Everything You Need to Know About the 95th Academy Awards
On Sunday, March 12th, the long and windy road to the 95th Academy Awards come to an end when the telecast airs live on ABC. After last year’s utterly chaotic telecast, the Academy is opting to focus less on controversy and on the fact that its one of the most blockbuster-friendly lineup of nominees in history. Here, I preview the telecast and provide predictions for who will win in all 23 categories.
This article is about who I think will win the Oscars this year. To find out who I think should win the top Oscars this year, check out my articles ranking the four acting categories and the contenders in the screenplay, directing, and Best Picture categories.
A Brief Look Back at the Tumultuous 2021 and 2022 Oscar Telecasts
The 2021 Oscar telecast was an unmitigated disaster and unsurprisingly became the lowest rated telecast in history. The producers made several ill-advised choices, including allowing long-winded speeches, opting not to have a notable opening of any kind, and disastrously switching up the order of the awards. (Particularly cringe-inducing was how they put Best Actor last in a shameless bid to end the ceremony on an emotional high note as Chadwick Boseman’s widow accepted the award on his behalf, only for the award to go to Anthony Hopkins, who couldn’t attend due to COVID).
Last year, the Academy and ABC were determined to get ratings up at all costs. And, it worked. Ratings were up nearly 60% over the previous year’s low. Although the telecast was certainly not boring, it was also far from their best.
In order to get ratings up, the Academy made numerous attempts to make the show more entertaining and friendly to the general republic (read: people who don’t obsess over movies and awards season). By far the worst of these attempts was the showcasing of 2 fan awards voted on by Twitter users. The “winners” were embarrassing, their presentation was bizarrely shoe-horned into the ceremony, and all they really celebrated was that Zack Snyder apparently has a lot of rabid fans on Twitter. Not faring much better was the decision to give out 8 of the 23 awards in the hour prior to the telecast and then edit them into the main show. In addition to being a major insult to all of the people who poured their blood, sweat, and tears into those projects, it was also confusingly and jarringly edited. It also did not succeed at all in making the show shorter as it still ran an astounding 3 hours and 40 minutes — nearly 30 minutes longer than last year’s ceremony.
The Academy also decided to bring back the traditions of having a host and having live musical numbers, both of which were axed for the prior year’s telecast. The somewhat bizarre trio of Amy Schumer, Wanda Sykes, and Regina Hall were brought in to host. To my surprise, the talented but sometimes abrasive Schumer came off the best, nailing some sharp one-liners, selling some physical comedy, and swooping in with some clever comments as the show spun wildly out of control toward the end. Unfortunately, Sykes and Hall did not fare as well not due to lack of talent but because they were constrained by incredibly lame one-liners and skits. More successful was the return of the musical numbers. Beyonce, Billie Eilish, and Reba McEntire gave strong performances and the numbers certainly diversified and lightened up the evening. The show also entertaingly reunited the casts of iconic films like Pulp Fiction, White Men Can’t Jump, and Juno to present awards and brought out Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, and Liza Minnelli to celebrate the 50th anniversaries of The Godfather and Cabaret.
By far the biggest attention-getter of the night was something that ABC nor the Academy could have seen coming. In one of the most shocking moments in Oscar history, Chris Rock came out to the stage and delivered some typically acidic zingers, including one about Will Smith’s wife Jada’s medical condition. In what at first appeared to be a staged bit but was quickly revealed to be unrehearsed, Will Smith walked up to Chris Rock and aggressively slapped him. Smith was allowed to return to accept his Best Actor trophy and he gave a tearful speech, where he defended his actions and shamelessly appealed to the chauvinistic instic tot defend women’s honor. It was all profoundly uncomfortable and regrettable.
Although I was happy to see the ratings rise dramatically for last year’s ceremony, I became quite worried that the Academy would use the ratings rise as justification to double down on some of the terrible creative decisions they made last year. Thankfully, that is not the case. There is no Twitter-voted fan award this year and all 23 awards will be presented live on the telecast. For better or worse, this year actually feels like less a ratings-grab and more like a return to tradition as they are bringing back a white male standup comedian host (Jimmy Kimmel) and there is nary a hyped-up gimmick in sight.
Below, I dive into what we know about the ceremony itself before sharing my predictions in all 23 categories.
Previewing the 95th Academy Awards Ceremony
Last year, the lead-up to the Oscars telecast was filled with controversy and embarrassment as the Academy had a great deal of trouble finding hosts and the aforementioned changes they made to the telecast were met with a mix of rage and ridicule. This year, the Academy and ABC have been much quieter. Here is what we know.
- The ceremony will be broadcast live on ABC on Sunday, March 12th at 8pm EST/5pm PST. In an interesting, trend-bucking decision, the show will not be live streamed and one must access live television to watch it.
- The ceremony will be produced by Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss and directed by Weiss. Both Kirshner and Weiss have a long history producing live television events, including numerous Tony Awards, Kennedy Center Honors, Academy Awards, and Super Bowl Half Time Shows. Combined they have won 20 Emmys from 61 nominations.
- Late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel will host for the 3rd time after previously hosting the 2017 and 2018 telecasts. I have always found him to be a bit smug and not as funny as he thinks he is, but he was fine in his previous two hosting gigs so I’m fairly neutral on the choice. Just like last year, though, I still wish ABC had managed to lure the Only Murders in the Building trio of Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez, who I suspect would be terrific hosts.
- After the uproar caused by last year’s decision to present 8 awards off of the main telecast and then edit in brief recaps of the winners to the main telecast, all 23 awards will be presented on the telecast.
- Update: All 5 of the Best Original Song nominees will be performed on the telecast. Hours before the telecast began it was announced that Lady Gaga would in fact be performing “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick, despite the fact that it had been announced a few days back that a scheduling conflict with the filming of the Joker sequel would prevent her from doing so. Fresh off her pregnancy-revealing Super Bowl Halftime Show, Rihanna will perform “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Rahul Siplingunj and Kaala Bhairava will perform what promises to be a showstopping rendition of “Naatu Naatu” from the globally beloved Indian film RRR. David Byrne, Son Lux, and Best Supporting Actress nominee Stephanie Hsu will perform “This is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All At Once. Sofia Carson and Diane Warren will perform “Applause” from Tell It Like a Woman, which garnered Warren her 14th nomination in the category, which she has never won. Lenny Kravitz will also be performing as part of the In Memoriam Tribute.
- The list of presenters announced thus far is decidedly less bizarre than last year when e had some truly random presenters (e.g., Tony Hawk, Shaun White, Kelly Slater). Three of last year’s four acting winners will be back to present — Jessica Chastain, Troy Kotsur, and Ariana DeBose. (Thankfully, the Academy is forcing Will Smith to sit this one out.) We have a mix of bona fide Hollywood legends (e.g., Harrison Ford, Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman, Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant, John Travolta, Sigourney Weaver, Antonio Banderas), currently red-hot stars (e.g., Pedro Pascal, Riz Ahmed, Halle Bailey, John Cho, Andrew Garfield, Jonathan Majors, Janelle Monae, Elizabeth Olsen, Florence Pugh, Cara Delevigne, Dwayne Johnson, Paul Dano), reliable comedians (e.g., Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Melissa McCarthy, Mindy Kaling), and folks who seem to be invited to present every year no matter what (e.g., Salma Hayek, Kate Hudson, Eva Longoria).
Regarding ratings, I suspect that they will remain up this year. Not only was there a ton of buzz regarding last year’s ceremony that will undeniably lure back some former viewers, but it is also one of the most blockbuster-heavy lineups in history. Typically, visual effects-laden franchise films are relegated to technical categories or not nominated at all, but this year we have three sequels nominated in the top categories that grossed nearly $5 billion dollars combined at the global box office (i.e., Top Gun: Maverick, Avatar: The Way of Water, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever). Viewers also turned out in droves to see Elvis and Everything Everywhere All At Once in theaters and many other nominees have been attracting eyeballs for months on streaming services and digital rental platforms.
But even if the ratings stay high, they will never return to their 1990s heyday when they were appointment viewing for the nation. With the exception of the Super Bowl, no live telecasts unites the country like they did decades ago and its critical that ABC, the Academy, and all the news outlets that report on the Oscars stop embracing the argument that if the Oscars just become edgier and more populous they can retain their former ratings glory. The world and the industry have changed. And that’s okay.
PREDICTING THE WINNERS IN ALL 23 CATEGORIES
One thing I am almost positive of is that my accuracy will be significantly down from last year. Refreshingly, this is a wildly competitive year and there’s almost nowhere to go but down when you do as well as I did last year. (I correctly guessed 20 out of the 23 categories (87%), only missing Best Documentary Short Subject, Best Animated Short, and, regrettably, Best Picture.)
Without further ado, here are my predictions in all 23 categories.
The Specialty Film Categories:
Best Animated Feature: Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio; Marcel the Shell with Shoes On; Puss in Boots: The Last Wish; The Sea Beast; Turning Red. Indie darling Marcel the Shell with Shoes On and surprise holiday blockbuster Puss in Boots: The Last Wish could both transform audience enthusiasm and critical adoration into a surprise win, but I suspect this award belongs to Pinocchio. Guillermo Del Toro’s haunting stop-motion musical has dominated the season to date. Will Win: Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio Possible Upset: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Best International Feature Film: All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany); Argentina, 1985 (Argentina); Close (Belgium); EO (Poland); The Quiet Girl (Ireland). This is an exceptionally strong lineup, even with the heartbreaking absence of global blockbuster RRR (which India foolishly did not submit in the category). But it would be a genuine shock if the award went to anything but Edward Berger’s German-language remake of All Quiet on the Western Front, which scored nominations in 8 other categories and recently dominated the BAFTAs with 7 wins from a record-tying 14 nominations. If there is an upset, it is likely to be the critically acclaimed political drama Argentina, 1985. Will Win: All Quiet on the Western Front Possible Upset: Argentina, 1985
Best Documentary Feature: All That Breathes; All the Beauty and the Bloodshed; Fire of Love; A House Made of Splinters; Navalny. This is another strong lineup that appears to have a clear frontrunner in the form of Navalny, an HBO Max/CNN documentary about Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. It has won the BAFTA and Producers Guild Award and seems poised to take the Oscar as well. The most likely spoiler is Fire of Love, about the last days of two volcanologists. That film won the Directors Guild Award and has been available to stream on Disney+ for some time. Will Win: Navalny Possible Upset: Fire of Love
Best Documentary Short Subject: The Elephant Whisperers; Haulout; How Do You Measure a Year?; The Martha Mitchell Effect; Stranger at the Gate. The shorts are always a bit of a toss-up, but I am giving the tale of PTSD and Islamophobia Strangers at the Gate the slight edge over the animal-adoring The Elephant Whisperers. The latter gives off the vibe of recent winner My Octopus Teacher, but the former appears to have more support behind it and a weightier subject matter. Will Win: Stranger at the Gate Possible Upset: The Elephant Whisperers
Best Animated Short Film: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse; The Flying Sailor; Ice Merchants; My Year of Dicks; An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It. The acclaimed The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse has won the BAFTA and the Annie Award and has received a huge marketing push from Apple. It’s the film to beat. If anything upsets it, I expect it to be one of the cheekily titled competitors. Will Win: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse Possible Upset: An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It
Best Live Action Short Film: An Irish Goodbye; Ivalu; Le pupille; Night Ride; The Red Suitcase. Again, the shorts are notoriously tricky to predict, but I give the edge to Le pupille given its successful film festival run, the support from Disney+, and the involvement of four-time Oscar winner Alfonso Cuaron. However, the profile of An Irish Goodbye was certainly raised by its BAFTA win, which makes it a strong competitor. Will Win: Le pupille Possible Upset: An Irish Goodbye
The Technical/Craft Categories:
Best Original Score: All Quiet on the Western Front; Babylon; The Banshees of Inisherin; Everything Everywhere All at Once; The Fabelmans. This year, John Williams scored his 53rd Oscar nomination and became the oldest nominee in any category in Oscar history. That narrative should translate to a win, right? Well, I doubt it. I suspect that this is a race between the haunting strains of Volker Bertelmann’s score for All Quiet on the Western Front, a dialogue-light movie that heavily emphasizes sound and music, and Justin Hurwitz’s dazzling and innovative score for Babylon. I’m giving the edge to the film that was clearly liked more by voters overall. Will Win: All Quiet on the Western Front Possible Upset: Babylon
Best Original Song: “Lift Me Up,” Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; “This Is a Life,” Everything Everywhere All at Once; “Naatu Naatu,” RRR; “Applause,” Tell It Like a Woman; “Hold My Hand,” Top Gun: Maverick. Sorry, Diane Warren. I know you have gone 0-for-13 in the past here, but you will have to be content with your Honorary Oscar given that you have virtually no chance to win for a film so obscure that it didn’t even have a Wikipedia page as of nomination morning. I suspect that the winner here will be the show-stopping number that is a highlight of the beloved RRR. But you can’t count out the power of beloved pop superstars Rihanna and Lady Gaga. Had either of their songs better be received or bigger hits they could have upset the frontrunner, but I think this is one of the rare years of late where this award does not go to an A-lister. Will Win: “Naatu Naatu” Possible Upset: “Hold My Hand”
Best Cinematography: All Quiet on the Western Front; Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths; Elvis; Empire of Light; Tár. This is an utterly bizarre lineup that omitted the year’s true best (e.g., Top Gun: Maverick, Aftersun, The Banshees of Inisherin). Elvis or Tár could upset, but I would be surprised if All Quiet doesn’t take the award for how it hauntingly captures the horrors of trench warfare of WWI. Will Win: All Quiet on the Western Front Possible Upset: Elvis
Best Costume Design: Babylon; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Elvis; Everything Everywhere All at Once; Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris. Catherine Martin, the longtime wife and creative partner of Baz Luhrmann, won both Best Costume Design and Best Production Design for both Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby. She is nominated in both of those categories again this year for Elvis and also scored a nomination for Best Picture as one of the film’s producers. It seems unwise to bet against her, although the Old Hollywood costumes of Babylon were memorable and we could see Ruth E. Carter repeat her historic win for the original Black Panther. Will Win: Elvis Possible Upset: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Best Production Design: All Quiet on the Western Front; Avatar: The Way of Water; Babylon; Elvis; The Fabelmans. As mentioned above, it is never wise to bet against Catherine Martin. However, the heavy favorite during the precursors was undoubtedly Babylon’s recreation of debaucherous Old Hollywood, so I give it the slight edge. Will Win: Babylon Possible Upset: Elvis
Best Film Editing: The Banshees of Inisherin; Elvis; Everything Everywhere All at Once; Tár; Top Gun: Maverick. This and Best Sound are by far Top Gun: Maverick’s best bets to take home Oscar gold. However, it has a formidable competitor in Best Picture frontrunner Everything Everywhere, which features flashy and innovative editing as the characters leap through the multiverse. Will Win: Everything Everywhere All At Once Possible Upset: Top Gun: Maverick
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: All Quiet on the Western Front; The Batman; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Elvis; The Whale. When one of the frontrunners in a lead acting category has a performance that features heavy makeup work, it often results in the film also winning this category (e.g., The Iron Lady, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, The Darkest Hour, La Vie En Rose). That seems likely to happen again this year, but which of the two prosthetics-heavy films with a Best Actor frontrunner will be victorious? I give the slight edge to Elvis due to the complexities of recreating iconic moments in Hollywood history and the fact that The Whale’s use of a grotesque “fat suit” caused notable controversy. Will Win: Elvis Possible Upset: The Whale
Best Sound: All Quiet on the Western Front; Avatar: The Way of Water; The Batman; Elvis; Top Gun: Maverick. This is a neck-and-neck battle between All Quiet and Top Gun. Ultimately, I expect that the Academy will go for the battlefield cacophony of All Quiet over the aerial bombast of Top Gun because the Academy has demonstrated that it has trouble resisting war films in this category (in the last 25 years, 1917, Dunkirk, Hacksaw Ridge, American Sniper, Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker, Letters from Iwo Jima, Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor, U-571, and Saving Private Ryan have won Sound Oscars). Will Win: All Quiet on the Western Front Possible Upset: Top Gun: Maverick
Best Visual Effects: All Quiet on the Western Front; Avatar: The Way of Water; The Batman; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Top Gun: Maverick. This race may just be the biggest lock of the night. It’s hard to envision the Academy not feting the team that brought Avatar’s visually breathtaking water scenes to life, especially since they were impressed enough by the film to give it a Best Picture nomination. Will Win: Avatar: The Way of Water Possible Upset: Top Gun: Maverick
The Top 8 Categories:
Best Adapted Screenplay: Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson, and Ian Stokell, All Quiet on the Western Front; Kazuo Ishiguro, Living; Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie, Top Gun: Maverick; Rian Johnson, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery; Sarah Polley, Women Talking. The clear favorite here is Women Talking. Despite the fact that it was snubbed by BAFTA, it has won numerous precursor awards and the nomination of the film in Best Picture signals overall support for the film. Its closest competitor is All Quiet, which does not have a particularly impressive screenplay but would be an opportunity for the Academy to fete filmmaker Edward Berger, who was omitted from Best Director. Will Win: Women Talking Possible Upset: All Quiet on the Western Front
Best Original Screenplay: Todd Field, Tár; Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All At Once; Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin; Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness; Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner, The Fabelmans. This is a nail-biter of a race. In any other year, Banshees would be the clear favorite as it is written by an acclaimed previous Oscar winner and the film generated 8 other Oscar nominations, including 4 acting nominations. However, Everything Everywhere was written by the frontrunners for Best Director and scored 10 other Oscar nominations, including 4 acting nominations. And it’s hard to imagine people voting for Everything Everywhere across the board but not casting a vote for its audacious, original, and complex screenplay. Will Win: Everything Everywhere All At Once Possible Upset: The Banshees of Inisherin
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. Of the four acting categories, this one is the closest to locked. The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom star returned to film acting after nearly a three-decade absence and has so far won the SAG, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, National Society of Film Critics, New York Film Critics, and Los AngelesFilm Critics Awards for his role in Everything Everywhere. If anyone overtakes him it will be one of the Banshees men, with the slight edge going to Barry Keoghan following his somewhat surprising BAFTA win. Will Win: Ke Huy Quan Possible Upset: Barry Keoghan
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. In contrast to its male counterpart, this is the year’s most wide-open acting race. Angela Bassett won the Critics’ Choice and Golden Globe, Jamie Lee Curtis won the SAG, and Kerry Condon won the BAFTA. Although conventional wisdom says this is a race between industry veterans Bassett and Curtis, I am going out on a limb and saying Condon will triumph here. It is a brilliant performance, it could be seen as the sole place to reward Banshees (which may otherwise go home empty-handed), and — most importantly — it is unwise to ever bet on the Academy totally diverging from BAFTA in the acting categories. In the last eight years, BAFTA and Oscar have matched on at least thre eof hte four acting winners and I’m already predicting them to diverge in Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. I am guessing they will converge here. Will Win: Kerry Condon Possible Upset: Angela Bassett
Best Actor: Austin Butler, Elvis; Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin; Brenda Fraser, The Whale; Paul Mescal, Aftersun; Bill Nighy, Living. This is the other acting category I expect BAFTA and Oscar to converge. It is a neck-and-neck race between Austin Butler and Brendan Fraser. The former has the BAFTA and Golden Globe, a Best Picture-nominated film, and one of only two biopic performances this year. The latter has the SAG and the Critics’ Choice and an applause-worthy comeback, but his problematic film turned off many (including me). I give the slight edge to Butler. (And, for the record, Colin Farrell should be the clear frontrunner here!) Will Win: Austin Butler Possible Upset: Brendan Fraser
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, Tár; Ana de Armas, Blonde; Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie; Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans; Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All At Once. There is an ever-so-slight possibility that Andrea Riseborough could ride her controversial Oscar campaign all the way to a win, but the overwhelming likelihood is that this goes to either Yeoh or Blanchett. Both are Hollywood royalty, both have won major precursors (Yeoh won the SAG and Globe — Musical/Comedy, Blanchett won the Globe — Drama, Critics’ Choice, and BAFTA), and both star in widely adored Best Picture nominees. The key differences is that a win for Yeoh would make history (she would be the first Asian and second person of color to ever win this category), while a win for Blanchett would simply add to her overflowing awards case. I think that this distinction and the overall love for Everything Everywhere will push Yeoh to a narrow win. Will Win: Michelle Yeoh Possible Upset: Cate Blanchett
Best Director: Todd Field, Tár; Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All At Once; Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin; Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness; Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans. Along with Best Visual Effects and Best Supporting Actor, this seems like one of the clearest races of the night. I suspect the Daniels would have faced strong competition from Edward Berger had he made it in for All Quiet, but the four competitors they are facing have major detractors — Östlund’s film was divisive, McDonagh is seen primarily as a writer, Field’s film is (incorrectly) seen by many more as an acting triumph than a directorial one, and Spielberg’s film has had a shockingly drab awards season run to date. Will Win: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert Possible Upset: Steven Spielberg
Best Picture: All Quiet on the Western Front; Avatar: The Way of Water; The Banshees of Inisherin; Elvis; Everything Everywhere All At Once; The Fabelmans; Tár; Top Gun: Maverick; Triangle of Sadness; Women Talking. You would have to go all the way back to the very first time SAG gave out the award for Best Film Ensemble in 1995 to find a year when a film was feted by all three major guilds — SAG, DGA, and PGA — and then lost the Best Picture Oscar. (That year, Apollo 13 lost to Braveheart, which didn’t have a single major precursor win before it took the top Oscar.) Some have argued that Everything Everywhere is simply too weird to win here and while I understand that logic to some degree, I simply can’t figure out what would win instead. The most likely upset candidates appears to be All Quiet, but it feels unlikely to me that a foreign-language remake of a previous Best Picture winner that premiered on Netflix and failed to score a Best Director or acting nomination will triumph. Banshees would have a stronger shot if it wasn’t expected to lose virtually all of its other nominations. And Top Gun: Maverick would certainly be a crowd-pleasing choice, but if the Academy loved it to give it a win here, why didn’t they vote in bigger numbers for director Joseph Kosinski, star Tom Cruise, or cinematographer Claudio Miranda? Given how this race has played out, it would be a shocking and historic upset if anything beat Everything Everywhere. Will Win: Everything Everywhere All At Once Possible Upset: All Quiet on the Western Front
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