Oscars 2023 Predictions: Who Will Win & the Major Contenders
This season is an absolute nail-biter, and I will be on the edge of my seat for every category leading up to Best Picture.
By AUVEEN DEZGARAN
And… We’re back! With a new Oscars award season! It's almost like we never left, thanks to the neverending discourse of Slap-gate. Except I will say I have not heard a single person mention the words “Kenneth Branaugh’s Belfast” since March 27th, 2022, so maybe it has been a minute.
I am so excited to be rushing to the movies again and hearing all the buzzworthy discourse about what's boringly overrated and what's obsessively unreal. It’s always fascinating seeing which films catch the attention of my friends versus what the Academy will decide to praise. Like I think I have more friends who were struck by the subtlety and seductiveness of Decision to Leave over the flashy and boisterous Elvis, but because of the Academy’s predominately white male voting body, their nominations skew more towards films of their own taste. In 2022, approximately 82% of the Academy’s voting body was white, and 67% identified as male, so when you think about the Best Picture nominees, it all makes sense. Who loves Top Gun: Maverick more than a DAD?
As an Oscars obsessive, I feel like the nominations this year have given off an air of ~unhinged~ more than in previous years. In the past, there has always been that contender whose work is a solid lock in securing a nomination (like Frances McDormand for Nomadland), and then there are always a few hopefuls who are gunning for a spot (Simon Rex for Red Rocket). This year, the nominations were shaken up a bit with a lot of the individuals who would be a solid lock getting left out and the more “reach” contenders taking their spots (Viola Davis for Woman King’s spot being replaced by Andrea Riseborough for To Leslie). Based on the precursor awards (Golden Globes, SAG, Critics Choice, BAFTAs), one can normally tell the favorable pick by the consistent winner. However, this year, there has not been a nominee who has swept at every awards show. In fact, the winners have been very split. So with the Academy’s taste gearing towards something a little more unpredictable this year, I will note who I believe will win and who the major contender is in each of the top four categories.
The Daniels & Steven Spielberg
Who Will Win:
The Daniels (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
The Daniels just took home the Directors Guild Award for Best Director for their crowd-favorite Best Picture frontrunner. In recent years, the Academy has predominantly chosen a Best Director Winner and Best Picture Winner from separate films (i.e. Jane Campion winning Best Director for Power of The Dog, and Best Picture going to Coda). However, the outpour of love for this film has escorted the Daniels into the spotlight. They are the masterminds behind this vivacious and imaginative exploration of the meaningfulness of life. If the Academy were to veer towards a more modern agenda, the Daniels are the notable and fresh picks for the prize.
Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans)
Although this film may not go down in history as one of Spielberg's most distinct films, The Fabelmans brings out such a personal side of Spielberg that this potential win could serve as a homage to his career. The Fabelmans is the semi-autobiographical story of a young Jewish boy growing up in a middle-class family as he falls in love with movies. This movie is made for the Academy, as it involves one of America’s favorite storytellers showcasing his heart with a narrative that indirectly pays tribute to his career. As the year's recipient of the Directors Guild Award Honoree, Spielberg has the support of his career behind him to take home the prize.
Brendan Fraser & Austin Butler
Who Will Win:
Austin Butler (Elvis)
The Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure star has been campaigning for his Elvis Oscar for the past eight months, and it very well may pay off. Butler has made it known that he buried himself in the role of Elvis with years (and counting) of dedication in Baz Luhrman’s glitzy biopic of the iconic singer's rise and heartbreaking fall. The Academy is a sucker for rewarding biopic performances à la Jessica Chastain in The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody, Gary Oldman in The Darkest Hour, etc, establishing Butler as the one to beat. With the Presley family’s support behind him, Butler’s extensive dedication may just pay off.
Major Contender (!!):
Brendan Fraser (The Whale)
A win for Brendan Fraser’s performance in The Whale would give the actor a comeback story that Hollywood loves to relish in. The Whale tells the story of an unhealthy and reclusive man trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter before it’s too late, with Frasier’s character carrying the narrative in this role he transformed into. This polarizing and, in my opinion, uncomfortable performance has bestowed Fraser with a Critics Choice Award and a SAG Award, the first of Fraser’s long career. In recent years, the Best Actor winners’ films were always nominated for Best Picture, a nomination which the Academy has not given to The Whale. This creates a stronger case for his opponent.
Michelle Yeoh & Cate Blanchett
Who will win:
Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Yeoh’s performance in Everything Everywhere carried the heart of the film—not only with her beyond impressive action-packed sequences, but also her tender and emotional portrayal of a mother. Yeoh has most recently won both the SAG Award and Independent Spirit Award for her performance. Though she has not won as many of the precursor awards as Blanchett, I believe more people are pushing for a win from Yeoh because of the passion audiences have for this film, as well as the elegance and zeal she has demonstrated throughout her long career. This would also make Yeoh the first Asian actress to take home the award. At this point, don’t we all want to see her up on that stage?!
Major Contender (!!):
Cate Blanchett (Tár)
A part of me is largely shocked that I'M even noting Blanchett as a “major contender” as opposed to a solid lock for her harrowing and gripping performance as Lydia Tár, a rigid philharmonic conductor. Blanchett has taken home both the Critics Choice Award and the BAFTA for her captivating performance. However, in both of her speeches, Blanchett specially called out her adoration for Michelle Yeoh’s work, strengthening her fellow contender’s campaign. If Blanchett were to win, this would be her third Oscar and potentially the only award Tár will take home that evening.
Everything Everywhere All at Once
WHO WILL WIN:
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The A24 film is a shoe-in to take home the Best Picture win. The love and support behind it coming from both critics and audiences has been unparalleled by any of the other films in this category. The film’s larger-than-life energy, cleverness, wonderful weirdness, and tenderness that creeps up on you are all the makings of a Best Picture Winner. And in a post-COVID world where movie theaters are becoming rare experiences, this film still over-achieved at the box office, getting people excited to go to the movies again. Everything Everywhere All at Once is a movie that really delivers and gives the people what they want; be ready to see the film sweep on Oscars night and receive back the love it put out.
Major Contender (soft launch):
Either the technically adept All Quiet On the Western Front, the beautiful family story of The Fabelmans, or the heartwarming and heartbreaking Banshees of Inisherin; these movies are all dark-horse contenders for Best Picture, but I do believe Everything Everywhere will take the cake.
This season is an absolute nail-biter and I will be on the edge of my seat for every category all leading up to Best Picture.
As we praise the work of these greats, I would also like to recognize some of the standout films I saw that I wish the Academy included in the mix, films like: RRR, She Said, Holy Spider, Bones and All, and Aftersun. Hopefully as the Academy’s voting body evolves and diversifies in the upcoming years, the nominations will too. And maybe with Everything Everywhere All at Once taking the grand prize, we are starting to open that door.