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Working Title's 95th Annual Oscar Picks
Let's talk about who's taking home some trophies
Besides the actual Super Bowl™️, the Oscars are my Super Bowl. The glitz. The glamour. It’s Hollywood’s Biggest Night and I’m barking like a seal for fish, unfortunately.
As I write yearly when discussing The Oscars, they are ultimately just a room full of rich Hollywood people patting themselves on the back and handing out trophies to themselves and their peers. While I acknowledge that previous sentence, I think that’s a cynical way to look at this award ceremony. I (obviously) love movies and despite what declining theater attendance might tell you, a lot of other people do too. I like seeing films I enjoyed being recognized. I (kinda) like the discourse around the nominees when they’re announced and the “having a horse in the race” aspect of the awards. The film industry is in a weird spot with streaming, theatrical releases, and the Marvel-fication (derogatory) of movies, but I still think they’re worth celebrating.
I wrote last year about how the actual production of the Oscars ceremony is often kneecapped by the very people who put it on. It looks like they’ve learned a couple of lessons and this year will include an actual host (Jimmy Kimmel) and the airing of all categories during the ceremony. Personally hoping they bring back montages as well. It is the official position of Working Title that montages are good.
The Oscars are also doing something insane and that brings me great joy. In response to The Slap from last year’s ceremony, the Oscars have put together a Crisis Team. Oscar’s Crisis Team is one of the funniest strings of words you could possibly say to me. I have envisioned several scenarios on how this team springs into action. A sniper’s laser trains on Cate Blanchett as she charges the stage for not winning for TÁR. A tactical strike takes out the entire cast of TOP GUN: MAVERICK. An OCEAN’S 11 style heist that reveals the crisis team has been infiltrated and is working to orchestrate a Second Slap to drive ratings up again. The entire team meets in a crisis suite like in THE BOURNE LEGACY as they gather intel about the developing Austin Butler situation. Some truly incredible possibilities for a team that will ultimately and unfortunately not be needed. I hope they keep it every year.
Let’s get into what you’re here for. Below you will find my picks for The 2023 Academy Awards for each and every category. I’m not super sure of the presentation order so I’m just going to do it in the same order as they were presented last year. Bigger categories will be towards the bottom. I’m also going to list the actual names of people involved in the technical categories. It may be annoying/make for a longer read, but these people deserve recognition for these categories, even in a small newsletter like this.
In 2021 I went 19/23 (lol remember when they gave Best Actor to Anthony Hopkins instead of post-humously awarding Chadwick Boseman and Hopkins wasn’t even there. That’s how that Oscars ENDED) and in 2022 I went 20/23 (did not anticipate the CODA moment) bringing me to 39/46 since this newsletter began. Honestly, pretty good! I feel pretty good about my picks once against this year, but there’s always the chance I end up sucking shit.
As usual, good luck in your Oscar Pools unless we are in one together, in which case please stop reading this.
Category: Supporting Actress
Angela Bassett (BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER)
Hong Chau (THE WHALE)
Kerry Condon (THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN)
Jamie Lee Curtis (EVERYTHING EVERWHERE ALL AT ONCE)
Stephanie Hsu (EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE)
Who I Think WILL Win: Jamie Lee Curtis
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Angela Bassett
Why: I don’t feel good about this for a few reasons. I hate starting off the picks this way. Jamie Lee Curtis is an icon. She’s an OG scream queen. She’s awesome in TRUE LIES. She’s in FREAKY FRIDAY! That said, and I mean this with all the respect I can possibly convey, this is decidedly not her best performance. Her own co-star who is nominated deserves the award more than her! But I can’t argue the fact that she’s won a lot of the acting awards leading up to the Oscars and that the EEAAO wave is very real. Angela Basset seemed like the odds-on favorite a few months ago, but I think the cultural backlash against superhero movies is starting to come to the forefront here. She could still pull it out but I’m not sure. One of my least confident picks.
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Viktor Prášil, Frank Kruse, Markus Stemler, Lars Ginzel, and Stefan Korte)
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER (Julian Howarth, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Dick Bernstein, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, and Michael Hedges)
THE BATMAN (Stuart Wilson, William Files, Douglas Murray, and Andy Nelson)
ELVIS (David Lee, Wayne Pashley, Andy Nelson, and Michael Keller)
TOP GUN: MAVERICK (Mark Weingarten, James H. Mather, Al Nelson, Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor)
Who I Think WILL Win: Top Gun: Maverick
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Top Gun: Maverick
Why: As I have mentioned in previous editions of this newsletter, I have a dumb caveman brain and think that if your movie is loud, then it is good. Well, guess what movie is loud as hell. That’s right. TOP GUN: MAVERICK is loud as hell. It has also won 2 of the audio guild awards given out before this Oscars. I think it’s got this one in the bag. THE BATMAN is also loud as hell, for the record but there’s a part in TOP GUN where a jet is so loud it almost destroys a building.
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (James Friend)
BARDO, FALSE CHRONICLE OF A HANDFUL OF TRUTHS (Darius Khondji)
ELVIS (Mandy Walker)
EMPIRE OF LIGHT (Roger Deakins)
TÁR (Florian Hoffmeister)
Who I Think WILL Win: James Friend
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Florian Hoffmeister
Why: The Academy (and audiences in general) LOVE some warfare and wooooo boy does this movie have that. Trenches, whizzing bullets, tanks, and shell shock. It’s a lot of sizzle and not a lot of steak to me personally, but I think it’s going to win. Weird to have Roger Deakins in this category and not pick him. Everything about TÁR is incredible when it comes to how it’s shot and looks, but it gets the short end of the stick here.
Category: Documentary Short
THE ELEPHANT WHISPERERS (Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga)
HAULOUT (Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev)
HOW DO YOU MEASURE A YEAR? (Jay Rosenblatt)
THE MARTHA MITCHELL EFFECT (Anne Alvergue and Beth Levison)
STRANGER AT THE GATE (Joshua Seftel and Conall Jones)
Who I Think WILL Win: The Elephant Whisperers
Who I Think SHOULD Win: N/A
Why: Like a lot of people, I haven’t seen some of the films in this category but they’re actually a little easier to find this year. In fact, a lot of them are on YouTube. The ELEPHANT WHISPERERS is available on Netflix and has Netflix money behind it and which gives it a significant boost.
Category: Visual Effects
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller, Markus Frank, and Kamil Jafar)
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER (Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon, and Daniel Barrett)
THE BATMAN (Dan Lemmon, Russell Earl, Anders Langlands, and Dominic Tuohy)
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (Geoffrey Baumann, Craig Hammack, R. Christopher White, and Dan Sudick)
TOP GUN: MAVERICK (Ryan Tudhope, Seth Hill, Bryan Litson and Scott R. Fisher)
Who I Think WILL Win: Avatar: The Way of Water
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Avatar: The Way of Water
Why: I don’t really know what to tell you here. They spent 13 years and INVENTED NEW TECHNOLOGY to make this movie. They gotta give Jim Cameron credit somehow and this is probably how they’ll do it. And honestly, he deserves it. There’s some extremely cool shit in this movie. Not to be too cute about it, but the water in this movie is bonkers. It’s my most confident pick. Lock it up.
Category: Animated Feature
GUILLERMO DEL TORO'S PINOCCHIO
MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON
PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH
THE SEA BEAST
Who I Think WILL Win: Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Turning Red
Why: Guillermo Del Toro is an extremely well-respected filmmaker and he’s been pushing hard on the campaign trail for this to win. It’s a film that was YEARS in the making as most stop-motion films are and the Academy loves it when people ~strive~ for something. I personally thought TURNING RED was the best animated movie of last year and a return to form for PIXAR, which has become far from the sure bet they once were.
Category: Animated Short
THE BOY, THE MOLE, THE FOX, AND THE HORSE
THE FLYING SAILOR
MY YEAR OF DICKS
AN OSTRICH TOLD ME THE WORLD IS FAKE AND I THINK I BELIEVE IT
Who I Think WILL Win: The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse
Who I Think SHOULD Win: My Year of Dicks
Why: This is one of the smaller categories where I actually saw every single one of the nominations, which is neat. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse has probably been sitting on your Apple TV Plus suggestions every time you turn it on. It’s produced by Bad Robot, and like a lot of the other short films that I’ve picked to win, has a lot of money behind it. It’s beautifully animated but painfully saccharine. My Year of Dicks is funny and transgressive and I think that’s why it has no chance of winning here.
Category: Supporting Actor
Brendan Gleeson (THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN)
Brian Tyree Henry (CAUSWAY)
Judd Hirsh (THE FABLEMANS)
Barry Keoghan (THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN)
Ke Huy Quan (EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE)
Who I Think WILL Win: Ke Huy Quan
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Ke Huy Quan / Barry Keoghan
Why: I am a card-carrying member of the Barry Keoghan Hive and I think he gives truly one of the best performances of the year in BANSHEES. He weaves throughout that whole movie in surprising ways. That said, Ke Huy Quan’s performance in EEAAO is more than this deserving of this award, and coupled with his incredible comeback story and emotional connection to this film, I am quite happy to see him win here. He has won every single acting award leading up to the Oscars and he’ll cap those all off with a win here. I want to give a quick shout-out to Brian Tyree Henry in CAUSWAY. He is fantastic in that movie and oftentimes at the center of it. He’s entered “will watch anything he’s in” territory for me. I think he’s due for an Oscar soon. If you have Apple TV + I encourage you to give it a watch.
Category: Best International Feature
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Germany)
ARGENTINA, 1985 (Argentina) (lol)
THE QUIET GIRL (Ireland)
Who I Think WILL Win: All Quiet On The Western Front
Who I Think SHOULD Win: EO / Decision To Leave (not nominated)
Why: I think that this category is pretty much a runaway. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT is up for Best Picture, which it is not going to win. It did, however, dominate at the BAFTAs and it’s going to be rewarded here in this category. From what I’ve read and heard, the Academy LOVES this movie. I’m pretty confident in this one.
Category: Best Short, Live Action
AN IRISH GOODBYE (Tom Berkeley and Ross White)
IVALU (Anders Walter and Rebecca Pruzan)
LE PUPILLE (Alice Rohrwacher and Alfonso Cuarón)
NIGHT RIDE (Eirik Tveiten and Gaute Lid Larssen)
THE RED SUITCASE (Cyrus Neshvad)
Who I Think WILL Win: Le Pupille
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Le Pupille
Why: Alice Rohrwacher is a pretty widely celebrated filmmaker and the Academy likes Alfonso Cuarón. It’s available on Disney + and has Disney money behind it. It’s a pretty charming little movie.
Category: Costume Design
BABYLON (Mary Zophres)
BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (Ruth Carter) (#RuthkandaForever)
ELVIS (Catherine Martin)
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (Shirley Kurata)
MRS. HARRIS GOES TO PARIS (Jenny Beavan)
Who I Think WILL Win: Elvis
Who I Think SHOULD Win: BP: WF
Why: Whenever a movie that is a period piece is up for one of these Oscars it usually wins. ELVIS has been the odds-on favorite for a while here and I think it’s the pick that ends up winning. Baz Luhrmann also does well on below-the-line awards. I think the costumes in BP:WF are awesome considering that everything had to be re-imagined after the death of Chadwick Boseman. They’re some of the coolest parts of that movie.
Category: Best Original Screenplay
THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN (Written by Martin McDonagh)
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (Written by Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert)
THE FABELMANS (Written by Steven Spielberg & Tony Kushner)
TÁR (Written by Todd Field)
TRIANGLE OF SADNESS (Written by Ruben Östlund)
Who I Think WILL Win: Everything Everywhere All At Once
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Banshees of Inisherin / Tár
Why: I’m going to do this in best picture and take the coward’s way out by putting two movies in my “should win” slot because when I think of my two favorite movies last year on any given day it could be TÁR or it could be BANSHEES. I love them both for very different reasons, but I think both their scripts and the dialogue contained within them are beautiful and funny and wonderful. Ultimately, none of that matters because EEAAO is going to win this. It has been steamrolling towards the Oscars, collecting win after win. It’s another award that indicates Best Picture, so it picks this one up as well.
Category: Best Adapted Screenplay
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson & Ian Stokell)
GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY (Rian Johnson)
LIVING (Kazuo Ishiguro)
TOP GUN: MAVERICK (Screenplay by Ehren Kruger and Eric Warren Singer and Christopher McQuarrie; Story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks)
WOMEN TALKING (Sarah Polley)
Who I Think WILL Win: Sarah Polley
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Sarah Polley
Why: This movie has a lot of (and I’m really sorry here) women talking. Smart, sharp women talking about important things in a speech-y way. It will continue the tradition of giving someone you like an award that’s not Best Director or Best Picture.
Category: Best Original Score
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Volker Bertelmann)
BABYLON (Justin Hurwitz)
THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN (Carter Burwell)
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (Son Lux)
THE FABELMANS (John Williams)
Who I Think WILL Win: Babylon
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Babylon / All Quiet On The Western Front
Why: I actually really like things about every nominee in this category. John Williams is a legend. Son Lux did some really cool stuff for EEAAO. BANSHEES was probably my favorite movie of the year so I like the score by default. I think this category is a two-horse race and I’m ultimately hitching my wagon to BABYLON. I think the score of ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT is genuinely the coolest thing about the movie and I would not be surprised or disappointed to see it win. I just think about how the score of BABYLON helps drive the story. Voodoo Mama from the soundtrack is without a doubt going to be on my Spotify Year-End Wrap-Up.
Category: Film Editing
THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN (Mikkel E.G. Nielsen)
ELVIS (Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond)
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (Paul Rogers)
TÁR (Monika Willi)
TOP GUN: MAVERICK (Eddie Hamilton)
Who I Think WILL Win: Paul Rogers
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Monika Willi
Why: Not to spoil anything here, but this award is very indicative of who’s going to win Best Picture and I am pretty confident that EEAAO has that bad boy locked up, so I’m going with the chalk pick here. TÁR is a movie that is so reliant on its timing and Monika Willi is a master. Everything about that movie is about precision.
Category: Documentary, Feature
ALL THAT BREATHES
ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED
FIRE OF LOVE
A HOUSE MADE OF SPLINTERS
Who I Think WILL Win: Navalny
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Fire of Love
Why: I really want to see ALL THE BEAUTY AND THE BLOODSHED but I will not have gotten around to it by the time the Oscars air. From what I’ve heard, it probably would have ended up in my “should win’ slot, but I can’t put it there sight unseen. What I do know is that NAVALNY won at both the Producer’s Guild Awards and the BAFTAs and it’s a movie about Russia and Ukraine and plays almost like a spy thriller. I thought FIRE OF LOVE was awesome and it’s on Hulu (backed by Disney) so I could see it pulling it out. I am not super confident in this one tbh.
Category: Production Design
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Production Design: Christian M. Goldbeck; Set Decoration: Ernestine Hipper)
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER (Production Design: Dylan Cole and Ben Procter; Set Decoration: Vanessa Cole)
BABYLON (Production Design: Florencia Martin; Set Decoration: Anthony Carlino)
ELVIS (Production Design: Catherine Martin and Karen Murphy; Set Decoration: Bev Dunn)
THE FABELMANS (Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Karen O'Hara)
Who I Think WILL Win: Babylon
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Babylon
Why: Man, I love this movie. And it looks COOL AS SHIT. It should be rewarded as such. Creating the worlds and huge sets and locations of this movie looks like it took an incredible amount of work. I thought the trenches in ALL QUIET were awesome and to redesign Graceland in ELVIS was cool as hell, but the production design on BABYLON helps tell the story.
Category: Original Song
APPLAUSE (Tell It like a Woman; Diane Warren)
HOLD MY HAND (Top Gun: Maverick; Lady Gaga and BloodPop)
LIFT ME UP (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Goransson; Lyric by Tems and Ryan Coogler
NAATU NAATU (RRR; M.M. Keeravaani and Chandrabose)
THIS IS A LIFE (Everything Everywhere All at Once; Ryan Lott, David Byrne, and Mitski)
Who I Think WILL Win: RRR
Who I Think SHOULD Win: RRR
Why: As I have written in both previous versions of this newsletter, this is my least favorite category at the Oscars but this year I have a genuine rooting interest. RRR is one of the craziest movies I’ve ever seen and the fact that it could be rewarded at all is awesome. I am dying for it to win. Lady Gaga isn’t going to be at the ceremony because she’s filing JOKER: FOLIE A DEUX so we won’t get her on stage. This is the one.
Category: Best Director
Martin McDonagh (THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN)
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE)
Steven Spielberg (THE FABELMANS)
Todd Field (TÁR)
Ruben Östlund (TRIANGLE OF SADNESS)
Who I Think WILL Win: Daniels
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Todd Field
Why: You’ll probably notice a theme in these picks that I am enamored with TÁR and that’s because I am. I think Todd Field has created a masterpiece and I think he deserves to be recognized as such. Out of all the nominees here Daniels are honestly towards the bottom of my list as far as actual directing of a movie, but this is another category that is intrinsically tied to Best Picture.
Category: Lead Actor
Austin Butler (ELVIS)
Colin Farrell (THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN)
Brendan Fraser (THE WHALE)
Paul Mescal (AFTERSUN)
Bill Nighy (LIVING)
Who I Think WILL Win: Brendan Fraser
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Colin Farrell
Why: If I was not a coward, I would put Austin Butler in “who I think will win” because I think he genuinely might. I don’t have the balls to do it, but I wish I did. ELVIS is a flawed movie, but he is unquestionably awesome in it. He’s a star and he’s going to be on screens for a long ass time. I think Fraser’s win at the SAG Awards and the feel-good nature of his comeback is too strong. The Academy loves to feel good about themselves. That narrative has been building for almost a full year and despite the Butler wave, I think Fraser holds on. Another one I don’t feel confident in, but that’s what we’re doing.
Category: Best Makeup and Hairstyling
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (Heike Merker and Linda Eisenhamerová)
THE BATMAN (Naomi Donne, Mike Marino, and Mike Fontaine)BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER (Camille Friend and Joel Harlow)
ELVIS (Mark Coulier, Jason Baird, and Aldo Signoretti)
THE WHALE (Adrien Morot, Judy Chin, and Annemarie Bradley)
Who I Think WILL Win: Elvis
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Elvis
Why: Fat Elvis baby. It would be cool if THE BATMAN won an Oscar but it’s going to Fat Elvis and that kinda rocks. Could see it going to THE WHALE and if it does I am going to be wrong about several of these other categories.
Category: Lead Actress
Cate Blanchett (TÁR)
Ana De Armas (BLONDE)
Andrea Risborough (TO LESLIE)
Michelle Williams (THE FABLEMANS)
Michell Yeoh (EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE)
Who I Think WILL Win: Michelle Yeoh
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Cate Blanchett / Michel Yeoh
Why: I have had this draft sitting on my computer for almost a week now and I didn’t decide on this category until right before I hit publish. I think Cate Blanchett gave one of the best performances of the decade (maybe even like the last 20 years) in TÁR and I mean that without hyperbole. There is a reason that people that that Lydia Tár was a real person. She deserves it. She also has 2 Oscar trophies and Michell Yeoh doesn’t have any (she should have been nominated for CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON). I think Yeoh was wonderful in EEAAO and I think she’s going to be rewarded for that performance. Don’t get it twisted, Michelle Yeoh winning Oscar is a good thing. Another one I’m still very unsure about.
Category: Best Picture
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER
THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN
EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
TOP GUN: MAVERICK
TRIANGLE OF SADNESS
Who I Think WILL Win: Everything Everywhere All At Once
Who I Think SHOULD Win: Tár / The Banshees of Inisherin / Jackass Forever
What I Think Would Be Funniest: Top Gun: Maverick
Why: I am not joking about the JACKASS thing. It rocked. I laughed so hard I cried. A beautiful movie.
EEAO has won every guild award leading up to the Oscars. Did you know only four other movies have done that and that each of those movies has won the Oscar for Best Picture? As much as I think there are better movies on this list (and I think there are several), I’m trying not to overthink it. I think EEAAO cleans up this weekend and caps it off with a Best Picture win. It pains me to type that because both BANSHEES and TÁR are films that I wish I could give every Oscar to, but I am not in charge of the ceremony. The only thing that I could see tripping up this juggernaut is old people. The Academy is FULL of them and it would be something to see them reject this film based on the fact that they don’t get it.
Also, while we’re here I just want to point out that I think it’s good that TOP GUN: MAVERICK is a nominee here. There was an explosion of discourse when the nominees were announced and people were Big Mad that this movie was nominated, mostly harping on its dialogue and its perceived “goodness.” Those people missed the point. There are absolutely better movies on this list from an artistic point of view, but TOP GUN was THE movie of 2022. It was in theaters for like 9 goddam months and made every single dollar it could make. Comparatively, I and like 12 of my snobbiest friends saw THE FABELMANS. Sometimes you gotta pick a movie that gets asses in seats and eyes on your broadcast. It’s okay to have some populist films in your lineup. Get a grip!!
We did it! All 23 categories! I hope that your picks guide you to betting success and Oscar pool wins and I hope you know that if you use my picks you’re not allowed to get mad at me.
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