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  • Writer's pictureHunter Friesen

2023 Oscar Predictions Update: Conclusion of the Fall Festivals


"All the Beauty and the Bloodshed" director Laura Poitras holds The Golden Lion award.

Welcome to an ongoing series where I cover the 2022/2023 Oscar season. On a biweekly basis on Tuesdays, I will update my Oscar predictions, taking into account the new information that has been received since the last update.

The Oscar race has tightened up quite a bit now that the fall festival trio of the Venice Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, and Toronto International Film Festival have all wrapped up.

I already covered most of the Venice premieres and all of Telluride in my previous update, so this edition will mainly focus on the impact of TIFF on the race.

Lifting the People’s Choice Award at this year’s edition was Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans, which tells the director’s own story of growing up and loving movies. I was able to attend the world premiere of the film and can tell you that this film is the real deal. I’m talking about this film being a top contender in nearly every category it’s nominated for. Michelle Williams has several Oscar clip moments, and she practically seems like the runaway favorite at this point. It seems like Spielberg has finally cracked the code to getting Oscar acting wins. He wasn’t able to get one until 2012 with Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln and has now picked up both Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies and Ariana DeBose in West Side Story. I expect Williams to add her name to that list.

It’ll be interesting to see how voters will embrace Paul Dano and Judd Hirsch. Both are certainly deserving of nominations, but each has a slight detraction. Dano has similar screen time to Williams but doesn’t come close in terms of having meaty material. Hirsch, on the other hand, has two killer scenes, but he’s basically a glorified cameo with less than ten minutes of screen time. If The Fabelmans turns out to be a top contender (as it should be), there is a world where both Dano and Hirsch get in similar to how Kodi Smit-McPhee and Jesse Plemons were able to sneak in for The Power of the Dog last year.

Spielberg has also planted his flag as the category leader in Best Director. He hasn’t won since Saving Private Ryan, and a nomination for this will be his fourth since that win. There’s one specific scene within The Fabelmans that might be his very best as its combination of performances, editing, and music brought the entire TIFF crowd to tears. I fully expect John Williams’ score (albeit a brief one) and Michael Kahn’s editing to be nominated.

Placing second for the People’s Choice Award was Sarah Polley’s Women Talking, which brought the writer/director back to her hometown after the film’s world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see the film as I had to leave TIFF on the day of its premiere. Placing this high for such a populist award greatly boosts the chances of Women Talking being a major contender. With The Son fizzling out (we’ll get to that later) and The Whale proving divisive, there doesn’t seem to be anybody standing in the way of Polley sweeping the Best Adapted Screenplay category. Jessie Buckley and Claire Foy will likely join Michelle Williams in being mainstays of the Supporting Actress category.

And finishing third for the People’s Choice Award was Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. I was also able to attend the world premiere of this film, and somehow got better seats than Netflix CEO, Ted Sarandos. With Bardo cratering and White Noise being mixed, Netflix would do well to switch Glass Onion to their top contender. Rian Johnson has yet again created a murder mystery where the placing of the puzzle pieces is just as satisfying as seeing the whole picture. It’s just as good, if not maybe better, than the original.

It is hard to predict which categories Glass Onion will compete in. Just as the first film did, a slot in Best Adapted Screenplay seems reasonable. Other than that, things get a bit tricky. Janelle Monáe seems to be the only one out of the cast with any awards potential, even if it’s quite small. Netflix could greatly boost her chances with a heavy campaign throughout the season. Best Film Editing and Best Production Design are other categories it could compete in, but I’m not willing to go there just yet. At the end of the day, this could be just a Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture nominee.

With those three out of the way, let’s quickly look at the several other contenders that came out of TIFF, all of which I was able to see:

The Woman King (read my review here) surpassed expectations this weekend as it grossed $19 million and received the venerable A+ Cinemascore. I expect the film to be a contender in most craft categories as long as it maintains strong legs. An outside chance of a Best Picture nomination could be in order.

Bros played like gangbusters at the world premiere screening I attended. A nomination for Billy Eichner and Nicholas Stoller’s script is a strong possibility, especially if the film performs well at the box office. We usually have one film whose sole nomination is Best Original Screenplay (The Big Sick, The Lobster, Straight Outta Compton).

Netflix’s The Good Nurse turned out to be much better than expected. Tobias Lindholm brings his Mindhunter experience and creates a tension-filled and infuriating true-crime examination of a broken system. Eddie Redmayne gives the great villain performance we've been waiting for, and Jessica Chastain once again shows why she's one of the best. I don’t see much awards potential for the film considering the positive, but not enthusiastic reviews.

Apple and A24’s Causeway finally was seen by the public after nearly two years on the shelf and a title change (formerly called Red, White, and Water). It’s an understated work by newcomer Lila Neugebauer, one that avoids many of the PTSD/trauma cliches that would have easily sunk the film. Both Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry give great performances, but I don’t see any awards potential for the film.

The same can be said for Searchlight’s Chevalier, which turned out to be the surprise of the festival for me. Stephen Williams' direction and Kelvin Harrison Jr.'s performance are filled with as much confidence as the titular character's iconic compositions. It may overplay its hand in its messaging and themes on racial communities, but a figure of this historical importance deserves a big swing. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Searchlight gives this a small release in the Spring of 2023.

Florian Zeller’s The Son was a surprise to me as well, albeit the opposite of Chevalier. Zeller ditches the precision of The Father in favor of an emotional sledgehammer for The Son. Certain infuriating directorial choices are saved by Jackman's brilliant performance and Hans Zimmer's string score. I’ve eliminated the film from my Best Picture predictions, but still have it getting in for Best Adapted Screenplay because of that category's overall thinness.

One film that we can definitely erase from any predictions is Peter Farrelly’s The Greatest Beer Run Ever, which proved to be the overall big loser at the fall festivals.

In my last update, I ended with a brief note on Babylon because of the first images revealed at Vanity Fair. Now that we have a full trailer for the film, we can do a little more accurate predicting. I still maintain the film in all categories I previously had it in, but have moved down some of its chances of winning in some of the above-the-line categories such as Best Actress. Of course, we’ll have to wait for the film to release before passing full judgment.

Here are my 2023 Oscar predictions in every category (except for the shorts and Best Original Song) for September 20, 2022. The next update will come on October 04.

Best Picture

  1. The Fabelmans

  2. Women Talking

  3. Babylon

  4. Everything Everywhere All at Once

  5. The Banshees of Inisherin

  6. Top Gun: Maverick

  7. TÁR

  8. Triangle of Sadness

  9. She Said

  10. The Whale


11. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

12. Empire of Light

Best Director

  1. Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans)

  2. Damien Chazelle (Babylon)

  3. Sarah Polley (Women Talking)

  4. Todd Field (TÁR)

  5. Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave)


6. Daniels (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

7. Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin)

Best Original Screenplay

  1. The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner)

  2. The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh)

  3. Babylon (Damien Chazelle)

  4. Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniels)

  5. Triangle of Sadness (Ruben Östlund)


6. TÁR (Todd Field)

7. Bros (Billy Eichner & Nicholas Stoller)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. Women Talking (Sarah Polley)

  2. She Said (Rebecca Lenkiewicz)

  3. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Rian Johnson)

  4. The Whale (Samuel D. Hunter)

  5. The Son (Florian Zeller & Christopher Hampton)


6. White Noise (Noah Baumbach)

7. Living (Kazuo Ishiguro)

Best Lead Actor

  1. Brendan Fraser (The Whale)

  2. Austin Butler (Elvis)

  3. Hugh Jackman (The Son)

  4. Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin)

  5. Bill Nighy (Living)


6. Diego Calva (Babylon)

7. Song Kang-ho (Broker)

Best Lead Actress

  1. Cate Blanchett (TÁR)

  2. Margot Robbie (Babylon)

  3. Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

  4. Naomi Ackie (I Wanna Dance with Somebody)

  5. Danielle Deadwyler (Till)


6. Olivia Colman (Empire of Light)

7. Ana de Armas (Blonde)

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Paul Dano (The Fabelmans)

  2. Brendan Gleeson (The Banshees of Inisherin)

  3. Ben Whishaw (Women Talking)

  4. Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

  5. Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans)


6. Woody Harrelson (Triangle of Sadness)

7. Brad Pitt (Babylon)

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans)

  2. Jessie Buckley (Women Talking)

  3. Claire Foy (Women Talking)

  4. Vanessa Kirby (The Son)

  5. Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin)


6. Jean Smart (Babylon)

7. Samantha Morton (She Said)

Best Cinematography

  1. Bardo

  2. Babylon

  3. The Fabelmans

  4. Empire of Light

  5. Avatar: The Way of Water


6. Top Gun: Maverick

7. The Batman

Best Film Editing

  1. Babylon

  2. Top Gun: Maverick

  3. The Fabelmans

  4. Everything Everywhere All at Once

  5. Women Talking


6. Decision to Leave

7. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Best Original Score

  1. The Fabelmans

  2. Babylon

  3. The Woman King

  4. TÁR

  5. Empire of Light


6. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Best Sound

  1. Top Gun: Maverick

  2. Avatar: The Way of Water

  3. Elvis

  4. Babylon

  5. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


6. The Batman

7. The Woman King

Best Production Design

  1. Babylon

  2. Elvis

  3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

  4. The Fabelmans

  5. Women Talking


6. The Woman King

7. Empire of Light

Best Costume Design

  1. Babylon

  2. Elvis

  3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

  4. The Woman King

  5. Women Talking


6. Avatar: The Way of Water

7. The Fabelmans

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

  1. The Whale

  2. Babylon

  3. I Wanna Dance with Somebody

  4. The Woman King

  5. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


6. Avatar: The Way of Water

7. The Batman

Best Animated Feature

  1. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

  2. Turning Red

  3. Wendell & Wild

  4. The Bad Guys

  5. Strange World


6. The Sea Beast

7. Lightyear

Best International Feature

  1. Decision to Leave (South Korea)

  2. All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)

  3. Close (Belgium)

  4. Alcarràs (Spain)

  5. Bardo (Mexico)


6. Argentina, 1985 (Argentina)

7. Holy Spider (Denmark)

Best Documentary Feature

  1. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

  2. Fire of Love

  3. Moonage Daydream

  4. Sidney

  5. The Janes


6. The Territory

7. Descendant

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