2023 Academy Award nominations preview: From Everything Everywhere All at Once to Tár, predicting the 95th annual Oscar nominees is no easy task

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Everything Everywhere All at Once — Photo courtesy of A24
Everything Everywhere All at Once — Photo courtesy of A24

It's that time of year again: that moment near the end of January where film critics and awards prognosticators start bantering about who they believe will garner an Oscar nomination. The announcement of the nominations for the 95th annual Academy Awards for 2023 will be this coming Tuesday morning, and like in previous years, there are seeming guaranteed locks, a few contenders on the bubble hoping to make the cut, and a small handful of outright surprises that will make every pundit look moderately foolish.

This year's locks are as an eclectic a trio as any I can recollect. First there's the high-concept multiverse spectacle of directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert's freewheeling, action-heavy whirligig Everything Everywhere All at Once. A mind-blowing showcase for international superstar Michelle Yeoh and career-revitalizing bonanza for former The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom child star Ke Huy Quan, this film came out of nowhere and quickly became one of the most talked-about surprise hits of 2022.

Next is the character-driven drama Tár. Director Todd Field's first foray back behind the camera since 2006's Little Children, this forcefully challenging descent into ambition, creativity, and showmanship features two-time Academy Award winner and seven-time nominee Cate Blanchett in what may be the greatest performance of her career.

Finally comes the modern crown prince of Oscar usual suspects: Steven Spielberg. The legendary filmmaker returns with The Fabelmans, a thinly fictionalized autobiographical account of his childhood with a down-to-earth computer engineer father and a mother who happily kept her head in the clouds, seemingly no matter the situation. But this is no fairy tale, the darker edges of artistic obsession inching in from the corners of the frame with merciless dedication. There is an underlying cynicism at the heart of Spielberg's latest, and I admit it caught me somewhat by surprise.

These appear to be the consensus Best Picture frontrunners, and it's a given that each film will be mentioned numerous times as the nominees for each category are announced by Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams this Tuesday at 5:30 a.m. (PT). But what other films do we expect to make the cut? What will be the biggest surprises? Which actors anticipating hearing their name called will unhappily be left wondering what the heck happened?

It's safe to say the two biggest films of 2022, Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water will get nominated in several categories, likely even Best Picture as well. It is also safe to assume that writer-director Martin McDonagh's The Banshees of Inisherin will do equally as well, and I'm all but certain all four of the film's primary actors (Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, and Barry Keoghan) will garner nominations for their performances. Other virtual locks include Baz Luhrmann's Elvis (Best Picture and Best Actor especially), Darren Aronofsky's The Whale (primarily for Best Actor contender Brendan Fraser, though Picture, Supporting Actress, and especially Makeup & Hair Design are probable as well), and S.S. Rajamouli's rambunctious, eye-popping sensation RRR (for Best Original Song for certain, but Director and Picture are not outside the realm of possibility).

There's an amusing online rumor circulating right now that Andrea Riseborough may come out of nowhere and secure a nomination for the under-the-radar melodrama To Leslie, and while that would certainly be a shock, it would also be a well-deserved one. There is also buzz that German filmmaker Edward Berger's All Quiet on the Western Front will be a significant force to be reckoned with in multiple categories and not just Best International Film; predictions for it to appear in the Director, Actor, and especially Picture categories are not as far afield as initially assumed.

As far as Best Picture goes for 2023, the biggest wildcard is the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences' return to a clean list of ten nominees. No longer will the number vary. No longer does a nominee have to secure 5% of the voting body's first-place votes to garner a nod. The ten films with the highest vote totals are getting in. The last time the Academy utilized this format back in 2011, Debra Granik's indie darling Winter's Bone and Sony Picture's surprisingly popular science fiction smash District 9 made the cut. Expect something similar to happen this year.

I'm usually a lot better at predicting the winners than I am the nominees. Nevertheless, here are my guesses as to which films, directors, and actors will make the cut in the top categories for the 95th Academy Awards. I'm excited to find out Tuesday morning just how good my prognostication skills are.

Tár — Photo courtesy of Focus Features  

BEST PICTURE
My Prediction:
All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Banshees of Inisherin
Elvis
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans
Tár
Top Gun: Maverick
The Whale
The Woman King


Other contenders:
Aftersun, Babylon, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Decision to Leave, Glass Onion, Nope, RRR, Thirteen Lives, Till, Women Talking
Film I want to get nominated but won't be:
The Eternal Daughter

BEST DIRECTOR
My Prediction:
Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin)
Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans)
S.S. Rajamouli (RRR)
Todd Field (Tár)

Other contenders:
Edward Berger (All Quiet on the Western Front), James Cameron (Avatar: The Way of Water), Park Chan-wook (Decision to Leave), Baz Luhrmann (Elvis), Jordan Peele (Nope), Joseph Kosinski (Top Gun: Maverick), Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Woman King), Sarah Polley (Women Talking)
Director I want to get nominated but won't be:
Charlotte Wells (Aftersun)

BEST ACTRESS
My Predictions:
Margot Robbie (Babylon)
Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Cate Blanchett (Tár)
Danielle Deadwyler (Till)
Viola Davis (The Woman King)

Other contenders:
Ana de Armas (Blonde), Tang Wei (Decision to Leave), Olivia Colman (Empire of Light), Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans), Emma Thompson (Good Luck to You, Leo Grande), Mia Goth (Pearl), Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie), Rooney Mara (Women Talking)
Actress I want to be nominated but won't be:
Regina Hall (Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.)

BEST ACTOR
My Prediction:
Paul Mescal (Aftersun)
Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin)
Austin Butler (Elvis)
Tom Cruise (Top Gun: Maverick)
Brendan Fraser (The Whale)

Other contenders:
Felix Kammerer (All Quiet on the Western Front), Diego Calva (Babylon), Gabriel LaBelle (The Fabelmans), Adam Sandler (Hustle), Bill Nighy (Living), Ralph Fiennes (The Menu), Daniel Kaluuya (Nope)
Actor I want to get nominated but won't be:
Park Hae-il (Decision to Leave)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
My Prediction:
Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)
Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin)
Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Janelle Monáe (Glass Onion)
Dolly De Leon (Triangle of Sadness)

Other contenders:
Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once), Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans), Keke Palmer (Nope), Carey Mulligan (She Said), Nina Hoss (Tár), Hong Chau (The Whale), Lashana Lynch (The Woman King), Thuso Mbedu (The Woman King), Jessie Buckley (Women Talking), Claire Foy (Women Talking)
Actress I want to be nominated but won't be:
Nicole Kidman (The Northman)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
My Prediction:
Brendan Gleeson (The Banshees of Inisherin)
Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin)
Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Paul Dano (The Fabelmans)
Ben Whishaw (Women Talking)

Other contenders:
Anthony Hopkins (Armageddon Time), Brad Pitt (Babylon), Mark Rylance (Bones and All), Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway), Tom Hanks (Elvis), Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans), Eddie Redmayne (The Good Nurse)
Actor I want to be nominated but won't be:
Edward Norton (Glass Onion)