Feature: Oscars 2022 | ACE, SAG, & ISA Award Retrospective

Written by Alexander Reams

Well, folks, the time has come. Oscar season is back, and I’m bringing you awards coverage for the 2021-2022 season.

Before the big night, there are countless critics, guilds, and smaller award shows that not only honor a gaggle of different films, but also contribute to the Oscar campaigns of films, in this first of two articles, I’ll be diving into the American Cinema Editors (ACE) awards, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards, and the Film Independent Spirit Awards (ISA). 

Let’s dive into the ACE awards first, there has always been a strong correlation between the Academy Award nominees for Best Film Editing and Best Picture, especially over the 2010s, the most recent decade in the Academy’s history, which had 50 nominees for Best film editing. Of those 50, 47 of them were nominees for Best Picture, 3 were not, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” (dir. David Fincher, 2011), “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (dir. J.J. Abrams, 2015), and “I, Tonya” (dir. Craig Gillespie, 2017). Of these 3, only “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” took home the gold. Again, of those 50 nominees, 47 of them were up for Best Picture, and every year of the 2010s, the winner for Best Picture was nominated, or in the case of “Argo” winning, in the Best Film Editing category.

This correlation goes back even longer, and while looking to the past can help predict the future, the Academy is also changing, becoming more diverse over the past 6 years than it has been in the past 6 decades, that also means that the past isn’t as indicative of their choices as we’d like to think, and this is why precursors have become even more important. With the ACE awards there is an unfortunate commonality with the Golden Globes, they split up drama and musical/comedy, the major difference here is that a drama film and a musical/comedy film can be edited vastly differently. In the Best Edited Feature Film- Drama the nominees were overall expected, sans “No Time to Die” which had consistently only gotten nominations in VFX and original song categories. The other nominees were “King Richard”, “Belfast”, “Dune”, and “The Power of the Dog”.

The surprising winner here was “King Richard”, most, myself included had predicted “The Power of the Dog” or “Dune” to take the prize, and there was precedent for that, but not for “King Richard”, the editing is fine, but it doesn’t stand out like “Dune”. This is not the nail in the coffin for anyone though, in the 2010s (most recent complete decade), only half the winners of this category went on to win the Oscar, and compared to other guilds is much lower than the SAGs or DGAs. While this does give “King Richard” the slight edge, this doesn’t take anyone out of the Oscar race, besides those who didn’t get a nomination (“Belfast” and “No Time to Die”). Over in the Musical/Comedy category, the winner here was much more obvious, “tick, tick… BOOM!” took home the award and was one of two films in this category that carried over to the Oscar nominations, the other being “Don’t Look Up”. When looking at this group of nominees, “The French Dispatch” and “Licorice Pizza”, I began scratching my head as all of them could and for the most part, were, in the conversation for an Oscar nomination, sans the strange “Cruella” nomination. The reason for the head scratch is similar to the Golden Globes splitting up the drama and musical/comedy categories, most of the time the drama film nominees are in serious contention and the musical/comedy nominees are generally just honored to be nominated. 

So What? Why does this matter? Coming out of the ACE Awards we now have a (somewhat)  better idea of who is the frontrunner for the Oscar, while Dune has swept most awards when it comes to the technical awards but now “King Richard” is making a slight play at dethroning it as the top contender. As far as predictions go I still favor “Dune”, but wouldn’t be surprised if we saw “King Richard” or “tick, tick… BOOM!” winning the Oscar. 

My Ranking of the Oscar Nominees: Best Film Editing

  1. “Dune”
  2. “King Richard”
  3. “The Power of the Dog”
  4. “tick, tick… BOOM!”
  5. “Don’t Look Up”

Now over to the SAG awards, the more prestigious and known of this grouping of award shows. The SAG Awards have recently become less important than they’ve been in the past 10 years, however, the acting branch has the most members in the AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), which in turn brings (some) automatic gravitas to the award show. Going in there was one category that everyone was watching, Best Actress in a Leading Role. Throughout awards season thus far the Best Actress category has been a crapshoot, with the “leader” of the pack being Lady Gaga in “House of Gucci” and Nicole Kidman in “Being the Ricardos”. The category was already in chaos going into the awards show because two women, one who was becoming a favorite to predict, Alana Haim in “Licorice Pizza”,  and the other seemed to be a lock to be nominated, Kristen Stewart in “Spencer” were both snubbed.

The other battle that was going on behind the scenes was the battle for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. For the most part, Kodi Smit-McPhee had been winning most of the awards of Best Supporting Actor, but there had been a surge in support for Troy Kotsur and his performance in “CODA”, a mostly middling film in which he is a standout. With these two battles set to be hashed out during the ceremony, there was a level of uncertainty that the SAG awards had been missing for the longest time. After the show, an unfortunate reality hit, the chaos that was going on before is still going on, just in different forms. Jumping into the winners, Best Actor was the most predictable category of the night, Will Smith won for his role in “King Richard”, continuing his streak of sweeping awards on his road toward the Oscars. I wasn’t shocked by this win and my hope for anyone else winning the Oscar is dwindling quickly. 

My Ranking of the Oscar Nominees: Best Actor

  1. Will Smith: King Richard
  2. Andrew Garfield: “tick, tick… BOOM!”
  3. Benedict Cumberbatch: “The Power of the Dog”
  4. Denzel Washington: “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
  5. Javier Bardem: “Being the Ricardos”

With Best Actress in a Leading Role I was longing to find a clearer frontrunner and was expecting to be let down and hear Nicole Kidman’s name called to the podium. Instead, Jessia Chastain, who was always a lock to be nominated but her chances of winning had been seeming slim, due to a variety of factors but the biggest ones being the timing, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” was released in mid-September (not the optimal time for an Oscar movie), and the overall reaction to the film was very mixed, to say the least. Both of these seemed to hold Chastain back from sweeping award shows. On the flip side, the only other category that seemed like a lock was Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and it of course went to Ariana DeBose, who has been winning as many awards as they can give her. 

My Ranking of the Oscar Nominees: Best Actress

  1. Jessica Chastain: “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”
  2. Olivia Colman: “The Lost Daughter”
  3. Kristen Stewart: “Spencer”
  4. Penelope Cruz: “Parallel Mothers”
  5. Nicole Kidman: “Being the Ricardos”

My Ranking of the Oscar Nominees: Best Supporting Actress

  1. Ariana DeBose: “West Side Story”
  2. Kirsten Dunst: “The Power of the Dog”
  3. Jessie Buckley: “The Lost Daughter”
  4. Aunjanue Ellis: “King Richard”
  5. Judi Dench: “Belfast”

Remember how Kodi Smit-McPhee was sweeping the award shows for his role in “The Power of the Dog”, well his streak has ended. The surge of support for Troy Kotsur had not been too late and pushed him over the line to win Best Actor in a Supporting Role, while many are still predicting McPhee to bring home the gold on Oscar night, the narrative for Kotsur is so much stronger than McPhee’s and everyone is already awarding “The Power of the Dog” with as many awards as they can, so one win for another film won’t hurt its overall chances with Best Picture. Speaking of the big award, at the SAG awards, their equivalent to Best Picture is Best Performance by an Ensemble. And ever since Parasite won, a lot more eyes have been on this award to help predict Best Picture. There is some logic in that, the largest voting body of the Academy is the actor’s branch, however, the numbers don’t add up, only half of the winners for Best Performance by an Ensemble ended up winning Best Picture, not as good of an indicator as to the BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Awards) or PGA (Producers Guild of America) awards. Now this year’s crop of nominees was a confuzzling (yes I do mean confuzzling) bunch, the nominees were “Belfast”, “CODA”, “Don’t Look Up”, “House of Gucci”, and “King Richard”. Now most predictions, mine included, were saying Belfast or Don’t Look Up were going to win. Both had strong factors, “Belfast” had the festival prestige about it, as well as a mix of veteran and modern popular actors in it, a lead child performance, all of this, which was supposed to lead it to a win. “Don’t Look Up” had the Adam McKay factor, which could help or hurt it, depending on your disposition on him, and a huge star factor, this was one of the most stacked casts of the year, which also means name recognition, and that could also help the SAGs as well. Alas in the end the little engine that could, or in this case, the little Sundance breakout that could, and not only could but did win. “CODA” is the biggest surprise of the night won Best Performance by an Ensemble. While this was a surprise, don’t go changing predictions just yet, while this is big for the “CODA” team, it doesn’t mean the film will win Best Picture, I still think its chances of winning are the same as “Licorice Pizza’s” chances to win Best Picture, almost none, but it is still a high honor for the team. 

My Ranking of the Oscar Nominees: Best Supporting Actor

  1. Troy Kotsur: “CODA”
  2. Ciarán Hinds: “Belfast”
  3. Kodi Smit-McPhee: “The Power of the Dog”
  4. Jesse Plemons: “The Power of the Dog”
  5. J.K. Simmons: “Being the Ricardos”

Finally, an awards show that doesn’t have any influence over the Oscars but is still important nonetheless. Important because they recognize smaller films and give them a platform, I am of course speaking about the Film Independent Spirit Awards. Below is the full list of winners.

Best Feature

“The Lost Daughter”- WINNER

“A Chiara”

“C’mon C’mon”

“The Novice”


Best Male Lead

Simon Rex- “Red Rocket”- WINNER

Clifton Collins Jr.- “Jockey”

Frankie Faison- “Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain”

Michael Greyeyes- “Wild Indian”

Udo Kier- “Swan Song”

Best International Film

“Drive My Car”- WINNER

“Compartment No. 6”

“Parallel Mothers”


“Petite Maman”

“Prayers for the Stolen”

Best Female Lead

Taylour Paige- “Zola”- WINNER

Isabelle Fuhrman- “The Novice”

Brittany S. Hall- “Test Pattern”

Patti Harrison- “Together Together”

Kali Reis- “Catch the Fair One”

Best Director

Maggie Gyllenhaal- “The Lost Daughter”- WINNER

Janicza Bravo- “Zola”

Lauren Hadaway- “The Novice”

Mike Mills- “C’mon C’mon”

Ninja Thyberg- “Pleasure”

Best Cinematography

“Passing”- Eduard Grau- WINNER

“A Chiara”- Tim Curtin

“Blue Bayou”- Matthew Chuang and Ante Cheng

“The Humans”- Lol Crawley

“Zola”- Ari Wegner

Best Supporting Female

Ruth Negga- “Passing”- WINNER

Jessie Buckley- “The Lost Daughter”

Amy Forsyth- “The Novice”

Revika Reustle- “Pleasure”

Suzanna Son- “Red Rocket”

Best Screenplay

Maggie Gyllenhaal- “The Lost Daughter”- WINNER

Nikole Beckwith- “Together Together”

Janicza Bravo- Jeremy O. Harris, “Zola”

Mike Mills- “C’mon C’mon”

Todd Stephens- “Swan Song”

Best Editing

“Zola”- Joi McMillon- WINNER

“A Chiara”- Affonso Gonçalves

“The Nowhere Inn”- Ali Greer

“The Novice”- Nathan Nugent and Lauren Hadaway

“The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain”- Enrico Natale

Best First Feature

“7 Days”- WINNER


“Queen of Glory”

“Test Pattern”

“Wild Indian”

Best First Screenplay

Michael Sarnoski; Story by Vanessa Block, Michael Sarnoski, “Pig”- WINNER

Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr.- “Wild Indian ”

Matt Fifer; Story by Sheldon D. Brown- “Cicada”

Shatara Michelle Ford- “Test Pattern ”

Fran Kranz- “Mass”

Best Documentary

“Summer of Soul”- WINNER



“In The Same Breath”


John Cassavetes Award (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000)

“Shiva Baby”- WINNER



“Sweet Thing”

“This is Not a War Story”

Best Supporting Male

Troy Kotsur- “CODA”- WINNER

Colman Domingo- “Zola”

Meeko Gattuso- “Queen of Glory”

Will Patton- “Sweet Thing”

Chaske Spencer- “Wild Indian”

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