By Terrance Turner
Feb. 8, 2022
Nominations for the 94th Annual Academy Awards were announced today. Actors Tracee Ellis Ross and Leslie Jordan announced the nominees this morning virtually. The Power of the Dog is the year’s most-nominated film, with 12 total nominations, including Best Directing and Best Adapted Screenplay (both for director Jane Campion). The film, a Western set in 1925 Montana, received four acting nominees amongst its cast. Dune, a science fiction epic, follows with 10 nominations, and then Belfast and West Side Story with seven apiece.
The list of nominees included some surprises and snubs, as well as groundbreaking firsts (Troy Kotsur became the first deaf actor nominated for an Academy Award, for “Coda”) and intriguing marital matches (two real-life couples received acting nods). There were also several diverse selections befitting Black History Month. One of the most notable nominees was for music — a first-time honoree.
Beyonce has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Nominated for Best Original Song: “Be Alive” (from the movie King Richard), written by DIXSON and Beyonce Knowles-Carter. Beyonce wrote the song alongside Dixson, a young singer-songwriter who competed on “The Voice” and provided backing vocals for Yebba’s hit song “Distance”. The two earned their first-ever Oscar nomination for “Be Alive”, written for the biopic about Richard Williams — who powered his daughters Venus and Serena Williams from the streets of Compton, California to tennis stardom. The Williams sisters served as producers on King Richard.
Dixson revealed in an interview that he produced the song and got an opportunity to play the demo for Beyonce — in person. “I did not look at her, not one time,” he said. “I couldn’t. I was nervous; I was scared I might make a false move.” After the song ended, he waited for her feedback, “and she was so positive about it. Obviously, she’s a perfectionist, so she had notes immediately and we just kind of went down the rabbit hole to figure it out, and she re-wrote things and re-produced things, and that’s how we got to where we are.”
“Obviously, we all know if Beyoncé sings, it’s going to be amazing,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “But I don’t think we talk about her ability as a songwriter and a producer enough. I knew she was one of my favorite songwriters, but it was confirmed for me through this process.”
Beyonce’s songwriting abilities are showcased (along with Dixson’s) in a new way on “Be Alive”. The song channels Black pride, family, and work ethic in declarative, inspirational lyrics: “it feels so good to be alive/Got all my sisters by my side/Couldn’t wipe this Black off if I tried/That’s why I lift my head with pride,” Beyonce sings. The lyrics double as reflections of Beyonce’s own life; her father, the educator and producer Mathew Knowles, was instrumental in her career just as Richard Williams was for Venus and Serena. Both fathers pushed their daughters to succeed in an industry that would not always welcome them, that would scrutinize and criticize them, that would pit sister against sister. But the Williams family, like the Knowles, prevailed; their story is dramatized in King Richard, which is now nominated for Best Picture.
Significantly, Will Smith (who plays the title role) is nominated for Best Actor. Nominated beside him in that category is Denzel Washington, who is up for his performance in the title role in Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth. (Interestingly, Smith and Washington were nominated in this same category 20 years ago: Smith, for playing Muhammad Ali in Ali; Washington, for his role as an unscrupulous cop in Training Day. He won, becoming only the second Black actor to win that prize). Now, Washington extends his record as the most nominated Black actor: this is his tenth Oscar nomination.
Aunjanue Ellis, who plays Richard’s supportive, strong-willed wife Oracene Williams in King Richard, received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress; her category is of particular import. Also contending for the prize is actress Ariana DeBose, honored for playing Anita in the remake of “West Side Story”. According to Variety, DeBose is the first Afro-Latina actor (and the first openly queer woman of color) ever nominated. (She told GayTimes magazine that “my mother is white and my father was Puerto Rican […] I present as Black and I do have African-American lineage, but I’m also part Italian.”)
DeBose joins Best Actress nominee Kristen Stewart (whose critically acclaimed portrayal of Princess Diana in Spencer earned her a nod) as two openly queer acting nominees. Each of them will make history if they win. Stewart was joined by two other actresses lauded for playing real-life women: Jessica Chastain, for playing Tammy Faye Bakker in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and Nicole Kidman, for her role as legendary comedienne Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos. Surprisingly, actress and singer Jennifer Hudson was not recognized for her portrayal of singer Aretha Franklin in the biopic Respect. Nor was actress/singer Lady Gaga chosen for her work in House of Gucci.
There were two Hollywood couples honored, however. Penelope Cruz was nominated for Best Actress for her role in Parallel Mothers, while her husband Javier Bardem received a Best Actor nomination for his role as Ricky Ricardo in Meet the Ricardos. Real-life couple Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, who co-star in The Power of the Dog, received nods for supporting actress and supporting actor, respectively.
Here is a list of nominees:
“Belfast,” Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik and Tamar Thomas, producers
“CODA,” Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi and Patrick Wachsberger, producers
“Don’t Look Up,” Adam McKay and Kevin Messick, producers
“Drive My Car,” Teruhisa Yamamoto, producer
“Dune,” Mary Parent, Denis Villeneuve and Cale Boyter, producers
“King Richard,” Tim White, Trevor White and Will Smith, producers
“Licorice Pizza,” Sara Murphy, Adam Somner and Paul Thomas Anderson, producers
“Nightmare Alley,” Guillermo del Toro, J. Miles Dale and Bradley Cooper, producers
“The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning and Roger Frappier, producers
“West Side Story,” Steven Spielberg and Kristie Macosko Krieger, producers
Kenneth Branagh (“Belfast”)
Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (“Drive My Car”)
Paul Thomas Anderson (“Licorice Pizza”)
Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”)
Steven Spielberg (“West Side Story”)
Best Lead Actor
Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”)
Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”)
Andrew Garfield (“Tick, Tick … Boom!”)
Will Smith (“King Richard”)
Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”)
Best Lead Actress
Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”)
Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”)
Penélope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”)
Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”)
Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”)
Best Supporting Actor
Ciarán Hinds (“Belfast”)
Troy Kotsur (“CODA”)
Jesse Plemons (“The Power of the Dog”)
J.K. Simmons (“Being the Ricardos”)
Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”)
Best Supporting Actress
Jessie Buckley (“The Lost Daughter”)
Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”)
Judi Dench (“Belfast”
Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”)
Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”)
Best Adapted Screenplay
“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
Best Original Screenplay
“Belfast,” written by Kenneth Branagh
“Don’t Look Up,” screenplay by Adam McKay; story by Adam McKay and David Sirota
“King Richard,” written by Zach Baylin
“Licorice Pizza,” written by Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Worst Person in the World,” written by Eskil Vogt, Joachim Trier
“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
Best Original Score
“Don’t Look Up,” Nicholas Britell
“Dune,” Hans Zimmer
“Encanto,” Germaine Franco
“Parallel Mothers,” Alberto Iglesias
“The Power of the Dog,” Jonny Greenwood
Best Original Song
“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
“No Time To Die” from “No Time to Die,” music and lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell
“Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days,” music and lyric by Diane Warren
Best Documentary Feature
“Ascension,” Jessica Kingdon, Kira Simon-Kennedy and Nathan Truesdell
“Attica,” Stanley Nelson and Traci A. Curry
“Flee,” Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen and Charlotte De La Gournerie
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent and David Dinerstein
“Writing With Fire,” Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh
The 94th annual Academy Awards will be on March 27 at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. The in-person ceremony will be televised on ABC. For the first time in three years, the Oscars will have a host in 2022, Craig Erwich, president of ABC Entertainment and Hulu Originals, announced in January. Variety later learned that multiple hosts will likely take the stage; however, no official names have been revealed yet.
UPDATE (March 27, 2022): The 94th Annual Academy Awards will take place tonight, hosted by comediennes Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall, and Amy Schumer. Beyonce will be performing tonight during the ceremony. Though details have been vague reports have surfaced that she may deliver her performance from the tennis courts in Compton, where the Williams sisters trained as children.
The Oscars will air live on ABC and online Sunday, March 27 at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT.