2023 Oscar Nomination Predictions

There’s every reason to expect Oscar to keep on Oscaring as it’s always done.

2023 Oscar Nomination Predictions
Photo: Focus Features

Once again it’s time to distill the year’s best down into what titles and performances are the most palatable to a small group of individuals chosen for, at best, political reasons and, at worst, the outcome of industry back-scratching. Having already gone through this last month with the contentious release of Sight and Sound’s latest poll of the Greatest Films of All Time, we’re too well primed to slump our way into yet another annual round of bad faith over good intentions. In other words, there’s every reason to expect that the Oscars—one of the few awards shows that actually held ground during the pandemic as though nothing of major consequence was occurring in the outside world—to keep on Oscaring as it’s always done.

Best Picture

The Whale

One year since CODA became, arguably, the first best picture winner that (let’s be honest) wouldn’t even have been nominated before this category’s expansion to 10 nominees, we’re left once again longing for the days of the five-deep slate. With the critics’ awards and the guild nominations more or less settled, it’s hard not to imagine The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Tár, and Top Gun: Maverick all staking their claim, with guild over-performer Elvis as the likeliest spoiler. But because now there’s four more slots left to fill, we’re forced to take seriously the chances of the ludicrously well-respected franchise sequels all fighting for the category’s scraps.

We’re not sure we’re quite as bullish on All Quiet on the Western Front’s chances overall, as it feels less like Netflix cosplaying as international art cinema, but those five AMPAS and 15 (!) BAFTA longlist mentions are impossible to ignore. Netflix, having watched every other viable alternative this year blow up in its face (aside from Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery), is understandably all-in—and it’s tough to remember the last time a war movie underperformed with Oscar, even when the world wasn’t unified in real-time horror at an ongoing war.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we can’t reason around how well The Whale is performing in guild precursors, even outside of its initial push for Brendan Fraser’s central performance. It just wouldn’t be an Oscar slate without one grade-A atrocity, and this one fits the bill.

Did we say one atrocity? Because there’s every indication that the three-hour dump that Damien Chazelle takes on Hollywood’s early years, Babylon, is going to Nightmare Alley its way into the final lineup based on its technical bona fides. As for the possible final slot, we’re probably putting our reputations on the line here, because the PGA nominated four sequels last week. But as the New York Times’s Carpetbagger columnist, Kyle Buchanan, points out, when AMPAS deviates from that entity (and they occasionally do), they usually swerve toward the outré, which is why the likes of Triangle of Sadness, Aftersun, and even the fiercely anti-imperialist RRR feel like better bets than the largely BAFTA-ignored second chapters of Black Panther and Avatar. AMPAS voters may be many things, but they are also presumably adults.

Will Be Nominated: All Quiet on the Western Front; Babylon; The Banshees of Inisherin; Elvis; Everything Everywhere All at Once; The Fabelmans; Tár; Top Gun: Maverick; Triangle of Sadness; The Whale

Closest Runners-Up: Aftersun; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery; Living; RRR


Best Director

Edward Berger

You’ll note that we didn’t mention Women Talking in the last category rundown. If the guilds are any indication, very few are listening, and even among those who are, we suspect more than just a few will regard the film as a heaping bowl of unseasoned oats. Which presents an inconvenient problem for Oscar, as that film’s helmer, Sarah Polley, felt for so many months like the best chance to avoid a very much no-longer-acceptable men-only directors’ slate. (Ironic, given Polley’s subject matter.) Instead, candidates like Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (a.k.a. Daniels), Steven Spielberg, and even DGA-anointed Todd Field have been bolstering their now seemingly unshakeable cases, with perennials (James Cameron) and veterans still seeking their first bid (Baz Luhrmann, Martin McDonagh) similarly shoving their way toward the front of the line among the also-rans. The directors’ branch’s one remaining “mulligan” for gender inclusion increasingly seems like the beloved Aftersun’s Charlotte Wells, and she’s emerging as a wholly credible gatecrasher. But frankly it’s been five years since the directors’ lineup didn’t feature an international title (and even that year’s winner was Guillermo del Toro). With All Quiet on the Western Front surging, we expect Edward Berger to cement the return of the boys’ club.

Will Be Nominated: Edward Berger, All Quiet on the Western Front; Todd Field, Tár; Joseph Kosinski, Top Gun: Maverick; Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once; Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans

Closest Runners-Up: James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water; Damien Chazelle, Babylon; Baz Luhrmann, Elvis; Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin; Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness; Charlotte Wells, Aftersun


Best Actress

Ana de Armas

Probably the single biggest shock that the SAG nominations threw into the acting races was the snub they dealt The Fabelmans’s Michelle Williams. Some pundits chided that Williams was tempting fate by running as a lead actress this cycle, instead of supporting (as SAG-nominated Paul Dano did), and it’s tempting to think that maybe Oscar will repeat SAG’s snub, or perhaps even autonomously place her in supporting actress, as they once upon a time did, in inverse, with Kate Winslet’s performance in The Reader. The differences in that logic are, of course, that The Reader was a Holocaust movie (instant promotion in prospects) and a Harvey Weinstein pet project to boot (ditto, circa 2008). It’s not outside the realm of possibility, and we can’t help but note that Variety’s Clayton Davis now fully predicts that she’ll be demoted to supporting.

But this scenario remains a stretch. As to the other SAG nominees, the casual observer might regard Ana de Armas as the interloper, but despite Blonde’s withering notices, de Armas’s reviews were almost uniformly rapturous. And, as with Kirsten Stewart’s Spencer turn last year, there remains a subset of Oscar voters who have no issue tapping their inner Lars von Trier when it comes to watching leading ladies suffer for their art. Instead, it’s the overall lack of enthusiasm for The Woman King that has us expecting Williams to slip back in, over Viola Davis. And yet, maybe there’s still enough time for Andrea Riseborough to pull off a Sally Kirkland grassroots surprise for To Leslie. Lord knows, the more precursors that crop up like weeds, the more Oscar seems inclined to go its own way.

Will Be Nominated: Cate Blanchett, Tár; Ana de Armas, Blonde; Danielle Deadwyler, Till; Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans; Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Closest Runners-Up: Olivia Colman, Empire of Light; Viola Davis, The Woman King; Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie


Best Actor

Paul Mescal

Count us among those who don’t think Tom Cruise “saved movies” this year, at least not in terms of the worthiness of his performance in Top Gun: Maverick. And yet, so anemic is the list of contenders here that we wouldn’t bat an eye to see him end up in contention anyway. That SAG resuscitated Adam Sandler’s moribund chances for the long-forgotten Hustle tells you all you need to know about how few viable candidates we’re dealing with.

Felix Kammerer’s central All Quiet on the Western Front performance could slip in if that film’s coattails are truly as long as BAFTA has led us to believe, but Oscar’s actors’ branch is far less friendly to international work than, say, the writers’ and directors’ branches. Which leaves Austin Butler, Colin Farrell, and Brendan Fraser remaining in their three-way race alongside spoiler Bill Nighy. Oscar does love to nominate a recent winner as a form of affirmation, which could benefit Nope’s Daniel Kaluuya. But it’s hard to think of another actor with a bigger cult following these days than Paul Mescal, and the overall affection for Aftersun means that, the film’s emotionally elliptical approach aside, the fifth slot is his to lose.

Will Be Nominated: Austin Butler, Elvis; Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin; Brendan Fraser, The Whale; Paul Mescal, Aftersun; Bill Nighy, Living

Closest Runners-Up: Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick; Daniel Kaluuya, Nope


Best Supporting Actress

Dolly De Leon

Both supporting categories are firming up, but remain rife with possibilities in a way that neither lead acting category currently enjoys. The baton of frontrunner has passed back and forth between Kerry Condon and Jamie Lee Curtis, until more recently Angela Bassett’s well-received Golden Globe win reminded the world that, no, in fact, one of our greatest working actresses still doesn’t have an Oscar. And if it takes an MCU movie few seem particularly enthusiastic about to rectify that injustice, yes, in fact, we are basically fine with that.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves a bit, but suffice it to say those three are unambiguously in. And since, nepo-baby discourse backlash aside, we’re not sure how anyone watches Everything Everywhere All at Once and picks Curtis over Stephanie Hsu, we’re betting on the double nomination. (Both were nominated by SAG, which puts our minds more at ease.)

The pundits at GoldDerby only finally last week dropped Women Talking’s twofer of Jessie Buckley and Claire Foy from their top five, which pretty much cements that particular film’s collapse. In their place is Hong Chau, and if The Whale is indeed a stronger contender than any of us dared to fear, she might finally land the nod that she was denied for Downsizing. Meanwhile, Tár’s Nina Hoss remains this year’s also-ran that perplexingly never emerged. Instead, critics’ awards have elevated Triangle of Sadness’s Dolly De Leon into a legitimate cause célèbre. The fifth slot is truly in flip-a-coin territory, but the way De Leon seizes control in her film’s back half should be enough to nudge her ahead of the pack.

Will Be Nominated: Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin; Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once; Dolly De Leon, Triangle of Sadness; Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Closest Runners-Up: Jessie Buckley, Women Talking; Hong Chau, The Whale; Nina Hoss, Tár; Janelle Monáe, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery


Best Supporting Actor

Woody Harrelson

Another double double-nomination scenario that, in all likelihood, will fall short. Make no mistake, both Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan will represent The Banshees of Inisherin when the nominations are announced. And at best only one of The Fabelmans’s Paul Dano and Judd Hirsch will. We initially regarded Hirsch as the better bet; he’s only on screen for about nine minutes, but he absolutely owns each second, and shorter performances (like Sam Elliott’s in A Star Is Born and Alan Arkin’s in Argo) have been nominated in just the last decade alone. But SAG indicated that Dano is probably the slightly better bet.

An even better bet? Star power, which is why we think Brad Pitt (Globe-nominated, SAG-snubbed) is very much in the mix even if Babylon falters elsewhere. But, aside from the Banshees duo and Oscar winner-elect Ke Huy Quan, there’s a fourth contender who has both the Globe and SAG nominations, along with an overperforming Oscar pedigree, and that’s perpetual charm factory Eddie Redmayne playing against type in The Good Nurse, and the tailwinds are clearly in his favor. And for that fifth slot, we’re going against the grain. Woody Harrelson has never managed an Oscar nod without first getting a SAG nomination, but we think his delectable work in Triangle of Sadness will help him break that streak.

Will Be Nominated: Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin; Woody Harrelson, Triangle of Sadness; Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin; Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once; Eddie Redmayne, The Good Nurse

Closest Runners-Up: Daniel Brühl, All Quiet on the Western Front; Paul Dano, The Fabelmans; Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans; Brad Pitt, Babylon; Ben Whishaw, Women Talking


Best Original Screenplay

The Fabelmans

As rife with viable contenders as the companion adapted screenplay category is left wanting, the original screenplay slate nevertheless seems pretty much set in stone, with at the very least The Banshees of Inisherin, Everything Everywhere All at Once, and Tár all infallible, and with only last year’s reasonably eyebrow-raising snub for West Side Story keeping The Fabelmans’s Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg in comparative suspense. Even Aftersun’s many fans would admit that Charlotte Wells’s triumph is one of direction over screenwriting, but the script categories have been used for stranger token gestures. The hardly subtle class satire of The Menu would appear to be peaking at just the right moment, and if Decision to Leave’s Park Chan-wook has a viable shot at getting another nod to bolster his likely bid in best international feature, it would be here. But, as you’ve probably caught on by now, Triangle of Sadness feels like it’s ticking all the necessary boxes this Oscar season, so it should earn that hard-fought final slot.

Will Be Nominated: The Banshees of Inisherin; Everything Everywhere All at Once; The Fabelmans; Tár; Triangle of Sadness

Closest Runners-Up: Aftersun; Decision to Leave; The Menu


Best Adapted Screenplay

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

Did we mention “token gestures” a moment ago? Well, we not only expect Women Talking to show up (finally) here, but it’s pretty tough to imagine Sarah Polley not ascending the stage in March. But if The Whale is the stealth spoiler we’re starting to suspect it actually is, then playwright Samuel D. Hunter has to be regarded as a threat. Similarly, there’s no reason to imagine Rian Johnson won’t once again find himself up for a Benoit Blanc mystery (never mind that, once again, the actual “mystery” is practically an afterthought), and that novelist Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day) won’t earn his first nomination for adapting Kurosawa Akira’s Ikiru. If Top Gun: Maverick’s quintet of screenwriters somehow snatch the final spot, we’ll reluctantly admit it’s as strong a contender for the top prize as some are arguing. But it’s far more likely that, in this thin field, All Quiet on the Western Front has the edge.

Will Be Nominated: All Quiet on the Western Front; Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery; Living; The Whale; Women Talking

Closest Runners-Up: Top Gun: Maverick; She Said; White Noise


Best International Feature


Fifteen films have advanced from more than 90 contenders, and as has been the case in recent years, more of the titles on the shortlist viably lay claim to deserving a nomination than don’t. Obviously, Germany’s All Quiet on the Western Front is the shoo-in, alongside South Korea’s highly likely nominee Decision to Leave. Last week’s surprise Golden Globe win for Argentina, 1985 likely pushed that one’s prospects into the red as well, but beyond those three it’s a legitimate free-for-all with more than half a dozen credible possibilities…and Alejandro González Iñárritu, whose work can absolutely never be counted out no matter how abominable. We could twist ourselves into knots here analyzing why, say, Saint Omer and Holy Spider have an edge on Corsage, or why Joyland is a slam dunk and Return to Seoul is peaking at just the right moment. Adding to the confusion are brand-new voting rules for this specific category, the effect of which remains to be seen. So we’re just going to go with our guts and presume the empathetic tragedy of Close and the galvanizing formalism of EO end up coming out on top.

Will Be Nominated: Argentina, 1985 (Argentina); Close (Belgium); All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany); EO (Poland); Decision to Leave (South Korea)

Closest Runners-Up: Corsage (Austria); Return to Seoul (Cambodia); Holy Spider (Denmark); Saint Omer (France); Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (Mexico); Joyland (Pakistan)


Best Documentary Feature

Bad Axe

Every year finds this category “surprisingly” snubbing a frontrunner for the win, and this year we feel the ground shifting beneath Fire of Love‘s feet. As compelling as the Kraffts’ mutual death wish is, you’d be hard-pressed to call it romantic. Even if you do, it’s hard to feel the same level of empathy for anthropomorphized lava as Oscar voters somehow felt for that damned octopus (to say nothing of the alien that is David Bowie). Which is to say our hunch is that the specs-snatching kites of All That Breathes are among this year’s best bets. Critics’ favorite All the Beauty and the Bloodshed fits well enough into the Academy’s preference for portraits of individual artists that it should also surmount this category’s latent anti-snob handicap. Descendent and Bad Axe both reckon with the limping shell of the American dream in the wake of the great reckonings and white-lashes of the last dozen years. Finally, Navalny, a portrait of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his recovery from political poisoning, is in the right place at the right time. Then again, so is The Janes, making it the likeliest spoiler.

Will Be Nominated: All That Breathes; All the Beauty and the Bloodshed; Bad Axe; Descendant; Navalny

Closest Runners-Up: Fire of Love; The Janes; Retrograde


Best Animated Feature


Due to the scattershot nature of this year’s awards calendar, we’re turning in our predictions in advance of the usually helpful Annie Award nominations, leaving us to rely on the patterns established in years past. Animated movies that adults aren’t embarrassed by aren’t the norm here, but candidates usually aren’t an insult to their intelligence either. Hence we see Trippy Inu-Oh, Marcel the Twee Shell with the Shoes On, and Guillermo del Toro’s Creepy Pinocchio all with more than reasonable chances. The same theoretically would also apply for Richard Linklater’s boomer-friendly Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood, but honestly this is a prospect that feels every inch like an Annie Awards snubee-to-be. Instead, our friends who are parents of young children say they found Puss in Boots: The Last Wish surprisingly good, if not quite as generation-encompassing as Turning Red.

Will Be Nominated: Inu-Oh; Marcel the Shell with Shoes On; Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio; Puss in Boots: The Last Wish; Turning Red

Closest Runners-Up: Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood; Strange World

Eric Henderson

Eric Henderson is the web content manager for WCCO-TV. His writing has also appeared in City Pages.


  1. Too much love for “All Quiet on the Western Front”. Writer clearly is a fan. Don’t agree with Best Actor. Not a shot for Daniel Kaluuya even though he was good in “Nope”. More likely it will be Hugh Jackman. Martin McDonagh will definitely get a Best Director nom. Some really weird takes here.

  2. “All Quiet on the Western Front” has received far too much attention. The author is clearly a fan. I disagree with Best Actor. Even though Daniel Kaluuya was good in “Nope,” he didn’t get a shot. Hugh Jackman is the most likely candidate. Martin McDonagh will undoubtedly be nominated for Best Director. Some strange takes here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous Story

Darren Stein’s 1997 Film Sparkler Makes Its Streaming Debut in 2K

Next Story

Interview: Jesse Eisenberg on When You Finish Saving the World and Fleishman Is in Trouble