Predicting the 2023 Oscars!

Oscar statue
Posted at 12:33 PM, Mar 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-11 14:12:24-05

Tom Santilli is a professional film critic, TV personality, host and the Executive Producer of Movie Show Plus.

The 95th annual Academy Awards are right around the corner, airing this Sunday, March 12th at 8pm (EST) on Channel 7!

For many, they can't come soon enough...for no other reason than to try to move us past the debacle of last year's awards show. The infamous and instantly viral "slap heard 'round the world" - delivered by Will Smith to comedian Chris Rock - was also a slap to the face of its audience, capping off an all-around year and broadcast that the Academy would love to forget.

The good news: There's a lot to like about what we can expect with this year's show. Jimmy Kimmel is back to host the Oscars for his third time, and gone are the controversial changes that were introduced in 2022...first, Oscars in ALL 23 categories will be handed out live (last year, they relegated some of the "lesser" technical categories to a pre-show that was not broadcasted). Gone are the ridiculous "fan favorite" distractions that awarded "The Flash Entering the Speed Force" as the top movie moment...of ALL-TIME. And for the first time since 1983, the #1 and #2 highest-grossing (i.e. popular) movies of the year - "Top Gun: Maverick" and "Avatar: The Way of Water" are both nominated for Best Picture, giving industry-folks hope that more eyeballs might be tuned in for this year's celebration.

There are a lot of opinions when it comes to the Oscars, especially in our divided times (I urge you to read a fantastic article where two opposing film lovers - one very pro-Oscars and one very, very against them by clicking here, conducted in 2020 pre-pandemic).

Predicting what will happen at the Oscars this year, how many people will watch (or not watch) and who will win is all part of the fun. In that spirit, here are my best predictions in all 23 categories for this year's 95th Academy Awards (full disclaimer: Yes I have seen all entries and these opinions are made without any inside knowledge, and represent who I THINK will win, and not necessarily who I would WANT to see win).

Will you be watching this year's Academy Awards? If so, here are our predictions on all categories, to help guide you through what is hopefully a return to Oscar award show glory:

Best Lead Actor
Austin Butler (“Elvis”)
Colin Farrell (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Brendan Fraser (“The Whale”)
Paul Mescal (“Aftersun”)
Bill Nighy (“Living”)

Who Should Win:  Colin Farrell had some early awards season momentum, but then it slowly became a two-horse race between Austin Butler and Brendan Fraser. Despite Butler's star turn as Elvis Presley, I believe Brendan Fraser will be awarded for his incredible performance, one that permeated through mounds of prosthetics and make-up, giving us one of the most memorable characters of the year. 

Best Lead Actress
Cate Blanchett (“Tár”)
Ana de Armas (“Blonde”)
Andrea Riseborough (“To Leslie”)
Michelle Williams (“The Fabelmans”)
Michelle Yeoh (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)

Who Should Win:  The surprise - and controversial - inclusion of Andrea Riseborough, started off Oscar season on the wrong foot...especially when you consider the snubs of Danielle Deadwyler ("Till") and Viola Davis ("The Woman King"), who were expected to be nominated. There's zero chance Riseborough wins here, instead it will be between Cate Blanchett and Michelle Yeoh, and with her recent SAG win in the category, I think you can chalk this category up to Michelle Yeoh this year.

Best Supporting Actor
Brendan Gleeson (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Brian Tyree Henry (“Causeway”)
Judd Hirsch (“The Fabelmans”)
Barry Keoghan (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Ke Huy Quan (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)

Who Should Win:  While Barry Keoghan, to me, is the best of the bunch in this crop, one of the surest bets of Oscar night is that Ke Huy Quan will win here. It's not only well-deserved, but it represents a nostalgic pick for an actor that everyone adores, who fought his way back to Hollywood relevancy.

Best Supporting Actress
Angela Bassett (“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”)
Hong Chau (“The Whale”)
Kerry Condon (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Jamie Lee Curtis (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
Stephanie Hsu (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)

Who Should Win:  Of the acting categories, this is the most interesting and the one that poses the biggest chance for an upset. While Angela Bassett and Kerry Condon could win, my pick is Jamie Lee Curtis...it was a great performance, but they may also award her for lifetime achievement (although the same could be said for Bassett). Jamie Lee could suffer from the "split vote" with Stephanie Hsu, nominated from the same film, but if "Everything Everywhere All At Once" has a big night - which it is predicted to have - then I think Jamie Lee Curtis will come out on top...but it's far from a sure thing.

Best Adapted Screenplay
“All Quiet on the Western Front,” Screenplay by Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson & Ian Stokell
“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” Written by Rian Johnson
“Living,” Written by 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,” Screenplay by Sarah Polley

Who Should Win:  There are several other ways for the Academy to award "All Quiet on the Western Front," but not too many ways to honor "Women Talking." That's why I think Sarah Polley's adaptation for "Women Talking" will win here.

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 Should Win:  I'd be shocked if "Everything Everywhere All At Once" didn't win, especially on the heels of its WGA win recently. The Academy does have a tendency to surprise in this category, but the safe money is on "EEAAO."

Best Cinematography 
“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 Should Win:  It's hard to imagine that "All Quiet on the Western Front" won't win this award...I think there's a chance for a "Tar" upset, but "All Quiet" is one of the most horrific, effective war dramas of all-time, and much of that has to do with its brilliant cinematography.

Best Documentary Feature Film 
“All That Breathes,” Shaunak Sen, Aman Mann and Teddy Leifer
“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed,” Laura Poitras, Howard Gertler, John Lyons, Nan Goldin and Yoni Golijov
“Fire of Love,” Sara Dosa, Shane Boris and Ina Fichman
“A House Made of Splinters,” Simon Lereng Wilmont and Monica Hellström
“Navalny,” Daniel Roher, Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller and Shane Boris

Who Should Win:  If there's any one category where I feel super-confident about predicting it's this one: "All the Beauty and the Bloodshed" will win, no doubt about it.

Best Documentary Short Film 
“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 Should Win:  A great, well-rounded crop this year, Netflix's "The Elephant Whisperer" is still the safe-money bet to win...I would not count out "Stranger at the Gate" though, as a category dark horse.

Best 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 Should Win:  There's a case to be made here for "Top Gun: Maverick," but "Everything Everywhere All At Once" should win for its sheer ambition when it came to editing.

Best International Feature Film 
“All Quiet on the Western Front” (Germany)
“Argentina, 1985” (Argentina)
“Close” (Belgium)
“EO” (Poland)
“The Quiet Girl” (Ireland)

Who Should Win:  Another near-lock, "All Quiet on the Western Front" was so beloved across so many categories, it's clearly the top International Feature of the year, and will be awarded as such.

Best Original Song 
“Applause” from “Tell It Like a Woman,” Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
“Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick,” Music and Lyric by Lady Gaga and BloodPop
“Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Music by Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Goransson; Lyric by Tems and Ryan Coogler
“Naatu Naatu” from “RRR,” Music by M.M. Keeravaani; Lyric by Chandrabose
“This Is a Life” from “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Music by Ryan Lott, David Byrne and Mitski; Lyric by Ryan Lott and David Byrne

Who Should Win:  Can someone please give Diane Warren her Oscar? The Susan Lucci of songwriting, she has now been nominated 14 times (and eight of the last nine years) and yet has never won. I'm sorry to say she won't win again. "Naatu Naatu" from RRR is the song to beat, and I don't think that any of the others can knock it from the top spot, despite the star-power across the category.

Best 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 Should Win:  It would be a travesty if "Babylon" doesn't win! I believe it will, despite the mixed reception that the film earned as a whole.

Best 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 Should Win:  This is the surest pick of the night for "Avatar: The Way of Water," as it will either win here or it won't win anything. I'm thinking it will win.

Best Animated Feature Film 
“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” Guillermo del Toro, Mark Gustafson, Gary Ungar and Alex Bulkley
“Marcel the Shell With Shoes On,” Dean Fleischer Camp, Elisabeth Holm, Andrew Goldman, Caroline Kaplan and Paul Mezey
“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” Joel Crawford and Mark Swift
“The Sea Beast,” Chris Williams and Jed Schlanger
“Turning Red,” Domee Shi and Lindsey Collins

Who Should Win:  I just loved, loved, loved "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio," and I'm excited that it is also the front-runner in this category. I don't see a scenario where any of the other nominees stand a chance.

Best Animated Short Film
“The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,” Charlie Mackesy and Matthew Freud
“The Flying Sailor,” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
“Ice Merchants,” João Gonzalez and Bruno Caetano
“My Year of Dicks,” Sara Gunnarsdóttir and Pamela Ribon
“An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It,” Lachlan Pendragon

Who Should Win:  Oh man, I want "My Year of Dicks" to win so bad! Not only because I think it would be hilarious to hear a presenter say, "And the Oscar goes to...My Year of Dicks!", but beyond it's eye-catching title, it is also the best entry. It's funny, inventive, and utilizes many different kinds of animation...I sure hope it wins.

Best Costume Design 
“Babylon,” Mary Zophres
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Ruth Carter
“Elvis,” Catherine Martin
“Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Shirley Kurata
“Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris,” Jenny Beavan

Who Should Win:  A true toss-up, "Elvis" has a real shot at winning, but I feel like "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is situated nicely for the upset. You heard it hear first.

Best Live Action Short
“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 Should Win:  This was surprisingly a disappointing category this year. It would be a shame however if "An Irish Goodbye" lost...especially to a movie that I straight-up did not enjoy or like: "Le Pupille." "Le Pupille" though, has the backing of Disney, making it the front-runner. I wouldn't be surprised if it won...but I'm going to hope that the voters see through the politics of it all, and go for the best entry in the category, which for me was clearly "An Irish Goodbye."

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 Anne Marie Bradley

Who Should Win:  I'm not sure why, but I feel like "Elvis" will be the bridesmaid more often than the bride come Oscar night. While it definitely might snag a few awards, I keep predicting it to fall just short. Here again, I think "Elvis" falls to the tremendous make-up and hairstyling on display in "The Whale."

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 Should Win:  The 93-year-old legend, John Williams, has now been nominated 53 times...that's second all-time only to Walt Disney! But his last win was for "Schindler's List" in 1994, and he's been nominated 22 times since then without winning. I think that streak continues, and Justin Hurwitz - who won twice for "La La Land" in 2017 - is my pick with his score of "Babylon." It's the most memorable of the bunch and regardless of what people thought of the film, everyone agreed that the Score absolutely rips.

Best Sound
“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 Should Win:  It would be a shame if the biggest film of the year, "Top Gun: Maverick," came up empty-handed on Oscar night. I think it's best bet for winning is in this category, although it's far from a sure-thing. Still, give "Top Gun: Maverick" the prize.

Best Director 
Martin McDonagh (“The Banshees of Inisherin”)
Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert (“Everything Everywhere All at Once”)
Steven Spielberg (“The Fabelmans”)
Todd Field (“Tár”)
Ruben Östlund (“Triangle of Sadness”)

Who Should Win:  It would be amazing if the Academy awarded Steven Spielberg his third-ever win for Best Director...and it still could happen. But all momentum and all signs point to the "Daniels" - the directing duo of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinart - winning for "Everything Everywhere All At Once." They're just the fifth directing-duo to ever be nominated, and anything other than them winning would be considered a major upset.

Best Picture

Who Should Win:  That leaves us with Best Picture. Due to the Academy's "Ranked Voting" System - which is too complicated to go into here - everyone believes that "Everything Everywhere All At Once" is a shoe-in...it definitely is the front-runner, and my prediction for Best Picture. But because of that ranked voting, I still believe there is an outside chance that "Top Gun: Maverick" somehow, someway, comes out on top. I don't believe there is another film that could unseat "EEAAO," but never underestimate the power of Tom Cruise when it comes to winning.