With the start of the new year comes growing anticipation for the Oscars. Most critics groups have sent their votes in and the Oscar shortlist has been widely scrutinized. 2022 was one of the better years for feature films, especially amid the pandemic, as small-budget features and half-million-dollar projects finally made it to the screen. Everything from The Whale to Top Gun: Maverick found an audience, nationally and internationally. Below are a few films to have your eye on, specifically for a nomination and hopefully for a win. Keep in mind, these are just a few favorites among a year of great films.
*Denotes a shortlist nomination
- Best Actor-Daniel Kaluyya
- Best Actress-Keke Palmer
- Best Sound
- Best Original Screenplay
After a solid debut over the summer, Nope isn’t getting as much attention as it deserves, potentially because of the horror bend and the timing of its release. The film turns the mirror and camera back on society in a fresh way and is a great follow-up to wide releases Us and Get Out. Peele and Carmen Cuba assembled a great cast for a great script. The focus of the film is sharp and nods to monster movies of the past and present. Themes of family and heritage get their focus, as does the idea of story in general and how we define it. Any nomination is deserved, but bringing home a trophy would be splendid as well.
- Best Sound*
- Best Visual Effects*
- Best Adapted Screenplay
The Batman, another solid debut early in the year, takes place in a new DC Universe that’s not connected to iterations before it. Matt Reeves and his team chose to craft the world of Bruce Wayne after he’s been on the job for a few years. The assembled cast doesn’t get as much screen time as one might like, but they’re great nonetheless. And though the film has an amazing score, it didn’t get shortlisted, but it’s still fun to appreciate the development of Batman as a monster, hero, and even his Bruce Wayne “mask.”
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
- Best Supporting Actress-Janelle Monae
- Best Adapted Screenplay
- Best Costume Design
Glass Onion is another great cast full of characters that work well together. When focused on the core group, the film doesn’t feel overloaded with cameos for the sake of it. More fleshed-out characters would have made the film even stronger, but their shared history, even as it’s slowly revealed, is earned. The film doesn’t blow the audience away with mystery, though the woven narrative is just mysterious enough to stay a bit ahead and entertain.
- Best Picture
- Best Director-Stephen Spielberg
- Best Cinematography-Janusz Kaminski
Every nomination for Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical film could easily be a win because The Fabelmans hits all the markers: great story, great cast, great cinematography. The only expected snub will be Gabriel LaBelle, who plays Sammy Fabelman. Every actor pulls their weight in the film, even Seth Rogan, as they push the audience to reflect on their own story. The Fabelmans is a great comment on family, comparison, and perspective.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
- Best Supporting Actress-Angela Bassett
- Best Sound
- Best Makeup and Hairstyling*
Wakanda Forever works in an entirely different space than every other Oscar contender this year but certainly will receive at least one official nomination. Hopefully, it earns a statue, much like its predecessor. The film balances Chadwick Boseman’s passing, sequel pressure, and everything in between to craft a strong narrative about two societies that find themselves at war even though a larger threat looms in the background. Ryan Coogler, the faithful director and screenwriter, and the team crafted a tangible support system as the film both debuts Namor (Tenoch Huerta) and tastefully continues the Black Panther series.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Best Actress-Michelle Yeoh
Best Actor-Key Huy Quan
Best Supporting Actress-Stephanie Hsu
EEAAO is the movie that could sweep the Oscars or find itself repeatedly snubbed or welcome multiple first-time award winners. The film, directed by The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert) and starring Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu, focuses on a mother’s relationship with her estranged daughter. It’s an amazing reflection on familial relationships and internal motivation, as well as life choices. The film brilliantly allows Evelyn Wang (Yeoh) to experience multiple lives at the same time instead of living one particular life over again, and of course, lessons ensue.