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  • Writer's pictureHunter Friesen

2023 Oscar Update: Final 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.

The days of guessing which five films/actors will fit into one category are behind us, with the only thing left to ponder is which one will come out on top. For some of the categories, the answer is simple. For others, not so much. Every precursor has had their say in what they deem the best in each eligible category, all of which will factor in here for my final Oscar predictions.

It’s been a long road to get here, filled with so many twists and turns along the way. I’ve had so much fun following it closely at festivals and other screenings, so it is a bit sad to see it end. Of course, there’s always next season, which will start very soon as I start to gather intel for preview articles and speculative predictions (all in good fun at this point)


Shorts (Animation, Documentary, Live-Action)

BEST ANIMATED SHORT: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: The Elephant Whisperers



Best International Feature

NOMINEES: All Quiet on the Western Front, Argentina, 1985, Close, EO, The quiet Girl

While Avatar: The Way of Water is the biggest lock of the night in Best Visual Effects, All Quiet on the Western Front for Best International Feature is a close second. No international film that is also nominated for Best Motion Picture has ever lost this category, which, in combination with All Quiet's hefty nomination haul and recent BAFTA dominance, makes this category a no-brainer.


Best Animated Feature

NOMINEES: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, The Sea Beast, Turning Red

There was a brief window at the start of the new year for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish to make things a little competitive, but those pipedreams never came to fruition. Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio hasn't missed a beat the whole season, and there's no doubt it'll be victorious here.


Best Documentary Feature

NOMINEES: A House Made of Splinters, All That Breathes, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Fire of Love, Navalny

Navalny and Fire of Love started their respective journey's together at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, and now they'll both end at the Oscars a year later. Unfortunately, only one can come out on top, which I think will be Navalny thanks to its recent wins at BAFTA and PGA. The tragically ongoing war in Ukraine also adds a real-life connection to its subject matter. But Fire of Love was a box-office hit (at least when compared to its genre) and was rewarded at the DGA and ACE. And there's also Laura Poitras' All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, which was awarded the venerable Venice Golden Lion and received the best reviews of any nominee in the category.


Best Visual Effects

NOMINEES: All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Batman, Top Gun: Maverick

Let's not spend any more time here than we have to. There are enough headache-inducing categories to endure, so let's be happy that Avatar: The Way of Water has this locked up.


Best Makeup/Hairstyling

NOMINEES: All Quiet on the Western Front, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Elvis, The Batman, The Whale

What you predict to win here should show your hand for who you predict to win Best Lead Actor. This category tends to favor the biopic transformation (Bombshell, Vice, Darkest Hour), which lines up well for Elvis. Baz Luhrmann's film has also performed well within the respective guilds and at BAFTA and Critics Choice. The work within The Whale is extremely showy and an essential part of the narrative, so there's a very real chance that walks away with the Oscar.


Best Costume Design

NOMINEES: Babylon, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

It's almost impossible for me to envision Catherine Martin walking away empty-handed, and since I don't have her winning Best Production Design, I kind of have to pick her to win here. In my defense, Elvis also picked up awards at BAFTA and the Costume Designers Guild, so there's evidence to support her path to victory. There's also a lack of a clear challenger to her, as predicted heavyweights Babylon and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever haven't shown much strength. I'm more inclined to think Everything Everywhere All at Once has the best chance for an upset just based on the overall strength of the film.


Best Production Design

NOMINEES: All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Babylon, Elvis, The Fabelmans

While Damien Chazelle's Babylon has not performed to expectations, the one place it's excelled is in this category. It picked up wins at BAFTA, and Critics Choice, and beat Elvis and All Quiet on the Western Front in the Period Film category at the Art Directors Guild. But even with those impressive stats, the love for All Quiet on the Western Front at BAFTA and the name value of Catherine Martin for Elvis doesn’t make this as easy as it would appear to be.


Best Sound

NOMINEES: All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, The Batman, Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick had virtually zero competition within this category for nearly 95% of the season, that is until All Quiet on the Western Front picked up some major steam and a Best Sound win at the BAFTAs. Top Gun's lead is still quite comfortable, but if All Quiet was to overperform on the night, this would be the place to do it.


Best Original Song

NOMINEES: Applause, Hold My Hand, Lift Me Up, Naatu Naatu, This Is a Life

The Golden Globes tend to lean more populist when it comes to their nominees and winners, so the fact that an outsider like RRR's Naatu Naatu was able to come away with the victory signaled its juggernaut status. And then its win at Critics Choice pretty much sealed the deal. Now we can all sit back and enjoy it being performed on stage at the Oscars, which will surely be the highlight of the night.


Best Original Score

NOMINEES: All Quiet on the Western Front, Babylon, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans

While All Quiet on the Western Front's BAFTA dominance has only moved it to a competitive runner-up position in several craft categories, this is one area where I think it's taken the lead. Babylon may have won the Golden Globe (a third consecutive win for Justin Hurwitz, so they may just like him), but it was shockingly beaten by Oscar-ineligible TÁR at Critics Choice, and then by All Quiet at BAFTA. Except for Ennio Morricone's (deserved) career win for The Hateful Eight and Soul in 2020, the winner of this category has always been a Best Picture nominee since the category’s expansion in 2009.


Best Film Editing

NOMINEES: Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Banshees of Inisherin, Top Gun: Maverick, TÁR

Best Sound and Best Film Editing have been awarded to the same film in the two years since Best Sound was merged into one category. The last film to win Best Film Editing and not win either Best Sound Mixing or Editing was Argo back in 2012. This stat would mean the smart money is on Top Gun: Maverick to win here, as it already has a firm grasp to win Best Sound. The Tom Cruise-led film also recently picked up a win at ACE (Dramatic).

But even without a nomination in Best Sound (a case could be made that it would have received a nomination in either Mixing or Editing if the categories were still separated), Top Gun's trophy cabinet has been usurped by Everything Everywhere All at Once most of the season, with it winning the ACE (Comedy), as well as beating Top Gun: Maverick at the BAFTAs and Critics Choice. And when you factor in the overwhelming love for Everything Everywhere All at Once and how much the editing is part of the narrative, you have a pretty solid case for it to buck the Sound-to-Editing correlation.


Best Cinematography

NOMINEES: All Quiet on the Western Front, Bardo, Elvis, Empire of Light, TÁR

This has been one of the most chaotic categories all year long, which is usually a title owned by the Documentary Feature and Shorts categories. A power vacuum emerged after the perceived winner Top Gun: Maverick was snubbed of a nomination. All Quiet on the Western Front has capitalized on that opportunity the most by winning the BAFTA and British Society of Cinematographers awards. Mandy Walker's work in Elvis is not far behind, as she just picked up the ASC award, although All Quiet was not nominated there. She would also be the first woman to win this category, which would showcase the progress that has been made since Rachel Morrison (Mudbound)became the first woman to even be nominated.


Best Supporting Actress

NOMINEES: Angela Bassett, Hong Chau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kerry Condon, Stephanie Hsu

Anyone who is predicting this category with confidence is either insane or lying. Predicting the winner here has lived up to the chaos of predicting the nominees (remember Women Talking?). Angela Bassett looked like she had the best shot with her back-to-back wins at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice, but then immediately lost that status after an expected loss at BAFTA and an unexpected loss at SAG. Kerry Condon has been steady as she goes all season as the critics and BAFTA favorite, and Jamie Lee Curtis has emerged at just the right time with the right overdue narrative. I'm going to pick Condon as she is the best chance for The Banshees of Inisherin to win at least one award, and is the emotional core that you walk away with.


Best Supporting Actor

NOMINEES: Barrey Keoghan, Brendan Gleeson, Brian Tyree Henry, Judd hirsch, Ke Huy Quan

It was nice for Barry Keoghan to receive some deserved recognition for his work in The Banshees of Inisherin at the BAFTAs. At the end of the day, the only thing that win did was secure his spot as the distant runner-up to Ke Huy Quan.


Best Lead Actress

NOMINEES: Ana de Armas, Andrea Riseborough, Cate Blanchett, Michelle Williams, Michelle Yeoh

While I don't think Jamie Lee Curtis' SAG win brings her enough momentum to win the Oscar, I think Michelle Yeoh is special enough to have just needed that SAG win to overcome the barrage of awards Cate Blanchett has received all season. The passion for Yeoh is so public and intense that it has become hard to deny. She would also become only the second BIPOC winner in this category after Halle Berry.


Best Lead Actor

NOMINEES: Austin Butler, Bill Nighy, Brendan Fraser, Colin Farrell, Paul Mescal

Since I picked Elvis to win Best Makeup and Best Costume Design, it only seems fitting that I pick the actor that wears those outfits and hairstyles. Austin Butler may not have a precursor haul like previous biopic winners (unless you count the Minnesota Film Critics Alliance award as a major precursor), but he does have the trifecta of (1) simply being a biopic performer, (2) his film having a Best Picture nomination along with good craft support, and (3) receiving high praise from important figures within the industry such as Denzel Washington and Leonardo DiCaprio. Of course, Brandan Fraser has passionate support and the SAG and Critics Choice awards, so there's just as much chance for him to win here.


Best Adapted Screenplay

NOMINEES: All Quiet on the Western Front, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Living, Top Gun: Maverick, Women Talking

I was so close to switching over to All Quiet on the Western Front after its BAFTA win in this category, but I'm remaining with Women Talking since it just won the WGA and this is the only category it can be rewarded in. Sarah Polley has been an excellent campaigner all season, so it feels right to reward her for the best aspect of her film. But All Quiet is still a stiff challenger since it's based on a book everyone has heard of and has several avenues for overperformance.


Best Original Screenplay

NOMINEES: Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, Triangle of Sadness, TÁR

Just as Adapted Screenplay serves as the only place to reward Women Talking, Original Screenplay (along with Best Supporting Actress) might be the last stand for The Banshees of Inisherin. Martin McDonagh does have the Golden Globe and BAFTA, but he doesn't have the Critics Choice or WGA (he wasn't eligible for a nomination), which are in the hands of Daniels. It's a tough call to make, but I'm going to ride the Everything Everywhere All at Once passion here and sadly predict McDonagh to walk away empty-handed again.


Best Director

NOMINEES: Daniels, Martin McDonagh, Ruben Östlund, Steven Spielberg, Todd Field

If Steven Spielberg (or anyone else) was going to challenge Daniels here, they would have done it at DGA. No one did, and now the Daniels have the Critics Choice and DGA awards to their names and have the benefit of the BAFTA in the hands of Edward Berger, who isn't even nominated here.


Best Picture

NOMINEES: All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: the Way of Water, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Banshees of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, Top Gun: Maverick, Triangle of Sadness, TÁR, Women Talking

With wins at all the major guilds (WGA, PGA, DGA, SAG), there's no precedent for Everything Everywhere All at Once to get its first loss here. The best chance lies in The Banshees of Inisherin if it goes the CODA route and wins for Kerry Condon and its script. That would require an unquantifiably large miracle, so of course I’m sticking with Everything Everywhere All at Once.

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