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2023 Oscars: Who Will Win and Who Should Win

Jimmy Kimmel poses with Oscar statues ahead of his third time hosting the event
Jimmy Kimmel poses with Oscar statues ahead of his third time hosting the event By Courtesy of EPK.TV
By Brady M. Connolly and Jonathan A. Schneiderman, Crimson Staff Writers

Best Picture

“All Quiet on the Western Front”
“Avatar: The Way of Water”
“The Banshees of Inisherin”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once”
“The Fabelmans”
“Top Gun: Maverick”
“Triangle of Sadness”
“Women Talking”

Will Win: “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
Should Win: “Tár”
Should Have Been Nominated: “Babylon”

Jonathan: This seems like an in-the-bag for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” And, like, that’s fine. It’s captured a generation’s imagination. Sure. But “Tár” is on another level. It’s been talked about as a cancel culture movie, but it’s really just a culture movie. That means it captures cancellation, yes, but also pretension, superficiality, ideology, power, and, above all, guilt. It captures all of these with absolute self-declaration. It should win.

Brady: I cannot say enough good things about “Tár.” More so than any of the other Best Picture nominees, I felt genuinely startled, excited, and disturbed upon my first watch. However, I am not as sure of “Everything Everywhere” being a lock to win. It seems the most likely scenario, but I believe it’s polarizing style may hurt its chances given the Academy’s ranked-choice voting system. If this were to happen, look for crowd-pleaser “Banshees of Inisherin” to play spoiler.

Jonathan: This article better top the Crimson’s “Most Read” sidebar if “Banshees” wins. Speaking of movies that fall alphabetically between “ba’athism” and “bar mitzvah,” it was disappointing to see Damien Chazelle ’07’s cocaine-fueled take on “Singin’ in the Rain” get snubbed for a nomination. If “Tár” imposes, “Babylon” bursts. Shame it couldn’t burst onto the slate of nominees; but it will burst onto filmgoing memory sooner or later.

Best Director

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

Will Win: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Should Win: Todd Field (Jonathan), Martin McDonagh (Brady)
Should Have Been Nominated: Park Chan-wook, “Decision to Leave”

Brady: The two Daniels have won most of the precursor awards and will likely seal the deal. Directing duos are cool! Also cool are the sweeping shots of the majestic Irish landscape that make “Banshees” so delightful to watch. Beyond natural beauty, McDonagh deftly and hilariously captures the fraternal intimacy of the Irish pub.

Jonathan: As much as I enjoy “Banshees,” and its digital mutilation, its cinematography is a subject on which you and I differ — as you think it is sweeping and majestic and I think it looks like an advertisement for an Irish tourism agency. “Tár”’s cinematography, on the other hand, approaches a splendid kind of ultra-modern bourgeois gothic. The edifices of today’s cultural elite become cathedrals of capitalism under Field’s gaze — and gaze is only one part of a decisive vision that registers throughout “Tár”’s runtime. “Tár” is not only great but also auteristic, and Field should win this. That would be a somewhat harder conclusion if his work were up against Park Chan-wook’s ethereal, Hitchcockian effort in “Decision to Leave.” You can always count on the Academy’s provincialism to make this kind of decision a little easier.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett, “Tár”
Ana de Armas, “Blonde”
Andrea Riseborough, “To Leslie”
Michelle Williams, “The Fabelmans”
Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Will Win: Cate Blanchett (Brady); Michelle Yeoh (Jonathan)
Should Win: Cate Blanchett
Should Have Been Nominated: Rooney Mara, “Women Talking” (Jonathan); Emma Thompson, “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” (Brady)

Jonathan: On the “Will Win” side, this is a toss-up. I think that Yeoh’s SAG win indicates that the momentum is in her favor — not to mention the fact that “Well-established screen presence and first-time nominee Michelle Yeoh becomes first Asian actress to win a lead performance Oscar” is a better story than “Cate Blanchett gets her third Oscar.” On the “Should Win” side, it’s a bit less of a toss-up. Blanchett and Yeoh are both excellent, but Blanchett, with the benefit of a better screenplay, casts a longer shadow.

Brady: Blanchett’s turn as the EGOT-winning, ego-obsessed composer Lydia Tár has taken on a life of its own on Twitter, and rightfully so; the performance is unforgettable. Regardless of your love for “the televised horse race of it all,” it is impossible to watch “Tár” and remain oblivious to the fact that you are watching a great performance. As for Emma Thompson, her dialogue-heavy performance in “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” was simultaneously heart-breaking and eye-opening. Plus, Emma Thompson is just wonderful.

Jonathan: I would have been happy to see any of the plausibly leading actresses of the ensemble “Women Talking” be nominated. But Rooney Mara was the one the studio promoted for lead, so Rooney Mara’s the one who should have been nominated. The film is a tribute to the power of spoken conversation and deliberation, to the gentle electricity that can come of people — in this case, mostly women — talking, and everyone, not least Mara, pulls her weight.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Austin Butler, “Elvis”
Colin Farrell, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”
Paul Mescal, “Aftersun”
Bill Nighy, “Living”

Will Win: Austin Butler (Brady), Brendan Fraser (Jonathan)
Should Win: Brendan Fraser (Jonathan), Paul Mescal (Brady)
Should Have Been Nominated: Daniel Craig, “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”

Brady: Jonathan, you said it best in your rundown of the Oscar nominees. The Academy loves mimesis, and Butler is the best lookalike on the list. And I say that not to minimize his artistry. In a movie as wonky and inconsistent as “Elvis,” Butler manages to deliver a highly nuanced and poignant portrayal of The King. The closing scene of Butler singing “Unchained Melody” was one of my favorites from 2022. However, Mescal anchors his second ever film with an emotional depth that literally made my stomach ache. As a young father struggling with depression as much as parenthood, Mescal taps into beauty and tragedy in a manner far more captivating than any of his fellow nominees.

Jonathan: The Academy does love mimesis, but “Elvis” is such an un-Oscarbaity film that I don’t know if that will figure in. Butler doesn’t feel as though he’s doing a painstaking impression; he feels like a ball of musico-sexual energy. But maybe that very combination of historical impersonation with awesomeness will win the Academy over. I certainly wouldn’t complain, but I would really like to see Fraser win. He’s so lovely and understated in “The Whale,” and he’s got a classic comeback story to lift him over the finish line. As for Daniel Craig: I ranted about this in my nominations rundown, so I’ll keep this short: The Academy hates good vibes. Good vibes are good, so this is bad. Daniel Craig should be winning this thing.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

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”

Will Win: Angela Bassett
Should Win: Angela Bassett (Jonathan), Kerry Condon (Brady)
Should Have Been Nominated: Jessie Buckley, “Women Talking” (Jonathan); Frankie Corio, “Aftersun” (Brady)

Jonathan: This is a really weak category this year, and I’m not enthusiastic about any of the nominees. Bassett is the best of the lot and is (Jamie Lee Curtis’s SAG win notwithstanding) the clear favorite. But Jessie Buckley, who brings her signature bite to “Women Talking,” should be in the running. Is it my favorite Buckley performance to date? No. But it stands out among this year’s crop.

Brady: I agree with the assessment of this year’s category as being weak. Angela Bassett certainly did a thing with her performance, but I am not quite sure it was THE thing. “Wakanda Forever” rushes her through the mourning process of T’Challa’s death, and Disney seems to be building her entire campaign on one (admittedly striking) monologue. Not that a supporting actor cannot accomplish amazing feats with limited screen time, but Queen Ramonda is no Fantine. Condon is afforded much more time to develop a compelling character and does a wonderful job, but she is not the best part of “Banshees.” It is hard not to believe that Corio fell victim to the Academy’s bias against young actors; the control and heart she exhibits in “Aftersun” sticks with you.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

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”

Will Win: Ke Huy Quan
Should Win: Brendan Gleeson (Jonathan), Barry Keoghan (Brady)
Should Have Been Nominated: Jovan Adepo, “Babylon” (Jonathan); Brad Pitt, “Babylon”

Brady: Quan is the biggest lock of the evening. Keoghan plays the part of the village fool in a way that is immensely endearing and uniquely hilarious. In a film full of wonderful performances, Keoghan is the standout. As for Pitt, I was not a fan of his 2020 win for “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” because his performance felt like a stale caricature of his real-life persona. “Babylon” does not veer far from this persona, but it explores its depths in a manner that is so much smarter, engaging, and devastating. The Oscars are notorious for awarding deserving actors too late, but with Pitt, they did it too early.

Jonathan: Gleeson is wonderfully moody. But Jovan Adepo, man. There’s this one shot in “Babylon'' where he’s just been made to put on blackface so that he won’t appear white in the black-and-white music film in which his character is starring; because if he appeared white, then the all-Black band would appear interracial, and if the all-Black band appeared interracial then the film couldn’t be screened in the South. The shot zooms in on him as he blows his trumpet through the cork, and there’s an intensity and a pride and a shame and an artistic seriousness coming from him that you just don’t forget. One reads and hears much about the humiliation of blackface, but I felt something new watching Adepo’s turn in “Babylon.” His whole performance is great; that scene alone should win him the Oscar.

—Staff writer Brady M. Connolly can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @bradyconnolly44.

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