No question the 2022 Academy Awards will be just like the nine decade long tradition of the show. Some nominees are clear cut deserved winners in their respective categories. There will also be a few surprises some big-wig producer paid to get. I am still shocked the MCU did not spend the money to grasp “Spider-Man: No Way Home” an un-deserved nomination for Best Picture. And yet, the Oscars present once again the envelope to a diverse grouping that highlights a varied cast of characters that does not, which is rare, contain a hands down dud. No “Shakespeare in Love”‘s here. Other than the top three in terms of quality; “Drive My Car”, “Dune”, and “Coda”, the rest of the top ten nominees range from very good to shoulder shrugging mediocre. Nothing nominated in 2022 is really THAT BAD though. Just like the show is doing by wrongfully cutting down its run time, #gregsquaredfilms is doing a list concerning the six “TOP” important categories for the ceremony. Who will win and walk away with a meaningless piece of metal? The choice is yours Oscar…
Will Win: (“The Power of the Dog“). Should Win: (“Drive My Car”).
Cannot say why director Jane Campion’s latest drama has become so popular in the “intellectual” world of cinema. As a massive film nerd, I have to ask, is there a bingo board that must be crossed off to make a great movie in order to win awards? “The Power of the Dog” is supposed to be a film that mulls over relationships with beautiful intelligence. Voters, you sure about that notion? The film creates multiple less than comfortable for some sexual situations and yet centers on a boring road journey along the way. A simple question, what is learned during the experience of “The Power of the Dog”? Nobody is going to care about that movie in ten years. “Drive My Car” instead presents its audience with a journey that an audience can react to in a number of ways. Unfortunately, nobody in America cares because the characters are not speaking English, with some characters unable to speak at all. If you want the new P.C. version of gay cowboys minus anything real to say, “The Power of the Dog” is right up your alley. I am more of a humanistic story person which is why “Drive My Car” is more my speed.
Will Win: Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”). Should Win: Denis Villeneuve (“Dune”).
The by-the-book level of this award for the Academy is so clear. Not questioning Jane Campion is a fantastic director. She could have won for “The Piano” in the early-nineties and that statue would have been well deserved. But of course the Oscars, with things changing, for the better I definitely add, is going to respect a female director who made a film centered on closet homosexuality. It’s not terrible, but as a MOVIE, I stress once again as a MOVIE, the film is simply just O.K. What Villeuve did in creating this massive epic and pulling it off with class in “Dune” is remarkable. “Dune” is like seeing “Avatar” for the first time except this movie is actually good.. “Dune” is also a perfect example of what watching a director work his ass off feels like.
Will Win; Will Smith, (“King Richard”). Should Win: Will Smith, (“King Richard”).
Look, Andrew Garfield was fantastic in his role playing the late great playwright of the Broadway classic “Rent” in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s on-screen directorial debut “Tick, Tick, Boom”. From singing to dancing to dramatic scenes, absolutely phenomenal. And yet, for my money I have to go with Will Smith for his performance as the father of two of the greatest athletes in history in “King Richard”. Yes, there is a level of ‘he deserves it’ here as Smith has spanned four decades of film, television, and music making during his career. Playing the father of Venus and Serena, Smith showcases a careful level of humility in the role. That comes from years of experience and strife that the audience can see on screen. Smith almost always plays ‘Will Smith’ no question. Not exactly a chameleon of an actor. But every once-and-a while, the legends find a role where you say to yourself who else could have played that role?
Will Win: Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”). Should Win: Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye)”.
Do you know whose eyes you are seeing on screen in the opening frame of “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”? No? I did not either and unless I had not done my research through iMDB I would have never guessed it was Jessica Chastain. “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is 2021’s great transformative performance. Chastain takes on the role of an awful televangelist head on and yet somehow emerges as a sympathetic character. I’m not sure how accurate “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is historically, in particular how much a televangelist truly supported gay and women’s rights, but it kind of feels like, and maybe it is Hollywood-ized, Tammy Faye wasn’t all bad. The arc of going from being on top to being a disgrace under the eyes of the lord never has the viewer love or hate her at the finish line. This is another long deserved award in which the clear front runner will win and there is not much argument.
Best Adapted screenplay:
Will Win; (“Don’t Look Up)“. Should Win: (“Dune”).
“Don’t Look Up” is so loaded with quintessential classic Hollywood talent that it is bound to win something. It is an incredibly flawed movie, but also admittedly a bit of fun. The themes writer/director Adam McKay hits on definitely speak to the liberal Hollywood audience. Unfortunately, similar to the film that will win best picture, it is not that memorable. How the writers of “Dune” came so close to re-creating the source material while also showcasing an event movie is something I did not think could be accomplished. That screenplay took the spoken word from the mind idea from the novel and ran with it without hesitation. But hey, when you have DiCaprio, Streep, and Lawrence all in the same movie, chances are this award has already been bought and paid for.
Best Original Screenplay:
Will Win; (“Licorice Pizza”). Should Win; (“Belfast”).
I love Paul Thomas Anderson, when he is on his game. “There Will Be Blood”, one of the best movies in 20 years no doubt. The problem is he is one of those directors, similar to a Quentin Tarantino or Wes Anderson, that film nerds blindly follow no matter whether his latest film is good or not. “Licorice Pizza” was just OK. It’s basically taking a fun classic like “Dazed and Confused” and injecting it with pretentious undertones that never come to the surface. “Belfast” is what a well-thought coming of age story that is really good looks like. Combined with the street wars in Ireland, writer/director Kenneth Branagh crafted a beautiful story about a boy caught in the middle of multiple conflicts that he never asked to be in while his parents try to do the best they can. Unfortunately, the Academy is going to pick the fake-art-movie here.
Will Win: (“The Power of the Dog”). Should Win; (“Dune”).
“The Power of the Dog” is going to have a big night during the 2022 ceremony. And yes, director of photography Ari Wegner did a great job of using beautiful landscapes that highlighted a very internal movie. The landscapes during the journey, particularly in the scenes next to the pond, are exquisite. But c’mon, what Greig Fraser did with “Dune” was awe-inspiring. Anybody who has worked in the industry knows how taxing those locations and big set pieces can be. And somehow Fraser made all of it look so simple to do. I hope to be wrong here, but I think the steam “The Power of the Dog” has cashed in on during awards season seals the deal in the top of the technical awards categories.