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Rotten Tomatoes Predicts the 2022 Oscars

It's been a wacky awards season and some of the categories are up in the air, but here are our best, highly educated guesses as to who will take home the hardware on Sunday night.

by | March 23, 2022 | Comments

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Emma Stone in Cruella

(Photo by ©2021 Disney Enterprises)

The big night is upon us, and we can finally put all of the Twitter controversies, actual controversies, debates about the ceremony, punditry, and panic aside to announce the winners this Sunday night. It may have been due to back-to-back extended seasons with just a tiny break in between, but we just wrapped one of the most chaotic awards seasons in recent memory. “Convention be damned” is the new mantra we must follow as we sit on the cusp of a brave new world as it relates to Hollywood’s big night — maybe.

In this new world order, Twitter users pick fan favorite winners (yes, that’s happening), an actress can skip all the major contests and still snag a nom (how could we have doubted you, K-Stew), and a low-budget indie darling can rise like David to topple a cinematic Goliath for the night’s biggest prize. Because of this unpredictability, we have gone into predicting the Oscar winners with more humility than usual as this year has proven anything is possible, even a Lady Gaga snub.

Little is known about the 94th Academy Awards outside of who will host, who is nominated, and where it will take place. The list of presenters has many scratching their heads (DJ Khaled? Travis Barker?), and the announcement that they will pre-record some of the categories has angered many loyal Oscar watchers. However, the Academy Awards face an existential crisis that is tantamount to financial blackmail from their host media partner. We will hold our judgment on those proposed changes until after the ceremony wraps.

We do know we are in for some surprises, particularly regarding some of the bigger prizes. Though many categories like Best Actor, Best Director, and both Supporting performances have been decided, many others still show no clear consensus (i.e., Best Actress, Best Picture, and both screenplay prizes). Going into Sunday with fundamental questions on who will win many contests does add a thrill, but it is yet to be determined if that thrill was worth all the uncertainty that led to it.

To help you with your Oscar ballots – and perhaps to clue in most of the world that the Oscars are still happening – the Rotten Tomatoes team has made some educated guesses on who will win come Sunday night. If you want to win your virtual office pool or be the most informed person at your Oscars party, read below for our predictions for the 2022 Academy Awards, and let us know who you think will win in the comments.

Follow us on social all day Sunday, March 27 for reactions, and check back with Rotten Tomatoes after the ceremony to hear our take on the Oscars’ most memorable moments and the night’s biggest shocks.

Best Picture

Emilia Jones in CODA

(Photo by ©Apple TV+)

Who will win?

Well, that escalated quickly. And by that, we mean CODA, the family-friendly tearjerker that could upend the entire Oscar landscape if it can defy convention to win Best Picture. Though Troy Kotsur, who stars in the film, was a heavy favorite for Best Supporting Actor, the film itself didn’t emerge as a Best Picture candidate until late, and it only recently signaled it had enough support to win, as The Power of the Dog has been a darling of critics groups and precursor contests all year long.

The first hint of The Power of the Dogs weakness came when it was snubbed for a Best Ensemble nomination at the SAG awards, and after a surprise PGA win for CODA on Saturday night, The Power of the Dog has seen its frontrunner status, and much of its momentum, all but evaporate. Convention says that a PGA win on the same preferential ballot the Oscars employ is an ever-faithful predictor for what will win Best Picture.

It’s hard to imagine that Jane Campion no longer has the support to win, given how beloved her film was, but perhaps that sentiment didn’t transfer to AMPAS voters. The Power of the Dog is arguably the more cinematic offering – it was created with an elite level of craftsmanship – but so was Roma, and it lost to Green Book in similar circumstances. The Power of the Dog is also a cerebral cocktail that is equal parts thrilling and seductive but less accessible than CODA. The latter could, therefore, just be the feel-good favorite that overcomes all that “cinema” to win out, and this would not be the first time. In 2012, Spotlight, the emotional procedural with the triumphant ending, was able to triumph over The Revenant, the grand epic cinematic period piece adaptation. Sound familiar?

Best Actor In a Leading Role

Who will win?

Will Smith – King Richard

I mean, who else? He has won every indicative contest this year. After SAG, BAFTA, and Critics Choice wins it’s hard to fathom anyone else winning, this also marks the A-lister’s third Best Actor nomination. Even our favorite nominee, Andrew Garfield, thinks Smith is winning, or at least that is what he hinted.

Best Actress In A Leading Role

Who will win?

Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Chastain it is. We say this with the maximum amount of conviction that we can muster, and that’s not much. It’s not that we don’t think Chastain should and could win. Her role as disgraced televangelist turned LGBTQ icon Tammy Faye Bakker is powerful, and it has “the most” acting out of the assembled nominees. After her SAG win in February, most circled her as the frontrunner, but nothing this year has gone according to convention.

Lady Gaga, nominated at every contest before the Oscars, was snubbed by the Academy for Kristen Stewart. Despite no early support from the Globes, BAFTA, or SAG, the Twilight star shocked many pundits (and us) when she was nominated. The nominations and wins have been all over the place in ’22, and with no clear frontrunner, it is anyone’s guess who wins.

If we see another name called on Sunday, we think you should look to Penelope Cruz or Olivia Colman. In her 2019 acceptance speech for The Favourite, Colman joked, “This was not gonna happen again,” and she has followed that with back-to-back nominations, so clearly she is an Academy darling, and no one should completely dismiss her.

Best Actor In a Supporting Role

Troy Kotsur in CODA (2021)

(Photo by ©Apple TV+)

Who will win?

Troy Kotsur – CODA

Troy Kotsur has also won every indicative award, save for the Golden Globe, and the winner of that prize, Kodi Smit-McPhee, has faded in recent weeks. Kotsur’s win would be well deserved, but it would also serve as a fitting tribute to his co-star Marlee Matlin, who was the first deaf performer to win an Oscar 35 years ago for Children of a Lesser God.

Best Actress In A Supporting Role

Ariana DeBose in West Side Story

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

Who will win?

Ariana DeBose – West Side Story

We are a broken record, but no one is beating Ariana DeBose. She has won it all thus far. On top of the momentous and history-making win for Debose, the joy of joys is that she shall accept her award in front of Rita Moreno, the woman who won an Oscar for and originated her West Side Story role on screen, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who cast her in Hamilton, arguably her big break.

Best Animated Feature Film

Who will win?

As much as heart tells us that The Mitchells vs. The Machines is the best-animated film we have seen in years, with heart, story, and animation that has elevated the entire medium, Encanto will win. Encanto has won the PGA, CCA, and Golden Globe, and in any given year, it’s generally difficult to beat the Disney/Pixar machine. The Mitchells are just the family to do it, though, and we will cheer louder than anyone if it happens, but we will go with the safer bet. The Mitchells vs. The Machines did win the BAFTA and had an impressive haul at the Annie Awards, but that is not enough to say it will beat a film that is currently at the top of the pop charts and gaining renewed interest thanks to social media.

Best Cinematography

Who will win?

Ari Wegner could make history at the Academy Awards if she wins for The Power of the Dog. Still, as of today, only a handful of critics groups have favored the cinematography of the wide lens Western, and the guild members and established groups that more closely mirror AMPAS membership have gone with Greig Fraser and the camera work of Dune. Fraser, who shot Zero Dark Thirty, Vice, and was previously nominated for Lion, is arguably “due” a win, and an American Society of Cinematographers win two weeks ago makes that even more likely.

Best Costume Design 

Who will win?

Give us the gowns. And Cruella gave all the things we crave. Surprisingly, the 1970s punk period piece would be the presumptive winner against the opulence of Dune or the traditional period costumes of Cyrano. Still, as the movie is about fashion as much as it is about Cruella, the dresses are a character and therefore have to be impressive. But don’t take word for it; just check out the above featurette.

Best Director

Who will win?

Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog

As we said in the intro, we are betting this as a lock. Jane Campion has won every major indicative award for Best Director contest going all the way back to the Golden Globes in January. The Power of the Dog may have faded in the Best Picture race, but she has never faltered as far as Best Director is concerned. If that makes you think that our Best Picture choice was foolish, we would remind you Alfonso Cuarón won Best Director for Roma in 2018 but lost Best Picture to Green Book, the feel-good favorite. Is history repeating? We think it is.

Best Documentary (Feature)

Who will win?

The documentary branch of the Academy is notorious for shunning popular films in favor of those from more established documentarians. Still, once things go out to the broader group of Academy members, all bets are off. At that point, name recognition is everything, and no name has more recognition than the bandleader/drummer of The Tonight Show band, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. Did we mention he has been the resident DJ for the Governor’s Ball and Academy Luncheon for years?  This gives The Roots drummer the kind of AMPAS familiarity that most first-time directors can’t boast – even the famous ones. Stanley Nelson for Attica is a possible spoiler but Summer of Soul is our pick and a fairly easy one to make, given all the wins it has racked up.

Best International Feature Film

Who will win?

If you are looking for a stellar, moving film, you could watch any of the Best International Film nominees. In fact, any selection on the Academy’s shortlist in this category would be worthy of your time and could prove more enjoyable than the lineup of Best Picture noms. Still, we are going with the entry that made the cut for Best Picture this year: Drive My Car. Winner of the LAFCA, NYFCC, and National Society of Film Critics, the Cannes winner is an easy pick, but look out for The Worst Person in the World, which also secured a Best Original Screenplay nomination, as a possible spoiler.

Best Music (Original Score)

Who will win?

The Dune score is epic. There are no two ways about it. It blends world music with inventive sound editing and musical instruments to create a detailed tapestry that blankets Denis Villeneuve’s lush adaptation. This is to say nothing of Hans Zimmer, who has been nominated a dozen times but only has one win to show for it. Therefore, in addition to the German composer’s pedigree and name recognition, he is arguably more than overdue for a second win.

Best Music (Original Song)

Who will win?

‘No Time To Die” from No Time to Die – Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell

At the Oscar Nominee Luncheon, the most popular person in the room apart from Will Smith and Steven Spielberg was, without a doubt, Billie Eilish. Her popularity and the fact she already won a Grammy is why we picked her and her brother Finneas’ James Bond theme song to win. While Lin Manuel-Miranda and Beyoncé comprise a difficult hill to climb on your way to an Oscar, we think Eilish can and will do it. Plus, she is one of the few pop stars the average-aged AMPAS voter (over 65) will recognize.

Best Visual Effects

Who will win?

It’s all about Dune. They made a space worm that looked like it would burst from the screen and eat you whole. If you need more, might we remind you that you are looking the only member of this category nominated for Best Picture? There is immense love for the VFX team and Denis Villeneuve’s work here, so it should win easily.

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Who will win?

We are keeping true with our Best Picture pick. If this award goes to Sian Heder early on, history dictates the Best Picture win will follow. Winning the WGA and the BAFTA in quick succession is the most compelling stat we have at the current moment on why she will win, but it is anyone’s guess.

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

Who will win?

It comes down to Licorice Pizza vs. Belfast. Both are worthy, with Belfast taking the Critics Choice and the Golden Globe and Licorice Pizza winning the BAFTA and a huge haul of critics prizes. However, after Licorice Pizza lost the WGA to Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up, we had to admit that Academy voters might prefer a different dish. Belfast was deemed ineligible by the WGA, and although we don’t think the McKay win will inspire a win on Oscar night, it does signal a weakness for Paul Thomas Anderson, who has – still – yet to win an Academy Award.

Best Sound

Who will win?

The sound for The Power of the Dog is interesting and cinematic, while the sound for No Time to Die and Belfast demonstrates the technical marvels crafted for epic action, but only one film does both: Dune. That’s why it’s our pick here. No Time to Die could pop up for a potential spoiler, but our money is on Dune, especially after a little nugget about how they created the sound for the giant sandworms dropped just before final voting started.

Best Editing

Who will win?

Editing in sports movies is complicated; making untrained actors look like world-class athletes requires several cuts, which are employed not just to hide athletic shortcomings but to heighten the action. That’s where the authenticity of everything around these cuts is either won or lost. This is a tall order for any editor, but it’s essential for a sports film, and that’s why we are going with ACE Eddie winner Pamela Martin and King Richard for this one. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut tick tick…Boom!, with its intense and obsessive attention to mirroring the home videos of Broadway composer Jonathan Larson’s life, is a possible spoiler, but we aren’t betting on it.

Best Production Design

Who will win?

Dune and Nightmare Alley both won at the Art Directors Guild (ADG) awards, but that does not make them equal in the eyes of the Academy. We’d like to say a fantasy film with such grandeur is more than capable of toppling a 1940s noir, but history tells us differently. Academy Voters rarely appreciate fantasy, and Nightmare Alley features precisely the kind of aesthetic they have awarded for countless other films.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Who will win?

Choosing Coming 2 America over The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a risk, especially coupled with the choice of Chastain for Best Actress. Still, the Makeup & Hairstyling for Coming 2 America is frankly spectacular. The transformation of Eddie Murphy into four distinct characters, combined with the elaborate hairstyles on stars Wesley Snipes and Kiki Layne after cleaning up at the MUAH awards, make Coming 2 America the logical winner. The film also touches on the importance and artistry of Black Hair on film sets. Therefore, the film’s campaigns should resonate, given its prevalence in the cultural conversation.

Best Animated Short – Robin Robin

Best Live-Action Short – The Long Goodbye

Best Documentary Short – The Queen of Basketball

Thumbnail image by ©Apple TV+

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