History was made last Oscar season, with two women getting nominated for best director, yet the upcoming awards race doesn’t have the depth of female voices we would hope for following such a banner year — at least in terms of what the Academy typically chooses. But there are strong contenders in the mix.
At the top of the list is Jane Campion with her Western drama “The Power of the Dog.” It’s the only film to make stops at each fall festival, yet one of the uncertainties felt by those who love the movie is that it may not translate to casual Netflix viewers. However, it snagged a runner-up spot at the Toronto International Film Festival, which shows its resonance with audiences.
With 1993’s “The Piano,” Campion became just the second woman nominated for directing (she won for original screenplay). The streamer hopes to seal the deal for the New Zealand filmmaker this year with what many consider the best cinematic outing of her career. If she is nominated for best director, she will become the first woman to receive a second nod in the category over the course of her career.
Netflix has an impressive slate of female visionaries. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter,” which stars Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Dakota Johnson, is a remarkable debut. First-time actors-turned-directors have had success with the Academy, such as Kevin Costner with “Dances With Wolves” (1990). However, as in the case of Regina King last year with “One Night in Miami,” the branch can make an actor-turned-director “pay their dues,” no matter how extraordinary the entry. Nonetheless, Gyllenhaal will be a formidable contender in adapted screenplay, alongside Campion.
Rebecca Hall astounds with her drama “Passing,” starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2021. The film is a dense and meticulous study of mixed African Americans “passing” in the 1920s; the black-and-white palette by cinematographer Eduard Grau and fleeting run time could lift Hall into the first-time director conversation at the DGA Awards. Halle Berry will be hoping for the same, directing herself in the boxing drama “Bruised,” which screened in Toronto in 2020.
After surprising many by winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Neon’s “Titane” is making its rounds on the festival circuit, highlighting the talents of director Julia Ducournau. While the graphic and disturbing imagery will be a hurdle, the directors branch has a history of nominating more experimental auteurs.
It may have seemed to come and go, but Apple Original Films’ “CODA” from co-writer and director Sian Heder is a feel-good entry that could get lots of attention with the right campaign behind it. Given the brilliant cast, including Oscar winner Marlee Matlin in consideration for supporting actress, Heder’s prospects could build as regional prizes weigh in.
Chloé Zhao made history as the second woman and first woman of color to win best director for “Nomadland.” She’ll have another anticipated entry with the superhero film “Eternals” from Marvel Studios, but not many are expecting it to factor in the Oscar race (although crazier things have happened).
Other films from women helmers might be worth the time and consideration, including Mia Hansen-Løve’s adoring “Bergman Island” from IFC Films, Eva Husson’s World War I romance “Mothering Sunday” from Sony Pictures Classics, Emma Seligman’s coming-of-age story “Shiva Baby” from Utopia, Janicza Bravo’s stripper road-trip dramedy “Zola” from A24 and Lana Wachowski’s return to the world of Zion in the anticipated “The Matrix Resurrections” sequel from Warner Bros.
Along with updated Oscar predictions in all categories, the first set for documentary and international feature is revealed, which could be competitive (as always).
2022 Academy Awards Predictions
- Best Picture
- Best Director
- Best Actor
- Best Actress
- Best Supporting Actor
- Best Supporting Actress
- Best Original Screenplay
- Best Adapted Screenplay
- Best Animated Feature
- Best Production Design
- Best Cinematography
- Best Costume Design
- Best Film Editing
- Best Makeup and Hairstyling
- Best Sound
- Best Visual Effects
- Best Original Score
- Best Original Song
- Best Documentary Feature
- Best International Feature