Oscar nominations: after the scarcity, the embarrassment of choice

LOS ANGELES: Grandiose space opera with “Dune”, black and white drama with “Belfast”, dark and psychological western with “The Power of the Dog” or musical comedy with “West Side Story”: the Oscars unveil the candidates on Tuesday selected for a competition that promises to be more open and diversified than ever.

With the resumption of filming and the reopening of cinemas in the United States after the sanitary restrictions linked to the pandemic, the potential candidates are legion for these most prestigious awards in Hollywood.

“Last year, we had very independent Oscars… This year, it’s the return of great cinema, of great studio films”, analyzes a member of the Academy of Oscars, who requested the anonymity.

“The race is very open,” adds Pete Hammond, editorial writer for the specialized site Deadline.

This is particularly the case in the flagship category of the Oscar for best feature film which this year will have a total of ten films in the running under new rules. This was already the maximum allowed in recent years, but usually the jury selected no more than eight or nine.

“Dune”, a big-budget science fiction film by Denis Villeneuve, should easily win a nomination in this category and that of best director. It should also be retained in a myriad of technical categories (photography, special effects, sound, etc.)

“In fact, I think it could be the film with the most nominations,” predicts the member of the Academy.

Even if it did not ignite the box office, “Belfast”, a film by Kenneth Brannagh inspired by his youth in the Northern Irish violence of the 1960s, seduced Hollywood and should be there.

Deemed superfluous by some, Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story” was still well received for its technical prowess and choreography.

While it may not match the 1961 original, which remains the most awarded musical film in Oscar history, it has a good chance of being in the selection because “it’s still of this sacred Steven Spielberg”, estimates in his predictions Mark Johnson, of the specialized site Awards Daily.

“It’s a risky bet but I think it will be in the nominations” for the best feature film, adds Pete Hammond.

“The Power of the Dog”, broadcast on Netflix, appears as one of the other great vintages of the 2022 vintage.

Its director, the New Zealander Jane Campion, could go down in history as the first woman to win two nominations for the Oscar for best director, 28 years after “The Piano Lesson”.

Nearly 9,500 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, are expected to vote this year.

A superhero in the running?

The ultra-commercial blockbusters of which Hollywood has the secret could also carve out a place of choice in the nominations this Tuesday.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” and the last James Bond, “Dying Can Wait”, were the only ones to attract crowds to cinemas comparable to those before Covid-19.

“We reward the big screen experience. And + Spider-Man + almost saved the cinema on its own last year, ”notes the Oscar voter.

Due to the pandemic, the 2021 edition of the Oscars had awarded low-budget films that the general public had often barely heard of and popular films could have an ace up their sleeve this year.

The Oscar voter, however, doubts his peers will keep ‘Spider-Man’ in the Best Feature nominations, despite grossing nearly $1.8 billion worldwide. Aside from the precedent set by “Black Panther” a few years ago, “I’m not sure the members of the Academy are ready” to choose a superhero movie, he says.

“The Williams Method”, on the childhood of champions Serena and Venus Williams with Will Smith in the role of the father trainer, as well as “Don’t Look Up: Denial cosmic” with Leonardo DiCaprio and Meryl Streep, also have their chances.

On the actor side, Will Smith is once again one of the favorites, neck and neck with Benedict Cumberbatch for his role as a tormented cowboy in “The Power of the Dog”.

The competition is even fiercer among actresses. Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”) and Lady Gaga (“House of Gucci”) dominate in the predictions, but Jessica Chastain (“In the eyes of Tammy Faye”), Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”), Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”) or even Penelope Cruz (“Madres Paralelas”) are strong competitors and there are only five places to take…

The awards ceremony for this 94th edition is scheduled for Hollywood on March 27.

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Oscar nominations: after the scarcity, the embarrassment of choice