The 94th Academy Awards ceremony is just around the corner, and it finally feels a little bit more like its old self, with the event on March 27th, 2022, actually having hosts after three years without having one. It’s also the first Oscars since the coronavirus eased up a little on us all, and there is an abundance of great films looking to pick up a statuette or two.
When it comes to the big guns, the major awards that we all await eagerly, the best film category has a tally of ten top movies vying for the prize, and we’re going to take a closer look at each of them before predicting which will pick up the top prize.
A semi-autobiographical tale from Sir Branagh that is something of a coming-of-age tale that is precisely what the Academy looks for from a best picture nominee. There’s plenty of heart here and some superb acting performances, especially from veterans Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds.
This is an impressive remake of the 2014 French film La Famille Belier and has proven a real hit on the festival circuit. It was released in theatres through Apple+, who also offered it on their streaming services (no doubt keen to muscle in on the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime. It’s a film that’s been praised for its use of deaf actors and is a movie that took away a number of awards at the Sundance festival but isn’t likely to win big at the Oscars.
Don’t Look Up
This darkly comedic film was well received by its audience on Netflix, where the film was released (ahead of a low-key cinema release, for the purposes of being able to secure an Academy Award nomination or two), but for some reason, critics were less pleased with the Leonardo Di Caprio, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep helmed movie, perhaps they were more interested in the types of camera lenses being used as opposed to taking in the entertaining, and thought-provoking, nature of a film that deserved far more love from those in the know.
Drive My Car
Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s film received its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last year, and it has proven a big hit with audiences worldwide and picked up the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Golden Globes but has secured a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars.
It’s also the first foreign-language film to win the Best Picture award from the three major U.S critics groups, the LAFCA, NYFCC, and the NSFC, but it’s unlikely to win the big one.
This much-anticipated remake from Denis Villeneuve is a masterpiece in terms of its visual language and style, but it’s not necessarily the kind of movie that would get the best picture nod as it’s very rare that a movie from the fantasy or sci-fi genre picks up such an award (the last time this happened was way back in 2004 when Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King triumphed, though The Shape of Water in 2018 could also be considered as falling into that category).
Will Smith is tipped to win the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Richard Williams, father to tennis legends Venus and Serena, and it’s unlikely that this biopic will pick up the best picture as it wasn’t a massive success in general terms, aside from Smith’s excellent individual performance.
A return to form for Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, There Will be Blood and Boogie Nights), Licorice Pizza is seen as the outsider in the betting for best picture. This comedy-drama offers two leads their film debuts, and both Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman are superb in a movie that is full of heart.
Guillermo del Toro won two Oscars for The Shape of Water in 2018, and this is his sixth nomination in total, but this horror-thriller, based on William Lindsay Gresham’s novel, isn’t going to win the best picture Oscar. The critics’ reception of the movie was a little lukewarm, and the audience, in general, dealt a similar response.
The Power of the Dog
Another Netflix project, this western (written and directed by Oscar-winner Jane Campion), is currently the betting favorite to win the best picture Oscar. Benedict Cumberbatch puts in an uncompromising performance as the lead in this psychological drama that proved a big hit with the critics. It has 12 nominations in total, more than any of its rivals, and could well win many of the main awards.
West Side Story
Steven Spielberg is quite used to Oscar nominations; this is the 13th film he’s been involved in that has secured a nod from the Academy, but though it’s true that the remake of his classic musical received glowing reviews initially, the Oscar buzz has died down of late. It’s been almost 20 years since a musical picked up the best picture award, with Chicago winning back in 2003, and 2022 won’t see that drought come to an end.
So, Who Will Win?
In terms of which of this extensive list of films has a chance of winning the best picture, it’s really down to either Belfast or The Power of the Dog, with the latter being the slight favorite in the running at present.