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Get ready for the Oscars 2022, movie buffs! The list of films you cannot skip before this year’s Academy Awards spans from a political space opera and an expose of toxic masculinity to a noir book-to-movie adaptation and a psychological thriller about Princess Di.
This year, the Academy Awards, more commonly referred to as the Oscars, will take place on Sunday, March 27. Nominations voting commences on Thursday, January 27 and ends on Tuesday, February 1. The finalized Oscar nominations will be published on Tuesday, February 8.
The Academy Awards, which began in 1927, is Hollywood’s most significant ceremony. To secure an Oscar in the film industry is a prestigious honor. Most awarded films include beloved features like “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and “Titanic,” which garnered 11 wins. The most Oscar-nominated films include “All About Eve” and “La La Land,” which snagged a total of 14 nominations.
You won’t be able to resist what the industry’s luminaries have brought to our screens this year. So check out this list of the 21 movies you can’t miss before the Oscars 2022. If you can’t fit in all of these movies before March, we loosely organized them in order of relevance (i.e., which movies will likely win big or garner nominations in the most significant categories).
Kenneth Branagh’s childhood memoir looks back to 1969 in the titular city of Belfast in Northern Ireland. It’s an essential watch for this season’s awards, not only because film critics favor the selection as a best picture contender, but because it manages to turn what should have been a tragic story into a celebration of life.
“The Power of the Dog”
Many film critics and experts have predicted Jane Campion’s win for “The Power of the Dog” at the Oscars 2022. Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst deliver masterful performances that peel back the curtain on toxic masculinity and repression. Expect nominations to include best picture, best director, best actor and others.
Forget what you know about sports biopic dramas. “King Richard” takes the genre to another level with two-time nominee Will Smith’s inspirational performance as the father of tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s nostalgic coming-of-age dramedy with a breakout performance by Alana Haim takes place in San Fernando Valley in the 1970s. A 15-year-old and a 25-year-old fall in love in a chaotic plot full of seemingly desultory turns until you realize that’s exactly what love is – a mess without a plan.
“Drive My Car”
First of all, anything adapted from Haruki Murakami’s work must be worth watching. In this film, a renowned stage actor and director seeks a chauffeur. The two form an unlikely bond, and through that relationship, the actor begins to confront a lifetime of regret and love.
This selection won – count them – three prizes at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of one of science fiction’s most revered books might flounder in the face of such dense source material. However, the awe-inspiring cinematography may still snag an award or two. This film is notably worth checking out for the visuals, the score and a valiant attempt at bringing “Dune” to the screen.
“West Side Story”
Fresh face Rachel Zegler has film critics and musical theater buffs drooling over her performance as Maria in Steven Spielberg’s remake of the iconic 1961 musical. If you can ignore the piece of wet cardboard that is Ansel Elgort as Tony, this classic manages to be timely despite its Shakespearean origins and the deep-rooted racism of the original film.
If Kristen Stewart doesn’t land a best actress nomination for “Spencer,” in which she depicts Princess Diana in a psychological thriller interpretation of her life, the internet might go on strike. Could the indie actress finally overcome years of bad press and criticism this year?
Imagine being the only hearing member of your family. And you want to be a singer. Emilia Jones shines as 17-year-old Ruby in a movie about a girl torn between familial obligation and pursuing her passion.
Anything Guillermo del Toro creates demands to be consumed. After his triumph at the 2017 Oscars with “The Shape of Water,” he could be in the running for a slew of awards for this noir tale that ends in tragedy. It’s worth watching just to witness Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett, a pairing made famous by period lesbian drama “Carol.”
“Being the Ricardos”
Nicole Kidman becomes Lucille Ball for Aaron Sorkin’s drama. While the film itself might not win big, Kidman is undoubtedly up there for best actress.
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Bring together Shakespeare, two-time winner Denzel Washington and reigning best actress winner Frances McDormand. Need we expand? For those concerned about the intricacy of the English bard’s work, Joel Coen has shaken off extraneous details to focus on the meat of this classic story of fate and murderous ambition.
Two single pregnant women meet in the hospital room where they will deliver their children. Both are pregnant by accident. One is excited, the other terrified. Starring Oscar-winner Penélope Cruz, “Parallel Mothers” weaves together unexpected reveals, tangled pasts and more.
“The Lost Daughter”
While Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut might not get much time to spread the news, this nuanced exploration of motherhood starring the incomparable Olivia Coleman ended 2021’s year of film with a bang.
“House of Gucci”
Even the opening credits of this film reads like a VIP list of academy darlings. Fans of Lady Gaga must watch Ridley Scott’s takedown of Patrizia Reggiani and her deadly ambition in “House of Gucci.” Her performance leans into the balance between camp and drama. While it might not take home an Oscar, it’s fascinating to see the true story of the Italian fashion empire on screen.
“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
Some film critics write that Jessica Chastain’s beautiful character work as televangelist Tammy Faye in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is a contender for best actress. On the other hand, the film itself is a bit too much of a formulaic biopic to be a serious competitor in the Oscars.
“The Last Duel”
If any “Killing Eve” fans have read this far, then this movie is for you. Watch “The Last Duel” for Jodie Comer’s compelling portrayal of a woman who refuses to back down from her truth paired with disturbing accounts of men who believe they can own women. It probably should have been directed and written by women. It would have been a far more effective critique of systemic misogyny.
Be sure to arm yourself with tissues before embarking on Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize winner Lin-Manual Miranda’s directorial debut. Miranda’s adaptation of theater revolutionary Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical takes audiences through the creative process – a road filled with doubts, pressure, pain and beauty.
“The Worst Person in the World”
Joachim Trier’s romantic dramedy is for movie lovers who typically enjoy romantic dramas. Set in Oslo, “The Worst Person in the World” subverts the genre’s usual tropes and brings us a person who can only be described as disastrous.
Director of stunning period pieces Joe Wright offers up a musical adaptation of a classic but heart-wrenching love triangle starring the formidable Peter Dinklage. Without Dinklage, “Cyrano” would lose itself in mediocrity.
“Don’t Look Up”
For those who have nightmares about the end of the world, you might want to pass on “Don’t Look Up.” But for those who can manage, the star-studded satire makes for an entertaining watch, especially with Jennifer Lawrence playing a scientist trying to warn humanity about a catastrophic comet.
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