Oscars 2022 predictions: How to win your Oscar pool

Emilia Jones signs I love you in CODA
(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

This was the year when audiences were supposed to return to the movies. And they sort of did for the big blockbusters. Yet another pandemic-influenced year makes for a topsy-turvy Oscars. If you need help winning your pool, count on my Oscars 2022 predictions to help you triumph over your friends and work colleagues.

The Oscars 2022 live stream mostly returns to the same in-person ceremony of yore, with a few changes. Eight categories of the Oscar nominees will be presented before the telecast, with clips shown of the winners' acceptance speeches. The ceremony will have hosts again — three of them! Comedians Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer and actress Regina Hall are on tap to emcee. 

As far as my Oscar predictions resume, I’ve won many Oscar pools over the years, including the last three among my group of friends. My Oscars 2020 predictions correctly chose 21 out of 24 categories — including the Best Picture winner, Parasite. My Oscars 2021 predictions went 18 out of 23.

So, with that said, here are my Oscars 2022 picks.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Picture

CODA movie poster

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)
  • CODA
  • Belfast 
  • Don’t Look U
  • Drive My Car 
  • Dune
  • King Richard
  • Licorice Pizza
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • West Side Story 

Last year's race had a clear frontrunner in Nomadland, but this year features a two-pony show photo finish between CODA and The Power of the Dog.

A couple of months ago, Power of the Dog seemed destined to get Netflix their first Best Picture trophy. It comes from the iconic Jane Campion (the first woman to win Best Director) and features an A-list cast. Power of the Dog's 12 Oscar nominations topped all films. 

Meanwhile, CODA is an indie that debuted at Sundance, features a cast filled with journeymen and earned just three nominations. Yet, I'm picking it to prevail. 

Why? The two films have split all the major precursors. Power of the Dog picked up the BAFTA, Directors Guild and Critics Choice Award, but CODA nabbed the Producers Guild, Screen Actors Guild and Writers Guild prizes. 

The PGA win is a very telling one. It's the only other precursor award to use a preferential ballot, just like the Oscars. Since the preferential ballot was introduced, a lot of the old Oscar rules and records have fallen by the wayside. 

The preferential ballot tends to reward crowd-pleasing movies. Maybe more voters will put Power of the Dog as their number one, but CODA is very likely to be the No. 2 or 3 choice on a lot of ballots. As other films are knocked out of contention, its tally will rise. 

Also, Hollywood loves an underdog story. In this case, CODA has the power of the underdog.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Director

Benedict Cumberbatch stars in The Power of the Dog

(Image credit: NETFLIX)
  • Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog
  • Kenneth Branagh, Belfast
  • Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Drive My Car
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, Licorice Pizza
  • Steven Spielberg, West Side Story

The Directors Guild Awards have lined up with the Oscar 10 out of the last 12 years, so Campion is a near lock for this category. Giving her a Best Director Oscar is also a way of acknowledging the achievement of The Power of the Dog, in lieu of Best Picture.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Actor

Will Smith as Richard Williams in King Richard, with Saniyya Sidney as Venus Williams in background

(Image credit: Chiabella James / Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
  • Will Smith, King Richard
  • Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
  • Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick … Boom! 
  • Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of Macbeth 

Smith has been the frontrunner in this category since the trailer for King Richard dropped. He's a beloved veteran actor and big star who's never won an Oscar. He's won every major precursor, including SAG and BAFTA. Give this king his crown.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Actress

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

(Image credit: Searchlight)
  • Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye 
  • Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter 
  • Penélope Cruz, Parallel Mothers
  • Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos 
  • Kristen Stewart, Spencer

For the second year in a row, Best Actress is the toughest of the top categories to figure out. Kristen Stewart was the early frontrunner for a few reasons. The Academy loves giving this trophy to a young ingenue (think Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone). Plus, Stewart is playing an iconic historical figure in Princess Diana.

However, her campaign lost steam along the way. She hasn't won any major precursors and wasn't even nominated for the BAFTA. That's why we're going with Chastain, a veteran with previous nods for The Help and Zero Dark Thirty. She won the SAG and Critics Choice. It's also pretty common for the Academy to reward a transformative performance from a movie with few nominations (see: Renee Zellweger in Judy). 

Still, with such a topsy-turvy race, I wouldn't be surprised to see Penelope Cruz called up to the stage.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Supporting Actor 

Troy Kotsur and Marlee Matlin in CODA

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)
  • Troy Kotsur, CODA
  • Ciaran Hinds, Belfast
  • Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog
  • J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog

The deaf Kotsur isn't as famous as his on-screen wife, Marlee Matlin, yet his powerful performance in CODA propelled him to frontrunner status. He's gobbled up every major and minor precursor, so he's a lock to give yet another charming signed speech.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Supporting Actress

Ariana DeBose and the cast of West Side Story

(Image credit: Amblin)
  • Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
  • Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter
  • Judi Dench, Belfast
  • Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog
  • Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard

DeBose was the absolute standout in the cast of the West Side Story remake. Like her supporting actor counterpart, she is a lock after winning the SAG, BAFTA and Critics Choice. 

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Adapted Screenplay

Emilia Jones and Marlee Matlin in CODA

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)
  • CODA
    Screenplay by Siân Heder
  • Drive My Car
    Screenplay by Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe
  • Dune
    Screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Denis Villeneuve and Eric Roth
  • The Lost Daughter
    Written by Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • The Power of the Dog
    Written by Jane Campion

While CODA only received three Oscar nominations, it might go three for three. After winning the WGA and BAFTA, Heder jumps ahead of Campion in this category.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Original Screenplay

The cast of Belfast

(Image credit: Universal)
  • Belfast
    Written by Kenneth Branagh
  • Don’t Look Up
    Screenplay by Adam McKay; story by Adam McKay and David Sirota
  • Licorice Pizza
    Written by Paul Thomas Anderson
  • King Richard
    Written by Zach Baylin
  • The Worst Person in the World
    Written by Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier

Original Screenplay rivals Best Actress this year as an unpredictable toss-up. Sometimes, Academy voters like to reward edgier fare (Promising Young Woman, Parasite, Get Out) while other times they go with something more conventional (Green Book, Manchester By the Sea, Spotlight). 

The race comes down to Belfast, Don't Look Up and Licorice Pizza. All three are also nominated for Best Picture and come from a well-regarded filmmaker. The precursors are all over the place. So, I'll toss the dice and go with Belfast. Branagh has been nominated eight times with no wins. Plus, Belfast is a personal story that's heavy with dialogue. 

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Animated Film

The cast of the Disney movie Encanto

(Image credit: Disney)
  • Encanto
  • Flee
  • Luca
  • The Mitchells vs. the Machines 
  • Raya and the Last Dragon

As much as I'd love for the Academy to hand this trophy to the inventive Flee, it's rare for it go anywhere but a major studio (and usually Disney). Encanto is also a blockbuster, thanks to its chart-topping album and hit song "We Don't Talk About Bruno." They will definitely be talking about Bruno and Encanto at this year's Oscars.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best International Film

Hidetoshi Nishijima and Tōko Miura in Drive My Car

(Image credit: Bitters End)
  • Drive My Car (Japan)
  • Flee (Denmark)
  • The Hand of God (Italy)
  • Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom (Bhutan)
  • The Worst Person in the World (Norway)

The Oscars nominated a really exceptional lineup of international films this year, but Drive My Car feels like a fairly safe bet after it cracked the Best Picture and Best Director categories.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Documentary Feature Film

Best movies on Hulu: Summer of Soul

(Image credit: Hulu)
  • Summer of Soul (Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
  • Ascension
  • Attica 
  • Flee
  • Writing With Fire

Summer of Soul was one of the best movies of 2021, period, and I wish the Academy would consider nominating a documentary as Best Picture. After winning the BAFTA and Critics Choice Award, a win at the Oscars seems inevitable as well as deserved. 

(Shout out to Flee, which is also excellent.)

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Cinematography

Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in Dune

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Dune - Greig Fraser
  • Nightmare Alley - Dan Laustsen
  • The Power of the Dog - Ari Wegner
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth - Bruno Delbonnel
  • West Side Story Janusz - Kaminski

The American Society of Cinematographers awarded Fraser for his stunning work on Dune, and I think Oscar voters will follow suit. 

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Film Editing

Dune movie

(Image credit: Chiabella James/Warner Bros. Entertainment)
  • Dune
  • Don’t Look Up
  • King Richard
  • The Power of the Dog
  • Tick, Tick…Boom!

The American Cinema Editors guild honored King Richard and Tick, Tick...Boom!, but they also don't often match up with the Oscars. Best film editing often ends up more like the Most Editing award. I think Tick, Tick...Boom! has a good chance, but I'm going with the popular Dune.  

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Production Design

Cate Blanchett and Bradley Cooper star in Nightmare Alley

(Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)
  • Nightmare Alley
  • Dune
  • The Power of the Dog
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth
  • West Side Story

This Oscar usually goes to a period/fantasy production, but all five nominees fall into that realm. Dune would be a decent pick, as I expect it to clean up in the craft categories. But instead, I'll go on a limb for Nightmare Alley. Guillermo del Toro's film features sets that range from a grimy traveling circus to a glittering hotel dining room to a massive mansion. The Best Picture nod shows it clearly has widespread support this is its best chance at a trophy.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Costume Design

Cruella 2021

(Image credit: Disney)
  • Cruella
  • Cyrano
  • Dune
  • Nightmare Alley
  • West Side Story

This Oscar also almost always goes to a period piece. Last year, it was Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and two years ago, Little Women. The Costume Designers Guild awarded their period prize to Cruella, and I think Oscar will do the same. 

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye

(Image credit: Searchlight)
  • The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  • Coming 2 America 
  • Cruella
  • Dune
  • House of Gucci 

The biggest transformations tend to take this category. The Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild honored Coming 2 America and Cruella. But the Academy loves when famous actors transform into famous real people, which tips the scale to The Eyes of Tammy Faye. And truly, without the make-up and hairstyling work on this movie, Chastain wouldn't have a Best Actress nomination and a potential win.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Original Score

the power of the dog

(Image credit: Netflix)
  • The Power of the Dog - Jonny Greenwood
  • Don’t Look Up - Nicholas Britell
  • Dune - Hans Zimmer
  • Encanto - Germaine Franco
  • Parallel Mothers - Alberto Iglesias

Another tough category, because every single nominated score is excellent and plays a significant role in the overall movie. Franco won the Society of Composers and Lyricists Award over three of his fellow nominees. But I think Power of the Dog has a lot of support below the line, as evidenced by its leading 12 nominations. 

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Original Song

No Time To Die

(Image credit: MGM via 007.com)
  • "No Time To Die" from No Time to Die
    Music and lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
  • "Be Alive" from King Richard
    Music and lyric by Dixson and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter
  • "Dos Oruguitas" from Encanto
    Music and lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • "Down To Joy" from Belfast
    Music and lyric by Van Morrison
  • "Somehow You Do" from Four Good Days
    Music and lyric by Diane Warren

A win for Eilish and brother O'Connell has been essentially written into the records since "No Time to Die" first debuted. The Oscars love a good Bond theme song ("Skyfall," "Writing's on the Wall"). The quirky thing about this category is that the Encanto entry is not the mega-hit "We Don't Talk About Bruno." But the ceremony will feature a performance of it. 

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Sound

West Side Story on Disney Plus

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)
  • West Side Story
  • Belfast
  • Dune
  • No Time to Die
  • The Power of the Dog

Last year, the Academy finally merged sound editing and sound mixing awards into one. Most people never knew the difference and they usually (though not always) went to the same film. Sound of Metal was an easy choice last year. This race is more difficult to predict. Dune, West Side Story and Nightmare Alley split the prizes at the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ Golden Reel Awards. I'm picking West Side Story, which deftly blends music, dialogue and sound effects. 

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Visual Effects

Dune sand worm

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)
  • Dune
  • Free Guy 
  • No Time to Die 
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (n/a)

Generally, the winner of this category is a contender in Best Picture contender, which is why I'm selecting Dune. Plus, it cleaned up at the Visual Effects Society Awards.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Animated Short Film

  • Robin Robin
  • Affairs of the Art
  • Bestia
  • Boxballet
  • The Windshield Wipe

Robin Robin may have the most name recognition, thanks to a release on Netflix last Christmas. It's also impossibly adorable, with a story about a family of mice adopting an abandoned robin that will melt many Oscar voters' hearts.

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Live Action Short Film

  • The Long Goodbye
  • The Dress
  • On My Mind
  • Please Hold
  • Ala Kachuu — Take and Run

This year's live-action shorts are marked by suffering, grief and despair — so a window into the current times. In this race, I'll go with star power and choose The Long Goodbye, from producer/star Riz Ahmed. 

Oscars 2022 predictions: Best Documentary Short Subject

  • Lead Me Home
  • Audible
  • The Queen of Basketball
  • Three Songs for Benazir
  • When We Were Bullies

Netflix is behind three of these documentary shorts, but all five are worthy contenders. I'm leaning toward Lead Me Home, a portrait of homelessness in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. I think it will speak to a lot of West Coast-based Oscar voters. 

Kelly Woo
Streaming Editor

Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.