The 2022 Oscars: A Reading List

March 23, 2022 | Viveca

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The 94th Academy Awards will air live on March 27, 2022. After years without a host, the Oscars return with three: Regina Hall, Wanda Sykes and Amy Schumer. Canadian nominees this year include Luis Sequeira for costume design for Nightmare Alley. As well, director Ben Proudfoot for his short documentary, The Queen of Basketball. Surprisingly, Canadian Denis Villeneuve did not receive the nod for Best Director for Dune, despite its Best Picture nomination. Other notable snubs: Lady Gaga for House of Gucci and Caitriona Balfe for Belfast. 2022 includes many remakes (CODA, Dune, Nightmare Alley) and material sourced from the theatre (West Side Story, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Cyrano, Tick, Tick . . . Boom!).

Other highlights: 

  • Jane Campion is the first woman to be nominated twice for Best Director.*
  • Troy Kotsur is the first Deaf actor to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor.  
  • Drive My Car is the first Japanese film nominated for Best Picture. 
  • iris menas, a non-binary actor, appears in West Side Story in a trans role.
  • two sets of nominated actors are partners in real life: Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst, as well as Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz. 

*Campion is also in the news for remarks she made at the SAG awards

On March 27, curl up, secure snacks, and use this handy ballot to track the nominees and winners (PDF). Don't forget to place holds on these great reads that inspired many of the 2022 Oscar nominations.


Our Annual Oscar Reading List:

Men Without Women2 Drive My Car Film Poster

Drive My Car. Japan. Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Starring Hidetoshi Nishijima, Tōko Miura, Masaki Okada and Reika Kirishima. 

An aging actor and director faces his relationship with Oto, his enigmatic and complicated wife. While trying to stage Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, he develops a trauma-informed connection with his young driver. I'm personally rooting for Drive My Car, a nuanced, empathetic exploration of art, loss and love. 

Hamaguchi's film is based on the short story by Haruki Murakami in his 2017 collection, Men Without Women.  

Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best International Feature


Power of the Dog Power of the Dog Film Poster

The Power of the Dog. New Zealand. Directed by Jane Campion. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

This film is based on Thomas Savage's 1967 novel, The Power of the Dog.   Campion's study of toxic masculinity, repression and violence also features the most intense banjo playing scene since John Boorman's Deliverance.  

Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Benedict Cumberbatch), Best Supporting Actor (Kodi Smit-McPhee, Jesse Plemons), Best Supporting Actress (Kirsten Dunst), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing


Dune Dune Film Poster2

Dune. USA. Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Jason Momoa and Javier Bardem. 

Canadian director Villeneuve's film is based on the 1965 novel Dune, the first in the classic series by Frank Herbert.  Check out TPL's blog post, Dive Into Dune, which traces Dune's dubious cinematic history. 

Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound, Best Visual Effects, Best Score


Romeo and Juliet West Side Story

West Side Story. USA. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Rita Moreno, Brian d'Arcy James, Corey Stoll, Josh Andrés Rivera and iris menas. 

Spielberg's film is based on William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It is also a loving, remake of the 1961 West Side Story directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins which won multiple Oscars including Best Picture.  In keeping with the film's focus on diversity, the character of Anybodys is thoughtfully reimagined as trans, and is portrayed by iris menas, a non-binary performer. 

Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress (Ariana DeBose), Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Sound


Macbeth The Tragedy of Macbeth

The Tragedy of Macbeth. USA. Directed by Joel Coen. Starring Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Alex Hassell, Bertie Carvel, Corey Hawkins, Kathryn Hunter, Brendan Gleeson, Moses Ingram and Ethan Hutchinson.

Coen's film is based on Shakespeare's Macbeth.  One half of the Coen brother's team delivers this powerful version featuring a diverse cast and the wickedest witch ever, played by theatre veteran Kathryn Hunter. Denzel's Macbeth is the weary, yet murderous monarch.   

Oscar nominations: Best Actor (Denzel Washington), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography


House of Gucci House of Gucci DVD

House of Gucci. USA. Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Jared Leto, Jack Huston and Salma Hayek.

Scott's film is based on House of Gucci: A True Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed by Sara Gay Forden.  Scott's film about the deadly intrigues in the Gucci fashion house raised many eyebrows with its single Oscar nod (and ironically not for Best Costume Design).

Oscar nomination: Best Makeup and Hairstyling 


Lost Daughter The Lost Daughter Film Poster

The Lost Daughter. USA. Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal. Starring Olivia Colman, Dakota Johnson, Jessie Buckley, Ed Harris, Peter Sarsgaard, Dagmara Domińczyk and Paul Mescal.

Gyllenhaal's film is based on the 2008 novel Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante.  This film, a psychological exploration of motherhood in all its complexities, is Gyllenhaal's directorial debut. 

Oscar nominations: Best Actress (Olivia Colman), Best Supporting Actress (Jessie Buckley), Best Adapted Screenplay


Nighmare Alley Nightmare Alley Film Poster

Nightmare Alley. USA. Directed by Guillermo del Toro. Starring Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman, Mary Steenburgen and David Strathairn. 

This film was based on the 1946 novel Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham.  This noir film about carnival grifters and drifters is also a remake of the 1947 Nightmare Alley starring Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell. 

Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography


Cyrano de Bergerac Cyrano

Cyrano. USA. Directed by Joe Wright. Starring Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Ben Mendelsohn and Bashir Salahuddin.

Cyrano is based on the 1897 French play, Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmond Rostand in this reimaging of the classic tale of attraction and romantic love. 


Place your hold today

These Oscar-nominated films are not based on books but are in the Toronto Public Library's collection. 


Related Links

Have you read any of the books in this list? Or watched any of the movies? Which ones are you most excited to see win? Share below in the comments.