Oscars 2022 Nomination Predictions

As the year continues to lurch on and we fail to be wiped out by a disaster, either man-made or natural, we approach one of lifes few certainties; the Oscars will arrive and the nominations will be delighting, underwhelming and frustrating all at once. While we wait for the big moment to arrive in just six short days time, it’s fun to predict how disappointing the results will be. I do this every year and I’ll be honest, it’ll be hard to top the 100% success rate of last years predictions, especially with the very unpredictable slate of this year. This year though, you can still expect the usual mix of me grumbling about bad films doing well, sheepishly predicting incredible things for films I haven’t seen (but promise to have seen by the time of the final predictions) and then trying to push for some stuff that has no chance in hell in an awards ceremony not run by deviant freaks like myself. Buckle in, guess along and hope for the worst for Belfast with me!

Best Supporting Actor

Likely Bets:

Kodi Smit-McPhee for The Power of the Dog

Jamie Dornan for Belfast

Jared Leto for House of Gucci

Unlikely But Worthy:

Mike Faist for West Side Story

When it comes to Oscar predictions, the general stance I take is expect the worst but hope for the best. We will get to that corduroy elephant in the room in a moment. As for the other potential nominess, Kodi Smit-McPhee stands a chance at being nominated for The Power of the Dog, a film I have not seen. However, Netflix are putting its weight behind the film in marketing and Smit-McPhee fits the trend of being a young performer who could score a first nomination for a film that is well liked by many. Another classic narrative is the redemption arc, which Jamie Dornan could be looking for, bouncing back from the Fifty Shades films with Belfast. As you have probably worked out by now, I do not like Belfast, but Dornan is one of the few things I do like, his nomination would not be bad news at all. What would be bad news is Jared Leto getting nominated for his “work” on House of Gucci. I like the film more than most, but Leto seems to be deliberately sabotaging the film with his performance. And yet, his work is captivating people, he’s already picked up awards nominations, including from the prestigious Screen Actors Guild. Leto’s performance is the kind of one that should only get nominated when it’s a weak selection, but if he gets a nomination and Mike Faist doesn’t, something terrible has happened. West Side Story is a big film full of big performances, but I was swept away most by Faist. Every scene where he wasn’t on screen, I started to slip away. He is the heart of the film and should be recognised for his stellar work, more so than gibbering whale buffoon Jared Leto.

Best Supporting Actress

Likely Bets:

Ariana DeBose for West Side Story

Caitríona Balfe for Belfast

Kirsten Dunst for The Power of the Dog

Unlikely But Worthy:

Cate Blanchet for Nightmare Alley

I was just waxing lyrical about Mike Faist in West Side Story, but if I were to have a second favourite actor in the film, it would be Ariana DeBose. Again, it’s the narrative of a newcomer breaking onto the scene, but DeBose is sensational and lights up the screen with her singing, dancing and comparatively less flashy acting. Her expected nomination would be well deserved. Like with the supporting actor category, we can expect another appearance from Belfast in the form of Caitríona Balfe. She’s good, I guess. I dunno, it’s hard for me to talk about Belfast, such little about it inspires joy in me. This will just be another nomination for the pile. My final sure bet is Kirsten Dunst for The Power of the Dog. She’s in the classic category of being an actress away from the awards spotlight for a while (because no one saw her in Fargo apparently) and so no, I haven’t seen her film yet, but she’s reliably great in most stuff I’ve seen her in, I’ll predict a nomination for her. If I could squeeze another actress in, I’d go for Cate Blanchett in Nightmare Alley. This isn’t a totally unreasonable outcome but I think this and her role in Don’t Look Up will split votes, which is a huge shame because her work in Nightmare is some of the best she’s ever done. She’s a femme fatale who rips up the screen and casts this totally intoxicating sexual energy over Bradley Cooper’s character. I absolutely adore this performance, I want the best for Blanchett here, but I’ll settle for a Don’t Look Up nomination because it at least means more recognition for one of our great living actors.

Best Actor

Likely Bets:

Will Smith for King Richard

Benedict Cumberbatch for The Power of the Dog

Andrew Garfield for tick, tick… BOOM!

Unlikely But Worthy:

Nicolas Cage for Pig

There’s something about the Best Actor category which always seems to reward exactly the wrong kind of performances (looking at you Rami Malek and Gary Oldman) when there’s some brilliant and patient work out there. Case in point, Will Smith for King Richard. I found the film totally forgettable and I also wasn’t crazy on Smith, but it’s the closest he’s done to respectable work in a likable film in years, he’ll get a nomination. Benedict Cumberbatch will probably also get a nomination for The Power of the Dog because apparently every actor in this film will. He does an accent, it’s been a while since his last nomination, why not? And speaking of why not, who fancies a musical? Andrew Garfield hadn’t professionally sung before making tick tick… BOOM! and that fact alone could get him the nomination, because Oscar voters love an underdog story. Plus, he is genuinely good, so he’d deserve the nomination, only his second in a really impressive career for a young actor. But let’s put our hands together and pray for Nic Cage to see some justice for Pig. Cage has done so many great performances that it would feel dishonest to say Pig is his best, but it is up there for me even so. If nothing else, it’s the only performance of his that has made me cry and while I don’t know if the voting body will have had the same experience, I can only hope they do, giving this quietly hulking performance from a master of his craft the respect it deserves.

Best Actress

Likely Bets:

Kristen Stewart for Spencer

Nicole Kidman for Being the Ricardos

Lady Gaga for House of Gucci

Unlikely But Worthy:

Agathe Rousselle for Titane

The slightly funny, slightly sad thing about the Best Actress category is that the nominees here very rarely line up with the nominees for Best Picture, always something to bear in mind when making predictions, and also something for someone much smarter than me to analyse in huge depth. A perfect example of that trend is Kristen Stewart for Spencer. Though there’s a chance she could still be snubbed, her performance as a recognisable public figure is total awards catnip and the reasons I’m not a huge fan of the performance are exactly the reasons voters will like it. An even better example of this nomination trend is Nicole Kidman for Being the Ricardos. Have you seen this film? No. I also haven’t. Someone probably did. But Nicole Kidman is in it, wears heavy makeup and pretends to be a recognisable public figure. Catnip time. Different catnip comes in the form of Lady Gaga in House of Gucci. Her accent is all over the place and the film itself is messy to say the least, but she’s a real firecracker. Gaga stole a lot of attention with her last push for awards glory and while I don’t know if this one will be successful in the end, a nomination is all but guaranteed. All but guaranteed not to happen is a nomination for Agathe Rousselle’s work on Titane. I’ll get to the film in a minute, but it has essentially been shut out of pretty much the entire ceremony. Not a surprise but a disappointment regardless, because Rousselle will not get the love she deserves for a performance that is genuinely transformative and transcendental in ways that the other three are only on a surface level. The things she does in Titane are incredible and if Oscar voters won’t bang that drum, I will. She’s amazing, so is Titane, but you know my thoughts on that grand sexy nightmare already.

Best Picture

Likely Bets:


Licorice Pizza

West Side Story

The Power of the Dog

Don’t Look Up

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Unlikely But Worthy:


Red Rocket

It’s the one you scrolled down to the bottom of the post to read! Best Picture! I think it’ll be one of those years where so many excellent films are passed on so that a handful of mediocre efforts can sneak in but there’s always a few diamonds, no matter how rough the rough is. One such diamond is not Belfast, a film that is bad. I don’t get it, but people are lapping it up. It is a film that is good in one way, by which I mean it’s good at convincing people that it’s good. It is obviously the frontrunner for Best Picture. I think Licorice Pizza will also be nominated, a film that is much more worthy. It has issues, ones that I understand some people struggle to see past, but it’s fabulously crafted and very easy to watch, but it will eventually win pretty much nothing. Speaking of fabulous craft, West Side Story! It’s Spielberg, it’s a great big musical and it’s based on a film that already has Oscar history. There’s a chance it might not get nominated but it’s not a big one.

Into the streaming section of the predictions, a section created by me accidentally while writing this (the subconscious works in mysterious ways). There are two Netflix movies I think will be in contention. First is The Power of the Dog, apparently the greatest film I’ve never seen. It is this year’s big prestige movie from the service and it has a big marketing push. Never underestimate the spending power of Netflix. But an outsider is Don’t Look Up, which everyone (including me, actually, for once) watched over Christmas. It has half of Hollywood in it and can be taken as a well meaning if unhelpful warning about climate change, so again, catnip. If Vice can get nominated, this film can too. Finally, I think The Tragedy of Macbeth stands a chance at nomination. I was either thinking this or CODA from Apple but Macbeth feels more like a safe bet. It’s a Shakespeare adaptation, made by a frequently nominated director, starring frequently nominated actors. I haven’t seen it yet, but why not, seems like it ticks a lot of boxes (this is me being very cynical, I do quite want to see it).

I’m not in the business of safe bets though, I want us to worship weird shit, the weirdest of all being Titane. It has not made the shortlist for Best International Feature and even before then, Drive My Car was the film most likely to break out of that category. But Titane owns my heart. It goes to places no other film does and does them in ways that makes me feel emotionally confused in the good ways. Nothing is like Titane, which is why it’s my everything. I’d also like to see (and feel safe knowing I won’t see) Red Rocket get some love. It is a film whose protagonist is about as despicable as they come, but that’s the entire point. Sit back and marvel at what an incredible piece of shit Mikey Saber is, delivered to us in ways that are consistently funny and upsetting and scary. It is also incredibly divisive, exactly because its lead is so detestable. I get peoples objections, I just love the hot trash of the world too much to refuse falling into it. But it isn’t in black and white, scored by charming songs or nauseatingly nostalgic, so Belfast will take it all the way to the end instead. So it goes.


Review – Titane

I am going to have a really difficult time reviewing Titane, because so much of its joy comes in knowing so little. As such, I would like to open by saying that if you have a strong stomach and enjoy a heavy dose of weirdness, you will love Titane as much as I did. It is completely unlike any single film I have ever seen before and it deserves the rabid hype it is conjuring. It is gross and hilarious and heart-warming, refusing to conform to any single genre or emotional response for more than about a minute. My words can only do so well at capturing the magic of this film and therefore I completely understand (and even somewhat encourage) reading no more of the review in order to preserve the magic. But if you would like to stay, I’ll happily attempt to explain what the hell Titane is to you.

Our lead character is Alexia. We first see her as a child, when she is in a car accident (that she is partly responsible for) and has to have titanium placed in her skull, titanium in French being “titane”. After this event, we meet Alexia as an adult, dancing at a car show. While here, she has to deal with an overly eager fan and then while inside cleaning up… No, that’s it, that’s all you’re getting. I refuse to be the one to spoil this film for you. I’ll say that there’s a firefighter, a missing persons case and an overriding theme of family, but that’s your lot. Spending as much time as I do reading about films, I assumed that I’d had quite a lot of this film spoiled for me but in actual fact, everything I knew was from the first fifteen minutes. Partly that’s savvy reading on my part, partly that’s because Titane moves in unpredictable ways. Thinking back over it, I really struggle to place it onto a typical three act structure, or find myself able to explain everything that happens in a way that won’t make me sound like a crazy person. So I won’t. Just trust me when I say you should not read much about Titane and know that you’re going to have a hell of a time working out where the film is taking you next.

The genius of [Rousselle’s] performance is that she never lets the audience completely in, allowing some distance so that you’re not so hooked to Alexia that other characters feel obtuse.

When the narrative of your film is as bonkers as Titane is, you need a really good cast to anchor the film and create a sense of believability to the unbelievable spectacle. Fortunately, in its two leads Titane has just that. As Alexia is acting newcomer Agathe Rousselle. She has a lot of work to do, the majority of it without dialogue, but she is sensational. Again, it’s almost impossible to discuss without spoilers, but there are things Alexia does or lets happen to her that are very difficult to understand, yet Rousselle gives us a window through which to understand them. The genius of her performance is that she never lets the audience completely in, allowing some distance so that you’re not so hooked to Alexia that other characters feel obtuse. Likewise, Vincent Lindon is also brilliant. It’s one of those performances that requires a very intense physical presence in order to hide a very delicate emotional one, those two elements always working in tandem. At first, his character is very difficult to understand, but there’s something in Lindon’s eyes that slowly lets you in. It’s tough to explain but by the end, he’s another character whose very puzzling actions you completely understand.

Poster for Titane (2021)

There’s a second reason that Titane is near impossible for me to review and that’s because it is intensely overwhelming in its craft. Everything is baked to perfection! Perhaps chief to be praised are the visual effects, with Titane often finding itself in the genre of body horror. The things that Titane show us are… Hmm, we’re rubbing up against spoilers here, but a lot of them are unbelievable. They are things that our world as we know it are not capable of, and yet in their presentation we come to believe them. Fair warning, these things are also absolutely grotesque to witness. Even in a press screening, full of people who queued for over an hour because they knew what they wanted and they wanted it badly, there were plenty of screams and groans at a handful of scenes. However, Titane is also really good at eliciting those responses by showing you less than you think you saw.

It’s one of those things that is very hard to explain, but there are lots of scenes in cinema history that create such an overwhelming mood that your brain becomes convinced that it has seen more than it actually did. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Seven are both prime examples of this, in using mood to create much more terror than is actually on screen and I think the prime thing films use for that is sound. There’s one scene in particular in Titane that occurs on a toilet, in which all we are given is the setup, a grimacing face and sound effects. I think this scene might be the hardest to watch in the entire film, as we are guided through the procedure by nothing but squelching nastiness through the speakers. It is simply cinema wizardry of the highest order. Aside from the sound effects, the score of the film is also brilliant, another fantastic job with Jim Williams adding to his already strong portfolio that includes Raw, Possessor and Beast (as well as films that are more than one word long). His compositions are mixed with some pre-existing music to create a symphony of scenes that are unforgettable and that will play in my mind for years to come, for reasons both delightful and disgusting.

I was unprepared for Ducournau to yet again storm out of the gate with another singular masterpiece.

When I first saw Raw a few years ago, it truly did blow me away. Though intangibly shy of perfection, it lingered in my brain and I knew (as all others who loved the film did too) that writer and director Julia Ducournau would be a filmmaker to watch out. Even on guard as I was, I was unprepared for Ducournau to yet again storm out of the gate with another singular masterpiece. There is no one film that is like Titane, which is why everyone is falling over themselves to recommend it so heartily. It can’t be emphasised enough that out of all the films I saw at London Film Festival this year, Titane is the one with the smallest audience due to its extreme content (cinema employees, prepare for walkouts), but it’s also the one that has most completely captured me. It is a searing blast of cinema into the brain and heart, designed to make you stand on your feet and scream “Huzzah! Cinema!”. And scream I do.

Agathe Rousselle as Alexia in Titane (2021)

Rating: 5 out of 5.


What is the Quite Nerdy Blog?

Welcome readers, old and new, to my new blog. Some of you may be thinking “New blog? There was an old blog?”, an answer you’ll find on this website. The old blog was slowing me down and looking a bit unprofessional, so we’re going for a reboot (only took seven years, lol).

So what can you expect from this blog? Well, alongside being a place to compile links for writing I’ve done for other outlets and serving as a sort of portfolio (hence the portfolio tab), I’m aiming to get new posts out once every two weeks. Sometimes I’ll need longer than that, other times not as long, but it’s a good guideline and if you join the mailing list on the homepage, you’ll never miss a post. The topics covered promise to be wide and sprawling, determined only by what niche topic has piqued my interest on a given week, but hopefully even the stuff you’ve never heard of can interest you.

With this blog I want to bring in new folk to read my work, but it’s also worth reiterating that if you’ve been reading my nonsense for years, I have a deep appreciation for you and your support. I’ve written for years and mainly for an audience of myself, meaning the fact that anyone reads this is very inspiring. Thank you for supporting me until now if you’ve been on the ride and if you’re new, I hope you like where we’re heading. We’ll have some fun, I promise.