Oscars 2022: Best Picture Nominations Ranked From Worst to Best

By Lucas Welk, Arts Writer


The 94th Academy Awards are right around the corner, so I watched and ranked all 10 Best Picture nominations from my least to most favorite.

10. Belfast

“Belfast” (Courtesy Rob Youngson | Focus Features)

“Belfast” was a tremendous letdown. The film takes place in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, a deadly conflict fought between those who wanted U.K. independence and those who didn’t.

“Belfast” begins in a neighborhood under siege promising a clash of religion, politics and perspective. Yet, after the intense opener, the film slowly reveals that it is nothing more than a boring family melodrama.

The premise and themes set up by the film are left unexplored. “Belfast” did not have much to say. They shamelessly made classic Oscar bait — a shallow period piece going so far as to be in black-and-white for seemingly no reason at all.

9. Don’t Look Up

“Don’t Look Up” (Courtesy Netflix)

As a condemnation of neoliberalism, “Don’t Look Up” is pretty effective, but as a film — not so much.

Their prediction that the American government would ignore science and seek to privatize a natural disaster is spot on — evidenced by our climate change apathy, crumbling infrastructure and the ineffective healthcare system. However, the message is delivered in the least subtle way possible by unlikeable characters falling flat joke after joke.

To top it off, the film’s editing is atrocious, and has the worst CG I’ve seen since “The Mummy Returns.”


“CODA” (Courtesy Apple TV+)

CODA” is a very stereotypical coming-of-age drama. The only difference is that the teen protagonist (Emilia Jones) is an interpreter for her all-deaf family — an intriguing premise that pays off only in only a handful of moments.

Undisputedly, there were some genuinely funny scenes sprinkled throughout. Though for some reason, they portrayed the deaf family to be exceptionally emotionally and socially incompetent — which seemed odd and unfair. Naturally, the plot lazily resorts to the parents not understanding her rational teenage ambitions.

It’s a codified coming-of-age plot, but I had a hard time believing that too because her dream is to get a full-ride to a great college. What parent wouldn’t want that?

7. King Richard

“King Richard” (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

“King Richard” is a happy-go-lucky tennis biopic about the Williams family. Will Smith plays a very believable Richard Williams, dad to the young Serena (Demi Singleton) and Venus (Saniyya Sidney). Occasionally in verbatim, Smith accurately recreates Richard Williams’ dedication to his young champions’ careers.

Serena and Venus are amazing at tennis to begin with, and their success does not let up at any point. It’s a sports biopic where the protagonists don’t lose or overcome a great rival, until the finale. The film often comedically riffs on racism and adversity but never provides any real depth on that front. There is little tension on the court so it’s on the father’s character to create drama where there is none.

Luckily Smith is charming and wholesome enough to elevate the movie into a fun watch.

6. Nightmare Alley

“Nightmare Alley” (Courtesy Searchlight Pictures)

“Nightmare Alley” is a product of Guillermo del Toro playing it safe. Fortunately, the director is still creative and talented enough to be traditional while staying interesting throughout. Bradley Cooper plays a very enigmatic mentalist that is always one step ahead of the viewer — a semi-successful tactic the screenwriters use to seem brilliant.

The film doesn’t deliver on its ambitious first act, but it maintains a fast pace throughout that’ll keep viewers guessing until the end. “Nightmare Alley” will certainly give “West Side Story” a run for its money in the Best Production Design category. It’s the only thriller to be nominated for Best Picture, and I think it deserves a shot.

5. West Side Story

“West Side Story” (Courtesy 20th Century Studios)

A classic director takes on a classic story, and it’s unsurprisingly pretty awesome. Steven Spielberg helped create some fundamentals of filmmaking and he’s flexing that here in every shot.

Every aspect of the film is on point. Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler give impressive performances with some demanding song-and-dance. The decision to not include subtitles for the many lines delivered in Spanish was interesting, and will likely be puzzling for some. For me, there is absolutely nothing to complain about with this one — it’s just great filmmaking.

4. Dune

“Dune” (Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures)

I am extremely biased because “Dune” is one of my favorite books and Denis Villeneuve is one of my favorite modern directors. The casting in this movie is excellent, and the adaptation is sufficiently comprehensive. “Dune” is unfortunately far too reliant on the upcoming 2023 sequel, but together they could create something of a sci-fi masterpiece.

3. The Power of the Dog

“The Power of The Dog” (Courtesy Netflix)

“The Power of the Dog” hides its brilliance deep beneath the surface. This is by no means a traditional western. This is a movie that begs to be discussed, analyzed and theorized about. It is safe to say this is Benedict Cumberbatch’s best performance to date.

Jonny Greenwood‘s score never lets up — a devastating blanket of sound. This should win Best Original Score, but he has stiff competition because Greenwood also scored Spencer. The film will likely require multiple viewings to comprehend, and it’s better for it.

I predict that “The Power of the Dog” will win Best Picture.

2. Licorice Pizza

“Licorice Pizza” (Courtesy Universal Pictures)

“Licorice Pizza” delivered me the most laughs in a theater in years. Cooper Hoffman excellently carries his father’s torch and Alana Haim proves herself a wonderfully-eccentric comedic actress.

Paul Thomas Anderson is a master of his craft that consistently writes some of the most memorable characters in cinema. The film serves as a love letter to ’70s youth and to the lovably quirky people in our lives.

1. Drive My Car

“Drive My Car” (Courtesy Sideshow | Janus Films)

“Drive My Car” is a one-of-a-kind film. Director Hamaguchi meditates on the often imperceptible gap between love and self-acceptance.

You can read my full review here.


This was a fairly standard year for the Best Picture category, with some duds and some breakout successes. There are bound to be some upsets, but I’m pretty confident in my predictions. The 94th Academy Awards will take place at 6 p.m. MDT on Sunday, March 27.


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