2023 Oscars: Predictions and Picks

We are just two days away from the 95th Academy Awards, and the question on everyone’s mind is will Everything Everywhere All At Once actually do this. The frenetic, action-packed multiversal drama has dominated throughout the entirety of awards season, and established itself as the clear frontrunner in many of this year’s major categories, including Best Picture.

Still, the reason so many people are questioning whether Everything Everywhere can actually cross the finish line is due to the fact that we’ve never seen this kind of a film—i.e., one that is inspired by things like The Matrix, anime, Wong Kar-wai, meme culture, Pixar, and Kung Fu films, which also happens to feature a butt plug fight and was directed by two guys who got their start on YouTube and rose to prominence directing absurd music videos—sweep the Oscars before.

The film’s potential unprecedented success would lead to a lot of conversations about how the Academy has changed, what the future of Hollywood is going to look like, and whether or not this is officially the start of a new era in the business.

Despite Everything Everywhere‘s firm position as the leader in a few of Sunday night’s biggest races, this year’s Oscars actually feel a little less predictable than they have in years past.

The acting categories especially—outside of Best Supporting Actor—have been very intriguing, as opposed to some ceremonies in the past when it felt like the winners had been decided months in advance.

In terms of the show itself, it’s clear the Academy is attempting a return to normalcy after last year’s trainwreck of a ceremony, which had a lot more problems than just the Will Smith and Chris Rock moment.

The infamous slap actually ended up overshadowing just how poorly-handled and unsuccessful last year’s show ultimately was. It started before the ceremony even took place with the Academy announcing their controversial decision to cut eight categories from the live telecast. Then there was their hilariously failed attempt to shoehorn the words Spider-Man: No Way Home into the broadcast by creating embarrassingly named Twitter-driven segments. Lastly, perhaps the thing the slap overshadowed the most was just how boring the rest of the ceremony was.

Many of the decisions the Academy has made this year feel like direct responses to those missteps. They brought back a veteran host who has had success in the past, Jimmy Kimmel. They announced all 23 categories will indeed be included in the live telecast. And, perhaps coincidentally, they nominated a few wildly popular box office hits. Will these decisions make for a more entertaining show? We’ll have to wait and see. For now, here are my predictions and picks for the 2023 Oscars.

Achievement In Sound:

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Avatar: The Way of Water
  • The Batman
  • Elvis
  • Top Gun: Maverick

My Prediction: Top Gun: Maverick. My Pick: Top Gun: Maverick

The sound in Top Gun: Maverick being not only impressive, but also tremendously noticeable and memorable, definitely helped it become the frontrunner in this category. The only unfortunate thing about this potential win is the fact that it could end up being the only one of the night for Maverick.

Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling:

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • The Batman
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • Elvis
  • The Whale

My Prediction: ElvisMy Pick: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

If a few contested categories end up going its way, Elvis could have a very good night on Sunday. It is definitely not a lock to win here though, as this award could easily go to The Whale. Personally, I preferred the work done in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever to both of those films.

Achievement in Costume Design:

  • Babylon
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • Elvis
  • Everything Everywhere All At Once
  • Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

My Prediction: Elvis. My Pick: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

I may not have been the biggest fan of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but I do admire the imagination and world-building skills on display in that film when it came to things like costumes, makeup, and hairstyling. In these awards, I tend to gravitate more towards those who created something completely new rather than those who re-created something historical. Unfortunately, the Academy feels the exact opposite way, which is why I see Elvis winning here.

Achievement in Cinematography:

  • James Friend, All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Darius Khondji, Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
  • Mandy Walker, Elvis
  • Roger Deakins, Empire of Light
  • Florian Hoffmeister, Tár

My Prediction: James Friend, All Quiet on the Western Front. My Pick: Florian Hoffmeister, Tár

This is the first category that feels like an absolute lock. I would be pretty surprised to see anyone other than James Friend win this award. While I think All Quiet on the Western Front is an impressively shot film, I personally prefer Florian Hoffmeister’s work on Tár. It’ll be interesting to see if All Quiet is able to gain some momentum early on in the show by winning some of these below-the-line categories though. If it is able to string some wins together, that could be an indication that the Best Picture dark horse has a chance of pulling off some upsets later in the night.

Achievement in Production Design:

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Avatar: The Way of Water
  • Babylon
  • Elvis
  • The Fabelmans

My Prediction: Babylon. My Pick: Babylon.

Due to the Academy’s fondness for movies that re-create Hollywood, I see Babylon getting the much-deserved win here, which will likely be its only victory of the night. The only film that I could see playing the role of spoiler in this category is Elvis.

Achievement in Film Editing:

  • Mikkel E.G. Nielsen, The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond, Elvis
  • Paul Rogers, Everything Everywhere All At Once
  • Monika Willi, Tár
  • Eddie Hamilton, Top Gun: Maverick

My Prediction: Paul Rogers, Everything Everywhere All At Once. My Pick: Monika Willi, Tár.

Often times, the Academy gives this award to the film with the most editing rather than the best editing. Everything Everywhere All At Once is certainly the film with the most flashy editing out of the five nominees, which is why I see it winning here. If any film has a chance of pulling off the upset, it is Top Gun: Maverick, but this feels like an almost-certain victory for Everything Everywhere. In fact, this category could be the start of its big night.

Achievement in Visual Effects:

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Avatar: The Way of Water
  • The Batman
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • Top Gun: Maverick

My Prediction: Avatar: The Way of Water. My Pick: Avatar: The Way of Water.

I’m not going to spend too much time on this category because this seems like the biggest lock of the night. It would be a shocking upset if any film other than Avatar: The Way of Water wins this award.

Best Original Song:

  • “Applause,” Tell It Like a Woman
  • “Hold my Hand,” Top Gun: Maverick
  • “Lift Me Up,” Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • “Naatu Naatu,” RRR
  • “This is a Life,” Everything Everywhere All At Once

My Prediction: “Naatu Naatu,” RRR. My Pick: “Naatu Naatu,” RRR.

This is an interesting category because while it may seem like “Naatu Naatu,” the deserved winner, has this award locked up, it’s important to remember that the Academy has a tendency to gravitate towards star power in this category. I’m not saying an upset is likely, but with Lady Gaga being nominated for “Hold my Hand” and Rihanna being nominated for “Lift Me Up,” I definitely wouldn’t be shocked if we saw one.

Best Original Score:

  • Volker Bertelmann, All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Justin Hurwitz, Babylon
  • Carter Burwell, The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Son Lux, Everything Everywhere All At Once
  • John Williams, The Fabelmans

My Prediction: Volker Bertelmann, All Quiet on the Western Front. My Pick: Justin Hurwitz, Babylon.

Even though 53-time nominee John Williams can never be ignored in this category, this feels like a two-horse race between Volker Bertelmann and Justin Hurwitz, with Bertelmann having the edge. It’s rare for a film not nominated in Best Picture to win this category. Moreover, I think a lot of the voters who consider Babylon to be an overindulgent film, will think the same of Hurtwitz’s score as well. Personally, I found Hurtwitz’s score to be more memorable, and more effective within the context of its film, than Bertelmann’s.

Best Animated Feature:

  • Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
  • Marcel the Shell With Shoes On
  • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
  • The Sea Beast
  • Turning Red

My Prediction: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. My Pick: Marcel the Shell With Shoes on.

Firstly, I just want to note that, while this can sometimes be a hit-or-miss category, I actually really enjoy all five of these nominees. I don’t think there will be intrigue here on Sunday night though, as Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio feels like a guaranteed winner. Turning Red is the only film with an outside shot of pulling off an upset, and that’s just due to the fact that, historically, the Academy has a Disney/Pixar bias.

Best International Feature Film:

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Argentina, 1985
  • Close
  • EO
  • The Quiet Girl

My Prediction: All Quiet on the Western Front. My Pick: EO

It would be really fun to see Jerzy Skolimowski’s experimental film about a donkey making its way through the world win this award, but I don’t see any nominee upsetting All Quiet on the Western Front here. Edward Berger’s adaptation is nominated for nine Oscars on Sunday, including Best Picture, and I think it’s safe to say that it will be triumphant in this category.

Best Documentary Feature:

  • All That Breathes
  • All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
  • Fire of Love
  • A House Made of Splinters
  • Navalny

My Prediction: Navalny. My Pick: Fire of Love.

Due to its subject matter’s relationship to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, it seems likely that the Academy is going to want to recognize Navalny at this year’s ceremony. It has the always-important “Movie For Our Times” narrative surrounding it. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed could be a surprise winner here, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Personally, Fire of Love was one of the most engaging, breathtaking viewing experiences I had all year long, and although it has no chance at winning, I was incredibly happy to see it get nominated.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson & Ian Stokell, All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Rian Johnson, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
  • Kazuo Ishiguro, Living
  • Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie, Peter Craig & Justin Marks, Top Gun: Maverick
  • Sarah Polley, Women Talking

My Prediction: Sarah Polley, Women Talking. My Pick: Sarah Polley, Women Talking.

This is a fairly difficult category to predict. All Quiet on the Western Front has a legitimate chance of pulling off the win here, but I think Women Talking has the slight edge at the moment. While I don’t dislike Sarah Polley’s adaptation of Miriam Toews’ 2018 novel, it is certainly not a film I envision myself returning to much in the future. With that being said, I still think there is a lot to admire about her tight, thoughtful, dialogue-heavy screenplay. This is another award that could potentially be a signal of something if All Quiet is able to come out with a victory though. It wouldn’t be unlikely either, as this continues to be a pretty close race leading up to Sunday night.

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All At Once
  • Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner, The Fabelmans
  • Todd Field, Tár
  • Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness

My Prediction: Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All At Once. My Pick: Todd Field, Tár.

If things end up going the way they are trending towards on Sunday Night, this is where the Everything Everywhere All At Once wave will truly start to take form. I don’t want to say I’ll be upset to see it win here because I do think it is an impressive screenplay, however, I just don’t see how Tár isn’t the frontrunner here. Todd Field’s idea-driven, incredibly smart, and sneakily hilarious screenplay is an astonishing accomplishment and helped establish Tár as the best film of 2022, in my opinion. Martin McDonagh is the only person I could see realistically pulling off the upset here, and that is due to the fact that there seems to be a lot of love for The Banshees of Inisherin amongst the voters, and they may feel like they won’t have a chance to reward it anywhere else.

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway
  • Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans
  • Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All At Once

My Prediction: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All At Once. My Pick: Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin.

As this is probably the most predictable major category, I won’t be spending too much time on it. Ke Huy Quan has been winning absolutely everything during awards season, and I don’t see that changing on Sunday night. Him winning will be a great moment, and the final exclamation point on his remarkable comeback story. I won’t be surprised if people are referring to his acceptance speech as one of the highlights of the night on Monday morning.

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • Hong Chau, The Whale
  • Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All At Once
  • Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All At Once

My Prediction: Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. My Pick: Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin.

This is, without question, the most difficult category to predict. Realistically, four out of the five nominees have a legitimate chance at walking away with this award (Sorry, Hong Chau). Somehow, after her win at the SAG awards, Jamie Lee Curtis has established herself as an unlikely frontrunner in this category. She has been campaigning very effectively and very publicly for some time now. She also has the added bonus of having the “beloved actor being recognized towards the end of their career” narrative surrounding her. But, Angela Bassett, who for a while was considered the frontrunner in this category, has that same advantage. Personally, Curtis winning here would be the only Everything Everywhere win that would really bother me, which is partially why I don’t have her as my prediction. I think Condon, Bassett, and Hsu all gave better performances than her. I’ll just have to wait and see whether I’m going to be disappointed or not though because, as of now, I have legitimately no idea who is going to win this award.

Best Actor:

  • Austin Butler, Elvis
  • Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Brendan Fraser, The Whale
  • Paul Mescal, Aftersun
  • Bill Nighy, Living

My Prediction: Austin Butler, Elvis. My Pick: Paul Mescal, Aftersun.

This category isn’t quite as difficult to predict as Best Supporting Actress is, but it’s not that far off. Unfortunately for me, this feels like a two-person race between two actors who starred in films that I am really not a fan of. Austin Butler is the slight frontrunner over Brendan Fraser, and while I think they are both the best parts of their respective films, I won’t be particularly enthused to see either of them win on Sunday night. When deciding on who I wanted to go with as my prediction here, I looked no further than the fact that seven of the past ten Best Actor winners won for playing a real person. Colin Farrell has an outside chance at pulling off an upset, but he’s clearly running in a distant third at this point. I went with Paul Mescal as my pick because I really appreciated what he brought to Aftersun, but I can’t say I’m rooting especially hard for anyone in this category, as this was an unusually weak crop of nominees this year.

Best Actress:

  • Cate Blanchett, Tár
  • Ana de Armas, Blonde
  • Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie
  • Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans
  • Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All At Once

My Prediction: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All At Once. My Pick: Cate Blanchett, Tár.

Here we have a true clash of the titans. Unlike the Best Actor category, this is a two-person race in which I will be incredibly pleased with either outcome. Honestly, it’s unfortunate that they have to compete against each other in the same year because Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett both gave Oscar worthy performances. I think Yeoh has the slight edge here, in large part due to the Everything Everywhere All At Once admiration. While I think she is utterly tremendous in that film, I also happen to think Blanchett gave one of the best performances of the last ten years in Tár. If the Academy chooses Yeoh though, I won’t be upset in the slightest.

Best Director:

  • Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Daniels), Everything Everywhere All At Once
  • Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
  • Todd Field, Tár
  • Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness

My Prediction: Daniels, Everything Everywhere All At Once. My Pick:Todd Field, Tár. 

Interestingly enough, it seems like Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (“Daniels,” as they are known professionally) winning here is even more of a lock than Everything Everywhere All At Once winning Best Picture. There is no doubt that it took a great amount of technical expertise and a clear vision to pull that film off, but, it should be pretty clear at this point that I just prefer Tár. Todd Field simply isn’t going to win this award though, so the question is can anyone pull of the upset here? My answer would be don’t sleep on Steven Spielberg. I’m not saying it’s going to happen. In fact, it may not even be likely. But, if anyone is going to triumph over Daniels on Sunday night, it’s going to be the elder of this group. The most realistic scenario though is Kwan and Scheinert win this award and then get back up on stage about ten minutes later to collect their Best Picture Oscar.

Best Picture:

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Avatar: The Way of Water
  • The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Elvis
  • Everything Everywhere All At Once
  • The Fabelmans
  • Tár
  • Top Gun: Maverick
  • Triangle of Sadness
  • Women Talking

My Prediction: Everything Everywhere All At Once. My Pick: Tár. 

Since Everything Everywhere All At Once did not make my top ten films of the year list, and I have not really had a chance to write about it much on this site, now feels like a good time to briefly explore my feelings on it. First off, it’s important to note that I do like the film. The problem is, I’m not sure if I love it. The reason I call that a problem is because Everything Everywhere has become one of those films with a fanbase so passionate that they will take you saying “I thought it was good, not great” to mean “I hated it.” I have some issues with the third act of the film and thought it fell a little flat when it tried to drive home some of its bigger ideas. I’m going to include my personal Best Picture ballot at the end of this blog but I can confidently say it’s not one of my four favorite films in the Best Picture field. Still, I found it incredibly entertaining and consider it to be one of the best theater experiences I had last year. So, with all that being said, the question I’ve been trying to answer is, will I be disappointed to see this film win Best Picture? And I can honestly say, despite me preferring some of these other films, my answer is no. I actually think a film like this winning Best Picture would be, for lack of a better phrase, pretty fucking cool. I’m not sure if it would signal some landmark shift in the industry, but it would at least open the door to different kinds of movies being able to compete at the Oscars, which I think is definitely a net positive. Now, I know I’m treating its potential win like a foregone conclusion, but that’s because I honestly think that’s what it is at this point. To put its dominant awards season run into context, it became just the fifth film in history to win the top prize at the PGA, DGA, SAG, and WGA awards—all of the other four films to do so (Argo, No Country for Old Men, Slumdog Millionaire, and American Beauty) went on to win Best Picture. Outside of all the old people in the Academy putting it 10th on their ballot, I don’t see any way it loses. And even though I don’t think it’s the best film of the year, I’ll be happy to see it win.

My Best Picture Ballot:

  1. Tár
  2. Top Gun: Maverick
  3. The Banshees of Inisherin
  4. The Fabelmans
  5. Everything Everywhere All At Once
  6. Avatar: The Way of Water
  7. Triangle of Sadness
  8. All Quiet on the Western Front
  9. Women Talking
  10. Elvis

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