Oscar Nominations

Oscar’s Class of 2022

This year’s Oscar nominations are the result of a record number of votes, according to the Academy—and that makes sense, since the number of voting members expanded to more than 9,400, the most ever. They cast their ballots in a year that began in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, showed signs of loosening up as theaters reopened and big movies like DuneNo Time to Die and Spider-Man: No Way Home opened theatrically, and then grew more restrictive as the Omicron variant sent infection rates rocketing up. Choosing among 276 films in the main categories and hundreds more documentaries, international films and shorts, the voters came up with a slate to reflect another weird year. This special guide will take you through all 23 Oscar categories and introduce you to every nominee—even the ones that need no introduction. 

By: Steve Pond, Joe McGovern, Missy Schwartz, Drew Taylor, and Brian Welk

Additional Reporting By: Adam Chitwood and Jeremy Fuster

Illustration: Eric Hernandez

Best Picture

In a sense, the best picture race started in January 2021, when CODA won the audience and jury prizes at the Sundance Film Festival. It stopped off in Cannes to grab a ride with Drive My Car, then heated up at the fall festivals, when The Power of the Dog, Dune, King Richard and Belfast premiered.

Best Director

Japanese cinema has been well represented at the Oscars over the years, but Ryusuke Hamaguchi is the first filmmaker from that country to receive a directing nomination since the great Akira Kurosawa in 1985, for Ran.

Best Actor

For the first time since 1980, everyone in this category has been nominated before. Denzel Washington is the heavyweight with eight previous acting nominations (plus one for producing), while Will Smith is landing his fourth nom for King Richard (and his second for a sports movie, after 2001’s Ali).


Best Actress

In this year’s crop of contenders, we’ve got three biopics, some sticky family dynamics, not a single nominee from a movie that’s in the running for Best Picture and one newbie, Kristen Stewart, joining four Oscar veterans who have 15 nominations and three wins among them.

Best Supporting Actor

Age and experience tends to pay off in this category, which has boasted more wins for seniors than the other acting categories. Think Jack Palance, 73 (City Slickers), Alan Arkin, 72 (Little Miss Sunshine) and Christopher Plummer, 82 (Beginners), who also holds the record for the old-est performer ever nominated (at 88).

Best Supporting Actress

Age and experience tends to pay off in this category, which has boasted more wins for seniors than the other acting categories. Think Jack Palance, 73 (City Slickers), Alan Arkin, 72 (Little Miss Sunshine) and Christopher Plummer, 82 (Beginners), who also holds the record for the old-est performer ever nominated (at 88).


Best Adapted Screenplay

With three of the screenplays written by women, this is the most female-dominated lineup this category has seen since 1991.

Best Original Screenplay

Welcome back, Paul Thomas Anderson. Though Licorice Pizza marks his fifth nomination for writing, he has not appeared in this category since last millennium, for 1997’s Boogie Nights and 1999’s Magnolia. (There Will Be Blood and Inherent Vice were adaptations.)

Best International Feature Film

This year’s international race started late but with a bang at July’s delayed Cannes Film Festival, which premiered almost 20 films that would go on to represent their countries in the category. Eight of those would make the shortlist and two, Drive My Car and The Worst Person in the World, would be nominated.


Best Animated Feature

There have been few years with as many Oscar-worthy animated films as 2022. Everywhere you turned, there were outstanding animated features, some for kids, others for adults, some homegrown and some from countries like Japan and Denmark (among others).

Best Documentary Feature

The academy’s documentary branch has been one of the fastest-growing in recent years, and one of the most international. Its global makeup is reflected in its nominations almost every year, with this year’s crop telling stories from China to India, Afghanistan to Denmark.

Best Documentary Short

The first Oscar that Netflix ever won came in this category in 2017 with The White Helmets, so it should come as no surprise that the company is all in on short docs. It landed three of the five nominees: Audible, Lead Me Home and Three Songs for Benazir.


Best Cinematography

Is black-and-white the new color? It was looking that way when the American Society of Cinematographers placed two B&W films, Belfast and The Tragedy of Macbeth, on its list of the year’s five best—but the Academy dropped Belfast and only went with one monochrome film, Macbeth, making it the fifth B&W film to be nominated for cinematography in the last four years.

Best Film Editing

How closely is this category related to best picture? In short, very. Over the last 40 years, only one movie has won Best Picture without earning an editing nomination.

Best Costume Design

Since Disney’s live-action reboot streak started a decade ago, the studio has landed a string of nominations in this category, including Maleficent (Anna B. Sheppard), Cinderella (Sandy Powell), Beauty and the Beast (Jacqueline Durran), Mary Poppins Returns (Powell again) and Mulan (Bina Daigeler).


Best Production Design

Are the Oscars in touch with the present day? Not in this category, where period pieces, sci-fi and fantasy films have maintained an almost perfect monopoly of wins (and largely, nominations) over the last four decades.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

One of Oscar’s more fresh and youthful categories, Best Makeup was initiated in 1981 as penance for not recognizing the achievement of turning John Hurt into the soulful, deformed John Merrick in 1980’s The Elephant Man.

Best Original Score

While this year’s original score nominees are a blend of some of the Oscars’ familiar faces and industry veterans finally getting their due, several of the composers in the race are landing nominations for extending beyond their comfort zone, or they’re finally landing nominations after numerous films with some of their most frequent collaborators.


Best Original Song

With over 40 Grammy wins among the nominees, this year’s race for Best Original Song is especially stacked with music royalty, from the biggest pop stars in the world to a rock icon to the guy who wrote Hamilton and finally to Oscars’ biggest Cinderella story.

Best Sound

In recent decades, the Oscars had separate sound categories, one for mixing (in essence, the overall sonic design) and another for editing (special sound effects).

Best Visual Effects

The VFX category is a safe haven for big-budget projects like No Time to Die and Spider-Man: No Way Home, which some suggested could have been Best Picture contenders. They fell short there, but along with Dune they helped give Best Visual Effects by far the highest gross of any Oscar category.


Best Animated Short

With the last five winners being films distributed by Netflix, Sony Animation Studios and Pixar (twice), plus one produced by Kobe Bryant, a high profile is no longer a detriment in a category that was once a haven for small animators

Best Live Action Short

If there were an award for grimmest category, Best Live Action Short might be the undisputed champion: Year after year, voters fill this category with dark films, including a disturbingly large number whose central feature is children in peril.


Oscar Guide

Oscar Guide Cover 02.23.22