Academy Award Preview: First Edition

With the calendar year winding down we’re getting to the nitty gritty of Oscar season. The next few weeks will have several high profile contenders premiere for the masses and awards season will start to take shape. Now I love the Academy Awards. I don’t necessarily believe they’re completely indicative of what the “best” anything is but it certainly creates a dialogue and gives exposure to many films that normally wouldn’t have drawn much attention to viewers. It’s easy to argue about how the Academy gets it right or snubs somebody but at the end of the day, the members do vote for the nominees and the winners.

Here’s how we’ll break down the field this year. For the six major categories (Best Picture, Best Director, and the four acting fields) I’ll dive into who I feel will be nominated, who will win, who should win, a long shot nominee I know won’t be in the discussion but probably should be, and other names to watch.

So let’s dive in:

Best Picture


The Banshees of Inisherin

Decision to Leave

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio


Top Gun: Maverick

The Whale

Women Talking

Right now it feels like there’s five locks in this field and that’s Banshees, Everything Everywhere, The Fabelmans, Tár, and Women Talking. Top Gun: Maverick was the biggest hit of the year and was loved by critics and audiences alike and will likely be contending in several technical categories so while I feel good about it being there I wouldn’t say its a lock quite yet. After that, it feels like there’s several films knocking on the door. The Academy loves Chazelle and from early reviews Babylon will be a player in several fields. The Whale will likely need to ride the coattails of its actors and screenplay (though this worked out for CODA last year). Guillermo del Toro is an Oscar magnet and early reaction to Pinocchio has been strong. The Academy has been more receptive to foreign films as of late so I’ll pencil in South Korea’s Decision to Leave though I’d personally prefer to see All Quiet on the Western Front here instead.

Who Will Win: The Fabelmans In terms of prestige Steven Spielberg is a tier I director and his latest film, based on his own life growing up in Arizona, is being praised as some of his best work. Plus, Spielberg has been nominated 10 times as either a director or producer since his last win for Saving Private Ryan in 1999. The man is due plus this year feels like just as good a chance as any to give him what could be his final Oscar. I haven’t seen this one yet but it’s near the top of my list.

Who Should Win: Everything Everywhere All At Once No other film this year blended comedy, action, drama, and visuals quite like EEAAO. The film was a smash hit for A24 and could possibly be the most nominated film this year. I will say that the Academy has been a little less conventional in their Best Picture winners ever since Parasite broke the mold a few years back and this is perhaps the least Oscar-baity film in the field this year yet everyone is still raving about it almost nine months after it premiered. Not saying The Fabelmans isn’t worthy but I doubt it will have the impact that Everything Everywhere did.

Longshot Nominee: Thirteen Lives An incredibly shot and designed ensemble piece featured some of the most anxiety inducing moments of the year. Ron Howard’s re-telling of the famous Tham Luang cave rescue featuring Viggo Mortensen, Colin Farrell, and Joel Edgarton is some of his finest work in years but despite solid reviews the film never quite made a huge impact as it was released on Prime Video during the summer. Still one of the year’s best but likely won’t contend for much outside of a handful of technical awards.

Others to Watch: All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, Emancipation, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, RRR, The Woman King

Best Director

Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin

Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All At Once

Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans

Todd Field – Tár

Sarah Polley – Women Talking

Should this be the direction the field ends up moving forward it would mean an all writer/director field. I’m not sure if that’s ever happened before, especially if all five get nominated for writing, but that’s pretty cool. This race is a little more one-side than Best Picture though its not without competition. Spielberg is obviously the behemoth here but The Daniels and Sarah Polley could make it a tighter race. Field and McDonagh feel more like competitors in the writing categories but their films should perform well as a whole. Should any of these five miss the cut look out for the foreign films to slide in here for a spot.

Who Will Win: Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans) – This is his category to lose. Not only for his work but the narrative that he is so overdue will certainly play into his favor. It is possible that this is his only win of the night but between Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay this is a safe bet.

Who Should Win: Dan Kwan & Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All At Once) – I’m pulling for the underdog story here but their chances are much better in Best Picture than Best Director. Again, it just feels as if these two created something incredible that the world has never seen nor expected and it’d be a shame to watch them go unnoticed.

Longshot Nominee: Cooper Raiff (Cha Cha Real Smooth) – One of the most poorly titled films of the year was actually one of the most endearing and thought provoking films of the past year. Raiff does triple duty here as a director/writer/star and there’s the slimmest of slim chances that this Apple TV release could follow in similar shoes as CODA. He likely won’t be a contender here, perhaps moreso screenplay than anything, but he’s certainly a name to watch going forward.

Others to Watch: Edward Berger (All Quiet on the Western Front), James Cameron (Avatar: The Way of Water), Damien Chazelle (Babylon), Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave), S.S. Rajamouli (RRR)

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett – Tár

Danielle Deadwyler – Till

Margot Robbie – Babylon

Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans

Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All At Once

I can’t ever remember a Best Actress field this competitive. Hell, you could probably make an entire field out of women who won’t be nominated this year and find a worthy winner or two in there. That being said there appear to be four locks at this point in Blanchett, Deadwyler, Williams, and Yeoh with that fifth spot up for grabs. To make things even crazier they all have different narratives to go along with one another. Blanchett is the two-time winner, Deadwyler is a relative newcomer who blew people away, Williams is a four-time bridesmaid, and Yeoh will be receiving her first nomination after a long and successful career. Early reactions to Babylon are praising Margot Robbie but this field doesn’t even include Olivia Colman, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara, Ana de Armas, and ESPECIALLY Mia Goth.

Who Will Win: Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once) – I promise at some point I’ll start picking another film to win something. Yeoh perfectly balances big laughs, intense action, and plenty of unforced tear jerking moments to her role as Evelyn. A big indicator for this field could be the Independent Spirit Awards in which her and Blanchett are going against one another for Best Performer though we likely won’t see this one start to take shape until SAG plays out.

Who Should Win: Michelle Yeog (Everything Everywhere All At Once) – See above.

Longshot Nominee: Amber Midthunder (Prey) – One of the surprise hits of the year was Hulu’s Prey and a big reason why was the breakout performance from Midthunder. This is just such a packed field this year that there’s no room for an actress headlining a Predator spinoff. Give the film a watch and you can also catch her briefly in the new season of Reservation Dogs, also on Hulu.

Others to Watch: Ana de Armas (Blonde), Olivia Colman (Empire of Light), Viola Davis (The Woman King), Mia Goth (Pearl), Jennifer Lawrence (Causeway), Rooney Mara (Women Talking)

Best Actor

Austin Butler – Elvis

Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin

Brendan Fraser – The Whale

Bill Nighy – Living

Jeremy Pope – The Inspection

This is more of a two horse race this year between Farrell and Fraser but I’d throw Butler in there as a lock as well. After that it’s kind of a toss up. Nighy seems to be on a lot of experts radars and Pope has one of the best reviewed performances of the year, both of their issues will be getting people to actually see their films. After that there’s a campaign pushing for Adam Sandler for Hustle though that almost feels like a pity nomination for snubbing him for Uncut Gems. Will Smith looks great in Emancipation but I can see the Academy wanting to stay away from him, especially after last year’s antics. I’m also curious to see if Diego Calva will qualify here as supposedly he is being campaigned as a supporting actor even though he’s the start of Babylon.

Who Will Win: Brendan Fraser (The Whale) – We’ve been hearing about this performance for a while now and everybody loves a good comeback story. I’ve yet to see The Whale and while his performance is not without controversy the consensus for the film seems to be that Fraser gives an all-timer here. Once the awards season gets rolling this pick should become more and more obvious.

Who Should Win: Brendan Fraser (The Whale) – Again, I haven’t seen this film yet but his only real competition should be Colin Farrell. With two beloved actors who are nominated for the first time facing off I feel that Fraser will gain the edge ironically because its probably more realistic to expect Farrell back again in the future.

Longshot Nominee: Alexander Skarsgård (The Northman) – While Everything Everywhere looks like it will overcome an early-year release it looks like Robert Eggers’ The Northman won’t be as fortunate. This truly was one of the best films of the year in large part due to Skarsgård’s performance. The man is a fucking beast in this movie and while it’s easy to label it as an action movie there’s no reason to discredit the incredible physicality he delivered for this film.

Others to Watch: Diego Calva (Babylon), Tom Cruise (Top Gun: Maverick), Hugh Jackman (The Son), Adam Sandler (Hustle), Will Smith (Emancipation)

Best Supporting Actress

Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Kerry Condon – The Banshees of Inisherin

Jaime Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All At Once

Claire Foy – Women Talking

Carey Mulligan – She Said

Out of the four acting categories this field is far and away the most open. Like Best Actress, I feel I could put another competitive field together and still have a solid winner but the only difference here is that I feel there are currently only two true locks. Kerry Condon and Carey Mulligan should feel safe, Mulligan in particular has been picking up steam as of late. Angela Bassett shot up into the race after the trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever debuted but it feels like her chances have cooled off a bit as more contenders have emerged. Jaime Lee Curtis and Claire Foy could also be cannibalizing their own films as Stephanie Hsu (EEAAO) and Jessie Buckley (Women Talking) have also drawn a lot of attention. And don’t forget about the cast of The Woman King: Lashana Lynch and Thuso Mbedu could also make their way into the race. The Whale also as a pair of contenders with Sadie Sink and Hong Chau. Overall looks like a field that could have as many as a dozen legitimate deserving nominees.

Who Will Win: Carey Mulligan (She Said) – Mulligan has been shooting up the ranks ever since She Said premiered and I think she’s got several narratives going for her. One, she’s a two-time nominee who, in my opinion, should have won a few years back for Promising Young Woman. Two, the story of She Said revolves around the Harvey Weinstein case and what better way for Hollywood to stick it to him than giving an Oscar to the film about his downfall.

Who Should Win: Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin) – Condon isn’t as popular a name as some of the others in the category so there may be some of that “who’s this lady?” narrative floating around. But her work in Banshees is both hilarious and fierce. The Academy gave Martin McDonagh’s last film a pair of acting Oscars and it’s possible that could happen again this year.

Longshot Nominee: Rachel Sennott (Bodies Bodies Bodies) – I wasn’t as high on this film as others were but Sennott was a real scene stealer and apparently a surprisingly popular Halloween costume. Between this and were previous work on Shiva Baby I feel Sennott is poised to break out as one of the biggest names in comedy in the near future. Though if any actress from an A24 horror movie should be getting nominated this year its Mia Goth.

Others to Watch: Jessie Buckley (Women Talking), Hong Chau (The Whale), Kate Hudson (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story), Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once), Lashana Lynch (The Woman King), Thuso Mbedu (The Woman King), Janelle Monae (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Story), Sadie Sink (The Whale), Gabrielle Union (The Inspection)

Best Supporting Actor

Branden Gleeson – The Banshees of Inisherin

Brian Tyree Henry – Causeway

Judd Hirsch – The Fabelmans

Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All At Once

Ben Whishaw – Women Talking

Like the Best Actor race, this is pretty much a head-to-head matchup between Gleeson and Quan but Judd Hirsh is a safe bet to be nominated as well. The other two spots can filled by a number of people who likely won’t be serious contenders. Also similar to the Best Actor race, it’s a likeable, overdue actor for their first nomination in a Martin McDonagh movie vs. a comeback story from a fan favorite. I am hoping to see Henry and Whishaw make it in though as they are both tremendously talented character actors who I’d love to see pick up their first nomiantion.

Who Will Win: Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once) – He’s currently the hottest name in the field right now and with good reason. Similar to his co-star Michelle Yeoh he goes above and beyond in his stunts, comedy, and heavy hitting moments. It’s crazy to think that he was that good in his first major role in 20 years. Not to mention, seeing Short Round go on stage to accept an Oscar would be must-see television.

Who Should Win: Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once) – It pains me to say this as I would love nothing more than to see Gleeson be recognized by his peers but Quan elevates his film in such a way that is going to be hard to ignore for voters. Should Gleeson pull it out, you’ll hear no complaints from me but ever since March I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Quan running out of that office screaming “WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!” and not laugh.

Longshot Nominee(s): Ashton Kutcher (Vengeance) & Justin Long (Barbarian) – I make the rules here and I couldn’t decide on which of these two performances from childhood comedic idols of mine that won’t get nominated I liked more. Kutcher doesn’t do a ton of film work anymore, this being his first prominent feature role since his failed Steve Jobs biopic in 2013, but there’s one scene in Vengeance where one could argue Kutcher delivers the monologue of the year. It’s an Oscar worthy moment more than anything but we’ve seen people get nominated for less. Justin Long also delivers some great comedic relief to the uber-twisted Barbarian which has found a second wind via word of mouth after it made its HBO Max debut recently.

Others to Watch: Paul Dano (The Fabelmans), Ben Foster (Emancipation), Anthony Hopkins (Armageddon Time/The Son), Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin), Brad Pitt (Babylon), Eddie Redmayne (The Good Nurse), Jeremy Strong (Armageddon Time), Bokeem Woodbine (The Inspection)

So let’s take a quick look at some of the other fields though I’ll likely have more of an actual breakdown of these as we get closer to the nominations being announced but until then I can’t wait to see how wrong I am. Note the * for who my current winner pick is.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

She Said

Top Gun: Maverick

The Whale

Women Talking*

Best Original Screenplay

The Banshees of Inisherin*

Decision to Leave

Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Fabelmans


Best Animated Feature

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio*

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

Puss In Boots: The Last Wish

Turning Red

Wendell & Wild

Best Cinematography

Avatar: The Way of Water

Empire of Light

The Fabelmans


Top Gun: Maverick*

Best Costume Design


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


Everything Everywhere All At Once

The Woman King

Best Film Editing

All Quiet On The Western Front


Everything Everywhere All At Once*

The Fabelmans

Top Gun: Maverick

Best International Feature

All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)

Bardo, False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths (Mexico)

Close (Belgium)

Decision to Leave (South Korea)*

Holy Spider (Denmark)

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

The Batman*

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever


The Whale

The Woman King

Best Original Score


Bones and All


The Fabelmans*

Women Talking

Best Original Song

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever*

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio


Top Gun: Maverick

Turning Red

Best Production Design

All Quiet on the Western Front

Avatar: The Way of Water


Black Panther: Wakanda Forever*

Thirteen Lives

Best Sound

Avatar: The Way of Water


Everything Everywhere All At Once


Top Gun: Maverick*

Best Visual Effects

Avatar: The Way of Water*

Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness

Everything Everywhere All At Once


Top Gun: Maverick

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