Here are my predictions for Sunday’s Oscar ceremony. As we go down the list of all 23 categories, we have a pretty active variety of safe frontrunners and undecided prizes that have predictors going back and forth until the last minute. But seemingly more than usual, I’ve noticed a number of the most daunting Oscar categories of all: the ones which seem to pretty strongly lean in a particular direction, but don’t quite tip over into feeling locked. These can wreak particular havoc on prediction scores and betting pools – and arguably, more potential to shock when the envelope is opened than any up-in-the-air category where everyone is already prepared to be wrong. Last year turned out to be pretty easy to predict as long as you went with the odds-on favorites, particularly in the craft categories. This year, I suspect things could be a lot trickier.
Additionally, when it comes to some of the above-the-line prizes, I’ve noticed another contrast with 2022. Last year, Best Picture was tantalizingly close until the very end, with the acting categories more or less locked up. This year, Best Picture looks pretty much done, while three of the four acting contests remain in flux.
BEST PICTURE: Everything Everywhere All at Once
This is one of the safest bets for Best Picture we’ve had in a few years. From an all-important victory at the PGA to a sweep at SAG, it’s won just about everywhere it needs to, and its momentum has steadily built for months. A surprisingly strong showing at BAFTA for All Quiet on the Western Front has really been the only aberration here; Everything Everywhere All at Once has been more or less unstoppable all throughout this season, and there’s every reason to believe it’s about to have a very good night at the Oscars.
BEST DIRECTOR: Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan – Everything Everywhere All at Once
Everything Everywhere All at Once’s momentum in Best Picture should help pull its directors over the finish line here. Some have tried to make the case that Director is a little shakier, but it doesn’t seem like anyone agrees on who else would win instead.
BEST ACTRESS: Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once
Cate Blanchett looked like a prohibitive favorite here to win her third Oscar, as her performance in Tár swept early critics prizes. But Michelle Yeoh’s odds have steadily risen with Everything Everywhere All at Once’s triumph through the season. Culminating with her victory as part of the movie’s barnstorming at SAG, I’m ready to predict her to win the Oscar, but Blanchett’s early lead is hard to discount entirely, and she isn’t out of the picture here. This is a very tough call.
BEST ACTOR: Austin Butler – Elvis
This is another particularly difficult category to predict. Brendan Fraser has scored key victories at Critics Choice and SAG for his performance in The Whale, while Austin Butler has won the BAFTA. Each won a Golden Globe in their films’ respective genres. There’s a serious case for either actor here, and this is one of the categories I took the most time to think out. But in the end, I have to defer to the Academy’s well-known proclivity for awarding performances from biopics and give the edge to Butler, though I expect it to be a photo finish.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jamie Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All at Once
For a while, it looked like Angela Bassett, nominated for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, was well on her way to winning her first Oscar. It made sense: she’s a storied and respected performer who is long overdue for the honor. But a similar case could be made for Jamie Lee Curtis, another industry veteran who also came into this season without a previous win. Said argument became particularly pertinent after Curtis won the SAG Award in a relative surprise. This suddenly makes the category very difficult to predict – and this is to say nothing of the contingent who are suggesting that Kerry Condon, of The Banshees of Inisherin, could ride the wave from her BAFTA win and upset them both. However, if we’re to believe that Everything Everywhere All at Once is on the precipice of a rollicking sweep – and I certainly do believe that – then I’d have to hand the advantage to Curtis.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once
While the other three acting prizes might be in flux, Supporting Actor is a lock. Ke Huy Quan has been a constant of Everything Everywhere All at Once’s journey through awards season, and it’s simply too late for any other contender to make a serious play for an upset.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Everything Everywhere All at Once
Again, there is a deep and genuine passion for this movie that has carried through the last few months, and it would only make sense for its ambitious script to be rewarded.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Women Talking
It’s certainly possible that All Quiet on the Western Front could replicate its BAFTA victory here. But Women Talking has been such a constant, well-received presence through this awards season – including here, where it’s a Best Picture nominee – that I think it has defended its frontrunner status in this category.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Navalny
Strong precursor performances for Navalny give it the edge, but I wouldn’t be overly surprised if there was a strong passion vote for Fire of Love out there.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio has had the buzz and critical acclaim to put it on an absolute tear through the precursors this season, and it’s in an excellent position to cap things off with an Oscar.
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE: All Quiet on the Western Front
With a Best Picture nomination and likely wins in multiple categories (more on that in a moment), this is a pretty safe bet.
BEST FILM EDITING: Everything Everywhere All at Once
Top Gun: Maverick once looked formidable here, but with its strength fading across the board, this is an easy place where our Best Picture frontrunner can take another prize.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: All Quiet on the Western Front
The film’s overall strength means that it is in a good position to win in categories outside of International Feature, and this is the single craft category it seems to be the strongest in. But I would watch closely for Elvis, which won at the American Society of Cinematographers awards.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: All Quiet on the Western Front
This is another place where its late surge of momentum could pay off. Babylon was once the favorite here, and is still within striking distance of a victory, but the film doesn’t look to be as strong a contender as it once did.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: “Naatu Naatu” – RRR
RRR is a movie with a lot of enthusiasm behind it, and “Naatu Naatu” is the most high-profile out of all the contenders in this category, having won at Critics Choice and the Golden Globes. It just makes the most sense as a winner.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Babylon
Despite what I said in Score, I’m not ready to write off Babylon’s Oscar chances entirely, especially considering the Academy’s penchant for rewarding elaborate period set designs. Then again, it’s hardly the only movie in this category that can claim to feature that, and so I wouldn’t be too shocked if this went another way. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: Elvis
This could actually correlate pretty neatly with Best Actor: if Brendan Fraser is to win there, it would hardly be surprising if The Whale won here as well.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Elvis
Pretty clearly Elvis’s safest bet of the night.
BEST SOUND: Top Gun: Maverick
In all honesty, this is probably about an even match between Top Gun: Maverick and All Quiet on the Western Front. And it’s certainly true that the former’s momentum has generally risen through the last few weeks, while the latter’s has generally fallen. But I’m reluctant to predict that such a well-liked, enormous hit for Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking would go home empty-handed from Hollywood’s biggest honors.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Avatar: The Way of Water
Absolute done deal. Don’t know what else to say.
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT: An Irish Goodbye
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: The Elephant Whisperers
BEST ANIMATED SHORT: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse
Short film categories tend to be the hardest to predict. I don’t have any tried and true methods here, aside from attempting cursory readings of the buzz in each category.