By Riel Flack

After another depressing year of theatre’s being closed, this covid Megatron virus running ramped, and Marvel’s capitalistic sensibilities taking over and ruining the essence of good cinema-I present you films that offer a glimmer of hope, which also happen to be my Oscar picks for 2022: 


Best Picture: Belfast 

This semi-autobiographical film by acclaimed Kenneth Branagh is regarded as the director’s most personal film yet as it chronicles the life of a working-class Irish protestant family and their young son, Buddy, during the upheaval of the 1969 Northern Ireland Riots. The film is shot beautifully in black and white, with a musical score strictly made of Van Morrison tunes, and features strong performances from the likes of Judi Dench, Jaime Dornan, and Caitríona Balfe. Belfast feels a lot like Green Book-it’s light, feel-good, humorous, endearing, and emotional with a smart political flare-it contains all the necessary aspects that appeal and resonate with large audiences. Is Belfast ground-breaking? Certainly not. But these expected cinematic elements surely place it in the front running for taking home Best Picture at the Oscars in 2022. 


Best Director: (I hope) Ryusuke Hamaguchi – Drive My Car

One of the tougher categories this season is the race for Best Director, our top contenders are Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog, and Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car. Hamaguchi’s newest film was recently awarded Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes and took home the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Picture. Will the #Oscar’sSoWhite academy award another Foreign Language film with it’s top honour again in 2022 after Parasite just broke history in 2020? No, I highly doubt it-while it may certainly be warranted, such decision threatens Hollywood’s image and likeness as a “diverse” institution by taking the notion a little too far. I hope to be proven wrong but as Bong Joon Ho said in his acceptance speech, “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”. 


Best Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch- The Power of the Dog 

In critically acclaimed director Jane Campion’s gripping character study, The Power of the Dog, Benedict Cumberbatch plays Phil, an eerie and brutal ranch owner who is secretly sexually confused and envious of his brother’s marriage to Rose (Kirsten Dunst). Out of frustration, Phil lashes out with extreme cruelty towards Rose and her son Peter (Kodi Smit McPhee). Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance is daring, alluring, and demonstrates a masterclass in acting as a vicious and sexually repressed cowboy. 


Best Actress: Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardo’s 

After Kristen Stewart’s snub from the SAG awards, what once looked like a safe bet in Spencer now feels like a wildcard. Lately, media predictions have been leaning towards Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of Lucille Ball in Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardo’s. I’d say this is a smart choice; the Academy adores Sorkin, and Kidman’s performance is strong, endearing, empowering, with a healthy dose of both laughter and tears. It’s nothing short of classic Academy material, giving Kidman her second Oscar since 2003 for her performance in The Hours


Best Supporting Actor: Kodi Smit McPhee- The Power of the Dog 

An unlikely contender in the race for supporting actor will be for first time nominee Kodi Smit McPhee as Peter, in Campion’s seductive western/drama. Thanks to his win at the 2022 Golden Globe Awards, don’t be surprised if the Academy awards this young man for his pensive and sinister performance as an outcast in an environment overrun with toxic masculinity. 


Best Supporting Actress: Caitríona Balfe – Belfast

Probably the toughest category this season-as it tends to be- is in the running for Best Supporting Actress. Personally, I have not seen West Side Story, and probably will not-I’d rather not ruin my adoration for the 1961 musical with Spielberg’s watered-down attempt- but the media seems to favour newcomer Ariana DeBose. While I’m sure Miss DeBose’s performance is as thrilling as people are saying it is, Caitríona Balfe’s performance as a young mother devoted to raising her two young sons during Northern Ireland’s 1969 riots suggests a sense of strength in femininity and motherhood, as a woman who loves so intensely and fears so little. Balfe’s portrayal is heart-wrenching, humorous, inspiring, and serves up just the right amount of charisma-as such, look out for Outlander’s finest taking home her first Oscar in March.