The 94th Academy Awards
WHO WILL WIN AND WHO WE’re missing.
By auveen dezgaran
It’s the most wonderful time of the year: awards season. This is the time to reflect on the most memorable new releases we watched throughout 2021. I treat the Oscars as my favorite day of the year. I find it fun to see all my favorite stars in one room, commemorating the films we’ve all been talking about for months that we now get to root for during this celebration.
The Academy itself always seems to have their favorite films, leaning towards star-driven studio films with an array of nominations in the technical categories—Shape of Water, La La Land, Birdman, and The Irishman. These are the films that Hollywood studios and producers put in months of campaigning towards all for a single vote from a member of the Academy. The campaigning ranges from private screenings to gift baskets to billboards on Sunset Boulevard to press tours where Lady Gaga talks about how she stayed in character for a whole year and drops the words “Strasberg” and “Sandford Meisner” any chance she gets. The campaigning and politics behind an Oscar nominated film has come to trump what the actual Best Film of the Year really is, a concept that is subjective anyhow. How does one even compare art when it is all about taste? Especially when so many of the films that my friends and I gravitate towards do not seem to meet the “standards” or taste of a typical Academy member: 75-year-old white male producer who has been in the business for 45 years. So with that in mind, here are my thoughts on who I think will win at the Oscars and who I believe we’re missing from the categories.
WHO WILL WIN:
Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog). The Power of the Dog racks up 12 nominations, all led by Campion’s stylistically driven western drama centered on an asshole rancher, whose brother brings home a new wife and son, which unlocks an initially disturbing side of him. The main character of the film, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, feels like a meeting place of Campion’s soft and subtle direction with a gritty, rough outer layer. This potential win will make Campion the first female director to receive two Best Director nominations. If she wins, Campion will become the third female director to win an Oscar. Three in 94 years! Both exciting and very embarrassing @TheAcademy…
Power of the Dog
Power of the Dog
WHO WE’RE MISSING:
Ashgar Farhadi (A Hero). Admittedly, this pick is a bit personal to me. As a first-generation Iranian-American, I am drawn towards Farhadi’s work, especially his depictions of moral dilemmas and familial drama in modern-day Iran. A Hero tells the story of a convict who is temporarily released from prison to settle an unpaid debt and will cross any line to plead his innocence. Farhadi is known for his films A Separation (2011) and A Salesman (2016), both of which won him Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film. He became renowned for his unique directorial style that showcases his protagonists wrestling with conflicts of internal conflict in a dictatorial society. When I watched A Hero, Farhadi’s direction transported me to another world that felt inviting, suspenseful, palpable, and gripping, complete with Hitchcockian levels of suspense that had me on the edge of my seat.
Image Courtesy of: Amazon Prime Video
Image Courtesy of: Amazon Prime Video
WHO WILL WIN: Will Smith (King Richard). After serving 36-plus years in the entertainment industry and being one of the highest-grossing actors in the world, 2022 may be the year that the Academy recognizes Smith’s talents by awarding him the Best Actor title. In King Richard, Smith plays Richard Williams in the early 90’s as he rigorously coaches and astutely raises his daughters Venus and Serena Williams to become the prodigies we know today. Smith surprised me in this role—I’ve always seen him as an actor that brings entertainment value and exuberance to his action-packed blockbuster films, but in King Richard, he brings an edge of nuance and emotional force that adds a dynamic layer to this traditional biopic. I believe Smith, who also produced the film, holds the power both onscreen and off to attain this year’s Best Actor win.
WHO WE’RE MISSING: I miss Simon Rex, Mr. Red Rocket, so much! If you know me, you’ve heard my excitement over this film and specifically Rex’s performance. Rex, who is known for his stint as a VJ on MTV in the late 90’s, came out with a striking, career-turning bang of a performance in Sean Baker’s Red Rocket. He plays Mickey Saber, a washed-up porn star who returns to his Texas hometown searching for a comeback. Having not been familiar with Rex’s previous work, there were times throughout the film where I forgot I was watching an actor acting. Rex takes on the role of a self-righteous narcissist with such open arms that I not only believed every word he said, but I found myself enjoying watching this character be repulsive because it looked like Rex was having so much fun. I cannot wait to see where his career takes him next.
Red Rocket Image Courtesy of: A24
WHO WILL WIN: Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye). Chastain gives a performance that is doing the “most” here, as opposed to her work in Scenes From a Marriage or A Most Violent Year. Or maybe this is the Academy's way of recognizing Chastain’s work as an actress in all her past brilliant performances by finally awarding her with something she should have won years ago (like Leonardo DiCaprio winning Best Actor for The Revenant in 2016). Chastain portrays Tammy Faye Bakker, a televangelist in the 70’s who is notable for her rise in creating the world’s largest Christian Broadcasting network. Chastain gives a squeaky-clean performance, bringing to life Bakker’s high-pitched voice, quirky mannerisms, and colorful makeup and attire. Despite the film’s rather conventional biopic structure, Chastain’s performance is a standout and serves as both the center and heart of the film.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye
WHO WE’RE MISSING: Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers). I know she’s already nominated, but out of all the women nominated in this category, Cruz is definitely the underdog in this year's race. Perhaps this is due to her competitors' flashier, character-driven performances that Academy winners gravitate more towards, or even because Parallel Mothers was a bit of a quieter release and was overlooked in other categories. The film, directed by Pedro Almodovar, follows Cruz’s character, Janis, as she forms a relationship with a young woman at the hospital that they are both about to give birth at as they both embark on motherhood for the first time. Cruz’s performance pops off the screen, showcasing a balance of integrity and fervor. When I watched Cruz in this film, she felt so alive and present as an actor. I could see her listening so intently in every scene and digesting each piece of dialogue, before she would spitball it back with her nuanced gusto. She is MY WOMAN, and if I could vote here, she would get mine.
Image courtesy of: Sony Pictures Classics
WHO WILL WIN: I don’t know. I don't! This award feels like a bit of a tossup this year. Will it be Coda, a film about a 17-year-old girl who finds her passion for singing as the only hearing member of a deaf family? The film won Best Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which is usually an indication of a Best Picture win. Or will it be the Power Of The Dog? The film has Campion’s trailblazing direction (and possible Best Director win) and a star-studded cast behind it, not to mention, Netflix’s financial backing. Or will it be Belfast? Written and directed by Kenneth Branaugh, Belfast tells the semi-autobiographical story of a young boy from a working-class family who is growing up in Northern Ireland during the chaos of the late 1960’s. Branaugh’s film is filled with warmth, joy, simplicity, and politics without getting too political, which the Academy loves. Or who knows, maybe Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up will continue its satirical farce and triumph with a surprise Best Picture win! If I had to bet, I would choose Power of the Dog.
WHO WE’RE MISSING: So many!!! C’mon C’mon, Mass, Red Rocket, A Hero, Parallel Mothers, The Worst Person in the World, Flee, Summer of Soul. These are some of the movies that came out this year that touched me, challenged me, and stuck with me. Despite the Academy overlooking these films, they are my personal Best Picture nominees and I highly encourage all who haven’t seen them to check them out. I promise they will make you feel something, which is what the Oscars telecast does to me, for better or for worse.
The Worst Person in the World
The Academy Awards will air live this Sunday March 27, 2022 @ 8PM EST on ABC. You can borrow your roomates’ parents’ YouTubeTV, Hulu +, Cable Login, or Fubo. If you’re in a rocky relationship with your roommate, feel free to sign up for 7-day free trials of any of those options. Just remember to cancel...