energy.


Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard
Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter
Judy Dench, Belfast
Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog

Amy Adams, Dear Evan Hansen
Florence Pugh, Black Widow
Kathryn Hunter, The Tragedy of Macbeth*
Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog
Ruth Negga, Passing

Kathryn Hunter's unnerving, slithering portrayal of Macbeth's three witches manages to upstage the film's leads Washington and Frances McDormand, which is really all you need to say (but the Oscars disagreed). Kirsten Dunst's fragility opposite Benedict Cumberbatch's boisterous lead in The Power of the Dog is perfectly measured. The snubbed Ruth Negga brought much-needed pep to Passing. The internet may have mocked Dear Evan Hansen, but Amy Adams totally works as the film's emotional core. And I always like rewarding supporting performances that make films way, way more fun, and Florence Pugh alone elevates Black Widow's rating by like 1.5 stars by being a burst of blissful energy and wisecracks.

Jessie Buckley's nomination was surprising, but it's certainly deserved. Apparently Ariana DeBose is the betting favorite to win this category, which seems strange since the acting was the least interesting aspect of the West Side Story remake.


Belfast, Kenneth Branagh
Don't Look Up, Adam McKay, David Sirota
King Richard, Zach Baylin
Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson
The Worst Person in the World, Eskil Vogt, Joachim Troer

C'mon C'mon, Mike Mills
The French Dispatch, Wes Anderson, Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness*
Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson
Riders of Justice, Anders Thomas Jensen
Titane, Julia Ducournau

Perhaps my journalistic bias is showing, but I found the magazine story-style writing and layout of The French Dispatch to be an absolute delight. In a way, Wes Anderson's twee quirk feels way more comfortable in anthology storytelling, where the conceit doesn't have as much time to tire itself out. Licorice Pizza is PTA's best original screenplay in at least two decades, so hopefully it will win. The tenderness of Mike Mills’ C’mon C’mon script touches on childhood insecurities in such a loving way. The very different foreign language bizarreness of Titane and Riders of Justice never had a chance to be nominated, but that's the Oscars' loss.

Again, Belfast shouldn't be up for anything, but at least the script is passable. Don't Look Up on the other hand? That's a legitimately bad script.


CODA, Siân Heder
Drive My Car, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe
Dune, Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth
The Lost Daughter, Maggie Gyllenhaal
The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion

CODA, Siân Heder
Dune, Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth*
The Last Duel, Nicole Holofcener, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon
The Power of the Dog, Jane Campion
Spider-Man: No Way Home, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers

Dune is a book that's like 90 percent lore. Turning that text into a compelling script for the big screen despite its general lack of action is a feat worth heralding. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck aren't going to go two-for-two on Oscar-winning screenplays (after Good Will Hunting), but their exercise in nuanced multi-perspective storytelling with Nicole Holofcener on The Last Duel was nothing to dismiss. CODA's familial tale is so lovable that only a Grinch would hate on it, and The Power of the Dog is the opposite side of that coin with its slow-burning dark edges. And while I'm 100 percent fine with Spider-Man: No Way Home not getting a Best Picture nod despite fanboy bleating, the way the film completely sticks the landing at its conclusion could've earned it a screenplay nom.


Dune, Greig Fraser
Nightmare Alley, Dan Laustsen
The Power of the Dog, Ari Wegner
The Tragedy of Macbeth, Bruno Delbonnel
West Side Story, Janusz Kamiski

Dune, Greig Fraser*
The French Dispatch, Robert D. Yeoman
The Green Knight, Andrew Droz Palermo
The Tragedy of Macbeth, Bruno Delbonnel
West Side Story, Janusz Kamiski

The fact that I was positively giddy in the theater watching dramatic sweeping shots of sand should tell you just how stellar Greig Fraser's work on Dune is. The various interesting elements of The Green Knight never really tied all together, but damn if it isn't a gorgeous vision awash in stunning colors. On the opposite end of the literal spectrum, Bruno Delbonnel makes The Tragedy of Macbeth look like a collection of stark, museum-worthy black and white photographs, awash in German expressionism. The French Dispatch maintains the signature Wes Anderson fastidious eye-candy style, while West Side Story's cinematography succeeds at making the musical a spectacle. ♦

Kids Movie at the Library @ Coeur d'Alene Public Library

Tue., March 28, 3-5 p.m.
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About The Author

Seth Sommerfeld

Seth Sommerfeld is the Music Editor for The Inlander, and an alumnus of Gonzaga University and Syracuse University. He has written for The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Fox Sports, SPIN, Collider, and many other outlets. He also hosts the podcast, Everyone is Wrong...