The 10 Best Movies Nominated for Oscars in 2022

Stills from The Lost Daughter, Don't Look Up, The Power of the Dog, Being the Ricardos, King Richard, and West Side Story

KCM/Netflix/Amazon/Warner Bros./20th Century Studios

If you can only watch a few before the big show, make it these.

The full list of nominees for the 94th Academy Awards was officially unveiled this week, and it’s a seriously impressive batch of cinema.

Jane Campion’s stunning western drama The Power of the Dog leads the pack with 12 nominations, and her own recognition for Best Director is historic; the nod makes her the first woman to ever be nominated twice in that category. That sets Campion up for a rematch with Steven Spielberg: In 1994, he took home the Best Director trophy for Schindler’s List, beating out Campion’s work on The Piano, and he might repeat that this year with his adaptation of West Side Story, which received seven nominations.

And speaking of The Power of the Dog, its stars Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons were one of two married couples who both scored acting nominations this year; Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem also got nods for their work in Parallel Mothers and Being the Ricardos, respectively.

But statistics and surprises aside, what we all care about most is this: Which of these movies are actually worth watching? If you’re hoping to catch up before the trophies are handed out on March 27, here’s our guide to the nominees across all categories that are definitely worth your precious screen time.

The Power of the Dog

Written and directed by the legendary Jane Campion, this is a drama that unfurls itself quietly but packs a real punch. Against the backdrop of breathtaking Montana scenery, rancher Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a menacing terror to Rose (Kirsten Dunst), who has recently moved to the property. But things get more complicated as Phil develops an unexpected friendship with her son, played by the beguiling Kodi Smit-McPhee. It all barrels toward a particularly potent conclusion that will leave you with plenty to think about long after the credits roll.

The Lost Daughter

There seems to be nothing Olivia Colman can’t do, and she turns in another tour-de-force performance in this adaptation of a novel by Elena Ferrante. She plays Leda, who has a chance encounter on a Grecian holiday with a young mother (the equally mesmerizing Dakota Johnson) whose daughter has gone missing on the beach. The incident awakens a mess of complicated feelings about Leda’s relationship with her own children, and Colman takes us on an impactful, emotional journey about the challenges of being a parent and the torture that comes with feeling like you’re failing.

King Richard

Will Smith is at his movie-star best in this rousing biopic about the man behind two of the greatest athletes of all time. He plays Richard Williams, who will stop at nothing to make tennis superstars out of his daughters Venus and Serena. Their talent is undeniable, but as a Black family in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, they struggle to be taken seriously by the country club establishment who dominates the game. If you’re looking for a crowd-pleaser that’s perfect for the entire family, this one is a grand slam.


The acronym in this film’s title stands for “child of deaf adults,” and it’s a moving story about finding one’s own identity while still honoring your family. Ruby (played by Emilia Jones) has big dreams of becoming a professional singer, but she’s caught between her desire for independence and her commitment to her mother, father, and brother, who rely on her hearing to keep their fishing business afloat. CODA is special because of its layered representation of the deaf community, but its themes will resonate with anyone who’s ever felt different than their family — any anyone who’s taken the brave step to strike out on their own.

Don’t Look Up

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence play astronomers who discover a comet that’s headed straight for Earth, guaranteeing the planet’s destruction. They set out to warn the world and find a way to stop it, but it turns out that’s not so easy, as forces like an optics-obsessed president (Meryl Streep) and superficial news anchors (Cate Blanchett and Tyler Perry) decide that the reality may be a little too harsh to communicate. There’s lots to think about and plenty to laugh at in this roller-coaster of a satire about media, politics, and humanity’s basest instincts. 

Being the Ricardos

As many have pointed out on social media, Nicole Kidman isn’t pulling off a perfect impression of the first queen of television, but the effort she’s making is the real beauty of her portrayal. The film chronicles a dramatic week on the set of I Love Lucy, capturing a confluence of personal, professional, and political crises that threaten the now-iconic sitcom, and Kidman’s masterfully calibrated performance anchors it all. Watching her depict the differences between zany housewife Lucy Ricardo and shrewd businesswoman Lucille Ball — sometimes seamlessly toggling between them in the same scene — helps us understand the hard work of making comedy look easy.

West Side Story

It’s quite the challenge to take on source material this legendary, but Steven Spielberg brings his signature blockbuster sensibility to this update of the 1957 Broadway musical. It’s been made into a film once before, and the 1961 version is a classic in its own right. Spielberg honors it while excellently updating it for a modern audience. Ariana DeBose is a standout in her star-making turn as Anita, and longtime fans will be thrilled to see Rita Moreno, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Anita in the ‘60s, returning for this adaptation in a whole new role.

Licorice Pizza

Visionary director Paul Thomas Anderson does it again with this coming-of-age tale set in 1970s Los Angeles. It’s a joyful, adventurous ride that perfectly captures the aimlessness of being young and discovering all the world has to offer, including first love. With a stacked supporting cast including Bradley Cooper, Sean Penn, and Tom Waits, the real magic comes from the movie’s two stars, both acting novices with a nonetheless impressive pedigree: Alana Haim (of the band HAIM) and Cooper Hoffman (son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman).

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Iconic television evangelist Tammy Faye Bakker is a highly specific personality, and not just any actress could capture her one-of-a-kind presence, but Jessica Chastain delivers a spot-on performance (which she recently told Katie all about). As the movie chronicles the meteoric rise and dramatic demise of the religious empire built by Bakker and her husband, Jim, in the 1970s and 1980s, Chastain perfectly pulls off all the nuances of a deeply complicated woman who’s more often been made into a caricature than a three-dimensional person.

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Woodstock gets all the attention as the seminal musical event of 1969, but that same year marked an unforgettable installment of the Harlem Cultural Festival, which brought major artists to the famous New York City neighborhood for six whole weeks. This documentary, directed by Questlove of The Roots, chronicles this explosion of talent through footage that has never been seen until now. Featuring performances from the likes of Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Sly and the Family Stone, Gladys Knight, and more, it’s unmissable for music fans.