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Rotten Tomatoes Predicts the 2022 Oscar Nominations!

Expect a big morning for The Power of the Dog, Dune, Belfast, and more. Get the jump on Tuesday's Oscar nominations with our predictions for who will be nominated and why.

by | February 2, 2022 | Comments

Next Tuesday — just 10 months removed from the last time we did this — Leslie Jordan and Tracy Ellis Ross will announce the nominees for the 94th annual Academy Awards on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

Frontrunners have been coming into focus all awards season — check out our Awards Leaderboard to see which films and folks are racking up awards so far — but after most of the early awards contests vacated for greener dates outside the latest, Omicron-variant COVID-19 surge, we are left, surprisingly, a bit fuzzy on where the season lands.

The awards obsessives (yes, that includes us) are dialed in, and even with the global box office limping back to life, a record number of films yet again gained eligibility. With over 300 films eligible for awards, predicting who will be nominated is unquestionably a tall order.

Below, you’ll find our predictions for the 2022 Oscar nominations, which honor the best filmmaking in 2021. We based our picks for the categories ranging from Best Picture to Best Original Song on potential nominees’ critical reception (hello, Tomatometer!), the nominations and wins they’ve been receiving from guilds and other groups during awards season, and what we’re hearing from voters and other industry folks – a.k.a. the “buzz.”

Today, Jane Campion’s The Power of Dog is hands down the favored pick to win it all, but could those expectations be stunned by a resurgent Belfast or everybody’s favorite crowd-pleaser CODA? For answers, check out our Oscar nominations predictions below and be here Tuesday when we reveal who is officially nominated for the 2022 Academy Awards.

Check out our picks for the Oscar nominations below, and let us know who you think will be nominated in the comments.


Best Picture

Emilia Jones in CODA

(Photo by ©Apple TV+)

Who will be nominated?










And why?

If you didn’t know, 2022 is the year the AMPAS goes back to 10 nominees for Best Picture and stays there for the foreseeable future. This means that for the first time since The Blindside was nominated for Best Picture in 2010 — an admittedly down year — we’re gonna go to the max. It also means we have a wide selection of films that we think will potentially become Best Picture nominees.

In the past, if a film secured a BAFTA, CCA, DGA, PGA, WGA, and  SAG nomination, you were all but guaranteed an Oscar Best Picture nomination. Just sweeping the above-the-line guild noms (WGA, PGA, DGA, SAG) is also a surefire way to punch your Oscar ticket, and this year, while no one can claim a clean sweep, three out of four ain’t bad. Currently, Belfast, West Side Story, Dune, Don’t Look Up, King Richard, CODA, Licorice Pizza, tick, tick… BOOM! can all boast securing three of the four.

This makes those titles the consensus picks to safely land a nomination. At the time of writing, we’re still awaiting the BAFTA noms to confirm how many of them will strengthen to their case. Our picks for those? Belfast, Dune, West Side Story, CODA, and The Power of the Dog.


Best Actor In a Leading Role

Who will be nominated?

Andrew Garfield – tick, tick… BOOM! 
Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog
Simon Rex – Red Rocket
Will Smith – King Richard

And why?

Remember last year when we picked Borat to win Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards? We’re carrying that energy over into 2022 with our Best Actor nom of Simon Rex.

Yes, he won Best Actor at the LAFCA Awards, and it is the greatest performance by a former MTV “VeeJay” we ever hoped to get. He was also directed by one the most dynamic filmmakers on the scene (Sean Baker), working alongside a host of first-time actors, and he ran naked through a refinery — actually, on second thought, this is just as it should be. Don’t be surprised if Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos), Peter Dinklage (Cyrano), or Nicolas Cage (Pig) squeak in, but we are digging Red Rocket’s chances.


Best Actress In A Leading Role

Who will be nominated?

Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos
Lady Gaga – House of Gucci
Jennifer Hudson – Respect
Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter

And why?

Yeah, we know. Kirsten Stewart is not on the list — and many think she should be! But she’s not, and we stand by this decision. The former child star has won over 25 Best Actress prizes and is the most awarded Lead Actress performance of 2021, but we don’t think she is getting a nomination. The SAG snub last month was a body blow. In truth, Lady Gaga is also at risk. Neither actress has been particularly deft in navigating the awards circuit. Both have been campaigning hard, but the former Twilight star is off our list for two reasons: Spencer’s lack of guild nominations and the UK box office.

And if she’s snubbed tomorrow at the BAFTAS? There’s no coming back from that. Plus, the “hypothetical” Lead Actress nomination could be the only one the film will get — not unheard of, but uncommon. And the hypothetical is perhaps the only place where Stewart’s nomination has strength — sorry to say, but facts are facts, y’all. Some other Lead Actress performances that died on the critics groups vine: do Lupita Nyong’o (US), Toni Collette (Hereditary), and Amy Adams (Arrival) sound familiar? Stewart’s  fans and many award pundits have proclaimed her nomination a certainty without much supporting evidence outside of siloed critics groups that don’t vote for the Academy Awards. Many SAG voters, however, are Academy voters, and they are simply not impressed.

Neither are the Brits. The international contingent that controls the largest group of voters in the Academy voting block has rejected Spencer on their BAFTA longlists and at the box office. For context: Spencer, an Oscar hopeful, made just $3 million at a freshly rebounded UK box office, while a Razzie-nommed Naomi Watts did the same business playing the “People’s Princess” in the 7% Tomatometer–rated Diana back in 2013. CODA, an American release with a mostly unknown cast, has seven BAFTA longlist mentions, while Spencer, a movie about arguably the most famous British woman outside of the Queen of England, could only secure four. The tea leaves are not looking good, ladies and lords. Jennifer Hudson or Penelope Cruz may bump out Gaga, or West Side Story’s Rachel Zegler could push in, but we are relatively confident Kristen Stewart will not be so lucky.


Best Actor In a Supporting Role

Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog

(Photo by ©Netflix)

Who will be nominated?

Troy Kotsur – CODA
Bradley Cooper – Licorice Pizza
Ciaran Hinds – Belfast
Kodi Smit-McPheeThe Power of the Dog
Jared Leto – House of Gucci

And why?

The supporting side is much more fluid than the lead performances, with noteworthy work from J.K. Simmons, Ben Affleck, Jamie Dornan, Colman Domingo, Alex Wolff, and a host of others, including our favorite pick Mike Faist for West Side Story. Instead, we went with those that mirrored our Best Picture choices. (Plus, Bradley Cooper and Troy Kotsur are competing in the category with at least two to three other nominations in tow for their respective films.) It’s difficult to feel particularly confident about any choice here; the only one we feel confident about is Kodi Smit-McPhee in The Power of the Dog.


Best Actress In A Supporting Role

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story

(Photo by Niko Tavernise/©20th Century Studios)

Who will be nominated?

Ariana DeBose – West Side Story
Marlee Matlin – CODA
Caitriona Balfe – Belfast
Kirsten Dunst – The Power of the Dog
Ruth Negga – Passing

And why?

As we said above, Supporting Actors and Actresses have more worthy choices than the Lead performance side in 2022. So, as with the men, we are going with those who have the best indicative nominations, even if Ann Dowd, Rita Moreno, Judi Dench, Aunjanue Ellis, and SAG nominee Cate Blanchett could all be in the final five. In this case, we feel similarly about Ariana DeBose in West Side Story as we did about Kodi Smit-McPhee earlier: nothing is stopping her.


Best Animated Feature Film

Who will be nominated?





And why?

Flee could shake up things up here and bump Luca or Sing 2 off the nominations stage, but these are the consensus picks for the Best Animated Film. The animation branch, which is more reliable and conservative than others, favors Pixar, Illumination, and Disney over all else, especially indie animated films.


Best Cinematography

Who will be nominated?





And why?

The Cinematography guild (ASC) favored Guillermo del Toro’s Nightmare Alley over Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story, a film with a slightly divisive aesthetic. We think that the Oscars will be more at home with Spielberg, however. The latter is also a hugely popular film with older members, the largest age group in the Academy.

Black and white dramas, a favorite of the D.P. branch, were not in short supply this year, so Passing or The French Dispatch could replace either Belfast or The Tragedy of Macbeth. The most likely spoiler nom from above is down to Nightmare Alley over Spielberg’s adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim Broadway musical.


Best Costume Design 

Who will be nominated?





And why?

For Costume Design it’s usually, “Gowns, beautiful gowns!” but the lack of Regency-style period fare in 2022 means that we are on the contemporary and sci-fi side this year with House of Gucci, Dune, and Cruella. Respect and West Side Story are both perhaps bigger titles with a more overall buzz, but we are going with Cyrano, the only major “gown” entry of the season.


Best Director

Who will be nominated?

Steven Spielberg – West Side Story
Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza
Ryusuke Hamaguchi – Drive My Car
Denis Villeneuve –  Dune
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog

And why?

The director’s branch of the Academy is a rare bird. They often veer away from the idea that the Best Director and Best Picture nominations are somehow are synonymous — as they so often are. It is also the smallest branch, with many long-term members, and it sends out fewer invitations to join. This is why they usually rally around a director regardless of their Best Picture chances. This year, we think that favor will be bestowed on Ryusuke Hamaguchi for Drive My Car, Japan’s International Feature entry. Leaving Kenneth Branagh off this list is a danger, but we think he will get his flowers with a Best Original Screenplay nom.


Best Documentary (Feature)

Who will be nominated?





And why?

Next Tuesday’s noms for Best Documentary could boil down to which films the Documentary branch feels would represent them best — not necessarily the “Best” Documentary, but more “who’s on our team.” Many filmmakers vacation in documentaries, using it as a stepping stone to narrative features that pay more and usually hold more global and industry prestige.

To combat this, the Docs branch has built an earned reputation for snubbing fan-favorite hits and perceived interlopers for more established documentarians. There are countless examples of films that racked up or even swept the indicative awards and never saw a nomination. This is the jeopardy for Awards Leaderboard frontrunner Summer of Soul and The Rescue, but we have included both. We are also a bit shaky on Flee, as it is a mixed-medium doc that many dismiss as a double or, in this case, triple (Animated, International, Doc) bite at the apple.


Best International Feature Film

Who will be nominated?





And why?

Prayers for the Stolen is DGA-nominated and one of the few non-English language titles to score that nomination, but The Worst Person in the World will push it out of contention here. The rest, particularly Flee and Drive My Car, have been heating up in recent weeks leading up to nominations and have multiple wins on our Awards Leaderboard.


Best Music (Original Score)

Who will be nominated?





And why?

We have said that The French Dispatch reigns over Encanto and Spencer, but any of them could and might prove us wrong with a nomination. We were slightly shaky on Nicholas Britell’s (Moonlight, Succession, Vice) inclusion for Don’t Look Up, mostly fearing that our undying love for every note he has composed has clouded our vision. When he led all nominations for The Society of Composers and Lyricists (SCL) awards, however, we put those fears to bed.


Best Music (Original Song)

Who will be nominated?

“Down To Joy” from Belfast – Van Morrison
“Just Look Up” from Don’t Look Up – Nicholas Britell
“Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto – Lin Manuel Miranda
“Guns Go Bang” from The Harder They Fall – Jaymes Samuel, Scott Mescudi, and Shaun Carter
‘No Time To Die” from No Time to Die – Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell

And why?

“We don’t talk about Bruno,  oh no.” And it is a damn tragedy. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s infectious and gossipy pop hit beat Frozen as the kids-will-sing-the-song-until-you-go-insane sensation, but it’s not up for Best Original Song. What is left on the shortlist is a mix of mega-hits and quiet ballads from indie features, and we think the grouping above is most likely to parlay their Oscar shortlist appearance into a nomination and possible win.

You want to know the clearest path to go from Best Original Song contender to Best Original Song winner? Sing a song for James Bond. Beyond that, don’t be surprised if Beyonce, H.E.R., and Jennifer Hudson are called on nominations morning, but there are plenty of pop stars on the list, even if they don’t.  So “Just Look Up” and don’t despair. And yes, in song or in score, we still love listening to Nicholas Britell.


Best Visual Effects

Who will be nominated?





And why?

For our annual examination of the best Action and Superhero movie VFX, we have excluded James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad and Black Widow, but as big IP with critical acclaim, they could knock a film like The Eternals off the list. This category often contains the lowest-rated titles on the Tomatometer, but that’s not a prerequisite for inclusion here. It helps significantly to score a win, but nominations are earned at the bake-off VFX Oscar presentation, which is also sent off to voters before final ballots.


Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Who will be nominated?





And why?

There is no other way to say it: The writing categories are a mess this year. That’s not a quality judgement on the contenders in the Adapted and Original screenplay categories, just a comment on the muddled state of the race. The WGA, which would previously mirror Oscar nominations (give or take one or two selections), has changed so much in recent years, and so many of the top contenders are not eligible, that it is now little better than guesswork to sift through the favored scripts. But we tried and went with five we think the often finicky branch should enjoy. The Tragedy of Macbeth, Passing, and tick, tick… BOOM! are also on the bubble, so keep an eye out if they secure BAFTA noms over our picks here.


Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

Who will be nominated?





And why?

Second verse? Same as the first! In all likelihood, the latest version of Final Draft may have a better idea of what the writing branch is up to this year, but one thing we are sure of is that the Academy likes that there Licorice Pizza — as unappetizing as that sounds.

Also on the Original Screenplay side, fewer frontrunners were left out of WGA contention, so we were closer to those picks here. PigParallel Mothers, and Mass failed to secure WGA noms, as they were deemed ineligible, but we think Oscar Best Picture frontrunner Belfast will rule the day over them, as well as Wes Anderson’s latest, which also scored a nod from the WGA. Our “big swing” here is serving King Richard a snub, due largely to how much the film’s buzz has cooled in recent weeks.


The 2022 Academy Awards nominations will be announced on February 8, 2022 at 5am PST/8am EST. Check back at Rotten Tomatoes to see who gets a nod. 

Are you as obsessed with awards as we are? Check out our Awards Leaderboard for 2021/22


On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

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