It’s that time! My annual way-too-early Oscar predictions are here, before the previous year’s nominations are even announced. At this time last year, I started the hype train for The Power of the Dog, which is still the frontrunner in the Oscar race. This is a very important document every year for the future of the year's awards race. Humility is also my problem.
Like almost every other year, there have been a host of release date casualties, so I am not going to include those movies because I just broke them down last year in my predictions. Those titles are as follows:
Apollo 10 ½ (Richard Linklater)
Armageddon Time (James Gray)
Blonde (Andrew Dominik)
Dali Land (Mary Harron)
Don’t Worry Darling (Olivia Wilde)
Elvis (Baz Luhrmann)
Next Goal Wins (Taika Waititi)
Red, White and Water (Lila Neugebauer)
The Brutalist (Brady Corbet)
The Good Nurse (Tobias Lindholm)
The Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese)
The Northman (Robert Eggers)
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Tom Gormican)
The Way of the Wind (Terrence Malick)
Untitled (David O Russell)
So, that narrows it down quite a bit. The eventual Best Picture could easily be from that list, but I am not going to talk through them again until I know for sure that they are coming out. Delays and reshoots are just a reality in present day Hollywood, so it is what it is. By the time you read this, some of the films mentioned here we likely know a lot more about after premiering at Sundance. Enjoy my absurdly early and incredibly accurate Oscar predictions for 2023! Take notes on what to look forward to seeing (hopefully on the big screen) in the coming months...
The Predicted Ten
1. She Said (Maria Schrader) - This is the future Best Picture winner. It is based on the book of the same name about the beginning of the Me Too Movement, with the main characters being the two journalists who initially broke the story and uncovered all sorts of details about the appalling history of sexual assault in Hollywood. The Academy loves movies about Hollywood, they love foreign directors, and they love journalism. This is a safe choice for now, mainly because the biggest movies on paper can never withstand an entire year of hype.
2. Babylon (Damien Chazelle) - The details on the movie are light, but it is Damien Chazelle returning to Hollywood for a period piece. I expect it to be even more Oscary than La La Land, and the cast is pretty much to die for. He is one of the most exciting directors out there, and this will be one of the most anticipated movies for critics and film fans alike. I need to temper my expectations just so it has room to not disappoint.
3. Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos) - Lanthimos has another big cast for this Victorian sci-fi movie about a young woman who is brought back to life by a crazy scientist. Good sci-fi movies are an easy sell with the current Academy, and I really feel the momentum of Lanthimos becoming one of the most essential filmmakers out there. If it gets the right festival run this fall, then we could be looking at a major player here.
4. The Lost King (Stephen Frears) - It seems like it has been forever since Frears had a big contender, but he has quietly had a really productive last decade or so. This is the true story of an amateur historian who challenges the establishment to find King Richard III’s remains. The last time Frears directed a Coogan-Pope script, it became Best Picture-nominated Philomena.
5. The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh) - McDonagh’s last film was a massive hit, winning multiple major Oscars and being nominated basically everywhere. Even with the ridiculous fake controversy with the film, it was still beloved. This film has a tiny cast and is somewhat of a play, set on a remote island in Ireland. I’m sure it will be pretty out-there, given the tendencies of the filmmaker and his awesome actors.
6. The Son (Florian Zeller) - This is the depressing story of a man whose new happy life goes into disarray when his ex-wife and teenage son show up. Zeller obviously is at the forefront of everyone’s anticipation list after The Father, and this is another one of his play adaptations. The cast feels like one that will be as easy of a sell for Oscar voters as you can imagine.
7. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Kasi Lemmons) - The last four films written by Anthony McCarten have been nominated for multiple or won at least one acting Oscar, and all but one was nominated for Best Picture. Kasi Lemmons is a great and unique director, and this is the story of Whitney Houston. It could be really traditional, but from what I know about the people involved, I expect the opposite.
8. The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg) - The movie is Spielberg’s Roma (apparently every director needs one). It is his autobiographical movie about his own childhood. The Oscars worship Spielberg, and I expect this to be right up their alley.
9. Women Talking (Sarah Polley) - This is an adaptation of a book about a Mennonite society of women who are questioning their faith due to some sexual assaults by the men of the colony. Sarah Polley is a brilliant filmmaker, and these types of stories by and about women are the hot topic in Hollywood right now. The cast is splendid and will be one of the most talked about movies of the year.
10. Men (Alex Garland) - Garland is coming off a big hit (Ex Machina, which was nearly nominated in this category) and a big flop (Annihilation, which still had its backers). This is actually an original story, which is about a woman going on a vacation in the English countryside after her ex-husband dies. It is listed as drama-horror, which might be off-putting to some voters, but I can’t imagine it being fully horror.
Others in contention
11. White Noise (Noah Baumbach) - This is a peculiar project by one of our most consistent filmmakers. It is an adaptation of the book about a professor who created Hitler studies. The cast is all over the place, but Baumbach is hot coming off Marriage Story, so his next film has to be in the running.
12. The Stars at Noon (Claire Denis) - This seems like a step out for Claire Denis. The film centers on a British businessman and an American journalist who are romantic and are forced to flee 1984 Nicaragua. It is a hot young cast. She has another film called Fire that is supposed to be released this year, so she will be in the festival conversation at the very least, since her films rarely translate to American awards love.
13. TAR (Todd Field) - This is not a drill...Todd Field has shot his third movie! I don't even care what it is about, but the plotline is about the first female conductor of a German orchestra, which doesn't sound like the suburban dramas we expect from Field, but I am there 100%, His first two films are among the 100 greatest films of all time.
14. Avatar 2 (James Cameron) - Is this really coming out? I have been avoiding including it in my predictions for the last 5 years or so, but the film has been in post-production for a while, so it appears it actually could be delivered this winter. Cameron’s last two films were the Best Picture winner and the likely second place BP, and they both broke the box office record. This is his first sequel since one of the best ever in Terminator 2. This will be the most talked about movie of the year, even though it seems that no one is really clamoring for it.
15. Showing Up (Kelly Reichardt) - This sounds like a departure from the normal Reichardt kind of film, but after First Cow, which wasn’t an Academy movie but the best reviewed movie of 2020 pound-for-pound, we have to pay attention. This is about an artist and how her chaotic life influences her art. It sounds a little artsy, but it can also be absolutely something the Academy will sink their teeth into.
16. The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer) - This is where we start getting into some wishful thinking movies I just want to make note of. Glazer is not an Academy kind of director, even though Sexy Beast was nominated for a major Oscar. There are no details on the movie other than that it is about the Holocaust, which is right up the Academy’s alley…but it can’t be as weird as his other movies.
17. The Killer (David Fincher) - Fincher is getting back to his roots with another movie about a killer. It is based on a graphic novel about an assassin with a conscience, and it is written by Se7en script Andrew Kevin Walker. The cast is cool, and Fincher can get any movie to the Oscars at this point.
18. Nope (Jordan Peele) - Do I know anything about the movie? Nope. Does the July horror movie release date matter? Nope. It is one of the most anticipated movies of the year for obvious reasons. When Peele makes a movie, we have to pay attention.
19. Bardo (Alejandro G Inarritu) - This is supposedly Inarritu’s Roma. Everyone has one. It is about a documentary filmmaker returning to Mexico and exploring the social and political climate of the country. It has all unknown actors to American audiences, but his last two films won or were second for Best Picture (probably). This is probably low, but the language and culture barrier is still there.
20. Dead for A Dollar (Walter Hill) - We are stretching it a bit here, but Walter Hill used to be a big deal back in the 80s. This movie sounds awesome. It is about a bounty hunter who runs into a professional gambler who he sent to prison years ago. The cast is tremendous, and if Hill can get his mojo back, then it could easily be embraced in a George Miller 2015 kind of way.
21. Crimes of the Future (David Cronenberg) - It has been 15 years since he really made waves in the awards circuit, but this cast and original story sound like a potential Oscar player. It is a sci-fi movie about humans adapting to their synthetic surroundings. I’m not completely sure what that all entails, but I’m there. Cronenberg was a brilliant sci-fi mind back in the day.
The Predicted Five
1. Maria Schrader - She Said - If Jane Campion wins in a couple months, then we will still only have one American director to win Best Director since 2009. I am not entirely sure Schrader has the visual style to really win Best Director, but I can see it being European enough for her to take her frontrunner film all the way to sweep the major Oscars.
2. Damien Chazelle - Babylon - He could easily win the thing, which would give him 2 Directing Oscars in his first 5 movies, which would be basically unheard of. Chazelle is one of the most likable directors around, and even with the whole La La Land backlash, no one had anything bad to say about Chazelle.
3. Yorgos Lanthimos - Poor Things - Making a science-fiction film will give him the room to show off his visual style. That is somehow one of the most important criteria for being nominated nowadays, but even if the film is just dressed up and doesn’t have a huge budget, his unique storytelling could still be enough to take him all the way.
4. Steven Spielberg - The Fabelmans - He doesn’t have the greatest track record with getting Director nominations in recent years, but his movies are always nominated for Best Picture. This one will be different since it is 100% him. He wrote the movie, which he usually doesn’t do. If they love the movie, it will be hard to not nominate him here.
5. Martin McDonagh - The Banshees of Inisherin - He was snubbed for his Oscar frontrunner Three Billboards a few years back. This is the one main category that he has yet to appear in, and if this movie hits the way it can and should, then he will snag the fifth spot against these other heavy hitters.
Others in contention
6. Stephen Frears - The Lost King - He has been nominated twice in this category, despite not really having the visual flair of an auteur. Sometimes all it takes is for your movie to really connect with audiences, and you will be brought along. I expect this to be a sleeper hit this fall/winter and for it to get the British vote.
7. Florian Zeller - The Son - He wasn’t nominated for The Father, probably because of the smaller budget and small sets. But his imagination was clear and compelling. With this one, he will likely have a bit more freedom and have a real chance to break through in this category.
8. Claire Denis - The Stars at Noon - She has a much better chance to get nominated here than the film does in the Best Picture category. The Academy has been really highlighting international auteurs lately, and she is so well respected in the industry that it could be “her time”. The film will need to really be a hit, and the subject matter seems rather Academy friendly.
9. Alex Garland - Men - He is one of the most interesting visual directors out there right now, and we are all anticipating what he does next. I love that he is making an original story, but he will need the free reins to really go for it if he is going to take something unfamiliar all the way to the Director top 5.
10. Ari Aster - Disappointment Blvd. - This is supposedly a 4+ hour movie about an entrepreneur, and it is a comedy-horror movie. Ari Aster is certainly feeling himself, but sometimes these types of heat checks really hit. You could argue Altman’s Short Cuts was one of those, and it got him nominated. Basically every David Lynch movie qualifies. I just want to keep an eye on this. It probably isn’t Oscar stuff, but I can dream.
11. Sarah Polley - Women Talking - Polley is a terrific storyteller, but she hasn’t yet broken through in this category. Her last movie Take This Waltz flopped in a way, so she still has an uphill climb to get into the top 5. The subject matter seems like such an easy sell for the Academy, though.
12. James Cameron - Avatar 2 - I feel like this is a little low. If the movie is really good, then he will be nominated. If it is an overblown sequel, then it won’t sniff anything resembling awards. But he has to be mentioned, and we will all be foolish to doubt what Cameron is capable of.
13. Kelly Reichardt - Showing Up - She is one of the great indie auteurs out there, and it is time she gets her big nomination and Oscar coming out party. Is this the film? It sounds very Oscar friendly, and the cast is the right blend of stars and character actors. If this can premiere at Cannes or Toronto, then she can take hold of the race early.
14. David Fincher - The Killer - I expect this movie to be more Gone Girl than Dragon Tattoo, but we shouldn’t underestimate Fincher. Mank was even lukewarmly received, and it still snagged 10 nominations. He has a fantastic crew on this, and if it is more than just a typical crime thriller, then he could take it all the way to the ceremony.
15. Jordan Peele - Nope - The poster implies something of a Shyamalan movie, but it will obviously not suck. He has been nominated before, so he is already in the club. If it is as much of a timely piece as his first two films then this could become a real possibility.
16. Alejandro G Inarritu - Bardo - Even when his movies aren’t the biggest hits, the directing is still astonishing. His last two films won in this category, and this appears to be a very personal movie. This could be the Belfast or Roma of 2022, or it could be largely unseen due to the lack of recognizable faces. Either way, this is one of the most intriguing movies of the year.
17. Jonathan Glazer - The Zone of Interest - He certainly has the visual panache to be an Oscar nominee, and the movie is about the Holocaust. If the movie is palatable enough for Oscar voters to take to it, then he could be one to watch.
18. David Cronenberg - Crimes of the Future - He has always been more of a critical darling than an Oscar director. Even his smash hit A History of Violence netted him zero major awards nominations, despite it being a clear top 10 film and a nominee in several categories across all awards circuits. However, he doesn’t make many movies anymore, and this could be the last chance they get to recognize the master Canadian filmmaker.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Colman Domingo - Rustin - This movie is pure Oscars stuff. He is reuniting with Ma Rainey director George C Wolfe for a biopic of Bayard Rustin, a gay civil rights activist who organized the 1963 March on Washington. It is written by Dustin Lance Black. Domingo is in so many prestige projects right now; this is his ticket.
2. Christian Bale - The Pale Blue Eye - Bale is getting back together with Scott Cooper for an adaptation of the book of the same name, which is about a detective who investigates murders with a young Edgar Allan Poe. He was tremendous in his last outing with Cooper, and Cooper has directed an actor to an Oscar in the past. If this is really a horror movie, the this will be a dumb prediction, but it doesn’t sound like it.
3. Hugh Jackman - The Son - He only has one nomination, and it was for a play adaptation. This is another play adaptation, but it is made by perhaps the most exciting stage and film director to emerge in the last 10 years. Florian Zeller will push Jackman to do things he has never done, and I’m sure he will be devastating.
4. Michael Fassbender - The Killer - He hasn’t really been in the running in a while. Playing an assassin for Fincher is a dream role for such a reserved actor like Fassbender. He should knock it out of the park. The last 5 leads from Fincher films have been nominated.
5. Brendan Fraser - The Whale - Can Fraser complete his comeback tour? He is playing a severely obese Enfglish teacher who tries to reconnect with his daughter. It is directed by Darren Aronofsky, which is giving me serious The Wrestler vibes. I can’t wait to see what this looks like. When Aronofksy makes a movie, we pay attention.
Others in contention
6. Joaquin Phoenix - Disappointment Blvd. - Every year he has something that is going to put him in the spotlight. He is also playing Napoleon for Ridley Scott (which will likely be a 2023 movie but could play into the hype). Phoenix is the rare actor who hates awards, yet we can’t stop giving them to him. Expect no different here.
7. Adam Driver - White Noise - He seems to have a dozen projects every year, and he is reuniting with his Marriage Story director to play a professor. We will have to wait and see how this plays out, but Driver is one of those actors who will be around the Best Actor race each and every year.
8. Brad Pitt - Babylon - I have no idea where anyone is going to be billed, but I am just assuming we are going to have the biggest stars as the leads. Pitt playing in a movie about Hollywood seems just too easy for him, which it probably was for Ryan Gosling in La La Land, but he was nominated anyway.
9. Christoph Waltz - Dead for A Dollar - He plays a bounty hunter in Walter Hill’s western-thriller. It sounds like a perfect role for Waltz (and one that he can do in his sleep). It is only a matter of time before he gets a leading nomination, right?
10. Harry Melling - The Pale Blue Eye - He is playing Edgar Allan Poe in Scott Cooper’s detective horror movie. In Out of the Furnace, it was Casey Affleck who stole the show from Christian Bale. Melling is a crazy actor who can do similar things, but he has not gotten any recognition for that thus far. This could change that, or he could be supporting, or he could get acted off the screen. I like this project’s potential, though.
11. Colin Farrell - The Banshees of Inisherin - If he is ever going to get nominated, it really should be for a McDonagh movie. Arguably his two best performances were in his films, and I love that he is reuniting with him and Brendan Gleeson for this, which feels like something of a passion piece.
12. Viggo Mortensen - Crimes of the Future - He has been nominated a few times, one of which was for a previous Cronenberg film with Eastern Promises. When he appears in movies, people watch. They aren’t always good films or even good performances, but he has a wide appeal that is undeniable.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Carey Mulligan - She Said - After missing out on the win a year ago, she is back with a juicy role that will likely give her the Oscar scenes to actually win the thing. She has been doing amazing work ever since she broke into the Oscar game in 2009, and this could be the culmination of her still young career. She does have a costar that could be just as vital to the story and potentially have more screen time, but I am assuming she will take the reins as the lead.
2. Naomi Ackie - I Wanna Dance With Somebody - There is that stat about actors in Anthony McCarten scripts. His last four movies have reaped 6 nominations and 3 wins. Ackie is a newer actress, and she plays Whitney Houston. That should be enough to vault her into the race.
4. Sally Hawkins - The Lost King - She has a couple nominations in the last 10 years, and this is the type of role that gets recognized. I am hoping it is a little better received than her previous similar-sounding role in Made in Dagenham, which shouldn’t be a problem with Stephen Frears at the helm.
5. Regina King - Shirley - Oscar winner King is playing Shirley Chisholm, the first black congresswoman, in Oscar-winner John Ridley’s biopic. The only issue is that Ridley’s directed movies have all been lackluster, but his screenplays have all had potential. King will be an Oscar player for basically everything she does, and this just reeks of something the current Academy will bathe in.
Others in contention
6. Viola Davis - The Woman King - Oscar darling Davis is playing the general in the all-female militia in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s story of the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 18th and 19th centuries. I cannot see a scenario where this doesn’t make waves with the Academy, but Prince-Bythewood’s films are a bit niche. The September release date is appealing.
7. Florence Pugh - The Wonder - She is being directed by Oscar winner Sebastian Lelio (A Fantastic Woman), and it is about two strangers who transform each other’s lives. It is based on a book by the writer of Room. It sounds like a safe Oscar choice, but it is probably too small to be nominated everywhere.
8. Margot Robbie - Babylon - She is the only one of the main actors to have a character name listed on IMDb, so I am guessing that she is the lead. She really should have an Oscar at this point, and this is definitely a possible frontrunner with the right campaign.
9. Taylor Russell - Bones and All - This is a Luca Guadagnino movie about a woman who learns to live on the margins of society. The cast is a distinguished group of actors, and Russell at the center of it is something I must see.
10. Kate Mara - Call Jane - It has gotten great marks at Sundance, and Mara really needs her big awards movie. It is directed by Phyllis Nagy (writer of Carol), and it is about a woman trying to get an abortion when that wasn’t legal in the US. It sounds like the kind of message piece that the Oscars flip for.
11. Gugu Mbatha-Raw - Seacole - This could be too small for the Academy, but it is about Marty Seacole, a Scottish-Jamaican nurse during the Chilean War. Mbatha-Raw is a fantastic actress who has never gotten her due. The director Charlie Stratton hasn’t really made waves yet, but this sounds excellent.
12. Emma Stone - Poor Things - She was nominated for her last collaboration with Lanthimos, and I would rank her higher if not for the possibility that she plays it a little robotic, since she is the one coming back to life in the sci-fi romance. Everyone loves her though, so she might get swept in anyway.
13. Margaret Qualley - The Stars at Noon - She is playing a journalist and being directed by Claire Denis. Her co-star is Joe Alwyn, who they tried to make happen a few times in the last half dozen years or so, but this is really just a project and an actress to keep an eye on.
14. Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Beth and Don - Her best performance came in her last collab with Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said), and here she plays a novelist whose marriage is deteriorating. Eventually one of these Holofcener movies is going to hit, and Louis-Dreyfus is as beloved of a TV actress as we have, she just hasn’t had the right movie role to transfer over yet.
15. Michelle Williams - Showing Up - She always seems to have a movie that I put her in for, and Kelly Reichardt has already gotten what is probably her career best work in Wendy and Lucy. She is cast as an artist, and her supporting cast will certainly push her. It is time she wins one, and this could be it if it is big enough.
16. Jessie Buckley - Men - She has a couple movies this year (Women Talking being the other), so she has multiple chances to snag a nomination. She is making waves this awards season already, so she will be in the conversation and will definitely be nominated at some point in the near future.
17. Emma Corrin - Lady Chatterley’s Lover - She plays the famous title character in this adaptation directed by the director of The Mustang, which gives it a slightly darker vibe than you would normally expect. These types of adaptations come about every few years, it just depends on how big the movie is. Corrin is already a household name from The Crown.
18. Tessa Thompson - The Listener - She somehow is getting overlooked for Passing, and I just wanted to mention her here because she’s brilliant. It is directed by Steve Buscemi and written by the Oscar nominated writer of The Messenger, and it appears to be a one-woman show about a helpline volunteer for a crisis line. It could be a real acting showcase.
19. Tilda Swinton - Three Thousand Years of Longing - This is George Miller’s passion piece about a scholar who encounters some Islamic spirit, and she gets three wishes. It is a fantasy movie, which could not be Oscar stuff at all, but it has to be mentioned. Swinton is so busy with all these prestige projects that one of them has to translate to awards love.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Tobey Maguire - Babylon - We have had several times in the last couple decades where Maguire appears on a cast list for a high profile film and he is the one who gets the juiciest part. It didn’t really work with The Great Gatsby, he was ignored as the lead in Seabiscuit, and it didn’t really work with Brothers. However, Chazelle wouldn’t do stunt casting. As long as he’s not the lead, I think this is a real possibility.
2. Bill Murray - The Greatest Beer Run Ever - This is Peter Farrelly’s follow-up to his Best Picture winner, and it is about a man in 1967 New York who brings beer to his buddies fighting in Vietnam. It isn’t a comedy from what I can tell, which brings Murray’s involvement to the forefront of the Oscar conversation. I need to see what this is because it sounds fascinating.
3. Stanley Tucci - I Wanna Dance With Somebody - He plays Clive Davis in the Whitney Houston biopic. It should be a part that he can really have fun with, since Davis is such an interesting character. He only has one nomination, but he is always great and always in and around popular projects. I expect him to get a well deserved second nomination this year.
4. Ramy Youssef - Poor Things - I don’t know what his role entails necessarily, but his casting in a Lanthimos movie has me intrigued. Dafoe is probably the one with the Oscary role, but sometimes the side character can steal the thunder. We will see how this shapes up. It could be a foolish stab, but I’m going with it.
5. Judd Hirsch - Showing Up - He hasn’t been nominated in over 40 years, but his last 5 years or so have shown that he is interested in getting back in the game. I don’t know what his role is, but being directed by Reichardt is appealing, and he has the subtlety to really fit her scripts well. I’m probably an idiot for predicting this, but the supporting categories 13 months in advance are the hardest thing.
Others in contention
6. Jeffrey Wright - Rustin - I don’t know what his role is in the biopic of Bayard Rustin, but he needs a nomination at some point. Of all the supporting actors in the film, he is the highest profile actor. I assume it will be a performance piece more than anything.
7. Seth Rogen - The Fabelmans - Every few years he has a role that makes Oscar pundits wonder if he can get nominated. He plays Spielberg’s uncle in the autobiography, which may seem like strange casting, but Spielberg must see something in the actor. He can absolutely steal that whole movie.
8. Tom Hanks - Asteroid City - This is a Wes Anderson movie, which is a love story in Europe. We know nothing about the movie or Hanks’s character, but he and Wes Anderson together just seems too weird to not mention.
9. Daniel Bruhl - All Quiet on the Western Front - This is a Netflix adaptation of the book that previously led to a Best Picture winner in 1930. I don’t know what role he plays or if he is the lead, but the movie kinda has to be mentioned here. He was nearly nominated for Rush, and he is the most distinguished actor in the film. It is directed by German director Edward Berger, who was nominated for an Emmy for directing an episode of Patrick Melrose.
10. James Fleet - The Lost King - This is really just a guess. There is always one of those faces in the race that you don’t really know the name of who winds up getting raves and sneaking into the Oscar race. There are a host of British actors who qualify, and I am guessing he could steal some scenes from Hawkins.
11. Willem Dafoe - Dead for A Dollar - He also has The Northman and Poor Things to keep him in the Oscar race. He never really leaves, let’s be honest. He plays an outlaw professional gambler in Walter Hill’s western. It sounds like something he can really play with and turn in another outstanding performance.
12. Michael Kenneth Williams - 892 - The reception out of Sundance was somewhat lukewarm, but it is the final role by the late great Michael Kenneth Williams. It is a movie about a Marine getting integrated back into society, and the lead is John Boyega. The director is an unknown, but I expect an emotional role from Williams.
13. Idris Elba - Three Thousand Years of Longing - I don’t know what his character is, but being directed by George Miller is interesting, and playing opposite Tilda Swinton is appealing. He will get a nomination at some point, but is this it? I’ll need to see it, but I like the premise.
14. John Boyega - The Woman King - He is sort of in a weird place where he is burning his bridges and isn’t really the most popular actor, but he is a brilliant performer. He is playing King Ghezo in the historical drama about the Kingdom of Dahomey.
15. Mark Rylance - Bones and All - Everything the guy touches gets buzz. In a cast of great actors, he can once again be the one who gets the raves because he somehow overplays the underplaying. He is a great actor, and he must be mentioned here.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Jean Smart - Babylon - She doesn’t really make a lot of movies, but she has been cleaning up the TV awards recently. Putting her in this impressive cast just makes me feel like there is something special to the character. This is always the hardest category to predict because it's all speculation and guessing, but on paper this works.
2. Gina McKee - My Policeman - She is a recognizable face, while people may not know her name. The film has a high profile British cast, and I just have a feeling that she is going to have the Oscar scenes. It is based on a book about a parallel narrative story about a man whose arrival into a couple’s lives brings to light events of the past. She plays the older version of Emma Corrin’s character.
3. Zoe Kazan - She Said - I am assuming the studio won’t push both actresses as lead, since this makes it way easier for them both to get nominated. She has done some really great work, but she never really gets the credit for it. An important movie like the uncovering of sexual assaults in Hollywood seems like the perfect material for her to get her first invite to the ceremony.
4. Greta Gerwig - White Noise - Gerwig hasn’t had a big acting role in a while, and here we find her cast in her longtime partner’s book adaptation. I have always been taken by Gerwig as a performer, much more than as a filmmaker, and maybe this is the role that really puts her at the forefront of actor-directors in modern Hollywood.
5. Danielle Deadwyler - Till - This is the story of Emmett Till, a black teenager who was lynched in the 1950s. She plays the mother who spent her life seeking justice for her son. The grieving mother role is always the Academy’s favorite, and we just saw her break out in The Harder They Fall. This is directed by Chinonye Chukwu (Clemency), so it is a safe bet that it will be deeply opinionated and easy to understand, which only helps the film’s odds.
Others in contention
6. Nina Hoss - TAR - I don't know what her part entails, but I love the casting. She previously wowed everyone with her one-take performance in Phoenix, and she appears to be the principal German in the cast. Field does wonders for his actors, and I expect her to be the fresh face in the race.
7. Joely Richardson - Lady Chatterley's Lover - I’m not entirely familiar with the characters, but she plays Mrs. Bolton in the adaptation of the book. The script is written by two time Oscar nominee David Magee (Finding Neverland, Life of Pi), and Richardson has always been an overlooked actress. This just feels like a potential multiple acting nomination type of movie.
8. Frances McDormand - Women Talking - She is always going to be in the running. I don’t know what her role is in Sarah Polley’s drama, but I’m sure she will get best in show reviews.
9. Helen Mirren - White Bird: A Wonder Story - It has been well over a decade since she last had a chance at a nomination, but here we have a Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Monster’s Ball) film about a young Jewish boy who is hidden away in WWII Nazi-occupied France. She plays the grandmother role, and we can expect her to play it up much more than Judi Dench did in Belfast. I am just curious about this project and wanted to mention it in case it is a real threat.
10. Laura Dern - The Son - Dern is perfect casting as the former lover who comes in to ruin everything. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she actually puts up a fight and wins her second Oscar for this.
11. Kerry Condon - The Banshees of Inisherin - I don’t know what her role will entail, but it is clear with McDonagh’s last few films that he really knows how to write his supporting parts. If she really is the only female in the cast, then expect a scene-stealer.
12. Jessie Buckley - Women Talking - She has the ability to outshine all other actors with the right role. I am putting her down here on the off-chance that she gets nominated next month for The Lost Daughter, which will make it less likely that she gets in again this soon. Plus, I like her chances in the lead category for Men a little more.
13. Parker Posey - Disappointment Blvd. - I don’t know what her role is going to be like, but how often is Parker Posey in a hyped-up movie anymore? Being directed by Ari Aster could bring something out of her that we haven’t seen in 20+ years, so she is worth mentioning as a long shot.
14. Julianne Moore - Sharper - This is the directorial debut of talented TV director Benjamin Caron (The Crown), and it is about a con artist who takes on Manhattan billionaires. It is billed as a drama, which is surprising, and it has been a bit since we saw Moore in the running. She doesn’t have a character name listed, but she is certainly the most awards-begging actor in the group.
15. Michelle Williams - The Fabelmans - There is always the mother role. Of all the roles in this movie on paper, this seems like the safest bet. But if she has the best role, then the movie will be way too traditional, which makes me think it might not be a contender. She is worth mentioning, but I am leaving her down here for now.
16. Tilda Swinton - The Killer - She is returning to Fincher films for the first time since Benjamin Button, which was a brief but brilliant performance. She always has some bizarre projects, but when she actually connects with an A-list filmmaker, she does some of her best work.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Predicted Five
1. Babylon - Damien Chazelle - Chazelle has not won a screenplay Oscar yet in his two chances. The writing of his movies is always the most underrated part, and the big Hollywood picture feels like the right kind of material to really let his creativity fly. He was even nominated for a musical, so he does have the support of the writer’s branch.
2. Men - Alex Garland - He has been nominated once before, and this is a Best Picture contender, despite being billed as a horror movie. Ex Machina was not an Oscar thing at all, and it made waves all over the map. This sounds much more like that than it does Annihilation. He could be the next Cronenberg or Villeneuve and be the great sci-fi director whose work translates to major awards.
4. The Banshees of Inisherin - Martin McDonagh - The movie was evidently originally supposed to be a play, so McDonagh will clearly have a movie that is highlighted by some great dialogue. His movies are always super original anyway, so even if it isn’t the big contender in all categories, he could certainly get in here anyway.
Others in contention
6. Beth and Don - Nicole Holofcener - She has gotten her nomination for Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but that wasn’t one of her movies. Maybe that breakthrough will give this movie a bit more eyeballs in the Academy. The status of the film is unknown at this time, however, so this may not even be a 2022 film.
7. Asteroid City - Wes Anderson - His movies are always going to be in the Oscar conversation. After The French Dispatch relatively flopped, look for this to be a big comeback for him.
8. Bardo - Alejandro G Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone - This seems like the best bet for this movie. His screenplays are always unique, but if this is more straightforward in its storytelling, then it could appeal even more to the voters. There is always a foreign language film in the running for a screenplay nod.
9. I Wanna Dance With Somebody - Anthony McCarten - He has been nominated for 4 Oscars to this point. The only issue is that pure biopics don’t really get screenplay nominations, but his movies have really not been traditional. He will be in the conversation all year. The movie also has the Oscar friendly Christmas release.
10. Rustin - Dustin Lance Black - Biopics are never the easiest sell in this category, but he has bucked that trend in the past when he won an Oscar for Milk. He really has failed since that point, but if the movie is good, he will be in the running.
11. The Greatest Beer Run Ever - Brian Hayes-Currie, Peter Farrelly, Pete Jones - This is Farrelly with his Green Book partner, as well as the Season 1 Project Greenlight winner making a movie about bringing beer to Vietnam soldiers. Farrelly and company just won in this category, but the backlash is still being felt. He clearly has his fans, though. It would be foolish to overlook this project.
12. Disappointment Blvd. - Ari Aster - Making a 4 hour comedy-horror movie is just a fascinating concept. A24 really has their guys who they will let do anything. They are the coolest studio out there, and Aster is one of the most unique voices in pseudo-mainstream cinema. Let’s just have something like this be an Oscar movie…and things will never be the same.
13. Dead for A Dollar - Matt Harris, Walter Hill - Westerns do not typically appear in this category, but Hill is a respected writer. One of his scripts 48 Hours is actually rumored to be getting remade. It would be a nice additional tribute if he were to get his due by the Academy.
14. Nope - Jordan Peele - He is a previous winner in the category, which always helps. I just have nothing to go on except the poster and cast, so I can’t exactly predict nominations just yet.
15. Crimes of the Future - David Cronenberg - He has only actually written one movie since 1999, so it is not overstating it that this film is his baby. Similar to Spielberg coming out of writing retirement to be a writer-director again, I expect something uniquely Cronenberg…which is a good thing.
16. Showing Up - Kelly Reichardt, Jonathan Raymond - The scripts aren’t really the appeal of Reichardt movies, but if the movie is a contender then it needs to be mentioned here. It feels like a different type of movie than she normally does, so maybe this will be a full-fledged Oscar hit.
17. Wendell and Wild - Jordan Peele, Henry Selick, Clay McLeod Chapman - This probably isn’t an Oscar thing, but it is fascinating to think about. It is a collab of Peele and Selick (Coraline). It is certainly a contender for Best Animated Feature, but with that sort of prestige in the writer’s room, we could see more nominations above the line. It is about two demon brothers (Key and Peele) who must face their arch enemy. It sounds glorious.
18. Brothers - Etan Cohen, Macon Blair - The only thing that gives me pause about this is that Cohen’s scripts are all pretty much awful, but working with Blair is really interesting. There are no plot details, but it has a terrific cast and is the Max Barbakow follow-up to Palm Springs. I would have put anything by that director on this predictions article.
19. Bones and All - David Kajganich - His screenplays haven’t really been that effective, but reuniting once again with Guadagnino is probably the best thing for him. The cast is astonishing, so he could get swept in regardless of how impressive his work really is.
20. The Fabelmans - Steven Spielberg, Tony Kushner - Kushner was nominated for Lincoln, but Spielberg being listed as a writer puts into question the film’s ceiling. Even if it is great, the Academy has a thing about actors and filmmakers staying in their lane. We will see how this shakes out. It has an Oscar-friendly Thanksgiving release date.
21. Untitled Kenya Barris Project - Kenya Barris, Jonah Hill - Barris is most known for Black-ish, and this is his directorial debut. Hill has a lot of writing talent as well. The cast is terrific in this story about a couple and their family dynamics/culture clashes. It sounds like a festival oddity, but it could pick up some nominations along the way.
22. Three Thousand Years of Longing - George Miller - He has 6 nominations to this point, and his last movie was not an Oscar thing at all and was nominated everywhere. He was not nominated for his screenplay, but he has been nominated for writing in the past. This is just a project that I don’t have faith in, but it could be something revelatory and blow everyone away.
23. Flint Strong - Barry Jenkins - This might not be a 2022 movie, but it has to be mentioned. It is the directorial debut of brilliant cinematographer Rachel Morrison, and it is about Claressa Shields, a boxer trying to be the first American woman to win Olympic gold in boxing. Jenkins writing the script is fascinating to think about. It sounds more like a 2023 Sundance movie, but we will see how the production goes.
24. Dual - Riley Stearns - It got decent reviews out of Sundance, and it is about a duel between a recovered terminal woman and her clone she made when she was diagnosed. It sounds weird, but Stearns (Faults, The Art of Self-Defense) can pull it all together. One of his indie films will hit eventually.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Predicted Five
1. Poor Things - Tony McNamara - The movie sounds pretty wild, even for a Lanthimos movie. He was nominated for their last collaboration in The Favourite, and while sci-fi doesn’t have a great track record with Screenplay wins, I can almost guarantee a few times they came in second place. The Academy also does like to spread the wealth from time to time.
2. She Said - Rebecca Lenkiewicz - It is a journalism movie, and it could certainly sweep everything, but I have this sneaking suspicion that they will just barely overlook the obvious choice here. This seems like more of an Original Screenplay winner than an Adapted Screenplay winner, so I am just leaving it here. There hasn’t been a sweep of Picture-Director-Lead Acting-Screenplay since The King’s Speech.
3. The Son - Florian Zeller, Christopher Hampton - They won an Oscar just last year for the play adaptation, which is a rare feat. The Oscars traditionally don’t recognize screenplays based on plays, but Zeller is just that good. Expect more of the same this year.
4. Women Talking - Sarah Polley - She was nominated in this category 15 years ago (Away From Her). This seems like more of a conversation piece, which makes it even more of a juicy contender for Adapted Screenplay. I am actually really confident that she at least gets nominated.
5. Lightyear - Pete Docter - The Academy worships Pete Docter, and it would be foolish to underestimate the Toy Story saga within the awards circuits. This is the Angus MacLane (Pixar lifer, co-director of Finding Dory) film about the real life Buzz Lightyear. It probably is silly, but they all kinda are, and they are all also kinda perfect. Two of the four Toy Story films were nominated for a screenplay Oscar.
Others in contention
6. Knives Out 2 - Rian Johnson - Daniel Craig is the only returning cast member in Rian Johnson’s follow-up to his smash hit single-location whodunit from 3 years ago. The cast here is even cooler than the last. This one is set in Greece, and since he was nominated for the original, he has to be mentioned here.
7. White Noise - Noah Baumbach - It sounds as if the book was deemed unfilmable, so the script is going to have to be something special. Baumbach is no stranger to the screenplay race, but he has only been nominated twice. I might be putting him a little low, being ranked behind a couple sequels, but I am cautious with this one.
8. My Policeman - Ron Nyswaner - He is a previous nominee for Philadelphia, but he really hasn’t worked much in the last 30 years. His scripts are always really serious and sophisticated, so he has a chance to get in even if the film isn’t the most popular.
9. The Pale Blue Eye - Scott Cooper - Cooper has had a bumpy road in his career, but he is capable of greatness. The performances are always terrific, but this is billed as a horror movie, so maybe it won’t be an awards player, but it could be fascinating. Other than Crazy Heart, his movies have been largely ignored, but this sounds creative and the cast is compelling. The release will say a lot about the film’s ambitions.
10. The Stars at Noon - Claire Denis, Andrew Litvack, Lea Mysius - If the movie really is a contender in the top categories, then the screenplay has to be mentioned. The details on the movie are scarce, but there doesn’t appear to be that many characters. The screenplay will have to be something else to get mentioned here.
11. The Zone of Interest - Jonathan Glazer - He is adapting a book about the Holocaust, which is good enough to be mentioned here. There are no details on what this is actually going to look like. I could see it being his introduction to major awards or something completely off putting.
12. The Killer - Andrew Kevin Walker - He has only written 7 movies, and his Se7en screenplay has always been criminally underrated. It is also his only movie that is really notable, so he will need to clear some hurdles to pass up some of these established writers and writer-directors.
13. Spaceman - Colby Day - This is a movie about an orphaned Czech man who was raised by his grandparents, who is trying to become the country’s first astronaut. The director last directed Downloading Nancy, a modest indie hit. It stars Adam Sandler and Carey Mulligan. Sold. I also want to mention Hustle, which is another great-sounding Sandler movie about a basketball scout by the director of We the Animals. He is really making waves in the awards circuits!
There you have it! Did I overlook anything? What movies are you most looking forward to in 2022? Let me know in the comments!