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  • Writer's pictureHunter Friesen

2023 Oscar Update: Box Office Booms and Busts, Gothams, Release Date Shifts, and Spirit 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.

While there have not been any huge bombshells since my last update, there has been a steady stream of happenings that may help or hurt the Oscar chances for several contenders.

Something that happened mostly under the radar was a release date shift for both The Son and Women Talking. Florian Zeller’s film turned its planned November 25 limited release into solely a one-week Oscar-qualifying run, pushing its nationwide expansion until January 20.

This is a puzzling move, as it has both good and bad sides. The good thing is that it restricts anyone who isn’t a critic or awards voter from seeing the film during its campaign, keeping negative public reactions at a minimum. However, the critical reception to the film isn’t good either, so the damage may already be done. But if Oscar voters embrace the film, then it could potentially receive a huge box office boost during that nationwide rollout. Because of their smart strategies behind The Father and Parallel Mothers, I’ll maintain my faith in what Sony Pictures Classics is doing. I still only have Jackman getting in based on his clout, with a distant outside chance at an Adapted Screenplay nomination on account of the category being so weak.

Similarly, Sarah Polley’s Women Talking moved its opening date from December 02 to December 23. The film recently picked up a slew of nominations at the Gotham and Independent Spirit Awards, so United Artists is hoping that a delay of a couple of weeks will help boost audience turnouts during the holiday season.

While both The Son and Women Talking will start small and expand later on, Universal went the opposite route with She Said, opening it in over 2,000 theaters to a disastrous $2.2 million. There’s no excuse for this opening, which ranks as one of the lowest ever for a studio film opening in wide release. The film had a splashy opening at the New York Film Festival, good reviews, and a timely story worth telling. It’s just that audiences weren’t interested. Of course, box office and Oscar success are becoming less uncorrelated over the past few years, so this blow doesn’t totally take She Said out of the game. But it does put major dents in its chances in Best Picture and Carey Mulligan in Best Supporting Actress.

And after conquering the Toronto International Film Festival and garnering strong critical reviews, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans tasted its first defeat of the season as it opened to a paltry $2.2 million in 638 theaters. This poor turnout of audiences doesn’t take The Fabelmans out of the lead for Best Picture, but it definitely shrinks the distance between it and Everything Everywhere All at Once (which will end up being one of the highest-grossing nominees outside of the mega-blockbusters of Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water).

The only film to come out of Thanksgiving with a smile was Netflix’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, which grossed somewhere in the $12-15 million range in the same amount of theaters as The Fabelmans. This was only a one-week preview for the film, which will hit the streamer on December 23, but it clearly shows the audience's appetite for Rian Johnson’s whodunnit. Both critics and audiences have illustrated their approval, and Netflix has shown that this will be their lead horse this season.

Both the underwhelming performances for She Said and The Fabelmans could also spell trouble for Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, which carries an $80 million budget, three-hour runtime, and divisive critical reactions. To be fair, most early reactions are positive, even if they aren’t enthusiastic. Chazelle’s chances in both Director and Original Screenplay have taken a hit, along with Diego Calva and Jean Smart in their respective acting categories. But the film as a whole should be fine on account of it being a serious contender in several craft categories, and Margot Robbie providing much-needed actor support. I'll be seeing the film on December 05.

Fortunately for the films represented at the Independent Spirit Award nominations, they don’t have to worry about box office stigma on account of their smaller budgets ($30 million qualification cap) and releases. Everything Everywhere All at Once led the way with eight nominations, followed closely by TÁR with seven. Women Talking received strong support by receiving the Robert Altman Award, which restricted any of its cast members from being nominated in their respective acting categories. It’s still a race between Cate Blanchett and Michelle Yeoh for Best Leading Actress, with us still waiting for who will take the precursor awards.

Here are my 2023 Oscar predictions in every category (except for the shorts and Best Original Song) for November 29, 2022.

Best Picture

  1. The Fabelmans

  2. Everything Everywhere All at Once

  3. The Banshees of Inisherin

  4. Women Talking

  5. Top Gun: Maverick

  6. Babylon

  7. TÁR

  8. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

  9. Avatar: The Way of Water

  10. The Whale


11. Elvis

12. Triangle of Sadness

Best Director

  1. Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans)

  2. Sarah Polley (Women Talking)

  3. Todd Field (TÁR)

  4. Daniels (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

  5. Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin)


6. Damien Chazelle (Babylon)

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

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniels)

  2. The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner)

  3. The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh)

  4. TÁR (Todd Field)

  5. Babylon (Damien Chazelle)


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. The Whale (Samuel D. Hunter)

  4. She Said (Rebecca Lenkiewicz)

  5. Living (Kazuo Ishiguro)


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

7. Top Gun: Maverick (Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie)

Best Lead Actor

  1. Brendan Fraser (The Whale)

  2. Austin Butler (Elvis)

  3. Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin)

  4. Bill Nighy (Living)

  5. Hugh Jackman (The Son)


6. Paul Mescal (Aftersun)

7. Tom Cruise (Top Gun: Maverick)

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. Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once)

  2. Brendan Gleeson (The Banshees of Inisherin)

  3. Ben Whishaw (Women Talking)

  4. Paul Dano (The Fabelmans)

  5. Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans)


6. Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin)

7. Brad Pitt (Babylon)

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. Dolly de Leon (Triangle of Sadness)

Best Cinematography

  1. The Fabelmans

  2. Avatar: The Way of Water

  3. Babylon

  4. Top Gun: Maverick

  5. Empire of Light


6. All Quiet on the Western Front

7. Bardo

Best Film Editing

  1. Top Gun: Maverick

  2. The Fabelmans

  3. Everything Everywhere All at Once

  4. Babylon

  5. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery


6. Elvis

7. Women Talking

Best Original Score

  1. Babylon

  2. The Fabelmans

  3. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

  4. The Banshees of Inisherin

  5. Women Talking


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. Elvis

  5. The Batman


6. Babylon

7. Thirteen Lives

Best Production Design

  1. Babylon

  2. Avatar: The Way of Water

  3. Elvis

  4. The Fabelmans

  5. The Woman King


6. Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

7. All Quiet on the Western Front

Best Costume Design

  1. Babylon

  2. Elvis

  3. The Woman King

  4. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

  5. The Fabelmans


6. The Banshees of Inisherin

7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

  1. The Whale

  2. Elvis

  3. Babylon

  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. Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

Best Animated Feature

  1. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

  2. Turning Red

  3. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

  4. My Father's Dragon

  5. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish


6. Wendell & Wild

7. Strange World

Best International Feature

  1. Decision to Leave (South Korea)

  2. All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)

  3. Close (Belgium)

  4. Holy Spider (Denmark)

  5. Bardo (Mexico)


6. Alcarràs (Spain)

7. EO (Poland)

Best Documentary Feature

  1. Navalny

  2. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed

  3. Descendant

  4. Fire of Love

  5. Good Night Oppy


6. All That Breathes

7. The Territory

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