February 25, 2022

‘Dune,’ ‘Power of the Dog’ poised for Oscar nomination hauls

NEW YORK —
Tuesday morning’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 beginning at 8:18 a.m. EST. 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, Chloe 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.

Most major streaming services have films in the hunt.

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 US$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 untelevised 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.

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