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“The Power of Dog” Leads 94th Annual Academy Awards Oscar Nominations

After weeks of guild and critic accolades, and countless predictions and discussions, it all comes down to the final nominations of the season. The 94th Academy Awards nominees were announced at 5:18am on digital platforms including the official Oscars website and YouTube. The nominees were announced by Leslie Jordan and Tracee Ellis Ross.

Rather than YOU waking up before the sun, I set my alarms, fired up that 4th cup of coffee and covered the ceremony live to bring you the results for the morning’s biggest categories. Here, we’ll only being discussing the major above the line categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Actress and Best Supporting Actor and Actress. I will list the nominees in each category and we’ll get into any surprises and snubs for reach round of nominees.

Fill up your cup of coffee and let’s get into The Academy Award Nominees!

Best Support Actor

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  • Ciaran Hinds – “Belfast
  • Troy Kostur – “Coda
  • JK Simmons – “Being the Ricardos
  • Jessie Plemmons – “The Power of the Dog”
  • Kody Smith McPhee – “The Power of the Dog
THE POWER OF THE DOG: KODI SMIT-McPHEE as PETER in THE POWER OF THE DOG. Cr. KIRSTY GRIFFIN/NETFLIX © 2021

Kody Smith McPhee has been the long standing front runner heading into the Oscar Nominees, along with Hinds and Kostur. The biggest surprises are Jessie Plemmons and Simmons, both of whom were on the short line of contenders but no one really thought they would make it. Noticeably missing here is Ben Affleck for “The Tender Bar” who was pegged as a big frontrunner early on, and audience champion Mike Faist for “West Side Story.” He was definitely a heart pick, but one I think we were all hoping would be the dark horse contender that dethroned a safe pick. The biggest snub is Bradley Cooper for “Licorice Pizza.” I guess we can thank the Academy for doing right and NOT nominating Jared Leto for “House of Gucci.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jessie Buckley – “The Lost Daughter”
  • Anjanu Ellis – “King Richard
  • Ariana DeBois – “West Side Story
  • Kirsten Dunst – “The Power of the Dog
  • Judy Dench – “Belfast
Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter” Netflix

She did it! Jessie Buckley did it! She was my heart pick to make it into the list and had been all but shut out from the categories in the lead up awards! Most of these nominees are pretty close to everyone’s short list of big contenders. Judy Dench is probably the biggest surprise, as many though that she probably wouldn’t make the list despite being one of the best performances of the year and championed by many critics and audiences alike. Ruth Negga and Catrine Balfe are the biggest losers here. Their snubs is both surprising and a bit of a deep cut, seeing as how many were really pulling for both of them and they did very well in the lead up.

Best Actor

  • 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
“Tick, Tick…BOOM!” Netflix

Not a whole lot of surprises here. I’d say 4 out of the 5 nominees were the predominant frontrunners for most of the lead up awards. I think a lot of people were hoping Javier Bardem wouldn’t quite make it in, but he was definitely number 6 on a lot of lists so it shouldn’t come as that big of surprise. It’s not a surprising snub, but one that cuts deep that Bardem bested the likes of Peter Dinklage for “Cyrano.” If there was ever a long shot for me, it was Dinklage for a much better performance that has largely gone unrecognized. At least they made up for it with Andrew Garfield.

Best Actress

  • Jessica Chastain – “The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Olivia Coleman – “The Lost Daughter
  • Penelope Cruz – “Parallel Mothers
  • Nicole Kidman – “Being the Ricardos
  • Kristen Stewart – “Spencer”
“Spencer,” NEON

What a category! I don’t think anyone could have predicted this would be the final category line up. Coleman and Kidman were the obvious, safe choices, and Chastain is a little out of left field although she was in the top contenders. But Lady Gaga being completely absent for “House of Gucci?” No one, even the most brazen of predictors would’ve ever thought to leave her off the list this year. Even bigger shockers? Penelope Cruz and Kristen Stewart. These two have been almost completely shut out of every single lead up awards, to the point were most prediction lists had all but given up hope that one of them would crack the top 5. Low and behold, the Academy picked BOTH to crack the top 5, snubbing a few frontrunners but definitely making some unpredictable choices.

Best Director

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

I am stunned with disbelief in this category. Not that I was too far off from my predictions as I got 4 out of 5 correct early on, but that Hamaguchi beat out Denis Villeneuve for “Dune.” Of all the frontrunners, Villeneuve was the one I thought for sure would be the safest bet. He made the short list of every single award lead in, and hasn’t missed once this season. And the film managed to snag a Best Picture Nod but was left out of director? Don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy for Hamaguchi, but the absence of Villeneuve may just be the biggest snub and surprise of the entire awards show.

[Editor’s Note: With her nomination for “The Power of Dog,” Jane Champion becomes only the third woman nominated in the Best Director category, and the first to receive two nominations. Her first nomination was for “The Piano” in 1994. Katheryn Bigelow was nominated and won for “The Hurt Locker” in 2010. Chloe Zhao was nominated and won for “Nomad” in 2021.]

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

We’ll take a closer look at my early predictions and how they stack up against the actual nominees, but the big surprise here is “Drive My Car.” That 10th spot was a pretty hotly contested on, with a number of films including “Tick, Tick…Boom,” “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” “Being the Ricardos” and “House of Gucci” all being considered the big ones that were competing against each other. Turns out they were all upended by the same film with “Drive My Car.” I am actually stunned that “Being the Ricardos” didn’t make the list, although it’s a good stun because I don’t think that film deserved nearly as much credit as it was getting in the lead ins. And it felt very much like the kind of film the Academy loves but general audiences are mixed on. Alas, it seems the uptick in record breaking voter turn out shuts out the safe bets and sends shockwaves in the film community.

You can check out the full list of nominees for all categories here.

The 94th Annual Academy Awards Oscars ceremony will take place on March 27th, 2022.

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