Prior to the start of the fall festival season in September, I laid out my Oscar predictions, with another update just prior to the nominations in January. I have never flinched on some (Hello, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”), while I have been less-than-accurate about others (R.I.P. “The Son” and “Empire of Light”). The time has finally come to lock in what I think will happen on Oscar night.
Once again, I am omitting certain categories from my predictions here, as I did not attempt predictions for them at the start of the season. Those include Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, Animated Short, Live Action Short and Original Song.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Simply put, “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” has won at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice, BAFTA, Annies… you get the picture. It will surely close the deal.
Winner: “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” (Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson, Gary Ungar, Alex Bulkley)
As much as some have tried to rationalize away from this inevitability, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” finished the first half of 2022 as the best film of the year in the eyes of many, and I predicted it to win Best Picture in September before the fall festival circuit even started. It has maintained a strong narrative in the likes of Director, Original Screenplay and multiple acting categories, all of which have manifested in resounding wins across Golden Globes, Critics Choice, DGA and SAG. Outside of getting blindsided by the love for “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “The Banshees of Inisherin” at BAFTA, it has been smooth sailing and should culminate in a tidy package of Oscar wins and one of the cleanest Best Picture wins in recent memory.
Winner: “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (Jonathan Wang, Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert)
At the start of the year, everyone and their mother was under the impression that Spielberg (“The Fabelmans”) finally tackling the story of his childhood would lead to his third win in this category. While other names, such as Sarah Polley (“Women Talking”) and Park Chan-wook (“Decision to Leave”), floated in and out of the winning conversation, it ended up being the Daniels Kwan and Scheinert who cut through every other narrative with the overwhelming love for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Spielberg managed to get his third Golden Globe but has not picked up any other major awards, and the Daniels win at the DGA looks to be decisive.
Winner: Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
So far, it’s an even split between Austin Butler (“Elvis”) and Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”) in terms of televised award shows, with momentum shifting back and forth along the way. Butler started with a win at the Golden Globes, Fraser followed with Critics Choice, then Butler won at BAFTA, and Fraser got the final word with a somewhat surprise win at SAG. Butler, however, still has a couple ace-in-the-hole stats in his favor. In the last 30 years, only five Best Actor winners have come from films not nominated for Best Picture, with the most-recent being Jeff Bridges (“Crazy Heart”) in 2010. “Elvis” also has the benefit of being a biopic, which Academy voters tend to gravitate toward. In fact, three of the last five Best Actor wins were for playing real people. I have been high on Butler all year and won’t give into cold feet now.
Winner: Austin Butler (“Elvis”)
Anyone have any fingernails left? We have an unstoppable force in the shape of first-time nominee Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) meeting an immovable object in the form of two-time winner Cate Blanchett (“TÁR”). They shared virtually every critics group award, before splitting the Golden Globes for Best Actress. Blanchett then took wins at Critics Choice and BAFTA before Yeoh got the final word, winning two statues for Actress and Ensemble at SAG. Where does that leave us? Well, Yeoh has the momentum and is the face of the soon-to-be Best Picture winner. On the other hand, the Oscars have given this award to exactly one non-white performer in 94 years, and only one Best Picture winner in the last 30 years has won multiple acting awards. Blanchett has the stronger precursors and overall record with the Academy, plus “TÁR” over-performed with its nominations, so it’s hard to believe they would let it go home empty-handed.
Winner: Cate Blanchett (“TÁR”)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
There is not a whole lot to say here. With the exception of a shock win for Barry Keoghan at BAFTA, Ke Huy Quan has swept through with wins from the very first critics groups all the way to becoming an industry darling with victory at SAG. This win might be the safest bet for a standing ovation on Oscar night.
Winner: Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
For all the chaos in this category this season, the outcome here feels almost deceptively simple. Initially, Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”) shocked everyone by winning the Golden Globe and Critics Choice, which put her in pole position for the Oscar. In the industry awards, however, she was derailed by Kerry Condon (“The Banshees of Inisherin”) at BAFTA and Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”) at SAG. Curtis’ performance is arguably the weakest of the entire category, but she might ride the “Everything Everywhere” wave to the first win of her 45+ year career. Still, if “Banshees” is to avoid going home empty-handed, this is its best shot. An intriguing trend to note: Since 2015, the Oscar for Supporting Actress has stood as the only Oscar won by the respective film in each year. Condon’s role has the right balance of humor, pathos and screen-time to edge out the field.
Winner: Kerry Condon (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
This category is yet another that started out seemingly obvious before fluctuating multiple directions, only to land right back where it started. Polley winning her first Oscar seemed a no-brainer, especially if “Women Talking” was to remain in the Best Picture mix. As the fall festivals passed, however, “All Quiet on the Western Front” has only grown in stature. “Women Talking” took the WGA, although “All Quiet” was ineligible. “All Quiet” took the BAFTA, where “Women Talking” wasn’t even nominated. This could really go either way, but my gut tells me this is where “Women Talking” gets a bone thrown to it.
Winner: “Women Talking” (Sarah Polley )
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Poor Martin McDonagh can’t catch a break. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” seemed like a sure thing to get him at least one Oscar, be it for Original Screenplay or Best Picture. It ended up losing the former to the pop-culture juggernaut “Get Out,” and the latter went to “The Shape of Water.” This time around, he is up for the same two categories, plus Director, yet all three are poised to go to “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Despite “The Banshees of Inisherin” winning screenplay at the Golden Globes and BAFTA, the overwhelming love for “Everything Everywhere” not materializing in a win for its audacious script would be a shock. It took Critics Choice and WGA, although “Banshees” was ineligible for the guild award. Something tells me his darkly comic sensibilities will always lean a little too divisive for the Academy. But hey, at least McDonagh will always have his Oscar for Live-Action Short…
Winner: “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert)
As the critics circle awards began to come out, it quickly – and somewhat surprisingly – became clear that “Top Gun: Maverick” was the frontrunner. It followed those precursors with noms at ASC and BAFTA, as well as a win at Critics Choice… just to end up snubbed on Oscar morning. While that shocker seemed to leave the race wide open, the void was quickly filled by “All Quiet on the Western Front,” which has proven to be a late-breaking juggernaut and taken wins at BSC and BAFTA. Don’t rule out “Elvis” as a spoiler, though. Cinematographer Mandy Walker just became the first woman to ever win at ASC and could be the first to win the Oscar. Still, “All Quiet” has two head-to-head wins, and “Elvis” is already poised to win a few other categories.
Winner: “All Quiet on the Western Front” (James Friend)
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
The bombast that makes the “Babylon” score one of the year’s most memorable could be the double-edged sword that cuts it short of winning the Oscar. One can argue the over-the-top nature of the film prevented it from gaining any sort of real traction this awards season, with it missing out on so many nominations and wins that felt like no-brainers earlier in the year. Justin Hurwitz still won Golden Globes and Critics Choice but has been blanked by industry bodies. With no widespread support for “Babylon” outside of Production Design, deferring to a Best Picture nominee here is always a safe bet. “All Quiet on the Western Front” has already taken the BAFTA, and the Brits have aligned with the Oscars eight out of the last 10 years in this category.
Winner: “All Quiet on the Western Front” (Volker Bertelmann)
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
“Babylon” seemed like the odds-on favorite to win this category from the start of the year, although it hasn’t been for lack of competition. Catherin Martin, a two-time Oscar winner in this category, stole the show in the first half of the year with her work on “Elvis.” Still, the work of production designer Florencia Martin and set decorator Anthony Carlino on “Babylon” lived up to the hype and is likely to follow in the footsteps of recent period Hollywood winners, such as “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” in 2020 and “Mank” in 2021. The film already has precursor wins at Critics Choice, Art Directors Guild and BAFTA to back it up.
Winner: “Babylon” (Florencia Martin, Anthony Carlino)
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
For most of its history, this category has been a spotlight for the best and boldest in genre filmmaking. While that is still the case for nominees, the winners here In recent times have leaned more into the work that goes into crafting Oscar-winning performances. See: “The Iron Lady” in 2012, “Les Misérables” in 2013, “Dallas Buyers Club” in 2014, “Darkest Hour” in 2018 and “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” just last year. Not coincidentally, this category and Best Actor this year has come down to “Elvis” and “The Whale.” The former is clearly more beloved within the Academy, receiving 8 nominations. As far as precursors are concerned, “The Whale” got a nice win for Special Make-Up Effects at the guild, but “Elvis” nabbed two guild awards of its own, plus Critics Choice and BAFTA – the latter has matched with the Academy in seven of the last 10 years.
Winner: “Elvis” (Mark Coulier, Jason Baird, Aldo Signoretti)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
For the majority of this season, this category has felt like a showdown between two legends: three-time nominee and two-time winner Catherine Martin (“Elvis”) and three-time nominee and winner Ruth E. Carter (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”). Carter’s fourth nomination comes for the sequel to the film she won for in 2019, while Martin’s is her fourth nomination via collaboration with partner Baz Luhrmann. Carter took Critics Choice, and Martin took BAFTA, but the head-to-head win for “Everything Everywhere All at Once” over “Wakanda Forever” at the Costume Designers Guild Awards indicates that the latter could be losing some momentum. Other than the hair and make-up work on Austin Butler, the incredible number of looks and painstaking recreations in “Elvis” were the most-effective asset in bringing the icon to life.
Winner: “Elvis” (Catherine Martin)
Since “Top Gun: Maverick” released in May and took the world by storm, the thunderous sound design has been the defining technical element. From IMAX to Dolby to its home release on 4K UHD, the incredible mix has never wavered and only provides more to appreciate on repeat viewings. “The Batman” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” stand toe-to-toe in that department, and Sound was part of the BAFTA haul for “All Quiet on the Western Front,” but “Top Gun” has the guild wins to back it up and is arguably the strongest contender in Film Editing – a category that has gone hand-in-hand with Oscar wins for Sound nine years running.
WINNER: “Top Gun: Maverick” (Mark Weingarten, James H. Mather, Al Nelson, Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor)
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
What else is there to say? From the moment an “Avatar” sequel was announced in 2010, the expectation was for this film to sweep through and win every VFX award possible. Even with a decade of anticipation, James Cameron’s team still managed to exceed every expectation and delivered what is quite possibly the greatest display of visual effects to date. “Avatar: The Way of Water” won a record-breaking nine Visual Effects Society awards to prove it.
WINNER: “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Richard Baneham, Walter Garcia, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, JD Schwalm)
BEST FILM EDITING
More than any other category, this might just be a coin toss. “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has been incredibly strong, winning at Critics Choice, BAFTA and ACE. “Top Gun: Maverick” also won at ACE, albeit in a separate category. It still has some factors on its side, however, with the biggest being the ongoing connection between the Sound category and this one. For nine years running, the winner here has also won Sound (or Sound Editing/Sound Mixing, prior to the consolidation). Hell, even just being nominated in a sound category has been a prerequisite, with the last winner of this category without a sound nomination being “The Departed” in 2007. “Everything Everywhere” has every reason to win, but I went on record saying “Top Gun” would win after I saw it last May, and I won’t back off it now.
Winner: “Top Gun: Maverick” (Eddie Hamilton)
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE
In some ways, the simplicity of this win is disappointing. At the start of the season, we had new films from Park Chan-wook and Hirokazu Kore-eda in the mix, and “RRR” was a Tollywood revelation for many American cinephiles. Despite India overlooking the latter as its Oscar representative, it managed a win in this category at Critics Choice, and “Argentina, 1985” pulled off a shocker at the Golden Globes. While the industry awards prospects of “RRR” and Park’s “Decision to Leave” quickly faded away, “All Quiet on the Western Front” rose to the top with massive hauls of nominations and wins at BAFTA.
Winner: “All Quiet on the Western Front” (Germany)
The 95th Academy Awards air Sunday, March 12 on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.
Johnny Sobczak is an entertainment journalist and graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in Media and Journalism and minored in Global Cinema. Johnny is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association and has been with Inside the Film Room since August 2019. He was named Senior Writer in January 2020 and co-hosts the Inside the Film Room podcast with Zach Goins. Johnny spends his days job-hunting, watching films and obsessing over every new detail of Denis Villeneuve's "Dune."