The 95th Academy Awards are just around the corner, which means Oscar predictions are back. Critics attempt to figure out the winners based on a multitude of factors. In recent years, films that would be referred to as “Oscar bait” have not won in the categories where they were favored. Independent, lower budget films, however, have been gaining success at The Oscars in recent years, for example last year’s Best Picture winner “CODA,” and the 89th Academy Awards Best Picture winner “Moonlight.” Instead of trying my hand at predicting who will win, I instead chose to write about my favorite movies in each category and why I believe they deserve to win their respective awards. Fair warning, I have not seen every movie in every category, so my opinions are based only on the films I have seen. With that, here are the largest award categories and my favorites.
This category recognizes the achievements of an actor in a leading role. The nominees:
Austin Butler, “Elvis”
Colin Farrell, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”
Paul Mescal, “Aftersun”
Bill Nighy, “Living”
The pick: Colin Farrell, “The Banshees of Inisherin.”
Admittedly, I have not seen Fraser’s performance in “The Whale,” which is the favorite for this category. But of the movies I have seen, the best must be Farrell’s performance in “The Banshees of Inisherin.” Farrell plays the character of Pádraic Súilleabháin, a plain man who wants to drink a pint of beer with his best friend Colm Doherty. Doherty, however, suddenly ignores and unfriends Pádraic, who then slowly spirals into despair. Pádraic is forced to cope with the abrupt event. While Farrell could easily play an over-the-top character who descends into hysteria, he instead expresses a harsh sadness in his character. Farrell fully embodies the character yet performs him in a realistic and impactful way, which is why he gets the win over Austin Butler’s “Elvis” performance.
This category recognizes the achievements of an actress in a leading role. The nominees:
Cate Blanchett, “Tár”
Ana de Armas, “Blonde”
Andrea Riseborough, “To Leslie”
Michelle Williams, “The Fabelmans”
Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
The pick: Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
This is one of the tougher categories to choose from. The two powerhouse performances come from Blanchett in “Tár” and Yeoh in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Ironically, the performances could not be more different. Blanchett plays the character Lydia Tár, an acclaimed conductor who uses her power and influence in progressively negative ways. Yeoh, on the other hand, plays Evelyn Quan Wang, an overworked mother who struggles to balance her financial, family and work life until the unexpected happens: a visitor arrives from a parallel universe. While both performances are fantastic, Yeoh must be recognized for her performance. She balances comedic timing with emotional moments. She is a loving mother who has realistic flaws. Yeoh had a fantastic supporting cast around her, but her performance is the glue that holds the film together.
This category recognizes the achievements of a film director. The nominees:
Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans”
Todd Field, “Tár”
Ruben Ostlund, “Triangle of Sadness”
The pick: Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans.”
Direction in a film can be hard to determine. A good director brings the best possible performance out of the actor while determining how a movie will look and feel. Everything about a film starts and ends with the director. This year’s field is stacked, but the director who stood above the rest is the man who has been working in the entertainment industry for over 52 years. Spielberg, in his movie, “The Fablemans,” tells the semi-autobiographical story of his childhood and the first decades of his film career. The film is masterful and has the classic Spielberg touch throughout, for example his infamous no-cut shots. He tells his story with honesty and care, exploring the difficult problems that many other families face. Spielberg explores the true motivations behind his career while exposing the dangers of living life through a camera. Spielberg tells his story through the most personal lens: his own.
This category recognizes the best film of the year. The nominees:
“All Quiet on the Western Front”
“Avatar: The Way of Water”
“The Banshees of Inisherin”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once”
“Top Gun: Maverick”
“Triangle of Sadness”
The pick: “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
Many fantastic movies were released in 2022, which is why many believe this year’s lineup is one of the most impressive in recent Oscars history. Of this year’s array of award-worthy pictures, there are three that I believe stand out: “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “The Fabelmans,” and “Tár.” Only one can claim the award, and that film should be “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” No picture since 2019’s “Parasite” has made such waves after its release. Both the critical and commercial audience fell in love, as the film broke the record for A24’s most financially successful movie with over 100 million dollars worldwide. The film was funny and creative, but still manages to tell a profound personal story. The visuals are outstanding and the acting is superb. While other films nominated in the category were worthy of the award, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” made a massive cultural impact. There won’t be another film like it for a very long time.
The Academy Awards take place on Sunday, March 12, 2023. The ceremony starts at 5 p.m. PT and airs live on ABC.