After a pandemic year that hobbled movie theatres and saw streaming services make new inroads into Hollywood, the Academy Awards put its strongest support Tuesday behind two films made with big-screen grandeur that were also streamed into homes: Jane Campion’s gothic western “The Power of the Dog” and Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic “Dune.”
Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog” led nominations to the 94th Academy Awards with 12 nods, including best picture, best director and recognition for all of its top actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee.
Campion, a nominee for 1993′s “The Piano,” became the first woman to ever be nominated twice for best director. Last year, Chloe Zhao became just the second woman to ever win the award. Campion’s director of photography, Ari Wegner, also became the second woman ever nominated for best cinematography. The only previous woman to do so was Rachel Morrison for “Mudbound” in 2018.
“Dune” followed closely behind with 10 nominations spread out largely in the technical categories that rewarded the craft of Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 novel. The Warner Bros. release debuted simultaneously in theatres and – against the strenuous objections of its director – on HBO Max.
The nominees for best picture were: “Belfast”; “CODA”; “Don’t Look Up”; “Drive My Car”; “Dune”; “Licorice Pizza”; “King Richard”; “Nightmare Alley”; “The Power of the Dog” and “West Side Story.”
No streaming service has ever won best picture, but half of the 10 nominees came from streaming services. This year, the odds may be better than ever that a streamer will finally barrel through one of the last walls of Hollywood tradition.
Apple notched its first best-picture nomination with the deaf drama “CODA,” which also made history as supporting-actor nominee Troy Kotsur became only the second deaf actor ever nominated. (His “CODA” co-star Marlee Matlin was the first.) Netflix backed “The Power of the Dog” and Adam McKay’s apocalyptic comedy “Don’t Look Up.” And both “King Richard” and “Dune” launched on HBO Max.
In pulling from films released in myriad ways, the Oscar nominations reflected the tumult of a movie year that began with many theatres shuttered and ended with Sony Pictures’ “Spider-Man: No Way Home” smashing box-office records. While some had urged the Oscars to embrace its most popular blockbusters and return some populism to the awards, Spidey landed only a single nomination, for visual effects.
A largely virtual awards season added some unpredictability to this year’s nominations, which were announced by actors Leslie Jordan and Tracee Ellis Ross. This year’s Oscars will be delayed to make way for the Olympics, the Oscars will be held March 27 and will return to their usual venue, the Dolby Theatre.
And there were surprises all around. Lady Gaga, star of “House of Gucci,” was overlooked in the uber-competitive best actress category. Nominated instead were Jessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”; Olivia Colman, “The Lost Daughter”; Penelope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers”; Nicole Kidman, “Being the Ricardos”; and Kristen Stewart for “Spencer” – whose hopes for her first Oscar nomination had seemed dashed after she was snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild.
“Drive My Car,” Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s masterful three-hour Japanese drama, scored major nominations including best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay. The academy, which in 2020 made Bong Joon Ho’s Korean thriller “Parasite” the best picture winner, has drifted overseas in recent years, as more international members have been added to help diversify the organization.
Other underdogs could celebrate Tuesday, too. The small, remote Himalayan country Bhutan celebrated its first Oscar nomination in its first-ever submission, “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” for best international film.
In many ways, the nominations kept one foot in Hollywood’s past and one in its future. Steven Spielberg, nominated for directing “West Side Story,” became the first filmmaker nominated for best director in six different decades. His 11 best-picture nominations are the most ever. Another remake, Guillermo del Toro’s carnival noir “Nightmare Alley,” fared better than expected, scoring a best picture nomination over streaming titles like Netflix’s “Tick, Tick ... Boom!” and Amazon’s “Being the Ricardos.”
The nominees for best actor are: Will Smith, “King Richard”; Javier Bardem, “Being the Ricardos”; Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Power of the Dog”; Andrew Garfield, “Tick, Tick Boom!” and Denzel Washington, “The Tragedy of Macbeth.”
The nominees for best supporting actress are: Jessie Buckley, “The Lost Daughter”; Ariana DeBose, “West Side Story”; Judi Dench, “Belfast”; Kirsten Dunst, “The Power of the Dog” and Aunjanue Ellis, “King Richard.”
The nominees for best supporting actor are: Ciaran Hinds, “Belfast”; Troy Kotsur, “CODA”; Kodi Smit-McPhee, “The Power of the Dog”; Jesse Plemons, “The Power of the Dog” and J.K. Simmons, “Being the Ricardos.”
The nominees for original song are: “Be Alive” from “King Richard”; “Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto”; “Down To Joy” from “Belfast”; “No Time To Die” from “No Time to Die”; “Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days.”
The nominees for best animated feature are: “Encanto”; “Flee”; “Luca”; “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” and “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
The nominees for documentary feature are: “Summer of Soul (Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”; “Flee”; “Attica”; “Ascension” and “Writing With Fire.”
Nominees for best director are: Paul Thomas Anderson, “Licorice Pizza”; Kenneth Branagh, “Belfast”; Jane Campion, “The Power of the Dog”; Steven Spielberg, “West Side Story” and Ryusuke Hamaguchi, “Drive My Car.”
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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