2023 Oscars: Predictions & Picks

On March 12th, 2023, starting at 8 p.m. EST, we will discover the winners of the 95th Academy Awards. This year, fortunately, all 23 categories will be shown live — as opposed to the awful decision made last year to not do that — and hopefully there will be no slapping and no jokes about someone’s wife’s hair. Jimmy Kimmel has hosted the Oscars before, and while I would’ve preferred a more interesting and unique pick for a host (or no host at all), he’s a relatively safe pick. Plus, if the promo above is any indication of what the ceremony will be like, it should at least be entertaining. Regardless, I really only care about the awards — and maybe also the outfits — which aren’t nearly as easy to predict this year as they have been in recent years. Here are my predictions for the winners, as well as my personal preferences (will may often line up quite nicely).  

Best Picture

Should/will win: Everything Everywhere All At Once

For the first time in a while, my favorite film of the year will be winning Best Picture — and, as you’ll see below, a few other prizes — and it’ll be one of the cooler picks in recent memory. How did a multi-genre epic (yet intimate) story with a predominantly Asian-American cast end up as the Best Picture front-runner? EEAAO, as we’ve all come to call it, has had quite the journey since it premiered at SXSW about a year ago. Sure, not everyone in the Academy will love it, though because there’s no clear #2 pick here, EEAAOO is all but assured the win. 

Best Director

Should/will win: Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert — Everything Everywhere All At Once

The last time a directing duo won here was in 2007 (No Country for Old Men) and, before that, 1961 (West Side Story). So, this’ll be the third time, and well deserved. Known as the Daniels, they’ve won nearly every major directing award they needed to — except for Steven Spielberg, who won the Golden Globe. Things look especially great for them after their DGA win. I just wish Sarah Polley was in here for Women Talking. This line-up makes me think of the Natalie Portman gem from the Globes a few years back, “here are the all-male nominees.” 

Best Actress

Should/will win: Michelle Yeoh — Everything Everywhere All At Once

This is an insanely tight Best Actress race, as both Yeoh and TAR‘s Cate Blanchett have been neck-and-neck for months now. It’s easy to see why, as they’ve both given [arguably] career-best performances in original, unique movies. Blanchett already has two Oscars, and will probably win more in the future, if she misses here. Yet, for 60-year-old Yeoh, who got to show off every one of her talents as an actress and performer, this is probably her only chance. And, how great will it be when she becomes only the second woman of color — behind Halle Berry — to win Best Actress. Blanchett herself seemed ecstatic when Yeoh won the SAG and Spirit awards. Yeoh has momentum on her side, and I’m feeling slightly confident about her winning, but wouldn’t be surprised if Blanchett happened to take it. 

Best Actor:

Should win: Colin Farrell — The Banshees of Inisherin
Will win: Austin Butler — Elvis

This is a great category of all first-time nominees, and I’m happy that veterans like Farrell, The Whale‘s Brendan Fraser, and Living‘s Bill Nighy finally received some recognition, alongside relative newcomers Butler and Aftersun‘s Paul Mescal. If I had my pick, Farrell would be winning here, as it’s a deceptively complex performance that is funny, heartbreaking, and memorable. I also wouldn’t mind if Fraser won, especially considering his tumultuous years in Hollywood that resulted in this comeback role. But, his movie is divisive, wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, and missed out on more key nominations — which benefits Butler. Even though he’s only 31, he’s in a biopic that was generally well-liked and does his own singing. It’s a truly transformative performance, like Frasers’, but considering the fact I’m [spoiler alert] also expecting Elvis to win for make-up, this goes hand-in-hand with a Best Actor win.

Best Supporting Actress:

Should/will win: Kerry Condon — The Banshees of Inisherin

This race has been surprisingly crowded, confusing, and weirdly difficult to predict. Condon led in the precursors, but then Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s Angela Bassett won both the Globe and the Critics’ Choice. Then, Condon won at BAFTA — an expected win for the Irish actress — followed by a surprise win for Everything Everywhere At Once‘s Jamie Lee Curtis. Now, the question remains: does the Academy love EEAAO so much that they want to reward JLC here, even though it’s the least impressive performance in the category? Or, maybe, the legacy factory is in her favor, as AMPAS also does the “it’s about time” (see: Laura Dern for Marriage Story). Yet, it feels like too much to give EEAAO three acting wins, so I’m leaning towards the BAFTA winner. From what I’ve heard, even people who didn’t like (or even hated) Banshees praised Condon’s work. Plus, she’s in the film quite a lot. 

Best Supporting Actor

Should/will win: Ke Huy Quan — Everything Everywhere All At Once

The former child star of Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom has been sweeping the season, and continually charming everyone with his heartfelt speeches and adorable celebrity selfies. The only televised award he lost was to Banshees‘ Barry Keoghan at BAFTA, which was a great opportunity to reward the young actor, but this is Quan’s Oscar to lose. He gives such a multi-faceted performance that is perfectly in tune with Yeoh’s, and it makes sense for them to both win here. 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Should/will win: Sarah Polley — Women Talking

Polley’s film deserved much more awards attention (it only received two nominations), but obviously the Academy liked it enough to nominate it for BP — which is why I think this is the perfect opportunity to reward it. Its WGA win gives me hope, although its lack of nominations gives me pause, especially with BAFTA winner All Quiet on the Western Front right there. It’s definitely a close race between the two of them. 

Best Original Screenplay

Should/will win: Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert — Everything Everywhere All At Once

In recent years, the Academy has opted for the most original screenplays, such as Get Out and Promising Young Woman. While Banshees is more dialogue-driven, EEAAO has plenty of memorable quotes and presents the multiverse in such a unique way that is hard to ignore. Its WGA win was promising, although it wasn’t up against Banshees (due to WGA’s weird rules). 

Best Animated Feature Film

Should win: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Will win: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio

This is actually a fabulous line-up, and I was happy to see The Sea Beast make it in here. There isn’t a bad film included here. While I’d love for the Puss in Boots sequel — which I absolutely, surprisingly adored — to win, Pinocchio has won every major award it needed to. Plus, del Toro is such a likable, warm presence, and the Academy has rewarded him in the past. There’s no reason for him to lose here. 

Best Documentary Feature Film

Should/will win: Navalny

Navalny is not only my favorite documentary of 2022, it made my top 10 films of the year. It’s incredibly timely, and should triumph in a very strong category — although Descendant and The Territory are sadly missing here — and is deserving, thanks to its thriller-like story and, once again, timeliness. Fire of Love is close behind, although the Academy isn’t always a big fan of archival footage-based films (last year’s winner, Summer of Soul, being an exception). 

Best International Feature Film

Should/will win: All Quiet on the Western Front

Whenever a nominee in this category is also nominated for Best Picture, it’s a safe bet that said film will win here. Case closed. Also, this is a fairly strong category overall, although Close is the one I liked the least. 

Best Cinematography

Should/will win: All Quiet on the Western Front

I really wish The Batman was in here, which deserved more love than it received (including in Original Score). Also, the fact that the precursor frontrunner in this category, Top Gun: Maverick, miraculously got snubbed here is…well, maddening and strange. Instead, All Quiet’s stunning war footage should — and will — win here. Although, don’t underestimate the narrative behind Elvis’ Mandy Walker [possibly] becoming the first woman to win this award. 

Best Costume Design

Should win: Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris
Will win: Elvis

Mrs. Harris is literally a movie about fashion, with the most beautiful, exquisite-looking dresses and outfits of the bunch. Catherine Martin — also nominated for Production Design — will most likely win here for Elvis, as she painstakingly recreated Presley’s famous outfits. Babylon‘s costumes are lovely and extravagant, but not exactly period-appropriate. 

Best Film Editing

Should/will win: Everything Everywhere All At Once

Often, the movie with the most and/or showiest editing wins here, which means that it should either go to EEAAO or to Elvis. While Top Gun: Maverick‘s editing is impressive, especially in the aerial sequences, Paul Rogers’ one-man work in EEAAO should triumph here. The editing work is what helps make the multiversal elements of the story, well, work, most notably in the oft-GIFed clip of Michelle Yeoh’s Evelyn screaming in various universes. 

Best Make-up/Hairstyling

Should win: The Whale
Will win: Elvis

If Brendan Fraser is winning Best Actor, it would make sense for the transformative aspects of his performance — i.e. the makeup/prosthetics — to be similarly rewarded. However, considering the fact that I’m predicting Austin Butler to win instead, that means that I’m also predicting Elvis to win here. Even though many people — myself included — despise the work done on Tom Hanks’ Colonel Parker, a lot of subtler work was done on Butler’s Elvis.

Best Production Design

Should/will win: Babylon

Damien Chazelle’s divisive three-hour-plus film, which was essentially a box office dud and received fewer nominations than previously expected, may only win one award total — and it’s no likelier than here, as AMPAS tends to go for recreations of old Hollywood (even if it’s a largely fictionalized one in Babylon). 

Best Original Score

Should win: Babylon
Will win: All Quiet on the Western Front

Without a doubt, Justin Hurwitz’s Babylon score is the best among the nominees — although, like I said above, The Batman‘s score (by Michael Giacchino) was sorely left out — and is the most infectious one by far. Unfortunately, the Academy clearly didn’t like Babylon all that much (or at all), and the strength of Hurwitz’s score unfortunately isn’t enough to overcome this fact. All Quiet may win here, with a similarly memorable score that works in tandem with the film’s sound work. 

Best Original Song

Should/will win: “Naatu Naatu” — RRR

It’s unfortunate that RRR was not India’s submission for International Feature Film, and that it only received this one nomination. However, because of  this, it’s likely to win here, especially considering the fact that voters who liked the film will want to reward it in some way. Plus, the song is used in such a fun way in the film, unlike other songs nominated here, this one is heard during the film and not during the credits.  

Best Sound

Should/will win: Top Gun: Maverick

The Academy clearly loved this long-delayed and surprisingly fantastic sequel, and they’ll likely reward it here, with [probably] its only win. 

Best Visual Effects

Should/will win: Avatar: The Way of Water

As soon as we knew there was an Avatar sequel, we knew it would be winning this award (its only win). C’est finis. 

Best Animated Short

Should win: Ice Merchants
Will win: My Year of Dicks

While The Boy, the Mole, the Fox & the Horse is the favored one to win here, as it’s based on a children’s book and has really been pushed by Apple+, we’d previously expected a similar kid-friendly, lengthier animated short (Robin Robin) to win, when the Academy opted for a more mature pick (The Windshield Wiper). That just may be the case this year, with the delightfully raunchy My Year of Dicks. My personal favorite was Ice Merchants, a dialogue-less film with beautiful animation and a touching story. 

Best Documentary Short

Should win: Haulout
Will win: Stranger at the Gate

The short categories are notoriously difficult to predict, mainly because there are few precursors on which to rely. My personal pick would be Haulout, which is incredibly cinematic and timely (about climate change). However, I think voters may go for Stranger at the Gate, exec-produced by Nobel Prize winner Malala, even though it is my least favorite of the nominees and is similar in tone to the Oscar-winning live action short Skin. 

Best Live Action Short

Should win: The Red Suitcase
Will win: An Irish Goodbye

As mentioned above, shorts are so tough to predict, and they’re often mediocre (at best). My favorite by far is The Red Suitcase, and my favorites rarely win here. I’m going with the BAFTA winner An Irish Goodbye, which is a fairly feel-good film that is in English. Look out, too, for the Alfonso Cuaron-produced Le Pupille, which I actually didn’t like.