Way-Too-Early 2023 Oscar Predictions

Picture

Nominees:

  1. AVATAR 2
  2. BABYLON
  3. THE FABELMANS (Winner)
  4. THE KILLER
  5. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON
  6. NOPE
  7. POOR THINGS
  8. SHE SAID
  9. SPACEMAN
  10. WOMEN TALKING

Thoughts:

Some Hollywood legends are coming back for what could be – especially in Martin Scorsese’s case – the last films of their respective careers. While Avatar 2 is likely to get a nomination, it may be a tech player more than a bona fide Best Picture contender, similar to the first. This leaves Martin Scorsese’s western-epic Killers of the Flower Moon and Steven Spielberg’s family dramedy The Fabelmans.

Hmm, a western epic vs. a family dramedy, where have I seen this before? I think both of these films will be battling it out all season, but for now, in light of recent events, I am going to go with what promises to be the more “lighthearted” affair. Not to mention Spielberg, who has worked on two film screenplays since 1982 with Poltergeist and A.I., will very much be in the screenplay conversation. Given that this film is semi-autobiographical nature of the film, he could very well be in the running to actually win too. Which, since 2010, 9 of the 12 Best Picture winners won one of the Screenplay awards, and with this being a personal project a win in that category could really help his case here.

On the other side, you have Martin Scorsese directing what seems to be a blockbuster western. I believe the direction of the film will be immaculate, and I think that is where we see Scorsese and the film get recognition, not here. It feels like Best Picture is going to be more personal work, and nothing will be quite as personal as The Fabelmans.

Netflix will likely have a strong slate of films again this year including Spaceman and The Killer. Spaceman teams Chernobyl director Johan Renck with Adam Sandler, Carey Mulligan, and Paul Dano – yes, this is a real thing I promise – and is based on the novel Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfař. The book is a bit absurd, one of the main characters is a giant arachnid from the beginning of time that can speak to Sandler’s character Jakub Procházka, but it seems like it’s in the right hands. Chernobyl has been highly regarded as one of the best TV shows of at least the past decade, and if Johan Renck brings a sliver of that to this film, it could gain a lot of attention. Not to mention, the sort of comedy/drama this role is going to take could be right up Sandler’s alley. At the very least it will look cool, and be an incredibly interesting film to witness. The Killer on the other hand is David Fincher’s follow-up to Mank, and while Mank was a success, this might be more what fans have come to expect from Fincher. A story about an assassin who begins to develop a conscience led by Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton.

Yorgos Lanthimos’s period drama The Favourite picked up 10 nominations, but before that he could only manage one screenplay nomination for his film The Lobster. Lanthimos’ projects, for lack of better terms, are consistently pretty weird, and how his films do award-wise comes with how much the audience can digest from them. His newest film, Poor Things, on paper, might be too much when it comes to awards consideration, but there is a stellar cast and the Academy loves their Victorian settings.

With Women Talking, Sarah Polley is directing her first film since 2011’s Take This Waltz – a movie I personally enjoy – and this one promises to be far different than the Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen rom-com. Women Talking seems as though it will be a tough film to watch, but with Polley’s writing/directing and the incredible cast of Frances McDormand, Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, and more, this could easily find its way into strong award consideration.

She Said is a film about ending a legacy and starting a movement. Based on the 2019 book of the same name, it’s an extremely recent story from the journalists who exposed Harvey Weinstein. While journalism films are usually a difficult storytelling vehicle, if the film works, it could be a powerful piece.

Finally, we have NOPE. Jordan Peele managed to strike gold with Get Out – literally speaking he won the Oscar for Original Screenplay – but his follow-up, Us, blanked at the Oscars. NOPE looks to be a more horror epic, which would keep it in line with Us over Get Out, but it is hard to deny that Peele has the ability to really land when it comes to the Oscars. NOPE could absolutely miss everything, but it could also finish with a slew of nominations.

In Contention:

  • ARMAGEDDON TIME
  • THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
  • CANTERBURY GLASS
  • CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH
  • DECISION TO LEAVE
  • DISAPPOINTMENT BLVD.
  • DON’T WORRY DARLING
  • ELVIS
  • EMANCIPATION
  • EMPIRE OF LIGHT
  • EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
  • NANNY
  • NEXT GOAL WINS
  • THE NORTHMAN
  • RED, WHITE, AND WATER
  • RUSTIN
  • THE SON
  • TÁR
  • THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING
  • TILL
  • WHITE NOISE
  • THE WOMAN KING

Director

Nominees:

  1. Damien Chazelle, BABYLON
  2. Park Chan-wook, DECISION TO LEAVE
  3. Steven Spielberg, THE FABELMANS
  4. Martin Scorsese, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (Winner)
  5. Sarah Polley, WOMEN TALKING

Thoughts:

Damien Chazelle has already won an Oscar for La La Land, and with Babylon, Chazelle will likely be back as he is covering period Hollywood, a time the Academy loves. Unless the movie massively flops, which it won’t, Chazelle could have his second director nomination wrapped up.

Women Talking could bring Sarah Polley her second Oscar nomination, first for directing, making it the third straight year with a female director nomination. I think the win will be a higher bar to hurdle, but I believe the nature of the topic and how she is able to display it could bring her one step closer to the statue.

James Cameron’s long-awaited Avatar 2 could bring him back to the Oscars stage for the first time since Avatar in 2010. Avatar 2 will be a massive tech player but could miss some nominations above the line, and going off this past season because at this point you kind of has to, there’s a world where this film performs well and still misses. The reason I have Cameron missing is due to the potential lack of above-the-line nominations for Avatar 2, and… has it been too long since the first installment?

Instead of Cameron, I decided to go with Park Chan-wook who crosses a lot more boxes than one would think. While he does fit the “first-time international” nomination, he also fits the overdue narrative as well. Park Chan-wook has been a staple of cinema for some time, making masterpieces like Oldboy – he should’ve gotten a director nomination for this – and others that have infiltrated the Western market. Oldboy itself has been referenced a number of times including in Netflix’s Daredevil TV series. He’s well known, seemingly well-liked, absolutely well respected, and he is well overdue. If his film Decision to Leave is released and submitted by South Korea, this could be an obvious continuation of the international trend we have been seeing.

Steven Spielberg was recently nominated for his work in West Side Story, and a personal project from the director might be too much for voters to not give him the nomination. I went with James Cameron ultimately missing the nomination, but it could be Spielberg given the recency of his nomination this year, as well as the fact that The Fabelmans could be a more screenplay-heavy film.

Ultimately though, and I would be shocked if this changes, this award is Martin Scorsese‘s to lose. The legendary director likely still has more up his sleeve after Killers of the Flower Moon, but I don’t know if it will be anything as epic. With a $200 million budget, this film promises to be massive and could be the last big epic from the director. Scorsese has only ever won Best Director once for The Departed, and I would be shocked if he didn’t get his second this year. However, will the Academy go for 3 westerns in a row is the question.

In Contention:

  • James Gray, ARMAGEDDON TIME
  • James Cameron, AVATAR 2
  • Baz Luhrman, ELVIS
  • Sam Mendes, EMPIRE OF LIGHT
  • Daniels, EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME
  • David Fincher, THE KILLER
  • Nikyatu Jusu, NANNY
  • Jordan Peele, NOPE
  • Robert Eggers, THE NORTHMAN
  • Yorgos Lanthimos, POOR THINGS
  • George C. Wolfe, RUSTIN
  • Maria Schrader, SHE SAID
  • Johan Renck, SPACEMAN
  • Todd Field, TÁR
  • George Miller, THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING
  • Chinonye Chukwu, TILL
  • Darren Aronofsky, THE WHALE
  • Noah Baumbach, WHITE NOISE
  • Gina Prince-Bythewood, THE WOMAN KING

Actor

Nominees:

  1. Jesse Plemons, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON
  2. Michael Fassbender, THE KILLER/NEXT GOAL WINS (Winner)
  3. Colman Domingo, RUSTIN
  4. Adam Sandler, SPACEMAN
  5. Adam Driver, WHITE NOISE

Jesse Plemons recently picked up his first nomination for The Power of the Dog. Now, he will be switching streaming services but staying in the western genre playing the lead in a Martin Scorsese movie. Scorsese knows how to direct an actor to the Oscars, and Plemons, high off his recent nomination, could be heading right back again.

We saw in 2019 Adam Sandler made a legitimate push for an Oscar nomination with Uncut Gems. He fell short, but his name was finally put on the radar of the “Awards crowd.” For most of his career, he didn’t feel drama was in his wheelhouse as an actor, but over the past few years, the comedian has been pursuing more dramatic roles. This year alone he has 2 in Hustle and Spaceman, but it is the latter of the two that could bring him his first Oscar nomination. The Johan Renck-directed space film will have Sandler grapple with life and existence in a way that could utilize his comedic and dramatic chops.

Colman Domingo is another actor who isn’t shy about wanting awards recognition, and he shouldn’t be. Domingo has consistently produced some unbelievable film and television performances, and in Rustin, he could in fact land that first nomination. Domingo will be playing Bayard Rustin who was a gay civil rights activist, and the film will highlight the 1963 March on Washington.

Adam Driver took some risks in 2021, and not all of them were calculated. He is one of the best actors working and went back to the person who got him his most recent nomination in Noah Baumbach. The story is a hard sell, Driver plays a Professor who specializes in “Hitler studies,” but it could lead to a strong performance from Driver; one that could see him get another Oscar nomination

Michael Fassbender has been in a recent career slump since his nomination for Steve Jobs, which he should have won. He should finally break out of that this year as part of both The Killer and Next Goal Wins, and I think either way he should make a strong case for picking up the actor’s first Oscar win in what will be two vastly different performances.

In Contention:

  • Joaquin Phoenix, DISAPPOINTMENT BLVD.
  • Austin Butler, ELVIS
  • Will Smith, EMANCIPATION
  • Bryan Tyree Henry, RED, WHITE, AND WATER
  • Hugh Jackman, THE SON
  • Brendan Fraser, THE WHALE
  • Idris Elba, THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING

Actress

Nominees:

  1. Margot Robbie, BABYLON/CANTERBURY GLASS
  2. Emma Stone, POOR THINGS
  3. Cate Blanchett, TÁR
  4. Viola Davis, THE WOMAN KING (Winner)
  5. Frances McDormand, WOMEN TALKING

Margot Robbie has a big year in store, and it could lead to her third nomination in 6 years. Hopefully, her better shot will be for Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, which apparently has been getting rave reactions to her performance in test screenings, but we can’t count on Canterbury Glass just yet.

After receiving a SAG nomination for her role in Nightmare Alley, Cate Blanchett will look to return to the Oscars for the first time since 2016’s Carol. In TÁR, Blanchett plays the fictional character Lydia Tár who, in this story, is one of the greatest composers who has ever lived; the first-ever female chief conductor of a major German Orchestra. The synopsis doesn’t reveal much, but it seems like this will be a perfect vehicle to bring her an eighth nomination.

Emma Stone is an interesting one because Poor Things has been said to be a riff on the classic Frankenstein story, with Stone taking the role of the “monster.” This kind of role should give them the chance to show odd her range giving the actress her first nomination since her last Lanthimos project The Favourite.

Even though I’m pretty sure Frances McDormand does not care about award recognition, she consistently puts out awards-worthy work. If Women Talking lands, it will have a lot to do with her performance. McDormand has never lost the Best Actress Oscar before, but I think this is the first time this four-time winner will.

That’s because this year I’m gonna put stock in Viola Davis to be my “Oscar winner based on the first picture.” Davis is starring in a historical epic about The Kingdom of Dahomey. She lost her nomination for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom to Frances McDormand, and here she can get her revenge. Also, those first pictures are just too badass for me to not predict her as the front runner.

In Contention:

  • Anne Hathaway, ARMAGEDDON TIME
  • Olivia Colman, EMPIRE OF LIGHT
  • Michelle Yeoh, EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
  • Naomie Ackie, I WANNA DANCE WITH SOMEBODY
  • Jessie Buckley, MEN
  • Anna Diop, NANNY
  • Keke Palmer, NOPE
  • Jennifer Lawrence, RED, WHITE, AND WATER
  • Zoe Kazan, SHE SAID
  • Regina King, SHIRLEY
  • Danielle Deadwyler, TILL
  • Greta Gerwig, WHITE NOISE

Supporting Actor

Nominees:

  1. Paul Dano, THE FABELMANS
  2. Seth Rogen, THE FABELMANS
  3. Leonardo DiCaprio, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON
  4. Daniel Kaluuya, NOPE
  5. Willem Dafoe, POOR THINGS (Winner)

The duo of Paul Dano as Spielberg’s father and Seth Rogen as his Uncle could both make a push for their first Oscar nomination. I wonder how the roles will play out; Dano could be the stern one of the two while Rogen is the charismatic and easy-going Uncle.

Leonardo DiCaprio missed an Oscar nomination for Don’t Look Up, which broke up his streak of three movies with three straight nominations. In Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, DiCaprio will play the villain, a role he doesn’t take too often. This seemingly out-of-type performance could bring him a nomination in the same way it brought Benedict Cumberbatch one for The Power of the Dog.

When Jordan Peele’s Get Out made its rounds, so did Daniel Kaluuya, which the film brought the now Oscar-winning actor his first nomination. NOPE feels eerie and suspenseful, and Kaluuya could ride the Peele wave to another nomination.

As I previously stated, Poor Things sounds a bit insane. Is it too insane for the Academy? Only time will tell, but Willem Dafoe should have won for The Florida Project, and he deserves to win soon. If Spider-Man: No Way Home reminded audiences of anything about Dafoe, it’s that he still has crazy in him. I hope this film gives him the opportunity to really let some of it out.

In Contention:

  • Brad Pitt, BABYLON
  • Tobey Maguire, BABYLON
  • Chris Pine, DON’T WORRY DARLING
  • Tom Hanks, ELVIS
  • Colin Firth, EMPIRE OF LIGHT
  • Will Arnett, NEXT GOAL WINS
  • Mark Ruffalo, POOR THINGS
  • Glynn Turman, RUSTIN
  • André Holland, SHIRLEY
  • Frankie Faison, TILL

Supporting Actress

Nominees:

  1. Dakota Johnson, CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH
  2. Michelle Williams, THE FABELMANS (Winner)
  3. Tilda Swinton, THE KILLER/THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF LONGING
  4. Carey Mulligan, SHE SAID/SPACEMAN
  5. Jessie Buckley, WOMEN TALKING

Thoughts:

Tilda Swinton will have two chances to break into this race, and both of the films she is in are going to be massive awards players. Dakota Johnson‘s performance in Cha Cha Real Smooth is undeniable and the best of the actress’s career. It’s subtle yet powerful work, and hopefully, Apple campaigns her properly.

Carey Mulligan is coming off Promising Young Woman and one of the most unknown Best Actress races in some time. It’s unknown how big a role she will have in both Spaceman and She Said, but Mulligan seems like she can find her way into this race. Same with Jessie Buckley who could reach a second straight Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work as a Mennonite in Bolivia.

However, it likely won’t matter in the end as Michelle Williams is long overdue for her win and playing the late mother of one of the greatest directors to ever live. Her last nomination came for Manchester by the Sea, and if she hadn’t come up against a powerhouse Viola Davis, she could have won. This could be the best chance for the actresses in quite some time.

In Contention:

  • Jean Smart, BABYLON
  • Lily Gladstone, KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON
  • Patricia Clarkson, SHE SAID
  • Vanessa Kirby, THE SON
  • Hong Chau, THE WHALE
  • Sadie Sink, THE WHALE

Original Screenplay

Nominees:

  1. BABYLON
  2. THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
  3. CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH
  4. THE FABELMANS (Winner)
  5. NOPE

Thoughts:

It’s going to be a long season, and of course, there is so much that has to be seen and so many unknowns, but similar to Scorsese in the director category, this is Spielberg’s to lose, right? Spielberg is one of the greats and has been so over the course of 6 decades now. He has directed everything from small-scale films to massive blockbusters, and with West Side Story, some of his best work in a decade, it looks as though Spielberg isn’t stopping anytime soon.

Many people, including myself, wonder what makes one of the greatest directors to ever live, and in 2022, Spielberg is going to tell us with The Fabelmans, a personal semi-autobiography about his own upbringing. He and collaborator Tony Kushner are bound to make something that is as hilarious as it is endearing, and I believe when the time comes people won’t be able to cast their votes for anyone else. Spielberg has been nominated for 19 Oscars, winning 3, but has never been nominated for Screenwriting, which makes sense given the fact that he rarely ever writes his own scripts. All of the signs point to Spielberg picking up his first Screenwriting nomination and win, and Tony Kushner’s apparent “snub” for West Side Story only helps the case.

Babylon is going to bring about another period Hollywood film, and Chazelle, who has already picked up two screenplay nominations in his short career, could land his third screenplay nomination. However, his previous film First Man didn’t get quite the love I bet he was hoping for.

Jordan Peele is in a similar position with NOPE, where he is coming off a film that underperformed at the awards in Us. My thought between Babylon and NOPE is the idea that these could be more director-driven projects than screenplay ones. For now, I have it in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was replaced throughout the year.

Cha Cha Real Smooth was the Sundance standout, being bought by Apple for distribution, and while I think Dakota Johnson should definitely be in Supporting Actress, I think here is the most realistic landing spot for the film awards-wise. Cooper Raiff’s extremely strong and tender script highlights the “coming-of-age” of post-grad young adults and works on many different levels. I just have the same questions as I did with last year’s CODA early on: Is this going to form? For CODA, Apple made it work in the end, and so if anyone can do this, it’s them.

Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges was a masterful comedy/drama that was as funny as it was memorable. His next major awards film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri looked like it was going to be the Best Picture right until the very end. His new film The Banshees Of Inisherin reunites the stars of his first film Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, and instead of assassin friends that might not want to be friends, they’re fishing friends that, might not want to be friends. The similarities are there, and if he can bring the same wit to this as he did with In Bruges, the nomination should be there too.

In Contention:

  • ARMAGEDDON TIME
  • ASTEROID CITY
  • DISAPPOINTMENT BLVD.
  • EMERGENCY
  • EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
  • NANNY
  • THE NORTHMAN
  • ON THE COUNT OF THREE
  • RUSTIN
  • TÁR
  • THE WOMAN KING
  • TILL

Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:

  1. KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON (Winner)
  2. NEXT GOAL WINS
  3. SPACEMAN
  4. POOR THINGS
  5. WHITE NOISE

Thoughts:

Taika Waititi is back after his Oscar-winning Jojo Rabbit to adapt Next Goal Wins which tells the story of one of the worst football teams in the world’s rise to World Cup qualification. Knowing Waititi there will be humor along with the drama that should meld for a fun and emotional sports film.

Spaceman is an extremely poetic novel from Jaroslav Kalfar, and being able to successfully replicate that on-screen will be a feat in itself. White Noise is similar in the way that it will be a fine line for Noah Baumbach to toe writing about a Professor who specializes in Hitler studies. However, Poor Things might take the cake when it comes to difficult adapting. This Frankenstein twist could be far too weird to work or could be the exact amount of strange we’re looking for. Yorgos Lanthimos teamed up again with Tony McNamara (The Favourite), so it seems like we won’t know until it releases.

Eric Roth might be one of the best screenwriters in Hollywood, and it is a shame his only win came with his first nomination for Forrest Gump. After successfully adapting one of the most complex science fiction novels ever written in Dune, he decided to adapt Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI which, again, for most people would be impossible. However, Roth has proven his ability to make some difficult material digestible in cinematic form, and I think with Killers of the Flower Moon he will get his long-overdue second win.

In Contention:

  • DON’T WORRY DARLING
  • THE KILLER
  • THE SON
  • THE WHALE
  • SHE SAID

Animated Feature

Nominees:

  1. ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE (Winner)
  2. APOLLO 10 1/2
  3. LIGHTYEAR
  4. PINOCCHIO
  5. TURNING RED

Thoughts:

The animated feature this year could be quite an interesting one. Turning Red was the earliest release from this group, and the reception has been overwhelmingly positive. One of the biggest advantages the film has going for it is its female representation, especially when it comes to puberty, a topic not shown on screen as often as it should be.

Guillermo del Toro’s previous film Nightmare Alley just did well nomination-wise at the Oscars, picking up one of the surprise Best Picture nominations, but did not do well when it came to wins. del Toro is extremely well-liked amongst, well, everyone it seems like, and his stop-motion Pinocchio could be the vessel to bring him another Oscar. My biggest question is if people are Pinocchio‘d out after 2019’s Oscar-nominated Pinocchio from Matteo Garrone, and the live-action Pinocchio from Robert Zemekis that is supposed to release this year as well.

Chris Evans led Lightyear is going to look at the person who the famous Toy Story toy was modeled after. Toy Story has been a staple of film culture since its first film in 1995, and every time it seems like people have Toy Story fatigue, it reels them back in. I personally was not a fan of Toy Story 4, so I’m hoping Lightyear makes up for the bad taste.

Apollo 10 1/2 is the latest from Richard Linklater, and it’s very, very good. It’s nostalgia and dreaming in the Summer of 1969. This film is backed by Netflix and features an interesting animation style, which could hurt it when it comes to the win. The most “unconventional” the Academy has gone in recent years was for Into the Spider-Verse.

Which, speaking of Into the Spider-Verse, this year we will see the release of Across the Spider-Verse. When Into the Spider-Verse was released, Sony did minimal campaigning and it still won Animated Feature over Pixar and Disney films. It won’t be easy for the film being a sequel, but this film has the Lord and Miller duo that will help promote this to every award show imaginable. It is hard to find people who are more passionate about projects they’re a part of than those two. This film also has Kemp Powers co-directing who was recently Oscar-nominated for writing One Night in Miami… and co-directed Soul.

In Contention:

  • BAD GUYS
  • THE BOB’S BURGERS MOVIE
  • CHIP ‘N DALE: RESCUE RANGERS
  • THE HOUSE
  • MINIONS
  • PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH
  • SUPER MARIO BROS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: