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Oscar Awards: Who will win, who should win, who should win win

No ‘Hello, Dolly!’ and it’s criminal!

Let’s cut to the chase. The omission of Dolly de Leon from the list of nominees for this year’s Oscar awards is not just a major head scratcher, it’s downright criminal. How can the Academy honor Triangle of Sadness with nods for Best Picture, Best Director (Ruben Ostlund), and Best Screenplay (also Ostlund) and not nominate the veteran Filipino actress for Best Supporting Actress when she’s the one that makes the entire film work? 

Abigail, the toilet manager in a luxury ship who instantly becomes the “captain” among the all-wealthy survivors marooned on an island following the ship’s sinking, not only completes the film’s titular triangle of sadness, she also actually galvanizes the movie’s big themes about privilege and class warfare.

Dolly de Leon in Triangle of Sadness.

De Leon’s portrayal brings her fully, thrillingly, bitingly to life with deep insight, uncanny wit, and unbelievable candor and makes her the only character in the Cannes filmfest Palme d’Or (Best Film) winner that feels and sounds real and multi-dimensional rather than a caricature. Abigail makes Triangle so much more than just a gleeful but hollow satire: De Leon makes the film rock (pun intended—if you’ve seen the film you’d know).

Are the 5 Best Supporting nominees simply better than de Leon? The short answer is a hard no, especially Angela Bassett. The veteran actress has won a slew of awards including the Golden Globes and Critics Choice for her role as the grieving and embattled queen of Wakanda in the Black Panther sequel but the wave of support for her may have to do more with nostalgia and sentiment than her actual performance in the blockbuster movie. There’s the “long overdue” narrative behind the respected actress who has been nominated in the Oscars only once before, for Best Actress in 1994 for her portrayal of Tina Turner in the biopic What’s Love Gotta Do With It.

Bassett may also be benefitting from the deep and still-burning respect and devotion that fellow Hollywood denizens have for the original Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman: honoring Bassett may be their way of atoning for failing to nominate the departed actor, who died in 2020, for his landmark work in the 2018 film, which Wakanda Forever beautifully eulogizes. 

Angela Bassett in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Jamie Lee Curtis, the other Hollywood veteran among the Oscar Best Supporting Actress nominees, likewise has the “long overdue” narrative. In fact, this is the first-ever Academy nomination for the 64-year-old star who made her feature film debut in the 1978 horror flick Halloween. Does she deserve the citation? Against Bassett, definitely. Playing the dual roles of a tax auditor who may be on the job for far too long who turns into a lesbian lover (with hotdog hands!) in a parallel  universe in Everything Everywhere All at Once, Curtis imbues each character with just the right blend of knowing playfulness, unforced smarts, and warm-hearted soulfulness that easily trumps anything Bassett brings to her role.

Jamie Lee Curtis in Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The other Best Supporting Actress nominee from Everything, Stephanie Hsu, has an even meatier, more integral, and more outsize role in the dramatic fantasy-action-comedy movie—a cautious and loving but wounded and defiant daughter in this universe and a supervillain with sharp action chops and even sharper tongue in another. She digs into them with relish, capturing the characters’ insecurities, impetuousness, and imperiousness with complete commitment and total command.

Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All at Once.

The strength of her performance, or performances as it were, is in how they are thoroughly in sync with the film’s manic energy and high style. She is more deserving of the nomination than Curtis, for sure, but the fact that the veteran was widely regarded as more of a shoo in prior to the announcement of nominees tells a lot about what goes on in the Oscar race: it’s not always purely about the actual filmmaking craft. Actually, it seldom is. 

This also explains why there’s no “Hello, Dolly!” this year. 

Kerry Condon in The Banshees of Inisherin.

Our predictions:

WILL WIN: Angela Bassett. Unless she punches a fellow actor in the face on TV prior to final Oscar voting.

SHOULD WIN: Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin. She has won the most critics’ awards among all contenders so far and she deserves it. She is totally terrific as the  loving, understanding, supportive, smart, and well-grounded sister of a rather simple-minded donkey-loving guy (played by Best Actor nominee Colin Farrell) in a fictitious small Irish island whose world gets turned upside down when his longtime best friend (Best Supporting Actor nominee Brendan Gleeson) suddenly stops talking to him. Condon’s heady and hearty performance not only crystallizes the film’s main theme about the toxic insecurity, infantility, and self-centeredness of grown men; it further deepens the poetry and lyricism of the fable-like film and makes it even more indelible.

SHOULD WIN WIN: Dolly de Leon. She is the captain among supporting actresses in all of 2022.  The awards ceremony is scheduled for March 12.