Zoë’s First Predictions for the 2023 Oscars

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”

No, not that time of the year – but, for film fans, the start of Oscar season sure does feel a lot like Christmas. And with the Venice Film Festival mere days away, there’s no better time than the present to reveal our first Oscar predictions of the season, as the remaining fall festivals will soon start in quick succession after Venice, and then, we’re off to the races. Sure, one could complain about pieces about Oscar predictions being published long before we’ve even had the chance to see most of these films (early year contenders like Everything Everywhere All at Once, Top Gun: Maverick, and Elvis aside), but:

  1. This is how it’s always been done and how it always will be done, especially given that many “Oscar winning narratives” present themselves long before a film or contender is ever made available for “public consumption.”
  2. If you’re “in the know”  –  or really, if you just do your research  –  you can make pretty good guesses about which upcoming awards contenders will have the “strongest” showings in a given season. And this goes beyond evaluating what looks best “on paper” (considering the cast and the crew, the subject matter, the release date, etc.). If you can get your hands on certain scripts (or read the source material for films that are adaptations), that can give you a leg up, as can listening to the “talk of the town” (and test screening tea, wink wink). And when you compile all of this information, you’ll end up with a convincing overview of the contenders that await.
  3. It’s part of the fun! At the end of the day, punditry is not a science, and we’re all mainly here because we like conversing about cinema and campaigning for our favorite films to receive industry-wide recognition. No one can actually predict the future here. We read the tea leaves in our own way, give our best guesses, and go!

This isn’t the first time I’ve given this season  a glance –  as I too hopped on the bandwagon and hastily posted some early predictions following last year’s Oscars – but a lot has happened since the end of March (Everything Everywhere All at Once’s ascendancy, Top Gun: Maverick capturing the cultural zeitgeist, Cannes, etc.) and there’s been some shake-ups behind-the-scenes that I’ll be able to hint at below (with a lucky few having already seen some of this season’s most hotly anticipated contenders), so this is when I really get to dig deep and discuss these races – and the narratives at play – in depth. And with that, combining all I’ve heard and seen  (along with a bit of black magic )  here are my official pre-fall festival Oscar predictions – and my first official predictions this year, period.


Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once

1. Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I haven’t exactly been shy about how much I adore Everything Everywhere All at Once  – and how confident I am in its Oscar chances. But as a pundit, I do do my best to separate my personal opinions from my predictions, and even after doing so, I’m still stupendously hopeful in Everything Everywhere All at Once this awards season. Let’s just get the stats out of the way: a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes (with an 8.6/10 average score), an 81 on Metacritic, an 8.2 on IMDb, and a 4.5 on Letterboxd. It swept the HCA Midseason Film Awards (winning seven of its eight nominations, which was only because it was nominated twice for Best Supporting Actress, and could obviously only win once), and it topped World of Reel’s mid-year Best Films of 2022 list (that takes the opinions of 87 top film critics into account). But don’t dismiss Everything Everywhere All at Once as a mere critical phenomenon, as it’s also become a smash hit commercially as well, grossing $70 million domestically and $100 million worldwide, becoming A24’s highest grossing film to date.

Sure, I’ll concede that the film’s “weirdness” is an obstacle it will have to overcome to receive Oscar recognition – let alone any wins. However, at the end of the day, even though Everything Everywhere is an “explosive multiversal action extravaganza,” it also sports a surprisingly emotional core about cutting through the chaos of these troubled times and rediscovering what really matters – and I believe that this moving message will transcend any of the absurdist madness found in the film’s first act. Case in point, my Mom Test™. Every year, I use my mom to gauge the opinions of the “Average Academy Voter,” given that she’s a centrist white woman in her 50s who isn’t naturally drawn towards the “artier” fare some of us on Film Twitter champion, and she’s never steered me wrong before. I’ll never forget ignoring her resistance to Roma since “it had everything else going for it,” only to watch Green Book (which she adored) win Best Picture instead. Just last year, she hated The Power of the Dog but loved CODA, and this was one of my first signs that TPOTD – despite, like Roma, having “everything going for it” – wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea. And lo and behold, CODA won.

What’d she think of Everything Everywhere? As I suspected, she wasn’t too in to the “hokey” humor of the first half, but she quickly fell for the second half’s sentiment – along with Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan’s performances – and even if it wasn’t something that would “usually be her thing,” she came to like it a fair amount in the end. And even though this is the opinion of one person (who obviously isn’t an Academy voter), it’s where I suspect a lot of the older Academy voters Everything Everywhere naysayers are worried about could fall – it may not be their favorite film of the year, but there’s still a lot to appreciate. And at the end of the day, we have to remember that many in the industry, across all demographics, have already voiced their support for the film – from Barry Jenkins to Reese Witherspoon to Guillermo del Toro to Edgar Wright to Sian Heder and more – giving us reason to hope that their votes alone could do the trick due to the overwhelming support Everything Everywhere has received since March, which shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

2. Babylon (Paramount Pictures)

Babylon is going to be a flat-out fucking masterpiece. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. By all accounts, Damien Chazelle’s fifth film is an emotionally and visually overwhelming operatic ode to old-school Hollywood movie-making – complete with pristine production values (a $110 million budget!) and an epic runtime (over 3 hours!) – that will shock and satisfy cinephiles around the world and likely be one of the most critically acclaimed films of the year as well, further cementing Chazelle as one of the foundational American auteurs of his time.

But, I am very wary to put Babylon at #1 for a few reasons.

  1. The Best Picture winner is seldom ever the one that “makes the most sense on paper” this far in advance. It’s usually not the film from the “biggest names” (hello, CODA?) nor is it always “the movie about Hollywood” (for every The Artist, there’s a Once Upon a Time in Hollywood or a Mank). Babylon‘s quality isn’t what has me worried. It’s the fact that, when an Academy voter casts their vote for Best Picture, they like to send a message with that vote, too. And this far out, I’m not sure Babylon has that additional emotional oomph yet (especially since it’s said to be a bit of a tragic downer, ultimately), whereas something like Everything Everywhere All at Once so clearly does.
  2. Babylon is borderline NC-17. Anyone who’s read the script can tell you that (the film opens on an Eyes Wide Shut-esque orgy), and early word from test screenings seems to confirm it as well. Now, this can be trimmed down between now and the film’s theatrical release – but only to a degree. The film is all about exposing the ugly underbelly of the industry, and it can’t do so without showing the seedier (and excessively sexual) side of Hollywood, too. I don’t think this will be an issue when it comes to the film nabbing noms, but I do think it could be off-putting for voters of a certain demographic when it comes to dishing out wins – at least in a category as major as this.

Right now, I have a theory that Babylon could be the The Revenant /1917 of this season. It’s skipping the fall fests in favor of an end-of-year premiere, where it can let all the other contenders take part in the conversation for months and months until it drops in last-minute to reinvigorate things as as three-hour epic that seemingly blows everything else out of the water, and before you have time to discuss or dissect it in depth, you’ll be stupefied by the sheer splendor of everything on screen and praise it to high heaven. There’s a world where, like The Revenant and 1917, we could see this win at certain major winter awards ceremonies (say, the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs) and become the de facto frontrunner for a bit, but by the time the Oscars rolls around, it’s the unconventional indie underdog (Everything Everywhere All at Once) that actually takes home the top trophy. Wouldn’t it be weird if history repeated itself and another Damien Chazelle movie was usurped by an acclaimed A24 arthouse film?

3. The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

As with Babylon, I think The Fabelmans is going to be fantastic (what did we learn last year when underestimating Spielberg’s West Side Story?), but I will carry over the same logic from above and say that I am very wary that what is essentially a “Steven Spielberg biopic” will actually win Best Picture when all is said and done. I feel like that’s “too easy.” And these past “autobiographical films from auteurs” like Roma and Belfast haven’t actually won in the end either. Will it still nab a slew of nominations? Oh undoubtedly. But early world is also that this is a far smaller and subtler film than initially expected – very intimately focused on Spielberg’s own upbringing, particularly as a Jewish American – and as such, its universal appeal could be limited – while not preventing voters and viewers from appreciating it, of course. It’s gonna be a crowdpleaser, it’s gonna make people laugh and cry, and it’ll probably win TIFF’s People’s Choice Award, but I feel like the Academy has been more daring in recent years with their Best Picture picks, and this would be too basic to predict.

4. Bardo (or a False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths(Netflix)

Every Oscar pundit should live by these words: “Never doubt Alejandro González Iñárritu.” First of all, every movie the man has made has been nominated for an Oscar. And second of all, we’re talking about the guy who won two Best Director Oscars back-to-back. If you’re not taking Bardo seriously, I don’t know what else to tell ya. Additionally, not only is this Iñárritu’s first film in seven years following 2015’s The Revenant, but it’s also supposedly an autobiographical account of his life and an assessment of ongoing illegal immigration from Mexico to the US. Touching and timely? Iñárritu is checking all the boxes here. The only reason I have it out of my top three for now is that a) I’ve seen one of those films (Everything Everywhere All at Once) and b) we have a lot more details about the two others (Babylon and The Fabelmans) than we do about Bardo. But once we finally hear the first reactions to the film out of Venice, I could be inclined to move it up. Bardo really has everything going for it – including backing from the world’s biggest streaming service – so all we need is for it to be seen.

5. Women Talking (UAR/Orion)

Once again, I have done my best to keep my personal preferences out of these predictions, but OH MY GOD I AM SO THRILLED THAT SARAH POLLEY IS BACK (and if you haven’t seen Stories We Tell, fix that ASAP). As such, Women Talking is undoubtedly one of my most anticipated movies of the year, but I also have a feeling it’s one that will click with Oscar voters as well, particularly due to its terribly timely subject matter, which concerns “a group of women in an isolated religious colony as they struggle to reconcile their faith with a string of sexual assaults committed by the colony’s men.” Additionally, the film’s ensemble cast is stacked, with Oscar winner Frances McDormand, Oscar nominees Jessie Buckley and Rooney Mara, and Emmy winner Claire Foy all involved (though McDormand is said to have a smaller part than the other three). The one thing that could hold this back is that it’s said to be a bit of a “chamber piece” that’s primarily concerned with women… talking (as the title indicates), so I can already see certain reactions now labeling the film as “slow” or “slight” (even moreso recently since it’s been called the “Roma /The Power of the Dog contender of the year”). Still, I expect this one to be a big hit with critics, who do still have some sway, and if they go to bat for it in a big way, I think it’ll crack this line-up – and the top five, to boot.

6. The Son (Sony Pictures Classics)

Florian Zeller is gonna be two-for two by the end of 2022. I was already a huge fan following the fantastically moving The Father, but after reading the play that The Son is based on, I have all the faith in the world that he’ll turn out another devastatingly affecting family drama, this time with four powerhouse performances (from Hugh Jackman, Zen McGrath, Laura Dern, and Vanessa Kirby) from one Oscar winner, two nominees, and one soon-to-be breakout star. So yeah, underestimate this one at your own peril. It’s gonna be a top contender not just to be nominated in the acting and screenplay categories but also to win (particularly for Jackman and McGrath), and it’ll be one of the most mainstream prestige titles in the line-up too (i.e. the “Oscar Movie Your Parents Will Love”). And never count out Sony Pictures Classics, who are pros at this game. I think its lesser chances in the directing and editing races will keep it out of the top five, but only just barely.

7. Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)

We’re past the point of doubting Top Gun: Maverick, yeah? I don’t care that it’s a sequel to a cheesy 80s blockbuster more remembered for its soundtrack than its story. This is one of the biggest success stories out of Hollywood this century, a legacyquel that not only radically improved on its predecessor and justified its existence but also received rave reviews from critics (a 96% on Rotten Tomatoes with an 8.2/10 average rating and a 78 on Metacritic) and broke box office records (almost $700 million domestically and over $1.4 billion worldwide). Like Everything Everywhere All at Once, this is a movie that almost everyone likes – and they don’t just “like” it, they love it and RELIGIOUSLY defend it. It’s an old-school Hollywood blockbuster done right, and a vote for it is also a vote in support of spectacle-driven studio fare that isn’t from a superhero franchise, which is something everyone in the industry can get behind. (Plus, white dudes love this thing. It’s getting in. Lol.)

8. Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)

On paper, Empire of Light seems like a slam dunk. The latest film written and directed by Sam Mendes, starring Oscar winner (and three-time nominee) Olivia Colman, shot by Roger Deakins, edited by Lee Smith, and scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross? Oh, and did I mention that it was a “love letter to cinema”? Cue Oscar voters swooning. But, before you go and give this the Best Picture trophy in August, early world does seem to indicate that this isn’t quite the “unmitigated triumph” we initially made it out to be in our heads – it’s a bit smaller and subtler than initially thought (primarily focused on a love story between Colman’s character and one played by British breakout Micheal Ward), and the story isn’t entirely “straightforward,” instead tackling several different timely themes (the preservation of film as an artform, mental illness, sexual assault, racial injustice, etc etc etc… there’s a lot there). Still, this is Searchlight we’re talking about, and they know how to sell pretty much anything, and with another sure-to-be pitch-perfect performance from Olivia Colman at the center of it all, I fail to see how this doesn’t satisfy on some level, especially for more traditional Oscar voters looking for a good, old-fashioned adult drama.

9. Triangle of Sadness (NEON)

I am VERY confident in the top eight films in my Best Picture predictions at the moment, but now that we’re down to spots 9 and 10, I must admit that I’m a bit shakier – though I do feel better about this pick than my next one. Why? Well, for starters, NEON knows their shit, and they’ve defied the odds time and time again (getting Kristen Stewart the Best Actress nom last year, landing a Best Original Screenplay nod for The Worst Person in the World, etc etc etc), especially when it comes to campaigning unconventional Oscar contenders or more international fare that once would’ve been easily overlooked by the “American” Academy. But, as the votership has diversified in recent years, so too have the Oscar nominees, and that gives me hope for Triangle of Sadness, which already has some international approval as this year’s Palme d’Or winner. Yes, it’s a bit of an aggressive social satire, and yes, some of the more gross-out/absurdist humor won’t be for everyone, but if voters see this one in a theater, they’ll be hard pressed to name a more memorable moviegoing experience in 2022 – for both the film’s satire and its shock value – and such a conversation-generator can’t be counted out. And after all, it is being touted as the international answer to Don’t Look Up, and we all know how that film did.

10. Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)

I mean, sure? Spot #10 is TOUGH, but I can’t discount James Cameron, especially after that tremendous teaser trailer. I totally get the critiques, and I do think there could be some Avatar fatigue and a bit of a “we’ve done this all before” vibe surrounding the film, but at the same time, there’s no way this won’t be a GIANT in the tech categories, and I think those branches could go for bat for it in a big way. Additionally, if an Oscar voter is trying to fill out their Best Picture ballot with their “top ten favorite films of the year” and struggling to finish it, here we have a true-blue “cinematic experience” that premieres right at the tail-end of the year and will be fresh on the top of their mind. It won’t benefit from the “surprise success” boost that the first Avatar got, and I’m still unsure if it’ll be quite as big of a box office juggernaut, but I don’t see this being a “colossal disappointment” whatsoever at this stage, and when voters are trying to figure out their Best Picture field, transportive visual majesty and sweeping storytelling could be enough.


11. The Whale (A24)

I’ve come so close to putting The Whale in my Best Picture predictions, but a few things are holding me back. For one, I’m skeptical of A24 getting two films nominated for Best Picture (it’s never happened before, and most years, they can’t even manage one), and additionally, I’ve heard it’s a smaller and “stagier” film, which could hurt its chances in this top category. On the flipside, if Brendan Fraser becomes out Best Actor frontrunner, I’ll probably have to put in my Best Picture predictions, given that the Best Actor winner’s film has been nominated for Best Picture since 2010, and that would signal that the film itself has more strength than initially thought. It’s one to watch for sure, but for now, I’m betting on it being stronger in the individual acting and writing categories instead.

12. She Said (Universal Pictures)

Truth be told, I don’t really know what to do with this one. From its logline alone, this should be an awards juggernaut. “New York Times reporters Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor break one of the most important stories in a generation – a story that helped launch the #MeToo movement and shattered decades of silence around the subject of sexual assault in Hollywood”? Starring Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan? C’mon! But there seemed to something missing from the trailer – perhaps some extra “edge” – that left us apprehensive. Still, this was something that was said about Spotlight too (another investigative journalism story) and that won Best Picture, so who knows! And maybe this is a movie where voters feel that nominating it “means” something (such as reckoning with the legacy of Harvey Weinstein), just like how voters really rallied around Don’t Look Up last year believing that voting for it was a vote against climate change deniers.

13. TÁR (Focus Features)

Admittedly, I am a bit lower on this one than many of my peers, but not for any personal reason. I just simply don’t see the Academy that just gave CODA the Best Picture Oscar embracing this enigmatic, near-three-hour, stylistically chaotic character study with open arms. That trailer looks absolutely terrific, and I’m sure the critics circuit will go crazy for this, but I would bet on it being stronger in specific races (Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Original Screenplay) than in Best Picture, even with ten solid spots. I’ve heavily debated whether I’m missing the boat here, but I’m going with my gut, and in many ways, this reminds me more of a Spencer (despite Todd Field and Cate Blanchett having a higher standing in the Academy than Pablo Larraín and Kristen Stewart) – something that sets Film Twitter on fire and should receive double-digit nominations for its undeniably captivating craft, but proves to be too perplexing to play well with AMPAS.

14. Elvis (Warner Bros.)

Look, laugh all you want, but even though this bombastic Baz Luhrmann biopic is divisive in some circles (what Baz Luhrmann movie isn’t?), it’s still quite well received overall (a 78% on Rotten Tomatoes with a 6.9/10 average rating, a 64 on Metacritic, and an A- CinemaScore), it’s one of the only adult-targeted non-franchise hits of the “pandemic era” at the box office ($145 million domestic and $270 million worldwide), it’s Warner Bros. only real major contender in the race this year, and it can feasibly earn six nominations or more when all is said and done (Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Production Design, Best Sound, and, of course, Best Actor for the brilliant Austin Butler). And as with The Whale, I’d put this in my Best Picture predictions for sure if Butler becomes the frontrunner in his category.

15. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney/Marvel Studios)

Foolishly, I wasn’t considering Black Panther: Wakanda Forever at all really until that dynamite teaser trailer dropped and I said, “Oh yeah, Ryan Coogler rules, DUH.” For real though, not only have Coogler (and cinematographer Autumn Durald Arkapaw) clearly put in the WORK here, but the additional emotional pull we’ll all experience by the film’s dual grappling with the loss of T’Challa and Chadwick Boseman is sure to leave us all sobbing in the theater, and it’s always unwise to count out a contender that causes this much of a visceral reaction in viewers – especially one with as impressive an Oscar history as this (seven nominations, three wins). I’m reticent to put three blockbusters in my predictions (and I do give Avatar a slight edge since I foresee it having more tech support), but I’m very much keeping my eye on Wakanda Forever – and what the critical and commercial reception look like.


Damien Chazelle directing

1. Damien Chazelle – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)

2. Alejandro González Iñárritu – Bardo (or a False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths(Netflix)

3. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

4. Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

5. Sarah Polley – Women Talking (UAR/Orion)


6. Ruben Östlund – Triangle of Sadness (NEON)

7. Park Chan-wook – Decision to Leave (MUBI)

8. Todd Field – TÁR (Focus Features)

9. James Cameron – Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)

10. Sam Mendes – Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)

In all honestly, this is the hardest above-the-line category to call right now – partially because it’s so hard to figure out what the “winning narrative” is at hand. A few months ago, I would’ve bet on Steven Spielberg receiving his third directing win for a very personal project like The Fabelmans, but hearing that it’s a “smaller” (and less visually striking) undertaking than initially expected has me somewhat skeptical, though he can’t be counted out because of a) who he is and b) the feel of that very sentimental film. There’s also another two-time winner to consider with Alejandro González Iñárritu, and since I’m high on his film’s chances in Best Cinematography, that could bode well for him here too, given how often those two categories go hand-in-hand. Or how about the Daniels, since I have their film winning Best Picture?

Instead, I’m betting on Damien Chazelle winning his second Best Director Oscar – for now. If I stick with my theory that Babylon is going to be that late-breaker that holds the frontrunner title for a few months before fizzling out right before the Oscars, Best Director could be its consolation prize if it loses Best Picture (something Chazelle experienced before, with La La Land), and it is admittedly probably the most audacious directing feat of the year, thanks to his meta “movie-within-a-movie” filmmaking and all the spectacle provided by his splashy classic Hollywood setpieces. It simply could be too showy to overlook, and unless this is a 1917/Parasite situation (where the 1917-esque Babylon wins Picture and Director prizes all season before Everything Everywhere All at Once – sometimes seen as the potential Parasite of this year – snatches both come Oscar night), I think Director could be a great way to assure that Chazelle himself walks away with something when all is said and done.


Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, and Zen McGrath in The Son

1. Hugh Jackman – The Son (Sony Pictures Classics)

2. Brendan Fraser – The Whale (A24)

3. Austin Butler – Elvis (Warner Bros.)

4. Daniel Giménez Cacho – Bardo (or a False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths(Netflix)

5. Bill Nighy – Living (Sony Pictures Classics)


6. Song Kang-ho – Broker (NEON)

7. Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin (Searchlight Pictures)

8. Christian Bale – Amsterdam (20th Century Studios)

9. Adam Driver – White Noise (Netflix)

10. Diego Calva – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)

I know I have them ranked 1, 2, and 3, right now, but I honestly feel that Hugh Jackman, Brendan Fraser, and Austin Butler have near equal chances of winning Best Actor at this point in time – and I’m initially giving Jackman the edge because I suspect his film will be the strongest in Best Picture (and we’ve already talked about the correlation between Best Actor and Best Picture). But that’s not all – Jackman is the only one of these three to be a former nominee, he’s been beloved in the industry for years (in both the blockbuster space and in prestige fare), and his role in The Son is pretty damn devastating, with a knockout final scene almost reminiscent of Anthony Hopkins’ for The Father. With that being said, Brendan Fraser does deliver a tremendously “transformative” performance in The Whale – which is everyone’s favorite Oscar buzzword – but let’s remind ourselves that these types of “comeback narratives” rarely actually translate to Oscar wins (Mickey Rourke, anyone?). I think there will be a lot of love for Fraser, especially on the critics circuit, but given that The Whale as a film could also be slightly less accessible than The Son, I’m sticking with Jackman for now.

Meanwhile, Austin Butler is over here delivering perhaps the biggest performance in the category, and that’s something that shouldn’t be underestimated either (and his film is also going to be the biggest hit here, grossing almost $150 million domestically and $270 million worldwide). I’m wary to put him at #1 since he’s so new and so young – and I’m still not sure of his film’s Best Picture chances – but his performance is probably the most overtly “actor-y,” and I could see SAG go for him in a BIG way. Right behind him is Daniel Giménez Cacho for Bardo, who probably doesn’t stand a shot at winning, but given that Alejandro González Iñárritu has gotten actors nominated for Oscars for every film of his except for Amores perros, I’m not going to doubt the lead of what will likely be a big Best Picture player. That fifth spot is very much up for grabs right now, and with no clear frontrunner to snap it up, a passion pick could easily push through here. I’ve gone back-and-forth between Bill Nighy and Song Kang-ho, but Broker not being selected for South Korea’s International Feature Film submission stung a bit, and Nighy does have the backing of the Oscar savvy Sony Pictures Classics (even though they could have their hands full with The Son) and likely many British voters as well.


Margot Robbie in Babylon

1. Margot Robbie – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)

2. Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

3. Cate Blanchett – TÁR (Focus Features)

4. Olivia Colman – Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)

5. Naomi Ackie – I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Sony Pictures Releasing)


6. Danielle Deadwyler – Till (UAR/Orion)

7. Carey Mulligan – She Said (Universal Pictures)

8. Emma Thompson – Good Luck to You, Leo Grande (Searchlight Pictures)

9. Ana de Armas – Blonde (Netflix)

10. Jennifer Lawrence – Causeway (Apple TV+)

There’s probably no actor working right now that I want to see win an Oscar more than Margot Robbie, so yes, I do admittedly have a lot of personal investment in this category. HOWEVER, even setting that bias aside, I fail to see a world in which she doesn’t become our Best Actress frontrunner when Babylon is released. It’s just the definition of a Best Actress winning role. Having read the script, pretty much every scene of hers is an “Oscar scene,” with meaty monologue after meaty monologue to deliver (all profanity-laden, mind you), and Hollywood loves actresses playing actresses (recently: Renée Zellweger and Emma Stone in another Damien Chazelle directed film), especially when we get a peek at their life behind-the-scenes, which Babylon does by even presenting Margot Robbie’s character as a meta representation of the star herself – someone who was branded as a sex symbol from the get go and then had to strain to redefine herself as a “serious actress” in the years that followed even while some only ever saw her for her looks.

There’s also Robbie’s standing in the industry to consider. She’s frankly one of the biggest female stars in the world right now, skilled in both the blockbuster and indie space, and she already has two nominations under her belt. Plus, even though she’s in her early 30s now, I’d still say she can be considered an “ingenue,” and we all know how the Academy loves to award those. Michelle Yeoh is likely the runner-up – Everything Everywhere All at Once is going to be huge, and the campaign for her has been running since March – though in such an unconventional role, I’d say the win is the nomination, and Cate Blanchett is right on her heels in the cryptic but sure to be critically acclaimed TÁR. Olivia Colman is becoming the new Meryl Streep, and even if you’re less confident in Empire of Light elsewhere, she’s not missing here. As for that fifth spot? Like in Best Actor, it’s a bit of a toss up right now, but I’m going with Naomi Ackie in a star-making role in a Whitney Houston biopic releasing right around the holidays, where it will not only likely make a lot of money, but also reach voters right at a critical time for awards consideration.


Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All at Once

1. Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

2. Brad Pitt – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)

3. Zen McGrath – The Son (Sony Pictures Classics)

4. Paul Dano – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

5. Micheal Ward – Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)


6. Ben Whishaw – Women Talking (UAR/Orion)

7. Brendan Gleeson – The Banshees of Inisherin (Searchlight Pictures)

8. Judd Hirsch – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

9. Seth Rogen – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

10. Ashton Sanders – I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Sony Pictures Releasing)

For as marvelous as Michelle Yeoh is in Everything Everywhere All at Once, I’ve seen many mention that Ke Huy Quan is actually their MVP from that film (I feel the same), and given that this category has a little less competition than Best Actress, I think this is where an Everything Everywhere actor will get their due. For starters, Quan is just absolutely perfect in this part. He’s endlessly amusing, emotionally affecting, and in the end, essentially the heart of the film as well. So many of the movie’s most memorable lines come from him (“In another life, I would have really liked just doing laundry and taxes with you”), and he’s the one that causes Yeoh’s Evelyn to see the world in a whole new way. His character pull the film’s themes together, and I can see voters’ sentimental attachment to Waymond boost his chances as well, the same way said sentiment helped other recent “silly and sweet” maternal and paternal characters in the supporting acting categories like Minari‘s Youn Yuh-jung and CODA‘s Troy Kotsur (and he shares an underdog narrative with these two as well, as someone who had given up on Hollywood until he got this one great role, completely knocking it out of the park).

Right behind him is Brad Pitt, in a role that, in my opinion (based on Babylon‘s script), probably would’ve put him in the frontrunner position (as he plays the tragic part of the “most famous man in movies” who subsequently falls from grace as the era of the silent films ends) if he a) hadn’t just already won three years ago and b) wasn’t facing a potential PR shitstorm with the lingering legal troubles between him and his ex-wife, Angelina Jolie. There’s a chance he could pull a Christoph Waltz/Mahershala Ali and win two Best Supporting Actor trophies in 2-3 years, but I think Quan is a very strong competitor, and as I just said, the drama between him and Jolie could definitely put a dark cloud over his campaign this year. Other strong contenders include Zen McGrath in The Son (as the titular “son,” in a role that is very reminiscent of Oscar winner Timothy Hutton in Ordinary People and Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea) and Paul Dano in The Fabelmans (playing Steven Spielberg’s dad, essentially), while that fifth spot is – you guessed it – up for grabs. I went with BAFTA winner Micheal Ward, who is said to be a breakout in Empire of Light (playing Olivia Colman’s younger lover), though I could just as easily see Ben Whishaw get his first Oscar nom this year as the main male character in Women Talking, and I’m keeping my eye on Brendan Gleeson in The Banshees of Inisherin (though that film could be an… acquired taste).


Michelle Williams in The Fabelmans

1. Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

2. Jessie Buckley – Women Talking (UAR/Orion)

3. Laura Dern – The Son (Sony Pictures Classics)

4. Sadie Sink – The Whale (A24)

5. Vanessa Kirby – The Son (Sony Pictures Classics)


6. Stephanie Hsu – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

7. Claire Foy – Women Talking (UAR/Orion)

8. Dolly de Leon – Triangle of Sadness (NEON)

9. Janelle Monáe – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Netflix)

10. Zoe Kazan – She Said (Universal Pictures)

Basically, Best Supporting Actress is Michelle Williams and… everyone else. I mean, come on – we’ve known she had this Oscar on lock since she signed onto this project (and recent test screening reports seem to confirm that she does everything she needs to and more in the film to win). She’s been nominated four times, coming to close to the win more than once, and after she swept the television awards for Fosse/Verdon, it felt like an Oscar had to be around the corner any day – and here it is! I have Jessie Buckley as my distant runner-up, but that’s subject to change when we hear who the true standout (or standouts) of Women Talking is. Buckley supposedly has one of the better/meatier parts based on the source material, and she is coming off of her surprise first nomination, which could help boost her chances too. And right behind her I have Laura Dern for The Son, playing an overworked and under-appreciated mother who gets some VERY dramatic material to work with in the film’s final stretch – and that’s all I’ll say for now.

Next up, I’ve got Sadie Sink – and no, I’m not just saying this as a huge fan of her should-have-been-Emmy-nominated work on Stranger Things. In The Whale, she plays the estranged daughter of Brendan Fraser’s character, and not only will she be sharing the strongest and most stirring scenes in the film with him (someone who is going to be a strong contender to win his own category, meaning she’ll be receiving intense attention from audiences too), but Fraser has already gone on the record praising her performance – saying he “got lost” in it when working with her, “by virtue of being captivated by the fierce beauty that she plays this character with” – so don’t just take it from me. Elsewhere, I think The Son could nab two noms here – Vanessa Kirby’s role isn’t quite as emotionally wrenching as Dern’s, but she is a very prominent player in the film and takes on a unique place in the plot – and some passion picks you’ll want to look out for are Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s Stephanie Hsu (perhaps benefitting from love from the film across the board), Triangle of Sadness‘ Dolly de Leon (she may only be prominent in the film’s final third, but she seems to be everyone’s favorite from the cast), and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery‘s Janelle Monáe (she may have missed out on that nom for Hidden Figures, but she’s said to be on FIRE here).


Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All at Once

1. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

2. Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

3. Damien Chazelle – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)

4. Alejandro González Iñárritu – Bardo (or a False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths(Netflix)

5. Ruben Östlund – Triangle of Sadness (NEON)


6. Sam Mendes – Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)

7. Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin (Searchlight Pictures)

8. Todd Field – TÁR (Focus Features)

9. Jeong Seo-kyeong and Park Chan-wook – Decision to Leave (MUBI)

10. Cooper Raiff – Cha Cha Real Smooth (Apple TV+)

I’m not sure we’ll see a more “original” movie this year than Everything Everywhere All at Once. In fact, this is the nomination – and win – I’m most certain it’ll secure come March. I get that there’s a narrative to finally award Tony Kushner by voting for The Fabelmans (especially after he was so grossly snubbed last year for West Side Story), but while it is possible the Academy rallies around that personal project for Steven Spielberg, I can’t shake the feeling that the momentum is with Everything Everywhere right now, simply for all the reasons I laid about above in Best Picture (including the fact that this category is VERY kind to films that speak to Important Social Issues, like Get Out, Parasite, and Promising Young Woman – and Everything Everywhere tackles the nihilism of today in these troubled times). This thing is absolutely beloved. It’s not walking away without at least one big win, while The Fabelmans is all but assured to receive its recognition elsewhere (Supporting Actress, even if that doesn’t honor Spielberg directly). And a vote for Everything Everywhere here also supports the film’s directors, should they not get their due in the Best Director category.

Best Picture nominees Babylon and Bardo should be pretty safe here, while I’ve put Triangle of Sadness in over Empire of Light, as I feel that the screenplay won’t be one of the latter’s strongest suits, while the former’s screenplay is perhaps the highest piece of praise from that film, for both its devilish dialogue and scathing social satire. Though don’t count out Martin McDonagh for The Banshees of Inisherin – he’s a two-time nominee in this category and this seems to be a very snappy, talk-y script (though its humor may not be for everyone) – or Todd Field (another two-time screenwriting nominee) for what seems to be his magnum opus as an auteur, TÁR. I’d love to see Cooper Raiff break in for Cha Cha Real Smooth – and it seems Apple will throw all their weight behind this one if Killers of the Flower Moon is indeed moving to 2023 – but there are a lot of big names he’ll have to leapfrog first.


The cast of Women Talking

1. Sarah Polley – Women Talking (UAR/Orion)

2. Florian Zeller – The Son (Sony Pictures Classics)

3. Samuel D. Hunter – The Whale (A24)

4. Rian Johnson – Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Netflix)

5. Noah Baumbach – White Noise (Netflix)


6. Rebecca Lenkiewicz – She Said (Universal Pictures)

7. Kazuo Ishiguro – Living (Sony Pictures Classics)

8. Keith Beauchamp, Chinonye Chukwu, and Michael Reilly – Till (UAR/Orion)

9. Ehren Kruger, Christopher McQuarrie, and Eric Warren Singer – Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)

10. Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney/Marvel Studios)

I think this race is going to come down to a former Best Adapted Screenplay nominee (Sarah Polley, for Away from Her) and a former Best Adapted Screenplay winner (Florian Zeller, for The Father), with Polley coming out on top, thanks to a) the social significance of her screenplay and b) the reduced urgency to award Zeller since he did just win so recently. Going off of the play, The Son‘s script will almost undoubtedly be one of the strongest of the year, but there really seems to be something special about Women Talking, both in how it’s structured (the way it relays all these varied experiences of the titular women) and how it speaks to the #MeToo era we’re still living through. And, additionally, it will allow voters to recognize Sarah Polley somewhere, since this film is such a singular achievement for her, and she doesn’t seem to be out ahead in Best Director at the moment.

Otherwise, since this category seems to be somewhat sparse this year, I suspect The Whale can still land a nom here despite my apprehension with putting it in my Best Picture line-up, and I also see a second Oscar nomination in the cards for Rian Johnson with his Knives Out sequel Glass Onion – people love this (newfound) franchise, and if early word is to be believed, he delivers again. I’m still skeptical on She Said‘s chances overall, but with such a barren field, it can definitely crack this final five too, though I am putting Noah Baumbach’s White Noise above it for now. It’s said to be somewhat impenetrable (a lot like its source material), but “impenetrable” didn’t stop Inherent Vice from scoring a nom here eight years ago for its multi-Oscar-nominated auteur Paul Thomas Anderson, so don’t count Baumbach out completely.


Bardo (or a False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths)

1. Darius Khondji – Bardo (or a False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths(Netflix)

2. Linus Sandgren – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)

3. Russell Carpenter – Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)

4. Roger Deakins – Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)

5. Janusz Kamiński – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)


6. Greig Fraser – The Batman (Warner Bros.)

7. Autumn Durald Arkapaw – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney/Marvel Studios)

8. Claudio Miranda – Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)

9. Florian Hoffmeister – TÁR (Focus Features)

10. Larkin Seiple – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

It’s pretty hard to accurately predict a lot of these below-the-line races ahead of time, as this is where the whole “we haven’t actually seen many of these movies” thing tends to hurt us, but there are usually a few “winning narratives” already abounding, and first looks can give us an indication of how certain technical elements of a film will fare in the final product. Case in point, every still that’s been released from Bardo so far is, frankly, stunning. Pair that with the fact that famed cinematographer Darius Khondji (Se7enMidnight in ParisUncut Gems) – who has only ever been nominated for an Oscar once, for 1996’s Evita – shot the film and is said to have knocked it out of the park, and that’s enough for me to put him at #1 for now (and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s last two films did win Best Cinematography as well, so…).

The rest of my line-up is mainly just former winners attached to big Best Picture players, and y’know what? I don’t see any reason to doubt them right now. Linus Sandgren shooting the bombastic Babylon seems like a surefire nomination, and I know some are doubting Avatar: The Way of Water‘s strength across-the-board, but a) let’s not forget that the original won this category and b) did you see that teaser trailer? As for Roger Deakins and Janusz Kamiński, even though I’ve heard their work is “subtler” than usual in Empire of Light and The Fabelmans, respectively (moreso for the latter), they’re still two of the most respected cinematographers to ever live, so if those films are as big as we expect them to be, I have a hard time seeing them get snubbed. I am keeping my eye on two visually striking superhero sequels though (The Batman and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), especially since the former was shot by last year’s winner in this category, Greig Fraser.


Brad Pitt in Babylon

1. Mary Zophres – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)

2. Catherine Martin – Elvis (Warner Bros.)

3. Mark Bridges – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

4. Mobolaji Dawodu – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney/Marvel Studios)

5. Jenny Beavan – Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (Focus Features)


6. Gersha Phillips – The Woman King (Sony Pictures Releasing)

7. Shirley Kurata – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

8. Arianne Phillips – Don’t Worry Darling (Warner Bros.)

9. Albert Wolsky – Amsterdam (20th Century Studios)

10. Alexandra Byrne – Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)

For many of these movies, we’re merely going off of set photos and trailers right now, but even still, we do have a little bit to work with. For one, I’m confident that Babylon is going to have a surplus of colorful costumes to show off – there’s all of the period-accurate attire to take into account and the clothes these in-movie “actors” will be wearing “on set” of all the films they’re “shooting” – so for the sheer volume of work showcased, I’m putting that at #1 for now. Next up, I have Elvis, which should be heavily considered given that two-time Oscar winner Catherine Martin was behind the costumes and there are simply so many in the film that will allow it, like Babylon, to benefit from the volume of design variety on display. Meanwhile, The Fabelmans has two-time Oscar winner Mark Bridges working on it, so even though this is said to be a fairly stripped-down film, the 1950s attire designed by a beloved branch member could be too tantalizing to deny.

And right behind that, I have Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, mainly because its predecessor won this award, and even though there could be a little bit of a “been there, done that” mentality surrounding the film, the addition of the Atlanteans does present a unique design opportunity. That fifth spot is up for grabs right now, but I’ll go with last year’s winner Jenny Beavan right now (a three-time Oscar winner, as well), because Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is a costume designer’s dream gig that is sure to receive a second wind awards-wise with the guilds. I see the case for The Woman King, though I do wonder if Black Panther could steal its thunder, and I also wouldn’t count out Everything Everywhere All at Once thanks to all of Jobu Tupaki’s fierce fits that will feature in their FYC campaign.


Michelle Yeoh in Everything Everywhere All at Once

1. Paul Rogers – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

2. Eddie Hamilton – Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)

3. Tom Cross – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)

4. Sarah Broshar – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

5. David Brenner, James Cameron, John Refoua, and Stephen E. Rivkin – Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)


6. Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond – Elvis (Warner Bros.)

7. TBD – Bardo (or a False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths(Netflix)

8. Lee Smith – Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)

9. Monika Willi – TÁR (Focus Features)

10. TBD – The Son (Sony Pictures Classics)

Frankly, this race should be over. I don’t think I’ve ever seen editing quite like what’s on display in Everything Everywhere All at Once, and I truly feel that many voters will feel the same – and it’s not just the chaotic cross-cutting that’s so impressive, but also the seamless balancing between several storylines across a seemingly infinite amount of universes. It’s something that’s never been seen before, and how do you not award that? Top Gun: Maverick is a close competitor – as a Mad Max: Fury Road /Ford v. Ferrari-esque action extravaganza that will also likely win the Best Sound award, which historically boosts its chances of winning here as well – but I’m not blindly sticking to the stats on this one when we have editing as revolutionary as what’s found in Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Oscar winner (and two-time nominee) Tom Cross will easily earn his third nomination for Babylon (especially if his editing is as engrossing as it was in Whiplash and La La Land), while I feel safe putting The Fabelmans in here for now as well, because I’m expecting it to be such a big player elsewhere (even if Sarah Broshar is untested in this category). I tentatively have Avatar: The Way of Water in my fifth spot, but if this sequel doesn’t hit with the Academy as hard as its predecessor did, this is a category where it could be “shockingly” snubbed, given how brutal the editing branch can be with their picks sometimes if a film is lacking passion overall. I’m tempted to put Elvis here in its place – no matter what you think of its editing, it certainly has some of the most editing you’ll see in a movie all year – but until I see that film become bigger elsewhere, I’ll hold off… for now.


Brendan Fraser in The Whale

1. TBD – The Whale (A24)

2. TBD – The Batman (Warner Bros.)

3. TBD – Elvis (Warner Bros.)

4. TBD – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney/Marvel Studios)

5. TBD – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)


6. TBD – Blonde (Netflix)

7. TBD – The Woman King (Sony Pictures Releasing)

8. TBD – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

9. TBD – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

10. TBD – Amsterdam (20th Century Studios)

I mean, we already “knew” that Brendan Fraser would undergo a mind-blowing transformation in The Whale to play the part of a 600-pound middle aged binge eater, but all it took was one photo to convince us for sure that this was our likely frontrunner for the Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar. Colin Farrell is also quite the chameleon as The Penguin in The Batman, and it is astonishing to see how makeup is used to evolve Austin Butler in the role of Elvis (the less said about the work on Tom Hanks, the better), but even if Brendan Fraser isn’t winning Best Actor, I really think this feat will be too formidable for voters to overlook (and Vice and Bombshell still won this award even when Christian Bale and Charlize Theron lost their acting races).

The first Black Panther shockingly wasn’t even nominated in this category, but I think voters will right that wrong with the sequel (especially with the addition of the Atlanteans), while Babylon should benefit from showcasing all the snazzy hair and makeup of the 1920s. Blonde is creeping up there thanks to Ana de Armas’ mesmerizing transformation into Marilyn Monroe (though will the controversy derail this one?), while The Woman King could be a contender as well, and The Fabelmans did put Michelle Williams in THAT wig, so. I’m also pulling for Everything Everywhere All at Once, as once again, the costume and hair and makeup work on Jobu Tupaki is truly something else, and it helped create one of the most iconic characters of the year so far.


John Williams with his Oscar

1. John Williams – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

2. Justin Hurwitz – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)

3. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)

4. Hildur Guðnadóttir – Women Talking (UAR/Orion)

5. Alexandre Desplat – Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix)


6. Simon Franglen – Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)

7. Michael Giacchino – The Batman (Warner Bros.)

8. Hildur Guðnadóttir – TÁR (Focus Features)

9. Bryce Dessner – Bardo (or a False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths) (Netflix)

10. Son Lux – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

It’s uh, kinda tough to sufficiently judge these scores when we’ve only heard 2-3 of them, but if we’re looking at the contenders and their Oscar track records, we can at least make some “best guesses” for the time being. I have The Fabelmans‘ John Williams at #1 for now, because I feel a “sentimental win” could be in order since the five-time Oscar winner a) hasn’t won in nearly 30 years and b) is said to be retiring after next year’s Indiana Jones 5, meaning this would be his last time working with long-time collaborator Steven Spielberg. Babylon‘s Justin Hurwitz isn’t too far behind though (he should’ve won his second Best Original Score Oscar for First Man, but I’ll accept this as a makeup win), partially because he’s such a celebrated composer right now, and partially because Damien Chazelle movies are always known for featuring some marvelous music. Meanwhile, Empire of Light‘s teaser trailer might’ve just given us our first listen of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ charming compositions, which should put them in this race yet again as well, after winning their second Oscars just two years ago.

Hildur Guðnadóttir, the first solo female composer to win Best Original Score, is back with two contenders in competition, though I give the edge to Women Talking over TÁR, given that it’s widely presumed to be the bigger player across-the-board for now (she just received the TIFF Artisan Award for it), and TÁR may be an acquired taste (think Jonny Greenwood last year with The Power of the Dog and Spencer). And of course, I’ve gotta have 11-time Oscar nominee Alexandre Desplat in there for Guillermo del Toro‘s Pinocchio, considering how beloved he is, how he won his second Oscar for a GDT film (The Shape of Water), and how sweet that score sounds in the film’s trailer. I’m also tempted to put Avatar in on the strength of the score in its trailer, but since Simon Franglen is an untested composer compared to these heavyweights, I’ll wait to hear it in full until doing so. And you can also expect a lot of love for Michael Giacchino’s work in The Batman, assuming it’s still remembered come year end.


Lady Gaga singing "Hold My Hand"

1. “Hold My Hand” – Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)

2. “TBD” – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney/Marvel Studios)

3. “Nobody Like U” – Turning Red (Walt Disney/Pixar Animation)

4. “Top of the World” – Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (Sony Pictures Releasing)

5. “This Is A Life” – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)


6. “Naatu Naatu” – RRR (Sarigama Cinemas)

7. “New Body Rhumba” – White Noise (Netflix)

8. “On My Way” – Marry Me (Universal Pictures)

9. “Sunny Side Up Summer” – The Bob’s Burgers Movie (20th Century Studios)

10. “Carolina” – Where the Crawdads Sing (Sony Pictures Releasing)

Once again, it’s near-impossible to properly predict this category given how little of the contenders we’ve actually heard, but I do feel confident putting Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick at #1 right now, and you know what? I think she might just stay there the whole year. It’s a little soon to be giving Gaga a second Oscar, but if the competition remains relatively minor (let’s see what the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack looks like), she could run the tables all season. For one, “Hold My Hand” is just that damn good. But also, this category usually favors songs that are infused into the very fiber of the films in which they feature, instead of being a mere “end credits song.” And “Hold My Hand” fully fits that bill, as an instrumental version of the song also doubles as a key romantic/emotional theme throughout the entirety of Top Gun.

Last year’s winners Billie Eilish and Finneas could receive their second nomination in a row for writing “Nobody Like U” from Turning Red, while Pasek and Paul’s work in Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (no matter what you think of the movie itself) could bring them their third Oscar nominations (following a win for La La Land and a nomination for The Greatest Showman), if it’s not skipped over as their work in Aladdin and Dear Evan Hansen was. I’m also throwing in Everything Everywhere All at Once‘s “This Is a Life” for now because… why not? It’s got some big names behind it (Son Lux, Mitski, and David Byrne), and it could benefit from Everything Everywhere All at Once being big, well, everywhere. Look out for some love for “Naatu Naatu” from RRR as well, while Marry Me also has a sensational soundtrack that could get some consideration too.


Babylon Logo

1. Florencia Martin (Production Design) and Anthony Carlino (Set Decoration) – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)

2. Rick Carter (Production Design) and Karen O’Hara (Set Decoration) – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

3. Hannah Beachler (Production Design) and Lisa K. Sessions (Set Decoration) – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney/Marvel Studios)

4. Catherine Martin (Production Design) and Beverley Dunn (Set Decoration) – Elvis (Warner Bros.)

5. Dylan Cole and Ben Procter (Production Design) and Vanessa Cole (Set Decoration) – Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)


6. Mark Tildesley (Production Design) and Patricia Cuccia (Set Decoration) – Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures)

7. Katie Byron (Production Design) and Rachel Ferrara (Set Decoration) – Don’t Worry Darling (Warner Bros.)

8. Akin McKenzie (Production Design) and TBD (Set Decoration) – The Woman King (Sony Pictures Releasing)

9. Judy Becker (Production Design) and Patricia Cuccia (Set Decoration) – Amsterdam (20th Century Studios)

10. Jason Kisvarday (Production Design) and Kelsi Ephraim (Set Decoration) – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

Babylon is #1 here because the Academy loves recreations of “classic Hollywood” in this category (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Mank, anyone?). And in addition to bringing 1920s Los Angeles back to life, the film will also feature countless sumptuous movie sets the characters make use of as they’re “working,” so basically, there’s gonna be production design galore in this, and it’ll be hard for anything else to equal it. Up next we have Oscar winners Rick Carter and Karen O’Hara for recreating Steven Spielberg’s childhood in The Fabelmans, while Black Panther: Wakanda Forever isn’t far behind, pretty much for the same reason it’s in Costume Design, too – its predecessor won this category and it’s adding new elements this time around with the design for Atlantis, so it seems like a solid bet right now. Catherine Martin (a two-time winner in this category as well) and Beverley Dunn also feel like they’re up there for Elvis and its several show-stopping sets.

As for that fifth spot, it’s a bit of a toss-up right now, but I’ll default to Avatar: The Way of Water (like Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, its predecessor also won this category), with an eye on Empire of Light and its 1980s cinema setting. Don’t Worry Darling recreating 1950s suburbia could also make it a compelling contender, while Amsterdam is another period piece with tried-and-tested names that shan’t be overlooked entirely, and The Woman King – as in Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling – has a lot to show off, but might find itself in direct competition with the more fantastical film about an African warrior tribe. If voters get really creative, Everything Everywhere All at Once features delectable production design across multiple dimensions, and there was clearly painstaking detail in crafting each universe.


Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

1. TBD – Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)

2. TBD – Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)

3. TBD – The Batman (Warner Bros.)

4. TBD – Elvis (Warner Bros.)

5. TBD – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)


6. TBD – Babylon (Paramount Pictures)

7. TBD – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney/Marvel Studios)

8. TBD – Thirteen Lives (Amazon Studios/MGM)

9. TBD – Amsterdam (20th Century Studios)

10. TBD – The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)

Let’s just rename Best Sound the “Top Gun: Maverick Award” and be done with it, shall we? No but for real, can anything even come close to the staggering soundscape of that blockbuster sequel? Even if it loses out on Best Film Editing to Everything Everywhere All at Once (still an “if”), there’s no way in the world it won’t at least pick up this trophy, providing voters with the showiest sound work of the yearAvatar and The Batman are interchangeable as #2 and #3 behind it (I give Avatar the edge as the likelier Best Picture contender), while Elvis is the closest thing we have to a musical this year and we know how this category loves those, so dismiss it at your own peril.

I put Everything Everywhere All at Once at #5 because, since I have it winning Best Film Editing right now, I figure that it should at least get a nomination here even if its not winning (given how often these two categories go hand-in-hand), but even if it misses out to say, Babylon (which is likely very close to a nod due to the amount of sounds that must be mixed when the characters are on set, a la Mank) or something, I don’t think that dashes its chances in Best Film Editing entirely since the editing is so showy. Despite the fact that the original Black Panther was nominated for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, I think its sequel will probably miss out this year because of the more sound-centric blockbusters ahead of it, while Thirteen Lives could be a dark horse contender, but it’s failed to make much noise since its August release on Amazon Prime.


Avatar: The Way of Water

1. TBD – Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)

2. TBD – Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24)

3. TBD – Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)

4. TBD – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Walt Disney/Marvel Studios)

5. TBD – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Walt Disney/Marvel Studios)


6. TBD – The Batman (Warner Bros.)

7. TBD – Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix)

8. TBD – Thor: Love and Thunder (Walt Disney/Marvel Studios)

9. TBD – Three Thousand Years of Longing (MGM/UAR)

10. TBD – Nope (Universal Pictures)

Just as Best Sound is essentially the “Top Gun: Maverick Award,” Best Visual Effects is absolutely the “Avatar: The Way of Water Award.” No matter what other nominations Avatar receives – or whether or not it cracks the Best Picture category – it’s going to win Best Visual Effects, and you can take that to the bank. There’s simply nothing that can come close to the amount of VFX work in Avatar and how technically audacious and impressive it is. I think fellow Best Picture contenders Everything Everywhere All at Once (which has a fascinating narrative by only having a seven-person VFX team) and Top Gun: Maverick (which could still contend here on account of its strength overall despite being more practical effects-focused) will be right behind Avatar, but they’ll be no threat to win.

Like last year, I expect Marvel to land two noms – one for its major tech category contender Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (which looks to have far more improved VFX than its predecessor, which was notably snubbed here) and one for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (the original was nominated, and this is far more inventive and intricate from a visual standpoint) – while The Batman will try to take one out, but could suffer from not having as much “obvious” VFX (while it will lack the Best Picture advantage Top Gun has to circumvent this critique). Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio could also follow in the footsteps of The Nightmare Before Christmas and Kubo and the Two Strings as the rare animated feature to nab a nom here.


Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

1. Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix)

2. Strange World (Walt Disney/Walt Disney Animation)

3. Turning Red (Walt Disney/Pixar Animation)

4. Wendell & Wild (Netflix)

5. The Bad Guys (Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation)


6. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On (A24)

7. The Sea Beast (Netflix)

8. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Animation)

9. Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood (Netflix)

10. Lightyear (Walt Disney/Pixar Animation)

If you’re exhausted by all of the Pinocchio adaptations we’ve received in recent years, Guillermo del Toro is coming to reimagine the property in fantastically riveting fashion, setting the story just before the rise of Fascism in pre-WWII Italy, where Pinocchio is recruited by the military because the fascists believe that, if this puppet cannot die, he would make the perfect soldier. Oh yeah, and did we mention that, in this version of the classic tale, Geppetto creates Pinocchio to fill the void left behind by his recently deceased son? Just give us the tissues already (and give Guillermo del Toro the Oscar). Disney, per usual, should be right behind him with Walt Disney Animation’s Strange World and Pixar’s Turning Red, but I suspect that, due to the double whammy of Pinocchio‘s awe-inspiring artistry and tender themes, this will be Netflix’s year.

Speaking of Netflix, they have quite a few contenders in this race, and I think Henry Selick’s Wendell & Wild (starring Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) is their next best bet (especially since they have enough faith in it to premiere it at the Toronto International Film Festival). And, as always, that fifth spot is a doozy, but I’m going with DreamWorks’ The Bad Guys at the moment. It was a decent hit at the box office and was quite well received (thanks to its snazzy style and surprisingly stirring story), and as one of their best films in years, expect quite a few animators to rally for it. Though don’t count out A24’s mightily moving Marcel the Shell with Shoes On if its deemed eligible for this category (still up in the air) given that everyone seems to adore that thing, and Netflix’s The Sea Beast is more early year excellence from the streamer in the animated space that could make a splash (pun intended).


Fire of Love

1. Fire of Love (National Geographic Documentary Films/NEON)

2. Navalny (Warner Bros.)

3. Moonage Daydream (NEON)

4. Descendant (Netflix)

5. Good Night Oppy (Amazon Studios)


6. Sidney (Apple TV+)

7. All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (NEON)

8. Riotsville, USA (Magnolia Pictures)

9. Last Flight Home (MTV Documentary Films)

10. The Territory (National Geographic Documentary Films)

Since its premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, it seems that everyone and their mother has been fawning over Fire of Love for both its vibrant visuals and its strikingly sincere story spotlighting the lives and careers of French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft, who ultimately tragically died in a 1991 volcanic explosion, while still doing what they love. To win this category, it helps to have an emotional element, and Fire of Love certainly has that in spades, so I’ll keep it at #1 for the time being. Navalny (another Sundance premiere) is a close competitor though – telling the story of the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the subsequent investigation into the poisoning that seemed to indict Russian president Vladimir Putin – especially given what’s going on in the world right now, as is Brett Morgen’s mesmerizing Moonage Daydream, a musical documentary unlike any other that transports us directly into the psyche of David Bowie.

Netflix’s Descendant – yet another Sundance premiere, which follows the descendants of the survivors from from the Clotlida, the last ship that carried enslaved Africans to the United States, as they reclaim their story – should be dismissed either, while I’m also interested in Amazon’s Good Night Oppy, which shares the inspirational true story of the veteran interplanetary vehicle Opportunity (nicknamed “Oppy“) that explored Mars for 15 years, especially since it will be playing at the Telluride Film Festival and Toronto. Apple TV+’s Sidney, a documentary about the late Sidney Poitier produced by Oprah Winfrey, should also be taken seriously, though the documentary branch can sometimes be picky about biodocs (that aren’t as formally daring as Moonage Daydream). Speaking of Moonage Daydream, NEON won’t just have that doc in contention here, as they also recently picked up All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, which depicts the downfall of the Sackler family (a story that is especially relevant due to the recent Hulu miniseries Dopesick).



1. Bardo (or a False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths(Netflix) – Mexico

2. Decision to Leave (MUBI) – South Korea

3. Broker (NEON) – Japan?

4. Close (A24) – Belgium

5. All Quiet on the Western Front (Netflix) – Germany


6. RRR (Sarigama Cinemas) – India

7. Athena (TBD) – France

8. Holy Spider (Utopia) – Denmark

9. The Quiet Girl (TBD) – Ireland

10. Leila’s Brothers (Wild Bunch) – Iran

This category tends to favor whichever film has also found itself in the Best Picture race (RomaParasiteDrive My Car, etc.) so it seems like it should be Bardo‘s for the taking at this point in time. However, now that South Korea has officially selected Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave as its submission (a film that won Park the Best Director award at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival), look for that to be a strong competitor here. Broker – which could’ve been South Korea’s submission but is now relying on a selection from Japan to save it – also premiered at Cannes to rave reactions and could be an equally compelling contender (especially with NEON’s backing), while A24 will push Grand Prix winner Close – a coming-of-age drama about queer youth – very hard, and as one of the more crowdpleasing titles in contention, it should squeeze in too.

Aside from Bardo, Netflix will also be pushing All Quiet on the Western Front, which I tentatively have at fifth for now, though it could be hurt if voters favor original fare over this remake of a Best Picture winning classic. Many hope that India will submit this year’s international crossover smash sensation RRR, but as an explosive action extravaganza, it doesn’t fully fit the mold of this category, which typically favors more delicate dramas and subtle character studies (but never say never!). Netflix has a third title to campaign with Romain Gravas’ Athena, which tackles themes of police corruption and political protests and will premiere at the Venice Film Festival, while Holy Spider, another Cannes hit, will look to fight for a foothold here as well, hoping to represent Denmark.


Taking into account all of my present predictions, this is what I’m seeing for the prospective wins and nominations for this awards season’s hottest titles:

  • Babylon (4 wins/11 nominations)
    • Best Picture
    • Best Director
    • Best Actress
    • Best Supporting Actor
    • Best Original Screenplay
    • Best Cinematography
    • Best Costume Design
    • Best Film Editing
    • Best Makeup and Hairstyling
    • Best Original Score
    • Best Production Design
  • The Fabelmans (2 wins/10 nominations)
    • Best Picture
    • Best Director
    • Best Supporting Actor
    • Best Supporting Actress
    • Best Original Screenplay
    • Best Cinematography
    • Best Costume Design
    • Best Film Editing
    • Best Original Score
    • Best Production Design
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once (4 wins/9 nominations)
    • Best Picture
    • Best Director
    • Best Actress
    • Best Supporting Actor
    • Best Original Screenplay
    • Best Film Editing
    • Best Original Song
    • Best Sound
    • Best Visual Effects
  • Bardo (or a False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths) (2 wins/6 nominations)
    • Best Picture
    • Best Director
    • Best Actor
    • Best Original Screenplay
    • Best Cinematography
    • Best International Feature Film
  • The Son (1 win/6 nominations)
    • Best Picture
    • Best Actor
    • Best Supporting Actor
    • Best Supporting Actress
    • Best Supporting Actress
    • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Avatar: The Way of Water (1 win/6 nominations)
    • Best Picture
    • Best Cinematography
    • Best Film Editing
    • Best Production Design
    • Best Sound
    • Best Visual Effects
  • Women Talking (1 win/5 nominations)
    • Best Picture
    • Best Director
    • Best Supporting Actress
    • Best Adapted Screenplay
    • Best Original Score
  • Top Gun: Maverick (2 wins/5 nominations)
    • Best Picture
    • Best Film Editing
    • Best Original Song
    • Best Sound
    • Best Visual Effects
  • Empire of Light (0 wins/5 nominations)
    • Best Picture
    • Best Actress
    • Best Supporting Actor
    • Best Cinematography
    • Best Original Score
  • Elvis (0 wins/5 nominations)
    • Best Actor
    • Best Costume Design
    • Best Makeup and Hairstyling
    • Best Production Design
    • Best Sound
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (0 wins/5 nominations)
    • Best Costume Design
    • Best Makeup and Hairstyling
    • Best Original Song
    • Best Production Design
    • Best Visual Effects
  • The Whale (1 win/4 nominations)
    • Best Actor
    • Best Supporting Actress
    • Best Adapted Screenplay
    • Best Makeup and Hairstyling
  • The Batman (0 wins/2 nominations)
    • Best Makeup and Hairstyling
    • Best Sound
  • Triangle of Sadness (0 wins/2 nominations)
    • Best Picture
    • Best Original Screenplay
  • Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (1 win/2 nominations)
    • Best Animated Feature
    • Best Original Score
  • Turning Red (0 wins/2 nominations)
    • Best Animated Feature
    • Best Original Song
  • Living (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Actor
  • TÁR (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Actress
  • I Wanna Dance with Somebody (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Actress
  • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • White Noise (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Adapted Screenplay
  • Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Costume Design
  • Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Original Song
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Visual Effects
  • Strange World (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Animated Feature
  • Wendell & Wild (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Animated Feature
  • The Bad Guys (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Animated Feature
  • Fire of Love (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Documentary Feature
  • Navalny (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Documentary Feature
  • Moonage Daydream (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Documentary Feature
  • Descendant (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Documentary Feature
  • Good Night Oppy (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best Documentary Feature
  • Decision to Leave (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best International Feature Film
  • Broker (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best International Feature Film
  • Close (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best International Feature Film
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (0 wins/1 nomination)
    • Best International Feature Film
Written by
Though Zoë Rose Bryant has only worked in film criticism for a little under three years - turning a collegiate passion into a full-time career by writing for outlets such as Next Best Picture and Awards Watch - her captivation with cinema has been a lifelong fascination, appreciating film in all its varying forms, from horror movies to heartfelt romantic comedies and everything in between. Born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, she made the move to Los Angeles in 2021 after graduating college and now spends her days keeping tabs on all things pop culture and attempting to attend every screening under the sun. As a trans critic, she also seeks to champion underrepresented voices in the LGBTQ+ community in film criticism and offer original insight on how gender and sexuality are explored in modern entertainment. You can find Zoë on Twitter, Instagram, and Letterboxd at @ZoeRoseBryant.

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