Predicting the Oscars: Who Should, Could and Will Win at the 2023 Academy Awards
Hollywood's night of nights is here again — here's who we think will nab shiny trophies, and who deserves to but won't.
March 10, 2023
The pointy end of this year's awards season is here. Every 12 months, and for months and months, the film industry celebrates the best and brightest movies that've graced cinemas — and now streaming as well — across a spate of accolades culminating in the Academy Awards. Exactly which movies the Oscars will shower love on is about to be revealed, with the gongs' 95th ceremony taking place on Monday, March 13, Australian and New Zealand time.
Of course, sometimes the finest flicks, performances, directors and other talents truly do nab these coveted prizes, as seen with Parasite and Nomadland in recent years. Sometimes, movies initially considered surprises gather momentum, such as 2022's Best Picture win for CODA. And sometimes, the very best movie of the past year doesn't even get a look in — yes, Decision to Leave was criminally ignored among 2023's nominees, and no we'll never get over it.
Whatever films you adored in 2022, some might end up with Hollywood's ultimate accolade — and plenty of deserving winners will be anointed. Will this be the year that Cate Blanchett earns a third Oscar? That the Academy shows how much it loves actors playing real-life people — again? That a Marvel movie wins an acting Oscar? That movies about donkeys steal the show? Could two categories, at least, make history? We've done some assessing and prognosticating; here are our predictions:
BEST MOTION PICTURE
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
Should win: Everything Everywhere All At Once
Could win: Top Gun: Maverick
Will win: Everything Everywhere All At Once
Every year delivers a heap of phenomenal movies — if you think otherwise, you're just not watching enough — and 2022 was no different. And, some of those films are competing in this very category, including the sublime and lingering The Banshees of Inisherin. Still, nothing else among the ten contenders boasts the energy that Everything Everywhere All At Once sports.
Everyone remembers when they first saw Everything Everywhere All At Once. Not every film earns that feat, but this Michelle Yeoh-starring date with the multiverse is simply unforgettable. It should win. It will win. But, the Oscars do have a history of loving blockbusters such as Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King — and Top Gun: Maverick might ride its need for speed to the top spot.
Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All At Once
Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Todd Field, Tár
Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness
Should win: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All At Once
Could win: Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Will win: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All At Once
After awarding its Best Director prize to Chloé Zhao and Jane Campion over the past two years, tripling the number of women who've earned the award — from a paltry one to a just-as-dismal three — in 94 years, the Academy once again went back to deciding that ladies weren't among the past year's top helmers. To say that's disappointing is an understatement: Sarah Polley's Women Talking and Charlotte Wells' Aftersun both earned nominations elsewhere, but apparently directed themselves.
The Daniels, aka Kwan and Scheinert, made a stunner with Everything Everywhere All At Once, and should be rewarded as a result. Don't discount Steven Spielberg for his supremely personal The Fabelmans, though — which, yes, we also said last year when he was competing for West Side Story. This'd be his first in almost a quarter-century (since Saving Private Ryan), and the Oscars do love sharing the love with this gong, awarding something that doesn't win Best Picture or get much else.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Cate Blanchett, Tár
Ana de Armas, Blonde
Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie
Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans
Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All At Once
Should win: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All At Once
Could win: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All At Once
Will win: Cate Blanchett, Tár
Of course Cate Blanchett should 100-percent receive her third Oscar for Tár. Yes, she already has two, for The Aviator and Blue Jasmine. This isn't her last shot at adding another to her mantle, and she'll win more from here. But she genuinely is better than she's ever been playing this conductor drama's definitely not-real namesake. And, she likely will win. She deserves to.
But in what'd be her first Academy Award — she's as the first nominee in the category who identifies as Asian, too — Michelle Yeoh also deserves the trophy for Everything Everywhere All At Once. It's a movie that knows how much of a star she is to the point that it even baked it into its concept, and a film that definitely wouldn't be what it is without her. Also, forget the controversy surrounding Andrea Riseborough's To Leslie nomination; she won't win, but she's earned her spot.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Austin Butler, Elvis
Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
Brendan Fraser, The Whale
Paul Mescal, Aftersun
Bill Nighy, Living
Should win: Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
Could win: Brendan Fraser, The Whale
Will win: Austin Butler, Elvis
Play a real person, go home clutching a statuette after Hollywood's night at nights: that's how things have turned out for Colin Firth, Daniel Day-Lewis, Matthew McConaughey, Eddie Redmayne, Leonardo DiCaprio, Gary Oldman, Rami Malek and Will Smith since 2010. And Austin Butler is that electrifying in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis as, of course, Elvis Presley. His onstage efforts in the concert scenes alone are goosebump-giving levels of spectacular.
Colin Farrell's work in The Banshees of Inisherin is far less flashier, of course, but no less exceptional. In a movie filled with exquisite portrayals — three of his costars are nominated, too — he's never less than magnetic, especially at conveying pain and confusion. The Brenaissance may nab Brendan Fraser the accolade for The Whale, though, because Hollywood loves a comeback — even if Fraser hasn't ever been far from screens.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
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
Should win: Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin
Could win: Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Will win: Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All At Once
Give the cast of The Banshees of Inisherin all the awards. Better Call Saul star Kerry Condon is heartbreaking in the Irish dramedy — playing the kind but frustrated sister who can see both sides to its central feud, and whose own wants and needs are always ignored by the either chatting or fighting men around her. And, she might capitalise upon Everything Everywhere All At Once's Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu competing against each other.
That said, give the cast of Everything Everywhere All At Once all the awards as well. Curtis has momentum fresh off a Screen Actors Guild win, in what's somehow the acting veteran's first-ever Oscar nomination, but Hsu would be just as worthy a winner. Golden Globe-recipient Angela Bassett may just make history for winning as the first-ever Marvel performance, however — she is Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's powerhouse.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
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
Should win: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All At Once
Could win: NA — because Ke Huy Quan will win.
Will win: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All At Once
Last year, the Best Supporting Actress category was a lock for months. Ariana DeBose was always going to win for West Side Story, and she did. This year's equivalent is the Best Supporting Actor race, with Ke Huy Quan set to shine for one helluva return. As he's spoken about in plenty of speeches as he keeps collecting well-deserved trophies, the Everything Everywhere All At Once star went from childhood fame in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies to virtually nothing before The Daniels came along.
Quan helps give Everything Everywhere All At Once its heart and soul, and he'll give the speech of the Oscars: mark our words now. If there is an upset, Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan from The Banshees of Inisherin loom as the biggest threats, albeit vying against each other, and Brian Tyree Henry's nomination for Causeway should be the first of many.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Banshees of Inisherin, Martin McDonagh
Everything Everywhere All At Once, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
The Fabelmans, Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner
Tár, Todd Field
Triangle of Sadness, Ruben Östlund
Should win: Tár, Todd Field
Could win: Everything Everywhere All At Once, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Will win: The Banshees of Inisherin, Martin McDonagh
Every year has them: the films that could earn a swag of Oscars, and would against different company, but only end up with a gong or two. In 2023, it looks as if Tár and The Banshees of Inisherin are those two movies. The latter should be rewarded for Martin McDonagh's layered original screenplay, and the former also deserves to be — Todd Field's Tár script is a masterclass in complexity.
McDonagh has two screenwriting nominations before, for In Bruges and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Field has the same for In the Bedroom and Little Children. The Daniels might just pip them both for Everything Everywhere All At Once — or, if Spielberg doesn't win Best Director, maybe this is where The Fabelmans gets the icon some love.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
All Quiet on the Western Front, Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Rian Johnson
Living, Kazuo Ishiguro
Top Gun: Maverick, screenplay by Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie; story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks
Women Talking, Sarah Polley
Should win: Women Talking, Sarah Polley
Could win: All Quiet on the Western Front, Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell
Will win: Women Talking, Sarah Polley
Women Talking might've directed itself to a Best Picture nomination in the Academy's eyes, but it didn't write itself. Adapting Miriam Toews' 2018 novel of the same name, which draws on events in a Bolivian Mennonite colony from 2005–9, actor-turned-filmmaker Sarah Polley should earn her first win from two screenwriting nominations — the first was for 2008's Away From Her — for her powerful efforts, which do indeed make women talking the most important thing imaginable.
Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell's work scripting All Quiet on the Western Front — adapting it again from the 1929 anti-war novel — should put up a fight, though. And who doesn't want to live in a world where Rian Johnson picks up a gong for Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery? It won't happen, as it didn't with his Knives Out nomination either, but a win here would be glorious.
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FILM
All Quiet on the Western Front
The Quiet Girl
Should win: Close
Could win: Argentina, 1985
Will win: All Quiet on the Western Front
Sometimes, the Academy recognises that movies in languages other than English are regular movies, too, nominating them for Best Picture as well as the field currently called Best International Feature Film. Obviously, that should just be standard, but this is one such year. In fact, All Quiet on the Western Front has scored recognition all over the place, notching up nods in nine categories. It'd be an immense surprise if the German-language flick doesn't garner the international prize.
Still, courtroom drama Argentina, 1985 picked up the Golden Globe, and could repeat the feat at the Oscars. From the five nominees, sensitive, tender and stunning Belgian effort — and Cannes award-winner — Close is hauntingly exquisite from start to finish, and a standout among impressive titles. Again, as already mentioned, Decision to Leave should be here (and everywhere).
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio
Marcel the Shell With Shoes On
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
The Sea Beast
Should win: Marcel the Shell With Shoes On
Could win: Turning Red
Will win: Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio
There's never a lack of Pinocchio films on our screens, and Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio was just one in 2022. What a version it is; a feat of gorgeous stop-motion, and a movie that inescapably belongs to its Nightmare Alley and The Shape of Water director. It's also a spin on Frankenstein in its own way, marvellously so.
And, it's a wonder that'll make an ace Best Animated Film winner — but so would the sweet, adorable, thoughtful, intelligent and meta Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, which is even better as a feature film than as a viral smash. Pixar is a heavy-hitter in this category, of course, so Turning Red is definitely in with a shot.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
All That Breathes
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Fire of Love
A House Made of Splinters
Should win: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Could win: Fire of Love
Will win: Navalny
What a year it is for documentary filmmaking when All That Breathes and A House Made of Splinters look unlikely to nab the Best Documentary Feature Oscar — and when Moonage Daydream wasn't even nominated. This field comes down to Navalny, Fire of Love and All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, each of which are astonishing in their own ways.
The scope of All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, and the empathy within it, means that this Venice Golden Lion-winner about photographer Nan Goldin really should emerge victorious. But, telling French volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft's tale using wonderful archival footage, Fire of Love was one of 2022's best films. Expect Navalny to win, with this portrait of Vladimir Putin opponent Alexei Navalny also a gripping thriller.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
All Quiet on the Western Front, Volker Bertelmann
Babylon, Justin Hurwitz
The Banshees of Inisherin, Carter Burwell
Everything Everywhere All At Once, Son Lux
The Fabelmans, John Williams
Should win: Babylon, Justin Hurwitz
Could win: The Fabelmans, John Williams
Will win: Babylon, Justin Hurwitz
More often than you might expect, a year rolls around where neither John Williams or Hans Zimmer get Oscar nominations. One of the Newmans — cousins Thomas or Randy — tend to fill the gap, or Alexandre Desplat. This year is Williams' turn as a contender again, earning his whopping 53rd nod. He's won five times so far from that, and The Fabelmans might be his sixth.
This is a jam-packed field with no weak links, but Justin Hurwitz should add to his two La La Land wins. His score for Babylon is propulsive, vibrant, energetic and largely responsible for the film's mood. Yes, it's jazzy, naturally — his latest collaboration with jazz-loving director Damien Chazelle is set in Jazz Age Hollywood, after all.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
'Applause', Tell It Like a Woman (Diane Warren)
'Hold My Hand', Top Gun: Maverick (Lady Gaga and BloodPop)
'Lift Me Up', Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (music by Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Goransson; lyrics by Tems and Ryan Coogler)
'Naatu Naatu', RRR (music by MM Keeravaani, lyrics by Chandrabose)
'This Is a Life', Everything Everywhere All At Once (music by Ryan Lott, David Byrne and Mitski, lyrics by Ryan Lott and David Byrne)
Should win: 'Naatu Naatu', RRR (music by MM Keeravaani, lyrics by Chandrabose)
Could win: 'Lift Me Up', Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (music by Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Goransson; lyrics by Tems and Ryan Coogler)
Will win: 'Naatu Naatu', RRR (music by MM Keeravaani, lyrics by Chandrabose)
Maybe you're the kind of Oscars watcher that uses the song performances to grab a bite. Forget your usual routine — don't miss this year's rendition of 'Naatu Naatu'. The infectious and joyous track from RRR will win, and should, for a movie that should've had a better showing in the nominations. Despite Bollywood's stature, an Indian film has never been nominated outside of Best International Feature Film before, so this'll be a history-making victory.
Still, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever's 'Lift Me Up' could sweep in; Rihanna's slot at the Super Bowl didn't hurt its fortunes. And Lady Gaga's 'Hold My Hand' from Top Gun: Maverick is also in with a good chance.
All Quiet on the Western Front, James Friend
Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, Darius Khondji
Elvis, Mandy Walker
Empire of Light, Roger Deakins
Tár, Florian Hoffmeister
Should win: Empire of Light, Roger Deakins
Could win: Empire of Light, Roger Deakins
Will win: Elvis, Mandy Walker
Another field where every entry is excellent, the Best Cinematography category could also make history. Horrifically, it wasn't until the 2018 ceremony that a female cinematographer — Mudbound's Rachel Morrison — was even nominated. Australia's own Ari Wegner received the award's second-ever nomination to go to a woman in 2022 for The Power of the Dog, but didn't win either. Fellow Aussie Mandy Walker should go one better for Elvis; however, she has stiff competition.
Cinematography great Roger Deakins does stellar work with Empire of Light; a movie about the power of cinema set in a cinema, it has to look perfect, and it does. And James Friend could sneak in for All Quiet on the Western Front, especially if it doesn't capitalise upon all of its nominations in other fields.
BEST FILM EDITING
The Banshees of Inisherin, Mikkel EG Nielsen
Elvis, Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond
Everything Everywhere All At Once, Paul Rogers
Tár, Monika Willi
Top Gun: Maverick, Eddie Hamilton
Should win: Tár, Monika Willi
Could win: Top Gun: Maverick, Eddie Hamilton
Will win: Everything Everywhere All At Once, Paul Rogers
Thanks to editing wins at the BAFTAs, Critics Choice, Film Independent Spirit and American Cinema Editors Awards, Best Film Editing is Everything Everywhere All At Once's category to lose — but there's one caveat around Paul Rogers' likely win. Also at the ACE Awards, Top Gun: Maverick 's Eddie Hamilton won, because that ceremony gives out gongs for dramas and comedies separately.
So, if Top Gun: Maverick takes the Academy's breath away, don't be surprised. Elvis, The Banshees of Inisherin and Tár also benefit from exacting splicing — indeed, everything in this field except The Banshees of Inisherin delivers a masterclass in overt editing with style and purpose.
Wondering where to watch this year's Oscar contenders? We've put together a rundown for both Australia and New Zealand.
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