Oscar prognosticating is usually such a cut-and-dried affair: The pundits settle on a consensus winner, the voters agree, the envelopes are opened, and Oscar predictors like me end up bored to death.
This year is different. The critics and journalists went one way, BAFTA disagreed, and the guilds decided to throw some chaos into the mix. The result has been predictive awards that often couldn’t agree with each other on individual categories, bonafide three-way races in lead actor and supporting actress, a nail-biting two-horse race in lead actress, and categories where you can’t take anything for granted. In other words, your guess is as good as mine. In even more other words, this year has been fun for Oscar hobbyists!
And now on to my predictions for 10 top-of-the-line categories:
Will win: Everything Everywhere All at Once
Could win: All Quiet on the Western Front
Should win: Everything Everywhere All at Once
The often-ballyhooed preferential ballot favors the Daniels’ wackily original tale of family dysfunction told through the multiverse. It won at the Producers Guild Awards (which has a ranked voting system resembling the Academy’s), snagged the ensemble prize at SAG, and for good measure, won the Independent Spirit Awards right in the middle of the Oscar voting period. Sure, the serious-minded All Quiet won at BAFTA. But Everything Everywhere is a theatrical hit, while All Quiet streamed on Netflix. If Oscar were to reward Netflix for something, I find it hard to imagine he would validate the much-maligned streamer through a foreign-language movie.
Will win: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Could win: Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Should win: Todd Field, Tár
The Daniels snagged the Directors Guild award, which has a near-perfect record of alignment with Oscar director and picture winners. This proves that, beyond their class-clown demeanor, the two have the support of the snooty directors’ branch and could become the first tandem to go home with the prize. Spielberg might pull off an upset because the Academy is enthralled by Old Guard auteurs, but The Fabelmans peaked too early and has largely dropped out of the radar. Ditto for my personal favorite Todd Field, who’ll probably have to wait another 16 years to finally get his Oscar.
Will win: Brendan Fraser, The Whale
Could win: Austin Butler, Elvis
Should win: Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
While I find the movie grotesque, I can’t fault Brendan Fraser for not giving The Whale his all. Apparently, SAG and the Critics’ Choice agree, which gives him two powerful backers in his quest to go up that Oscar stage. The only thing nagging at me is The Whale’s lack of a best picture nomination. Which leaves Elvis’ Austin Butler a whale-sized opening to hip-shimmy through. Butler snatched BAFTA away from home-field advantage holder Colin Farrell, who so far has only the Golden Globes in his corner. But really, the race has only always been about these three contenders. Sorry, Paul Mescal.
Will win: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Could win: Cate Blanchett, Tár
Should win: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once
The idea that this race is still a nail-biter only speaks to the prevailing mood of woke backlash in the culture. Where in previous years a win at the Golden Globes, dual wins for lead actress and best ensemble at SAG, and a victory at Independent Spirit would mean a sewed-up contest, this year Blanchett prevailing at the Critics’ Choice and the oh-so-white BAFTAs means this might be the only category where the highly regarded Tár could be rewarded (despite Blanchett already having two Oscars on her mantle). Thankfully, SAG and Independent Spirit kept the momentum on Yeoh’s side, and her speeches reminding voters of her gratitude at being given a seat at the table means crowning her as the possible first Asian actress to win a lead acting Oscar will be a feel-good proposition.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Will win: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Could win: Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin
Should win: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
This is the safest bet you can mark in your Oscar pool. Everything (everywhere) is there: the comeback narrative, the sweep of nearly all the predictive awards, the amazing speeches. BAFTA may have crowned hometown boy Barry Keoghan (and I can’t really begrudge them—his performance is spectacular!), but there really is no competition.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Will win: Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Could win: Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Should win: Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin
After winning the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice, Angela Bassett seemed poised to dominate the long awards season. Being industry awards, BAFTA and SAG were the real tests to the strength of her campaign—and her crippling losses at both meant her winning wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Still, I’m betting Bassett could summon support from the general membership of the Academy and rally voters who a) believe this is a deserved career tribute, and b) want to demolish Marvel snobbery. Speaking of career tributes, Jamie Lee Curtis is due one herself, but you’d have to go all the way back to a Streetcar Named Desire to find a film that swept three acting Oscars. But who knows? Bassett and Curtis splitting the career-tribute vote might give Kerry Condon a well-deserved opening.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Will win: Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
Could win: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Should win: Todd Field, Tár
Academy voters are always in the mood to spread the wealth, but there will always be that one movie that will go home empty-handed. This year, I’m betting it won’t be The Banshees of Inisherin, which racked up nine nominations—which means Oscar really, really liked it. In a category full of deserving nominees, this might be the one where the respected Martin McDonagh could get rewarded. Besides, The Banshees of Inisherin always felt like a film that stood on its writing and acting, not its direction. Alas, that means the handmaid left out in the cold will be Lydia Tár.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Will win: Sarah Polley, Women Talking
Could win: Lesley Patterson & Ian Stokell and Edward Berger, All Quiet on the Western Front
Should win: Sarah Polley, Women Talking
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and Living are both Oscar orphans. Top Gun: Maverick may have been supreme entertainment, but its writing isn’t exactly Shakespeare. That leaves Women Talking and All Quiet on the Western Front to duke it out. But while Women Talking was divisive, there are foundational cracks in All Quiet’s script that can’t be ignored. So why not reward the script that tackled a social malaise in a compelling way and is, well, literally all dialogue?
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
Will win: All Quiet on the Western Front, Germany
Could win: Argentina, 1985, Argentina
Should win: Eo, Poland
Nine nominations including best picture means Edward Berger’s adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s classic World War I novel is taking home this prize. Argentina will have to settle for the victory of being nominated.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Will win: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Could win: Marcel the Shell with Shoes on
Should win: Marcel the Shell with Shoes on
When Guillermo del Toro premiered this lavishly animated, stop-motion feature on Netflix—and look, it illustrates the dangers of fascism, too!—it seemed like a done deal. But my heart beats for the lo-fi charms of A24’s Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, which is just as innovative and inventive as del Toro’s Pinocchio, but is instead infused with the warm fuzzies.