My editor asked me to do something different this year and analyze all the major categories at the Academy Awards instead of just the mid-majors, so here we go with your major category-featuring pre-Oscar story before the event Sunday night. If you’re reading this in print, visit our website for my exhaustive rundown of all the categories. As always, any wrong predictions, and I’ll refund you the newsstand price of this paper.
It all seems to be stacking up for Everything Everywhere All at Once, which has taken home numerous best film awards in the run-up to the Oscars. (Take this to the bank: Somebody who wins for this movie is going to compare the Oscar statuette to the butt-plug trophies used so hilariously in the film.) Since I ranked this as the second-best movie of this past year, I have no problem with this. Look up my “Top 10 Movies of ’22” article from last Dec. 28 to see how I rate the other nominees and what was overlooked, in my estimation.
Both Colin Farrell and Brendan Fraser have enjoyed long careers in Hollywood blockbusters and roles that showcase emotional depth and skills at interpretation. Both men are funny, too. Do we give Farrell the slight edge because The Banshees of Inisherin has been better received than The Whale? Or does his American colleague have the advantage because he was away long enough for people to ask what happened to him? The guild awards seem to favor Fraser. All the nominees in this field are first-timers, which hasn’t happened since 1935. I posted the best lead performances of 2022, so you can see which actors I thought did the best work.
After the blow-up over Andrea Riseborough’s nomination for To Leslie, I went and saw that movie about an alcoholic who spirals after she wins the lottery. Yeah, it’s worse than you’ve heard. It’s like a Texan version of Hillbilly Elegy. A great performance can overcome that, and Riseborough does well as someone who’s trying to scrape her life together, but no way she should be a nominee instead of Danielle Deadwyler for Till. (I will say Riseborough herself has handled the controversy better than her supporters. All those white people probably didn’t get together just to deny the Black actresses, but it sure looks that way.) Anyway, this likely comes down to Michelle Yeoh or Cate Blanchett, and much as I would hate to see Tár walk away from Oscar night empty-handed, a win for Yeoh would mean more for a number of reasons.
Ke Huy Quan is a mortal lock to win this award. This will make him the first Asian man to win an acting Oscar and give the industry a feel-good story after he largely walked away from acting because there weren’t enough roles for Asian-American men. It’s too bad for Brian Tyree Henry, who was phenomenal in Causeway and would be on track to win this if not for Quan. He’ll have to be satisfied with his first-ever nomination. Consult my blog post on 2022’s best supporting actors to see who else merits a place in this discussion.
This is the toughest one to handicap. Jamie Lee Curtis won the SAG Award in this category for Everything Everywhere All at Once, but here she’s up against Stephanie Hsu from the same movie, so the EEAAO constituency might be split. Does this create an opening for Angela Bassett for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, or does a bias against Marvel movies come into play here? Either Bassett or Curtis has a decent shot at winning this as a de facto lifetime achievement award. I wonder if Kerry Condon has a chance, since her character has a greater effect on the story of The Banshees of Inisherin than the others do on their films.
The Daniels won the Directors’ Guild Award, which is a pretty reliable indicator of Oscar victors. The duo certainly did the most directing in Everything Everywhere All at Once, though there’s a push for Steven Spielberg (who hasn’t won this award since Saving Private Ryan) to win for his most personal film, The Fabelmans. I think he had a stronger case last year. Park Chan-wook once again missed out on Oscar glory that he deserved for Decision to Leave, and Beth de Araújo’s single-take white supremacist drama Soft & Quiet was a tour de force from the first-time director.
The Daniels’ script for Everything Everywhere All at Once is so well put together, but it’s actually an underdog in this category because Martin McDonagh’s work for The Banshees of Inisherin is so funny and so Irish that it might as well be wearing a flat cap and drinking a Guinness. The nomination that went to Triangle of Sadness would have been better served going to Brian & Charles, the outrageous Bros, or the literate and witty Benediction.
As of this year, the new rule is that movie sequels are now placed in this category, which explains the nominations for Glass Onion and Top Gun: Maverick. I do like the writing for Glass Onion, but here is where Kogonada’s meticulous writing for After Yang (adapted from Alexander Weinstein’s short story) really got screwed. David Kajganich’s film version of Bones and All (from Camille DeAngelis’ novel) would have been a better pick than four of the nominees, and so would Lena Dunham’s script for Catherine Called Birdy. The one nominee here that I think is deserving of its place is Sarah Polley’s adaptation of Miriam Toews’ Women Talking, and the writers are more likely to vote for it than for Top Gun.
Mandy Walker won the guild award for her work on Elvis, which makes her the frontrunner here. If she wins, she’ll be the first woman ever to take home this particular Oscar. Were I choosing from these nominees, I’d plump for Florian Hoffmeister’s glossy visuals for Tár. That aside, this field is crap, to be perfectly honest. I can’t blame the Academy for failing to nominate Renato Berta for the Italian drama Il Buco or Bárbara Alvarez for Utama, both of which were ineligible (and the best photographed movies of 2022). The same can’t be said for Larkin Seiple’s work on Everything Everywhere All at Once, which involved myriad changes of frame and stock, or Hoyte van Hoytema’s virtuoso performance in Nope. Matias Boucard’s photography of Athena is less about visual beauty and more about camera movement over long distances through chaotic scenes. Matthew Chuang’s mountain landscapes for You Won’t Be Alone deserved a nod, too.
This year, I don’t really care who wins this one. Maybe the maximalist Jazz Age production of Babylon will take this, or maybe the voters like the wartime devastation of All Quiet on the Western Front, or maybe Avatar wins. I count 10 movies with more interesting production values than the five nominees, including: Jason Kisvarday’s work for Everything Everywhere All at Once (which works endless variations on the IRS office where it mostly takes place); Jagna Dobesz’ neon-lit dream world for The Silent Twins; Katie Byron’s midcentury modern decor for Don’t Worry Darling; Carol Spier’s biologically fueled nightmare for Crimes of the Future; Cedric Mizero and Antoine Nshimiyimana’s Afrofuturist look for Neptune Frost; and Ruth de Jong’s outdoor Western sets for Nope.
Shirley Kurata has her first Oscar nomination for Everything Everywhere All at Once, and only the costume branch’s prejudice against contemporary films might deny her the statuette. If it does, then Mary Zophres might win her first Oscar for her outfits for Babylon, or Ruth E. Carter might follow up her Oscar win for Black Panther by winning for that movie’s sequel. I struggle to comprehend why Kym Barrett’s spectacular clothes for Three Thousand Years of Longing didn’t receive a nomination. Bina Daigeler’s outfits for Tár (oh, those tailored suits) would have been a worthy nominee, and Cedric Mizero’s wildly imaginative costumes for Neptune Frost displayed even more creativity than Wakanda Forever.
This one’s real easy. Even though Eddie Hamilton’s work in Top Gun: Maverick is quite good, there is no pick other than Paul Rogers’ editing of Everything Everywhere All at Once. Just look at the business around the butt-plug trophy and how well he sets it up, pays it off, and adds jokes after the security guard impales himself. As intricate as that movie is, every cut and fade is perfectly timed.
Foreign-language International Film
One more object lesson why the “one country, one film” rule is stupid: Iran submitted neither No Bears (by the then-imprisoned director Jafar Panahi) nor Hit the Road (by Panahi’s son), so those splendid films were ineligible for this award. France submitted Saint Omer instead of Happening, and we can argue which of those movies was better, but the former didn’t make the nominees list. Of course, everyone is rightly up in arms over Decision to Leave (South Korea) failing to make the cut. All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany) probably wins this, as it’s the only nominee that also scored a Best Picture nod, but I think fellow nominees The Quiet Girl (Ireland) and Argentina 1985 (duh, Argentina) are better movies. Out of the films submitted to the Oscars by their countries, I would have picked the gorgeous Utama (Bolivia) and the raunchy Girl Picture (Finland) as part of this field.
For once, this category is stacked. I picked Marcel the Shell With Shoes On as the best film of 2022, and it was ruled eligible and nominated for this award, so I’m backing it. Nevertheless, Guillermo Del Toro’s Pinocchio likely wins this, and Pixar’s entry Turning Red has a devoted fanbase as well. I think Netflix’s stop-motion The House and rotoscoped Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood would have made better nominees than the streamer’s The Sea Beast, but I’m more disappointed that the Japanese entries were shut out, especially after Inu-Oh and Pompo: The Cinéphile were so good. Phil Tippett’s insane horror film Mad God would have proved that this category isn’t just for kids, too.
I already posted about the year’s best documentaries, so you can look at that to see my picks. Topicality is big with the voters here, so the advantage goes to All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (the opioid epidemic), All That Breathes (environmentalism), and Navalny (the Ukraine war). Any of those would be worthy winners, though my choice would be Fire of Love. I can’t believe they didn’t nominate Descendant, which is topical (the legacy of slavery), had Netflix’s marketing muscle behind it, and ranked higher on my Top 10 list. And, yes, Jackass Forever deserved a nomination, too.
Hildur Guðnadóttir’s work for Tár was ruled ineligible for this category because so much of the music was played low and barely audible to mimic the workings of the protagonist’s mind as her life was upset. That would have merited the trophy, but it’s good to see Son Lux’s music for Everything Everywhere All at Once here. That score shifted with all that film’s changes of tone and timeline, and it should win, even if that denies John Williams (who’s nominated for The Fabelmans) for the 29th year running. I think some worthy left-field picks would have made this field more interesting, like Saul Williams’ score for his science-fiction dystopian musical Neptune Frost and Marcin Macuk and Zuzanna Wrońska’s appropriately strange music for The Silent Twins. Even Luis Guerra’s weirdly appropriate samba score for the Watergate thriller 18½ would have been a good choice here.
Everyone is rightly talking about “Naatu Naatu” from RRR as a deserving shock nominee in this category, but that Telugu-language banger will probably lose to Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther 2. The music branch used to have a sense of humor — remember the nomination for “Blame Canada”? Marc Shaiman wrote that, but his charming country number “Love Is Not Love” from Bros went begging. So did Benj Pasek and Justin Paul’s songs from Spirited, when a live staging of “Good Afternoon” would have slayed during the Oscar ceremony. Ruth B.’s “Paper Airplanes” from A Jazzman’s Blues merited a spot here as well, and LCD Soundsystem’s “new body rhumba” was the highlight of White Noise. Fun fact: Sofia Carson’s “Tell It Like a Woman” from Applause — yeah, I didn’t see that either — is the 13th nomination for songwriter Diane Warren. She has no chance of picking up her first-ever win in this category, but she’ll still walk away with an honorary Oscar for her career achievements.
Capitalizing the B in black, but not the W in white. We get it, you hate white people. But it’s par for the course for your toilet paper periodical; nearly every issue features this kind of far left bigotry. If only you could channel your hatred and psychological sickness into something productive.
Editor’s note: The Weekly follows AP style guidelines like most newspapers.