While the announcement itself provided a bunch of welcome confirmations and surprises, as well as the obligatory less-welcome ones, the most gratifying thing about the roughly 20-minute presentation of Oscar nominees was our again being able to hear in-the-moment gasps, whoops, and even, for one category, laughs with the lists of names and titles. Especially titles. But we'll get to that.

Blockbuster sequels to 13- and 36-year-old films nominated for Best Picture with no correlating nods for directing, acting, or writing, An independent release cited for directing, acting, and writing nods with no corresponding Best Picture acknowledgment. The most nods of the year – 11 in all – awarded to a foreign-language remake that debuted on Netflix. Welcome, folks, to my official, inevitably misguided attempts at predicting the January 24 Oscar nominations!

Before composing my annual list of adored movies from the past year, I gave serious thought to continuing the presentation I initiated in the first year of COVID, with write-ups on 20 favorites from 2020 followed by 21 favorites from 2021. Certainly, there were 22 winners from 2022 to emphatically celebrate, yes? Well … yes and no.

Congratulations! You've managed to land on the one Oscars postmortem you'll read today whose author won't detail the experience of watching Will Smith slap Chris Rock on live television! I didn't see it!

With Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes, and Amy Schumer sharing hosting duties, the 94th Annual Oscars are scheduled to air at 7 p.m. CST on Sunday, March 27, and the boldface names and titles below are my official guesses.

After announcement hosts Tracee Ellis Ross and Leslie Jordan wrapped up their duties by revealing this year's 10 nominees for the biggest Oscars prize of all, things no longer looked good for The Power of the Dog, especially in terms of Best Picture. They looked freaking great.

Following last year's “pandemic Oscars” that wound up nominating and awarding loads of titles that debuted on our TV screens, laptops, and phones, it made all the sense in the world for movie fans to be psyched about this year's return to a “traditional” Academy Awards. Finally! The chance to reward such critically acclaimed, crowd-pleasing box-office behemoths as Spielberg's West Side Story and King Richard's Rocky-esque tale of Venus and Serena Williams and the new Guillermo del Toro and … ! Wait. Where were the crowds?

Oh, Oscars. You just keep finding new and creative ways to screw things up, don't you?

What better way to conclude one of the strangest movie seasons in history – hell, one of the strangest years in history – than with a free-for-all ceremony that will, I venture, see 18 different movies awarded over 23 categories, and the night's only mortal lock a female Chinese-American director winning a category that men, most of them white men, have won 90 times out of 91?

It was a light morning for shockers but a great morning for representation when nominations for the 93rd Annual Academy Awards were announced earlier today – and such a great morning that it's easy to applaud the Oscars' historic showing of diversity without being hugely embarrassed by the Best Picture omissions of the widely predicted One Night in Miami … and Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

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