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The 94th Oscars: what will win and what should win?

It is that time of year again! Oscar season is once again upon us. On March 27, 2022, the 94th Academy Awards will be held at the Dolby Theatre and will air on ABC. All of Hollywood comes together to honor the best in film from 2021. Nominees came out on February 8, and that is when the excitement kicked into high gear. Some people have the Super Bowl, I have the Oscars. Every year I am analyzing, researching and watching films that get Oscar buzz. I try to think like the experts and learn about the very best films. While I know there are plenty of great films that do not get the buzz due to being small, I like to use the Oscars as my resource for films. After careful scrutinizing, here is what I think will win the Oscar and what I want to win the Oscar.

Best Picture: With 12 nominations, the most for a film this year, “The Power of the Dog” is presenting itself as the one to beat. It’s going into Oscar night with the most precursor awards, including Best Picture at the BAFTAs, Critics Choice and many more. Critics fell in love with this Western about love and courage. It was a fascinating film that has been the head of the pack for a while, and that will most likely culminate with the top prize at the top award show. That being said, I have seen most of these films and I have to say “CODA” was the one that stole my heart. An emotional story of a teenage girl being the only hearing person in a family of deaf people was what drew me in the most, and it would win if I had it my way.

Best Actor: Will Smith carried “King Richard,” the story of the Williams’ sisters’ childhood and their ruthless father. He gave an exciting performance that took home the Golden Globe, BAFTA and the Critics Choice award. The academy loves biopics and Smith’s portrayal will most likely lead him to bringing home the statuette. However, Andrew Garfield’s performance in “Tick Tick Boom” was legendary. In the musical film about Jonathan Larson’s life, Garfield learned how to sing, play the piano and he effectively became Larson while tugging at my heart strings. I have seen this film twice since it came out, and that is because of Garfield. I’m still bitter that this film wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, but I can still hold out hope for its star.

Best Actress: This category is probably the most erratic one of the year. None of the nominees were nominated for a BAFTA and none of them are in a Best Picture nominated film. It’s a tough category to predict, and I might make a different prediction on the day of the awards, but I’m predicting that Jessica Chastain will win for her performance in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” the story of cheerful televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker. With a SAG award, Bafta and Critics Choice award under her belt, she has become a top contender. It was not the easiest role, especially under pounds of makeup, and Chastain really showed Tammy’s rise and fall in a powerful way that fascinated me. She stole the show, and even though she was not always a top contender, I have been rooting for her since I saw the film. I think she will win the Oscar and she is also who I want to win the Oscar. 

Best Supporting Actor: This category has gone back and forth, and at this point Troy Kotsur seems to be able to take it for his role in “CODA” as a caring and devoted father. Kotsur is the first deaf actor ever nominated for an Oscar in a role that has been a real breakthrough for him. The race for best supporting actor has become a tight race, with Kotsur picking up some big key awards late in the game, SAG, BAFTA, Critics Choice, etc. While it did not seem to be leaning towards him a few weeks ago, I predict that the Academy will give him the award. If it were up to me, I would want Kotsur to win as his performance was amazing. I believe he can win this award and that is what I want to happen. He played a character that felt so real. I hope I see him more in the future. 

Best Supporting Actress: In 1961, Rita Moreno won Best Supporting Actress for playing Anita in the original “West Side Story.” Fifty years later, it looks like history will repeat itself with Ariana Debose playing the same role in the remake of “West Side Story.” Critics have loved her take on the iconic role and she has been a huge standout of the film for critics and award shows. Personally, I really enjoyed Jessie Buckley’s performance in “The Lost Daughter” where she played a younger version of the lead, showing the hardships of raising children. It was a bit of a surprise to see her name on nomination day, but it was a pleasant one. Even though she wasn’t the lead, she was my favorite part of the film, and her winning will make for an interesting upset.

Best Director: This category is not really a competition. It has been clear for months that Jane Campion will win for “The Power of the Dog.” She has dominated every awards show and every critics’ pick. She has been predicted for a while and no one else really has a chance. I have to agree with what the critics have been saying. Campion created a Western feel and brought out stellar performances from the actors. It was a western for modern audiences, and she told a fascinating tale. Campion presented the story in a special way that made for an exciting film, and her win would be well earned. She is almost guaranteed a win by this point, and I am hoping that will happen.

Best Adapted Screenplay: This appears to be another category where “The Power of the Dog” will receive the statuette. The film was adapted from a book by Thomas Savage, and critice admired how this novel was brought to life. Considering the domination in the director category and being the favorite in the best picture category, it seems only natural that the story will get a win too. However, “CODA” has the potential to be a contender, as it has gained momentum in the past few weeks. The story of this film has grabbed people’s hearts and was told expertly. This story could have been told as an average feel good story, but it was written so well that even the most predictable moments grabbed you, which is what gives it potential to win. It is the story that moved me the most and I would want to see it recognized.

Best Original Screenplay: In this category, “Belfast” will have its time to shine. This is a heartfelt semi autobiography of the much loved Sir Kenneth Branagh that takes place in 1960s Ireland. Considering the film has talked about being a contender in Best Picture and got early attention with a win at the Toronto Film Festival, this could be the original story that receives its praise. That being said, “Licorice Pizza,” the story of young romance in 1970s San Fernando Valley, could sneak in with a win for Paul Thomas Anderson. It was a cute romance that critics enjoyed. Despite the problematic age gap in this film, I really enjoyed the story. It was about carefree young people making money, learning about the film industry and falling in love. I think it would be nice if Anderson won his first Oscar after eight previous nominations.


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