The other main Oscars (in no particular order… and no offence to the others not listed below, but I assume you wish to finish reading this article before the actual Oscars take place…)
Winner: This is pretty much sawn up for All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany), and deservedly so.
Threat: Argentina, 1985… but it is a long, long, long shot.
Winner: Again, All Quiet should win this one handsomely. The tonal choices are spot on throughout the movie, colour seeps in only when necessary, leaving the greys of uniforms and ominous skies to blend in with the muddy browns of the battlefields.
Winner: This is Top Gun: Maverick's to lose. The sound artists at Skywalker Sound did a great job in ensuring sound effects, music and dialogue are mixed in a way that harmonises them without one element stepping on the toes of the other two. This is Hollywood sound at its best.
Threat: All Quiet. The Lewis Milestone-directed 1930 version of the film still stands today as one of the best (and earliest) uses of sound in a movie. It is no surprise to see the new version take its place amongst the favourites this year. It could win if this becomes All Quiet’s night instead of Everything’s.
Winner: Justin Hurwitz’s score for Damien Chazelle’s extravaganza Babylon should walk away with this one. The movie relies so much on its score, both in the story and as commentary - as it is always the case with Chazelle’s movies - and Hurwitz meets the challenge very effectively.
Threat: John Williams’ score for The Fabelmans is one of the least John Williams-sounding score in a very long time. It is subtle, tender, and almost unassuming. A most refreshing and welcome surprise by the most celebrated film composer of our time, and it would be a pleasant outcome should he win… again.
Winner: Everything/Top Gun. This is a fun one to call, but also one of the most difficult. A number of nominees here would be worthy winners but two stand out: Everything (yes, again) and Top Gun: Maverick. The latter is edited to make your heartbeat faster in the flying sequences, and slower in the more intimate moments (which make up some of the best moments of the movie).
But Everything should win just for the sheer complexity of holding the film together. Editing footage so disparately filmed, jumping across times and places is a true feat worthy of an Academy Award.
Threat: whichever one of the two does not win!
Winner: Once again, the visual period extravaganza that is Babylon should take the Oscar home for the production design team. The sets are worthy of the period Babylon is set in, and they are built and articulated like a fine watch to allow Chazelle’s fluid camera movement, as well as helping set the tone of the story, two of the hallmarks of great production design.
Threat: Elvis. Another period movie that, like other music biopics before it, needs to be very inventive with sets as well as being (or at least looking) as authentic as audiences would expect, and the movie achieves that for another director who, like Chazelle, loves a very fluid camera, Baz Luhrmann.
Winner: Do you really need me to predict this one? Ok then, Avatar: The Way of the Water. I could write an article here on the amazing results of several years of experimentation, innovation and testing that show up on the screen in Cameron’s movie.
The WETA team in New Zealand sits atop the pantheon of visual effects companies right now, and rightly so. And as always with Cameron, nothing is left half-baked. He is famously - some may say fastidiously - a perfectionist, and Avatar’s visual effects are one of his most precise creations.
Threat: None whatsoever, but if pushed I’d say Top Gun: Maverick has that 1% chance.
Winner: Can you lock an Oscar in a movie trailer? Can an actor in a Marvel movie ever win one such acting awards? Both questions will be answered with a resounding yes on the night of Sunday 12 February 2023. Ever since the first trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever was released the mind of most Oscar voters was made up that Angela Bassett was the positive answer to those two questions.
Threat: Despite a very good year for supporting performances, no one is even approaching the favourite status that Bassett holds. However, do check out Stephanie Hsu (and Jamie Lee Curtis, also nominated in this category) in Everything. She is a real talent so expect her to be asked to the Oscars gig again very soon.
Winner: Remember Short Round from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? No? I would not blame you. Key Hui Quan’s career got off to a great start with Spielberg’s movie only to come crashing down to the reality of being Asian in an industry that, at the time, had little or no room for Asian actors.
The delicious irony of his now almost certain Oscar is that it comes in a film (Everything…) that enables him to play the gamut of Asian roles on screen, from the comedic to the action hero all the way to the suave (yes, he can). Like Brendan Fraser’s this comeback story is one based on talent and resilience.
Threat: virtually none, and not because the other actors on this list are not good. This was a bumper year with great performances in this category, but none has the added poignancy and variety of the star of Everything.
Winner: All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. It is extremely rare for a documentary to win film festivals and this one won no less than Venice's Golden Lion last year. It is topical (opiods crisis) and has a strong central character to root for (the photographer Nan Goldin, who fought against one of the largest pharmaceutical corporations to expose the opiods crisis in the US).
It does not hurt to have one of the best directors of documentaries at the helm, Laura Poitras.
Threat: One of my favourite docs from last year, Fire of Love. A love story set against the backdrop of fiery volcanoes, need I say more? Watch it if you can.
Winner: Guillermo del Toro should take home the Oscar for his version of Pinocchio. His interpretation is closer to the Italian original tale (a much scarier and darker story that the better-known child-friendly Disney version) and the animation is both effective and inventive.
Threat: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is a delightfully animated movie and, frankly, it’d get my vote (but, as I said, I am not one of ’them’). Fun and inventive in equal measure (worth noting that A24 is behind both Marcel and Everything) it has a soul you cannot help but fall in love with. You don’t believe me? Then meet Marcel!