The Oscar nominees for 2022 gave plenty of material for movie fans eager to keep up with the year’s most highly praised flicks. Trying to forecast who will win each category generates infinite speculation and entertainment for anybody interested in the Academy Awards, and while it has never been an exact science, there are some parallels in previous winners that allow experts to keep one step ahead of the curve.
The most desired award of the night is Best Picture, and the winners of other categories are a significant predictor of success in guessing which picture will take home the top prize. Nonetheless, just by glancing at the candidates, there is an obvious front-runner for Best Picture this year. If you’re betting on the Best Picture winner, The Power of the Dog could be the safest wager you can make.
With nominations in 12 separate categories, The Power of the Dog has already established itself as the season’s most nominated picture. The picture, directed by Jane Campion and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Kodi Smit-McPhee, boasts a wealth of skill and ingenuity that makes it an undisputed Best Picture candidate. However, because the category is constantly competitive, it may be more illuminating to look at the film’s nominations rather than the number of nominations it earned when assessing its prospects against the others in the field.
On Oscar night, Best Picture triumphs frequently coincide with victory in other categories. The most popular indications of success include director, editing, cinematography, and screenplay (both original and adapted). For example, both Nomadland and The Shape of Water won Best Director and Best Picture in the previous two years, thus Campion’s nomination speaks well for The Power of the Dog’s chances in the Best Picture category this year.
Unfortunately, the same rationale would spell disaster for Dune, whose director, Denis Villeneuve, was not nominated. The true opposition for The Power of the Dog would be the other Best Director contenders, assuming that whatever picture wins one of these Oscars is likely to win the other. That includes Belfast, Drive My Car, Licorice Pizza, and West Side Story, but there are still nominations left for any of those films, making any of them competitive with The Power of the Dog. West Side Story is the only one without a nomination for its script. Since Titanic in 1998, every Best Picture winner has had their script nominated and, more often than not, won in the screenplay category before winning the Best Picture award.
Belfast, Drive My Car, and Licorice Pizza is the only three films that have not received nominations for Cinematography or Editing. Since 12 Years A Slave in 2014, no Best Picture winner has gone to the top without at least a nomination in Cinematography or Editing. In fact, winning the Editing category is frequently seen as one of the best predictors of who will win the big prize on Oscar night. Despite this, only The Power of the Dog is nominated in all of these comparisons in all relevant categories.
There have undoubtedly been dark horse winners in the past, and the Oscars’ degree of unpredictability is one of the things that makes the night so entertaining. The Academy Awards are becoming more varied in terms of both the artists they honor and the sorts of tales they honor, and these evolving trends always give an X factor that makes certain options conceivable when they may have been discarded out of hand in previous years.
A science-fiction picture like Dune might not have had a chance if The Shape of Water hadn’t won so recently, so when it comes to forecasting success, it’s the categories themselves, not the creators or creations, that matter the most. For that reason, The Power of the Dog appears to be the clear favorite for 2022.