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  • Writer's pictureHunter Friesen

2023 Oscar Update: AFI Fest, Babylon Reactions, Critics Choice Documentary, and European Film Awards


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 received since the last update.

The fall festival season has officially come to an end with the AFI Fest wrapping up this past week in Los Angeles. Unlike most years, there were no films that made their official premieres at the festival (American Sniper in 2014, Mary Queen of Scots, and On the Basis of Sex in 2018). Granted, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio and The Fabelmans both made their domestic premieres, so there was excitement to be had.

Steven Spielberg’s film cemented its current frontrunner status with successful screenings at both AFI Fest and at various guilds, where it received a rare standing ovation. It also boasted a $40,000 PTA with its initial limited release in four NY/LA theaters this weekend (it opens nationwide on November 23). It’s very hard at the moment to see another film stealing the spotlight away from The Fabelmans. Of course, being the frontrunner at this point in time is not always a good thing, just ask La La Land, The Trial of the Chicago 7, 1917, and The Power of the Dog. There’s still a lot of season left, so it remains to be seen who will be the significant challenger. My money so far is on The Banshees of Inisherin or Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Shifting back over to Guillermo del Toro, his stop-motion animated version of Pinocchio seems to be a lock for a win in Best Animated Feature. It has better reviews and pedigree than any film in the category, with Pixar’s Turning Red being a distant second. At this point, I’d say it’s more likely the film gets in for Best Picture than losing Best Animated Feature. Del Toro was able to get Nightmare Alley a Best Picture nomination last year, and Netflix will be pushing Pinocchio hard with a slew of FYC ads.

Hot off the presses we have social media reactions to the first official screening of Damien Chazelle's Babylon, and things are looking pretty good. Most press attending the screening compared the film to Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street thanks to its high-octane energy and excess. Fortunately for Babylon, taking the path of The Wolf of Wall Street would be a productive one, as that film received five above-the-line nominations. Combine that tally with the impressive production qualities, and Chazelle's film could rival The Fabelmans in total nominations. Wins is another argument, one that can't be had until the majority of people (including myself, who is eagerly awaiting my press screening invite) have seen it. For now, the film is solidified in all categories I've been predicting it in all season.

Just as I’m doing with Babylon right now, my last edition of this column only had social media reactions to go off of for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Now, with the good, but not great, reviews, it seems doubtful that this sequel will be able to repeat the Oscar success of the first film. But even if this doesn’t get nominated for Best Picture, it still has ample opportunities in other categories such as Costume Design, Production Design, and Visual Effects.

The European Film Awards, representing the best in 2022 European cinema, announced their nominees this past week. Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness, Lukas Dhont’s Close (Belgium), and Ali Abbasi's Holy Spider (Denmark) led the pack, each netting nominations for picture, director, screenplay, and acting. These nominations, and potential wins on December 10, will certainly help Close and Holy Spider in the Best International Feature race. Triangle of Sadness, on the other hand, will hope that it helps its outside chances for Original Screenplay and Director.

Lastly, the Critics Choice Documentary Awards took place this past Sunday, with Ryan White’s Good Night Oppy taking home the awards for Best Documentary Feature and Best Director. Blake Neely’s score and Angela Bassett’s narration also took home awards. This will definitely help the film’s chances in the Best Documentary Feature, as it’ll play a similar “the people’s film” strategy to 2020’s My Octopus Teacher.

For the next edition on November 29, we’ll have a more solidified outlook on the potential of Babylon, as well as winners from the Gotham Awards and nominations from the Film Independent Spirit Award. After that, things will start progressing rapidly as the regional critics (NBR, NYFCC, LAFCA) start to weigh in.

Here are my 2023 Oscar predictions in every category (except for the shorts and Best Original Song) for November 15, 2022.

Best Picture

  1. The Fabelmans

  2. The Banshees of Inisherin

  3. Women Talking

  4. Babylon

  5. Everything Everywhere All at Once

  6. Top Gun: Maverick

  7. TÁR

  8. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

  9. She Said

  10. The Whale


11. Avatar: The Way of Water

12. Triangle of Sadness

Best Director

  1. Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans)

  2. Damien Chazelle (Babylon)

  3. Sarah Polley (Women Talking)

  4. Todd Field (TÁR)

  5. Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin)


6. Daniels (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

7. James Cameron (Avatar: The Way of Water)

Best Original Screenplay

  1. The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh)

  2. The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner)

  3. Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniels)

  4. Babylon (Damien Chazelle)

  5. TÁR (Todd Field)


6. Triangle of Sadness (Ruben Östlund)

7. Aftersun (Charlotte Wells)

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. Women Talking (Sarah Polley)

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

  3. She Said (Rebecca Lenkiewicz)

  4. The Whale (Samuel D. Hunter)

  5. White Noise (Noah Baumbach)


6. Living (Kazuo Ishiguro)

7. Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio (Guillermo del Toro & Patrick McHale)

Best Lead Actor

  1. Brendan Fraser (The Whale)

  2. Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin)

  3. Austin Butler (Elvis)

  4. Bill Nighy (Living)

  5. Hugh Jackman (The Son)


6. Diego Calva (Babylon)

7. Jeremy Pope (The Inspection)

Best Lead Actress

  1. Cate Blanchett (TÁR)

  2. Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

  3. Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans)

  4. Danielle Deadwyler (Till)

  5. Margot Robbie (Babylon)


6. Naomi Ackie (I Wanna Dance with Somebody)

7. Olivia Colman (Empire of Light)

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Brendan Gleeson (The Banshees of Inisherin)

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

  3. Ben Whishaw (Women Talking)

  4. Paul Dano (The Fabelmans)

  5. Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans)


6. Brad Pitt (Babylon)

7. Anthony Hopkins (Armageddon Time)

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Jessie Buckley (Women Talking)

  2. Claire Foy (Women Talking)

  3. Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin)

  4. Hong Chau (The Whale)

  5. Carey Mulligan (She Said)


6. Janelle Monáe (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery)

7. Jean Smart (Babylon)

Best Cinematography

  1. The Fabelmans

  2. Babylon

  3. Empire of Light

  4. Top Gun: Maverick

  5. All Quiet on the Western Front


6. Avatar: The Way of Water

7. Bardo

Best Film Editing

  1. Babylon

  2. Top Gun: Maverick

  3. The Fabelmans

  4. Everything Everywhere All at Once

  5. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery


6. Women Talking

7. The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Original Score

  1. Babylon

  2. The Fabelmans

  3. The Banshees of Inisherin

  4. Women Talking

  5. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio


6. Avatar: The Way of Water

7. The Woman King

Best Sound

  1. Top Gun: Maverick

  2. Avatar: The Way of Water

  3. All Quiet on the Western Front

  4. Babylon

  5. The Batman


6. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

7. Elvis

Best Production Design

  1. Babylon

  2. Avatar: The Way of Water

  3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

  4. The Fabelmans

  5. Elvis


6. The Woman King

7. All Quiet on the Western Front

Best Costume Design

  1. Babylon

  2. Elvis

  3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

  4. The Woman King

  5. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris


6. The Fabelmans

7. Corsage

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

  1. The Whale

  2. Babylon

  3. Elvis

  4. The Woman King

  5. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


6. All Quiet on the Western Front

7. The Batman

Best Visual Effects

  1. Avatar: The Way of Water

  2. Top Gun Maverick

  3. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

  4. The Batman

  5. Everything Everywhere All at Once


6. RRR

7. Nope

Best Animated Feature

  1. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

  2. Turning Red

  3. My Father's Dragon

  4. The Bad Guys

  5. Strange World


6. Wendell & Wild

7. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

Best International Feature

  1. All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)

  2. Close (Belgium)

  3. Decision to Leave (South Korea)

  4. Saint Omer (France)

  5. Bardo (Mexico)


6. Alcarràs (Spain)

7. Holy Spider (Denmark)

Best Documentary Feature

  1. Descendant

  2. Navalny

  3. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

  4. Fire of Love

  5. Good Night Oppy


6. The Territory

7. All That Breathes

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