Films Dune and Power of the Dog poised for Oscar nominations

Published 08 Feb, 2022 11:04am

Nominations for the 94th Academy Awards will be announced today.

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Tuesday's Oscar nominations should bring Will Smith his third Academy Awards nod, a lot of love for Denis Villeneuve’s science-fiction epic Dune and nominations spread across more streaming services than ever.

Nominations to the 94th Academy Awards will be announced Tuesday. Actors Tracee Ellis Ross and Leslie Jordan will read the nominees live on multiple platforms, including Oscar.com, Oscars.org, the academy’s social media accounts and on ABC’s Good Morning America.

A largely virtual awards season has added some unpredictability to this year’s nominations, which are occurring later than usual. (To make way for the Olympics, the Oscars will be held March 27.) Among the favourites Tuesday are Dune, Kenneth Branagh’s black-and-white coming-of-age drama Belfast and Jane Campion’s gothic western The Power of the Dog.

Campion, a nominee for 1993′s The Piano, is expected to become the first woman to ever be nominated twice for best director. Last year, Chloé Zhao just became the second woman to ever win the award. Campion’s director of photography, Ari Wegner, is also poised to be just the second woman ever nominated for best cinematography. The only previous woman to do so was Rachel Morrison for Mudbound in 2018.

Netflix has The Power of the Dog, Adam McKay’s apocalyptic comedy Don’t Look Up, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical adaptation Tick, Tick ... Boom! and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Elena Ferrante adaptation The Lost Daughter. After several near-misses with Roma, The Irishman and Mank, Netflix is still seeking its first best picture win.

Apple has the deaf family drama CODA and Joel Coen’s Shakespeare adaptation The Tragedy of Macbeth. Denzel Washington, star of Macbeth is in line for his ninth acting Oscar nomination. Troy Kotsur of CODA could become only the second deaf actor nominated for an Academy Award. The only previous deaf actor nominated in Oscar history is Marlee Martlin, Kotsur’s CODA co-star.

Amazon is represented with Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos which may score acting nods for stars Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem.

Two films that premiered simultaneously in theatres and on HBO Max — Dune and the Will Smith-led King Richard about the father of Venus and Serena Williams — should also be in the best picture mix. With about $400 million in ticket sales, Dune could be the biggest ticket-seller to be nominated for best picture — so long as Spider-Man: No Way Home or No Time to Die don’t sneak in.

In pulling from films released in myriad ways, the Oscar nominations are sure to reflect a tumultuous pandemic year for Hollywood that began with many theatres shuttered and ended with Sony Pictures’ Spider-Man: No Way Home smashing box-office records.

In between, much of the normal rhythm of the movie business was transformed, as studios pushed some of the biggest movies of the year to streaming services in a bid to lure subscribers. Films including Dune (despite the objections of its director), Pixar’s Luca and King Richard were among those that went straight to homes.

As Covid-19 cases surged in the last two months due to the omicron variant, much of Oscar season also turned virtual. Last year, the pandemic led the academy to host a delayed Oscars in a socially distanced ceremony at Los Angeles’ Union Station. Ratings plummeted to an all-time low of 9.85 million viewers.

This year, the academy has yet to map out plans for its show, except that it will include a host for the first time since 2018. For better or worse, the Academy Awards will also be without its usual lead-in. The Golden Globes in January were an un-televised non-event after NBC said it wouldn’t air them in 2022 while the beleaguered Hollywood Foreign Press reformed itself after ethics and diversity criticism.

Other changes were more subtle but potentially impactful. For the first time, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences ruled out hard-copy DVD screeners for its members, who instead could watch submissions on the academy’s streaming platform.