94th Academy Awards: The Power of The Dog Can Get Netflix Its Maiden Best Picture Oscar

Published 02/08/2022, 8:45 AM EST

The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences has finally released the names of some of the best films of 2021. The Power of The Dog leads the way with 12 nominations followed by Dune with 10 nominations. 

Netflix could finally have its best shot at claiming the top prize at the Academy Awards with The Power of The Dog as it has support in some historically relevant categories. 

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The Power of the Dog has support from the Directors and Actors branch 

Only Wings, Grand Hotel, Green Book, Argo, and Driving Miss Daisy have won best picture without their directors receiving a nomination. After Grand Hotel’s win at the fifth Academy Awards, the next 88 ceremonies have only had three best picture winners not see their director get a nod. 

This shows how crucial a directing nomination is to the best picture win. 

 

The Power of The Dog has representation in the Directors’ branch, with Jane Campion securing a nomination. She became the first woman to receive a second Oscar nomination for directing. 

The Kiwi will compete for the prize against stalwarts like Kenneth Branagh (Belfast), Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car), Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), and Steven Spielberg (West Side Story).

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Only 12 films have claimed the top prize without an acting nomination. Jane Campion’s film should have no issues here as it has secured four acting nominations, exhibiting its massive support from the largest branch of the Academy, i.e. the acting branch. 

While Benedict Cumberbatch has secured a nod in the lead actor category, Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee have nods in the best supporting actor category. Meanwhile, Kirsten Dunst has secured a nod in the Best Supporting Actress category. 

 

The four acting Oscar nominations are huge for The Power of The Dog; Belfast has just two. 

The Power of The Dog has Writing and Editing nods

Writing is crucial, as only eight films have claimed the top prize without a writing nomination. Out of the eight, four did so in the first six ceremonies. This means that only four best picture winners have achieved their win without a writing nod in the next 87 years. Titanic is the only film to do so since The Sound of Music won at the 38th Academy Awards

 

Jane Campion has secured a nod for her adaptation of Thomas Savage’s book of the same name. Kenneth Branagh has secured a nod in the Original screenplay category for Belfast.

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Editing is another crucial parameter as only nine films have not gotten a nomination here and clinched the Best Picture. These include It Happened One Night, The Life of Emile Zola, Hamlet, Marty, A Man for All Seasons, The Godfather: Part 2, Annie Hall, Ordinary People, and Birdman.

In the forty-three ceremonies since Annie Hall missed the editing nomination and won the Oscar for Best Picture, only two films have pulled off that feat. 

 

Peter Sciberras has received a nomination here to take The Power of The Dog a step closer to glory. What helps The Power of The Dog is that Úna Ni Dhonghaile (Editor of Belfast) missed out on a nomination. 

What makes The Power of The Dog better than the Previous Best Picture Oscar Nominees from Netflix? 

Netflix tried with Mudbound, Roma, The Irishman, and failed each time. Mudbound didn’t set the awards season ablaze. Roma had support from the acting branch, the directing branch, the writing branch, and the technical branch. However, it lacked a crucial editing nomination and SAG ensemble nomination. 

While The Power of The Dog has the former, it lacks the latter. An argument of not too many actors can be cast aside because Million Dollar Baby secured this nomination with just Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and Hilary Swank. 

The Irishman had the support of all the branches and the crucial editing nomination. Parasite didn’t have an acting nod at the Oscars. However, akin to The Irishman, it had the SAG ensemble nod that showcased its support from the Actors’ branch. 


With four acting nominations and no SAG ensemble, The Power of The Dog surges ahead of Roma. This Netflix Original also surpasses The Irishman, as Jane Campion and Kodi Smit-McPhee are favorites in their respective categories.

One couldn’t say the same about Martin Scorsese and Al Pacino/Joe Pesci for The Irishman. Even though Alfonso Cuaron won Best Director, neither Yalitza Aparicio nor Marina de Tavira was a threat at the Oscars

This is a sign that The Power of The Dog could eventually claim the Oscar for Best Picture and end the studio monopoly. Should this Netflix film claim the win, it will join The Shape of Water, Green Book, Nomadland, and Braveheart and become just the fifth film in 27 years to claim the Oscar without a SAG ensemble nod. 

Potential Spoilers

The only spoilers could be Dune and Belfast. Although Dune lacks the support of the actors’ and directors’ branches, it has impressive recognition from the technical side with 7 nominations. 

Belfast also has nods in directing and writing. Additionally, it has a crucial nomination in the SAG Ensemble category. Also working in its favor is its theatrical release. This puts it in a significantly better position than Green Book and Parasite. 

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Also, the Academy may seek to reward a traditional film to give its endorsement to films that were released in a cinema, not solely for the purpose of being eligible for the award. However, the editing snub places it behind The Power of The Dog, which is also ahead in the cinematographers’ branch.

Combinations and equations have fallen in the past. It is as it should be, as Birdman certainly was the Best Film of the nominated bunch. Also, Green Book screamed preferential ballot as the rest of the films had some element that may have pushed voters away. 

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The Power of The Dog is visually pleasing and a traditional drama. It can legitimately be branded as the best film of all the nominees. At first glance, nothing may persuade voters to shun this film. It has nods in the categories that have traditionally featured the eventual Best Picture winner

Can this Jane Campion Netflix Original film break the glass ceiling for streaming films and end the studio monopoly? Find out on March 27!

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Reubyn Coutinho

50 articles

Reubyn Coutinho is an Editor and Film Critic at Netflix Junkie. This Mass Media Graduate from St. Xavier's has attended MAMI (2019) as a film critic.

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