'Power of the Dog' leads Oscar nominees, 'Dune' close behind

JAKE COYLE
The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — After a pandemic year that hobbled movie theaters and saw streaming services make new inroads into Hollywood, the Academy Awards put its strongest support Tuesday behind two films made with big-screen grandeur that were also streamed into homes: Jane Campion's gothic western “The Power of the Dog” and Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi epic “Dune.”

Netflix's “The Power of the Dog” led nominations to the 94th Academy Awards with 12 nods, including best picture, best director and recognition for all of its top actors: Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

Campion, a nominee for 1993's "The Piano," became the first woman to ever be nominated twice for best director. Last year, Chloé Zhao became just the second woman to ever win the award. Campion's director of photography, Ari Wegner, also became the second woman ever nominated for best cinematography. The only previous woman to do so was Rachel Morrison for "Mudbound" in 2018. 

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Denis Villeneuve's "Dune" followed closely behind with 10 nominations spread out largely in the technical categories as the academy gravitated to the craft of Villeneuve's science-fiction epic. 

The nominees for best picture are: "Belfast"; "The Power of the Dog"; "Dune"; "Drive My Car"; "West Side Story"; "Don't Look Up"; "Licorice Pizza"; "CODA"; "King Richard"; "Nightmare Alley."

Best picture has never been won by a film from a streaming service, but half of the 10 nominees came from streaming services. This year, the odds may be better than ever that a streamer will finally barrel through one of the last walls of Hollywood tradition. 

This combination of photos shows promotional art for the films nominated for an Oscar for best picture, top row from left, "Belfast," "CODA," Don't Look Up," Drive My Car," Dune," bottom row from left, "King Richard," Licorice Pizza," "Nightmare Alley," "The Power of the Dog," and "West Side Story." (Focus Features/Apple TV+, Netflix, Janus Films & Sideshow, Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Searchlight Pictures, Netflix, 20th Century Films via AP)

 Apple notched its first best-picture nomination with the deaf drama "CODA." Netflix backed both "The Power of the Dog" and Adam McKay's apocalyptic comedy "Don't Look Up." And both "King Richard" and "Dune" (despite the protests of its director) debuted simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. 

In pulling from films released in myriad ways, the Oscar nominations reflected the tumult of pandemic year for Hollywood that began with many theaters shuttered and ended with Sony Pictures' "Spider-Man: No Way Home" smashing box-office records. Spidey, though, landed only a single nomination, for visual effects. 

A largely virtual awards season added some unpredictability to this year's nominations, which were announced by actors Leslie Jordan and Tracee Ellis Ross. This year's Oscars will be delayed to make way for the Olympics, the Oscars will be held March 27 and will return to their usual venue, the Dolby Theatre.

And there were surprises all around. Lady Gaga, star of "House of Gucci," was overlooked in the uber-competitive best actress category. Nominated instead were Jessica Chastain, "The Eyes of Tammy Faye"; Olivia Colman, "The Lost Daughter"; Penélope Cruz, "Parallel Mothers"; Nicole Kidman, "Being the Ricardos"; and Kristen Stewart for "Spencer" — whose hopes for her first Oscar nomination had seemed dashed after she was snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild. 

"Drive My Car," Ryusuke Hamaguchi's masterful three-hour Japanese drama, scored major nominations including best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay. The academy, which in 2020 made Bong Joon Ho's Korean thriller "Parasite" the best picture winner, has drifted overseas in recent years, as more international members have been added to help diversify the organization. 

Other underdogs could celebrate Tuesday, too. The small, remote Himalayan country Bhutan celebrated its first Oscar nomination in its first-ever submission, “Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom” for best international film.

In many ways, the nominations kept one foot in Hollywood's past and one in its future. Steven Spielberg, nominated for directing “West Side Story,” became the first filmmaker nominated for best director in six different decades. His 11 best-picture nominations are the most ever. Another remake, Guillermo del Toro's carnival noir “Nightmare Alley," fared better than expected, scoring a best picture nomination over streaming titles like Netflix's “Tick, Tick ... Boom!” and Amazon's “Being the Ricardos.”

Timothee Chalamet, left, and Rebecca Ferguson star in "Dune." The movie was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including best picture.

The nominees for best actor are: Will Smith, "King Richard"; Javier Bardem, "Being the Ricardos"; Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Power of the Dog"; Andrew Garfield, "Tick, Tick … Boom!" and Denzel Washington, "The Tragedy of Macbeth." 

The nominees for best supporting actress are: Jessie Buckley, "The Lost Daughter"; Ariana DeBose, "West Side Story"; Judi Dench, "Belfast"; Kirsten Dunst, "The Power of the Dog" and Aunjanue Ellis, "King Richard." 

The nominees for best supporting actor are: Ciarán Hinds, "Belfast"; Troy Kotsur, "CODA"; Kodi Smit-McPhee, "The Power of the Dog"; Jesse Plemons, "The Power of the Dog" and J.K. Simmons, "Being the Ricardos."

The nominees for original song are: "Be Alive" from "King Richard"; "Dos Oruguitas" from "Encanto"; "Down To Joy" from "Belfast"; "No Time To Die" from "No Time to Die"; "Somehow You Do" from "Four Good Days."

The nominees for best animated feature are: "Encanto"; "Flee"; "Luca"; "The Mitchells vs. the Machines" and "Raya and the Last Dragon."

The nominees for documentary feature are: "Summer of Soul (Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)"; "Flee"; "Attica"; "Ascension" and "Writing With Fire."

Kirsten Dunst was nominated for best actress for her role in "The Power of the Dog." The movie leads the Oscar nominations with 12 nods, including best picture and best director.

Nominees for best director are: Paul Thomas Anderson, "Licorice Pizza"; Kenneth Branagh, "Belfast"; Jane Campion, "The Power of the Dog"; Steven Spielberg, "West Side Story" and Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, "Drive My Car."

As COVID-19 cases surged in the last two months due to the omicron variant, much of Oscar season also turned virtual. Last year, the pandemic led the academy to host a delayed Oscars in a socially distanced ceremony at Los Angeles' Union Station. Ratings plummeted to an all-time low of 9.85 million viewers. 

This year, the academy has yet to map out plans for its show, except that it will include a host for the first time since 2018. For better or worse, the Academy Awards will also be without its usual lead-in. The Golden Globes in January were an untelevised non-event after NBC said it wouldn't air them in 2022 while the beleaguered Hollywood Foreign Press reformed itself after ethics and diversity criticism. 

Other changes were more subtle but potentially impactful. For the first time, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences ruled out hard-copy DVD screeners for its members, who instead could watch submissions on the academy's streaming platform.