The Oscars 2023 Predictions

The most prestigious, classy and often-times controversial film awards take place this weekend. This is, of course, The Oscars, or the 95th Academy Awards to be technical. Stirring performances, bold films and sharp scripts from the last year of cinema are all awarded with the famous golden statues. For some, awards season is more than just the news articles and red carpet photos. Some of us spend hours watching the nominees and theorising who will take home which awards. If you want to be right

EntertainmentNowPREDICTIONS
No ratings yet. Log in to rate.

Host of Pop Culture on Nerve Radio and Multimedia Journalism student, Adam Barlow, gives his thoughts on this year’s Oscar Award nominees.

The most prestigious, classy and often-times controversial film awards take place this weekend. This is, of course, The Oscars, or the 95th Academy Awards to be technical. Stirring performances, bold films and sharp scripts from the last year of cinema are all awarded with the famous golden statues. For some, awards season is more than just the news articles and red carpet photos. Some of us spend hours watching the nominees and theorising who will take home which awards. If you want to be right up to speed with the key categories this year, you’re in the right place. Here are my predictions for the 2023 Oscars:

BEST PICTURE

An award of any type is special for the winner but the last award to be handed out each night is always Best Picture – in theory the best movie of the year.

All Quiet on The Western Front: The only international film in the 2023 Best Picture category has been one of this year’s biggest surprises. It’s Netflix’s retelling of Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel of the same name. With an all-German cast and renowned narrative to jump off from, All Quiet is a refined, polished war story with some of the most striking cinematography from any movie this year. So far, it has wiped the floor with other nominees at the BAFTAs and has been commended for its bravery and unrestraint in depicting the horrors of World War I. Will it win? I don’t think so. It doesn’t bring anything radically new to the table and maybe that’s more a comment on the oversaturation of the war genre but when compared to Sam Mendes’ one-shot 1917, there are better options out there.

Avatar: The Way of Water: After a long wait in the form of a 13-year gap, the sequel in James Cameron’s promised sci-fi saga finally arrived. Currently, The Way of Water has grossed over $2.2 billion worldwide and has placed itself as the 3rd highest grossing film of all-time – enough to show it was well-received. All Cameron needed to do was deliver another crowd-pleasing technical feat to transport audiences back to Pandora – that he certainly did. It would be a crime if this hard work went unnoticed (especially in the visual effects category) because it truly is a breath-taking journey. The script is tighter than the first and sets up plotlines for future instalments but the same issues suffered by the 2009 film are persistent. Beyond the visuals, there arguably still isn’t enough narrative substance to sustain such a lengthy runtime. Epic escapism? Yes. Best Picture? No, sorry Cameron.

The Banshees of Inisherin: Martin McDonagh, Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson hit gold in 2008 with In Bruges and now reunite in this hilarious, crushing and nuanced tragicomedy. On the surface it’s about Pádraic and Colm, two life-long friends who fall out suddenly over the idea of legacy. The film explores and questions that central idea of asking if niceness is really enough value to show for a life and whether that alone will ensure you’re remembered. Colm takes the stance that music and art is what lasts thus pursues that rather than their friendship. The 1923 setting lets the Irish civil war act as a backdrop and there are clear layers and commentary about the unrest and the yearning for identity. Any film with nihilism, Catholic guilt, male depression, hope and cinematography this stunning stands a good chance of winning Best Picture. Banshees is a front-runner and I cannot recommend it enough.

Elvis: From the psychedelic mind of Baz Luhrmann came this energetic, dizzying biopic honouring the king of rock & roll himself, Elvis Presley. Clocking in at 2h 39m, the film is exhausting and required a central performance that could channel the legendary artist with all his flair and talent. That’s where Austin Butler comes in. He truly imbodies EP and turns in a performance that more than credits his Best Actor nod and likely win. There are some problems though. As with all of Luhrmann’s projects, Elvis is like sitting down in a bustling nightclub. The editing is fast-paced and at times the stylisation is over-the-top. They also frequently opt for using covers of Presley’s songs by Doja Cat or Eminem rather than the actual musician’s work – it can be jarring. Elvis is fun and zany but a little rough around the edges. Oh! The less said about Tom Hanks’ cartoonish and despicable Colonel Parker, the better.

Everything Everywhere All at Once: This is my personal pick for Best Picture. What the directing duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert have managed to achieve with this incredibly unique film is almost unbelievable. It defies genres. The film evokes such a wide range of emotions and fluctuates between them from scene to scene. I can’t think of any other film that has made me cry and laugh as much – a scene in which two rocks discuss existentialism should not be that darn heart-shattering. Everything Everywhere boasts an all-star cast too with Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, James Hong, Stephanie Hsu and a brilliant Hollywood comeback story in Ke Huy Quan. No matter who you are, you’ll be able to relate to the characters’ struggles and it is nothing short of marvellous to watch such a quirky, gleefully random movie encapsulate the human condition as eloquently as it does. A modern-day masterpiece. Yeah, I said it.

The Fabelmans: There’s no denying that Stephen Spielberg is one of the greats. When he releases a new film, you see it, no questions asked and one based loosely on his own life? That has got to be worth watching. We follow the childhood of Sammy Fabelman (played by a very adept Gabrielle LaBelle) as he falls in love with cinema, deals with antisemitism and navigates his way through his parents’ divorce. Michelle Williams and Paul Dano are honestly the dream parents – both so loving and supportive – while Seth Rogen of all people plays a remarkably sensible role fantastically. The whole construction of the movie oozes nostalgia and wonder as Spielberg opens up with his most personal screenplay yet. My only criticism is pivotal: it does come across as Oscar bait. It panders to the judges with such an overt love letter to film that its more sentimental than anything dramatically inspiring.

TÁR: Cate Blanchett took a risk accepting this role from Todd Field given the characterisation of the lead, lesbian conductor. There have been countless, passionate arguments for and against this film online but one thing can be certain: Blanchett was phenomenal. This is a career defining role if ever there was one and it needs to be stressed how outstanding her career has already been. Lydia Tár is a fictional musician but in every way seems tangible thanks to the marketing, the set design and the physicality of Blanchett’s performance which commands every scene. As psychological dramas go, this is bold. The drab colour palette and unsettling atmosphere are so gripping. Field instils a sense of unease for more than two hours. TÁR addresses the debate of separating art from the artist with wit and delicacy. Film students will analyse this one for years to come whether it wins or not.

Top Gun: Maverick: In awards season, it’s all too easy to become trapped in an exclusive circle of didacticism and ‘fine art’, forgetting what the masses themselves actually loved. For that reason The Batman deserved a nomination but I’m happy Maverick is here as it’s about as big as blockbusters get. A full 36 years after the original, Top Gun’s nervously anticipated sequel hit the silver screen. With great practical effects and a cast led by Tom Cruise that actually learnt how to fly fighter jets, the movie was astonishingly well-received by fans of all ages. It dipped into nostalgia with several mirrored plot points but improved upon the first film in almost every single way. Fans loved Maverick because it was simple. It was a feel-good, adrenaline-fueled, competent and streamlined adventure. It became the 2nd highest grossing film of 2022 and while not terribly layered, Maverick would still be a popular Best Picture winner.

Triangle of Sadness: Ruben Östlund’s wicked black comedy crept under the radar for a lot of people this year as online chatter was difficult to find. All I knew going in was the existence of a 15-minute scene where rich folk throw up undercooked seafood. I’m happy to report that Triangle of Sadness offers much more. There are laugh-out-loud moments, a killer soundtrack, delicious irony galore and blunt reflections on political stigmas. Woody Harrelson is his usual intense self and Harris Dickinson once again proves he’s one to watch with his impressive range and comedic timing. Twists and the vague ending leave a lot up to interpretation but the overall themes and timely message are heavy-handed. It is best triangulated, pun intended, by Don’t Look Up, The Menu and Parasite. The film is executed with zest but ultimately feels shallow – not unlike the faux characters it portrays.

Women Talking: Of all the nominees this year, the empowering and articulate Women Talking perhaps surprised me the most. A council of women in a Mennonite colony must decide how they react to the men who have been subduing and brutally abusing them. They can do nothing, stay and fight or leave. This is easily the best adapted screenplay because not one line is wasted. Every character is authentic, steadfast and intelligent. It is a genuine honour to listen into their conversations. Claire Foy, Rooney Mara and Jessie Buckley are particular stand-outs but anyone from the cast could have been nominated for an individual award. The costumes and cinematography are appropriately sombre which adds another dynamic to this expertly crafted film. The deconstruction of faith, gender, truth and forgiveness is remarkable. Women Talking just has that grandiose quality of a Best Picture winner.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Aside from the Best Picture and the Best Leading/Supporting awards, the animation category is always a fascinating one. This year was no exception. Stop-motion is well and truly back with a vengeance while the sequel to a Shrek spin-off exceeded anyone’s expectations.

Given how beloved Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is, it’s all but certain that it will win. At other award nights, Pinocchio has swept the animation categories with ease, no strings attached. The stop-motion is a spectacle to behold and the voice-acting really make the expressive characters pop thanks to the likes of Ewan McGregor, Gregory Mann, David Bradley and Tilda Swinton. All the songs are earworms and the narrative, although told many times before, is quite profound and mature for young audiences. There isn’t much to critique at all as the only negative feelings I harbour towards the film stem from the poetically solemn ending. Stop-motion was also utilised to great effect in the wholesome Marcel The Shell With Shoes On. The winding title is just the start of the charm packed into this adorably quirky mockumentary. Jenny Slate voices the titular Marcel who is a 1-inch-tall shell with a googly eye. He befriends an amateur documentary maker in his Airbnb home and together they build an online presence to help reunite Marcel with his colony. The strength is in the execution. The whole team commit to the silly idea and pull off a very moving fish-out-of-water comedy. Marcel is the definition of endearing and his quotes are akin to that of Paddington or Winnie the Pooh on the naivete scale. As much as I enjoyed Pinocchio, I would love to see Marcel win this year.

The other nominees for Animated Feature Film included Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, The Sea Beast and Turning Red. Netflix’s The Sea Beast is a solid film with fun moments, gorgeous environments and good diversity but beyond that, I didn’t feel that it was anything particularly special. PIXAR’s entry this year was in the form of Turning Red. It switched up the formula with some anime-inspired animation and confidently worked themes of puberty and periods into a film kids and parents would have a pleasant time with. It did, however, have some juvenile humour and didn’t quite land the emotional beats as well as we’ve come to expect from the studio. I remember feeling indifferent about it back in March 2022 (a lifetime ago now) and have felt no strong desire to rewatch it since.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is this year’s real hot topic. It arrived 11 years after the first Puss in Boots movie (that itself was an offshoot from the tired Shrek franchise) and the hype surrounding it seemed at first like an inside joke. It was not, The Last Wish is a complete joy. The voice cast includes Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Florence Pugh and Olivia Coleman to name but a handful. Its rollicking script is razor-sharp with meaningful themes of encouraging self-correction and death’s inevitability. The animation style borrows heavily from 2018’s Into the Spider-Verse but never feels like a direct imitation. I doubt it will win the award as I suspect it’s too playful when compared to Pinocchio but for it to get the recognition and publicity that comes with an Oscar nomination is still a huge achievement. I ended up watching it three times in the cinema… in the space of seven days. That is as good a time as any to move on.

WHO WILL WIN, WHO SHOULD WIN AND WHO WAS MISSED?

For the rest of the main categories, I’ll cast my votes for the nominees by selecting who I think will win and who I think should win – those two aren’t always the same. If I feel any films have been forgotten or deserved recognition in a category, I’ll also include that.

Category

WILL win

SHOULD win

Deserved a nom

Actor (Leading Role)

Austin Butler

Any of them!

 

Actor (Supporting Role)

Ke Huy Quan

Ke Huy Quan

Ben Whishaw

Actress (Leading Role)

Cate Blanchett

Blanchett / Yeoh

Viola Davis

Actress (Supporting Role)

Angela Bassett

Bassett / Hsu

Anyone from Women Talking

Cinematography

All Quiet…

All Quiet… / Empire of…

The Batman

Costume Design

EEAAO

EEAAO / Elvis

 

Directing

Martin McDonagh

Martin McDonagh

Matt Reeves

Film Editing

Elvis

EEAAO

 

Makeup & Hairstyling

Elvis

The Batman / Elvis / The Whale

 

Music (Original Score)

All Quiet…

Banshees / EEAAO

The Batman / The Woman King

Production Design

All Quiet…

Avatar / Elvis

Don’t Worry Darling

Sound

All Quiet…

The Batman / Top Gun

 

Visual Effects

Avatar: The Way of Water

Avatar: The Way of Water

 

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

All Quiet…

Women Talking

 

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Banshees

Banshees / EEAAO

 

 

I’d love to know your thoughts on the nominees. What are your picks for the 2023 winners?

I wish everyone involved in any of the nominated films the best of luck. It has been a truly wonderful year of cinema and I’m overjoyed to have kept myself in the loop. Here’s to another year chock-full of classy filmmaking.

The Oscars kick off at midnight on Monday 13th March here in the UK.

Comments

No comments have been made. Please log in to comment.