Awards correspondent Karger's latest ranked lists show some rapid movement after the November debuts of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and She Said.
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As the fall season continues, several top contenders are becoming more widely seen by industry people and regular audiences alike. Now that we're just a few weeks away from the first crop of critics awards and nominations, here are my current ranked lists of the top 12 contenders in each of the top six categories.

Best Picture

This year's mandated 10-nominee line-up means that films of all different budgets and genres should make it into the race. The strong early response to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever moves it up a couple notches in my rankings. Right now I'd say the impressive dramas The Woman King and She Said are just outside of these 12 contenders.

  1. The Fabelmans
  2. The Banshees of Inisherin
  3. Everything Everywhere All At Once
  4. TÁR
  5. Women Talking
  6. Babylon
  7. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
  8. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
  9. Top Gun: Maverick
  10. Empire of Light
  11. Avatar: The Way of Water
  12. Elvis
Black Panther Wakanda Forever
'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever'
| Credit: Marvel Studios

Best Director

Steven Spielberg remains the early favorite for his very personal drama, The Fabelmans. Women Talking's Sarah Polley, meanwhile, is the best shot against an all-male roster in this category.

  1. Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
  2. Todd Field, TÁR
  3. Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
  4. Daniel Scheinert & Dan Kwan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
  5. Rian Johnson, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
  6. Sarah Polley, Women Talking
  7. Sam Mendes, Empire of Light
  8. James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water
  9. Damien Chazelle, Babylon
  10. Baz Luhrmann, Elvis

Best Actor

This category still strikes me as a race between two respected veteran actors who have never been nominated: Brendan Fraser and Colin Farrell. Farrell sits at the top of my rankings because I anticipate a more favorable overall response to The Banshees of Inisherin. Will Smith remains the wild card for his late entry, Emancipation. He's an outside contender but his still-controversial persona makes him a long shot at best.

  1. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
  2. Brendan Fraser, The Whale
  3. Austin Butler, Elvis
  4. Hugh Jackman, The Son
  5. Gabriel LaBelle, The Fabelmans
  6. Jeremy Pope, The Inspection
  7. Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick
  8. Adam Sandler, Hustle
  9. Bill Nighy, Living
  10. Daniel Craig, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell in 'The Banshees of Inisherin'
| Credit: Searchlight Pictures

Best Actress

The top five here seem impenetrable right now, with the possible exception of The Woman King's Viola Davis, although I don't see who she could bump out. Danielle Deadwyler should see her profile rise as more people see her remarkable performance in Till. I'd love to see more attention, meanwhile, for the fabulous Mia Goth from Pearl.

  1. Cate Blanchett, TÁR
  2. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once
  3. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans
  4. Danielle Deadwyler, Till
  5. Olivia Colman, Empire of Light
  6. Viola Davis, The Woman King
  7. Jennifer Lawrence, Causeway
  8. Mia Goth, Pearl
  9. Emma Thompson, Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
  10. Ana de Armas, Blonde

Best Supporting Actor

The supporting races seem much tougher to predict this year. Will films like The Fabelmans and The Banshees of Inisherin score double nods here? It very well could happen.

  1. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin
  2. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
  3. Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans
  4. Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin
  5. Ben Whishaw, Women Talking
  6. Paul Dano, The Fabelmans
  7. Anthony Hopkins, Armageddon Time
  8. Eddie Redmayne, The Good Nurse
  9. Jeremy Strong, Armageddon Time
  10. Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway
SHE SAID
Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan in 'She Said'
| Credit: JoJo Whilden/Universal Pictures

Best Supporting Actress

Carey Mulligan's decision to go supporting for She Said provides a shake-up in this category. Meanwhile, the rising buzz for Everything Everywhere All at Once bumps Jamie Lee Curtis up into the top five in my rankings.

  1. Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin
  2. Jessie Buckley, Women Talking
  3. Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once
  4. Claire Foy, Women Talking
  5. Carey Mulligan, She Said
  6. Janelle Monae, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
  7. Nina Hoss, TÁR
  8. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once 
  9. Laura Dern, The Son
  10. Thuso Mbedu, The Woman King

Known in the FYC industry for his expert Oscars predictions, Awards correspondent Dave Karger (who spent 17 years on staff at EW, writing over 50 cover stories) has made more than 200 live appearances on NBC's Today to talk movies and awards, and has co-hosted ABC's Live From the Red Carpet on Oscar night. Watch this space for his regularly updated rankings within the major categories.

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