Oscars 2023: nominations, predictions, frontrunners

Who will win at the Academy Awards? Who has been overlooked? Who – or what – might cause an upset on the night?

The 95th Academy Awards will take place in LA on the evening of Sunday, March 12, 2023 (or Monday 13 AEDT). With Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis contending in eight categories, Cate Blanchett a frontrunner in Best Actress, and the excellently named An Ostrich Told Me The World Is Fake And I Think I Believe It in animated short, it’s a strong year for Australians.

But who and what is likely to win in each of the major categories?

Best picture

  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Avatar: The Way of Water
  • The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Elvis
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • The Fabelmans
  • Tár
  • Top Gun: Maverick
  • Triangle of Sadness
  • Women Talking

Frontrunner – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Leading the pack of Best Picture contenders is Everything Everywhere All at Once, with 11 nominations. Having already picked up a trifecta of top prizes from the Producers Guild, Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild, it seems almost a forgone conclusion that Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s sophomore feature will also prevail at the Oscars.

Produced with the Russo brothers, Everything Everywhere All at Once has been rapturously received by critics and audiences alike, grossing more than $100 million USD globally.

It’s been nearly a year since I first saw the film in theatres, but it feels like there’s been nary a day that I haven’t heard mention of it. Its impact is clearly pretty extraordinary.

Read: ScreenHub’s four-star review of Everything Everywhere All At Once

Personally, I did enjoy Everything Everywhere All at Once. I really understand why so many have found it moving. I also think it’s basically a de-politicised riff on The Matrix, deliberately engineered to bridge the gap between Marvel and the cult of A24.

With this in mind, I find its success both surprising and unsurprising. The fact remains that all signs are pointing to Everything Everywhere All at Once racking up an impressive haul at the Oscars, including Best Picture.

Possible spoilers?

With such a strong frontrunner, it’s hard to say which film, if any, has the potential to upset.

To begin, Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans and Martin McDonagh’s The Banshees of Inisherin were awarded Best Motion Picture Drama and Motion Picture Comedy, respectively, at the Golden Globes.

Then there’s All Quiet on the Western Front, Edward Berger’s anti-war epic, which picked up an impressive seven BAFTAs, including Best Film.

Also of note is the phenomenal box office success of both Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water.

A note on Women Talking and women directors

When I was watching the nominations livestream back in January, I was so relieved when the final Best Picture nominee, Women Talking, was read out.

In part, this was because I revere Women Talking’s director, Sarah Polley, for her films Away from Her and Stories We Tell; but it was also because I continue to be so disheartened by how few women are ever recognised by the Academy.

Read: ScreenHub’s four-point-five star review of Women Talking

Thus, I would like to conclude my discussion of this category by mentioning four of my favourite films from the past year which were directed by women: Alcarràs, Carla Simón’s Golden Bear-winning second feature (Spain’s entry for Best International Feature, not nominated); Saint Omer, Alice Diop’s remarkable first narrative feature (France’s entry for Best International Feature, also not nominated); Aftersun, the stunning debut of Scottish director Charlotte Wells (more on that one later); and All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Laura Poitras’s Golden Lion-winning portrait of artist and activist Nan Goldin (nominated for Best Documentary Feature).

Best director

  • Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once – Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
  • Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans
  • Todd Field – Tár
  • Ruben Östlund – Triangle of Sadness

Frontrunner – Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All At Once

Filmmaking duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, also known as Daniels, are the odds-on favourite in this category. The filmmakers began their career directing popular music videos before releasing their debut feature Swiss Army Man in 2016.

As of last year, Daniels have signed an exclusive five-year deal with Universal Pictures.

Spoiler – Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans

My favourite scene in any of this year’s Best Picture nominees is the ending of The Fabelmans when young Sammy Fabelman (the excellent Gabriel LaBelle) meets the legendary John Ford (David Lynch with an eye patch).

Read: ScreenHub’s four-star review of The Fabelmans

I first heard Spielberg sharing the anecdote in Peter Bogdanovich’s documentary on Ford. It’s a note-perfect ending to a movie that is, like most of Spielberg’s films, emotionally earnest and pretty great.

Spielberg has won Best Director twice before, for Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. While Daniels do seem the likeliest choice this year, a director as universally respected as Spielberg is always in with a chance.

Best actress

  • Cate Blanchett – Tár
  • Ana de Armas – Blonde
  • Andrea Riseborough – To Leslie
  • Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans
  • Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Frontrunner – Cate Blanchett – Tár

It really feels impossible to overstate just how good Cate Blanchett is in Todd Field’s bitingly clever Tár.

As brilliant and monstrous conductor Lydia Tár, Blanchett is both imposing and deeply vulnerable; alluring and off-putting.

Read: ScreenHub’s four-point-five star review of Tár 

Blanchett is the only previous winner nominated for an acting award this year. Regardless of if she is ultimately rewarded for this performance, it will certainly be remembered as one of the greatest in her career.

Spoiler – Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once

I thought Michelle Yeoh’s performance was far and away the best thing about Everything Everywhere All at Once, and I’m starting to think her winning over Blanchett is not only possible but likely.

Shamefully, Yeoh is only the second Asian woman to ever be nominated for Best Actress, the first since Merle Oberon in 1936.

At the end of the day, both Yeoh and Blanchett would make for great and deserving winners and I’m excited to see how this category turns out.

Best actor

  • Austin Butler – Elvis
  • Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Brendan Fraser – The Whale
  • Paul Mescal – Aftersun
  • Bill Nighy –Living

Frontrunner – Brendan Fraser – The Whale

Like Best Actress, Best Actor could go one of two ways. I’m giving a slight edge to Brendan Fraser due to his win at the Screen Actors Guild.

While opinions on The Whale vary, affection for Fraser is very strong.

Read: Brendan Fraser is finally getting the comeback he deserves

This category is notable for its being composed entirely of Oscar newcomers, a complete reversal of last year’s Best Actor line-up which was made up of only returning nominees.

Spoiler – Austin Butler – Elvis

Austin Butler, an actor who I previously knew primarily for his role on Zoey 101, had a true star-is-born moment in Elvis. At 31, he has the potential to become one of the youngest Best Actor winners in history.

Read: ScreenHub’s three-point-five star review of Elvis

I do also wonder if there’s still an outside chance for a surprise Colin Farrell upset, but that may be wishful thinking.

Favourite Nomination – Paul Mescal – Aftersun

I first saw Aftersun at last year’s Melbourne International Film Festival. After the screening, director Charlotte Wells gave an in-person Q&A. It was a real privilege to hear her speak about her influences which included the likes of Chantal Akerman and Claire Denis.

Read: ScreenHub’s four-star review of Aftersun

While I think such a sensitive, affecting film as Aftersun really deserved acknowledgement in multiple categories, I was thrilled that Paul Mescal’s stunning performance was rewarded with a nomination.

Best supporting actress

  • Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  • Hong Chau – The Whale
  • Kerry Condon – The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Jamie Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All at Once
  • Stephanie Hsu – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Frontrunner – Kerry Condon – The Banshees of Inisherin

Best Supporting Actress is one of the most difficult categories to call. In the absence of a clear frontrunner, I am currently predicting critical darling and BAFTA winner Kerry Condon.

Spoilers – Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever & Jamie Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Angela Bassett, who was first nominated for Best Actress in 1994, originally looked the favourite in this category, with early wins at the Golden Globes and Critics’ Choice awards. However, Jamie Lee Curtis’s surprise Screen Actors Guild win signified a shift.

While Bassett is absolutely still in with a chance, Curtis does seem the more likely alternative to Condon at this point.

To make matters even less clear, there’s also the fact that Curtis’s co-star Stephanie Hsu is so much more integral to Everything Everywhere All at Once compared to Curtis. It’s really quite strange that Hsu has been passed over for so much of this season. A surprise win for her feels like a definite possibility. Really, Best Supporting Actress is anyone’s game.

Best supporting actor

  • Brendan Gleeson – The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Brian Tyree Henry – Causeway
  • Judd Hirsch – The Fabelmans
  • Barry Keoghan – The Banshees of Inisherin
  • Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Frontrunner – Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once

In sharp contrast to Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor is looking very straightforward. Ke Huy Quan is an extremely strong frontrunner, with wins at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and Screen Actors Guild awards.

Spoiler – Barry Keoghan – The Banshees of Inisherin

If there is a spoiler, I think it’s Barry Keoghan, for his sweet and ultimately heartbreaking role in The Banshees of Inisherin.

Best original screenplay

  • The Banshees of Inisherin – Martin McDonagh
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once – Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
  • The Fabelmans – Tony Kushner, Steven Spielberg
  • Tár – Todd Field
  • Triangle of Sadness – Ruben Östlund

Frontrunner – Everything Everywhere All at Once

This is another competitive category that could go multiple ways. Given Everything Everywhere All at Once’s Best Picture frontrunner status, I think it’s the safest bet. Since 2005, all but three Best Picture winners have also been awarded for their screenplays.

Spoiler – The Banshees of Inisherin

Martin McDonagh, having won major prizes at the BAFTAS and the Golden Globes, seems like another strong option in this category.

Best adapted screenplay

  • All Quiet on the Western Front – Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson, Ian Stokell
  • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Rian Johnson
  • Living – Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Top Gun: Maverick – Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, Christopher McQuarrie
  • Women Talking – Sarah Polley

Frontrunner – Women Talking

Adapted from Miriam Toews’ novel, a fictionalised response to harrowing real-life events that took place in a remote Bolivian Mennonite community, Women Talking unfolds as a kind of parable. It would make for an extremely worthy winner.

Spoiler – All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front has the potential to become the first non-English language film to win Best Adapted Screenplay.

Adapted from Erich Maria Remarque’s classic novel, All Quiet on the Western Front received an impressive haul of nine nominations, indicating its broad support.

The 2023 Academy Awards take place at 8pm (EST) on Sunday 12 March 2023 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. In Australia, they take place on Monday 13 March at 11am (AEDT).