The full list of nominations for the 94th Annual Academy Awards.
Well, the 2022 Oscar Nominations are here and boy oh boy, is there a…decent amount to talk about. There certainly were some snubs and surprises, which we’ll get to in a second, but first let’s talk about the bulk of nominations which were largely expected and predicted. Does being expected make a nominations list boring? Not to me, but to some, it certainly may seem that way. After all, it’s not as if anyone thought Belfast was going to miss a Best Picture nomination, but think of what would’ve happened if it did, and something like The Worst Person in the World showed up in the category. In any case, this year’s crop of nominees, while certainly largely deserving and unsurprising, seems to be one of the less compelling entries in the history of the Academy. Some of this may be due to this year’s crop of films being fairly spread out and left over from 2020 (some 2020 releases still haven’t come out), but another reason may be that the Academy is sticking to tradition where innovation must abound. That’s not to say that innovation isn’t present here – well, okay, visual effects has like one nominee that’s actually all that innovative but whatever – it’s simply that the majority of selections in categories that need to embrace change…haven’t. Almost all of the Best Picture nominees received a theatrical release in a year where many people still aren’t going back to movie theaters, and there’s very little experimentation present in a number of major categories (looking at you, Animated Feature). If the Academy wants to be relevant to the cultural conversation again – apart from when your drunk uncle complains about them being “too political” – they need to embrace change and find a way to both nominate great films and embrace the direction that movies are heading in, for better or worse. Let’s talk the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Hey, look at that, Kristen Stewart made it into Best Actress after all! In fact, the whole category is a huge shakeup from the expected five. Gone is Lady Gaga, with Penélope Cruz scoring a nomination for her brilliant work in Parallel Mothers, with the rest of the expected five also absent of Alana Haim, whose momentum has been building in recent weeks. Also, hello Academy Award Nominees Jessie Buckley and Jesse Plemons, finally recognized for their work in The Lost Daughter and The Power of the Dog respectively, after both turning in career-bests in Charlie Kaufman’s i’m thinking of ending things in 2020.
In other categories, Flee managed to score all 3 of its best-chance nominations in International, Documentary, and Animated Feature, a first for any production, let alone an international film, and that makes Riz Ahmed – a producer on the movie – a now four-time Oscar nominee in the span of two years. The Worst Person in the World also managed a surprise nomination in the Original Screenplay category, besting longtime Oscar veteran Aaron Sorkin’s script for Being the Ricardos in a huge upset. The Worst Person in the World is a brilliant movie with a brilliant script, so naturally, I’m very happy about that. And, like a chump, I ignored my instincts about the Academy and took Nightmare Alley out of Best Picture at the last minute, instead of believing as I originally did that filmmakers and craftspeople loved Del Toro enough to nominated his work and not have to give Netflix three Best Picture slots (R.I.P. Tick, Tick…Boom!). There are some smaller surprises, like The French Dispatch going nomination-less and A Hero being left out of International Feature, but the rest of the nominations are mostly good…now let’s get into the other stuff.
Not that his performance isn’t good in the movie or that he doesn’t deserve the world otherwise, but why is J.K. Simmons here? Why not Jason Isaacs or Anders Danielsen Lie or Bradley Cooper or Mike Faist? Simmons’ nod is not a bad nomination on its face, it’s just an inherently boring one in a year chock-full of spectacular supporting male performances that could have otherwise filled that spot.
In other negative news, National Geographic’s The Rescue was snubbed in Documentary Feature, though the nomination for Attica is certainly not offensive by any stretch (it’s a fantastic documentary). It’s simply that The Rescue was able to re-create an event so vividly that planned sequences became indistinguishable from raw footage, a feat few documentaries manage to actually achieve to the trained eye. Plus Free Guy made a visual effects nomination with little-to-no actual innovation in the effects-making, and C’mon C’mon and Mass went nomination-less. Not unexpected for any of these candidates, but it still sucks.
The Ugly (The SNUB)
And of course, there is one snub everyone is talking about that will go down in history as one of the worst trades in Best Director history. Denis Villeneuve, a visionary with a control over Dune that you cannot watch that movie without feeling, was passed over for Best Director in favor of Kenneth Branagh for his largely respectable but off-hand approach to the pretty good Belfast. This is a mistake on par with not nominating Amy Adams for Best Actress in Arrival (ironically, a Denis Villeneuve movie), and now the Academy has done both. There was bound to be a shake-up in this category, but that was meant to be Ryûsuke Hamaguchi knocking out Branagh, not one of the expected top 3 contenders. Of course, it doesn’t get under my skin the way it did when they outright ignored Bradley Cooper in 2018 for A Star Is Born – Branagh was still a dark horse candidate in this category – but it is easily the worst snub of the year for the Oscars to have made.
Obviously there were some unexpected surprises and definite snubs, but overall, this list of nominees is about what I expected, and I’m largely in favor of it. Regardless of what happens in the winners circle, it’s always fun to see what gets close enough to taste victory. What do you think of these nominations? Are there some surprises you’re ecstatic about? Snubs that pissed you off? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!
The Oscars will take place on Sunday, March 27th.
- The Friendly Film Fan
Film critic in my free time. Film enthusiast in my down time. Writer for Bitesize Breakdown.