Oscars 2022: ‘The Power of the Dog’ Could Change Cinema History

The 94th Academy Awards is right around the corner. However, this year’s ceremony remains shrouded in mystery. The nominees still haven’t been announced, and neither has the 2022 Oscars host. What is clear though is that the upcoming Academy Awards will likely mark a significant turning point for streaming services like Netflix. The company’s movie, The Power of the Dog, could very well be the lightning rod for a ton of change at Oscars 2022.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston sit in armchairs onstage under ‘The Power of the Dog' logo
Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hiddleston | David M. Benett/Dave Benett

‘The Power of the Dog’ has dominated the 2022 Oscar race

For the past few years, streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and even Hulu have entered the awards conversation. In particular, Netflix has had the most success at the Academy Awards. In the past three years, the streaming service has had five films enter the Best Picture race. Roma even won three Oscars, including Best Director. But the 2022 ceremony could be about to mark a new milestone for streaming releases.

Although the movie is likely to receive a slew of nominations, The Power of the Dog is currently the frontrunner in the Best Picture race. The Western drama stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, and Kodi Smit-McPhee — all of whom are strong contenders for their performances. And the movie’s lush production design, musical score, and cinematography mean it could clean up in the technical categories as well.

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But the movie could change cinema history in 1 key category

In addition to being the first Best Picture winner released by a streaming service, The Power of the Dog could make history in another way. According to Gold Derby — which tracks awards season odds and predictions — director Jane Campion is also poised to win Best Director. If she does, Campion will likely defeat filmmakers like Denis Villeneuve (Dune), Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), and Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza).

Moreover, a Campion win would be only the third third a female filmmaker has taken home Best Director. Kathryn Bigelow notably made history with her win in 2010 for The Hurt Locker. And in 2021, Chloe Zhao won the category for Nomadland. If The Power of the Dog takes Best Director, it will be the second consecutive year in which a woman won that particular Oscar category, potentially signalling a major shift going forward.

Which filmmaker poses the biggest threat to Jane Campion?

Of course, the Oscars can sometimes be unpredictable. So a Campion win isn’t necessarily a lock. After all, she was nominated for Best Director in 1994 for The Piano. And that year’s victor, Spielberg, is back in the conversation again. There’s a good chance that the 2022 Best Director race boils down to a Campion-Spielberg rematch.

Then again, Spielberg does have two Best Director trophies already for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. And the academy might be more inclined to reward someone else instead. In that case, Campion’s main challenge might be Villeneuve, whose only previous nomination was for 2016’s Arrival. But for now, Campion is the expected champion.

The 94th Academy Awards nominations will be announced on February 8, 2022.

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