The Seahawk’s predictions for the 2022 Oscars

Boyce Rucker and Eriq Dixon

The 94th Academy Awards ceremony, airing on March 27, 2022, hosts a wide variety of films from the past year, such as the larger-than-life sci-fi epic “Dune,” the passionate sports biopic “King Richard” and a visionary Shakespeare reimagining in “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”  The Oscars pique our interest every year with its nominees, but it is its outcomes, deserved or not, that draws audiences at large to watch in anticipation of the winners. Not every film will get a statuette for its genius presentation on the silver screen. Some may have reservations about the ceremony in general, but it does not stop everyone else from making predictions.

The Seahawk’s staff writers Eriq Dixon and Boyce Rucker share their own predictions for the 2022 Oscars. Being impassioned film-watchers, their dialogue promotes the deservance of respective films, performances, screenplays and their cultural significance. They focus here on the “Big Five” award categories, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay (Original or Adapted) and Best Director, in making their predictions.

Andrew Garfield in tick, tick…BOOM! (2021). (Macall Polay/Netflix/IMDB)

Best Actor

Nominees:

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”

Eriq Dixon: Denzel Washington

This may seem like the obvious, cliché choice, and I honestly didn’t see the full film. However, based upon what I have seen, it appears that Washington brought it with this one yet again. If you look at his track record, he’s had 10 Oscar nominations and has won two of them. When it comes to acting, Washington is truly a force to be reckoned with, and I don’t see why his performance in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” would prove anything different. Plus, it’s Shakespearean, which makes it notoriously difficult to act out on a cinematic level, even for the best of the best.

Boyce Rucker: Benedict Cumberbatch

Cumberbatch’s filmography greatly consists of intense and posh characters, but I’ve never seen him disappear so well into a role as he does here. Phil Burbank is the type of character that every one of us has met at least once in our lifetime and never want to see again. A disgustful demeanor and unnecessary roughness are Burbank’s outstanding traits as he puzzles us with his bitterness. Dialogue aside, Cumberbatch’s body language shows how Burnbank holds onto the past and weaponizes it against his own family. Cumberbatch portraying Burbank at his cruelest but also his softest contributes to one of the most complex performances of the year. He delivers toxic masculinity and latent passion in a compelling performance for the decade.

Cate Blanchett and Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley (2021). (Kerry Hayes/IMDB )

Best Actress

Nominees:

Jessica Chastain – “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”

Olivia Colman – “The Lost Daughter”

Penélope Cruz – “Parallel Mothers”

Nicole Kidman – “Being the Ricardos”

Kristen Stewart – “Spencer”

Dixon: Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman is no stranger to award nominations. Throughout her career, she’s won hundreds of awards and has been nominated for even more. It also wouldn’t be her first time winning an Academy Award in this category, as she did in 2002 with the movie “The Hours,” in which she plays Virginia Woolf. This time around, her leading role is as Lucille Ball in “Being the Ricardos.” Since the film follows Ball and her husband, Desi Arnaz, during a production week on the set of one of the world’s most popular sitcoms, “I Love Lucy,” Kidman isn’t only stepping into one role, but two. One is the sassy and guileful Lucille Ball, and the other is the iconic and perky Lucy Ricardo. The two personalities on display are in stark contrast to one another, but Kidman plays both with such fidelity, making it a truly Oscar-worthy performance in my eyes.

Rucker: Kristen Stewart

Stewart’s post-”Twilight” credits show how dedicated she is to diversifying her career. Her work in films like “Camp X-Ray,” “Charlie’s Angels” (2019) and “Happiest Season” showcases her as an actress who deserves more credit than she’s given. After watching the first half-hour of “Spencer,” I don’t see Stewart, or Bella Swan, in sight. Under Pablo Larraín’s direction, Stewart is a chameleon of an actress as she adopts the mannerisms and speech of the late Princess Diana. The film is aesthetically pleasing on its own, but Stewart compliments it perfectly as she carries it with her optimum performance of the Princess during the fateful Christmas holiday. The “Twilight” saga may be something we associate Stewart with for a lifetime, but “Spencer” also deserves the same recognition for catapulting her back into the mainstream spotlight.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Jonah Hill, and Jennifer Lawrence in Don’t Look Up (2021). (Adam McKay/IMDB )

Best Screenplay (Adapted or Original)

Nominees:

Adapted:

CODA – Sian Heder; based on the original motion picture screenplay “La Famille Bélier” written by Victoria Bedos, Thomas Bidegain, Stanislas Carré de Malberg and Éric Lartigau

Drive My Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe; based on the short story by Haruki Murakami

Dune – Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth; based on the novel by Frank Herbert

The Lost Daughter – Maggie Gyllenhaal; based on the novel by Elena Ferrante

The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion; based on the novel by Thomas Savage

Original:

Belfast – Kenneth Branagh

Don’t Look Up – Screenplay by Adam McKay; Story by Adam McKay and David Sirota

King Richard – Zach Baylin

Licorice Pizza – Paul Thomas Anderson

The Worst Person in the World – Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier

Dixon:

Adapted: Dune

It seems as if Boyce and I are in agreement with this prediction. “Dune” honestly took me by surprise because of how much the film respects its audience. As someone who has never read the books, I never felt as if the film’s writing aimed to catch me up in any way. Despite that being the case, the world and characters of “Dune” are incredibly well-realized in this film and provoke enough intrigue for both people who are familiar with the source material and newcomers to crave more of it.

Original: Don’t Look Up

Unlike most of the other films in the running for Best Original Screenplay, “Don’t Look Up” didn’t receive much critical acclaim, making it the underdog in this category. However, I actually really like the film. It’s stylistic, funny, and just downright entertaining, while also starring some incredible actors, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. Some might say that it’s very on the nose in terms of how it conveys its message, and I agree with that to some extent. But even with its exaggeration, the reality of how poorly the modern world responds to crises is scary, and “Don’t Look Up” does an excellent job of showing that.

Rucker: 

Adapted: Dune

As past attempts prove, “Dune” is not easy to adapt. The novel is so dense that it would take maybe months for a college student to get through during the school year. Based on the first 100 pages I’ve read of the book, the film is an ambitious visual realization of the novel that it adapts in the most refreshing manner. The film is perfect for those who aren’t familiar with Dune as its writers weave an epic featuring political intrigue, religion, action, prophecy and strong characters. The film’s world-building and storytelling is on such grand scope that it calls back to Peter Jackson’s “Lord of The Rings” trilogy, both epic sagas that deserve much credit for their writing.

Original: King Richard

“King Richard” is one of the most heartwarming films I saw in 2021. Tennis players’ Venus and Serena Williams’ story is an inspirational one. However, their father, Richard Williams’ story is one for the ages. Seeing Richard try to steer his daughters onto the path of greatness elicits laughter and tears of joy. Richard Williams is by no means a perfect father, as the film recognizes, but we can’t help but cheer for a father who wants the best for his daughters. Sports dramas often rinse and repeat the formula of a future champion with untapped potential, but “King Richard” feels spiritual and powerful in contrast with its subtle nuance. Will Smith slips into Richard’s role so seamlessly that it feels like the script is written for him. “King Richard” may seem like prime “Oscar bait,” but it deserves to walk away with at least one award the night of the ceremony.

Ariana DeBose, Ana Isabelle, and Ilda Mason in West Side Story (2021). (Steven Spielberg/IMDB)

Best Director

Nominees: 

Kenneth Branagh – Belfast

Ryusuke Hamaguchi – Drive My Car

Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza

Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog

Steven Spielberg – West Side Story

Dixon: Steven Spielberg

There may be a bit of a bias here, considering Steven Spielberg is one of my favorite directors of all time. From “Jurassic Park” to “Ready Player One,” Spielberg proves time and time again that he is capable of making visually stunning movies that immerse the audience in an experience they will enjoy from start to finish. “West Side Story” is no different. In retelling the story of the beloved musical while adding his own stylistic flare, Spielberg encapsulates the feeling of the 1961 classic. It’s also his first time directing a musical, which makes it all the more impressive.

Rucker: Paul Thomas Anderson

Parts of “Licorice Pizza” don’t sit right with me, particularly the relationship between the main characters. However, I can’t ignore Anderson’s finesse as an auteur filmmaker. Every time an Anderson film comes out, it becomes one of the cinematic events of the year for me. “Licorice Pizza” has a rhythmic style to it that is so fitting for its upbeat 70s setting and the eccentric character ensemble. The set design is immersive, and the cinematography boasts an expressive fashion. I enjoy Anderson’s work on “Punch-Drunk Love” and “There Will Be Blood,” and I think those films will hold up for a long time. Anderson falls into the wheelhouse of filmmakers who will continually deliver something that is the topic of discussion in film schools and the cinephiles’ social circles.

Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya in Dune: Part One (2021). ( Denis Villeneuve/IMDB )

Best Picture

Nominees:

Belfast – Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas

CODA – Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger

Don’t Look Up – Adam McKay and Kevin Messick

Drive My Car – Teruhisa Yamamoto

Dune – Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter

King Richard – Tim White, Trevor White and Will Smith

Licorice Pizza – Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson

Nightmare Alley – Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale and Bradley Cooper

The Power of the Dog – Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier

West Side Story – Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger

Dixon: The Power of the Dog

As tempting as it is to pick “Dune” as the film I think is going to win, I can’t help but feel like it’s the obvious choice. That might make it the better choice for some, but for my prediction, I have to go with “The Power of the Dog.” Even though it’s a movie I have yet to see in its entirety, I think that it has a certain edge over “Dune.” It is more accessible in the sense that it doesn’t exist in such an expansive world, rich with lore and fantastical sci-fi elements. It tells a deeper, more personal story that focuses less on scope and more on character, which I personally find more interesting. “The Power of the Dog” is also a great film from a technical and visual standpoint, with atmospheric sound design and outstanding cinematography that work in tandem with the story to form a masterpiece of cinema that is sure to stand above the rest and take home the award for Best Picture.

Rucker: Dune

I feel like I don’t appreciate “Dune” enough considering how many other terrific films came out last year, some that are still on my watchlist. Its grand visual scale is matched by superb storytelling, something that a filmmaker like Villeneuve excels at. The film’s lore can take a while for everyone to wrap their head around, especially for those unfamiliar with the book. However, that doesn’t detract from the film’s genius. “Dune” is one of my favorite theater experiences from last year. Villeneuve lays out so many visual details and complex themes that give way to a modern masterpiece. If the world of cinema were a perfect place, Villeneuve would already own an Oscar or two. To see him grow from an indie filmmaker doing smaller dramas like “Incendies” to complex sci-fi in “Blade Runner 2049” and “Arrival” is astounding. I still remember reading about Villeneuve’s passion for “Dune” when he was chosen for it in 2016. His passion and drive for filmmaking is seen across all his work. I think Villenueve deserves more recognition for creating work that transcends entertainment value and dives deep into the poetic essence of cinema. “Dune” is not my favorite Villenueve film, but it’s one of my favorites from 2021.