All 53 Nominees at the 2022 Oscars, Ranked

All 53 Nominees at the 2022 Oscars, Ranked

Every year, plenty of attention is paid to the major Oscar categories, whether in the contentious acting contests, or the back-and-forth of favorites in Best Picture. But with 23 categories and 53 nominees this year, there are plenty of films that deserve more attention, like animated shorts, documentaries, films from around the world, and gigantic blockbusters.

In a few days, the Oscars will announce their winners in all 23 categories, but that simply isn’t enough. We’ve made our predictions for who will win and who should win, but how do all these 53 films fare against each other? What is the best nominee of all the nominees? Who reigns supreme amongst the best of the year’s best? Let’s pit all 53 of these nominees against each other and see what Oscar nominee is truly the best of this year’s picks.

53. When We Were Bullies

1 Nomination – Documentary (Short Subject)

Director Jay Rosenblatt’s documentary short When We Were Bullies, about a bullying incident from fifty years earlier at his elementary school is unfortunately misguided, focusing on the bullies instead of the bullied. By not even interviewing the person who was bullied, Rosenblatt’s short feels more egotistical than it should. As Rosenblatt’s former teacher says about the film that this could be “tedious to watch,” and she’s completely right.

52. Four Good Days

1 Nomination – Music (Original Song)

Starring Glenn Close and Mila KunisFour Good Days is an over-the-top melodrama that is always either too sanitized or too ridiculous in its portrayal of substance abuse to be taken seriously. Four Good Days is a film about addiction that is built on tired clichés and broad statements about addicts that have been shown countless times in far better movies with more tact and care.

51. Being the Ricardos

3 Nominations – Actress in a Leading Role (Nicole Kidman), Actor in a Leading Role (Javier Bardem), and Actor in a Supporting Role (J.K. Simmons)

An intriguing topic for a biopic is smothered to death by the overabundance of Aaron Sorkin’s smugness. Sorkin crams Being the Richardos with as many factoids and tidbits as he can about the lives of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, condenses major parts of their lives into the course of a few days, and the overabundance of Sorkin-isms overwhelms a story of true genius—even though we know how much Sorkin loves his troubled geniuses. Sorkin has turned one of the greatest sitcom couples ever made into little more than a Studio 60 sketch.

50. BoxBallet

1 Nomination – Short Film (Animated)

What begins as a charming mismatched relationship story between a ballerina and a boxer quickly devolves into a strange dynamic that changes these inconsistent characters from scene-to-scene. The contrast between the two main characters in this animated short leads to some sweet moments, but BoxBallet’s attempts to give this story any drama comes at the expense of its character.

49. Affairs of the Art

1 Nomination – Short Film (Animated)

Joanna Quinn’s animated short is frantically drawn and told, as her recurring character Beryl explores her newfound interest in art and her strange sister’s obsession with death. For fans of Beryl, Affairs of the Art should be an effective chapter in this character’s journey, but for outsiders, this nominee is a strange and unusually-animated tale full of odd diversions.

48. Coming 2 America

1 Nomination – Makeup and Hairstyling

Coming 2 America isn’t terrible, it’s just sort of a whole not of nothing—which is a fairly big disappointment considering the wait for this sequel. By leaving the cast of the original film on the back burner or making them more unlikeable, Coming 2 America is a return to Zamunda that didn’t need to exist, and makes the viewer remember how much more they liked the original film in comparison. But hey, at least we get to see the return of Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall doing weird broad characters under heavy makeup again.

47. Don’t Look Up

4 Nominations – Best Picture, Film Editing, Music (Original Score), and Writing (Original Screenplay)

Adam McKay’s latest Best Picture nominee is a toothless commentary on mankind’s ineffectual response to global warming that oversimplifies one of the world’s biggest oncoming problems. Beyond a few decent performances, Don’t Look Up’s impressive ensemble is little more than a great cast hitting home this one-note joke of a film for over two hours. About as blunt as a giant asteroid, Don’t Look Up does a lot of screaming without ever saying much of substance.

46. Free Guy

1 Nomination – Visual Effects

A story about the little guy taking on a massive corporation, that also uses some of the biggest entertainment brands in the world to make this point, Free Guy seems to have its heart in the right place, but its muddled message flounders in this take on the video game film. Free Guy is only nominated for its special effects—that are impressive at times—which makes sense for a movie where the fake video game world seems more realistic than the writing in the real world.

45. Three Songs for Benazir

1 Nomination – Documentary (Short Subject)

Gulistan Mirzaei and Elizabeth Mirzaei’s doc short about an Afghani refugee camp in Kabul, Three Songs for Benazir, is fantastic when it focuses on Shaista and his new wife, Benazir, as well as Shaista’s desire to join the Afghan National Army against his family’s wishes. Yet a four-year jump near the end of the film leaves more questions about what has happened to these characters in that time, ending the story when it’s at its most interesting.

44. The Eyes of Tammy Faye

2 Nominations – Actress in a Leading Role (Jessica Chastain); Makeup and Hairstyling

The Eyes of Tammy Faye is a strange combination of camp, cringe comedy, and an attempt to tell a sympathetic story about a person we’re supposed to believe was misunderstood. Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield do a fine job while hidden under layers and layers of makeup and prosthetics, but this by-the-number biopic doesn’t do their solid performances any favors.

43. Belfast

7 Nominations – Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role (Ciarán Hinds), Actress in a Supporting Role (Judi Dench), Directing, Music (Original Song), Sound, and Writing (Original Screenplay)

Sweet and certainly has its charms, Belfast is also far too light and insubstantial to do justice to the heavier subjects writer-director Kenneth Branagh wants to tackle here. Based on Branagh’s childhood, this works best as a rose-colored look at his youth, but whenever the film tries to tackle the larger issues occurring in Belfast at the time, there’s no weight to these moments. In the end, Branagh’s personal tale ends up feeling sort of like Roma-lite.

42. Raya and the Last Dragon

1 Nomination – Animated Feature Film

 

41. Audible

1 Nomination – Documentary (Short Subject)

Beautifully directed by Matt Ogens and Geoff McLeanAudible tells the story of Amaree, the team captain for the football team at the Maryland School for the Deaf. Audible packs a ton of story into this short, as it explores Amaree’s relationships, this fascinating school, and the fear of what will happen once these students that thrive at this school graduate. Through Audible, we get a remarkable look at a world that we might not have seen otherwise.

40. On My Mind

1 Nomination – Short Film (Live Action)

From previous winner Martin Strange-HansenOn My Mind is based on Strange-Hansen’s own experiences of losing his daughter. Focusing on Henrik (Rasmus Hammerich), a grieving man who is determined to record himself singing “Always on My Mind,” Strange-Hansen is able to blend deep anguish with enough gentle humor to not make this story touching without becoming overwhelmingly bleak.

39. Writing With Fire

1 Nomination – Documentary (Feature)

The woman at the center of Writing with Fire are absolute badasses, working for India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women, and shifting the mindset of the country through their job—a massive undertaking that they certainly seem up for. Writing with Fire is at its best when showing the incredible job these women are doing in spreading the news, from learning new technologies to challenging the men in power that attempt to intimidate them.

38. Bestia

1 Nomination – Short Film (Animated)

Bestia

Arguably one of the most disturbing and dark shorts to ever get nominated in the animated short category, Bestia is based on a secret police agent during the Chilean military dictatorship. But director Hugo Covarrubias utilizes stop-motion animation to tell a story that might be too horrific to tell in live-action, pushing the genre in a unique and uncomfortable direction.

37. Please Hold

1 Nomination – Short Film (Live Action)

Please Hold

K.D. Dávila’s short Please Hold would almost be funny if it wasn’t so eerily prescient, as he discusses the business of for-profit prisons, the almost Sisyphean task of trying to survive while incarcerated, the weight of trying to reacclimate to society after prison, and how racial profiling can ruin a person’s life. Dávila brings this near-future to life with incredible detail, complete with an infuriating automated system within the cell that could make any prisoner go insane. Please Hold manages to fit a wide range of criticisms about our current prison system in a captivating and well-considered short.

36. Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

1 Nomination – International Feature Film

Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom

This year’s surprise in the international feature category is the first film ever nominated from Bhutan, and even though Lunana tells a fairly straightforward story, it’s director Pawo Choyning Dorji’s showing off a world that we might be completely unfamiliar with that makes Lunana so special. Lunana takes the viewer to the most remote school in the world, and even if the narrative isn’t necessarily the most enthralling, the breathtaking views and beautifully simple way of life on this mountain makes it one of the most memorable films in this category.

35. The Long Goodbye

1 Nomination – Short Film (Live Action)

The Long Goodbye

Produced by and starring Riz AhmedThe Long Goodbye begins by showing Riz and his family in the midst of a normal day in the UK. It doesn’t take long, however, until Aneil Karia’s short shifts into a nightmare fueled by racism and Islamophobia, punctuated by a powerful monologue by Ahmed comprised of lyrics from his 2020 album, “The Long Goodbye.” Karia’s short could’ve ended up feeling like a music video that jolts the viewer awake, akin to Childish Gambino’s “This Is America,” yet manages to never quite make that leap. Instead, Karia’s surprising switch in tones makes The Long Goodbye an unrelenting and brutal look at the racism in the UK, with a tremendous and commanding performance by Ahmed.

34. Ala Kachuu – Take and Run

1 Nomination – Short Film (Live Action)

Ala Kachuu - Take and Run

The longest of the live-action shorts and easily the most packed, Ala Kachuu shines a light on the still practiced form of forced marriage known as “bride kidnapping.” Alina Turdumamatova plays Sezim, who leaves home to study in the capital of Kyrgyz.

As her life starts to come together, she is kidnapped at her job and forced to marry a complete stranger. Sezim seems to be the only one that realizes the horror of this situation, as she tries to escape her new husband.

The biggest flaw of Maria Brendle’s short is how much plot is crammed into this film, as intriguing supporting stories are introduced throughout, but there’s no time to give them the attention they deserve. But Sezim’s story and Turdumamatova fantastic performance are enough to make this is enthralling, albeit terrifying film that shines a light on an issue that is shocking to learn is still happening today.

33. The Queen of Basketball

1 Nomination – Documentary (Short Subject)

The Queen of Basketball

Lusia Harris might be the greatest basketball player you’ve never heard of before. She led her college basketball team to three national titles, became the first female basketball player to score at the Olympics (and she received a silver medal), and she was even the first female officially drafted to the NBA.

With The Queen of BasketballBen Proudfoot (who was also nominated in this category last year for co-directing A Concerto Is a Conversation) lets Harris tell her story, and it’s a wonderful story to her from Harris’ joyful perspective.

While Harris says she doesn’t regret turning the NBA down, she also laments the lack of opportunities that she had after college, considering the WNBA didn’t exist yet. But learning of Harris’ remarkable accomplishments through her exuberant perspective is a delight.

Everyone should know Harris’ name and Queen of Basketball does a great job in trying to make this happen.

32. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

1 Nomination – Visual Effects

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

At its best, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings feels like the early MCU origin films, mostly separate from the larger universe at hand, but still doing a solid job of setting up a character that will clearly be a part of this bigger world. Director Destin Daniel Cretton brings some well-crafted and grounded action sequences into the Marvel universe, and balances a ton of characters with ease. At a certain point, Simu Liu‘s title character becomes sort of a cog in the film’s larger plot, but still makes the audience want to see more of this new hero in the future. Also, any Marvel film that brings in Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung is an automatic thumbs up.

31. The Dress

1 Nomination – Short Film (Live Action)

If there was an Oscar category for Best Performance in a Short Film, Anna Dieduszycka would undoubtedly win for her performance in The Dress. Dieduszycka plays Julka, a woman of short stature who works as a maid at a Polish hotel, and spends her nights chain-smoking and playing video slots, all while frequently putting up with stares and rude comments. When Julka meets a truck driver who asks her out, she begins to think about her sexual desires in a way she hasn’t in quite some time. Dieduszycka gives a heartbreaking performance in The Dress, while Tadeusz Lysiak direction and writing show the beauty of Julka, while also keeping the story grounded by tragic reality. The Dress doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties of finding love—which are especially hard for Julka—but amongst the darkness, there’s hope, even if it might take some time to find.

30. Attica

1 Nomination – Documentary (Feature)

An extremely important documentation of the remarkable and horrifying prison uprising, Attica tells its story through the inmates involved and the community around the prison. Directors Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry show that the Attica uprising was a call to arms from men who just wanted to be treated like humans, and the awful ramifications of this call. Despite its fairly standard documentary structure, Attica is a particularly harrowing story, especially in the final third, when the atrocities are shown in vivid and shocking detail, an awful truth that needs to be shown.

29. Ascension

1 Nomination – Documentary (Feature)

Ascension starts on the streets, showing companies hiring employees in China for $3 an hour, promising “no more than 8 people” to work dorms, and free Wi-Fi. From there, director Jessica Kingdon expands to show the economic division within China, from people working monotonous jobs at factories to the rich dining on meats that were cured for four years.

The journey from one extreme to the next is often disheartening, frequently funny, and always amusing. In Kingdon’s gorgeously shot look at the vast difference between the poor and the rich, she’s also providing a fascinating glimpse behind-the-scenes of the jobs that we take for granted, showing the teams that pick up rentable bikes, the butlers who are there for their employer’s every need, and the sex doll creators who make “products” with extreme specifications.

These jobs can be extremely depressing—especially when showcased in this way—but they’re all an integral part of how the country ebbs and flows.

28. House of Gucci

1 Nomination – Makeup and Hairstyling

Let’s get this out of the way up top: House of Gucci is not the 2021 Ridley Scott film that should’ve received a nomination (the lack of The Last Duel nominations will likely seem shocking in years to come), but House of Gucci is still a fun, albeit tonally wild story. House of Gucci is like a dozen different movies crammed into one story, but House of Gucci thrives when the film focuses on its over-the-top, be it Jared Leto‘s absurd take on Paolo Gucci or Lady Gaga‘s Patrizia Reggiani, fighting for the power and respect she feels she deserves. House of Gucci doesn’t fully work, but can be a lot of fun when it embraces its absurdity.

27. Parallel Mothers

2 Nominations – Actress in a Leading Role (Penélope Cruz), and Music (Original Score)

No one does melodrama quite like Pedro Almodóvar, especially when he teams up with Penélope Cruz. This story of two mothers is full of twists and turns, but grounded in a very real emotional depth that asks the audience what they would do in a similar situation. Parallel Mothers does make a strange choice in the second act that doesn’t entirely work, and the shift to focus on the Spanish Civil War in the final third does feel a bit out of place. But still, Almodóvar and Cruz together is always a winning combination, and Parallel Mothers is one of their best collaborations yet.

26. tick, tick…BOOM!

2 Nominations – Actor in a Leading Role (Andrew Garfield), and Film Editing

There is a scene in tick, tick…BOOM! where Jonathan Larson (played by a charming Andrew Garfield) is told that he should write what he knows. Lin-Manuel Miranda similarly made the smart choice to tell a story that he knows and clearly cares about with his directorial debut. Not only is this an interesting story about an important person in the history of musical theatre, but at its core, this is also simply a story about how personal ambitions can get in the way of relationships, and that looming desire to do something great before it’s too late in one’s life. tick, tick…BOOM! is a love letter to theatre, those who create it, and the desire for greatness that might come in a completely unexpected way.

25. Dune

10 Nominations – Best Picture, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Sound, Visual Effects, and Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

In this adaptation of Frank Herbert’s iconic sci-fi novel, director Denis Villeneuve has crafted a grandiose retelling, full of breathtaking sets, a brilliant cast, and plenty of captivating aspects that will certainly win this plenty of technical Oscars. It’s also disappointingly empty, not giving its audience much of a reason to care. As the first part of a two-part story, “Dune” is plenty of setup and introductions for what is to come. Granted, Villeneuve adapts Herbert’s novel with great care and clarity, but Dune can’t help but feel like a lot of beginnings without any payoff, even if that beginning is quite exquisite.

24. The Hand of God

1 Nomination – International Feature Film

Like much of the work of Paolo SorrentinoThe Hand of God can at times feel like an attempt to make a modern-day Federico Fellini film, as if Sorrentino believes he can create a newer Amarcord. Yet about halfway through, The Hand of God shifts from a slice-of-life Italian story into a powerful and personal story about a tragedy that affected Sorrentino’s childhood. Sorrentino’s quiet reflection and observation makes this work better than most autobiographical films about a director’s tragedy, and this look at the experiences that made Sorrentino who he is today might make this the director’s best work so far.

23. Lead Me Home

1 Nomination – Documentary (Short Subject)

Looking at homelessness on the West Coast of the United States, Lead Me Home not only investigates the large-scale needs for countless people without homes, but also dives into the personal stories of individuals who have no place to go. Directors Pedro Kos and Jon Shenk show the dreams and desires of these people, whether it’s to keep their family safe and sound, or to simply have a place of safety, away from the abuses they suffer on the street. Lead Me Home is a painful, but an extremely necessary document of those who are often overlooked, and yet just want the basic amenities that every person deserves.

22. The Tragedy of Macbeth

3 Nominations – Actor in a Leading Role (Denzel Washington), Cinematography, and Production Design

Joel Coen’s take on William Shakespeare reminds of how Laurence Olivier adapted Hamlet, or Orson Welles dealt with Othello, by taking an almost German Expressionist take that highlights the darkness of the tragedy at hand. Coen balances light and dark in stark ways, to the point that whenever any amount of brightness enters the frame, it almost feels stifling and blinding. And of course, everyone you’d expect to be fantastic here is naturally fantastic, be it Denzel Washington in his nominated role, Frances McDormand as a chilling Lady Macbeth, or the haunting performance by Kathryn Hunter. A fantastic solo debut by Joel Coen, a director we’ve known for decades that is still showing impressive new sides of himself.

21. Robin Robin

1 Nomination – Short Film (Animated)

The only short in the animated category that kids should be allowed to watch, Robin Robin is also one of the best films Aardman Animations has done in years. Following a robin who lives with mice and believes himself to be a mouse, Robin Robin is a charming tale of finding one’s own identity and strengths. The wooly figures bring warmth and comfort to this film, and the sets created for this tale are unbelievably rich and detailed. Robin Robin is easily the cutest short of all the nominees, but Aardman makes sure it’s also one of the finest shorts nominated this year.

20. The Windshield Wiper

1 Nomination – Short Film (Animated)

From Alberto Mielgo, who has worked on such varied projects as Love, Death & RobotsSpider-Man: Into the Spider-VerseThe Beatles: Rock Band and Gorillaz, The Windshield Wiper is an absolutely stunning series of vignettes exploring love. Every gorgeous frame in Mielgo’s creation is awe-inspiring, from a man waiting for an unknown reason in an empty hospital, to a homeless man talking to a store’s mannequin, confused and bleakly asking this delusion to “come back.” A pair swipes right on each other, oblivious to the fact that they’re right beside each other at the grocery store. A man walks by a girl who turns his head, as we see him thinking about going up to her, then thinking better of the inclination. A couple sits wordlessly together on the beach. When tied together, The Windshield Wiper unites to create a fascinating tale of modern love, both sad and yet, hopeful and full of possibilities. With its scope and arresting style, The Windshield Wiper is the best short in competition this year, and one of the best animated short nominees in years.

19. Nightmare Alley

4 Nominations – Best Picture, Cinematography, Costume Design, and Production Design

Guillermo del Toro’s films are frequently about showing humanity in monsters, as well as the monsters in humanity, so the story of a Nightmare Alley, about a carnival man (Bradley Cooper) who uses manipulation to get ahead in the world seems like a perfect fit for the director. While del Toro’s penchant for violent and horror doesn’t always lend itself to this story, it’s the excellent ensemble cast that truly makes this work, especially Cooper in the film’s final gut-punch of a conclusion. A dark, broody noir that will likely get under your skin

18. Luca

1 Nomination – Animated Feature Film

It might be easy to call Luca slight or “lesser Pixar,” simply because it doesn’t deal with such heavy topics as, say, Up or Soul, yet there’s something refreshing about watching Pixar tell a story that isn’t focused on death or trying to get the audience to cry. Luca is the most light-hearted Pixar film since Monsters University, and it’s great to see Pixar tell a great story that lets the emotional impact come through naturally. Luca is Pixar working with smaller stories and lesser stakes, yet it’s a gorgeous and charming story with a fantastic voice cast that will also leave you wanting plates and plates of Italian food and a Vespa.

17. Encanto

3 Nominations – Animated Feature Film, Music (Original Score), and Music (Original Song)

Especially in the history of Disney animated classics, there has never been a film quite like Encanto. Even though Stephanie Beatriz’s Mirabel Madrigal leads this journey, Disney’s 60th animated feature is primarily a family affair, telling the story of a family with special gifts. But Encanto also avoids having a villain, or a major love interest, and even pokes fun at previous Disney Princesses through Mirabel’s sister, Isabela. But Encanto is also a vibrant, beautiful tale of family, with a vibrant soundtrack by Lin-Manuel Miranda. We might not talk about Bruno, but Encanto is sure to be in the conversation of great Disney animated films for decades to come.

16. Cruella

2 Nominations – Costume Design; Makeup and Hairstyling

One of the primary problems with Disney’s attempt to tell live-action versions of their classic animated films is a lack of vision or style, simply content to retell the story in the real world, be it through films like The Jungle Book or The Lion King. And while we probably didn’t need the punk rock fashion origins of one of Disney’s most iconic villains, Cruella is lively and ridiculous and fun in a way that Disney rarely is with its original properties. Cruella will almost certainly win its sole nomination, as the costumes here are outstanding, and Emma Stone is having a ball in a role that allows her to go extremely big and give this character its own identity. Especially compared to Disney’s other live-action remakes, Cruella has a style and liveliness all of its own.

15. Spider-Man: No Way Home

1 Nomination – Visual Effects

Spider-Man: No Way Home was never going to win a Best Picture nomination—and no, it shouldn’t have. And while No Way Home could be seen as little more than fan service, Jon Watts’ third Spider-Man film does an admirable job of not only bringing back a bunch of villains, but doing justice to the story of all three live-action Spider-Men. Sure, No Way Home might be fan service, but it’s effective fan service that furthers 20 years of Spider-Man film history.

14. Spencer

1 Nomination – Actress in a Leading Role (Kristen Stewart)

In SpencerPablo Larraín almost tells the story of Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart) like a horror film, with Diana having to escape the haunted house of royalty. Stewart gives one of the year’s best performances, as we see Diana suffocating from the royal life she’s currently in, desperate to move forward from a life so determined to stay stuck in the past. Larraín helps tell Diana’s story through captivating conversations she has while on the estate, a glimpse of a woman that the world is rooting for, even while she’s stuck in her oppressive life. Larraín’s fascinating character study and Stewart’s excellent performance make Spencer a historical biopic of sorts unlike any other.

13. No Time to Die

3 Nominations – Music (Original Song), Sound, and Visual Effects

At this point, it’s safe to say that Daniel Craig might be the best James Bond, showing layers to this iconic character that we’ve never seen on screen before. But Craig and director Cary Joji Fukunaga take Bond further than we ever expected with No Time to Die, as Craig says goodbye to this role once and for all. No Time to Die bonds this character to the people in his life unlike this series ever has before, leaving Bond’s final moments to be a surprisingly moving coda to Craig’s time in this iconic role.

12. The Mitchells vs. the Machines

1 Nomination – Animated Feature Film

In a year with three Disney or Pixar films nominated, Netflix’s The Mitchells vs. the Machines shines above the other nominees with this extremely lovely story of a family road trip, a robot uprising, and lead character Katie Mitchell’s (Abbi Jacobson) desire to become a filmmaker. Produced by Christopher Lord and Phil Miller, and directed by Mike RiandaThe Mitchells vs. the Machines owes as much to A Goofy Movie as the blissful insanity of The LEGO Movie, yet crafts a wild-and-crazy family story wholly its own. With The Mitchells vs. the Machines, Netflix has given the world a new animation classic.

11. The Lost Daughter

3 Nominations – Actress in a Leading Role (Olivia Colman), Actress in a Supporting Role (Jessie Buckley), and Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

In her directorial debut, Maggie Gyllenhaal has to handle a complex balance in telling the story of Leda Caruso (Olivia Colman). Leda takes a holiday to Greece and upon watching young mother Nina (Dakota Johnson) with her child, Leda reflects back on her own struggles with motherhood. The Lost Daughter provides not only another great Colman performance, but a fantastic introduction to Gyllenhaal as a commanding filmmaker.

10. King Richard

6 Nominations – Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role (Will Smith), Actress in a Supporting Role (Aunjanue Ellis), Film Editing, Music (Original Song), and Writing (Original Screenplay)

It might seem strange that a film about the beginnings of Venus and Serena Williams’ tennis career would focus on their father, Richard Williams (played by Will Smith), but both sisters would certainly say that their father was integral to their success—especially at this young age. Smith will almost certainly win his first Oscar for this role as a coach and father who simply wants to give his daughters what he never had, but equally great is fellow nominee Aunjanue Ellis as Richard’s wife, Oracene. While this is a strong and uplifting sports film, it’s the dynamic between Smith, Ellis, and the rest of their family that makes King Richard a true winner.

9. Flee

3 Nominations – Animated Feature Film, Documentary (Feature), and International Feature Film

A remarkable animated documentary that utilizes its form as a way to recreate the impossible, while also using the technique as a way to allow the film’s focal point, Amin, some semblance of privacy, given his astounding past and story. Flee and director Jonas Poher Rasmussen handles Amin’s story with great care and consideration, as Amin recounts his extraordinary story, full of twists, turns, and lovely smaller moments. Flee ends up becoming one of the best animated films, documentary films, and international films of the year.

8. CODA

3 Nominations – Best Picture, Actor in a Supporting Role (Troy Kotsur), and Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The beauty of CODA, a film about an aspiring singer (Emilia Jones) who grows up in a house with an all-deaf family, is a remarkable balance in tone. CODA is playing with plenty of tropes we’ve seen before, all within a formula that could be too sweet to bear. Yet writer/director Siân Heder keeps CODA always on the right side of these elements, dealing with plenty of indie drama clichés, but without the film ever falling into clichés itself. The result is an extremely lovely story about a family learning to understand each other and grow in a way that is best for everyone.

7. Cyrano

1 Nomination – Costume Design

Cyrano feels like a culmination of all of director Joe Wright’s talents over the years, an amalgamation of his previous works coming together to do this story—written by Erica Schmidt— justice. Cyrano combines Wright’s excellence in romantic stories (2005’s Pride & Prejudice) with the staginess that he can still make feel expansive (Anna Karenina), and the combination of grandiose love stories with epic war stories (Atonement). Through Wright’s direction, Cyrano has a much larger sweeping scale than one would expect. Peter Dinklage gives one of the best performances of 2021, and the best performance of his career, while the tremendous score from Aaron and Bryce Dessner will stick with the listener long after the film is over. Released in a year that was packed with a ridiculous amount of great musicals, Cyrano deserves to be called one of the best of 2021.

6. West Side Story

7 Nominations – Best Picture, Actress in a Supporting Role (Ariana DeBose), Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Production Design, and Sound

There are some films that people will say shouldn’t be remade, pinnacles of cinema that should be left on a pedestal. Yet what Steven Spielberg’s version of West Side Story shows is that every film can be improved. Six decades into his career, Spielberg is still showing that there are sides to him that we’ve never seen before, as one would never believe that this was Spielberg’s first musical. Spielberg makes slight twists on the narrative that improve the overall story, and the vibrant musical numbers and the impeccable cast make this as good—if not better—than the original, as blasphemous as that might sound.

5. The Power of the Dog

12 Nominations – Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role (Benedict Cumberbatch), Actor in a Supporting Role (Jesse Plemons & Kodi Smit-McPhee), Actress in a Supporting Role (Kirsten Dunst), Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Music (Original Score), Production Design), Sound, and Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The frontrunner at this year’s Oscars for months—and for good reason—Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” is probably the most critically-acclaimed film of 2021. Centered around rancher Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch) and the clash between his brother (Jesse Plemons), his brother’s new wife (Kirsten Dunst), and her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Campion creates a slow-burn Western with a modern touches, a gorgeous tale that unravels and expands with care and beauty the further it progresses. With four great lead performances and some of the best directing last year, “The Power of the Dog” is likely to be the next Best Picture winner.

4. Summer of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

1 Nomination – Documentary Feature)

Exploring the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival that look place for six weeks, first-time documentary director Questlove proves himself to be an incredible chronicler of this oft-forgotten event with Summer of Soul. Not only does Questlove present massive chunks of these performances from artists like Stevie WonderNina SimoneSly and the Family Stone, and many more, but he also shows the historical importance of these bands, the impact these performances had on the guests in the audience, as well as the members of the bands themselves. But Summer of Soul also shows the power that simply having one’s story can have not only on the individual, but on the cultural at large. Summer of Soul is a blast, but it’s also a tremendous reminder of how important it is for everyone’s story to be heard.

3. Drive My Car

4 Nominations – Best Picture, Directing, International Feature Film, and Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Director Ryusuke Hamaguchi knows how to build this story of loss exquisitely, giving time for Yusuke to grieve in his own way, bringing us along for the ride in this truly moving tale.

2. Licorice Pizza

3 Nominations – Best Picture, Directing, and Writing (Original Screenplay)

The first part of Paul Thomas Anderson’s career focused on impressive ensembles (Boogie NightsMagnolia), while the second half has paid more attention to the individual (There Will Be BloodPhantom Thread). With his latest, Licorice Pizza, PTA splits the difference, as 15-year-old Gary (Cooper Hoffman) tries to win over the 25-year-old Alana (Alana Haim) in 1970s L.A., complete with an exceptional cast of supporting actors. But Licorice Pizza is also Anderson’s most loving film, a coming-of-age story that is weird and unexpected, full of charm and warmth. Anderson has made a lot of great films over the span of his career, yet Licorice Pizza is unlike anything the writer-director has done up to this point, with this affectionate and caring story about growing up.

1. The Worst Person in the World

2 Nominations – International Feature Film, and Writing (Original Screenplay)

Joachim Trier’s overwhelming third film in his Oslo Trilogy explores how the loves of our life completely evolve who we become. In the opening prologue of The Worst Person in the World, we see as the film’s main character Julie (the brilliant Renate Reinsve) reinvents herself multiple times, unsure that she’s making a decision in her youth that will affect the rest of her life.

Trier tells Julie’s story in chapters, each one a new example of how Julie’s choices will define her – for better or for worse. Trier does this with some of the most inventive and captivating filmmaking this year, quirky, without ever being obnoxiously so.

But Trier taps into the fear of growing up without entirely being sure who you want to become, or what path you want your life to take. Through The Worst Person in the World, Trier shows that life is all about these reinventions, these choices, these loves, and how beautiful and scary that can make life.

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