Film Obsessive Predicts the 95th Oscars Winners

Photo: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The 95th Academy Awards Ceremony is just around the corner, and the Film Obsessive staff has been obsessing about who will win what. This awards season has been no stranger to rumor, debate, and controversy, and after last year’s slap heard ‘cross the world, who knows what might be in store for this year’s ceremony?

Will the controversy over Andrea Riseborough’s nomination lead to a surprise award? Can a big-budget blockbuster like Top Gun: Maverick or Black Panther: Wakanda Forever earn the coveted Best Picture? Or will the night be a duel between the critical darlings Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Banshees of Inisherin? And will there be an on-stage fracas to equal last year’s?

(In order, not a chance; no way no how; quite possibly; and not if the newly-formed Oscars crisis team does its job.)

Only one thing is certain: the Film Obsessive staff has its own predictions! Our intrepid crew—Kevin Wozniak, Beatrice Copland, Isobel Grieve, Paul Keelan, James Y. Lee, Tina Kakedelis, Hal Kitchen, Aqib Rasheed, Byron Lafayette, Will Scheibel, Seth Lamey, and Don Shanahan—presents our picks for the 95th Academy Awards.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Sarah Polley, Women Talking

The women of the community gathered to discuss how they should proceed; left to right: Michelle McLeod, Sheila McCarthy, Liv McNeil, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Kate Hallett, Rooney Mara, Judith Ivey)
From left: Michelle McLeod, Sheila McCarthy, Liv McNeil, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Kate Hallett, Rooney Mara, and Judith Ivey in Women Talking. Photo by Michael Gibson, courtesy Orion Releasing LLC.

This year’s Best Adapted Screenplay category brings together the best and the worst films of the year. If you’ve read my coverage of either Women Talking or Living you’ll be familiar with my reasons why. The right choice should be obvious to anyone who has seen the nominees. Yes, Glass Onion is a delightful romp, full of wit, personality and delicious satire, but scripts as dense, literate, verbose and authoritative as Sarah Polley’s adaptation of Miriam Toews’ novel Women Talking don’t come along very often.

Women Talking is a masterpiece on every level of its production, from the stellar performances to the starkly beautiful color grade bringing out the nuances of the scene, but it’s all built on the magnificent characters and their sensitive intellectual sparring. Women Talking is the odd one out this year in that it’s the only traditional adaptation of a literary source. Of its four rivals, two are sequels whose scripts build on the foundations of their predecessors and the other two are remakes.

DARK HORSE: All Quiet on the Western Front is an adaption of Erich Maria Remarque’s seminal account of the first world war, but few would regard it more as an adaptation than a remake, as the 1930 Lewis Milestone adaptation has largely eclipsed the source novel in popular culture. That film remains to this day one of the most potent touchstones in antiwar cinema, and although it may aspire to similar heights, the new version does little to develop the source’s insights or expand on its vision beyond upping the brutality and spectacle. Compared to the film’s pyrotechnic feats, the script is comparatively undernourished, and few of its creative departures strengthen it as a whole. Still, All Quiet on the Western Front has proven a dark horse as the leading foreign language contender this year and it could provide some upsets, though I doubt if this category will be one of them. —

Writing (Original Screenplay): Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin

A man is walking his donkey on a small road.
Colin Farrell in The Banshees of Inisherin. Photo by Jonathan Hession, courtesy of Searchlight Pictures and 20th Century Studios.

Often, the stories that seem the simplest hold the most complexity. It’s not that this complexity is hidden, just that it lies in the subtlety of the performances and deceptive calmness of the story. This is the case with The Banshees of Inisherin, which should win the Academy Award for best screenplay. This dark comedy, set on a small Irish island in 1923, sees kind but dimwitted Padraic (Colin Farrell) attempting to reconcile with musically gifted Colm (Brendan Gleeson) who has abruptly ended their lifelong friendship. The story focuses on how much friendship can mean to people and what people are willing to do to keep it, even if this particular situation is on the more absurd side.

The real tragedy of The Banshees of Inisherin isn’t in the conclusion of a comradeship but in the consequences of what each is willing to do to get what they want. Colm, having ended their relationship, seems to show very little remorse with him reaching a feeling of peace and minor sorrow only as the plot ends. Meanwhile, Padraic, devastated and confused by this loss, spirals deeper into something resembling depression until a final act of vindication that cements his change in character. It’s not about changing personalities as much as it is about two men trying to find peace in a difficult time. It’s a beautiful tragedy, made more poignant by the backdrop of The Troubles.

MIGHT WIN: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (“The Daniels”) for Everything Everywhere All at Once. Almost in complete contrast is the Daniels’ sci-fi comedy, which our Film Obsessive staff and I feel might win. The story, about down-on-her-luck Chinese-American mum Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) who finds herself mentally transported through alternate dimensions by an alternate version of her husband, seems complex. However, at the center is a simple message about embracing the life that you’ve been given and appreciating those around you. This ”worst version” of Evelyn gets a glimpse into the lives she could have lived, many of which saw her becoming famous or successful, and when she is given the chance to experience every reality at once by an alternate version of her daughter Joy, she takes it. Nothing matters to her anymore but it is in this moment, as she watches her husband defend her in most realities, that she realizes the people around her matter. The Daniels’ script offers a beautiful reminder of how worthwhile life is when you spend it with the ones you love. — Beatrice Copland

Directing: Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg directing Gabriel LaBelle on the set of The Fabelmans.
Gabriel LaBelle and co-writer/producer/director Steven Spielberg on the set of The Fabelmans. Photo by Merie Weismiller Wallace, courtesy Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment

Best Director at the 95th Academy Awards looks to be a tight race, but the majority of us at Film Obsessive, including myself, believe Steven Spielberg will win for The Fabelmans. Spielberg won the category at the Golden Globes, but the Daniels took the Directors Guild award, so perhaps the Daniels have an edge headed to the Oscars. Still, Spielberg has immense respect within the Academy (with eight directing nominations and two wins in the category), and the autobiographical storytelling in The Fabelmans should resonate with the emotions of voting members. If there is a split of the big awards among The Fabelmans and Everything Everywhere All At Once, Spielberg’s direction gains the edge.

MIGHT WIN: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (“The Daniels”) for Everything Everywhere All at Once. Some of our Film Obsessive staff support the chances of The Daniels in this category, as they actually are the slight betting favorite over Spielberg in online betting markets. I feel their strong work with the sci-fi/drama/action spectacle will be rewarded in multiple Acting and the Best Picture categories. However, there is no denying their impressive work behind the camera.

DARK HORSE: Todd Field (Tár) and Ruben Östlund (Triangle of Sadness) have been recognized for their work in their respective films, but I fear both are just along for the ride in this year’s competition. Any big upset of the top contenders will probably be from Martin McDonah for The Banshees of Inisherin. But I feel he is more likely to win for Original Screenplay and his actors should have a fighting chance as well. Field and Östlund are at best dark horses in a race that will be dominated by Spielberg and the Daniels. —

Actress in a Supporting Role: Angela Bassett, Wakanda Forever

A woman in a headdress stands on a beach in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Angela Bassett in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Photo: courtesy Marvel Studios

Comic-book films have always been a dark horse at the Oscars. The Academy loves to see them boost theaters, and even flirts with them come awards season, but when it comes down to it, few superhero films ever get a nomination. Precious few have broken through for Oscar nominations— Black Panther and Joker are the only to earn a Best Picture nom—and even fewer have walked away with a win. Their nominations are normally in the technical and design categories, never for acting. However, that change with this upcoming Academy Awards ceremony.

Angela Bassett’s nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category for her role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever may be the game-changer. The first entry in the franchise, Black Panther, not only broke box-office records, but also earned the first Best Picture nomination for any superhero film. Like its sequel, it straddled the fine line between prestige indie cinema and bonkers comic-book action bonanza.

Our Film Obsessive writers predict Angela Bassett will win this year’s Best Supporting Oscar for a few reasons. She turned in a stirring performance that showcased not only a strong leader during a time of crisis but also a heartbroken mother who had lost everything—and yet still had to find it within herself to carry on for those left behind. Adding to the power of this performance is the real-life tragedy of Chadwick Boseman’s death, as we see Bassett not only demonstrating her acting skill but also mourning the very real friend who passed away. This real-life event, coupled with her intense and moving performance, should be enough to cinch her walking away with the award this year.

DARK HORSE: Kerry Condon in The Banshees of Inisherin, a film that has become something of an awards darling, as many have found something to relate to with its themes of ghosting and breaking up once-close friendships. Much like Bassett’s, Kerry Condon’s performance touched on grief and she was able to turn in a mournful yet intense performance, one that showcased loneliness yet a desire to connect. It’s a performance that sticks long after the credits roll. If we know anything about the Oscars, it’s that they love a good dark horse! —

Actor in a Supporting Role: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Ke Huy Quan wearing headphones in a store in Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Photo: courtesy A24.

To talk about Ke Huy Quan’s meteoric rise to Oscar-frontrunner status is to talk about his decades-long hiatus from Hollywood. It’s to talk about the lack of opportunities for Asian American performers that disillusioned him from emerging on-screen after making a mark as a child actor with roles like Data in The Goonies and Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, inadvertently driving him to take on various crew positions and even consider quitting acting altogether. It’s to talk about how, as a result, the role of Waymond Wang in the spectacular Everything Everywhere All at Once is very much Quan’s comeback, finally arriving after his realization that new avenues for Asian American performers have finally opened up in a shifting industry… and it’s also, perhaps more importantly, to talk about the role itself.

In Everything Everywhere All at Once, chaos takes on countless overwhelming permutations, whether it be the gaggle of customers fighting for the attention of its protagonist, Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), in her family-owned laundromat, the diasporic struggles of living as an Asian American immigrant in the United States, or the out-of-body madness that is existing in countless alternate universes and different lives simultaneously. But Waymond, Evelyn’s husband, is the film’s primary source of compassion, while also being the film’s most active seeker of it. As the film progresses and its multiversal insanity reaches unmanageable proportions, it’s Waymond who has the honesty and courage to call for kindness even despite the noise surrounding him and his family; the failures and possibilities that plague Evelyn’s psyche, and have long since shattered that of his daughter, Joy (Stephanie Hsu). Kindness allows him to survive for so long in the madness of life—kindness is the way he fights for himself, for his family, and for everything and everyone he loves.

In every single acceptance speech, interview, or public statement Quan has made, he’s radiated nothing but that same breed of kindness and love, so much so that I’ve been unfailingly moved to tears by every one of his earnest proclamations of gratitude. The abundance of speeches he’s been making over the past few months is not the only indicator of his near-guaranteed Oscar victory; it’s also the fact that no other actor could have embodied Waymond Wang and his warmth so completely, making it even more of a sincere, powerful relief that this role, in this story, is very much Quan’s triumphant return to the best that Hollywood’s glory has to offer. —

Actress in a Lead Role: Cate Blanchett, Tár

A conductor closes her eyes with a smile to the music.
Cate Blanchett in Tár. Photo: courtesy of Cinema/Chicago.

At this point, Cate Blanchett is synonymous with the Oscars in the same way Meryl Streep had been: in the sense that she consistently does good work to such a degree that it’s all but expected that she is nominated whenever she puts out a film. This is not to say that Blanchett, like Streep, is simply getting nods just because it’s inevitable. Blanchett’s work in Todd Field’s Tár is excellent, and even critics who didn’t love the film praised her work. She’s excellent in it, and while the Academy will sometimes choose an individual who has never won a statue over someone who has, it doesn’t always happen that way. Eight of our writers chose Blanchett to win, and I would say it’s because of some combination of the above. Not only does she give a performance worthy of winning on Oscar night, given the Academy’s track record, like Streep, just because she already has two doesn’t mean she won’t get Oscar number three.

MIGHT WIN: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once. Then again, as I stated, the Academy does like to give an award to someone new. Of course, Yeoh isn’t some newcomer. She’s been working for decades. But this is another reason why she could win. The Academy also loves to give an award to someone who has deserved some recognition for quite some time. Usually, that award is given to someone who wins for a job that isn’t even close to their best. Thankfully, Yeoh is tremendous in Everything Everywhere, and her win would not only be representative of her past work, but it would represent her work in that film, as well. Five of our writers believe Yeoh has a chance at taking home the Oscar. (I am one of those writers.) While Blanchett might be the best thing about Tár, Yeoh will probably be one of at least a few wins for Everything Everywhere. Blanchett’s win could be the Academy spreading the love, but Yeoh winning would not only be deserving, it would be part of a possible sweep for one of the most acclaimed and beloved films of 2022. — Michael Suarez

Actor in a Leading Role: Brendan Fraser, The Whale

A close-up of Charlie (Brendan Fraser) standing in the kitchen of his apartment.
Brendan Fraser in The Whale. Photo: courtesy of A24.

The Best Actor race is one of the toughest battles to call at this year’s Academy Awards. Brendan Fraser (The Whale), Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin), and Austin Butler (Elvis) are all duking it out and at this point, each one has an argument to win.

The argument for Fraser is sentimentality. Fraser’s return to Hollywood and his powerful turn in The Whale was one of the great stories of 2022 and Fraser has made the most of it. From the numerous standing ovations at film festivals to heartfelt speeches, Fraser knows this is an unbelievable moment and isn’t taking it for granted. Fraser also won the Critics Choice Award for Best Actor (with another phenomenal speech), which has matched the Oscar winner eleven times over fifteen years, and last week took home the coveted Screen Actors Guild statuette as well.

MIGHT WIN: Colin Farrell, The Banshees of InisherinThe arguments in favor of Farrell are history and statistics. Farrell has been putting in solid work as an actor for over twenty years. He has worked with dozens of different actors and actors and by all accounts is great to work with. This has a lot of sway in the Academy and many members might feel Farrell has earned his award not just for his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin, but for his career.

Farrell also has some historical stats in his favor: Since 2000, the Best Actor winner has come from a Best Picture nominee every year except for three years (2002, 2007, and 2010), which bodes well for Farrell and Butler. The Golden Globe winner for Best Actor has matched with Oscar every year except one (2021) since 2010, which also applies to Butler. Farrell is also in the second-most nominated movie, which includes four acting nominations. With four acting nominations for The Banshees of Inisherin, would the Academy snub all the actors of an award? Farrell might be the film’s best chance at an acting prize.

Dark Horse: Austin Butler, Elvis. The argument for Butler is Academy history. Butler’s performance as Elvis is exactly what the Academy loves. They love biopics. They really love biopics about iconic popular figures (see Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody). They love young actors playing these roles (see: Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything). And the Academy loved Elvis, which garnered the third most nominations of any film. Butler also just won the BAFTA for Best Actor, which has matched with Oscar the last nine years.

Still, our staff picks Brendan Fraser in a close race over Colin Farrell, with Butler at best a long shot. A Fraser Oscar win would be a beautiful ending to one of cinema’s great comeback stories. — Kevin Wozniak

Best Picture: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Hong Chau, Michelle Yeoh, and Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All at Once
Hong Chau, Michelle Yeoh, and Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Photo: courtesy A24.

We’ve come to the big award that closes the night and stamps the year for history and posterity. This year’s Best Picture field is a crowded affair where the Academy maxed out the full ten slots for nominees. Ever since 2009 when the category was stretched, those positions have been filled with a variety of extra prestige and populist inclusions. The wide range is definitely the case this year.

Unfortunately, the Academy’s graciousness has annually become its own flaw. Recognizing more films, even with good intentions in mind towards both the viewing public and the invested cinephiles, only waters down the field. The expansion creates pretenders and pads resumes more than anything else.

If this was a traditional five-nominee field, you would have this kind of breakdown:

  • Three true contenders with the matching nomination portfolios in the upper tier categories of acting, directing, and writing
  • One token pick for the cinephiles
  • One token pick for the public populace

If you were to trim this year’s ten down to five fitting that spread, the real nominees would be:

  • Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • The Fabelmans
  • The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Tár
  • Top Gun: Maverick

Tár has more top-line respect than All Quiet on the Western Front, even with its heavy haul of nominations, for the cinephile slot. Top Gun: Maverick, thanks to the Tom Cruise campaign for Best Actor, has more Hollywood voter love than Elvis and Avatar: The Way of Water for the people’s pick. That makes Triangle of Sadness and Women Talking, regrettably, the pretender fluff that has no business vying for the top award of the evening. They deserve their contention and recognition in the acting and writing categories beneath Best Picture.

So, what wins? According to our Film Obsessive staff, the runaway choice is A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once. Nine of our thirteen participating writers in this exercise picked the fantasy dramedy from The Daniels. No other film received more than one vote, and for good reason.

That’s the thing. Everything Everywhere All at Once feels like the rightful and eventual winner in every measure and optic. The film has won hearts and campaigned positively. It has not faltered in lead-up precursor awards during the season, and no visible second choice has emerged with any kind of momentum. If there’s a dark horse of something safer and less quirky than googly eyes, hot dog fingers, and flying dildoes, it’s the Academy siding with the Boomer bedtime story and Steven Spielberg pedigree of The Fabelmans.

It would take an entirely different film, like The Fabelmans, winning the coveted Best Ensemble trophy at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on February 26th and also the top prize from the Producers Guild of America on February 25th. Both dominoes would have to fall away from The Daniels to change Oscar fate this late in the game. Expect a happy bunch from A24 to fill the stage before Jimmy Kimmel wraps up the evening. —

And the Winner Is …

The 95th Academy Awards will be held on March 12th, 2023 at Los Angeles’ Dolly Theatre and air live on ABC in the US. The winners of the above eight categories will be announced, as well as those in 15 other categories. Jimmy Kimmel will host.

Between now and then, check out our review coverage of all the above-nominated films by following the links above. We’ve also reviewed the contenders in a number of the other categories, including Best Documentary Short Subject (Stranger at the Gate), Best Animated Short Film (The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse), Best Documentary Feature (Fire of Love, A House Made of Splinters), Best International Feature Film (The Quiet Girl, EO), Best Sound (The Batman), Best Cinematography (Empire of Light), Best Original Score (Babylon), and all five of the films nominated for Best Animated Feature (Marcel the Shell with Shoes on, The Sea Beast, Turning Red, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio).

Check back with us at Film Obsessive for our coverage of all the night’s awards!

Written by Film Obsessive

This article was written by one or more members of the Film Obsessive staff.

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