by Ken Bakely
In the final stretch before the Academy Award nominations are announced, I’m continuing a longstanding tradition on this website and predicting what I think will get nominated in the major categories. I will provide my predictions, one alternate (or two in Best Picture), and brief commentary explaining my picks. Each category is ranked, based on how likely I think it is for each contender to be nominated. After the nominations are announced, I will tally my score and share a brief reaction. Those comments will be added in blue text.
UPDATE: My reactions are now live.
|1||Everything Everywhere All at Once|
|2||The Banshees of Inisherin|
|4||Top Gun: Maverick|
|6||Avatar: The Way of Water|
|8||All Quiet on the Western Front|
ALTERNATES: The Whale and Triangle of Sadness
COMMENTARY: I feel very confident in nominations for the top five (or six, or seven, really) in this category, and completely baffled by the bottom three. All Quiet on the Western Front surged in the final stretch of voting, moving quite suddenly into the status of major contention after strong showings at BAFTA and some technical guilds’ awards. Meanwhile, Women Talking and Babylon were once-strong players whose prospects have fallen, but they might have enough support to ride into Best Picture, particularly when one considers that the Academy now requires ten nominees in this category, as opposed to a previous sliding scale that depended on the specific vote totals each movie received.
As for what could replace one of these more tentative titles, The Whale has returned to serious contention in recent days, while Triangle of Sadness has been bubbling under the surface for most of the season.
REACTION: 9 out of 10. Babylon out, Triangle of Sadness in. Not a lot of surprises here. I would say that Everything Everywhere All at Once is currently ahead, but not by all that much.
|1||Steven Spielberg||The Fabelmans|
|2||Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert||Everything Everywhere All at Once|
|4||Martin McDonagh||The Banshees of Inisherin|
|5||S. S. Rajamouli||RRR|
ALTERNATE: Edward Berger – All Quiet on the Western Front
COMMENTARY: Spielberg and the team of Kwan and Scheinert seem to be pretty well-locked for the top two spots. I am significantly less confident about what happens after that. Field and McDonagh are helming surefire Best Picture nominees, but so are a few other directors. The directors’ branch is also capable of delivering a left-field surprise, honoring someone not necessarily named in the major precursors for this category or Best Picture. This year, I could S. S. Rajamouli staging such an upset. RRR has been a sensation ever since its release, and it’s been well-represented by other awards voters. It’s hard to imagine anyone watching it and not coming away in awe at what its director accomplished.
REACTION: 4 out of 5. Rajamouli out, Ruben Östlund for Triangle of Sadness in. Generally speaking, Triangle of Sadness performed near the top of its expectations, and so it makes sense that Östlund would get in.
|1||Michelle Yeoh||Everything Everywhere All at Once|
|4||Viola Davis||The Woman King|
|5||Ana de Armas||Blonde|
ALTERNATE: Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans
COMMENTARY: Yeoh, Blanchett, and Deadwyler are locks for nominations. After that, there’s more uncertainty. Davis and de Armas have appeared at enough precursor awards that I’m relatively confident predicting them for the other two slots. But Michelle Williams could still coast in, especially if the Academy is particularly enamored by The Fabelmans. In addition, Andrea Riseborough has been the beneficiary of a last-minute, word-of-mouth campaign for To Leslie, trying to sneak into the final five despite a near-total lack of precursor attention. While I think the effort may wind up too little, too late in catching the attention of the Academy’s populous acting branch, it’s another reminder of the fluctuations that are in play right up until nomination voting closes.
REACTION: 3 out of 5. Deadwyler and Davis out, Williams and Riseborough in. A fascinating trajectory for Riseborough’s nomination, to say the least. My confidence in Deadwyler’s nomination turned out to be misplaced – and very regrettably for such a powerful performance. Blanchett and Yeoh are the frontrunners.
|1||Colin Farrell||The Banshees of Inisherin|
|2||Brendan Fraser||The Whale|
ALTERNATE: Adam Sandler – Hustle
COMMENTARY: I would go so far as to say that the top four slots here are safe. It’s really down to figuring out the last contender. Mescal has been a steady precursor presence for Aftersun, but the Academy can struggle to nominate younger leading men – asking them to nominate two in this category might be a bridge too far. Adam Sandler has been a dogged presence through this awards season, campaigning hard for Hustle, and his efforts paid off with a SAG nomination last week. But the movie may have broken through too late to make an impact with voters. Tom Cruise has also been discussed for his performance in Top Gun: Maverick, but I think that only happens if the film substantially outperforms expectations on Tuesday.
REACTION: Perfect score. Top Gun: Maverick arguably did outperform expectations with a nomination in Adapted Screenplay, but it wasn’t enough to bring Cruise along with it.
Best Supporting Actress
|1||Angela Bassett||Black Panther: Wakanda Forever|
|2||Kerry Condon||The Banshees of Inisherin|
|3||Jamie Lee Curtis||Everything Everywhere All at Once|
|4||Hong Chau||The Whale|
|5||Stephanie Hsu||Everything Everywhere All at Once|
ALTERNATE: Jessie Buckley – Women Talking
COMMENTARY: Bassett’s wins at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards put her in frontrunner position, ending a more general uncertainty around this category. Condon and Curtis are most likely to join her. Beyond that, Chau’s position has been increasingly secured by The Whale’s momentum, and Hsu seems like a natural addition if the Academy embraces Everything Everywhere All at Once with the enthusiasm that the rest of the industry has.
REACTION: Perfect score. This is also a direct replication of the five nominees at the SAG Awards.
Best Supporting Actor
|1||Ke Huy Quan||Everything Everywhere All at Once|
|2||Brendan Gleeson||The Banshees of Inisherin|
|3||Barry Keoghan||The Banshees of Inisherin|
|4||Paul Dano||The Fabelmans|
|5||Eddie Redmayne||The Good Nurse|
ALTERNATE: Judd Hirsch – The Fabelmans
COMMENTARY: Supporting Actor is arguably the first contest this year to be well and truly locked. Ke Huy Quan’s win streak began with the first critics’ awards and hasn’t been interrupted since. As for the other nominees, Gleeson, Keoghan, and Dano feature in major Best Picture contenders, but the fifth slot is, again, liable to go in any one of a number of ways. Eddie Redmayne’s performance in The Good Nurse could be cited, but the film has had essentially no awards traction otherwise. We could be in for a surprise.
REACTION: 3 out of 5. Dano and Redmayne out, Hirsch and Brian Tyree Henry for Causeway in. Quan is still the overwhelming frontrunner. I had wondered about Henry possibly getting nominated, but in the end, had incorrectly figured that Causeway had not been visible enough over the course of the season.
Best Original Screenplay
|1||Everything Everywhere All at Once||Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert|
|2||The Banshees of Inisherin||Martin McDonagh|
|3||The Fabelmans||Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner|
ALTERNATE: Triangle of Sadness, screenplay by Ruben Östlund
COMMENTARY: The top three represent the Best Picture forerunners – whoever gains an advantage here could be in a fine position to win it all. The bottom two positions are a little more fluid. Tár and Aftersun make sense based on their precursor acclaim, but I don’t think they’re done deals here.
REACTION: 4 out of 5. Aftersun out, Triangle of Sadness in. I would say that Everything Everywhere All at Once begins the home stretch with an advantage here.
Best Adapted Screenplay
|1||Women Talking||Sarah Polley|
|2||Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery||Rian Johnson|
|4||The Whale||Samuel D. Hunter|
|5||White Noise||Noah Baumbach|
ALTERNATE: All Quiet on the Western Front, screenplay by Edward Berger, Ian Stokell, and Lesley Paterson
COMMENTARY: It’s hard to read this category for a frontrunner, but Women Talking and Glass Onion feel like safe bets for nominations. Living also feels strong, and The Whale’s overall surge across the board could see it make an appearance here. The fifth position, as usual, is much more up in the air. Noah Baumbach’s bold work on White Noise could be singled out, thought I also wouldn’t be surprised if a recent rally for All Quiet on the Western Front could manifest itself in this contest.
REACTION: 3 out of 5. The Whale and White Noise out, All Quiet on the Western Front and Top Gun: Maverick in. I’m still not sure what’s going to win, though I’d wager that Women Talking and All Quiet on the Western Front are up front as the two Best Picture nominees.
Best Documentary Feature
|1||All that Breathes|
|2||All the Beauty and the Bloodshed|
ALTERNATE: Fire of Love
COMMENTARY: The complex voting processes in the following three categories make it difficult to predict nominees with much certainty – often, films not on anyone’s radar can slip in, sometimes at the expense of movies that we thought were favorites to win. This is my tentative reading of Best Documentary, but I don’t have as much confidence in it as I have with most of my other predictions.
REACTION: 3 out of 5. Bad Axe and The Territory out, Fire of Love and A House Made of Splinters in. I also don’t know what will win here.
Best International Feature
|1||All Quiet on the Western Front||Germany|
|2||Decision to Leave||South Korea|
ALTERNATE: Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (Mexico)
COMMENTARY: The same disclaimer applies, though I will predict All Quiet on the Western Front with high confidence, considering that it’s liable to pick up multiple nominations in other categories.
REACTION: 3 out of 5. Decision to Leave and Saint Omer out, EO (Poland) and The Quiet Girl (Ireland) in. All Quiet on the Western Front, with a multitude of nominations this morning, is the clear favorite to win here.
Best Animated Feature
|1||Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio|
|3||Puss in Boots: The Last Wish|
|4||Marcel the Shell with Shoes On|
|5||Wendell and Wild|
ALTERNATE: Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood
COMMENTARY: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio and Turning Red look pretty safe, but otherwise, the category is prone to the general malleability I mentioned a moment ago. This lineup of five would make sense to me, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised to see one or two of them swapped out.
REACTION: 4 out of 5. Wendell and Wild out, The Sea Beast in. Considering the surprises these last three categories are prone to, I’m pretty pleased with only missing one.
And those are my predictions. Check back on Tuesday to see my results and reactions.
The nominations for the 95th Academy Awards will be announced on January 24, 2023, in a broadcast hosted by Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams scheduled to begin at 5:30AM PST.