The 2023 Academy Award nominations came out today, and the first wave of published responses will be who got an unexpected nomination, and who got “snubbed,” a ridiculous phrase for an imprecise idea. My thoughts, however, turn to who got nominated, and what my thoughts are about the list, and about the possible winners. (Heads up: abbreviations abound for the film names.)
The list is locked in at 10 now, which is a marketing coup for the two or three that wouldn’t have made the list otherwise. Nothing looks like a lock at this point, which means that Top Gun: Maverick has a chance. (The Academy has made worse choices recently, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility.) Avatar: The Way of Water is there for technical reasons. Tár, which perhaps two dozen people have seen, and The Banshees of Inisherin, are there for artistic reasons. The Fabelmans won the Golden Globe for Best Picture, Drama, which certainly helps it here. My money at the moment is on either Top Gun: Maverick or Everything Everywhere All at Once.
I think this one is a lock for Brendan Fraser in The Whale. A great performance in an OK film is right up the Academy’s alley, and the combination of the gay theme (sorry, but that’s true) and the comeback for a respected actor is probably too big for anyone else to overcome. In another year, it would be Colin Farrell for Banshees. Austin Butler is a dark horse here for Elvis, and a division between Farrell and Fraser might give it to him (think 1950 and Judy Holliday (Born Yesterday) vs. Bette Davis (All About Eve) vs. Gloria Swanson (Sunset Boulevard), where Holliday emerged the winner).
This is between Cate Blanchett for Tár, giving a towering performance, and perhaps her best, and the legendary Michelle Yeoh, receiving a nomination for officially Everything Everywhere… and unofficially for her body of work. Tough choice for voters. Yeoh is loved, but Blanchett gives a performance for the ages. I was rooting for Yeoh to get a nomination back in April (https://film-prof.com/2022/04/21/everything-everywhere-all-at-once/) So I’m happy she’s being honored.
Best Supporting Actor
This one’s easy. It’s Ke Huy Quan for Everything Everywhere All at Once. It’s more “comeback-y” than even Fraser’s story, and his acceptance speeches steal your heart. No competition here. It might have been Brendan Gleeson in another year (Banshees), but he shares a nomination with the equally deserving Barry Keoghan in the same film. So Quan it is.
Best Supporting Actress
Again, a bit of a tough choice for some, with Jamie Lee Curtis winning her first nomination for Everything Everywhere. But like Gleeson and Keoghan, she shares a nomination with the talented Stephanie Hsu in the film. So it’s going to be Angela Bassett for Black Panther: Wakanda Forver, again for the performance and for her body of work. (And to reward Wakanda Forever, which came up short in the nominations.)
Best Animated Film
I’d be shocked it was anything other than Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.
A tough one this year. Perennial favorite Steven Spielberg won the Golden Globe for The Fabelmans, which might help him. But Martin McDonagh won a great deal of praise for Banshees, which won’t win Best Picture, so this could be a consolation prize. “The Daniels,” as they are known—Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert—may well be the winner/s for Everything Everywhere. My money is on them at the moment.
Best Adapted Screenplay
This could go in any direction. Writer/director Sarah Polley may win for Women Talking, as it also got a Best Picture nomination, and it would make up for her not receiving a Best Director nomination. My guess is that Academy will think her nomination is enough. Living probably won’t win, so it’s a toss-up between All Quiet on the Western Front, Top Gun, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. The “artiest” among this list include All Quiet and Women Talking, which might work in either film’s favor.
Best Original Screenplay
An initially easy one, but one that gets a little more complicated as you think about it. Banshees is a beloved script, but so is Everything Everywhere. The combination of Spielberg and Tony Kushner (who has undeservedly won before) might too potent to ignore for The Fabelmans. And Tár’s script is a sharp piece of work. I’m betting on either Banshees or Everything Everywhere.
I had assumed that Claudio Miranda was going to win for Top Gun: Maverick, but that’s clearly not going to happen. Today’s guess is All Quiet, but time will tell.
Best Film Editing
I would have given it to Top Gun in a second if it weren’t for Everything Everywhere, which I think will win.
Best Original Score
Making up for a dearth of nominations for Babylon, my guess is that this is the one Oscar this film will win.
Best Original Song
“Naatu Naatu” from RRR won the Golden Globe, and there was a great deal of self-congratulation by that group that will be absorbed by the Academy crowd when the time comes. Awarding “foreign” films in categories like this makes the Academy proud of its inclusiveness. Unfortunately for them this year, that bumps right into “Lift Me Up” from Wakanda Forever, which won very few nominations. There is no big song this year like Titanic’s “My Heart Will Go On” this year. So it’s anyone’s guess. But a record might be set: Diane Warren received her 14th (!) nomination for songwriting for “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman, and she will lose for the 14th time.
Best Visual Effects
It would normally be Avatar: The Way of Water, but All Quiet is getting a good deal of respect for its effects and how they are used.
In my mind today, it’s a toss-up between Elvis and Top Gun: Maverick. The former is about the sound created by a legend, and the latter is clean, bright, and shiny, with crisp and intelligent sound.
Best Costume Design
This could go to Babylon as a consolation prize. But Elvis, which was directed by Baz Luhrmann, has Luhrmann’s wife Catherine Martin as Costume Designer and Production Designer, awards she has won before for The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge! And Elvis’s costumes are large part of the visual appeal of the film.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Except for The Whale, all seem to have an equal chance. That’s All Quiet, The Batman, Wakanda Forever, and Elvis. Wakanda and Elvis are the most obvious, which might result in a win for one of them
Best Production Design
If it weren’t for Catherine Martin (see Costumes, above), I wouldn’t have thought of Elvis as a possible winner, but it’s too early to tell. Babylon perhaps has the MOST production design, which sometimes pulls in a win. We’ll have to see which way the wind blows here.
Best International Film
India might be regretting submitting Last Picture Show as its country’s submission here in the light of RRR’s success. (Think of the regret felt by folks for the song “Dos Oruguitas” from Encanto being submitted as best song just before “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” became a Number 1 hit.) So it’s between Argentina, 1985 (Argentina) and All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany). My best guess at the moment is All Quiet.
Final Note: The Razzie nominations came out today as well. Probably the funniest nominations in this list of worsts belong to Tom Hanks:
Worst Actor for Disney’s Pinocchio (not to be confused with del Toro’s version!)
Worst Supporting Actor for Elvis (I can get behind this. See my thoughts at https://film-prof.com/2022/06/30/elvis/)
Worst Screen Couple for Elvis for “Tom Hanks and His Latex-Laden Face (and Ludicrous Accent)”
I love Tom Hanks (who doesn’t?). But the Razzie group is on the money here….