Multiverses, flying jets and a film that speaks to the horrors of our political reality make up only some of the movies from the first half of 2022. As we approach the midway point, the return to movie theaters has become a hopeful development for the biggest blockbusters. At the same time, studios are already strategizing their plans for the fall festival circuit.
Handicapping the coming movie awards season is an annual tradition at Variety. While there have been clear festival standouts (i.e., Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or-winning “Triangle of Sadness”), this list doesn’t include films that have yet to open for the public, nor films like Marvel’s “Thor: Love and Thunder” which had its premiere but doesn’t open until July 8.
You will find an eclectic mix of genres and mediums, which could whet the appetites of the Oscar voters, including the 397 new members that have been invited to join. Features to choose from include big blockbuster spectacles (“Top Gun: Maverick”), martial arts flicks (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”), sci-fi allegories (“Crimes of the Future”), meta comedies (“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”), timely movies on abortion (“Happening”), transformative biopics (“Elvis”), animated gems (“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”) and small independent movies hoping to stay in the conversation (“Montana Story”).
There are categories already brimming with talent that could offer bridges to mainstream audiences and voters, such as Netflix’s “Hustle” with Adam Sandler (still looking for his first nom after “Uncut Gems”) or films that will be attractive to artisan branches such as Universal’s “Jurassic World: Dominion” and Sony Pictures’ “Uncharted.”
Box office has often been used as a talking point throughout the season, but unfortunately, that won’t help films like “Scream” or “The Lost City” with voters. However, it could perhaps offer a road into one of the races for films like “Jackass Forever” and “The Bad Guys.”
Sometimes reviews and critics’ scores don’t matter, which is why we shouldn’t count out entries like “Morbius,” “Death on the Nile” or “Ambulance.”
To offer an opportunity to name as many films as possible, a movie is only mentioned once as a top highlight, even though it could be competing in several categories.
Read the list of the contenders, one from each of the 19 feature Oscar categories, below: