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Lady Gaga (left) in House of Gucci and Halle Berry in Bruised. Both could be among the nominees for best actress at the 2022 Oscars.

Oscars 2022: Halle Berry vs Lady Gaga vs Nicole Kidman for best actress looks likely, Andrew Garfield spices up best actor race, and Dune could rival Belfast for best picture

  • Best actress is one of this year’s most crowded races, with Lady Gaga and Halle Berry among the top contenders – but don’t discount Nicole Kidman
  • Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast is seeing some competition for best picture, including from Dune, while Andrew Garfield could be a contender for the best actor award

We finally have a real best picture race.

Ever since early September, Kenneth Branagh’s sentimental Belfast has led the pack for the Oscars’ top prize, after bringing home a bevy of audience awards from North American film festivals including Toronto, in Canada.

But the Irish coming-of-age story may be more vulnerable than we think.

Netflix’s star-studded Don’t Look Up debuted to strong first reactions, with journalists praising director Adam McKay’s sharp satire of climate change deniers and Trumpian politics, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio’s ardent turn as a scientist trying to warn the nation about a deadly comet.
Director Kenneth Branagh (left) with actor Jude Hill on the set of Belfast. Photo: AP
The streaming giant’s The Power of the Dog also opened in cinemas ahead of its Netflix debut on December 1, and the darkly erotic Western continues to draw raves for its masterful direction by Jane Campion and stunning ensemble cast, led by Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst.
Dune surpassed box-office expectations with more than US$350 million worldwide – enough for Warner Bros to announce a sequel to the sci-fi epic, which could handily sweep the Oscars’ technical categories for its jaw-dropping visuals, sound and score.
Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio in Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up. Photo: TNS

And then there’s Licorice Pizza, Paul Thomas Anderson’s totally charming ’70s romance featuring what entertainment site AwardsWatch called “an all-timer of a breakout performance” by pop-rock musician-turned-actress Alana Haim.

Anderson’s films There Will Be Blood and Phantom Thread have been major Oscar players, although the beloved writer/director has yet to win one himself. Critics have already fallen hard for Licorice Pizza, and it’s likely that Academy members will bite, too.

Here’s where other key races stand before we head into December:

Lady Gaga and Adam Driver on the set of House of Gucci. Photo: AFP

Lady Gaga, Halle Berry may duke it out for best actress

Best actress is quickly becoming one of this year’s most crowded races, but contenders Lady Gaga (House of Gucci) and Halle Berry (Bruised) have been hard at work to ensure they’re not left out, with a flurry of interviews about the intense preparation their latest roles required.

Gaga slathers on a thick Italian accent to portray the scheming Patrizia Reggiani, delivering a broad but insanely watchable performance that proves her A Star is Born acting chops were no fluke.
Halle Berry as Jackie Justice in Bruised. Photo: TNS

She’s a huge part of why House of Gucci is this season’s most meme-able movie, with a high-camp murder story that sets it apart from more serious-minded awards hopefuls. If House of Gucci scores at the Thanksgiving box office, Gaga could ride the film’s crowd-pleaser status to her second Oscar win (after best original song for Star is Born duet Shallow).

Berry, meanwhile, does a 180 from her glamorous movie star persona in Bruised, playing a down-on-her-luck MMA fighter. It’s a gritty, vanity-free performance not unlike her Oscar-winning turn in 2002’s Monster’s Ball, for which she became the first and only black woman to ever win the best actress prize.

Despite lukewarm reviews (65 per cent positive on Rotten Tomatoes), some voters will surely admire Berry’s unwavering commitment to bring Bruised to the screen, including making her directorial debut with the project.

Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem during Deadline’s The Contenders Film: Los Angeles event. Photo: TNS

Nicole Kidman could get the last laugh

Word to the wise, awards watchers: never discount Nicole Kidman. The Australian’s casting as Lucille Ball in Being the Ricardos met widespread scepticism online earlier this year, and the jeers only multiplied with a recent pair of trailers that conspicuously masked her appearance.

But the drama started screening for industry members this past week and reactions so far have been surprisingly glowing, with journalists calling Kidman “marvellous” and “captivating”.


Aaron Sorkin’s kinetic script imagines a momentous week of production of sitcom I Love Lucy, as Ball and husband Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) battle tabloids, television executives and each other. After a somewhat jarring start, Kidman eases into the role and fully convinces you that she’s Ball during the film’s engrossing second half, which brims with Sorkin’s signature repartee and earnestness.

You can safely bet on Kidman to land her fifth Oscar nomination, after winning best actress nearly two decades ago for The Hours.

Andrew Garfield in Tick, Tick … Boom!. Photo: TNS

Andrew Garfield throws a grenade in the best actor race

Up until now, it’s been all but assumed that Will Smith will walk away with the best actor statue come Oscar night for King Richard, playing Serena and Venus Williams’ fiercely dedicated dad.


Although he’s still the presumed front-runner – with Denzel Washington (The Tragedy of Macbeth) hovering over his shoulder – Andrew Garfield will certainly give them both a run for their money with his astounding work in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tick, Tick … Boom!

Will Smith at the UK premiere of King Richard. Photo: AP

Garfield explodes off the screen as late Rent creator Jonathan Larson, holding his own with a cast of musical theatre veterans as he sings and dances to an infectious rock score.


His tearful, heart-wrenching ballad at the film’s climax is what Oscar clips are made of, and would all but sew up an awards victory in a less competitive year.