Benedict Cumberbatch stars in "The Power of the Dog," Jane...

Benedict Cumberbatch stars in "The Power of the Dog," Jane Campion's Oscar-nominated film. Credit: Netflix via TNS / Kirsty Griffin

"The Power of the Dog," Netflix’s critically acclaimed Western, led Tuesday’s Oscar nominations with 12 nods, including best picture, best actor for Benedict Cumberbatch and best director for Jane Campion.

Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic "Dune" followed with 10 nods, while Kenneth Branagh’s coming-of-age drama "Belfast" and Steven Spielberg’s remake of "West Side Story" tied for third place with seven nominations each.

The second Oscars race of the pandemic era now looks very much like the first, with a streaming service out front and a strong spotlight on critical darlings rather than audience favorites. Last year it was Hulu's "Nomadland," which earned the best picture award and a rare directing win for a woman, Chloé Zhao. This year, Netflix's "The Power of the Dog" could do the same on both counts. Campion, already the only woman nominated for best director twice (following "The Piano"), stands to become the third woman to win (following Kathryn Bigelow and Zhao).

The nominations for the 94th Academy Awards send a few different messages to moviegoers. The clearest is that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which bestows the Oscars, has embraced the streaming platforms it once shunned. "I may be in the movie capital of the world," said Academy President David Rubin, speaking remotely before the televised announcements, "but movies really live wherever you come together, in theaters or in your home." (The nominations were read by Tracee Ellis Ross and Leslie Jordan — both better known to television fans than moviegoers — along with "civilian" guests such as health care workers and high school students from around the country.)

Once again, however, the Academy continues to favor highbrow cinema over more populist fare, despite its newly diversified and expanded membership of 9,500 voters. A best picture nod failed to materialize for "Spider-Man: No Way Home," a mid-pandemic smash that delighted fans and earned a staggering $1.7 billion in the middle of a pandemic. (The film received one nomination, for visual effects.) Instead, many best picture slots went to such critical favorites as the Japanese drama "Drive My Car," Spielberg’s "West Side Story" (a box-office disappointment that seemed to please mostly older viewers) and "Belfast," a black-and-white drama that played more like an art-house film than a multiplex title.

At least one crowd-pleaser nabbed a best picture nod: "CODA," a Sundance hit about a teenage girl whose deaf family doesn’t understand her desire to sing. (The title is an acronym for Child of Deaf Adults.) Purchased by Apple for a festival record of $25 million, the film received strong reviews and found a following on Apple TV+. Supporting actor Troy Kotsur is now the second deaf actor to earn an Oscar nomination for a deaf role. (His co-star, the deaf actress Marlee Matlin, won a best actress Oscar for "Children of a Lesser God.")

Meanwhile, the biggest categories are shaping up much as the pundits predicted. In the best actor race, Cumberbatch seems to be neck-and-neck with Will Smith, who plays the father of Venus and Serena Williams in "King Richard." The best actress category may boil down to two main contenders, Olivia Colman as a troubled tourist in "The Lost Daughter" and Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana in "Spencer." Less predictable is the supporting actress category, which sees four first-time nominees competing with Oscar-winner Judi Dench ("Belfast").

Among the notable snubs: Supporting actor Ben Affleck in the Long Island-set drama "The Tender Bar" and two much-praised supporting actresses, Ruth Negga in the literary adaptation "Passing" and Cate Blanchett in "Nightmare Alley."

THE NOMINEES ARE...

Here are the nominees in the biggest Oscar categories:

BEST PICTURE

“Belfast”

“CODA”

“Don’t Look Up”

“Drive My Car”

“Dune”

“King Richard”

“Licorice Pizza”

“Nightmare Alley”

“The Power of the Dog”

“West Side Story”

BEST DIRECTOR

Paul Thomas Anderson (“Licorice Pizza”)

Kenneth Branagh (“Belfast”)

Jane Campion (“The Power of the Dog”)

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (“Drive My Car”)

Steven Spielberg (“West Side Story”)

BEST ACTOR

Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”)

Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”)

Andrew Garfield (“Tick, Tick … Boom!”)

Will Smith (“King Richard”)

Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”)

BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”)

Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”)

Penélope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”)

Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”)

Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”)

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Ciarán Hinds (“Belfast”)

Troy Kotsur (“CODA”)

Jesse Plemons (“The Power of the Dog”)

J.K. Simmons (“Being the Ricardos”)

Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Power of the Dog”)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Jessie Buckley (“The Lost Daughter”)

Ariana DeBose (“West Side Story”)

Judi Dench (“Belfast”)

Kirsten Dunst (“The Power of the Dog”)

Aunjanue Ellis (“King Richard”)

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