Picks & Predictions for the Oscars 2023
The Academy Awards. While the ceremony itself loses viewing figures by the millions and recent years selections feel increasingly underseen, unappreciated, or out of place, a look at this year’s list sees a record number of first-time nominees and a real push towards recognizing what people actually love about the movies. A glance down the Best Picture nominees reveals some real box office toppling blockbusters alongside the work of serious auteurs. Indie favourites alongside Hollywood giants, first time filmmakers rubbing shoulders with the biggest names in the business. An exciting year of film is being recognized – so let’s dive into the ‘should’, ‘coulds’ and almost-definitely-will-wins of this year’s list (well, the categories I have an opinion on at least.)
First things first, there are two films leading the board in terms of nominations: sci fi epic Everything Everywhere All at Once (review) with 11 nods and pitch-black comedy The Banshees of Inisherin (review) with 9, and frankly I’d be happy with either of them sweeping the board. These are two of my favourite films of the year and each a towering achievement in their own right. While horrifying German war adaption All Quiet on the Western Front also tots up an impressive 9 nominations, I think it’s considerably less likely to win a fair few of its categories.
There’s some really stylized work featured here with the award fairly likely to go to Darius Khondji for his work on Inarritu’s feverish Bardo, but my top pick of the year must surely be one of the all-time greats, Roger Deakins. Whilst Sam Mendes’ ode to cinema Empire of Light (review) felt like a missed opportunity in terms of writing, Deakins masterful use of lighting and romantically framed shots made it the most memorably beautiful film of the year. A sublime achievement from a cinematographer at the top of his game.
Pick: Roger Deakins Prediction: Darius Khondji
- All Quiet on the Western Front
- Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths
- Empire of Light
Best International Feature:
My biggest shock at this year’s awards is the galling omission of Park Chan Wook’s Hitchcockian masterpiece Decision To Leave from this category. Where it had the potential to scoop multiple awards; for it not to receive a single nomination seems utterly insane. All Quiet on the Western Front will likely win as the film most likely to have actually been watched by Academy voters and it’s a powerful film so I’m not mad about it. Argentina 1985 or EO may deserve it more in terms of critical acclaim but haven’t found much of an audience outside the festival circuit.
Pick: Argentina 1985 or EO Prediction: All Quiet on the Western Front
- All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)
- Argentina, 1985 (Argentina)
- Close (Belgium)
- EO (Poland)
- The Quiet Girl (Ireland)
Best Adapted Screenplay:
A category that really could go any which way, this is a two-horse race for me between Sarah Polley’s devastating chamber piece Women Talking (review) and Kazuo Ishiguro’s life affirming Kurosawa adaption Living (review). Both remarkable films but varying levels of depressing – will Academy voters prefer the wit of Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion? (review) I really couldn’t call it.
Pick: Women Talking or Living Prediction: Possibly Glass Onion
- All Quiet on the Western Front, Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell
- Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Rian Johnson
- Living, Kazuo Ishiguro
- Top Gun: Maverick, Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie, story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks
- Women Talking, Sarah Polley
Best Original Screenplay:
Another absolutely stacked category with many a worth winner. My top pick has to go to one of my long-standing favourite writers Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Inisherin. No one else out there creates characters or writes lines the way he does with Banshees (and Three Billboards, and In Bruges…) A script that skillfully pivots from absurdist comedy to abject tragedy and back again in the blink of an eye, it’s a brilliant thing.
Pick & Prediction: The Banshees of Inisherin
- The Banshees of Inisherin, Martin McDonagh
- Everything Everywhere All at Once, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
- The Fabelmans, Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg
- Tár, Todd Field
- Triangle of Sadness, Ruben Östlund
It’s an intimidating category featuring multi-award winners McDonagh, Spielberg and Cannes favourite Ruben Ostlund, but my winners have to be breakout stars the Daniels (Kwan and Scheinert) for Everything Everywhere All at Once. This film is already a word-of-mouth success story, but what the two managed to achieve with limited budget and staffing is frankly remarkable, molding an emotional heartbreaker out of a wacky, genre bending thrill ride.
Pick & Prediction: The Daniels (Everything Everywhere all at Once)
- Todd Field, Tár
- Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once
- Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
- Ruben Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness
- Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Best Supporting Actor:
While I’m thrilled to see nominations for Barry Keoghan and Brian Tyree Henry (both of whom I’ve highlighted as turning in career best work this year) the award is surely going to Ke Huy Quan for Everything Everywhere All at Once. The second most talked about acting comeback of the year (we’ll get on to the first shortly…) he is the heart and soul of the film, delivering impressive action alongside tearjerking emotion that has had audiences and critics alike singing his praises the world over.
Pick & Prediction: Ke Huy Quan
- 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
Best Supporting Actress:
This one is considerably harder to call with some surprise nominations (Angela Bassett achieving Marvel’s first acting nomination for one.) Kerry Condon’s turn as Colin Farrell’s long-suffering sister in Banshees of Inisherin is probably my favourite performance of the lot, but really this one is anyone’s game.
Pick: Kerry Condon Prediction: Anyone’s game!
- 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
For the first time in 88 years everyone up for Best Actor this year is a first time nominee – a welcome result even if surprising given Colin Farrell and especially Bill Nighy’s long careers. You’d be a fool to bet against Brendan Fraser at this point, his stunning comeback in The Whale after a difficult decade or two being sidelined has won him pretty much every other available accolade.
Still, every performance nominated in this category is an absolute knockout and my favourite of the bunch is actually Paul Mescal’s devastating turn as a depressed dad in Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun (review). A surprise gut punch film that has become a serious indie hit, it deserved far more than just this one nomination.
Pick: Paul Mescal Prediction: Brendan Fraser
- Austin Butler, Elvis
- Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
- Brendan Fraser, The Whale
- Paul Mescal, Aftersun
- Bill Nighy, Living
Pick & Prediction: Michelle Yeoh or Cate Blanchett
Though there was some last-minute drama behind the scenes of Andrea Riseborough’s nomination for the little seen To Leslie, the Best Actress race really doesn’t feel like an open field. I’d be very surprised to see anyone other than Michelle Yeoh or Cate Blanchett win this one – though my money is on Blanchett and her commanding performance as composer Lydia Tár – it’ll be the Aussie’s third Oscar if she snatches the prize.
- Cate Blanchett, Tár
- Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once
- Ana de Armas, Blonde
- Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie
- Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans
It’s a very strong year for Best Picture contenders, with every film listed here a genuinely brilliant cinematic experience (well, maybe except a couple… Avatar I’m looking at you) Women Talking and Tár feel like classic Oscar bait movies with hefty performances and strong messages about power and abuse. Top Gun Maverick (review) and Elvis (review) are irresistibly fun blockbusters that managed to achieve the rare win of both box office success and critical approval. Once again however I think it might come down to a two-horse race – with the Academy voters likely to reward the astronomically successful underdog Everything Everywhere, but still my heart lies in moody Inisherin.
Pick: The Banshees of Inisherin Prediction: Everything Everywhere all at Once
- All Quiet on The Western Front – Edward Berger
- Avatar: The Way Of Water – James Cameron
- The Banshees of Inisherin – Martin McDonagh
- Elvis – Baz Luhrmann
- Everything Everywhere All at Once – Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
- The Fabelmans – Steven Spielberg
- Tár – Todd Field
- Top Gun: Maverick – Joseph Kosinski
- Triangle of Sadness – Ruben Östlund
- Women Talking – Sarah Polley