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  • Writer's pictureHunter Friesen

2023 Oscar Predictions Update: Midway through the Fall Festivals


Welcome to the first of 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.

Oscar season is fully upon us with the rush of the fall festival trio of the Venice Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, and Toronto International Film Festival (which I will be attending).

This is where we get our first glimpses of several major Oscar players. Ever since the expansion of Best Picture for the 2009 Academy Awards, the winner of the ultimate prize has debuted at one of the fall festivals 10 out of the possible 13 years (5 Venice, 4 Telluride, 1 TIFF). That average gets even greater when you expand out to all the nominees. As of writing this article, Venice and Telluride have both fully (or nearly) concluded, and TIFF is just beginning.

The big winner out of Venice appears to be Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin, which received a near 15-minute standing ovation, which resoundingly trounced the ovation times for every other film in the competition. High praise was heaped upon Colin Farrell’s lead performance and McDonagh’s script, both of which look primed to receive nominations come Oscar morning.

Two other lead performances with high Oscar chances that came out of Venice are Cate Blanchett in TÁR and Brendan Fraser in The Whale. TÁR received much higher critical marks than the latter, with writer/director Todd Field also rising in the ranks for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. A Best Picture nomination seems likely barring any pushback over the film’s viewpoints on “cancel culture.” The Whale, on the other hand, received a more mixed-to-positive response from critics, with some finding issues with Aronofsky’s melodramatic direction. A24 is limiting the film’s presence at the festival and has canceled a screening of it at the Fin Atlantic International Film Festival. Rumors abound that the distributor is short on cash and can’t afford to mount multiple major campaigns alongside Everything Everywhere All at Once.

One film that certainly had its Oscar hopes crushed was Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Bardo, which currently stands at 51 on Metacritic and 57% on Rotten Tomatoes. “Self-indulgent” and “narcissistic” were words used to describe the nearly three-hour film, which Netflix might promptly shift lower down in their priority. The film is still a strong contender in many below-the-line categories such as Best Cinematography and Best Production Design.

Netflix’s other project at Venice, Noah Baumbach’s White Noise, received faintly higher praise, with still some divisiveness among viewers. All eyes will be on how Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery performs at TIFF. If Rian Johnson’s film can capture the same enthusiasm as the original, Netflix may need to switch horses midstream.

Sliding somewhere in the middle of The Banshees of Inisherin and Bardo is Florian Zeller’s The Son. The follow-up to The Father has received politely positive reviews, with the ensemble trio of Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, and Vanessa Kirby all looking to be big awards players. Unfortunately for Zeller, it seems unlikely he’ll repeat a win in Best Adapted Screenplay, nor will he find himself “promoted” to the Best Director lineup.

While this year’s edition of the Telluride Film Festival might be considered weaker compared to years past, they can still hang their hats on securing the world premiere of Sarah Polley’s Women Talking, which has received the highest praise out of any film at the fall festivals (except for possibly All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, for which Laura Poitras looks to secure another win in Best Documentary Feature). While Polley’s direction is said to be a bit understated, her adaption of the screenplay and the performances within the ensemble received rapturous praise. Jessie Buckley and Claire Foy were the standouts, which makes an eventual SAG Ensemble win a strong possibility.

Empire of Light by Sam Mendes received overall middling reviews upon its world premiere at Telluride. But certain aspects of the film, such as Olivia Colman and Michael Ward’s performances, as well as Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score and Roger Deakins' cinematography, seemed to be shoe-ins for Oscar nominations. With that many nominations seemingly locked up, the difficulty of attaining a Best Picture nomination isn’t quite so insurmountable.

Looking ahead to TIFF we have the world premieres of potentially huge contenders in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans. There’s also Peter Farrelly’s The Greatest Beer Run Ever, which must be taken somewhat seriously considering Green Book’s path to a Best Picture win started at TIFF in 2018. And then there are also the films from Venice and Telluride (The Banshees of Inisherin, Empire of Light, The Son, The Whale) that will be looking to continue or change their current momentum.

And a brief note can be said about the non-festival movies as the first images for Damien Chazelle’s Babylon have been released over at Vanity Fair. Based on what it showed, the $110 million budgeted film will likely be a heavy player across the board, with consideration to win in several categories such as Makeup & Hairstyling, Production Design, Costume Design, and Lead Actress.

Here are my 2023 Oscar predictions in every category (except for the shorts and Best Original Song) for September 07, 2022. The next update will come on September 20.

Best Picture

  1. The Fabelmans

  2. Babylon

  3. Women Talking

  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 Son


11. Empire of Light

12. The Whale

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. Ruben Östlund (Triangle of Sadness)

Best Original Screenplay

  1. The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner)

  2. Babylon (Damien Chazelle)

  3. Triangle of Sadness (Ruben Östlund)

  4. Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniels)

  5. The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh)


6. TÁR (Todd Field)

7. Bros (Billy Eichner & Nicholas Stoller)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. Women Talking (Sarah Polley)

  2. She Said (Rebecca Lenkiewicz)

  3. The Whale (Samuel D. Hunter)

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

  5. The Son (Florian Zeller & Christopher Hampton)


6. White Noise (Noah Baumbach)

7. Living (Kazuo Ishiguro)

Best Lead Actor

  1. Austin Butler (Elvis)

  2. Hugh Jackman (The Son)

  3. Brendan Fraser (The Whale)

  4. Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin)

  5. Bill Nighy (Living)


6. Diego Calva (Babylon)

7. Adam Driver (White Noise)

Best Lead Actress

  1. Margot Robbie (Babylon)

  2. Cate Blanchett (TÁR)

  3. Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

  4. Naomi Ackie (I Wanna Dance with Somebody)

  5. Olivia Colman (Empire of Light)


6. Danielle Deadwyler (Till)

7. Jennifer Lawrence (Causeway)

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. Michael Ward (Empire of Light)


6. Woody Harrelson (Triangle of Sadness)

7. Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans)

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans)

  2. Vanessa Kirby (The Son)

  3. Jessie Buckley (Women Talking)

  4. Laura Dern (The Son)

  5. Claire Foy (Women Talking)


6. Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin)

7. Samantha Morton (She Said)

Best Cinematography

  1. Bardo

  2. Babylon

  3. Empire of Light

  4. The Fabelmans

  5. Avatar: The Way of Water


6. Top Gun: Maverick

7. The Batman

Best Film Editing

  1. Babylon

  2. Everything Everywhere All at Once

  3. Top Gun: Maverick

  4. The Fabelmans

  5. Women Talking


6. Decision to Leave

7. Avatar: The Way of Water

Best Original Score

  1. The Fabelmans

  2. Babylon

  3. TÁR

  4. Empire of Light

  5. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio


6. The Batman

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. Thirteen Lives

Best Production Design

  1. Babylon

  2. Elvis

  3. The Batman

  4. Empire of Light

  5. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


6. Avatar: The Way of Water

7. Women Talking

Best Costume Design

  1. Babylon

  2. Elvis

  3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

  4. The Women King

  5. Women Talking


6. Avatar: The Way of Water

7. The Fabelmans

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

  1. Babylon

  2. The Whale

  3. I Wanna Dance with Somebody

  4. The Women 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. Close (Belgium)

  3. Alcarràs (Spain)

  4. Bardo (Mexico)

  5. RRR (India)


6. All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)

7. The Eight Mountains (Italy)

Best Documentary Feature

  1. Fire of Love

  2. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

  3. Moonage Daydream

  4. The Janes

  5. Descendant


6. The Territory

7. Civil

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