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94th Academy Awards: Top Contenders for the Oscar Statuette in 2022

This year’s awards season officially kicked into gear on February 8 when the Motion Picture Academy released the names of the 94th Oscar nominees. Largely considered the most prestigious awards ceremony in the film industry, the event will once again see Hollywood stars gather together to recognize the silver screen’s top performers in 2021.

The distinguished event will take place on March 27 at the Dolby Theater but film buffs are already at fever pitch over who will go home with the coveted statuettes. Last year was a big one for the industry as many anticipated releases initially scheduled for 2020 were put on hold until 2021. As a result of these delays, the field of contenders for the trophies is quite crowded in some of the main categories.

This year will see a staggering ten films competing for Best Picture, the highest number in over a decade. With anticipation already running high in the wake of the Golden Globes in early January, sportsbooks are now delivering odds for the Oscar winners. The most exciting category to have a flutter on is Best Picture and The Power of the Dog is the clear favorite.

Will Smith and Nicole Kidman are the main contenders for best actor and actress, while Jane Campion is odds-on for best direction. We shall shortly bring to your attention the bookies’ lines for some of the most exciting categories in this year’s Oscar race. But before we get there, let’s see how the nomination process works.

The Academy Members

The prestigious awards are organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) which currently comprises over 9,900 professionals from the film industry. MGM’s co-founder Louis B. Mayer proposed the idea of founding AMPAS for the purpose of improving the image of the film industry and advancing the motion-picture arts and sciences.

The Academy consists of seventeen membership branches, including actors, cinematographers, directors, costume designers, executives, editors, producers, and writers, among others. There is also a members-at-large category, which comprises people who work in film production but do not belong to any of the other branches.

Despite being headquartered in Beverly Hill, AMPAS is an international organization and as such, accepts members from all countries. Membership requirements are branch-specific but interested film artists do not submit candidacies themselves. Instead, two members of the respective branch must sponsor the candidate and recommend him or her for consideration to the Academy Board of Governors.

The governing body then assesses the suitability of the sponsored candidate and sends them a membership invitation upon approval. AMPAS considers potential memberships only once per year, usually in spring. Motion picture artists who have received Oscar nominations do not need sponsoring – they are automatically under consideration for membership.

Nomination Process and Rules

The awards nomination process is carried out via paper or online ballots by AMPAS members from late December to the beginning of January. The nominees in most categories are chosen by the members of the respective academy branch, with actors comprising the largest voting division. Thus, actors choose the nominees for the best acting categories, directors select the contenders for the best directing category, and so on.

There are several exceptions to this rule, starting with the Best Picture category where all AMPAS members have the right to put up films for nomination. Each member must draw up a list with at least five and no more than ten entries for Best Picture. The remaining categories all require up to five entries per member. Separate voting rules are in place for Animated Feature Film and International Feature Film.

This year’s Academy Awards will include an additional category where film buffs vote for their favorite flicks from 2021. Each fan can back their preferred movie up to twenty times per day for the chance to win a trip to the 2023 ceremony.

AMPAS Uses the Instant Runoff Approach to Sift Out Nominees

The nomination process has gotten harder to grasp after AMPAS adopted the so-called instant runoff approach back in 2009. This multi-round system is also known as preferential voting. When submitting their lists for a given category, the branch members must organize their nomination picks in order of preference.

The ballots are then sorted based on the members’ first-place preference. If a pick scores enough first-place votes, it receives an official nomination. The votes needed for this purpose are equal to the overall number of member ballots divided by the total number of possible nominees plus one.

For example, suppose 445 first-place votes are required for a nomination. If a pick gets 448 first-place votes, it automatically becomes a nominee. The multinational accounting company PricewaterhouseCoopers now comes into play. After this first round, the firm’s accountants sort through the ballots and remove the candidate with the lowest number of votes.

The accountants then redistribute the votes for the rejected candidate according to the members’ second-place choices. If a second-place candidate reaches the minimum required number of votes after the redistribution, they also earn an official nomination. The process of candidate removal and vote redistribution continues until all official nominees for a particular category are selected.

All Members Cast Their Votes on the Final Winners

After all official nominees are named, the members receive new ballots and everyone can vote on all categories, regardless of membership branch. In other words, the final winners in each category are selected by the entire Academy rather than the experts from the individual branches. The instant runoff approach is again in place during the selection of the Best Picture winner. All other categories have their winners selected via a popular vote.

Only two PricewaterhouseCoopers employees know who the winners are until the official opening of the envelopes onstage during Hollywood’s biggest night. Unlike the Grammys where only the most important categories appear on air, the live Oscars telecast involves all 24 categories and continues for about three hours.

The Power of the Dog Odds-On in Best Picture Category

The 94th ceremony is approaching and bookmakers have started to narrow down the odds for the winners in major categories. The Golden Globes that took place in early January have most definitely affected the bookies’ pricing for the Oscars. The Power of the Dog is the clear favorite in this category, which makes sense considering the widespread public and critical acclaim it has garnered.

The Netflix production racked up twelve nominations at this year’s Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Leading Actor, and Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Adapted from the eponymous novel by Thomas Savage, The Power of the Dog relates a tale about toxic masculinity and how it can ultimately lead to one’s destruction.

Starring big names like Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst, the film captured the hearts of movie audiences the world over and earned numerous accolades, including three Golden Globe awards in major categories. Betfair estimates the film’s probability of winning Best Picture stands at -225, while Unibet prices it at -200 for a 67% probability.

Kenneth Branagh’s deeply personal film Belfast about growing up in the Northern Irish capital is the main rival of The Power of the Dog at odds of +300 at Betfair and Unibet. Don’t Look Up starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence is another massive Netflix hit with a nomination in the Best Picture category.

The satirical blockbuster about the world’s end, as successful as it was, has some of the longest odds and stands little chance of winning, with prices starting at +3300. Other hugely successful flicks like West Side Story (+900), Dune (+2000), and Licorice Pizza (+2500) are also on the list of Best Picture nominees.

Betting Odds for Best Picture Nominees at 94th Academy Awards
Motion PictureBetfairUnibetbet365
The Power of the Dog-225-200-200
West Side Story+900+900+1000
Drive My Car+4000+4000+4000
Licorice Pizza+2500+2500+2500
King Richard+2500+2000+2800
Don’t Look Up+3300+5000+5000
Nightmare Alley+6600+8000+10000

*Odds may be subject to change over time.

Kidman and Chastain Lead the Race for Best Actress

Let’s shift to the acting category where Jessica Chastain, Kristen Stewart, and Nicole Kidman dominate the race for the Best Actress trophy. Kidman boasts three previous nominations for her excellent performances in Moulin Rouge, Lion, and Rabbit Hole, but it was her outstanding portrayal of writer Virginia Woolf in The Hours that earned her the prestigious trophy in 2002.

This year, she competes in the Best Leading Actress category with her role in Being the Ricardos where she portrayed comedian Lucille Ball alongside co-star Javier Bardem. Kidman already collected a Golden Globe statuette for the leading female performance in a drama in January. This win gave her a nice advantage against her contenders at this year’s Oscars.

Nonetheless, the Australian actress has a worthy opponent in the face of no other than Twilight star Kristen Stewart. Stewart has faced heavy criticism about her acting in the past, but there is no denying she has grown tremendously since her Bella Swan days. Her portrayal of Diana, Princess of Wales, in Spencer is nothing short of spectacular and makes her a solid contender in the Best Actress category.

Jessica Chastain is another nominee competing for the Best Actress trophy this year. Chastain snagged a nomination for her performance in The Eyes of Tammy Faye. She is the third contender to portray a character based on a real-life person, in this case television host and singer Tamara Faye.

Nominee Penelope Cruz has the longest odds of winning in this contest with her role as Janis Moreno in Parallel Mothers. Lady Gaga was strangely missing from this category, failing to earn a nomination for her portrayal of socialite Patrizia Reggiani in Ridley Scott’s House of Gucci. Many fans consider her omission one of the biggest snubs at this year’s Oscars.

Betting Odds for Best Actress Nominees at 94th Academy Awards
Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos)+138+100
Kristen Stewart (Spencer)+400+260
Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye)+150+600
Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers)+1600+1600
Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter)+400+450

*Please note odds may be subject to change over time

Smith Competes with Cumberbatch in Best Actor

We turn our focus to the Best Actor category where we have a couple of past Oscar winners like Javier Bardem and Denzel Washington. Looking at the bookies’ odds, Will Smith is the shortest-priced competitor for the trophy. Betfair prices him at -400, while bet365 estimates his chances at -275.

The actor received a nomination for his role in King Richard where he portrays the father and coach of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. This is the third Best Actor nomination in Smith’s career – it looks like he will finally go home with the coveted statuette after more than twenty years of waiting.

In 2002, the actor was up for his performance in the sports drama Ali where he played boxing legend Muhammad Ali but lost to Denzel Washington. His acting chops in the 2006 drama The Pursuit of Happyness earned him a second leading-actor nomination, but it was Forest Whitaker who walked away with the trophy. This year, Smith will again compete against Washington who received a nomination for The Tragedy of Macbeth. His other contenders include Benedict Cumberbatch, Javier Bardem, and Andrew Garfield.

Out of them, Cumberbatch has the highest chances of beating Smith with odds of +300 at Betfair. Smith has no reason to fear his 2002 rival Denzel Washington this year – the Training Day actor lags behind in the race with pricing of +2500 and a winning probability of 3.8% according to Betfair.

Film critics are also confident in the winning potential of the Fresh Prince, which is no surprise considering Smith already secured the trophy for best dramatic male performance at the Golden Globes earlier in January.

Betting Odds for Best Actor Nominees at 94th Academy Awards
Will Smith (King Richard)-400-275
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog)+300+300
Andrew Garfield (tick, tick…BOOM!)+650
Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth)+2500+3300
Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos)+3300+4000

*Please note odds may be subject to change over time.

DeBose and Smit-McPhee Are Top Contenders for Best Supporting Roles

The Power of the Dog has been cleaning up trophies from the start of this year’s award season, including three Golden Globes (for Best Drama, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Director). Unsurprisingly, the film also scored nominations in the best supporting roles categories, with Kodi Smit-McPhee leading the race for Best Supporting Actor.

It is difficult to dispute this selection. Smit-McPhee indeed gave a brilliant performance as the soft-spoken, effeminate Peter in Campion’s The Power of the Dog and garnered great acclaim despite his young age. The Australian actor is only 25 years old but his remarkable talent has already earned him a trophy at the Golden Globes in January, along with a Rising Star Award nomination at the upcoming BAFTAs.

The young actor is up against Troy Kotsur who secured a nomination for his play in Sian Heder’s CODA. Smit-McPhee and Kotsur boast the highest likelihood of winning according to online sportsbooks, with Betfair pricing them at -175 and +138, respectively.

The other male contenders for supporting role trophies include Ciaran Hinds (Belfast), Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog), and J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos). Simmons is the underdog in this hot contest with lines starting at +2500.

Betting Odds for Best Supporting Actor at 94th Academy Awards
Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog)-175-175
Troy Kotsur (CODA)+138+138
Ciaran Hinds (Belfast)+800+800
Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog)+1800+1800
J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos)+2500+2500

*Please note odds may be subject to change over time.

On the women’s side, we have Ariana DeBose whose convincing portrayal of Anita in the Spielberg-directed West Side Story has won her a Best Supporting Actress nomination. DeBose has received several accolades for the excellence of her play in the adaptation of the eponymous film from 1961. She collected the trophies for a female supporting role at this year’s Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

While DeBose’s dominance is undisputed with pricing of -600 at Betfair, she has a worthy rival in the face of Kirsten Dunst. Dunst nabbed a nod in the supporting actress category for the role of Rose Gordon in The Power of the Dog, where she co-stars alongside her fiance Jesse Plemons. The 39-year-old actress has delivered many outstanding performances in the past, including Justine in the drama/sci-fi flick Melancholia (2011), Mary Svevo in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), and Lux Lisbon in The Virgin Suicides (1999).

Her breakthrough role in Interview with the Vampire alongside Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise earned Dunst her first Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the tender age of eleven. Yet the coveted Academy nomination somehow eluded the actress until now.

The oddsmakers of Betfair estimate Dunst’s likelihood of walking away with an Oscar this March is approximately 18%. DeBose surpasses her with odds of -600 and implied probability of 85.7%. DeBose and Dunst are up against Dame Judi Dench, Jessie Buckley, and Aunjanue Ellis. Buckley is the underdog in the group at +2500, followed by Dench at +1800 and Ellis at +900.

Betting Odds for Best Supporting Actress at 94th Academy Awards
Ariana DeBose (West Side Story)-600-100
Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog)+450+500
Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard)+900+1200
Judi Dench (Belfast)+1800+2500
Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter)+2500+2500

*Please note odds may be subject to change over time.

Campion Most Likely to Snag Best Director Trophy

Dame Jane Campion asserts her dominance at the 2022 Academy Awards as she is the firm favorite for the Best Director trophy. She is the first female in the Oscars history to receive two nominations for best directing. Campion first competed for the statuette back in 1994 with The Piano. The award, however, went to Steven Spielberg who earned it with his historical drama Schindler’s List.

Campion eventually left with the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay that night. The New Zealand film-maker currently boasts the shortest odds in this year’s best directing category. Betfair estimates her probability of collecting a second Oscar is nearly 91% with odds of -1000. The Power of the Dog is her first feature film in over a decade and has already earned her the best direction trophy at the Venice International Film Festival.

Several recognizable names rank behind Campion. Paul Thomas Anderson comes in second place at Betfair with +900 for his coming-of-age flick Licorice Pizza. Steven Spielberg is also competing in this category with his rendition of West Side Story, but falls behind at +1000. This is the seventh nomination for best direction in his career.

Spielberg already has two awards from this category on his trophy rack, having previously won in 1994 with Schindler’s List and again in 1999 with Saving Private Ryan. Ryusuke Hamaguchi became the third Japanese director in history to compete in the Best Director category. Adapted from the eponymous short story by Haruki Murakami, Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car also nabbed a nod for Best Picture.

Betting Odds for Best Director at 94th Academy Awards
Director/Motion PictureBetfairUnibet
Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)-1000-1000
Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)+1000+1000
Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza)+900+1700
Kenneth Branagh (Belfast)+1400+1000
Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car)+1600+1400

*Please note odds may be subject to change over time.

 Author: Benjamin Barry

Benjamin Barry‘s career is worth observing, since he is not only a competent writer, but he has also practical experience at poker tables.