95th Oscar preview and predictions: 'Everything Everywhere All at Once' set to dominate
Everything has led to this. The 95th annual Academy Awards are set to be handed out this Sunday with host Jimmy Kimmel expected to bring his usual late-night comedic flare to the stage. This marks an interesting year for the Academy and movies in general. In years past, the massive ratings decline in Oscar viewership has long been attributed to lack of awareness when it comes to the 10 films that are nominated for Best Picture. Not this year. With major box office grossers like “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Elvis,” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” all vying for the top statute, nobody can say this year's crop of nominees are “unknown.” Which is how it should be. This year’s line-up is stellar and has something for everyone: stylized fantasy, mega superstars, huge blockbusters, musical biopics, a vanity project from the biggest director on the planet, and low-budget indies. As a movie lover, what more could you want?
The $15m budgeted “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, aka The Daniels, is leading the fray with 11 nominations and is looking poised to claim a hefty chunk of them, which would mark the rare genre picture that’s been able to cross over from niche fans into the award body mainstream. Plus, the idea of a Best Picture winner featuring a sequence where people have hot dog fingers is hilarious (if you've seen the movie, you know what I'm talking about). On the acting side, there’s a nice comeback narrative brewing for two potential winners. There’s Brendan Fraser for Darren Aronofsky’s controversial “The Whale” and Ke Huy Quan’s supporting turn in “EEAO,” the latter would mark a major landmark achievement as one of the only Asian actors to win that award; likewise for his co-star Michelle Yeoh in the lead actress category which has never seen anyone of Asian descent win that prize.
But they’ll have serious challengers: there’s buzz for Austin Butler’s transformation as Elvis Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s smash “Elvis,” and Cate Blanchett could be securing her third Oscar for Todd Field’s “Tár,” which is also up for Best Picture. On the supporting actress side, things get even trickier in what has become an insanely tight race. Nobody knows where things will fall, but I’m going to take a stab anyway.
Here are my predictions in all 23 categories.
BEST PICTURE: EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
Released last March to near universal acclaim, The Daniel’s “Everything Everywhere all at Once” has been the little engine that could. It walks into Oscar Sunday with more nominations than any other film and has tons of goodwill and industry support. It’s cleaned up at the precursors, including the SAG, WGA, Critics Choice, and Golden Globes. It’s a freight train that can’t be stopped and seems like a sure bet.
Potential spoiler: “Top Gun: Maverick” or “All Quiet on the Western Front.”
BEST DIRECTOR: THE DANIELS - EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
Sculpting together one of the year’s most visceral, out-of-this-world multiverse escapes on a shoestring budget deserves to go into the hall-of-fame and for Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, that moment should come on Oscar Sunday.
Potential spoiler: Steven Spielberg for “The Fabelmans”
BEST ACTOR: BRENDAN FRASER - THE WHALE
Conventional wisdom says to pick Austin Butler for "Elvis" considering his movie has a Best Picture nominee while “The Whale” does not (the Academy members also love to award actors for playing musicians - see Raimi Malek in "Bohemian Rhapsody"). You have to go back to Jeff Bridges' win for the 2009 drama “Crazy Heart” to see an actor win this prize without that corresponding Best Pic nomination. But there’s something about the energy around Fraser’s performance in an otherwise divisive film that resonates. For one, everyone loves Fraser and wants to see him succeed and, on the other, the precursors, including his coveted SAG win for actor in a leading role, suggest he might have the juice to stumble over the finish line, but it’ll come down to the wire.
Potential spoiler: Austin Butler - Elvis
BEST ACTRESS: MICHELLE YEOH - EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
Another category that’s a toss-up, but the "EEAAO" momentum can’t be denied (especially when you see my predictions in the other categories) and it should be enough for Yeoh to win the Best Actress trophy, making history in the process. Blanchett’s diabolical performance as Lydia Tár is right on the cusp, but she’s already got two Oscars, she can let Yeoh take this one.
Potential spoiler: Cate Blanchett - Tár
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: KE HUY QUAN - EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
One of the few “sure things” you can put on your Oscar ballot is Ke Huy Quan for “EEAAO.” The comeback kid who made his debut as a child actor in films like “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “The Goonies” has been all over the award season map, cleaning up every major bellwether in his path (sans the oft predictive BAFTA that went to Barry Keoghan for “The Banshees of Inisherin”). You can count this as a lock.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS - JAMIE LEE CURTIS - EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
Another category that is in complete chaos. Until about three weeks ago, you could say Angela Bassett had this one airtight for her role as the Queen of Wakanda in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” but her poor showing at the SAG and BAFTA awards have put her Oscar in serious jeopardy, allowing fellow nominees Jamie Lee Curtis and Kerry Condon (for “Banshees”) to peak at the right time. Curtis shocked the pundits last week when she took home the SAG award for best performance by an actress in a supporting role (Condon won the BAFTA) and it’s hard to bet against that. Bassett could still pull it off, but at this point, she might need a Marvel-sized miracle.
Potential spoiler: Angela Bassett - “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
My remaining predictions: Best Original Screenplay: EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE
Best Adapted Screenplay: WOMEN TALKING
Best Animated Feature: Guillermo del Toro’s PINOCCHIO
Best Documentary Feature: NAVALNY
Best International Feature Film: ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
Best Original Score: ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
Best Original Song: “Naatu Naatu” from RRR
Best Sound: TOP GUN: MAVERICK
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: THE WHALE
Best Costume Design: ELVIS
Best Cinematography: TOP GUN: MAVERICK
Best Production Design: ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
Best Film Editing: TOP GUN: MAVERICK
Best Visual Effects: AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER
Best Documentary (Short Subject): THE ELEPHANT WHISPERERS
Best Short Film (Live Action): LE PUPILLE
Best Short Film (Animated): THE BOY, THE MOLE, THE FOX AND THE HORSE
The 95th Academy Awards will air Oscar Sunday, March 12th at 8pm EST on ABC.