Start your engines, Oscar watchers.
Voting for the 2022 Oscar nominations kicked off Thursday with plenty of fanfare, as the Producers, Writers and Directors Guilds all announced their nods for this year’s awards.
Netflix is in prime position to lasso its first-ever best picture win with Jane Campion’s erotic Western “The Power of the Dog,” which has led critics’ prizes all season long and won best drama at this month’s Golden Globes. But the film has a formidable rival in Kenneth Branagh’s crowd-pleasing “Belfast,” which like “Power of the Dog” has been recognized by almost every industry awards group where it’s eligible. “Belfast” also has the added boost of a best ensemble nomination from the Screen Actors Guild. (“Power of the Dog” stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Kodi Smit-McPhee were nominated for individual acting prizes, but not best cast.)
Here’s where the race stands before Oscar voting closes Tuesday and nominations are announced Feb. 8:
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All Kristen Stewart needs is a miracle
Kristen Stewart delivered one of the boldest performances of 2021 in “Spencer,” the unnerving Princess Diana biopic that shot her to the front of the best actress pack during the film’s critically acclaimed festival run. The “Twilight” star smoothly coasted through much of the awards season as the presumed front-runner – that is, until she was left out from this month’s SAG nominations.
Actors make up the academy’s largest voting body, meaning that a SAG snub casts major doubts on Stewart’s Oscar chances. (In the SAG Awards’ 27-year history, no one has ever won a best actress Oscar without at least scoring a SAG nod for their performance.)
The SAG and Oscar best actress lineups haven’t gone five for five since 2010, meaning that with some savvy campaigning, Stewart could still rebound and snag a slot. But she has fierce competition from Rachel Zegler (“West Side Story”) and Alana Haim (“Licorice Pizza”), both of whom star in much stronger best picture contenders than “Spencer,” which has been ignored in just about every other category this season.
So what happened to Stewart’s momentum? A quick glance at the Rotten Tomatoes review tally (83% positive) and audience score (52% positive) for “Spencer” shows that critics were much more receptive than moviegoers, who may have been turned off by the hyper-stylized, haunted house take on Diana’s story. Academy members still skew older, white and male, and could similarly find “Spencer” too “weird” to get behind.
Stewart’s promotional tour was also frontloaded early last fall, allowing past Oscar winners Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”) and Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”) to swoop in and steal her momentum with their late December streaming releases on Amazon and Netflix , respectively.
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‘Being the Ricardos,’ ‘Don’t Look Up’ are beloved – despite what the internet says
Twitter noise is almost always exactly that: noise. Many people on social media have griped about the casting of Kidman and Javier Bardem as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in “Being the Ricardos,” as well as the dulled, obvious satire of disaster comedy “Don’t Look Up.” But voters like what they like, and both films have overperformed with various guild groups: Each earned writing and producing nominations from the WGA and PGA Thursday, as well as an editing nod for “Don’t” from the American Cinema Editors’ Eddie Awards . Bardem surprised with best actor nods from the Golden Globes and SAG, while “Don’t” was recognized in SAG’s top category for best ensemble.
Neither are likely to unseat “The Power of the Dog” or “Belfast” for the best picture Oscar, but the widespread industry support for “Ricardos” could very well carry Kidman to another best actress win (after “The Hours” in 2003) . “Don’t” director Adam McKay is also all but assured an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay, and could potentially turn that into his second writing statue following “The Big Short” in 2016.
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Don’t get your hopes up, Spidey
Can we stop pretending that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is a legitimate Oscar contender? Ever since the Marvel threequel shattered pandemic box-office records last month ($ 1.7 billion worldwide to date) and picked up strong reviews along the way (93% positive on Rotten Tomatoes), Disney has been trying to mount a serious best picture campaign for the movie. But Thursday’s PGA snub, coupled with SAG failing to recognize “No Way Home” in its stunt ensemble category, proves that the blockbuster’s chances at top gold hardware are slim to none. (Heck, even “Deadpool” managed a PGA nod in 2017, thanks in part to Ryan Reynolds’ rigorous, tongue-in-cheek campaigning.)
It’s not all bad news for the movie’s cast: Andrew Garfield, whose role in “No Way Home” was Hollywood’s worst-kept secret, is finding huge success with his Netflix movie musical “tick, tick … BOOM!” In addition to scores of best actor nods, the film danced off with PGA, DGA and WGA nominations Thursday, making a best picture nod likely.
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