It cannot be worse than last year. That’s what I keep telling myself as I await this year’s Oscars. The 2022 Academy Awards was a disaster of an awards show. The films they honored were instantly forgotten, while the on-stage assault will be remembered forever. That’s not what we’re looking for at an awards show. It’s probably too much to hope that this year’s ceremony will be a return to the classy Oscar days of yore (although hiring a seasoned pro like Jimmy Kimmel to host is a good start), but at least the movies were good this year. Here are what’s going to win and what should.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
Should Win: Bryan Tyree Henry, “Causeway”
Ke Huy Quan has the best awards season narrative in recent memory. As a child actor in the ‘80s, he starred in “The Goonies” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” before his career went dark for decades due to the lack of opportunities for Asian actors in Hollywood. Now he’s back in a film the Academy has thoroughly embraced. It’s an irresistible campaign, but I strongly prefer the work of Bryan Tyree Henry in the quiet “Causeway,” a two-hander with Jennifer Lawrence that almost no one has seen (it’s on AppleTV+) but which deserves a brighter spotlight.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Angela Bassett, “Wakanda Forever”
Should Win: Stephanie Hsu, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
I didn’t love “Everything Everywhere,” but Hsu was the best thing about it. Underneath its kaleidoscopic, multiverse narrative is an accessible story of a first-generation American struggling to be accepted by her immigrant parents. Hsu gives that narrative a raw vulnerability, providing a necessary balance to the film’s more outlandish elements. Stil, she’s a newcomer, and Angela Bassett will get what essentially amounts to a Lifetime Achievement Oscar for her work in the latest episode of the MCU.
Will Win: Austin Butler, “Elvis”
Should Win: Colin Farrell, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
This isn’t complicated. Jamie Foxx won for “Ray.” Rami Malek won for “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Austin Butler will win for “Elvis.” Brendan Fraser will give him a fight for his transformative performance in “The Whale,” but I’ll always bet on a lead performance from a Best Picture nominee because it demonstrates broad support. Personally, I’d give it to Farrell. Playing a dimwit is never as easy as it looks.
Will Win: Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
Should Win: Andrea Riseborough, “To Leslie”
The smart money is actually on Cate Blanchett to win her third Oscar for “Tár,” but I predict the international contingent of the Academy will make themselves heard and recognize Yeoh, who has been a force in international cinema for four decades. Riseborough, however, gives the performance of the year in “To Leslie,” a small drama about a woman battling her personal demons. She’s the best actor working today, but you probably don’t know her because of how profoundly she transforms herself with every role.
Will Win: The Daniels, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
Should Win: Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans”
It looks like a sweep for Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, the directors of “Everything Everywhere.” There was some thought that Spielberg would win his third directing Oscar this year, but the Daniels’ win at the DGA Awards last week pretty much sealed it for them. It’s a shame. “Everything Everywhere” is going to win a slew of other awards, while Spielberg’s courage in portraying his own childhood without leaning on sci-fi or fantasy will likely go unrecognized.
Will Win: “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
Should Win: “The Fabelmans”
I would listen to an argument for “Top Gun: Maverick,” a legacy sequel that’s actually better than the original. “The Fabelmans” was a riveting personal story with the year’s best ending. I didn’t love “Tár,” but it’s the kind of serious artistic statement the Academy should support. Instead, “Everything Everywhere” is the year’s biggest lock. Love it or hate it, the film’s backers have run the ideal Oscar campaign, maintaining its underdog status from its premiere at the South by Southwest Festival last March right up until the Oscars. Congrats to the filmmakers, the fans, and the publicists: “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is this year’s Best Picture.
Animated Feature: I’d vote for “Marcel the Shell with the Shoes On,” but the fact that it’s mostly live-action (I still don’t understand how it’s eligible in this category) will likely work against it. The likely winner here is “Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio” if for no other reason that the Academy loves Guillermo Del Toro (“The Shape of Water,” “Nightmare Alley”).
International Feature Film: Sometimes there are surprises in this category, but it’s usually a safe bet to pick the film that’s also nominated for Best Picture. That’s “All Quiet on the Western Front.”
Editing: If there’s a war movie nominated here, it usually wins. This year, there are two. “All Quiet on the Western Front” has a very good shot, but I’d bet on “Top Gun: Maverick.” Those aerial sequences were some of the best and most legible ever put on film. Much of that comes down to the editing.
Original Screenplay: Don’t count out “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which might be heading towards a sweep, but I think this comes down to “The Banshees of Inisherin” or ““Tár.” I’ll go with the former because Martin McDonagh, who wrote and directed “Banshees,” because he was a strong runner-up in this category in 2019 for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” and it’s clear that “Banshees” has immense support from the acting branch, still the most powerful voting bloc in the Academy.
Adapted Screenplay: It has been a long time since this award went to a film that wasn’t a Best Picture nominee, so I think this comes down to “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Women Talking,” which basically represent the entire breadth of the cinematic experience. Voters will likely underestimate the difficulties in writing an effective legacy sequel, but there’s no getting around the fact that “Top Gun: Maverick” is primarily a directorial achievement, while “Women Talking” is, true to its title, largely dialogue-driven. That’s what wins screenplay awards.
Cinematography: There’s no clear winner here. I suppose the Academy might just check the box that says Roger Deakins, as he is one of the few directors of photography who is known outside of cinematography circles. He’s already won a couple Oscars, though, and “Empire of Light” is not well-liked. I’m guessing “All Quiet on the Western Front” will get its sole Oscar here. It’s a visually striking film that was nominated for Best Picture, and it’s the only serious contender for Netflix. They’ve got to spend that awards budget on something.
Costume Design; Barring a real “Everything Everywhere” sweep, this one comes down to “Wakanda Forever” and “Elvis.” Costume designer Ruth Carter won for “Black Panther,” and while I’m hesitant to predict her to win for essentially the same film, her work is so far above anyone else’s that I suspect she’ll beat the odds and win again.
Make-up and Hairstyling: Same situation, different result. The team from “Black Panther” already won this one, so let’s go with “Elvis” here. Fat Elvis didn’t make himself.
Documentary Feature: Another difficult category to predict. “All that Breathes” and “The Beauty and the Bloodshed” are revered by critics, but “Navalny,” about a Russian politician who was poisoned by his political opponents, is likely too buzzy to resist.
Documentary Short: “Stranger at the Gate,” the story of a Marine’s plan to attack a mosque in Indiana, recently brought on Malala as an executive producer. She has been out and about in Los Angeles, campaigning for the film. So that’s probably going to win.
Original Score: Justin Hurwitz probably wrote the score of the year for “Babylon,” but Carter Burwell is one of the great composers of his generation, and he has never won one. The streak won’t break here. It’d be nice to see John Williams get one more Oscar for his work on “The Fabelmans,” but there’s just no buzz for that movie right now. Hurwitz will win his third Oscar, after winning for Original Score and Original Song in 2018 for La La Land.
Original Song: “Naatu Naatu” from “RRR” is the choice here. Many folks thought the film had a shot at Best Picture, and if India had submitted it for International Film, it almost certainly would have earned a nomination there. It’ll have to settle for Best Song. By the way, if you haven’t seen the movie, it’s worth watching at least until this musical number. It’s the closest you can get to pure, unfiltered cinematic joy.
Production Design: I just have this feeling “Elvis” is going to do well in the craft categories. It’s nothing if not conspicuous.
Short Film (Animated): Let’s go with “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse,” despite the egregious lack of an Oxford comma in its title (should be disqualifying, really). It has been described as a “hand-drawn fable about the virtues of kindness.” That seems more up the Academy’s alley than fellow nominee “My Year of Dicks.”
Short Film (Live Action): Tough to predict this year, but I’ll go with “An Irish Goodbye” because I think “Banshees of Inisherin” will put everyone in a very Irish mood.
Sound: I’ll go with the war movie, and in this case, I’m not sure all the whooshes of “Top Gun: Maverick” qualify. “All Quiet on the Western Front” is it.
Visual Effects: Finally, someone gives “Avatar: The Way of Water” the respect it deserves.