Until recently, there has been no film that has captured critical, awards, and audience consensus and has thus seemed bound for Oscar glory. That’s changed in the past month or so, as Everything Everywhere All at Once has landed on top of the pile, collecting a number of acting, directing, and Best Picture awards. 1922 wasn’t the strongest year for narrative film, and this crazy/wonderful/bonkers/original film has been, certainly, among the most interesting films of the year. Tár and The Banshees of Inisherin are probably stronger films formally, but the former is too cool and the latter, too hot. Elvis was fun (excepting Mr. Hanks), but a bit all over the place. Top Gun: Maverick makes the list because it was both solid and wildly popular, and brought audiences back to the movie theater (for which the Academy is most grateful). Spielberg’s The Fabelmans is the big movie that couldn’t, (and apparently won’t), All Quiet on the Western Front already has a lock on Best International Feature, and isn’t Parasite enough to capture the big prize. Avatar: The Way of Water is there for technical reasons, and both Triangle of Sadness and Women Talking are respectable films (that practically no one saw) that serve to round out the full list of ten.
If I were writing this a month ago, I would have written with more certitude about my guesses—hence the inclusion of dark horses and possible spoilers. So here goes….
Everything Everywhere All at Once I can’t imagine anything else taking this this year.
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert for Everything Everywhere All at Once (only the third directing pair to win this).
Michele Yeoh for Everything Everywhere All at Once. I feel quite vindicated by this, as she was my pick for Best Actress back in April of last year ( https://film-prof.com/2022/04/21/everything-everywhere-all-at-once/ ). There was a moment in time that the towering performance of Cate Blanchett in Tár might have (and possibly deservedly) won her third Oscar. But Yeoh’s long career, great performance, and being the PC pick of the year will give her the Oscar. (Remember, most applause for her that night will be Hollywood congratulating itself for its inclusion, and only incidentally, but not completely insincerely, for the legendary Chinese actress.)
I’ve gone back and forth on this for months. It will either be Austin Butler for Elvis or Brendan Fraser for The Whale. Both are literally standout performances in their films, with Elvis certainly being the stronger film of the two. But being great in a so-so film often highlights the performance, and Fraser wins on that score. Add to that the great Hollywood comeback story that is his this year, and I think the scales will tip in his direction. But since there is generally at least one shocker per night (can you say “Anthony Hopkins for The Father”?), it may be that Butler and Fraser split the vote, and an also deserving Colin Farrell might snag the Oscar, à la Born Yesterday‘s Judy Holliday winning the Best Actress Oscar over both Bette Davis (All About Eve) and Gloria Swanson (Sunset Boulevard). Fraser has been giving great acceptance speeches this awards seasons, and I think the Academy wants to see another.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Again, I had a different thought a month ago. I assumed that Angela Bassett was a lock for her ferocious performance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And since Everything Everywhere All at Once has TWO female supporting nods, it seemed that this might have canceled out those two nominations—Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu—thus leaving the prize to Bassett. But the Academy loves Curtis, and Hsu’s even better performance only promises a possible great career and not an award this early. Curtis won the Screen Actors Guild award in this category, which muddies the prediction waters, but I still lean toward Bassett. It will be one or the other.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
No question that it will be Ke Huy Quan for Everything Everywhere All at Once. First, the performance is good enough to win. But Quan is also the Asian comeback story of the year—the winning combination this year, and is a lovable and engaging presence giving great acceptance speeches. No one else has a chance. Earlier this year, I thought it might be the great actor Brendan Gleeson for Banshees, but he gave everyone the finger, so no.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Women Talking has great dialogue, as one might have guessed by the title. Plus it’s an original work by a woman, directed by that woman (Sarah Polley). I honestly can’t say either way whether this is the best adapted screenplay, but it gives the Academy the chance to reward someone they admire.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The screenplay for Everything… is a modern, all-over-the-place explosion of ideas and perspectives, most of which work. But…the script by Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Inisherin, while problematic on several levels, is tight and beautifully classical in nature. Everything… might win here as part of a sweep, but I think the Academy realizes that a work of art like Banshees should have some attention and will go the Best Original Screenplay award route for the film and for McDonagh.
This might easily have gone to Top Gun: Maverick if it had been nominated. But it wasn’t. The top contenders are Germany’s All Quiet on the Western Front and Elvis, two films that couldn’t be farther apart in look and feel. I’m guessing All Quiet… will win, but wouldn’t be surprised by an Elvis come-from-behind win here.
This one is tough to guess. I would have guessed Babylon a month ago, but Elvis may make a surprise win here as well. I think that Everywhere… and Black Panther… will cancel each other out.
Again, a month ago I would have assumed that Everything… had a lock on this, as a good half of the film’s energy and meaning comes from its editing. But this might be the category that folks decide Top Gun: Maverick needs this win.
BEST MAKE-UP AND HAIRSTYLING
A month ago, The Whale. Now, probably Elvis.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
A month ago, Babylon. Today, still Babylon.
See BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN, above. (Babylon)
No question, it’s going to be “Naatu Naatu” from RRR. And since this is Diane Warren’s 14th nomination (for “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman) and will be her 14th loss, we can all relax because Warren received an honorary Oscar late last year for her body of work.
This is probably Top Gun: Maverick’s closest thing to a lock. The film shines technically, and this is a category win that few will have a hard time with.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Could it really be anything other than Avatar: The Way of Water? All Quiet on the Western Front used its effects invisibly, while Avatar… puts it effects front and center. No contest here.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
No award for Disney or Pixar this year. It goes to Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. This has received the most critical acclaim of any animated film this year, and the others are the very definition of “also ran” films.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Navalny. A great story that is political (and on which all can agree as to the bad guys!), as opposed to Fire of Love, which is personal and may well have won any other year it wasn’t up against a Holocaust film.
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
All Quiet on the Western Front is nominated for nine Oscars. That seems to make it a sure winner in this category.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT/BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT/BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
I don’t care.