Best Picture: “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Runner Up: “Top Gun: Maverick”

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” (EEAAO) is a sure bet for Best Picture. It picked up Best Film at the American Film Institute Awards and Critics Choice Awards, as well as Best Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Awards (an important precursor award that has predicted 7 of the last 10 Best Picture winners). The Academy has nominated EEAAO for 11 Oscars, most notably in all of the coveted acting/writing categories. None of the other nominated films have gained the momentum that “Everything Everywhere All At Once” has in the last few months, nor have they demonstrated a serious campaign for the top award, signaling that the other studios predict a win for this unconventional film. I listed Tom Cruise’s “Top Gun Maverick” as the runner-up for this award, but EEAAO’s win is all but guaranteed by this point. “Top Gun Maverick’s” cinematography and stunt work put it a shade over EEAAO personally, but EEEAO was also tremendously well-acted and entertaining. Ultimately, I would prefer a Best Picture win for Top Gun, but I thoroughly enjoyed both films and will be satisfied with either result. 

Best Actor: Colin Farrell

Runner Up: Austin Butler

This category is perhaps the most contentious. Colin Farrell and the runner-up Austin Butler both won the top award for their respective categories at the Golden Globes and both have mounted serious campaigns for the Best Actor award. There are a few reasons I placed Farrell ahead of Butler. First, I must admit I liked Farrell’s performance much more than Butler’s, so there is a bit of bias there. But I have some pseudo-objective reasons for his place above Butler. The Academy tends not to give the Best Actor award to young actors — the average age of Best Actor winners is 44. The youngest ever to win the award was Adrien Brody at 29. Butler would be 13 years younger than the average winner. In addition, Farrell has been up for the award thrice before, whereas Butler has never been nominated in this category. I also find Farrell’s acting displays a unique sincerity that few other actors manage to replicate. It’s that sincerity that makes him very popular in the acting community and could contribute to him winning the award. Despite Butler’s enchanting Elvis-voiced Golden Globes speech, I think he will lose out on the award — though I would not be surprised if he does win in the end. There also remains the chance that Brendan Fraser might win the award at the last moment, having picked up the coveted SAG award for Best Actor in a leading role. 

Best Actress: Michelle Yeoh

Runner Up: Cate Blanchett

In 2022, there were two standout female performances in the leading role category. They were Cate Blanchett as famed yet fictional composer Lydia Tar and Michelle Yeoh as reality-warping laundromat owner Evelyn Wang. This award is hard to predict for a couple of important reasons. First, both performances have garnered a serious number of accolades at other award shows. Second, Blanchett is an Academy favorite, having won the award twice before in 2005 and 2013. However, due to the events of the last few weeks, I can comfortably place Yeoh in a position to win the award on March 12. Winning the SAG award for Best Actress indicates an increase in momentum behind Yeoh. There is also a sense, which I agree with, that Yeoh has been underappreciated in Hollywood overall, and that the Oscars is a chance to rectify that wrong. 

Best Director: The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert)

Runner Up: Steven Spielberg

There is certainly potential for a shakeup in the Best Director race. Spielberg has won two Oscars in this category thus far. His first was for “Schindler’s List” in 1993, and his second was in 1998 for “Saving Private Ryan.” He has been a Hollywood mainstay since the early 1970s. On the other hand, his primary competition, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, are young directors both relatively new to the industry. So far, all the leading indicators for the Best Director award are pointing to a win for the directing duo. They won Best Director at the Directors Guild of America Awards, as well as producing awards at the Producers Guild of America Awards. Spielberg, on the other hand, only won for directing at the Golden Globes, which, while important, is not necessarily a solid indicator of Oscar chances. The Academy is as much a black box as any awards organization, but Best Directing appears to be relatively settled at this point in awards season.

Best Original Screenplay: “The Banshees of Inisherin” 

Runner Up: “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Martin McDonagh’s “Banshees of Inisherin” has the best shot to win in this category. Above anything, this film is a movie that relies heavily on its writing. There are no special effects, stunts, or dramatic action scenes in this film. The dialogue, and the acting, of course, make this movie effective. To date, it has won the British Academy Film Awards honor for Best Original Screenplay, as well as the Golden Globe. McDonagh is also an Oscar darling. His films have won in the past. Namely, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbings Missouri” picked up awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor in 2017. Yet, the looming presence of EEAAO finds its way into this category as well. There is a significant chance EEAAO manages to sweep the Oscars, winning Directing, Picture, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Screenplay. If other categories start to fall, so will this one. I predict, and hope, “The Banshees of Inisherin” will win, but an EEAAO win would not be unexpected.

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The 2023 Academy Awards will be presented March 12.