Predicting the 2022 Oscars

The Oscars are here again! 2021 ended up being a pretty great year for movies and a lot of the nominees are some of my favorites from the past year. From blockbusters like Dune to small, heartwarming dramas like CODA, the Best Picture lineup is surprisingly good.

I’m certainly no expert, but I’m putting myself out there and predicting some of the biggest categories before the awards are handed out.

Best Picture

Credit: Netflix

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

My pick: Honestly I love a lot of the movies that are nominated this year. With the exception of two or three, I’d be happy with any of them winning. But my heart is with West Side Story, CODA and Dune.

Who will win: The Power of the Dog seems unstoppable, but CODA has had a huge surge recently. My head says Power of the Dog, but my heart says CODA.

Best Director

Credit: Netflix

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

My pick: Again, my heart is always with Stephen Spielberg. He’s undeniably a master at what he does, but for West Side Story to be his first musical ever? And it’s as good as it is? Truly incredible.

Who will win: Jane Campion directed an incredibly tense slow burn with a final act full of twists and mystery.

Best Actress

Credit: Searchlight Pictures

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

My pick: Oscar Winner Kristen Stewart sounds pretty great. Her performance as Princess Diana is engrossing, compelling, and a little uncomfortable.

Who will win: This is one of the big categories that seems to still be a little up in the air. Olivia Coleman is an awards darling these days (and rightfully so), but Jessica Chastain certainly did the most acting as Tammy Faye, so I think she’ll pull away with a win here.

Best Actor

Credit: Warner Bros.

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

My pick: Andrew Garfield really had a great year in 2021. His performance as Jonathan Larson in Tick, Tick…Boom! is sensational. He learned to sing for the role and gives each scene such energy and manic creativity.

Who will win: Will Smith has been the frontrunner for this category ever since King Richard first premiered. I think all of Hollywood wants him to win and recognize him for all the work he’s done. Plus, he does a great job in bringing humanity to an odd and often frustrating man.

Best Supporting Actress

Credit: 20th Century Studios

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

My pick: I’d give all the Oscars to West Side Story if I could, and Ariana DeBose is a perfect Anita. But I also have to shoutout Aunjanue Ellis. For all the big, loud and bold choices Will Smith Makes as Richard Williams, Ellis’s portrayal as his wife Brandy is much quieter and more reserved. She nearly steals the show out from under Will Smith and was by far my favorite part of King Richard.

Who will win: Ariana DeBose seems the most deserving of an Oscar from West Side Story. She’s phenomenal and I will be thrilled when she wins.

Best Supporting Actor

Credit: Apple

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

My pick: Kodi Smit-McPhee gives a subdued, quiet and nuanced performance in Power of the Dog that really only makes sense in the final few minutes. Your eye stays on Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, while Kodi lurks in the background to give you an unexpected punch in the heart.

Who will win: I absolutely adore CODA, and Troy Kotsur’s performance as the deaf father of a hearing child is simultaneously heartwarming and heart breaking. I’m so excited that these incredible deaf actors are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Credit: Netflix

Drive My Car
The Lost Daughter
The Power of the Dog

My pick: I’ve never read the original Dune book, but just looking at how big it is on my shelf is intimidating, so the fact that this world was so expertly displayed on screen and set up in a way that made sense to audiences is remarkable. It’s a big swing for a big budget blockbuster, and it lands so well.

Who will win: The Power of the Dog certainly has momentum here, but I think The Lost Daughter might come from behind and take this one home.

Best Original Screenplay

Credit: Bron, MGM

Don’t Look Up
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
The Worst Person in the World

My pick: Belfast is an intimate family drama set against the background of a war and expertly balances the light and dark moments. And The Worst Person in the World is a wonderful new look at romance and how messy life and growing up is. I’d love either of these two winning.

Who will win: I wouldn’t be surprised if Belfast wins, but I’m going to say Licorice Pizza takes this category.

Best Animated Feature

Credit: Netflix

The Mitchells vs. the Machines
Raya and the Last Dragon

My pick: I loved all these nominees in this category. Disney has really upped their game with movies like Encanto and Luca that have so much heart and don’t conform to the traditional beats of storytelling (neither one has a traditional villain). BUT – The Mitchells vs. the Machines is one of the best movies of last year. It’s chaotic, exciting, hilarious, relatable and full of depth and emotion.

Who will win: I’m honestly not sure with this category – it could be a neck-and-neck finish between Encanto, Luca and The Mitchells, but I’m going to put my bets on The Mitchells vs the Machines.

How “The Batman” finally made me love Batman

I’ve never really ~gotten~ Batman. And this isn’t even a Marvel vs. DC thing – I’ve really liked Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Green Arrow portrayals before. I just never thought Batman was that interesting of a character. So when it was announced that The Batman was coming (the tenth live-action appearance of the character since 1989 played by the sixth new actor), I was skeptical to say the least.

I’ll admit I don’t have the longest history with Batman. I never read comic books growing up or watched any of the animated series. I’m pretty sure my first cinematic Batman experience was Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Since then, I’ve gone back and watched the Tim Burton and Joel Shumacher’s films from the 80s and 90s. And boy are they a mixed bag.

Part of my problem with Batman is that he never feels like the main character of his own stories or even the most interesting part. He’s always been upstaged by his villains. What comes to mind first when you think about The Dark Knight? Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker. Tom Hardy’s Bane is the most talked about aspect of The Dark Knight Rises. Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito steal the show right out from under Michael Keaton in Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns. Even the much-maligned Shumacher movies had actors turning in memorable villainous performances, like Jim Carrey’s Riddler or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze.

So I’d never been able to connect to Batman and Bruce Wayne as a character or found a way to fully invest in his journey.  

Until now.

Copyright: Warner Bros.

Matt Reeves’s The Batman stars Robert Pattinson as the titular caped crusader. Something about this version finally clicked for me. This Batman is the youngest we’ve ever seen him in a movie, and maybe that’s part of what works so well. He’s still figuring things out and learning to balance the Bat with Bruce. The film also leans more heavily into Batman’s skills as a detective than most other movies which gives us a new layer to Bruce that we haven’t seen much before.

In The Batman, Bruce Wayne feels like a real character. He’s a loner that doesn’t really seem to like people but is driven (initially) by this unquenchable thirst for vengeance against the criminals of Gotham. And he’s such a weirdo – the guy puts on sunglasses inside while eating breakfast because the sun is too bright. He’s also still clearly haunted by his past, so it doesn’t feel like much of a stretch for this Bruce to dress up in a bat costume and go out hunting criminals at night.

Since this is a younger Batman than we’ve seen before, he’s still learning and making mistakes. This gives him the opportunity to have an actual character arc with growth throughout the movie. At the beginning, he introduces himself to criminals as “Vengeance.” Even people he’s rescuing aren’t sure he’s not going to hurt them too. Batman’s journey through this movie shows him the different choices he must make to fully set himself apart from villains like Riddler – to make himself a symbol of hope, not fear.

One of the reasons that emotional journey works so well is because of Robert Pattinson. He’s incredible in this movie. The acting he does just with his eyes is chill inducing. The design of his mask allows his eyes to stand out so distinctly and be used for maximum impact.

Another excellent choice Pattinson makes for his Batman is his Bat-voice. We’re all familiar with Christian Bale’s capital-A Acting choices he made with his deep Bat-voice so much so that it became a meme (I bet good money you can hear him yelling “Where is she!?” or “Swear to me!” right now). Pattinson certainly makes a change between the way he speaks as Bruce Wayne voice and Batman, but it’s not so gruff or jarring. He still sounds human and is generally soft-spoken as Batman, keeping a level of humanity under the mask.

Another one of my favorite parts of The Batman was the design of Gotham, which is a perfect mix of real-world and comic book vibes. There are clear New York similarities (a Times Square-esque area and Gotham Square Garden), but it’s not clearly an existing city like the Gotham of the Dark Knight trilogy. And while I love the gothic look of Burton’s Gotham, it clearly feels like a studio set most of the time.  

And speaking of gothic vibes, Wayne Manor in The Batman is a gothic dream. The little we see of Bruce’s home is breathtaking. It matches the aesthetic of Pattinson’s Batman and I hope we get to see more of it in future movies.

The design of Batman himself is the best I’ve ever seen. The Batsuits of the 80s and 90s were clearly too rubbery, and even Christian Bale’s Batsuits never really felt like it fit in his world. (Honestly, the Batsuit that Ben Affleck’s Batman wears in the Snyderverse is pretty good.)

Pattinson’s Batsuit feels tactical and realistic while still having a homemade feel. The suit is covered in pockets to store tech and he clearly stashes part of his suit in a backpack he wears when riding his motorcycle, which is just a great detail. But my favorite detail about this Batman is the black eye makeup Bruce puts on underneath his mask. Seeing the makeup smeared on his face after he takes the mask off gives another level of realization that Bruce is just a guy putting this suit on every night, making him simultaneously relatable and something apart from the rest of us.

Copyright: Warner Bros.

But the true scene-stealer of this Batman’s arsenal is his instantly iconic Batmobile. It’s intimidating and terrifying – perfect to strike fear in the hearts of Batman’s enemies. The way the Batmobile is introduced and used in The Batman feels more in line with a horror movie and the chase sequence that follows is masterful.

Pattinson’s Batman is surrounded by a phenomenal supporting cast. The update to the Riddler in The Batman has created maybe one of the most terrifying villains ever put in a superhero movie? He’s modeled after the real-world Zodiac killer with shades of other serial killers and online extremists. And Zoe Kravitz perfects the femme fatale nature of Catwoman, slinking in and out of Batman’s mission with her own goals and desires.

Copyright: Warner Bros.

But like I said before, this is truly Batman’s story. He is the central character and Pattinson brings such a weight and presence any time he’s on screen. So thank you, Robert Pattinson and Matt Reeves, for finally helping me ~get~ Batman.