2023 Oscar Update: Final Nomination Predictions
Welcome to an ongoing series where I cover the 2022/2023 Oscar season. On a regular basis, I will update my Oscar predictions, taking into account the new information received since the last update.
It's finally time! Months of film festivals, movie reviews, interviews, precursor awards, and general debate have led to this moment. The Oscar nominations will be revealed to us this Tuesday morning, and there's so much potential for certain films to overperform, underperform, or perform within expectations.
As the title suggests, this is my final set of predictions. For months they've been written in pencil, and now I'm finalizing them in ink. I've given rationale for my predictions in every category.
Shorts (Animation, Documentary, Live-Action)
I'll be completely honest with you, these predictions are solely based on what GoldDerby is predicting.
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It
The Elephant Whisperers
38 at the Garden
As Far as They Can Run
An Irish Goodbye
The Red Suitcase
The Lone Wolf
Best International Feature
NOMINEES: All Quiet on the Western Front, Decision to Leave, Close, Argentina, 1985, Bardo
Bardo is hanging on by a thread here, purely based upon the overwhelming Oscar success Iñárritu has had in the past. Of course, that success came from the at-large voting body, and this category is just voted on by a nominating committee. Next up would be either EO, Saint Omer, or The Quiet Girl, which has been riding a small passionate campaign. There could also be an unexpected addition, just like how Bhutan’s Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom came out of nowhere last year.
Best Animated Feature
NOMINEES: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Turning Red, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Wendell and Wild
Unlike its International and Documentary counterpart, the nominating committee for this category is open to all Academy members, although there have been rumors that there’s been a struggle to get people to sign up for it. The heavy hitters of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Turning Red, and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish are secured. A24’s Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is just barely outside of that group because of its non-traditional live-action animation style, which, while unlikely, may be a turn-off for some of the “purist” voters.
I’m reserving the last spot for a name-check nomination for Henry Selick, who remains a legend within the animation sector and delivered some of the most technically astounding work of the year in Wendell and Wild. Also be on the lookout for My Father’s Dragon, as production company Cartoon Saloon seems to always find its way into this category with previous works like Song of the Sea, The Secret of Kells, and The Breadwinner.
Best Visual Effects
NOMINEES: Avatar: The Way of Water, Top Gun: Maverick, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Batman, All Quiet on the Western Front
There probably isn’t a safer bet this year than Avatar: The Way of Water being nominated here. I’d put my whole life savings on it if it were possible. The rest of the four spots I’m splitting up between war and comic-book movies. Top Gun: Maverick and All Quiet on the Western Front will follow the paths laid by Oscar winners First Man and 1917 in how effects can be used in the background to support a narrative feature. And then there will be the visual effects extravaganzas of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and The Batman.
NOMINEES: Elvis, The Whale, The Batman, Babylon, All Quiet on the Western Front
I like to adhere to the appropriate guild nominations/winners when it comes to predicting the majority of the craft categories. Of course, each one is unique in their tastes and star power, so that must also be taken into account. At this year’s Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and The Batman cleaned up in the Contemporary categories, while Amsterdam, Babylon, Blonde, and Elvis were well-represented in the Period categories. The Whale was slightly absent due to the rules surrounding fat suits, which the Academy almost always embraced. I’m going to go with a wild card pick in All Quiet on the Western Front for the final spot, which could easily be taken out by the showy work in either Amsterdam or Blonde.
Best Costume Design
NOMINEES: Elvis, Babylon, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, The Woman King
I’ve compiled these nominees based on the recent Costume Designers Guild Awards, which had Babylon, Elvis, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, and The Woman King in the Period categories, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I’m also on the lookout for Mark Bridges (The Fabelmans), who, despite not getting any precursor attention, was able to make the final lineup in 2019 for Joker. There’s also the dark horse contender of Corsage.
Best Production Design
NOMINEES: Elvis, Babylon, Avatar: The Way of Water, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, All Quiet on the Western Front
I’m sticking with mostly big-name individuals and previous winners in this category: Catherine Martin (Elvis) and Avatar: The Way of Water/Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (both original films won this award). I’m also including Babylon because you only have to watch the trailer to notice the stunning sets and backdrops. All of these films were named in this year’s awards for the Art Directors Guild and Set Decorators Society of America.
NOMINEES: Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, All Quiet on the Western Front, Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Motion Picture Sound Editors and Cinema Audio Society guilds break down their nominations into several categories, so it’s a little harder to whittle down the long list of nominees to a final five. We can immediately lock in the big blockbusters of Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water. Next, we can slide in Elvis based on the showy work and its healthy haul at the respective guilds. The next slot will go to the equally impressive work in All Quiet on the Western Front, which did secure a foreign film nomination at the Motion Picture Sound Editors. Babylon was fully blanked by these guilds, and Everything Everywhere All at Once did just alright. I wouldn’t be too shocked to see the latter film make it in as a coattail nomination.
Best Original Song
NOMINEES: Hold My Hand, Lift Me Up, Naatu Naatu, Ciao Papa, Applause
I’m going with the Golden Globe lineup, with the substitution of Diane Warren’s Applause in place of Taylor Swift’s Carolina. Swift has yet to be nominated in this category, while Warren continually gets nominated despite her films increasingly becoming more obscure. Warren was just awarded an Honorary Oscar a few weeks ago, which may have quelled voters’ need to keep nominating her. But I’ll believe that when I see it.
Best Original Score
NOMINEES: Babylon, The Fabelmans, Women Talking, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, The Banshees of Inisherin
Just as I did with Best Original Song, I’m sticking with the Golden Globe lineup, which is filled with previous nominees/winners. It does help that both The Batman and TÁR are ineligible, despite their work being more than worthy of a nomination. The one person I could see crashing this party is Terence Blanchard for The Woman King, as his acclaim has surged these past few years, resulting in nominations for both of his most recent collaborations with Spike Lee in BlacKkKlansman and Da 5 Bloods.
Best Film Editing
NOMINEES: Everything Everywhere All at Once, Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, The Fabelmans, The Banshees of Inisherin
The American Cinema Editors guild will not be announcing their nominees until February 01, which means we’re flying here a little more blind compared to the other categories. The flashy Best Picture contenders of Everything Everywhere All at Once, Top Gun: Maverick and Elvis all feel like guaranteed nominees. I’m juggling between four films for the final two spots: Avatar: The Way of Water, Babylon, The Banshees of Inisherin, and The Fabelmans. I’ll go with the big name of Michael Kahn (The Fabelmans) and recent winner Mikkel E.G. Nielsen (The Banshees of Inisherin) for the final spots, although I don’t feel too good about it.
NOMINEES: Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, Empire of Light, The Fabelmans, All Quiet on the Western Front
Just as they’ve been joined at the hip in several categories, Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water are immediate locks that we don’t even have to think about. Roger Deakins is a proverbial all-star in this category, and his work for Empire of Light was nominated by the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC). Despite Janusz Kaminski’s work in The Fabelmans being snubbed by the ASC, I feel that he can make it based on name power, similar to what he did last year with West Side Story. The last spot (or two spots since Kaminski probably isn’t that safe), is going to be a hard-fought battle between James Friend (All Quiet on the Western Front), Linus Sandgren (Babylon), Darius Khondji (Bardo), and Greig Fraser (The Batman). As an act of contradiction, I’m going with James Friend, the only one to not be a previous nominee.
Best Supporting Actress
NOMINEES: Kerry Condon, Angela Bassett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu, Hong Chau
I’m sticking with the SAG lineup on this one. The Academy has become more open to double nominees in the supporting categories (just look at Judas and the Black Messiah,The Power of the Dog, and most likely The Banshees of Inisherin), and I think there’s enough passion for Stephenie Hsu to get her in. Hong Chau received great support from BAFTA as well. I’m still on the lookout for either of the two Women Talking contenders of Jessie Buckley or Claire Foy, but they’ve been performing horribly compared to expectations. And then there’s always Dolly De Leon from Triangle of Sadness.
Best Supporting Actor
NOMINEES: Ke Huy Quan, Brendan Gleeson, Barry Keoghan, Paul Dano, Eddie Redmayne
Paul Dano escaped a dire situation with his SAG nomination, which, coupled with The Fabelmans being a top-tier contender, gets him in here at the final stop. I’m not predicting it, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if Judd Hirsch pulls a Judi Dench in Belfast and takes Dano’s spot. The final spot is a complete toss-up between Brad Pitt and Eddie Redmayne. The latter does have more precursor support, but he would be the only nomination for The Good Nurse, a film that was met with a whisper (despite being excellent in my opinion). Pitt has an actor-friendly role in Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, and, at least according to the Golden Globes, has legions of actors ready to fawn over him. There’s also the possibility that The Fabelmans get a double nomination, or Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway) or Woody Harrelson (Triangle of Sadness) come out of nowhere.
Best Lead Actress
NOMINEES: Cate Blanchett, Michelle Yeoh, Viola Davis, Michelle Williams, Danielle Deadwyler
Cate Blanchett, Michelle Yeoh, and, to a lesser extent, Viola Davis have been the steady ships this season. After her Golden Globes snub, Danielle Deadwyler got much-needed help from SAG and BAFTA. It’s now down to Michelle Williams and Ana de Armas for the final spot. The best-case scenario would be Williams getting shifted over to Supporting Actress and de Armas getting in here, but I can’t predict that. I also can’t predict Andrea Riseborough for To Leslie, despite the blitzkrieg campaign that’s been strategically occurring these past two weeks.
Best Lead Actor
NOMINEES: Austin Butler, Colin Farrell, Brendan Fraser, Bill Nighy, Paul Mescal
The only thing shaky about this category is the final spot, and it’s between Paul Mescal (Aftersun) and Tom Cruise (Top Gun: Maverick). Cruise could easily get a coattail nomination similar to Best Adapted Screenplay, but I'm going with Mescal after his Critics Choice and BAFTA nominations. Cruise did get the Critics’ Choice as well, but he really should have been nominated at either (or both) the Golden Globes or SAG. Those two misses don’t inspire confidence in me thinking he’ll show up here. I would have also considered Hugh Jackman in The Son if the film wasn’t actively despised by the majority of people who’ve seen it.
Best Adapted Screenplay
NOMINEES: Women Talking, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Living, The Whale, All Quiet on the Western Front
This group of predicted nominees has mostly stayed the same since mid-October, which makes me nervous as it almost seems too easy. A nomination here will likely be the only one for She Said, which makes it susceptible to being swapped out for a bigger Best Picture player like Top Gun: Maverick or All Quiet on the Western Front. But Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s script has remained strong this whole season, appearing right alongside every other predicted nominee in this category. We also won’t have the nominations from the Writers Guild of America until the day after Oscar nomination morning.
Best Original Screenplay
NOMINEES: The Banshees of Inisherin, EEAAO, The Fabelmans, TÁR, Triangle of Sadness
The top four of The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, and TÁR have been steady as she goes all season, so there’s no reason to predict any of them to miss. The last spot is between the European-centric films Triangle of Sadness and Aftersun. Both films have the chance to get a corresponding acting nomination (Dolly de Leon for Triangle of Sadness, Paul Mescal for Aftersun), and both earned a healthy amount of precursor attention. But Triangle of Sadness does have a Golden Globe nomination for Best Picture, and shares more similarities to recent outlier nominees like The Lobster, Knives Out, and The Worst Person in the World.
NOMINEES: Steven Spielberg, Daniels, Todd Field, Martin McDonagh, Edward Berger
Similar to Best Lead Actor, we only have to ponder the final spot here. Of course, that’s also what we said last year with Denis Villeneuve and Dune, but who could have predicted that snub? There’s a bunch of directors hanging around that last spot, and I’m thinking Edward Berger will take that BAFTA dominance and run with it. A small wrinkle in that prediction is that several international directors with small pockets of support could pull votes away from Berger, such as Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave), S.S. Rajamouli (RRR), and Ruben Östlund (Triangle of Sadness). If that’s the case, Joseph Kosinski (Top Gun: Maverick) would be the next batter up with his DGA nomination. And there’s always the possibility of Sarah Polley rebounding with Women Talking or Gina Prince-Bythewood for The Woman King.
NOMINEES: The Fabelmans, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Banshees of Inisherin, Top Gun: Maverick, Elvis, TÁR, Avatar: The Way of Water, All Quiet on the Western Front, Women Talking, Babylon
We have three tiers of players in this category:
Possible Winners: The Fabelmans, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Banshees of Inisherin
Solid Contenders: Top Gun: Maverick, TÁR, Elvis, Avatar: The Way of Water, All Quiet on the Western Front
On Shaky Ground: Women Talking, Babylon
All Quiet on the Western Front was in the “On Shaky Ground” tier just a few days ago, but its massive overperformance at the BAFTAs got it bumped up a rung. Two films that massively underperformed at BAFTA (and PGA) were Women Talking and Babylon. However, they were both able to get SAG Ensemble nominations without any of their actors getting individual nominations. In the case of Women Talking and its current status as a frontrunner for Best Adapted Screenplay, you’d have to go back to 1998’s Gods and Monsters to find an instance where the film that wins Best Adapted Screenplay was not nominated for Best Picture. I’ll admit, keeping Babylon in here over The Whale or Triangle of Sadness is a bit of personal bias, as it was my favorite movie of 2022. But Damien Chazelle’s film also has a good pathway to overperform and get hefty craft support. It could also underperform and only attain recognition for Justin Hurwitz’s score and its production design.