2022 Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

We’ve been busy updating our 2022 Oscar predictions for Best Picture after the announcements of the SAG Awards nominations and BAFTA longlists on Jan. 12. These two key precursors weighed in just 15 days before Oscar nominations voting kicks off on January 27; that balloting runs for just six days until Feb. 1. Nominations for the 94th annual Academy Awards will be revealed one week later on Feb. 8.

“House of Gucci” was the only film to reap both multiple individual (Lady Gaga, Jared Leto) and ensemble nominations at the SAG Awards. While our current frontrunner for Best Picture, “The Power of the Dog,” merited three performance bids (Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Kodi Smith-McPhee) but the overall cast was snubbed by the guild. One of its closest rivals, “Belfast,” underperformed here with just two nominations — ensemble and featured player Caitriona Balfe. While the star-studded cast of “Don’t Look Up” contends at SAG, none of them was singled out; conversely, the relatively unknown players in “West Side Story” were overlooked save for Ariana DeBose in the iconic role of Anita. The other casts nominated are those of “CODA” and “King Richard,” which also earned nominations for supporting actor Troy Kotsur and leading man Will Smith respectively.

The BAFTAs split the nominations process into two parts. Round 1 resulted in the release of longlists of 15 semi-finalists in each category. Round two, which kicks off off Jan. 14, runs for a lucky 13 days until Jan. 27. Voters and/or jury members will rank their top five contenders to determine nominations, which are to be announced on Feb. 3. “Don’t Look Up” and “West Side Story” lead the BAFTA longlists with 15 mentions apiece followed by “Belfast” and “The Power of the Dog” at 14; “House of Gucci” with 13; “Dune” and “No Time to Die” at 12; and “Licorice Pizza” with 11. With the exception of the home-grown Bond movie, all of these films figure in our current Top 10 Best Picture Oscar predictions.

The Oscar ceremony returns to its traditional home, the Dolby Theater, and is set for Sunday, March 25. Films released theatrically from March 1 to December 31 of 2021 are eligible for consideration. Many of the strongest contenders are films that were intended to compete at the 2021 Oscars but were pushed back when cinemas shuttered for most of the year. (Scroll down for the 2022 Oscar predictions for Best Picture, which will have a guaranteed 10 nominees, and click through the photo gallery above for our 2022 Oscar predictions in all 23 categories.)

To make our Best Picture predictions, we consider many factors, the most important of which is the effect of the preferential ballot that is used only for this race (voters rank all the nominees with the winner being the one that is the consensus choice.) We also take into account the pedigree of the filmmakers, the critical reception to their previous films, the box office tally and the track record of the studios.

UPDATED: January 17, 2022

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Leading Contenders (ranked by likelihood of winning)

“The Power of the Dog” (Netflix)
Director: Jane Campion
Writer: Campion, who adapted the novel of the same name by Thomas Savage.
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons
Plot: A pair of brothers who own a large ranch in Montana are pitted against each other when one of them gets married.

“Belfast” (Focus)
Writer/Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Ciaran Hinds, Jude Hill
Plot: A young boy and his family cope with the start of the Troubles in the Ulster capital.

“West Side Story” (20th Century)
Director: Steven Spielberg
Writer: Tony Kushner, who adapted the stage play of the same name by Arthur Laurents
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Corey Stoll, Brian d’Arcy James, Rita Moreno
Plot: Teenagers Tony and Maria, despite having affiliations with rival street gangs, the white Jets and Puerto Rican Sharks, fall in love in 1950s New York City.

“Don’t Look Up” (Netflix)
Writer/Director: Adam McKay
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Chris Evans, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance
Plot:  Two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn humankind of an approaching comet that will destroy planet Earth.

“House of Gucci” (UA)
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Roberto Bentivegna
Cast: Al Pacino, Salma Hayek, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Lady Gaga, Jeremy Irons
Plot: The story of how Patrizia Reggiani, the ex-wife of Maurizio Gucci, plotted to kill her husband, the grandson of renowned fashion designer Guccio Gucci.

“Dune” (Warner Bros.)
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts and Villeneuve, who adapted the novel of the same name by Frank Herbert.
Cast: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin
Plot:  The son of a noble family is entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy.

“King Richard” (Warner Bros.)
Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Writer: Zach Baylin
Cast: Will Smith, Jon Bernthal, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton.
Plot: A look at how tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams became who they are after the coaching from their father Richard Williams.

“CODA” (Apple)
Writer/Director: Sian Heder
Cast: Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Daniel Durant
Plot: As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family who is torn between pursuing her love of music and her fear of abandoning her parents.

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” (A24)
Director: Joel Coen
Writers: Coen, who adapted William Shakespeare’s play of the same name
Cast: Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Brendan Gleeson
Plot:A Scottish lord becomes convinced by a trio of witches that he will become the next King of Scotland, and his ambitious wife supports him in his plans of seizing power.

“tick, tick… Boom!” (Netflix)
Director: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Writer: Steven Levenson
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Alexandra Shipp, Robin de Jesús, Joshua Henry, Judith Light, Vanessa Hudgens
Plot: On the brink of turning 30, a promising theater composer navigates love, friendship and the pressure to create something great before time runs out.

Strong Contenders

“Being the Ricardos” (Amazon Prime)
Writer/Director: Aaron Sorkin
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Javier Bardem, J.K. Simmons, Nina Ariadna
Plot: A week in the filming of “I Love Lucy” is the backdrop for Lucy and Desi as they face one crisis that could end their careers and another that could end their marriage.

“C’mon, C’mon” (A24)
Writer/Director: Mike Mills
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann, Woody Norman, Artrial Clark
Plot: An artist (Phoenix) left to take care of his precocious young nephew (Norman) forge an unexpected bond over a cross country trip.

“The French Dispatch” (Searchlight Pictures)
Writer/Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet,Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Steve Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson.
Plot: A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch” magazine.

“Licorice Pizza” (UA)
Writer/Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Cast: Cooper Hoffman, Bradley Cooper, Alana Haim and Benny Safdie
Plot: Set in 1970s San Fernando Valley, the film follows a high school student, who is also a successful child actor.

“The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)
Director: Maggie Gyllenhaal
Writer: Gyllenhaal, who adapted the novel of the same name by Elena Ferrante.
Cast: Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Ed Harris, Peter Sarsgaard
Plot: A woman’s beach vacation takes a dark turn when she begins to confront the troubles of her past.

“Nightmare Alley” (Searchlight Pictures)
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writers: del Toro and Kim Morgan, who adapted the novel of the same name by William Lindsay Gresham.
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins
Plot: A corrupt con-man teams up with a female psychiatrist to trick people into giving them money.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” (Sony)
Director: Jon Watts
Writer: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers
Cast: Tom Holland, Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, Jamie Foxx, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina

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Possible Contenders

“The Eyes Of Tammy Faye” (Searchlight Pictures)
Director: Michael Showalter
Writer: Abe Sylvia
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Andrew Garfield,  Vincent D’Onofrio
Plot: Televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker seek redemption after their religious empire and marriage crumbles.

“In the Heights” (Warner Bros.)
Director: John Chu
Writer: Quiara Alegría Hudes, who adapted her book for the musical of the same name.
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace, Melissa Barrera, Jimmy Smits
Plot: A bodega owner has mixed feelings about closing his store and retiring to the Dominican Republic after inheriting his grandmother’s fortune.

“The Last Duel” (Disney)
Director: Ridley Scott
Writers: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Nicole Holofcener who adapted the novel of the same name by Eric Jager.
Cast: Damon, Affleck, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer
Plot: In 14th century France, the friendship of two knights is put to the test by a young woman.

“Last Night in Soho” (Focus)
Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Krysty Wilson-Cairns, Edgar Wright
Cast:  Anya Taylor-Joy, Jessie Mei Li, Matt Smith
Plot: A young girl, passionate about fashion design, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer.

“Respect” (UA)
Director: Liesl Tommy
Writer: Tracey Scott Wilson
Cast: Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Tate Donovan
Plot: The life story of legendary R&B singer Aretha Franklin.

“Stillwater” (Focus)
Director: Tom McCarthy
Writers:  Thomas Bidegain, Noé Debré
Cast: Matt Damon, Abigail Breslin, Camille Cottin, Deanna Dunagan
Plot: A father travels from Oklahoma to France to help his daughter who has been arrested for murder.

“Swan Song” (Apple)
Writer/Director:  Benjamin Cleary
Cast: Mahershala Ali, Naomie Harris, Awkwafina, Glenn Close, Adam Beach
Plot: When a loving husband and father is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he’s presented with a controversial alternative solution to replace himself with a carbon copy clone.

“Unforgiven” (Netflix)
Director: Nora Fingscheidt
Writers: Peter Craig, Hillary Seitz, Courtenay Miles, Sally Wainwright
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal
Plot: Ruth Slater, a woman released from prison after serving a sentence for a violent crime, re-enters a society that refuses to forgive her past.

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