Ok, I’m finally getting back to my Oscar Predictions! I sometimes talk a big game, and most of the time it works out. This is one of those years where we really have a tough task predicting things with the strikes going on, movies getting pushed (like the yearlong frontrunner One Life), movies halting production, and even awards shows getting delayed. However, this has caused all of the so-called professional pundits to start claiming that all the categories are locked up and there will be little surprise during awards season. That is not how this works. There are dozens of movies that haven’t screened for anyone yet, plus the festival highs that movies are on always come crashing down just as fast. There are no locks for anything yet, other than perhaps the summer smash hit of Oppenheimer getting some 10+ nominations. We think we know everything, then Lily Gladstone/Michelle Williams decides to change categories and then everything we thought we knew goes in the trash. Don’t listen to the pretentious experts, all your information is right here! Check it out!
Release Date Casualties
Dune: Part Two
Firebrand (I think)
Love Lies Bleeding
One Life (ugh…)
Young Woman and the Sea
The Predicted Ten
1. Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan) - The movie has the reviews, passion, and astonishing box office for an R-rated biopic of sorts. It is the frontrunner at this point, but predicting summer releases to be a major player in the Best Picture race is a dangerous game. It has more prestige than almost all of the summer contenders in the past, and until one of these other movies opens to wide audience approval, it has to remain at the top.
2. Killers of the Flower Moon (Martin Scorsese) - Scorsese has a new movie, so it is a contender. 6 of his last 8 movies were nominated widely, including Picture and Director. This movie seems to have the epic feel of a potential winner, but we will have to see if it can capture audiences in theaters as well as on Apple.
3. Poor Things (Yorgos Lanthimos) - This is one of the unanimous festival darlings. It could be considered the favorite, but I thought the same thing about The Favorite all year in 2018, and that came up short. This is even less accessible, but Lanthimos just seems to be a taste that everyone can get behind.
4. The Holdovers (Alexander Payne) - Payne’s movies are all major Oscar players. Downsizing was a disaster, but this is much more in his lane. The festival reviews have been raves, and with the right late year campaign, this could become one of the ones fighting for the win.
5. Barbie (Greta Gerwig) - The box office was on the level of Top Gun: Maverick in that it was surprising and relentless. The reviews were all good enough, it has as many talking points with the online contingent of film fans that EEAAO had a year ago, and everyone seems to just adore Gerwig. It is pretty much locked into a nomination, but it cannot win.
6. The Color Purple (Blitz Bazawule) - This is one of the few big ones that no one has seen anywhere yet. The trailers have been really strong. From what has been reported about the stage version, it has all the emotional cues of a classic musical. I feel like this could be our eventual winner, but it could also go the route of Dreamgirls and feel too stagey to be fully embraced.
7. Saltburn (Emerald Fennell) - The early word was almost scathing about the movie, but festival hype always needs to be taken with a grain of salt…no pun intended. The reviews have calmed down, and it will eventually gobble up most of the British vote for Fennell.
8. Origin (Ava DuVernay) - This is a newcomer to the party. It is a true story about Isabel Wilkerson, the first black woman to win the Pulitzer for journalism. DuVernay needed this big comeback, and while it will likely be controversial with some groups, it seems like the type that will withstand the negative press and break into a couple categories.
9. Anatomy of a Fall (Justine Triet) - The Palme d’Or winner has kept the hype going since it premiered. It has played at a few more festivals, and it keeps getting rave reviews for a 2.5 hour courtroom drama. The foreign language Best Picture nomination is becoming more of a regular thing, and this certainly has the best chance. It was passed up for by France as its official submission, which means they are all in on their above-the-line campaign.
10. Past Lives (Celine Song) - The early year darling had a disappointing box office and has all but disappeared from the conversation. That doesn’t necessarily matter until we start to get end of year awards lists. The passion could still be there, it just needs a solid streaming life and a resurgence. It has the goods to be in this list of 10, but it is constantly moving down.
Others in contention
11. American Fiction (Cord Jefferson) - The TIFF Audience Award winner usually gets nominated for Best Picture, but this one won with so many asterisks. Even the fans of the movie said that it only won because they felt guilty about not voting for it because of the subject matter and optics. It sounds really bad, but we got Triangle of Sadness in the top 10 a year ago despite being for a very select group of people (and being absolute trash). I am leaving this out of the top 10, but it could contend elsewhere.
12. Maestro (Bradley Cooper) - The movie has gotten some love so far early in the process. It is wildly ambitious, and the fact that it has almost half of the film about the wife makes it more likely to be widely embraced. The Netflix factor is the main issue.
13. The Zone of Interest (Jonathan Glazer) - The movie is said to be a tough sell for audiences. The Best Picture chances will likely be hurt by it being the second most prestigious foreign film in contention. We will have to see how this plays for normal audiences. Best Director seems like the more likely route to the major awards.
14. Napoleon (Ridley Scott) - I really don’t think this has a chance, but there is the possibility that it could capture audiences the way Hacksaw Ridge did and anoint an inconsistent director who is way past his prime. The trailers look ok, but Scott has lost his touch.
15. Ferrari (Michael Mann) - The reviews for the movie are solid. It can rise up the ranks, but I just don’t know how much we need this movie. Michael Mann is capable of making a big contender, but it has been almost 25 years. I’m interested in watching it, but it needs to really crush the box office like Ford v Ferrari to have a chance.
16. The Boys in the Boat (George Clooney) - The movie is still a mystery. There are a few underdog sports films this year, and Clooney has had quite a while since he was in the forefront of any Oscar race. It has the Christmas release, but it screams Thirteen Lives more than anything else;
17. Air (Ben Affleck) - One of the big hits from the first half of the year is still making noise. It is the one product movie that really has an opportunity to break through in a big way, and that is because of the starpower, the subtle direction from Affleck, and the general public appeal.
The Predicted Five
1. Christopher Nolan - Oppenheimer - It appears that this is finally the movie that America’s most popular director can win his Oscar for. His movie has the appeal, the box office, and the Oscar pedigree to go all the way. Making a talky adult drama feel that epic in scope is something that cannot be ignored.
2. Martin Scorsese - Killers of the Flower Moon - Scorsese is always going to be nominated. If the movie really hits with audiences, then he can make a run at the win. It feels weird that he has only gotten one Oscar, and this is said to be one of his biggest passion projects in a while.
3. Alexander Payne - The Holdovers - This is the classic also-ran nominee that has no chance of winning, even if the film is taking Best Picture. Payne is beloved by the Academy and audiences alike. He has three Best Director nominations over the years for similarly non-flashy films.
4. Yorgos Lanthimos - Poor Things - Lanthimos could become one of the yearly Oscar darlings. His output is pretty incredible, and the fact that his film is in the running for several crafts and potentially 3 acting nominations, he should be a no-brainer nominee.
5. Jonathan Glazer - The Zone of Interest - The foreign director spot belongs to Glazer. Even if the movie is unapproachable, the artistic achievement that the movie is said to be (especially with that subject matter) should carry Glazer to his first Oscar nomination.
Others in contention
6. Greta Gerwig - Barbie - The artist behind the most talked about movie of the year needs to be seen as a major contender. Even though the movie is really not Oscar stuff, it is undeniably one of the biggest achievements and most technically sound films of 2023.
7. Justine Triet - Anatomy of a Fall - If Triet can get in the Best Director lineup, then the movie has a real chance at winning Best Picture. The movie is not going to have the widespread passion and release of Parasite, but these kinds of movies do not just rack up the awards and reviews that this movie has.
8. Blitz Bazawule - The Color Purple - If there is a newcomer in the group, it would be Bazawule. The movie has the stage adaptation label going against it, but musicals can break out of that if they are great enough. It will need to be a box office smash and have those moments that bring down the house.
9. Ava DuVernay - Origin - DuVernay is respected throughout the industry and has had a film in the thick of the race when Selma got in 9 years ago. This movie needs to remain under the radar so it can really blow everyone away when it comes out.
10. Ridley Scott - Napoleon - Ridley Scott has not been nominated in over 20 years, but if the movie is pretty good, it will certainly have the epic feel and scope of an old fashioned Best Director nomination.
11. Emerald Fennell - Saltburn - Fennell is a past nominee, and this movie feels even more ambitious and acidic than Promising Young Woman. We will see if it is a sophomore slump or if she is just one of the more interesting young voices in Hollywood.
12. Celine Song - Past Lives - She was seen as a lock for months by pundits, but the movie is just so small. It is clearly well directed and subtle, but it will need to be a contender for the top prize in order for her to even move into the top 10 of this category.
13. Hayao Miyazaki - The Boy and the Heron - An animated film has never been nominated for Best Director, but if one is ever going to get there, it would be the master making his swan song. The movie will need to be seen as one of his all time best. That seems unlikely, but it is not impossible.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Bradley Cooper - Maestro - Cooper had the production photo hype right off the bat. It has been seen as overblown and also as potentially the best film of the year. It is incredibly rare for someone to direct themself to a nomination, and only twice has someone directed themself to a win. This would be history, but I think Netflix is going to push this film more than any other.
2. Paul Giamatti - The Holdovers - Giamatti is always putting in great work, and this reunion with Payne should be a big apology for the atrocious snub for Sideways 19 years ago. The reviews have been unanimous for him. He should be secure in the top 3 at least and a potential winner if the rest of these films fail to make waves.
3. Leonardo DiCaprio - Killers of the Flower Moon - DiCaprio is said to give one of his best performances, which is good enough for me. Remember when everyone tried to write him off for OUATIH because “he doesn’t need to be nominated for this”? Leo is nominated when he puts in the work, and he only makes prestige projects now.
4. Colman Domingo - Rustin - This was my frontrunner for the win all of last year, and it is now finally getting released. He is having a huge year, and the movie and its importance have made this nomination a near lock. It is hard to imagine a scenario where the movie doesn’t hit. However, we saw with Till just last year that it doesn’t always matter.
5. Cillian Murphy - Oppenheimer - Murphy underplays everything in the movie, so it feels like an uphill climb to a nomination. However, the movie is getting nominated everywhere, and he is always an overlooked actor. I think he grabs the last spot, in a similar way to Chiwetel Ejiofor in 2013 in the Best Picture frontrunner. The performance is good, but he is not necessarily the reason why the movie works.
Others in contention
6. Jeffrey Wright - American Fiction - Another overlooked actor is getting his first big time starring role in a long time. He is said to be terrific in the film, but comedy-dramas do not have the best track record in this category. The movie will need to be a huge hit for him to get in.
7. Andrew Scott - All of Us Strangers - He could be the Paul Mescal of this year…who is actually his co-star in this. The movie has unanimous approval, but it is so small that a lot of these other contenders will need to be taken out for the mostly unknown actor to get anointed by this group. However, this year had no The Son that flopped so hard that it paved the way for a surprise nominee.
8. Joaquin Phoenix - Napoleon - Phoenix is probably the best actor in the world, and if he is committed to this project, then I can see him start to pop up all throughout awards season. He can’t win again this soon, though.
9. Anthony Hopkins - Freud’s Last Session - Hopkins proved with The Father that it doesn’t matter the size of the film, he is still one of the most beloved legends in Hollywood. Keep an eye on this one. We really don’t know too much yet, other than that it has a late December release date. He also has One Life (if that ever gets released).
10. Barry Keoghan - Saltburn - The nominee last year gets his juicy starring role in Emerald Fennell’s second film. He is a fearless actor and should be in his element in this. The early reviews are all raves.
11. Kingsley Ben-Adir - Bob Marley: One Love - He was unfairly overlooked for One Night in Miami… has another one of those films where the production photos went a long way to providing hype for the movie. It will need to have that Bohemian Rhapsody type love for him to get close to a nomination.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Emma Stone - Poor Things - The Academy really doesn’t care about spreading the wealth when it comes to their favorite actors. The reviews for Stone’s performance imply that it is her best work ever, which is astonishing considering her nominations and win in true Best Picture contending films. I don’t feel great about this, but she is the safest bet at this point.
2. Sandra Huller - Anatomy of a Fall - Whenever anyone looks up standouts from Cannes, this performance is always singled out. It is pretty rare for a foreign film to have a lock for an acting nomination, but this is about as close as it gets. She is also in The Zone of Interest.
3. Lily Gladstone - Killers of the Flower Moon - The category change was probably the right thing to do, but similar to Michelle Williams last year, she pretty much gave up a surefire win for a chance at a win. She should be secure for a nomination, but winning will be difficult. The issue is that there is an even more buzzed about performance in a very similar situation (Mulligan).
4. Annette Bening - Nyad - This performance would be the career win for Bening, who has been so close so many times. She plays a real life record breaking swimmer, so it will be a physical performance. She could slide into the race and start taking the televised awards like Jessica Chastain did in 2021, but Netflix really needs to push her.
5. Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor - Origin - She is a recent nominee, and this will be her first chance to really blow us away in a lead role. DuVernay will certainly make the movie timely, and it is hard to imagine her not being singled out if it is as important of a film that it feels like.
Others in contention
6. Carey Mulligan - Maestro - She is really in the category fraud crosshairs. It is implied that she is definitely a co-lead, but it is also hard to imagine her being singled out with Cooper really doing his thing and winning Best Actor. I think she should drop into Supporting Actress. We’ll see if she can finally win one of these things.
7. Greta Lee - Past Lives - Early in the year, she was seen as a lock. The movie needs the critics to revive its hype, because absolutely no one remembers this movie because it’s so small and so slight. She might be able to break through anyway, but it is an uphill climb.
8. Fantasia Barrino - The Color Purple - The trailers look like she isn’t really the lead. If the play reviews are any indication, she will bring down the house and coast to a win. Everyone who watched American Idol knows she has it in her. However, breaking into film awards as an outsider is never easy.
9. Margot Robbie - Barbie - As much love as the film has gotten over the past few months, I never thought she felt like a Best Actress nominee. The inevitable Golden Globes win might be where her awards campaign peaks.
10. Cailee Spaeny - Priscilla - Even though the movie is supposed to be really good, this just reeks of bad timing when the last Elvis film was such a monster hit. It would be unprecedented for the year after a film about a similar subject to get showered with the same amount of love.
11. Natalie Portman - May December - Netflix is going to have a complicated awards season when all the actresses are competing against each other. This feels like one that will be left out, especially since she is rarely singled out in reviews. But it is Todd Haynes, so he could just get everyone in if the voters really respond to the film.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Robert De Niro - Killers of the Flower Moon - Every single review just gushes with raves over De Niro’s villainous performance. He rarely gets a truly great character anymore, but I think the Academy needs to make up for the egregious snub in 2019 by giving him his long deserved third Oscar. He is in 2011 Meryl Streep territory where it’s almost shameful he only won twice.
2. Robert Downey Jr. - Oppenheimer - When the movie came out, it was a lock that he was winning Supporting Actor because he absolutely has the Oscar scene. The performances in the film are just too cold to really guarantee that he will be winning. Remember, Nolan has only directed one acting nomination, and that was a posthumous performance. It is possible that all of the performances get snubbed.
3. Ryan Gosling - Barbie - It would be the weirdest Best Supporting Actor nomination of all time…even weirder than last year’s winner. However, the character is one of the most perfectly cast roles of the year and the one thing people will not stop talking about.
4. Willem Dafoe - Poor Things - I am always predicting a nomination for Dafoe, who seems to always have a crazy supporting role where he disappears into the character. If it is between him and Ruffalo from that movie, I stick with the more overdue veteran.
5. Colman Domingo - The Color Purple - I love Domingo’s chances at a double nom. It would put him in rarified air if that happens, especially if he isn’t really in the running to win either of them.
Others in contention
6. Charles Melton - May December - The reviews constantly say “Now, who is that guy?!” I love his chances as the newcomer snagging a nomination, but I just can’t go there yet.
7. Mark Ruffalo - Poor Things - I don’t know what to do with this movie. I am always better at projecting Lanthimos films after I have seen them. Critics and pundits are always all over the map with their reviews of his films, so I will leave him off for now.
8. Glenn Howerton - BlackBerry - I am still confused as to why he is going Supporting. He won the one big mid-year award in this category, which to me says that he is still going to be a threat. Of all the movies that have come out about products, this one stands high above the others. Just without the starpower of Air.
9. Teo Yoo - Past Lives - There is no chance that he can get a Best Actor nomination, so it makes sense that he would drop down here. If he does, it really feels like the best chance for the film to break into an acting category.
10. Dominic Sessa - The Holdovers - The younger actors are not always swept in. However, if the movie is a really big hit like something like Manchester by the Seas was, then he could easily get one of those Lucas Hedges-type breakthrough nominations.
11. John Magaro - Past Lives - I never understood his awards appeal in that film. It is way too underplayed, but after last year, the rules no longer apply when talking about what defines an Oscar worthy role.
12. Sterling K. Brown - American Fiction - I am just throwing this name out there. If the movie is really a hit, then this seems like the type of beloved character actor who can get brought in with the waves.
13. Peter Sarsgaard - Memory - Is anyone going to remember this movie? Does anyone care that Sarsgaard has never been nominated? Will this be a strictly Spirit Awards contender? It is in that Stanley Tucci in Supernova range of “just wait and see”.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Danielle Brooks - The Color Purple - She is one of the standouts in Orange Is the New Black, and her role is one of the showiest in the story. I have had her in first since January, and nothing has changed (other than Gladstone dropping out).
2. Taraji P. Henson - The Color Purple - She looks like she is killing it in the trailer. I really wish we had some early reviews to go on. She could be the frontrunner or not a contender at all, she just looks amazing in this. This feels like the double nomination in the supporting categories that we get every year now.
3. Da’Vine Joy Randolph - The Holdovers - I have had her up here since January as well. The reviews rave about every actor, and she has the role that will likely be the emotional core of the story. This is the SAG Ensemble winner, right?
4. Viola Davis - Air - She has dropped off a lot of predictions, but we have to remember that they snubbed her last year. And when this film came out, it was seen as an absolute lock that she gets in. When everyone rediscovers the film this fall/winter, she will rise back into locked status.
5. Penelope Cruz - Ferrari - This might seem like a weird one, but the reviews all imply that she steals the whole movie. Cruz is beloved in awards circles, securing 4 nominations in the last 15 years. If the movie is to break through, it would be here.
Others in contention
6. Julianne Moore - May December - I feel like she and Portman are a package deal, similar to the actresses in Carol and Wild and several other examples throughout the 21st century. She definitely has the easier path to a nomination.
7. Jodie Foster - Nyad - The reviews singling out Foster have been one of the more surprising developments of the season so far. I could see her grabbing a nomination like Sally Hawkins did riding Cate Blanchett’s coattails in 2013.
8. Emily Blunt - Oppenheimer - She is the weak part of the movie, but everyone seems to overlook that because she is long overdue for a first nomination. I wouldn’t mind if she gets in, but it is getting increasingly more difficult to imagine anyone really voting for her.
9. America Ferrera - Barbie - After Dumb Money gave her way more screen time than anticipated, as well as this role in which she really is the audience stand-in and has the Oscar scene, it is looking more and more like she could get nominated. This is one thing I never anticipated. Of all the actresses in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, she is not the one I expected to be the first to break through.
10. Rosamund Pike - Saltburn - Watch out for her. Emerald Fennell’s second film is supposedly much less of a one-person show than her last one. Pike is a previous nominee, and she consistently does terrific work regardless of the material.
11. Niecy Nash-Betts - Origin - I always have a bit of trouble forecasting TV actors who have a big movie role. If the movie is the Best Picture contender that I think it can be, then this seems like a likely add-on nomination to add to its list.
12. Carey Mulligan - Maestro - I just need to mention her here. If she goes Supporting, then she is winning. But there is no indication that Netflix is considering dropping her down.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Predicted Five
1. The Holdovers - David Hemingson - Almost all of Payne’s movies get nominated for Screenplay. This is the second film of his that he didn’t write, but you honestly couldn’t tell with Nebraska because he makes it one of his films. That would be the best case scenario here.
2. Past Lives - Celine Song - This is beginning to feel like Women Talking, where we won’t really know how the movie is going to be treated until the last minute. The screenplay is the strongest element, and that should be enough to secure a nomination.
3. Saltburn - Emerald Fennell - Her last film won in this category, and this is somehow sounding even more divisive. You have to love that.
4. Anatomy of a Fall - Justine Triet, Arthur Harari - The movie is a dark horse to win in several categories. A 2.5 hour courtroom drama has to have a dynamite screenplay.
5. Barbie - Greta Gerwig, Noah Baumbach - The category fraud question will likely come down to the wire. Something like this has no chance in Adapted, so I assume they will push hard for it to be Original.
Others in contention
6. May December - Samy Burch, Alex Mechanik - It is Todd Haynes, who is similar to Alexander Payne in that everything eventually feels like one of his movies. And he is an Oscar darling…sometimes.
7. Maestro - Josh Singer, Bradley Cooper - Biopics getting nominated for Screenplay are always the biggest hurdle to them being the Best Picture frontrunner. This is said to be a marvel of a script, however. We will see if Cooper can repeat the success of his first film.
8. Air - Alex Convery - I thought this was a surefire nomination back when it came out, but it needs the resurgence I talked about earlier. If it was written by Matt and Ben, then it would be a lock.
9. Rustin - Dustin Lance Black, Julian Breece - This is similar to Maestro, but Black has won in this category in the past for a biopic. I have had high hopes for this film since last January, so we will see if I knew what I was talking about.
10. Perfect Days - Wim Wenders, Takuma Takasaki - Wenders has never been nominated outside of the Documentary category, but this movie sounds amazing and deeply personal. If the Academy wants a throwback nomination, here it is.
11. Dream Scenario - Kristoffer Borgli - The nominations have been over the moon for this, which puts Cage at the center of a Kaufman-esque comedy. That could be enough to get in. We don’t ever get true comedies in this category anymore.
12. The Bikeriders - Jeff Nichols - This is my most anticipated movie of the fall. I can see it getting shut out above the line, but this seems like its best bet. It also might be more of a contender than anyone is letting on. I think it is going to be a box office smash.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Predicted Five
1. Poor Things - Tony McNamara - He should have probably grabbed a win for The Favourite 5 years ago, but he was unfortunately passed over for the Best Picture winner. I don’t know if anyone views him as overdue, but Lanthimos certainly is getting there. There really isn’t a frontrunner, so I will just leave this here.
2. Oppenheimer - Christopher Nolan - It is a very talky movie, which bodes well for its chances and the main reason I have it winning the top prize. You can look at the movie in any number of ways and still be impressed.
3. American Fiction - Cord Jefferson - This is the category that the TIFF winner gets into. It sounds like a thought-provoking and controversial piece, which will likely appeal to a lot of voters.
4. Killers of the Flower Moon - Eric Roth, Martin Scorsese - The epic scope movies almost never take the screenplay categories. Most of them aren’t written by Scorsese though, who teamed with another past winner. If it takes this award early in the show, then watch out.
5. All of Us Strangers - Andrew Haigh - The movie is likely too small, but I thought the same about Aftersun a year ago. The Academy has certainly changed, and this is the kind of nomination that would show that most clearly.
Others in contention
6. Origin - Ava DuVernay - Predicting these categories is always so hard. It is almost foolish to predict Best Picture nominations without a screenplay nom, but here we are. It is probably taking one of those spots, I just don’t know which one.
7. The Zone of Interest - Jonathan Glazer - If it is the big International Feature threat that we all think it can be, then these nominations come somewhat easily, even if it isn’t typical screenplay nomination material.
8. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. (Kelly Fremon Craig) - It was a very successful book adaptation. It would be an outside the box choice.
9. Leave the World Behind - Sam Esmail - The trailer looks incredibly weird, but no one has seen it yet. Just keep an eye out.
10. The Boys in the Boat - Mark L. Smith - It is never a good idea to underestimate Clooney. I’ll leave it at that.
That’s it! What are your most anticipated awards movies this fall/winter? Who is going to grab momentum next? Let me know in the comments!