2023 Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win and Should Win?

Although Best Picture is the biggest lock I’ve seen in a decade, this weekend’s Oscars are toss-ups in several key categories – from Best Actor and Actress, to Best Editing and Cinematography.

Last year, I got nearly all of my predictions correct (save for an admittedly pot-stirring prediction of a Kristen Stewart win). This year, I expect my ballot to fare much worse. That’s for a couple of reasons.

First, the wins have been all over the place this year — and aside from EEAAO and The Daniels, no one has built any unopposed momentum in their respective categories. I expect many of these races to come down to the wire.

Second, this was one of the worst years I’ve seen for movies in a while. I feel like the debates over who should and will win are much less passionate for this year’s races compared to the past as, frankly, this is not the best that Hollywood’s had to offer in recent memory.

So, I’m heading into Sunday’s ceremony with a strange mix of excitement about what could happen and indifference over what will.

Here’s hoping 2023 will deliver a better slate of movies.

Oh well. On with the predictions!

Side Note: I recorded some Oscar predictions for my podcast, The Old Kids Movies on February 27th, and some of my predictions have changed since then. The predictions in this article reflect my most accurate predictions.

Side Side Note: This is my 11th prediction write-up! I thought it would be fun to see how I did in the last decade, so I included my win rate for each of these eight major categories in the last ten years. Collectively, I incorrectly predicted the winner 21 out of 80 times, giving my predictions an overall accuracy rate of 73.75%. Take that as you will!

Best Picture

Predicted Winner: Everything Everywhere All at Once

AJ’s Best Picture Winner Prediction Success Rate: 40%

The movie with butt plugs, dildos, and hot dog fingers is going to win Best Picture – and it’s not even close.

I wish Banshees had won the BAFTA or Top Gun won the PGA so I could offer a hot take and say one of them would win Best Picture. They didn’t.

Everything Everywhere has been an unstoppable force in this race. Seemingly, its only challenger is All Quiet on the Western Front – a technical jaw-dropper that won the BAFTA for Best Picture, but no other industry top prizes.

Those all went to Everything Everywhere. The DGA. The WGA. The PGA. The SAG.

It’s over.

I’ll just come out and say it. I liked Everything Everywhere, but it wasn’t in my Top 10 of the year, and it’s not my favorite of the nominees. I think it gets lost in its ambition, and while it’s an understatement to say this movie is an achievement, I didn’t find it to be as funny or coherent as many others seem did. If it wins for Editing and Directing, I’ll understand, but as a whole, I don’t think this was the best movie of these nominees – much less the year.

To me, this award belongs to Banshees, with Top Gun close behind.

Funnily enough, I didn’t love the last Martin McDonagh movie, nor the first Top Gun. But these movies are the two nominees I’ve seen more than once and loved both times. Banshees is a timeless tale that I know I’ll revisit throughout my life and appreciate with a new perspective based on when I watch. Top Gun saved theaters and was a thrill-ride of a spectacle. Keep making movies, Tom.

Now, let’s dive into the other nominees. Tár, All Quiet, and once-frontrunner The Fabelmans weren’t entirely for me, though I know they have their lovers. I think each could have benefitted from a more focused and tighter approach, but still have plenty to appreciate. Elvis was a trip, but despite its love in the craft categories, I don’t see it pulling out a win, as its only above-the-line awards potential is going solely to Austin Butler.

As much as I would love to see Avatar or Triangle of Sadness get the win here (both of which were in my top 10 of the year), they seem to be darlings of specific sects of the Academy (visual effects and the international cohort, respectively). There isn’t enough universal appeal in The Academy for these projects to get them high enough on enough voters’ preferential ballots.

Oh, and Women Talking was boring. They nominated the wrong female-driven ensemble this year.

AJ’s Rankings (AKA my personal preferences) 

  1. The Banshees of Inisherin
  2. Top Gun: Maverick
  3. Avatar: The Way of Water
  4. Triangle of Sadness
  5. Everything Everywhere All at Once
  6. Elvis
  7. The Fabelmans
  8. All Quiet on the Western Front
  9. Tár
  10. Women Talking

Should Have Been Nominated

RRR, The Northman, She Said

Best Director

Predicted Winner: The Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once

AJ’s Best Director Winner Prediction Success Rate: 70%

This is not the last time I’ll be predicting Everything Everywhere, and while I’m confident the Daniels will win, it’s one of my least secure EEAAO predictions of the night. Sentimentality for Spielberg might get him on the stage, but the Daniels’ work is so impressively bizarre that it’s hard to ignore the opportunity to reward the duo.

While EEAAO didn’t entirely do it for me, I fully acknowledge how easily this movie could have turned into a total mess – and the baseline fact that this movie wasn’t a total mess should be enough to give them the trophy.

My vote would go to Martin McDonagh, for sort of the opposite reason of why people seem to love Everything Everywhere. Both that and Banshees are utterly unbelievable premises, and while EEAAO embraces its absurdity, McDonagh effectively rejects it and makes Banshees so impeccably grounded that it never gets close to absurd in my eyes — although in theory, it should. To me, that’s more of an accomplishment.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
  2. The Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once
  3. Ostlund, Triangle of Sadness
  4. Spielberg, The Fabelmans
  5. Fields, Tár

Should Have Been Nominated

Rajamouli, RRR; Kosinski, Top Gun: Maverick; Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water

Best Actress 

Predicted Winner: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once

AJ’s Best Actress Winner Prediction Success Rate: 70%

Ya know? If Cate Blanchett hadn’t used her acceptance speech time to tell people not to vote for her, she’d win handily. That — in conjunction with Michelle Yeoh racking up key wins and building a growing base of cheerleaders for her — should result in yet another win for EEAAO.

But let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment — and not to take away anything from Michelle, but Cate Blanchett is literally in her own universe in this category. Her performance is arguably her best work, and if any objectivity existed in the Academy, she would win.

And she still might!

Speaking of objectivity, Andrea Riseborough also belongs on this list for To Leslie. Even though very few actually saw her movie, those who did — myself included — recognize how moving and effective her performance was.

As a Michelle Williams fan, I can’t say I was vibing with what she was doing in The Fabelmans, and I would have loved to have seen someone like Mia Goth sneak in here for Pearl — or even the young, scene-stealing Frankie Corrio from Aftersun.

As for Ana de Armas…I’m just stunned that Blonde is an Oscar nominee. Good performance, though.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Cate Blanchett, Tár
  2. Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie
  3. Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once
  4. Ana de Armas, Blonde
  5. Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans

Should Have Been Nominated

Frankie Corrio, Aftersun; Mia Goth, Pearl; Margot Robbie, Babylon

Best Actor

Predicted Winner: Brendan Fraser, The Whale

AJ’s Best Actor Winner Prediction Success Rate: 80%

One of the most exciting aspects of this year’s race is just how up-in-the-air 3/4 of the acting races are — including Best Actor. Austin, Brendan, and Colin have all won major televised awards and have legitimate claims to the gold.

Many consider Austin to be the frontrunner, but I have my doubts as to his ability to rally the votes for a genuine breakout performance. Aside from a small role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Butler was most known for his 10-episode stint on “Zoey 101.” Unlike Best Actress, there seems to be a connotation of having to “earn” Best Actor. Even when Eddie Redmayne beat Michael Keaton in 2015, Eddie was an established actor, having appeared prominently in Oscar-nominated movies like My Week with Marilyn and Les Mis.

Austin doesn’t really have that cred — and Brendan has a career and personal comeback story propelling him to potential victory.

However, reading some Oscar voters’ thoughts (and noticing that The Whale missed out on key Picture and Screenplay nominations), it seems like there’s some notable disdain for The Whale. This could hurt Brendan’s chances, but I still think he’ll get it. I’m also seeing some last-minute surge potential for Colin, but I don’t know if it’ll be enough — especially with Brendan’s SAG win and speech being fresh on voters’ minds.

In short, it’s a three-way tossup, and I’m slightly leaning Fraser.

Looking at the other nods, Living was a small film, and I see Bill’s nomination as more of a career tribute for a fine performance. Mescal was magnetic in Aftersun, but with no other nominations to the film’s name, this is likely The Academy’s way of acknowledging that this is only the beginning for the rising star.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Brendan Fraser, The Whale
  2. Austin Butler, Elvis
  3. Paul Mescal, Aftersun
  4. Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
  5. Bill Nighy, Living

Should Have Been Nominated

Eden Dambrine, Close; Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick

Best Supporting Actress 

Predicted Winner: Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once

AJ’s Best Supporting Actress Winner Prediction Success Rate: 80%

Well, that was a nice break from predicting an Everything Everywhere All at Once win. Anyways, back to it.

I walked out of this movie a year ago with conflicted feelings about everything except Jamie Lee Curtis. I’ve been stumping for her Oscar win for 12 months and I refuse to stop this close to the finish line – especially with that SAG win in the bag.

This year’s race reminds me a lot of the 2015 Best Supporting Actor race, with wins all over the place but an expected win for Sylvester Stallone in Creed. The reason why? Stallone had won the Critics’ Choice and the Golden Globe. However, he ultimately lost to Mark Rylance, and the big indicator of that result was the fact that Stallone missed out on wins at the BAFTAs and the SAG.

This year, Angela Basset — unlike Sly — at least was nominated at those two industry awards, but she didn’t win. Prognosticators still list her as the frontrunner, but without those key wins from her peers (only critics’ circles), I fail to believe Basset will win an Oscar for a Marvel movie and limited screen time.

Stephanie Hsu is a welcomed addition to this list, and I commend Kerry’s grounded performance in Banshees for helping make the work more believable. I quite liked Hong Chau’s work in The Whale, but I don’t necessarily see it as one of the five best supporting female works of the year.

Ultimately, this win will come down to Angela, Jamie Lee, or Kerry. I lean Jamie Lee as a result of getting swept up in the the EEAAO love, but it’s anyone’s guess.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once
  2. Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once
  3. Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin
  4. Hong Chau, The Whale
  5. Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Should Have Been Nominated

Dolly de Leon, Triangle of Sadness; Carey Mulligan, She Said

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Winner: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once

AJ’s Best Supporting Actor Winner Prediction Success Rate: 90%

The BAFTA loss is the only hiccup on Ke Huy’s road to redemption. I’m elated for this man and can’t wait to see what’s next in his career. His seamless transitions from one universe’s version of his character to the next with nothing but a snap of the neck and change of facial expression is essential to EEAAO’s success, and everything from his martial arts to his endearing tone in the film are wholly Oscar-worthy.

That said…I was ecstatic to see Barry Keoghan on the list of nominees, and was so proud of him for his victory at the BAFTAs. Any other year, he’d be my number one. For now, the nomination is his win.

Looking at who’s left on the list, Gleeson was overshadowed by his colleague in this same category, Hirsch shouldn’t be here, and while I’m glad his nomination resulted in me watching the under-seen Causeway, I don’t think Brian Tyree Henry needed to be here, either.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
  2. Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin
  3. Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin
  4. Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans
  5. Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway

Should Have Been Nominated

Mark Rylance, Bones and All

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Winer: All Quiet on the Western Front

AJ’s Best Adapted Screenplay Winner Prediction Success Rate: 70%

This is a last-minute switch from my initial prediction of Women Talking.

Again, I don’t like Women Talking, and for a movie that’s so dialogue-driven, the screenplay needs to be awesome. I just don’t think it is. It’s still a strong contender to win, but the fizzling Women Talking support is causing me to doubt its chances.

Conversely, All Quiet has been picking up steam. It’s unlikely to win Best Picture, so this is its only chance to win an above-the-line award. I don’t think this screenplay is that strong, but then again, I think that about every screenplay in this category.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Glass Onion
  2. Top Gun: Maverick
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front
  4. Living
  5. Women Talking

Should Have Been Nominated

The Whale, She Said, The Northman

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Winner: The Banshees of Inisherin

AJ’s Best Original Screenplay Winner Prediction Success Rate: 90%

This is a close one, and my prediction is partially based on me trying to will this win into existence.

I don’t think The Academy will let Banshees go home empty-handed, and this win is its best bet. It all comes down to whether voters will put more emphasis on “Original” or “Screenplay.” If it’s “Screenplay,” it’s Banshees for its humor, dialogue, tone, and consistency.

If voters lean into the “Original” aspect of the award, it’s tough to argue with EEAAO here. If the wave of love for Everything is strong enough, a win here could still happen.

Triangle of Sadness‘s nomination in this category brings me great joy, as its use of dialogue and characters is genius even if the themes of the movie aren’t entirely unique. I think The Fabelmans and Tár are the least likely to win this category, and that’s fine by me.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. The Banshees of Inisherin
  2. Triangle of Sadness
  3. Everything Everywhere All at Once
  4. The Fabelmans
  5. Tár

Should Have Been Nominated

Barbarian, RRR

And now, the rest of my predictions & preferences.

Best Cinematography

Will Win: All Quiet on the Western Front
Should Win: All Quiet on the Western Front

Best Costume Design

Will Win: Elvis
Should Win: Elvis

Best Film Editing

Will Win: Everything Everywhere All at Once
Should Win: Top Gun: Maverick

Best Makeup

Will Win: The Whale
Should Win: The Batman

Best Production Design

Wil Win: Babylon 
Should Win: All Quiet on the Western Front

Best Song

Will Win: Naatu Naatu, RRR
Should Win: Hold My Hand, Top Gun: Maverick

Best Score

Will Win: Babylon
Should Win: Babylon

Best Sound

Will Win: Top Gun: Maverick
Should Win: Top Gun: Maverick

Best Visual Effects

Will Win: Avatar: The Way of Water
Should Win: Avatar: The Way of Water

Best Animated Feature

Will Win: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Should Win: Turning Red

Best International Film

Will Win: All Quiet on the Western Front
Should Win: Close

Tallied Predictions

Everything Everywhere All At Once: 6 Wins out of 11 Nominations
All Quiet on the Western Front: 3 Wins out of 9 Nominations
Babylon: 2 Wins out of 3 Nominations
The Whale: 2 Wins out of 3 Nominations
The Banshees of Inisherin: 1 Win out of 9 Nominations
Elvis: 1 Win out of 8 Nominations 
Avatar: The Way of Water: 1 Win out of 4 Nominations
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio: 1 Win out of 1 Nomination
RRR: 1 Win out of 1 Nomination

AJ’s Top 10 Movies of 2022

The odd/even cycle of movie year quality continues.

Candidly, I don’t think 2016, 2018, or 2020 (the latter for understandable reasons) offered peak cinema, and 2022 is following that trend. My Top 10 this year is unfortunately one of my weaker ones in recent memory. The good news, I hope, is that if this cycle continues, we’re in for a treat for 2023.

Still, like the even years preceding 2022, I came into the new year with a list of movies I truly enjoyed, and I’m excited to share this list of my top 10 movies of 2022 with you.

10. Violent Night

Christmas movies are so rarely praised for their filmmaking quality. Granted, that’s because many of them aren’t worthy of such praise, but some are. Violent Night is one of them.

A love letter to Die Hard and Home Alone, Violent Night featured a perfectly-cast David Harbour as a disgruntled Santa who finds himself in a man-against-an-army showdown on Christmas Eve protecting a family that mirrors the original Knives Out clan.

This movie is joyous, features grin-induing fight choreography, and will certainly be on my watchlist this coming December.

9. Bullet Train

I didn’t have too much fun at the movies this summer, so by the time Bullet Train hit theaters in August, I was ready for something exactly like it. Unlike Violent Night, I’m not sure when or if I’ll watch this one again — but I had a genuinely fun time watching it. In my opinion, that’s worth something.

With his Oscar-winning charisma and physicality, Brad Pitt charms as he anchors this ensemble-supported movie. Even if it’s not necessarily a rewatchable, it certainly is more than watchable.

8. The Batman

I had to do this movie justice (sorry – my roommate and I quoted that ad nauseam for months).

The Batman breathed new life into an IP that was tired and lacking originality. Most importantly, they nailed the tone here. The darkness of Gotham and Wayne himself worked, helping to create a dreadful and gripping tale of The Caped Crusader. And that end sequence? Terrifying and masterfully done.

7. She Said

Here we have the best journalism movie since 2015’s Spotlight. I’m disappointed that She Said didn’t get the love it deserved at the Oscars (Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, and – yes – Best Picture nominations), but I’m also bummed it didn’t resonate commercially. Hopefully it’ll attract a deserved wider audience when it hits streaming. Its two-hour runtime flew by and I was hooked throughout.

6. Triangle of Sadness

I went into this one with very little knowledge of its premise (except that that scene was eventually coming). Although Triangle of Sadness isn’t exactly saying anything that hasn’t already been said, I appreciated how it said what it was saying.

The writing and these performances — particularly those of Woody and Dolly — are top notch. Dolly’s third-act emergence was my favorite character arc of the year, and although they left her out of Best Supporting Actress, I’m eternally grateful to the Academy for recognizing this masterpiece in three of its above-the-line categories, ensuring it will be seen by more viewers.

5. Avatar: The Way of Water

He’s back!

I missed you, James Cameron. This man is a visual moviemaking master, and to see him essentially remake both Avatar and Titanic in the last act of this film had me on the edge of my seat for a full hour. It takes some time to get to where it’s going, but once we emerge from the whale communication and Neyteri absence in the first stretch, we’re treated to this long-awaited return to what we love about Pandora, movies, and of course, James Cameron.

4. Top Gun: Maverick

Admittedly, I’m strongly indifferent towards the first Top Gun, so my expectations weren’t exactly through the roof for this decades-later sequel.

Boy was I blown away.

I’ve revisited this movie a couple times since seeing it in theaters, and each time, I remain just as moved and entertained as my first outing. My heart races in the first moments as Mav strives to hit Mach 10, and I find myself holding back tears of joy during the landing scene at the end.

The music, sound, cinematography, and acting make Top Gun a true feat. Tom Cruise is equal parts mad man and genius, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

3. The Banshees of Inisherin

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

The worst title, best movie combo award goes to this one. I was skeptical about a movie with a silly title from the man behind Three Billboards – a film I did not like – but Banshees knocked my socks off.

Banshees is just as much a drama as it is a comedy — and one of my friends (Hi Trevor!) aptly noted it could just as easily be classified as a horror movie with its themes of abandonment, isolation, and futility. I’ve watched this one twice, and know it’ll be in semi-regular rotation in my life for some time for its impending stakes, laugh-out-loud comedy, and captivating performances.

2. The Northman

The Northman (2022) - IMDb

Eggers is slowly becoming one of my favorite up-and-coming filmmakers with three completely unique wins under his belt. Honestly — the man just makes good movies.

The Northman gets points for its dedicated production, use of setting, visceral fight sequences, themes, tone, and acting — all of which surface up into one kick-ass epic.

1. RRR

RRR' Poster: Moving At Rapid Pace & A Massive Feast For The Fans ! | Tupaki  English

Another shoutout to my dear friend Trevor, not only for telling me to see this movie, but to see it in theaters.

I feel like if I call this movie bonkers, insane, or outlandish, you may take it the wrong way, so suffice it to say I mean all of those words in the absolute most flattering ways imaginable. RRR left me gobsmacked — kicking myself for thinking I wouldn’t find a single thing enjoyable about a three-hour-long, non-English, Netflix-distributed Indian film.

RRR is simply one of the finest epics I’ve had the joy of viewing. It has everything one loves about escapism, and although its over-the-top nature leaves a bit to be desired, this is far-and-away the best movie from 2022 that I saw.

2022 Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win and Should Win?

Two of the four major categories are completely up in the air this year, and the results of Best Picture could shape the future of The Academy.

Sunday should be a fun one — even if eight categories are egregiously not being announced live.

Still, seven of my ten favorite movies were nominated for Best Picture this year, so I’m eager to see if one of them is able to pull it out. There are also a couple nominees that just didn’t click with me, and naturally, one of them is a front runner.

Anyways, let’s jump right into it.

Best Picture

Predicted Winner: CODA

I can’t believe I’m predicting that a feel-good, formulaic, Apple-distributed movie will win Best Picture, but here we are. 

As a champion of the underdog narrative, I felt more confident with this pick before CODA went on to win Best Screenplay at the BAFTAs and WGA Awards and Best Picture at the PGAs. With its recent steam, CODA has arguably pushed The Power of the Dog into underdog status, which will make for a fun night of intrigue this weekend. 

If CODA wins, I’ll be elated. Not because it was my favorite movie of the year — or even my favorite of the nominees. It’s just that The Power of the Dog represents so much of what is wrong with the Oscars right now. Dog is a slow-burn Western that makes you work immensely hard for a reward that, honestly, isn’t that great. If it’s victorious, it’ll come off as the most condescending pick in a long time. This is the kind of move that filmmakers believe you should like and feel bad about yourself if you don’t. As the show slips in ratings and the prominence of these awards diminishes, this would be a terrible move from the Academy. 

On a rewatch of The Power of the Dog, I’ll admit I became higher on it, but the first time I watched this movie, I hated it. Viscerally. Ironically, once I became warmer to its win potential, its chances took a back seat. 

But let’s talk about the Sundance darling that could — CODA. The more people watch it, the more people love it. It continues to gain traction with every guild win, and it appears that this crowd pleaser might pull it out after all. 

Looking at the other nominees, Drive My Car doesn’t get to where it’s going fast enough, and Licorice Pizza’s episodic approach might be enough to win it Best Screenplay – but not Best Picture. King Richard and Belfast had early fan-favorite momentum that diminished as they become harder to watch, West Side Story has sadly lost all of its noise in these major categories, and Dune’s epic strengths as a sci-fi are likely to lead it to a similar night that Mad Max in 2016 — lots of below-the-line victories, but no Best Picture trophy. 

That’s a shame, too, as Dune would be more-than-deserving of the win. Despite being half of a story, it’s the most “movie” movie of this year’s nominees. Which brings me to the last two contenders, which arguably have the worst chance of winning — Don’t Look Up and Nightmare Alley. My third and first favorite movies of the year, respectively, I’m praying one of their names is in the envelope on Sunday. But it’s not going to happen. 

And that’s a bummer. 

Don’t Look Up is a hysterical, poignant screenplay, executed with great talent by its cast and director. It’s firmly my favorite Adam McKay film. Nightmare Alley, on the other hand, owns its darkness and feels as though Del Toro made a movie from the 1940s today (which — to be fair — he did). 

AJ’s Rankings (AKA my personal preferences) 

  1. Nightmare Alley
  2. Don’t Look Up
  3. Dune
  4. West Side Story
  5. CODA
  6. Belfast
  7. King Richard
  8. Licorice Pizza
  9. The Power of the Dog
  10. Drive My Car

Should Have Been Nominated

A Quiet Place Part II, Red Rocket, Spider-Man: No Way Home

Best Director

Predicted Winner: Campion, The Power of the Dog

The tide has shifted so dramatically that Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog may walk away with just one award on Sunday. The visual world she built and helped to realize through her actors’ performances is a feat, no doubt. Personally, I’d love to see a Spielberg win for proving his naysayers wrong and crafting a modern, exciting, and differentiated take on a previous Best Picture winner. 

Either way, whoever walks away with the award on Sunday — with the exception of Hamaguchi — will be seen largely as a career acknowledgement. Spielberg has gone Oscarless since the 90s, as has Campion — who herself has never won a Best Director Oscar. Despite being celebrated filmmakers for decades, PTA and Branagh have also never won. But The Academy will likely save their praise for one of those two in the Original Screenplay category.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Spielberg, West Side Story
  2. Campion, The Power of the Dog
  3. Branagh, Belfast
  4. Anderson, Licorice Pizza
  5. Hamaguchi, Drive My Car

Should Have Been Nominated

Del Toro, Nightmare Alley; McKay, Don’t Look Up; Villeneuve, Dune; Baker, Red Rocket

Best Actress 

Predicted Winner: Kristen Stewart, Spencer

I literally have no idea what will happen in this category. 

There’s very little overlap between SAG, the Globes, the BAFTAs, and the Critics’ Choice here, and if anyone is benefiting from this chaos, it’s Jessica Chastain — a phenomenal, yet-unrecognized actress who might just be given the “here you go” award in a year where the stakes are relatively low. Three of her competitors are former winners, and while they each have a legitimate chance, I’m making my ballsy bet this year in Best Actress and predicting Kristen Stewart. 

An early frontrunner who lost her buzz after losing out on some key nominations, Kristen has as good a shot as anyone on Sunday. In a category with some uncertainty, I wouldn’t be shocked if voters resort to the initial favorite and get Stewart a win. Plus, let’s be honest — was Tammy Faye even that good? We’ve seen Best Actresses for mediocre movies before, but my gut is telling me this year just won’t be Chastain’s.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Kristen Stewart, Spencer
  2. Jessica Chastain, The Eyes of Tammy Faye
  3. Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter
  4. Nicole Kidman, Being the Ricardos
    Also Nominated: Penelope Cruz, Parallel Mothers

Should Have Been Nominated

Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza; Jennifer Lawrence, Don’t Look Up; Emilia Jones, CODA

Best Actor

Predicted Winner: Will Smith, King Richard

Is a miraculous, unprecedented win for Andrew Garfield brewing? Possibly, but highly unlikely. Will Smith has been the odds-on favorite since early autumn, and every time he gives an acceptance speech, he gets one step closer to the Oscars stage. 

While it’ll be nice to see Smith accept an award and see his peers legitimize his talent, I can’t help feel like this is the gimmie award of the night. Smith’s performance was good, but to call it the best leading male one of the year wouldn’t be accurate. In my eyes, that honor would go to Benedict Cumberbatch. Even though the movie wasn’t my favorite, his performance was its biggest draw.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Power of the Dog
  2. Andrew Garfield, Tick, Tick…Boom!
  3. Javier Bardem, Being the Ricardos
  4. Will Smith, King Richard
  5. Denzel Washington, The Tragedy of MacBeth

Should Have Been Nominated

Simon Rex, Red Rocket; Nicolas Cage, Pig; Jude Hill, Belfast

Best Supporting Actress 

Predicted Winner: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story

Honestly, it’s a pretty weak category this year. DeBose has been well on her way to a poetic win in a category that Rita Moreno won in 60 years prior. Out of these nominees, her infectious and layered performance is probably the best. 

While I wasn’t huge on The Lost Daughter, I think Jessie Buckley sneakily had the best performance of the film, and a win for her or Kirsten Dunst wouldn’t be unwarranted in my eyes. Aunjanue Ellis didn’t have enough screen time or impactful moments to warrant her presence on this year’s list to me, while Judi Dench somehow got the spot of her more-deserving costar Caitriona Balfe. Also, while the pundits were favoring Ann Dowd for a nomination, I was hoping Martha Plimpton might be able to sneak in for her performance in Mass.

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Ariana DeBose, West Side Story
  2. Jessie Buckley, The Lost Daughter
  3. Kirsten Dunst, The Power of the Dog
  4. Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard
  5. Judi Dench, Belfast

Should Have Been Nominated

Martha Plimpton, Mass; Caitriona Balfe, Belfast

Best Supporting Actor

Predicted Winner: Troy Kotsur, CODA

The only guaranteed win for CODA on Sunday will be for Troy Kotsur. A complicated and charming portrayal in an uplifting movie, his performance is all but guaranteed to send him straight to the Oscars stage. 

All the others…I’ll be honest — I don’t care. 

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Troy Kotsur, CODA

4-way tie for “who cares?”: Ciarán Hinds (?), Belfast; Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Power of the Dog; Jesse Plemons, The Power of the Dog; J.K. Simmons, Being the Ricardos

Should Have Been Nominated

Jonah Hill, Don’t Look Up

Best Adapted Screenplay

Predicted Winer: CODA

Pay attention when they call this category on Oscar night — it’s likely the winner will also go on to nab Best Picture. Especially if it’s CODA.

Being dialogue-driven tends to help in these categories, and although the dialogue in all of CODA’s scenes isn’t spoken, its ability to support redundant story tropes with characters we care about and words that matter should elevate it to a win. If the love for The Power of the Dog stays true, we might see it win here. I’m doubtful. Some also haven’t counted out Maggie Gyllenhaal for The Lost Daughter. I have. 

AJ’s Rankings

  1. CODA
  2. Dune
  3. The Power of the Dog
  4. Drive My Car
  5. The Lost Daughter

Should Have Been Nominated

Nightmare Alley, West Side Story, Tick, Tick…Boom!

Best Original Screenplay

Predicted Winner: Belfast

Watch out for PTA here, but Branagh has more international and intergenerational support than Anderson does. The Academy is also a sucker for personal movies, and Belfast is the most personal in this category. 

If I had a vote, it’d go to Don’t Look Up. After feeling mostly indifferent towards The Big Short and Vice, McKay finally won me over with one of his serious movies with a comedic twist. 

AJ’s Rankings

  1. Don’t Look Up
  2. The Worst Person in the World 
  3. Belfast
  4. King Richard
  5. Licorice Pizza

Should Have Been Nominated

Red Rocket

And now, the rest of my predictions & preferences.

Best Cinematography

Will Win: Dune
Should Win: Dune

Best Costume Design

Will Win: Cruella
Should Win: Dune

Best Film Editing

Will Win: Dune
Should Win: Tick, Tick…Boom!

Best Makeup

Will Win: The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Should Win: Dune

Best Production Design

Wil Win: Dune 
Should Win: Dune

Best Score

Will Win: Dune 
Should Win: Dune

Best Sound

Will Win: Dune 
Should Win: Dune

Best Visual Effects

Will Win: Dune (But watch out for No Way Home)
Should Win: Dune

Best Animated Feature

Will Win: The Mitchells Vs. The Machines
Should Win: The Mitchells Vs. The Machines

Tallied Predictions

Dune: 6 Wins out of 10 Nominations
CODA: 3 Wins out of 3 Nominations
The Power of the Dog: 1 Win out of 12 Nominations
King Richard: 1 Win out of 6 Nominations
West Side Story: 1 Win out of 7 Nominations 
Belfast: 1 Win out of 7 Nominations
The Eyes of Tammy Faye: 1 Win out of 2 Nominations
Cruella: 1 Win out of 2 Nominations
The Mitchells Vs. The Machines: 1 Win out of 1 Nominations
Spencer: 1 Win out of 1 Nomination