Will the power of 12 nominations, in major voting categories, be the key to predicting the winners of the 2022 Oscars, to be handed out Sunday (March 27)?

Yes. Or no.  “The Power of the Dog,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and directed by Jane Campion, logically should be the front-runner in the 94th annual Academy Awards. ABC will televise the show at 2 p.m. Hawaii time on Sunday.

But this year’s Oscarcast could yield several upsets, making it a challenge to guesstimate the outcome. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences loves upsets.

For what it’s worth, here is my list of winner choices in the key categories, followed by parenthetical comments, where appropriate. :

  • Best Picture – “The Power of the Dog.”  It had the bark and the bite of a true best-in-show. But its early-lead power might have diminished, with mounting buzz that “CODA,” with its feel-good aura amid our tense global climate, could rewrite the code of predictions.
  • Best ActorWill Smith, “King Richard.” He earned this year’s Screen Actors Guild’s Best Actor nod, as dad of tennis aces Serena and Venus Williams, which gives him an edge over Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”). Frankly, I’d like to see Andrew Garfield (“Tick, Tick… Boom”) win, for his portrayal of Jonathan Larson, and he still could, if Smith and Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”) duke it out and cancel out each other’s votes.
  • Best ActressJessica Chastain, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”  Since Lady Gaga” (“Gucci”) was denied a nom, all eyes have been on Chastain.
  • Best Supporting ActorTroy Kutsor, “CODA.” Signing his role, instead of speaking it, made him hands-up this year’s rarity. Thus, the handicap should land him the statuette.
  • Best Supporting ActressAriana DeBose, “West Side Story.” As Anita, she delivered “I Feel Pretty” with aplomb, showing off her sizzling acting and dancing skills. Would’ve been a sentimental result, in a perfect world, if Rita Moreno, the original Anita on film, was also nominated for her tweaked role as Doc, in “WST,” and they both tied in this category.
  • Best DirectorJane Campion. If she wins, it will be her first Oscar for direction, though she previously copped one for original screenplay. If Steven Spielberg  (“West Side Story”) can pull an upset, I’d be delighted; his vision matched the spirit  of the earlier “WST.”
  • Best International Feature, aka Foreign Film –“Drive My Car” (Japan). Nearly a three-hour journey, but worth the ride; also nominated for Best Picture but a shoo-in for this category.
  • Best Song — “Dos Oruguitas,” from “Encanto.” To explain:  “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” from the same Disney animated film “Encanto,” was snubbed in the nomination process (early admission deadline, well before the song and the film put the world in a Latino mood).  I strongly feel the academy members will vote for the designated title on the ballot, but in actuality will be supporting “Bruno,” in spirit if nothing else … like a write-in balloting. “No Time to Die” (from the James Bond film by the same name), music and lyrics by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell, is the victim here. If “Dos Oruguitas” wins, it will confirm composer Lin-Manuel Miranda’s EGOT status.
  • Best Animated Film: — “Encanto.” For reasons stated above, and below.

Some other notions:

  • Bruno’ stars — A huge ensemble production of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” will be a surprise musical element on the Oscarcast, because one of the five nominees can’t participate in show, and how can you not talk about “Bruno,” which has popped out of the animated film all the way up the hit charts, even surprising creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, its composer. He also composed the nominated “Dos Oruguitas” tune, which will get stage time, too.
  • We three queens — A trio of women – Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes – will host the broadcast, originating from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. It’ll be the first emcees in three years, and the first-ever trio of ladies as hostesses. …

And that’s Show Biz. …

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