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Why Power of the Dog Bagged 12 Nominations at Oscars 2022

Jane Campion’s Western Drama Power of the Dog became the only film to win across-the-board nominations this year. Campion is known for the complex portrayal of women from the 19th century like Bright Star and The Piano. However, this time she has delved into showing the rough American masculinity and its vulnerabilities. The film may have received a mixed reception from the viewers but the number of nominations at the Oscars indicate its status.

Power of the Dog Nominations

Power of the Dog has been named in 12 categories; Best Picture, Actress in a Supporting Role, Actor in a Supporting Role x 2, Adapted Screenplay, Actor in a Leading Role, Director, Production Design, Cinematography, Achievement in Sound, Original Score, and Film Editing.

Campion has become the first woman ever to nab 2 best director nominations in the history of Oscars. Previously, The New Zealander was nominated for her 1993 Romance/Drama, ‘The Piano’. It is yet another historical mark made by a woman. Last year Chloe Zhao became the second woman ever to win the Best Director Oscar award for ‘Nomadland’.

What is the Film All About?

Power of the Dog is an adaptation of a 1967 novel of the same name by Thomas Savage. There have been 5 attempts to make a film on it in the past but only Campion came through. However, many films have been inspired by the novel highlighting the personal impact of closeted homosexuality in the Wild West.

The film is set in 1925 Montana and tells the story of a rugged rancher Phil Burbank played by Benedict Cumberbatch. He is shown as a typical example of an alpha male who is rough, brutal, and loves to get his hands dirty. He runs a ranch with his brother George (Jesse Plemons) who he refers to as ‘Fatso’ and bosses him around all the time. However, both brothers are close and sleep in the same bed.

As the film moves forward viewers see that Phil’s cruelty intensifies after meeting a widow named Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst) and her son Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who has feminine traits. Phil finds it amusing to mock them both. His anger gets more dangerous when his brother George marries Rose and brings her to live at the ranch. Phil begins to despise her more and drives her into alcoholism with his behaviour.

Her son Peter, who saw his alcoholic father commit suicide, realises that his mother life is going the same path because of Phil. Here on forward, the film provides subtle hints as to what would happen. Reading further can spoil this movie so it is recommended to stop here in case someone hasn’t seen it yet.

Spoilers Ahead

The rest of the film is basically a revenge story that will switch the victims. Peter finds out that Phil is a closeted homosexual so he tries to get close to him and succeeds. Phil also becomes his friend and starts teaching him how to be a rancher. Both make several conversations that are highly thrilling for the viewers. Then in one scene when both capture an injured rabbit, Phil asks Peter to kill it. At first, it seems Peter won’t be able to do it because he strokes it gently. However, in a shocking turn of events, he quickly snaps its neck, foreshadowing how he’s planning to kill Phil for what he did to his mother.

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