Oscars 2022: Who will win, and who SHOULD win on Sunday’s big night

A view of 11 Oscars statues lined up next to each other. (Santi Visalli, Photo by Santi Visalli/Getty Images)

Once again, it’s every movie lover’s favorite time of the year: The Oscars.

Hollywood’s biggest stars gather to award the excellence in acting, directing, writing and everything else that goes into making the movies that we love.

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Last year’s event was masked up and socially distanced, and while it was nice that it felt kind of normal, there was still this looming cloud over the entire show that felt like maybe this shouldn’t be happening.

Now, award shows are a lot more safe, considering the vaccine (although the Oscars aren’t requiring guests to be vaccinated) and there are lower case numbers across the country, so this year’s show should feel like the Oscars that we love and know. Plus, we have hosts this year, too!

This year of films has been absolutely stacked, so it’s been pretty hard to predict who will take home awards on Sunday evening, but regardless, it’s still fun to guess.

Let’s go through some of the top categories and make some predictions on who will win, and who should win.

Best Picture

  • Belfast
  • CODA
  • Don’t Look Up
  • Drive My Car
  • Dune
  • King Richard
  • Licorice Pizza
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • West Side Story

Who will win: CODA

Who should win: West Side Story/CODA

It feels like almost every category at this year’s Oscars is an open race, and that includes the Best Picture competition. “The Power of the Dog” has the most nominations of any film with 12, so that could certainly help it win Best Picture. However, this year’s dark horse, “CODA,” would love to knock “The Power of the Dog” off its throne. After “CODA” won Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards, the race is wide open. And don’t forget about “West Side Story!” For lovers of classic films, “West Side Story” could squeeze in last-minute and take home the award.

Best Director

  • Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
  • Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
  • Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
  • Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

Who should win: Jane Campion

Who will win: Jane Campion

Campion’s western is stunning to watch, and she’s been cleaning up at most other award shows in the directing category, so it’s really hers to lose. Will her awkward speech at the Critics’ Choice Awards about Venus and Serena Williams end up losing her the trophy? Probably not. She apologized after it happened, and there are plenty of things other directors have done that were overlooked by voters when they won Oscars, so it would be pretty crazy if her faux pas shifts anything in the category.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
  • Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
  • Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos
  • Kristen Stewart, Spencer

Who will win: Jessica Chastain

Who should win: Kristen Stewart

Up until the SAG Awards a few weeks ago, it felt like the Leading Actress award was going to go to Nicole Kidman for her portrayal as Lucille Ball, but when Jessica Chastain shocked Hollywood with her SAG win as the iconic Tammy Faye Baker, it seemed as if she would be the one to take home the Oscar.

Chastain is absolutely fantastic as the former TV evangelist, but there’s also the argument that she’s “due” for her Oscar after being nominated multiple other times.

There is the dark horse of the category, and that is Kristen Stewart. Playing Princess Diana is not a walk in the park, and Stewart truly transformed herself into the late princess. It felt like she was the frontrunner going into awards season, but after being snubbed from a few other award show, it was shocking she was even nominated for an Oscar. Could she pull it off?

We shall see.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
  • Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick... Boom!
  • Will Smith, King Richard
  • Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth

Who will win: Will Smith

Who should win: Andrew Garfield

Will Smith has been winning at almost every award show this season, so it will be even more shocking if he loses this one than if he actually wins. He totally deserves it, though. Smith has been working in Hollywood for decades, and he deserves an Oscar, especially for this movie.

However, if anyone were going to spoil his moment, let it be Andrew Garfield in “Tick, Tick... Boom!” Garfield is a revelation in the musical, and this was one of the best performances from last year.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter
  • Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
  • Judi Dench, Belfast
  • Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog
  • Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

Who will win: Ariana DeBose

Who should win: Ariana DeBose

Before “West Side Story” was released in theaters, it seemed this was going to be Kirsten Dunst’s year to win an Oscar. But then movie-goers saw “West Side Story” and audiences fell in love with Ariana DeBose. She plays Anita, hands down the best character in the movie, and wow, did she do her justice. DeBose can sing her heart out, dance her pants off and act her way out of a paper bag. She’s not even the lead of the movie, but you almost want her to be, because she’s so fun to watch on screen. Give her all the awards.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Ciarán Hinds, Belfast
  • Troy Kotsur, CODA
  • Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog
  • J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

Who will win: Troy Kotsur

Who should win: Troy Kotsur

First of all, watch “CODA.” It’s just so, so good. Second, Troy Kotsur will absolutely win in this category. He has been sweeping the category in all of the award shows leading up to the Oscars. If this were any other year, I’d vote for Jesse Plemons or Kodi Smit-McPhee, but Kotsur has this one in the bag this year.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
  • Adam McKay and David Sirota, Don’t Look Up
  • Zach Baylin, King Richard
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
  • Eskil Vogt and Joachim Trier, The Worst Person in the World

Who will win: Paul Thomas Anderson

Who should win: Paul Thomas Anderson

First of all, it’s insane that Paul Thomas Anderson hasn’t won an Oscar yet. The man has been writing and directing films for more than 20 years, and has racked up an impressive 11 nominations over multiple categories. “Licorice Pizza” is a fantastic script, and with no other frontrunners (except for possibly Kenneth Branagh), this looks like it could be PTA’s first Oscar.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • Siân Heder, CODA
  • Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe, Drive My Car
  • Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, and Eric Roth, Dune
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Lost Daughter
  • Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog

Who will win: Jane Campion

Who should win: Maggie Gyllenhaal

This one feels like Campion’s award to lose, but how cool would it be if Maggie Gyllenhaal won? She was snubbed from the Best Director category, so this win would certainly make up for that.

Best Animated Feature Film

  • Encanto
  • Flee
  • Luca
  • The Mitchells vs. The Machines
  • Raya and the Last Dragon

Who will win: Encanto

Who should win: Encanto

I mean, c’mon. Not only is this Disney’s biggest hit since probably “Frozen,” the soundtrack will go down as some of the greatest Disney songs ever to be recorded. The film’s standout, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” went No. 1 on the Billboard chart, something that hasn’t been done since the ‘90s, and every song basically took over the algorithm on TikTok. Plus, the entire cast will be at the ceremony to perform “Bruno,” so it’s a sure thing they will win. Long live, “Encanto!”

Do you agree with our picks? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Jack is a Digital Content Editor with a degree in creative writing and French from Western Michigan University. He specializes in writing about movies, food and the latest TV shows.

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