So here’s the thing…I think only three films can realistically win Best Picture: Belfast, King Richard or The Power of the Dog.
Why only those three? Why not something we haven’t seen yet like Don’t Look Up or Nightmare Alley or West Side Story? It’s like this; for the last 20 years every Best Picture winner has played Telluride (among their many festival appearances) with the exception of Green Book, which won the TIFF People’s Choice Award in 2018. Even with that exception, it’s such a strong, long-standing statistic that also coincides with the beginning of preferential ballot era.
Speaking of festivals, we haven’t had a Best Picture winner bypass the festival circuit entirely since 2006’s The Departed. So, in theory, films like House of Gucci, Licorice Pizza, Nightmare Alley, West Side Story and Don’t Look Up have an even tougher road to the Dolby if they’re looking to lock the top prize. Yet you look at those titles and wonder how close can they get? While my belief in Nightmare Alley has wained from the very early months of having it at #1 (I thought it would hit at least one festival or be a surprise Telluride announcement) I feel a bit more bullish on Licorice Pizza than before. I can’t really explain why other than Paul Thomas Anderson’s Academy trajectory is such a fascinating one and LP feels like both a surprise and familiar turn for him. Being a film about the industry is a good thing these days and I think the interest in the film will be high.
I may be foolishly holding onto Flee as a history-making Best Picture nominee but it’s also been a festival beast. When I look at the ‘other contenders’ list I can room being made for C’mon C’mon (A24’s main solo push), A Hero, The Hand of God and The Worst Person in the World as potential replacements. The excellent performance by The Lost Daughter and Passing (both Netflix) at the Gotham Awards was a good kickoff for those indies, which should be able to also do well at the Spirit Awards where the rest of my top 10 will not.
Here are my ranked 2022 Best Picture Oscar predictions for October 2021.
Green – moves up ↑ Red – moves down ↓ Blue – new/re-entry ♦ Black – no movement ↔
1. Belfast (Focus Features) [Telluride, TIFF] ↔
2. The Power of the Dog (Netflix) [Venice, Telluride, TIFF, NYFF, AFI] ↔
3. King Richard (Warner Bros/HBO Max) [Telluride, AFI] ↑
4. Dune (Warner Bros/HBO Max) [Venice, TIFF, NYFF] ↑
5. Licorice Pizza (MGM/UA) ↑
6. Spencer (NEON) [Venice, Telluride, TIFF] ↑
7. Nightmare Alley (Searchlight Pictures) ↓
8. The Tragedy of Macbeth (A24/Apple) [NYFF] ↓
9. West Side Story (20th Century Studios) ↓
10. Flee (NEON) [Sundance, Telluride, TIFF, NYFF] ↔
• C’mon C’mon (A24) [Telluride, NYFF]
• CODA (Apple Original Films) [Sundance]
• Don’t Look Up (Netflix)
• The French Dispatch (Searchlight Pictures) [Cannes, Telluride, NYFF]
• The Hand of God (Netflix) [Venice, Telluride]
• A Hero (Amazon Studios) [Cannes, Telluride]
• House of Gucci (MGM/UA)
• The Last Duel (20th Century Studios) [Venice, TIFF]
• The Lost Daughter (Netflix) [Venice, Telluride, NYFF]
• Mass (Bleecker Street) [Sundance]
• Parallel Mothers (Sony Pictures Classics) [NYFF]
• Passing (Netflix) [Sundance, NYFF]
• tick, tick…BOOM! (Netflix) [AFI]
• The Worst Person in the World (NEON) [Cannes, TIFF, NYFF, AFI]
Photo: Rob Youngson / Focus Features