2023 Oscar predictions: See top contenders for Academy Awards nominations
From Hollywood titans (Steven Spielberg, Viola Davis) to first-time nominees (Brendan Fraser, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michelle Yeoh), EW's 2023 Oscar predictions feature one of the most exciting crops of potential honorees in recent memory — and some high profile snubs to watch out for (sorry, Michelle Williams!)
Ahead of the 95th Academy Awards hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, read on for our list of 2023 Oscar predictions in the big six categories, updating as often as the season changes. Make sure to keep up with our running contender tracker measuring precursor report cards and the Heat Index gauging the state of the race as well.
Mainstays abound in the Best Picture race, and the first nine contenders here have all stayed the course so far. From the crowd-pleasing Hollywood dreamscape of The Fabelmans to the global box-office smash Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water, each of these contenders represents a different, vital sector of the business. While The Fabelmans hits sentimental soft spots, the film's success has ridden mainly on the project's emotional impact as a semi-autobiographical story inspired by director Steven Spielberg's life. Such a singular stamp was enough to score the filmmaking veteran prime positioning at the start of the race, but passion for the film (and its cast, as Michelle Williams missed both SAG and BAFTA nods) has waned for the traditional picture, while passionate, organic support for Everything Everywhere All at Once has not only sustained but greatly intensified since the film's early 2022 release. Hollywood respects Spielberg, but they seem to be more excited by the merits of Everything on their own.
With the category limited to 10 nominees for the second consecutive year, the battle for the final slots remains contentious. Of the many, many potential nominees, also including long shots like The Woman King to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Ruben Östlund's high-class social satire Triangle of Sadness feels timely, with a self-skewering message of contemporary excess that might guilt Oscar voters into ticking it higher on their ballot rankings, but late guild support points to a recent bump in The Whale's profile, as SAG nominated Brendan Fraser and the virtually precursor-less Hong Chau before the PGA included the film on its nominations roster on a preferential ballot voting system (the same as the Academy's).
But, BAFTA — the final major precursor to announce before the Oscar nominations — changed the game, with 14 overall nominations for Edward Berger's historical war epic All Quiet on the Western Front. BAFTA announced after Oscar voting closed, but both groups share membership and voting sensibilities (even though BAFTA's nominees are partially determined by small category juries), so expect the Netflix film to squeeze in alongside Women Talking and Babylon (both of which scored SAG ensemble nominations and are popular enough with actors to sneak in here, too).
It's difficult to believe that there's an "overdue" narrative surrounding three-time Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg — perhaps the most famous and successful filmmaker alive — this season, almost as difficult as it is to accept that the Academy has only recognized him, well, three times for his illustrious career. Rarely has his position felt more assured than it does for his work on The Fabelmans, a self-reflective semi-autobiographical tale about his formative years as a young man. While the Academy's directing set typically nominates a majority of filmmakers behind Best Picture nominees, it's not uncommon for them to go rogue, honoring the unexpected international or art house contender as well (think David Lynch for Mulholland Drive or Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War). This year, the DGA threw a wrench into the machine by skipping James Cameron for Joseph Kosinski (Top Gun: Maverick), and while it didn't appear that the Academy would do the same, the BAFTA nominations threw the race into chaos when Cameron and Spielberg missed the British group's longlists and, ultimately, a nomination slot.
With 14 overall BAFTA nods, Edward Berger's All Quiet on the Western Front has become an international hit that's too big of an achievement for the director's branch to ignore, even if it was at the expense of the voices responsible for films with more commercial heat, like Cameron. Field and McDonagh have both risen in recent weeks thanks to support from the Golden Globes (Banshees won three statuettes) and SAG (Banshees tied Everything Everywhere for the most overall nominations, with five), but Spielberg's aforementioned "overdue" narrative might've shifted to fatigue at this point, as the Daniels earned a celebrated victory at the Critics Choice Awards and received nods from both the DGA and BAFTA — something Spielberg can't claim.
Typically, Best Actor carries heavyweight contenders primarily lifted from Best Picture contenders. This year, only two of my predicted nominees are likely to appear elsewhere in the Academy's top competitive category. The Banshees of Inisherin star Colin Farrell has the track record of a frontrunner, hitting virtually every major precursor so far (beginning at Venice, where he won the Volpi Cup). Austin Butler also checks all the right boxes (and accepted his Golden Globe on national TV, giving a spirited speech that won him major points) for his portrayal of a real-life entertainment legend in Baz Luhrmann's Elvis biopic.
Projecting who will round out the category is trickier. Yes, Brendan Fraser (The Whale) has earned career-best recognition for his transformative work as a 600-pound recluse in Darren Aronofsky's drama, but the film itself fell flat with the industry at the end of 2022 — that is, until the PGA lifted it back into the conversation with a nomination. It could also be that Fraser's nostalgia train picked up steam too fast, too early, and the industry has since coalesced around other contenders. As we saw with Glenn Close and The Wife, the industry's feeling about a movie matters when it comes to casting ballots, and that could hurt Fraser in the end.
Sorry to this category of fabulous women, but the Best Actress race is currently — and has long been — a tight matchup between Cate Blanchett (TÁR) and Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once). Statistically, they're almost deadlocked on the precursor front for their respective work in major Best Picture contenders (most of this year's contending ladies appear in likely top-tier nominees), though Blanchett's victory at Venice gives her a razor-thin edge for now. Still, Everything Everywhere is picking up major heat, and Yeoh could soon overtake Blanchett — especially after SAG announced its list of nods, which included the sci-fi hit's cast among the ensemble honorees.
Likely to miss here is Michelle Williams, who began the race as a front-running contender for her performance in The Fabelmans, though she's since been ignored by both SAG and BAFTA — key groups that share huge crossover membership with the Academy. The decision to campaign her in the crowded leading category is likely to blame, here, as Williams has earned rave reviews for her work as a dramatized version of Spielberg's mother, but so, too, did Ana de Armas (Blonde) and Danielle Deadwyler (Till), both of whom were recognized by the same groups that snubbed Williams in films that, outside of their work, have little traction elsewhere in the race.
Best Supporting Actor
It took nearly four decades, but Goonies and Indiana Jones actor Ke Huy Quan bided his time, taking a lengthy break from the screen to return at, well, the right time to score his first Oscar nomination. Praise for the beloved actor has yet to subside since Everything Everywhere debuted in the first half of 2022. If he secures a nod (all report card stats suggest as much), his journey from the film's March release through to the 95th Academy Awards will have been a one-year affair, and that's the kind of passion that doesn't just stop at a nomination. A last-minute surge for Eddie Redmayne (a SAG and BAFTA nominee) has also allowed him to creep back into the mix for his quietly unnerving performance in the criminally underrated Good Nurse.
Best Supporting Actress
Angela Bassett, the scene-stealing heart and soul of Marvel's blockbuster sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, has overcome statistics to become the rare acting contender from a global tentpole that captured more than just audience dollars. Bassett's campaign is in good shape as long as she continues to give rousing speeches at subsequent awards shows (her Golden Globes acceptance was incredible). Still, Jamie Lee Curtis has never been nominated for an Oscar. It might take a moment for that to sink in, but precursor voters have wasted no time bolstering the actress' bid for her debut nod for Everything Everything Everywhere All at Once, so there's still considerable passion pushing her along, too.
Rounding out the category are Curtis' Everything costar Stephanie Hsu (who should get in thanks to a wave of support for the overall project) and Hong Chau, who began the race in a precarious place with little precursor traction before rising steadily over the last month thanks to nominations from SAG and BAFTA.
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