Salon's totally (possibly) infallible Oscar predictions: Who will win? And who should win?

A handy guide for filling out your Oscars pool – and now you just need to worry about what apps to serve Sunday

Published March 11, 2023 2:59PM (EST)

Michelle Yeoh in "Everything Everywhere All at Once" (Allyson Riggs/A24)
Michelle Yeoh in "Everything Everywhere All at Once" (Allyson Riggs/A24)

For many Oscar fans worried about the direction of the Motion Picture Academy, this year's pack of nominations might have seemed like a ray of hope. Sure, many of the above-the-line nominations lacked racial and gender diversity (particularly the six people nominated for best director, only one of whom is not a white man), but even a look at the 10 Best Picture nominees shows how committed the Academy seems to be in making good on its 2009 promise to celebrate a wider range of films, not simply the usual Oscar bait that, for better or worse, has dominated the field for decades.

There's a good mix of classic prestige art films ("TÁR," "The Banshees of Inisherin," "Women Talking"), a few biopics ("Elvis," "The Fabelmans") some of the year's biggest blockbusters ("Avatar: The Way of Water," "Top Gun: Maverick") and movies that indicate the Academy is willing to explore beyond it previous boundaries (case in point: the 10-minute vomiting extravaganza in "Triangle of Sadness").

Perhaps the easiest way to tell that this year's best picture race is moving in a new direction is simply by looking at the release dates of the nominees. Three of this year's nominees were released before August of 2022, when most Oscar bait usually starts to appear in festivals and release in theaters. This includes "Elvis," released in June, and "Top Gun: Maverick," released in May. Even frontrunner "Everything Everywhere All At Once" was released to theaters in March of 2022, the week of last year's Oscar ceremony. If that film takes home the biggest prize, it'll have the earliest American release for any best picture winner since the 1970s, when the ritual of releasing almost all of the year's best picture nominees in the last weeks of the year started to take hold. If we want an end to the Academy's reliance on Oscar bait, "Everywhere Everywhere All At Once" may be our way out.

Come Sunday, we'll see how committed to change the Motion Picture Academy is once the awards start rolling in. Below is Salon's guide on what to expect from Oscars night in all of the ceremony's categories. Who will emerge with the most wins? Who will be shut out completely? How many tasteless Will Smith slap jokes will various emcees make throughout the night? (Our prediction for that last one is a pitiful nine, with three of those appearing during the opening monologue.) Read our predictions for Sunday's celebration of some of the best films of 2022.

The 95th Academy Awards ceremony will air Sunday, March 12 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC.

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"


This year's best picture race has been "Everything Everywhere All At Once's" to lose from the very start. Since its premiere at South by Southwest in March 2022 and its meteoric rise to the top of critics and audience lists everywhere (and all at once), including becoming the highest-rated film of all time on the movie reviewing platform Letterboxd, "Everything Everywhere All At Once" has only built up momentum going into the awards season. Fierce competitors have arisen at certain points over the past several months, but no film has knocked it from its first place position for long enough to present a serious challenge over the top award. 


Should Win: "TÁR"


In a year full of incredible nominees (and "Elvis"), the one that shines above the rest is "TÁR," a beautifully understated film that shines a light on the predatory narcissism of "great" artists. Everything in this film is an achievement, from its slow-burning screenplay to its discreetly artful cinematography to Cate Blanchett's career-defining performance as the titular Tár. A win for this film would be nothing less than felicitous in a post-#MeToo Hollywood. 


Best Director

Martin McDonagh ("The Banshees of Inisherin")

Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan ("Everything Everywhere All at Once")

Steven Spielberg ("The Fabelmans")

Todd Field ("TÁR")

Ruben Östlund ("Triangle of Sadness") 


Will Win: Steven Spielberg, "The Fabelmans"


Spielberg's newest film has been lauded as his most personal, and is certainly an integral look into the mind of one of Hollywood's most important directors. And of course, there's nothing that the Academy loves to award more than movies about movies. A look at past winners for best director over the past decade finds artists like Damien Chazelle for "La La Land," Alejandro González Iñárritu for "Birdman," and even Michel Hazanvicius for the largely forgettable "The Artist" coming out on top over their competitors for focusing on the personal processes of creating art. So it's a good bet to count on the prolific Hollywood auteur directing his own "director origin story" to get the votes for best director.


Should Win: Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, "Everything Everywhere All At Once"


Many outlets have named the Daniels as the most likely to pick up best director, namely due to the fact that their film is an easy frontrunner for the top award of the night. And historically, this is a safe bet to make; of the 95 films that have won best picture, 67 of them have won best director. However, tides have turned over the past decade, with only four of the last 10 best picture winners also picking up best director as well. The Daniels also have their fair share of awards from precursor ceremonies, including the Critics Choice Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Directors Guild Awards, which are important, but with Spielberg having snagged the Golden Globe earlier this year, the Oscar seems like Spielberg's to lose. The Daniels certainly deserve the award, however, for bringing their unique vision to the screen and making one of the most quirky and engaging films of 2022. A win for the Scheinert and Kwan would be a victory for a new style of directing that breathes new life into the established tastes of the Academy.

Best Actress

Ana de Armas ("Blonde")

Cate Blanchett ("TÁR")

Andrea Riseborough ("To Leslie")

Michelle Yeoh ("Everything Everywhere All at Once")

Michelle Williams ("The Fabelmans")


Will Win: Michelle Yeoh, "Everything Everywhere All At Once"


Despite a misstep earlier this week that may have violated the Academy's rules of telling voters not to cast their ballots for their competitors, Michelle Yeoh is a worthy winner for best actress. Between her and Cate Blanchett, best actress is without a doubt this year's closest race in terms of both quality of performance and odds to win, and the closest race in this category in decades. Both have won their fair share of precursor awards, with Michelle Yeoh picking up the SAG Award, the Indie Spirit Award, and the Golden Globe for musical/comedy performance, and Blanchett taking home the Critics Choice Award, the BAFTA, and the Golden Globe for drama performance. Yeoh's advantage, though, is her lack of a previous win; no matter how deserving of the award many voters may think Blanchett is, it'll be a tough sell for them to give the star her third Oscar instead of awarding Yeoh her long-overdue first. 


Should Win: Cate Blanchett, "TÁR"


In my mind, the optimal scenario for the best actress award is a repeat of 1968's ceremony, when Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand tied for their fabulous performances in "The Lion in Winter" and "Funny Girl," respectively. It would be only fitting for a tie to happen in the category again this year, between two actresses who gave the best performances of their respective careers, and for which have accumulated a similar amount of awards. It would also be an affirmation that, when it comes down to splitting hairs, great awards ceremonies should be about celebration of greatness in toto, not simply as a zero-sum game.


In the very likely event that doesn't happen, though, the most deserving winner is Blanchett, who gives not only the most subtle and nuanced performance of her own career, but one of the greatest acting performances in history. (Plus, she's the only nominated actress whose fictional character now has a viral Twitter account, which is truly a testament to how much fans adore her performance.) It's a true achievement to play a horrible person in such a way that the audience is transfixed on their greatness but disgusted by their personality, and Blanchett walks this line beautifully. Her performance is also naturalistic in a way that most of the nominated performances are not. Sure, Andrea Riseborough gives an authentic portrayal of the horrors and sorrow of alcoholism, but does she talk for five minutes about Mahler's Fifth and Leonard Bernstein in such a way that, for a moment, you forget you're watching a film and not an obnoxiously pretentious interview with one of the world's leading conductors? Luckily, if Blanchett does lose, we can just pretend that her also-very-deserving award for "Blue Jasmine" was actually meant to honor this film. 

Best Actor

Paul Mescal ("Aftersun")

Colin Farrell ("The Banshees of Inisherin")

Austin Butler ("Elvis")

Bill Nighy ("Living")

Brendan Fraser ("The Whale")


Will Win: Austin Butler, "Elvis"


Like best actress, the race for best actor has been fairly close between two eligible contenders, the other being Brendan Fraser for "The Whale." What was once Fraser's race to win has now flipped gradually in Butler's favor after a decisive win at the Golden Globes, an award that has correctly predicted the best actor Oscar winner in nine out of the last 10 years. It's also very safe to bet on a biopic for a lead acting category; just ask Will Smith, Rami Malek, Gary Oldman or Eddie Redmayne, who all won for varying levels of transformative biopic performances. Butler falls squarely in the middle of this pack, giving a decent performance that adopts some of the affectations of its subject and loosely parodies the other ones. His performance is certainly the most engaging part of an otherwise mediocre movie, and his win will likely age as well as most of the other previous winners I just mentioned.


Should Win: Brendan Fraser, "The Whale"


It's true that Hollywood loves a good comeback story, and that's been the main factor on Brendan Fraser's side this awards season. The quality of his performance, however, should speak for itself. Fraser is authentic and human in a movie that unfortunately chooses to focus on more grotesque, and admittedly fatphobic, elements of the overweight character's story. It's a role that showed the world we were finally ready for the completion of the Brendan Fraser comeback arc, and that he could give us more than we ever expected from the "George of the Jungle" star. But instead, the award will go to someone giving a decent, if corny, Elvis impression. 


A close second and third are Colin Farrell in "The Banshees of Inisherin," who gives a very similar performance about loneliness and isolation, and Paul Mescal, whose breakout film performance in "Aftersun" earned1 him his well-deserved first nomination and the film its only acknowledgement of the night.

Best Supporting Actress

Kerry Condon ("The Banshees of Inisherin")

Angela Bassett ("Black Panther: Wakanda Forever")

Jamie Lee Curtis ("Everything Everywhere All at Once")

Stephanie Hsu ("Everything Everywhere All at Once")

Hong Chau ("The Whale")


Will Win: Angela Bassett, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"


It's typically the case that when a film has two or more nominations in the same acting category, the award will go to a different film. The logic behind that is pretty reasonable, as no matter how many supporters a film has, the votes for the film will be split between the two or more nominees, giving another actor the plurality of votes. It's part of the reason Duvall, Pacino and Caan, who were all up for best supporting actor for "The Godfather," all lost to Joel Grey. I believe this year will follow the rule, and not the exception, when it comes to Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu in "Everything Everywhere All At Once." They both give very celebrated performances, and though Curtis' award campaign has dominated this awards season, it's unlikely either of them will accumulate enough votes to rise to the top of the category. Angela Bassett, however, plays a central role in the sequel to "Black Panther," and is long overdue for an award after more than 30 stellar years in the industry. She's also accumulated several precursor awards this season, most importantly the Golden Globe for best supporting actress, so her win is all but a lock.


Should Win: Hong Chau, "The Whale"


Hong Chau should have clinched this award in 2018 for her heartbreaking performance as Ngoc Lan Tran in Alexander Payne's "Downsizing," an otherwise disappointing film made interesting entirely due to Chau's acting chops. Chau wasn't even nominated for that film, but her performance in "The Whale" is equally impressive and heartbreaking, helping balance Fraser's pervasive optimism with a constant, more grounded realism. Chau never overplays her role with large, dramatic gestures, but doesn't stay in the background either, and the film is made better by her paradoxically cold and caring presence throughout. While this will be Chau's second snub for well-deserving performances, she's shown with her impressive career so far that she has the talent to gather many more nominations in the near future. 


A close second is Kerry Condon, who, like Chau, provides a balance to the male presence in her film, "The Banshees of Inisherin." "Banshees" is very much a male-centric movie, as evinced by its impressive three male acting nominations, yet Condon is the glue that holds the emotional core of film together, both fomenting and solving much of the tension that arises between Farrell's and Gleeson's characters. 

Best Supporting Actor


Brendan Gleeson ("The Banshees of Inisherin")

Barry Keoghan ("The Banshees of Inisherin")

Brian Tyree Henry ("Causeway")

Ke Huy Quan ("Everything Everywhere All at Once")

Judd Hirsch ("The Fabelmans")


Will Win: Ke Huy Quan, "Everything Everywhere All At Once"


Just as "Everything Everywhere All At Once's" multiple supporting actress nominations will make it hard for either actress to win the award, the nominations of both Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan for the "The Banshees of Inisherin," while absolutely deserved, essentially ensures that neither of them will get enough votes to take home the statue for best supporting actor. This is not to say that Ke Huy Quan is undeserving, or even that he wasn't a clear frontrunner before "Banshees" was released. Quan's role as Waymond Wang is the most impressive acting performance in "Everything Everywhere," with seamless transitions between the two multiverse versions of his character several times throughout the film. In addition, Quan provides the most crucial emotional core of the movie, and his climactic monologue in one of 2022's most powerful scenes continues to be quoted to death on film Twitter. Quan has also won nearly all of the precursor awards for this category, save the BAFTA, so it's really no contest.


Should Win: Brendan Gleeson, "The Banshees of Inisherin"


As delightful as Quan is in "Everything," Gleeson's performance opposite Farrell in "The Banshees of Inisherin" is solemnly beautiful, and certainly stands out as one of the finest moments of his career. Another actor may have gone over the top with this character's newfound hatred of his previous best friend, but Gleeson is a master at understatement in nearly every performance, and this one is no exception. His second collaboration with McDonagh and Farrell, Gleeson steals the film, and in a year without "Everything Everywhere All at Once," the award would be his to lose.

Best Original Screenplay

Martin McDonagh ("The Banshees of Inisherin")

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert ("Everything Everywhere All at Once")

Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner ("The Fabelmans")

Todd Field ("TÁR")

Ruben Östlund ("Triangle of Sadness")


Will Win: Martin McDonagh, "The Banshees of Inisherin"


Martin McDonagh is one of the most unique screenwriters of the 21st century, crafting both one of its most brilliant black comedies with "In Bruges," and one of its most painful dramas with "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." "The Banshees of Inisherin" is a great mix of these two genres, with McDonagh managing to create a muted tapestry of loneliness and sorrow that still leaves you holding your sides laughing. He's a unique talent, and his success at both the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs make McDonagh a likely and deserving winner in this category.


Should Win: Todd Field, "TÁR"


A great screenplay is a very hard thing to define, but one way might be "a screenplay that turns the dullest ideas into the most thrilling moments." In this way, Todd Field crafted a masterpiece of a screenplay with "TÁR," which opens with a nearly six-minute long interview with the fictional conductor Lydia Tár that holds no bearing whatsoever on the direction of the rest of the film. Another screenwriter would throw this scene on the cutting room floor, but Field chooses to keep it in as our very protracted, very slow introduction to the titular character, and in the process, creates the most engaging opening scene of the year. And the film is full of scenes like this one, scenes that expect you to stop paying attention but refuse to let you do so, scenes that are so elegantly paced that you hardly notice that nobody has moved a muscle in the last five minutes. 

Best Adapted Screenplay

Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson and Ian Stokell ("All Quiet on the Western Front")

Rian Johnson ("Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery")

Kazuo Ishiguro ("Living")

Peter Craig, Ehren Kruger, Justin Marks, Christopher McQuarrie, and Eric Warren ("Top Gun: Maverick")

Sarah Polley ("Women Talking")


Will Win: Sarah Polley, "Women Talking"


One of only two categories in which this largely underappreciated film was nominated, best adapted screenplay seems like the most likely chance for "Women Talking" to score an award on Sunday night. If the name of the film wasn't a dead giveaway, "Women Talking" is nothing without its powerful screenplay, which reads like an Ancient Greek dialogue on the nature of religion and submission. The film never feels pandering or unthoughtful during its lengthy discussions on rape and misogyny, and the fact that it holds together at all despite being little more than a two-hour long conversation is a sheer testament to the power of Polley's screenplay. In addition, not only did "Women Talking" win the adapted screenplay award at the Writers Guild Awards and the Critics Choice Awards, it was the only one of the five films to be nominated for the Golden Globe for best screenplay, which certainly gives it a leg up on its competitors.


Should Win: Sarah Polley, "Women Talking"


Come on Academy, honor at least one film directed by a woman this year.

Best Animated Feature

"Marcel the Shell With Shoes On"

"Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio"

"Puss in Boots: The Last Wish"

"The Sea Beast"

"Turning Red"


Will Win: "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio"


This year's ceremony ranks as one of the best for nominees in the relatively young animated feature category, with all three of the top contenders representing a step away from the preference given toward computer animation over the past 20 years. "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" follows in the footsteps of "Into the Spider-Verse," using a more stylized version of computer animation that places less emphasis on the animated "realism" of its predecessors in the "Shrek" franchise. Both "Marcel the Shell With Shoes On" and "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio" also eschew CGI in favor of stop-motion, a form of animation that has been greatly underrepresented in the category. This is the first year that both the top two contenders are stop motion, and if either of them win, they'll be the first winner since 2005, and only the third ever, to not be exclusively computer-animated. While they are nearly neck-and-neck in the standings, "Pinocchio" is the most likely to win after receiving the Golden Globe in January. Del Toro's widely celebrated comments on animation being "cinema" and not simply "a genre for kids" probably haven't hurt the film's chances either.


Should Win: "Marcel the Shell With Shoes On"


"Marcel the Shell With Shoes On" arrived in 2022 as one of the most endearing films in recent memory, and in a year without "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio," it probably would win. The film is delightful for any age group (which I'm sure would make Del Toro proud), and its messages about family and loss are universal to nearly every viewer. That the film is not tailored to any specific age group is perhaps most evident in the fact that a significant portion of the film hinges on "60 Minutes" anchor Lesley Stahl, a celebrity that most eight-year-olds probably wouldn't recognize. The biggest hindrance to "Marcel's" chances at the Oscars, however, is its extensive use of live-action footage that prompted serious discussion as to its eligibility within the category. It's easy to imagine many voters discounting the film because of this, so "Pinocchio" is a much safer bet.

Best International Feature

"All Quiet on the Western Front"

"Argentina, 1985"



"The Quiet Girl"


Will Win: "All Quiet on the Western Front"


The Academy has seemingly adopted a regular policy since 2018 of nominating at least one foreign film for best picture every year, which it has done every year, save for 2021 (even then, if you count "Minari," an American film with predominantly Korean dialogue). In many ways, this is great news, as it promotes a wider appreciation of films within the Academy. The problem with this trend, though, is the resulting predictability of the winner for best international feature. A good rule of thumb is whichever foreign film is nominated for best picture will win best international feature, so it's safe to assume that "All Quiet on the Western Front" will take home the international feature award. That being said, don't discount "Argentina, 1985," which took home the award at the Golden Globes.


Should Win: "Close"


Not only is "Close" the best film nominated in this category, it's the best film of 2022, period. It tells a beautiful story of two young boys who display close affection for one another, but start to drift apart once they are assumed to be gay by their peers. The film is equal parts euphoric and devastating (OK, maybe much more devastating than euphoric), and is a masterwork of cinema in all aspects, winning the Grand Prix at last year's Cannes Film Festival. It's a shame that it will likely be overshadowed by more prominent nominees in this category, namely "All Quiet on the Western Front," because it is one of those brilliant films that only come around once every few years.

Best Documentary Feature

"All That Breathes"

"All the Beauty and the Bloodshed"

"Fire of Love"

"A House Made of Splinters"



Will Win: "Navalny"


This is a pretty close race, with all of the documentaries having some edge in precursor award shows. "Navalny" won best documentary at the BAFTAs, which gives it some reputation going into Sunday night. The film also has some year-best moments, including a very fateful phone call during the middle of the film, which anyone who's watched the film will remember. Most importantly, however, the film features very heavy criticisms of Putin, which would make this documentary a timely win in the category following the invasion of Ukraine last year. I'm sure many Academy voters will have that in their minds as they cast their ballots.


Should Win: "A House Made of Splinters"


Ironically, the film that should win this category has even more explicit connections to the war in Ukraine, centering on an orphanage in eastern Ukraine that takes care of children whose families have been torn apart, often by alcoholism. Not only does this film show a very tragic reality of life in one of the most dangerous places on Earth currently, it is incredibly well-structured and makes great use of the filmic form to shine a light on the lives of real-life people in a way that no other documentary from this batch of nominees has done. 

Best Cinematography

"All Quiet on the Western Front"

"Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths"


"Empire of Light"



Will Win: "All Quiet on the Western Front"


This is a category that seems easy for a film like "All Quiet on the Western Front" to win, given the dearth of good nominees this year. While visually striking films like "Nope," "Aftersun" or even "The Banshees of Inisherin" were shut out of the category, we were given nominees that ranged from dull ("Empire of Light," easily one of Roger Deakins' least inspiring works) to nauseating ("Elvis," which follows Baz Luhrmann's typical "everything, in your face, all at once" template). "All Quiet on the Western Front" shines among these nominees as a cinematographically impressive war film (which, second to science fiction movies, is one of the preferred categories for best cinematography) with plenty of beautifully composed battle scenes, along with the occasional still frame of nature to represent the absence of humanity during wartime.


Should Win: "TÁR"


Is it any surprise that I said "TÁR" again? It's a masterwork in practically every field, not the least of which is the cinematography, which, like the rest of the film, is incredibly understated. This feature of "TÁR's" cinematography actually makes it a surprising nominee, as the Academy tends to overlook films that focus on subtler uses of framing and camera techniques in favor of an in-your-face style. The camerawork perfectly complements every scene, with cinematographer Florian Hoffmeister often making use of long takes or still frames to accentuate the power of simple conversations. Then, of course, there are the outstanding symphony scenes, which are incredible in their own way.


Best Film Editing

"The Banshees of Inisherin"


"Everything Everywhere All at Once"


"Top Gun: Maverick"


Will Win: "Everything Everywhere All At Once"


A helpful trick for guessing which film will win in a certain category is to substitute "best" in the title for "most." While the nominees for each category are chosen by professionals that work within that branch (i.e. editors vote for editing, cinematographers vote for cinematography), the final round of voting allows everyone to vote on every category. This sometimes leads to films winning not for the best use of editing, but the most noticeable. Basically, more rapid cuts means greater chance of winning the dditing category. (That's how you get winners like "Bohemian Rhapsody" in 2019.) "Everything Everywhere All At Once" falls into this trend, not necessarily as a poorly edited film, but as a film whose editing choices are more immediately  memorable than those of its competitors. Think about that two-minute scene toward the end of "Everything," where Michelle Yeoh screams as endless shots of her face from different multiverses flash past. Now try to remember any specific moment of editing in any other nominee this year. Exactly.


Should Win: "Top Gun: Maverick"


The reason that "Top Gun: Maverick's" flying sequences work so well is down to the film's impressive film editing. It doesn't just have to do with rapid cuts between the jet's low-altitude maneuvers and Tom Cruise's face slowly losing oxygen (although that certainly does help). It has to do with the spatial relationships of cuts, connecting the flight command center on the ground to Cruise's jet in the sky both physically and narratively; with the tension and release of shot lengths that make the hairs on your neck stand up without you quite knowing the reason why; and yes, Cruise's face slowly losing oxygen. Editor Eddie Hamilton's invisible guiding hand during these scenes, and during the entire film, is the reason why "Top Gun: Maverick" felt the way that it did, and he certainly deserves an award for his achievement.

Best Visual Effects

"All Quiet on the Western Front"

"Avatar: The Way of Water"

"The Batman"

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"

"Top Gun: Maverick"


Will Win: "Avatar: The Way of Water"


It would be nearly impossible to beat "Avatar: The Way of Water" for this category, not only for its massive scope, but also for the sheer fact that it's a film over 10 years in the making. In typical James Cameron style, entirely new methods of filming and motion capture had to be invented just for this movie, specifically designing a new method of motion capture that would work for filming underwater. In essence, when it comes to the Award for Best Visual Effects, never bet against James Cameron.


Should Win: "Avatar: The Way of Water"


Come on, it's "Avatar."

Best Sound

"All Quiet on the Western Front"

"The Batman"

"Avatar: The Way of Water"


"Top Gun: Maverick"


Will Win: "Top Gun: Maverick"


If "Top Gun: Maverick" deserves to win one award on Sunday, it's for sound. As with film editing, the sound design of "Top Gun: Maverick" is integral to how the film builds its flying sequences, and the movie features some of the year's most interesting uses of sound, from the labored breathing of Tom Cruise's Maverick as he faces entirely too many G's of force, to every single mechanical noise that goes into making the plane sound and feel like an actual, functional aircraft.


Should Win: "Top Gun: Maverick"


If we're getting technical, the deserving winner of best sound is "Nope," a film that was shamefully shut out of nominations from all the categories, and which uses sound design better than any film in recent memory to evoke feelings of sheer terror and helplessness. However, of the nominated films, "Top Gun: Maverick" clearly shows the most expert use of the medium.

Best Production Design

"All Quiet on the Western Front"

"Avatar: The Way of Water"



"The Fabelmans"


Will Win: "Babylon"


One of the biggest things working in "Babylon's" favor in this category is that it's set in the Golden Age of Hollywood, a setting that Academy voters tend to love. Of the past three winners, two ("Mank" and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood") had explicit connections to this era, and like "Babylon," both of those films featured period-accurate film sets and peeked into the lives of Hollywood stars. Anytime the Academy gets a chance to see an early-to-mid 20th century car drive up toward a studio-era film backlot, or watch the main character operate or stand in front a classic feature film camera, they tend to give that film the award. Not to mention "Babylon"'s previous win in this category at the BAFTAs, which gives it a running start heading into Sunday.


Should Win: "Babylon"


Production design was something that "Babylon: managed to do well, despite all of the film's many faults. Director Damien Chazelle certainly has a good streak going with production design, with "La La Land" winning the award in 2017 and "First Man" earning a nomination in 2019. The movie's wide scope, depicting everything from lavish 1920s parties to large film sets in the desert, also gives a chance to let the production design department shine, and they live up to the task, making every scene come alive with the meticulous attention to detail present in every shot. 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

"All Quiet on the Western Front"

"The Batman"

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"


"The Whale"


Will Win: "Elvis"


All of the last five winners for best makeup and Hairstyling have been biopics, and it's easy to see why "Elvis" will become the sixth. It takes a very talented team of makeup and hairstyling artists to not only make an actor look like an iconic historical figure, but allow that actor to perform through all the layers of fake skin and wigs without looking like a wax figure at Madame Tussauds. The ability to replicate a well-known celebrity in flesh, while certainly not the only skill that makeup and hairstyling teams should have under their belts, seems to be seen by the Academy in recent years as the greatest test of their capabilities. And to the credit of the team behind "Elvis," Austin Butler does kind of look like Elvis.


Should Win: "Elvis"


The beauty behind the makeup and hairstyling in Elvis is not necessarily that Butler kind of looks like Elvis Presley in the movie, but the way that the makeup artists are able to show how dedicated Elvis was to performing. Every concert scene features sweat dripping down Elvis's brow, his hair becoming more wild with every crazy step, and, as he ages, the singer working through his rapidly deteriorating body. The makeup and hairstyling team behind the film deftly wielded their talents to pull this transformation off in a believable manner, and deserve just as much credit for making Elvis come alive as Butler does. "The Whale" is a fierce competitor, with much of Brendan Fraser's physical presence on screen coming from the fairly believable "fat suit" and facial prosthetics, but "Elvis" certainly has a creative leg up here.

Best Costume Design


"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever"


"Everything Everywhere All at Once"

"Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris"


Will Win: "Elvis"


Costume design is perhaps the hardest category to predict this year, simply because none of the nominees are clearly superior to any other. (This year has no "Grand Budapest Hotel," so to speak.) Each nominee has nice looking costumes, and it would be tempting to say that, given the Academy's interest in giving costume design to films specifically related to fashion ("Cruella," "Phantom Thread"), "Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris" could be a nice pick. However, the sheer flashiness of "Elvis" will likely pay off for the film, which features a few iconic costumes, the greatest being the classic rhinestone suit from Elvis' Las Vegas residency. Director Baz Luhrmann's previous three films were also all nominated for costume design, with two winning ("The Great Gatsby" and "Moulin Rouge!"), and Luhrmann once again teamed up with longtime collaborator Catherine Martin for this film, so it's a safe bet that Elvis will win. 


Should Win: "Babylon"


The costume design of "Babylon" was so intricately tied with the production design that they seem almost inextricably linked, but there were few costumes this year more iconic than Margot Robbie's stunning red dress during one of the many lavish party scenes. That alone would merit a win for this film, but add Li Jun Li's wonderful gender non-conforming clothes and an array of sweat-stained tuxedos to the mix, and you've got a picture deserving of a costume design win.

Best Original Song

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" ("Lift Me Up")

"RRR" ("Naatu Naatu")

"Tell It Like a Woman" ("Applause")

"Top Gun: Maverick" ("Hold My Hand")

"Everything Everywhere All at Once" ("This Is A Life")


Will Win: "Naatu Naatu," "RRR"


The only category for which last year's Bollywood sensation received a nomination, best original song has been a lock for "RRR" ever since audience's first saw the incredible dance sequence for "Naatu Naatu" on the screen. Not only is the catchiest song of the bunch, it plays during a musical scene central to the film's plot, instead of simply being played over the credits sequence, which makes it an even more memorable tune. "RRR" was a critical darling last year, and Academy voters will certainly want to award the film in its only available category.


Should Win: "Naatu Naatu"


You haven't lived until you've seen NTR and Ram Charan tear up the dance floor in suspenders.

Best Original Score

"All Quiet on the Western Front"


"The Banshees of Inisherin"

"Everything Everywhere All at Once"

"The Fabelmans"


Will Win: "Babylon"


"Babylon" had the most infectious and in-your-face score of any 2022 film, from the repeated four-note trumpet line blaring in every single trailer for the film, to the iconic music playing over the movie's strange closing montage. Justin Hurwitz has proven himself to be a great musical collaborator with Damien Chazelle already, winning both original score and Song in 2017 for "La La Land," and his score for Babylon is by far the most remarkable part of an otherwise mixed film. 


Should Win: "Babylon"


That four-note trumpet line is still running through my head.

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Best Animated Short

"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"


Will Win: "The Boy, The Mole, the Fox, and the Horse"


It's always hard to tell which film will win in the short categories, because they're not films most movie fans see or even hear about before the Oscar nominations roll around. That being said, the clear frontrunner in the category is "The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse," which has garnered the BAFTA for best British animated short and won big at the 2023 Annie Awards, taking home four wins. However, you can't discount "My Year of Dicks," whose title was so ridiculous it caused Riz Ahmed to laugh after announcing its nomination, leading to a delightful viral moment.


Should Win: "Ice Merchants"


"Ice Merchants" is a lovely film that is at the same time whimsical and horrifying. Following a father and son who make their living selling ice cubes from their home built into the side of a mountain, this film is quite beautiful, playing around with the unique character design and animation style by using changes in proportion and scale throughout the runtime. The result is a simple yet memorable animated short that is sure to win many hearts, even if it won't win the award.

Best Live Action Short

"An Irish Goodbye"


"Le Pupille"

"Night Ride"

"The Red Suitcase"


Will Win: "An Irish Goodbye"


Ireland scored big in nominations at this year's Oscars, not only with best original screenplay frontrunner "The Banshees of Inisherin" and best international film nominee "The Quiet Girl," but also with this darkly comedic short film about two brothers bonding after the death of their mother. It's accumulated dozens of awards, including the BAFTA for best British short film, giving it good momentum going into Sunday night.


Should Win: "The Red Suitcase"


In a category filled with beautiful, heart-wrenching stories, "The Red Suitcase" stands out as an incredible story of bravery amid blinding fear. The film centers around a young Iranian girl who must escape an arranged marriage to a much older man after arriving in the Luxembourg airport. Everything in this short, from the lead actress's performance, to the simple yet chilling cinematography, to the almost horror-esque way of ramping up suspense throughout its 17-minute runtime, sets the film apart from the rest of its competitors. 

Best Documentary Short

"The Elephant Whisperers"


"How Do You Measure a Year?"

"The Martha Mitchell Effect"

"Stranger at the Gate"


Will Win: "Stranger at the Gate"


This year's race for documentary short is a tight competition between "The Elephant Whisperers" and "Stranger at the Gate." While it would be tempting to predict "The Elephant Whisperers" for its beautiful cinematography and its feel-good story about an Indigenous couple raising a baby elephant, a look at past winners shows the Academy awarding films with much more depressingly hopeful and human-centric subject matter. Think "Colette," a film about a French Resistance fighter visiting the concentration camp where her brother died; or "Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)," a film about impoverished girls in Afghanistan learning to skateboard despite the country's rules against women participating in sport; or "The White Helmets," a film about volunteer rescue workers during the Syrian Civil War. "Stranger at the Gate" fits neatly into this trend, providing the story of an American man who planned a terrorist attack at a mosque in Muncie, Indiana, before learning more about and ultimately befriending his town's Muslim community. This film has just the right mix of dark subject matter and an easily digestible message of humankindness to make it a clear winner in the category.


Should Win: "Haulout"


This beautiful documentary short is unique among its competitors in how little it recites information to the audience. Interviews and voiceovers are largely absent from "Haulout," which instead prioritizes impeccably composed shots of the Arctic coast and shorts tidbits of dialogue relayed through a handheld recording device, which the central marine biologist uses to document his study of tens of thousands walruses. At times, the film feels oppressively claustrophobic, as walruses surround the marine biologist's small cabin; at other times, it feels empty and desolate, with the wintry Arctic landscape shutting us off from the outside world. "Haulout" is a documentary that cares deeply about its form and function in a manner that is absent from some of the other nominees, and definitely deserves to take home the award.

By Russell Root

Russell Root is a video producer for SalonTV. He graduated with a BA in Film Studies and French from Wesleyan University.

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