Let me tell you…of all the wild shit I expected to unpack about the 2022 Oscars, one of the most charismatic humans on the planet slapping one of the greatest living comedians into oblivion on national television wasn’t even close to the top of my list.

Thankfully, while I have absolutely no business weighing in on the interpersonal nuances of those two minutes of television, I feel much better equipped to contend with The Academy’s characteristically “meh” selections and bummer snubs.

With that, we give a hearty welcome back to: THE COULDA WOULDA SHOULD-AWARDS!

For those of you who missed our previous installment, the CWS-Awards are a chance to recognize a few alternative favorites from the 2021/2022 movie season, given the Academy’s continued tradition of dropping the ball. For the sake of everyone’s straining eyesight, we’ll limit things to the Big Ten topline categories, kicking off with Best Score:

  • Note #1: An * next to an Oscar nominee reflects Nate’s personal selection amongst nominated contenders.
  • Note #2: Though spoilers are limited, a few plot details for nominated films will appear below so consider this your official spoiler warning


2022 Oscars Nominees: 

  • Don’t Look Up (Nicholas Britell)
  • Dune (Hans Zimmer) – WINNER
  • Encanto  (Germaine Franco)
  • Parallel Mothers (Alberto Iglesias)
  • The Power of the Dog (Jonny Greenwood)*

Nate’s Coulda Woulda Should-Award Nominees:

5. The Lost Daughter (Dickon Hinchliffe)
4. The Worst Person In The World (Ola Fløttum)
3. Dune (Hans Zimmer)
2. Drive My Car (Eiko Ishibashi)

And The Winner Is: The Power of the Dog (Jonny Greenwood)

All the respect in the world to winner Hans Zimmer and his newly invented Arakean instruments, and Eiko Ishibashi’s brilliant innovation of “what if lounge music, but you’re crying the whole time?” In another year, either could have taken top honors. Sadly for them, Jonny Greenwood’s “a banjo and a cello walk into a bar” joke turned churning, dark opus was the runaway pick from the first moment I heard it. The Power of the Dog and its unsettling score are inextricable from one another, both emotionally and narratively, and I couldn’t ask for anything else from a contender in this category.

Honorable Mentions: 

Pig, The Green Knight, Inside, West Side Story, Zola


2022 Oscars Nominees: 

  • Dune (Greig Fraser) – WINNER
  • Nightmare Alley (Dan Lausten)
  • The Power of the Dog  (Ari Wegner)
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth (Bruno Delbonnel)
  • West Side Story (Janusz Kamiński)*

Nate’s Coulda Woulda Should-Award Nominees:

5. C’mon C’mon (Robbie Ryan)
4. Red Rocket (Drew Daniels)
3. Zola (Ari Wegner)
2. The Green Knight (Andrew Droz Palermo)

And The Winner Is: West Side Story (Janusz Kamiński)

Full disclosure, Andrew Droz Palermo and The Green Knight had a 2022 Coulda Woulda Should-Award win (a CouldaWouldaShouldie, for those in the know) in a vice grip until my return to West Side Story this past week. “Spielberg + Kamiński = Good” is neither an interesting nor innovative take, but especially on second watch, I found myself completely overwhelmed by the vitality of their camerawork, choreographed in perfect synchronicity with the dancers they capture.

Nearly every frame is at once surprising and immediately indelible: from the streaks of light cutting through the bleachers during Tony and Maria’s first meeting, to the interlocking shadows over salt at the rumble, to the saturated blue against the rust of the disheveled shoreline during “Cool” (the film’s standout sequence for my money). A commanding win, one I already cannot wait to return to again.

Honorable Mentions: 

The Power of The Dog, The French Dispatch, The Worst Person In The World, Licorice Pizza, Test Pattern


2022 Oscars Nominees: 

  • Coda (Siân Heder) – WINNER
  • Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe)*
  • Dune  (Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth)
  • The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal)
  • The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion)

Nate’s Coulda Woulda Should-Award Nominees: 

5. Dune (Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve, Eric Roth)
4. The Lost Daughter (Maggie Gyllenhaal)
3. The Power of the Dog (Jane Campion)
2. The Green Knight (David Lowery)

And The Winner Is: Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Takamasa Oe)

A fairly overlappy category with the Oscars nominations, and a massive divergence from the decidedly middling winner (first shot across the CODA bow, buckle up). Dune deserves its nomination purely from a degree-of-difficulty standpoint, as does Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter for the sheer audacity of leaving that doll out in the open for everyone to see it. Very few writers could as effectively tell a story as nuanced as The Power of the Dog with as little overt exposition as Campion employs.

The Green Knight is the lone Oscar snub to earn a 2022 CWS nom, a brilliant balancing of authentic medieval storytelling and modern dreamscape psychedelia, with perhaps the best ending of any film this year. However, rising above the rest is Drive My Car, a multi-lingual masterpiece that is riveting from beginning to end in its exploration of grief, the artistic process, and the interconnectedness between the two. The most unique screenplay in years, and an easy pick even amongst a crowded field.

Honorable Mentions: 

Zola, Benedetta, The Matrix Resurrections, No Time To Die, West Side Story 


2022 Oscars Nominees: 

  • Belfast (Kenneth Branagh) – WINNER
  • Don’t Look Up (Adam McKay, David Sirota)
  • King Richard (Zach Baylin)
  • Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  • The Worst Person In The World (Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier)*

Nate’s Coulda Woulda Should-Award Nominees:

5. Bergman Island (Mia Hansen-Løve)
4. Red Rocket (Sean Baker, Chris Bergoch)
3. A Hero (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson)

And The Winner Is: The Worst Person In The World (Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier)

Oof. In contrast to their usual tendency of rewarding the weirder, more challenging films in the screenplay categories, it appears The Academy decided this was as good a time as any to show some love to worse versions of movies we’ve already seen. Meanwhile, Bergman Island, Red Rocket, and A Hero were all shut out by the Academy this season, and while their smaller budgets might explain their snubbing, all three are easily among the best scripts of the year (an extra-special tip of the cap to Asghar Farhadi for once again making me question my entire understanding of right and wrong).

PTA is well overdue for an Oscar, and the unrelenting nostalgia of Licorice Pizza, coupled with the critiques of the 70s secreted behind the film’s rose-tinted glasses, would have been deserving of a win.

At the end of the day, however, The Worst Person In The World was the runaway victor for me in this category. Where the prior installments in writers Vogt and Trier’s excellent Oslo trilogy leaned hard into eccentric surrealism (in the case of 2006’s Reprise) or borderline-oppressive verisimilitude (as in 2011’s Oslo, August 31), The Worst Person In The World expertly dances between the two. The result is an electric script that feels at once tethered to a recognizable reality while capturing all the emotional ineffability of new love and old grief.

Honorable Mentions: 

Shiva Baby, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, C’mon C’mon, No Sudden Move, Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar


2022 Oscars Nominees: 

  • Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter)*
  • Ariana DeBose (West Side Story) – WINNER
  • Judi Dench (Belfast)
  • Kirsten Dunst (The Power of the Dog)
  • Aunjanue Ellis  (King Richard)

Nate’s Coulda Woulda Should-Award Nominees:

5. Harriet Sansom-Harris (Licorice Pizza)
4. Kristin Dunst (The Power of the Dog)
3. Ariana DeBose (West Side Story)
2. Toko Miura (Drive My Car)

And The Winner Is: Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter)

Were I brave enough, Harriet Sansom-Harris would run away with this award for her four-minute-long, quivering, unhinged performance in Licorice Pizza, but the limited screen-time ultimately left her at the back of a packed category. Dunst and DeBose both dominate their respective films each time they enter the frame, and the latter is a fantastic addition to the Oscar winners roster.

However, ultimately this was a two-woman race for me: Toko Miura’s muted, patient performance in Drive My Car is essential to that film’s success, and it’s hard to imagine many actors emoting so much with such nuance (shades of Lily Gladstone in Certain Women). In my estimation, she comes up just shy of Jessie Buckley, who manages to balance a realism of eccentricity and depression and mania and rage with a remarkably spot-on Olivia Coleman impression. Buckley is one of my favorite actors in the game, and I’m thrilled this performance received an Oscar nomination proper.

Honorable Mentions: 

Park Yu-rim (Drive My Car), Florence Pugh (Black Widow), Sahar Goldoost (A Hero), Rebecca Ferguson (Dune), Gaby Hoffman (C’mon C’mon), Dagmara Domińczyk (The Lost Daughter), Fusako Urabe (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy), Olivia Coleman (The Mitchells vs. The Machines), Jessica Henwick (The Matrix Resurrections), Ana De Armas (No Time To Die), Aunjanue Ellis  (King Richard), Tilda Swinton (The French Dispatch), Dakota Johnson (The Lost Daughter), Riley Keough (Zola), Bree Elrod (Red Rocket)


2022 Oscars Nominees: 

  • Ciarán Hinds (Belfast)
  • Troy Kotsur (CODA) – WINNER
  • Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog)
  • J.K. Simmons (Being the Ricardos)
  • Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog)*

Nate’s Coulda Woulda Should-Award Nominees:

5. Kodi Smitt-McPhee (The Power of the Dog)
4. Woody Norman (C’mon C’mon)
3. Andrew Garfield (Spider-Man: No Way Home)
2. Mike Faist (West Side Story)

And The Winner Is: Colman Domingo (Zola)

Troy Kotsur’s win was one of the better feel-good moments of this year’s telecast. He sits just outside my list in a category with an ironclad top three and a constantly in-flux bottom two. This is no disrespect to Smitt-McPhee (my picked winner out of the 2022 Oscars nominees, albeit from one of the more disappointing nominee classes) and Norman, but rather a testament to 2021’s remarkably deep honorable mention bench.

Amongst the top trio, the “Justice For Spider-Garf” bit continues apace, as the MMH Year-End Award winner’s return to Peter Parker remained amongst the year’s most emotionally affecting performances. He falls just short of Mike Faist’s Riff, whose twitchy energy is the engine of West Side Story’s first two-thirds.

However, from the moment he first appears to ferry Zola from Detroit to Florida, Colman Domingo’s menacing charisma ignites the screen. He controls his film’s tone with the same precision he manipulates its characters, shifting his physicality and accent to upending moments of levity on a dime. Domingo’s already deep into a nomination-worthy career, so until the Academy gets their act together, a CouldaWouldaShouldie will have to do.

Honorable Mentions: 

Troy Kotsur (CODA), Ben Affleck (The Last Duel), Caleb Landry Jones (Finch), Jeffery Wright (The French Dispatch), Benicio del Toro (The French Dispatch), Herbert Nordrum (The Worst Person In The World), Anders Danielsen Lie (The Worst Person In The World), Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza), Kiyohiko Shibukawa (Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy), Sean Harris (The Green Knight), Sean Harris (Spencer), Jason Mamoa (Dune), Scoot McNairy (C’mon C’mon), Jin Dae-yeon (Drive My Car)


2022 Oscars Nominees: 

  • Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog)
  • Will Smith (King Richard)* – WINNER
  • Andrew Garfield (tick, tick…BOOM!)
  • Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth)

Nate’s Coulda Woulda Should-Award Nominees:

5. Mahershala Ali (Swan Song)
4. Nicolas Cage (Pig)
3. Hidetoshi Nishijima (Drive My Car)
2. Simon Rex (Red Rocket)

And The Winner Is: Amir Jadidi (A Hero)

In my draft of this piece prior to the telecast, I wrote “worth leading off by saying that I’m ecstatic that (hopefully by the time this is published) we now live in a world where Will Smith has an Oscar. Since I don’t have to make the same considerations about the arc of history and the Academy’s longtime disregard for one of the most important living actors, I will instead use my five slots to highlight a few other standouts of the season.” That statement stands, though, again, the surrounding context (and the necessary unpacking of the intersectionality between toxic masculinity and language of criminalization and verbal abuse and the dynamics of a highly publicized open relationship in order to even begin to get into it) made me feel like it required some light caveating.

The CSW noms are a little easier to break down: Ali is predictably phenomenal in Swan Song, something that’s easy to take for granted after two Oscar wins. For all his brilliant meme-ability, Cage’s work in Pig showcased once again that, when inclined, he is capable of being one of our more arresting dramatic actors. Hidetoshi Nishijima demonstrates incredible restraint throughout Drive My Car and is probably the most compelling cigarette ad since Joe Camel. Simon Rex held top honors in this category for much of the awards season, charismatically jittering his way through Texas City, TX in Red Rocket and leaving a trail of abuse and devastation in his wake.

When it came down to it, however, the performance that rose to the top was Amir Jadidi in Asghar Farhadi’s A Hero. Jadidi is a perfect avatar for Farhadi’s newest morality play: at times innocent, good-natured, and bumbling, other times proud and rageful, with each new emotion seemingly cascading against the shores of the next. I had never seen Jadidi prior to A Hero and was absolutely floored by how unique his approach was to a character that easily could have slipped into caricature. So, in spite of his being overlooked by the Academy, he leaves the CouldaWouldaShouldies as a winner.

Honorable Mentions: 

Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog), Oscar Isaac (The Card Counter), Jonathan Majors (The Harder They Fall), Dev Patel (The Green Knight), Don Cheadle (No Sudden Move), Daniel Craig (No Time To Die), Benicio Del Toro (No Sudden Move), Will Smith (King Richard), Matt Damon (The Last Duel)


2022 Oscars Nominees 

  • Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye) – WINNER
  • Olivia Colman (The Lost Daughter)
  • Penélope Cruz (Parallel Mothers)*
  • Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos)
  • Kristen Stewart (Spencer)

Nate’s Coulda Woulda Should-Award Nominees:

5. Penelope Cruz (Parallel Mothers)
4. Vicky Krieps (Bergman Island)
3. Alana Haim (Licorice Pizza)
2. Taylour Paige (Zola)

And The Winner Is: Renate Reinsve (The Worst Person In The World)

A good old-fashioned clusterfuck of a category, both because of the wealth of brilliant contenders this season, and the Academy’s choice to reward the 12th best Jessica Chastain performance instead of them. Cruz delivers one of her best embodying the creeping paranoia that pervades Parallel Mothers. Krieps is a longtime favorite, and her drunk acting, in particular, vaults her into contention, as does Alana Haim’s atomic debut performance in Licorice Pizza. Just outside the top slot is Talour Paige, delivering a devastating side-eye-incarnate of a performance that still leaves room for one of the year’s most emotionally gripping sequences at Zola’s climax.

In another year, she could have run the table–but only if that year did not feature Renate Reinsve. The Worst Person In The World demands such a range of emotionality and charisma from its protagonist, and Reinsve knits it all together into a complex yet fully cohesive, unforgettably human performance; easily my favorite of the year, out of all acting categories, and the most disappointing snub of the 2022 Oscars.

Honorable Mentions: 

Rachel Zeggler (West Side Story), Virginie Efira (Benedetta), Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard), Olivia Coleman (The Lost Daughter), Kristen Stewart (Spencer), Jodie Comer (The Last Duel)


2022 Oscars Nominees 

  • Kenneth Branagh (Belfast)
  • Ryuske Hamaguchi (Drive My Car)*
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza)
  • Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog) – WINNER
  • Steven Spielberg (West Side Story)

Nate’s Coulda Woulda Should-Award Nominees:

5. David Lowery (The Green Knight)
4. Janicza Bravo (Zola)
3. Joachim Trier (The Worst Person In The World)
2. Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog)

And The Winner Is: Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car)

Always one of the most difficult categories, with an especially deep roster of deserving directors this year. David Lowery is quickly cementing himself as one of the most interesting filmmakers in the game, and I’ve already lauded Janicza Bravo’s thrilling cinematic social media translation in Zola. Even so, this came down to another airtight top three: Trier and his eccentric, careening storytelling; Campion and her methodical, patient pacing (well deserving of her win, even if she comes up short in the CWS book); and rising above the rest, Ryusuke Hamaguchi, whose languid, unpredictable, devastating film simply could not have been made by anyone else. Hamaguchi spends a great deal of his three-hour opus fixated with process, and uses small deviations within routine to tell an expansive emotional story. The result is a film that is hypnotic in its repetition, and overwhelming in its catharsis when the repetition ends. If you have not seen Drive My Car, do yourself a favor and carve out the time for it as soon as possible.

Honorable Mentions: 

Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Lost Daughter), Mia Hanson Løve (Bergman Island), Mike Mills (C’mon C’mon), Asghar Farhadi (A Hero), Steven Spielberg (West Side Story), Sean Baker (Red Rocket), Dennis Villeneuve (Dune), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Lana Wachowski (The Matrix Resurrections), Paul Verhoeven (Benedetta), Emma Seligman (Shiva Baby), Michael Sarnoski (Pig), Cary Joji Fukunaga (No Time To Die)


2022 Oscars Nominees:

  • Belfast
  • Don’t Look Up
  • Drive My Car*
  • Dune
  • King Richard
  • Licorice Pizza
  • Nightmare Alley
  • The Power of the Dog
  • West Side Story

Nate’s Coulda Woulda Should-Award Nominees:

10. Dune
9. Pig
8. Red Rocket
7. Licorice Pizza
6. West Side Story
5. The Green Knight
4. C’mon C’mon
3. The Power of the Dog
2. Drive My Car

And The Winner Is…: The Worst Person In The World

By this point in the article, you may be asking yourself “if you love The Worst Person In The World so much, why don’t you marry it?” to which I would respond that, based on preliminary research, the state of Vermont allows neither matrimony to works of fiction nor polygamy.

Given that, and that the Academy decided they’d prefer to reward a mid-tier Disney Channel original about a teacher who shamelessly favors the third and seventh-best singers in his class (if we’re being generous), my next best option is to award The Worst Person In The World this year’s CouldaWouldaShouldie for Best Picture.

It’s rare that I see a film and so quickly feel confident adding it to my list of all-time favorites, but Worst Person made the cut on first watch and leapt into my top-25 on the second. The aforementioned transfixing performance of Reinsve (as well as those from her honorable-mention-earning co-stars Herbert Nordrum and Anders Danielsen Lie), Trier and Vogt’s ever-contorting, often hilarious script, and Kasper Andersen’s luminous cinematography age brilliantly on rewatch; but what jumped out most on my return was the film’s surprisingly simple distillations of profound emotions. “I’m sure I remember things about you that you’ve forgotten…When I’m gone, all that stuff about you will go with me” Danielsen Lie tells Reinsve in the movie’s final stretch, packaging the beating heart of grief into two lines of dialogue.

There is no glamor to the sequence—Trier and his cast rarely overplay their hands—yet it, like the film as a whole, continues to unfold long after its past. It’s hard to ask for anything else from a Best Picture winner.

Honorable Mentions: 

The Lost Daughter, Bergman Island, A Hero, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, No Time To Die, Swan Song, The Matrix Resurrections, Zola, Inside, Parallel Mothers

You can find Nate’s complete 2021 and in progress 2022 film rankings here (2021) and here (2022)