The Road to the 95th Oscars Part 2: Predicting the Winners

Well Avocadoans, we’ve arrived at two important milestones in this year’s Oscars race: firstly, the Oscars air this Sunday! More importantly, though, after three years Covid has finally made its way to Barad-dûr and your pal Mordor is not a happy camper. With that in mind, this will be a much briefer write-up than you’re used to (No! Stop that! Save some of your confetti cannons for Sunday night! Unless you’re watching the season finale of The Last of Us instead, which you probably are…), so without further preamble, let’s dive in.

Everything Everywhere All at Once, courtesy A24.

Everything Everywhere All at Once was the big winner when nominations were announced, and in the run-up to Sunday it’s been set up nicely, with Producers Guild, Directors Guild, Writers Guild, and SAG Ensemble wins, as well as a pile of awards from smaller guilds showing it has a broad base of support across the industry (e.g., Art Directors Guild – Fantasy; Costume Designers Guild – Fantasy; ACE Eddie – Comedy/Musical). I can’t think of any good reason at this point not to predict the Avocado’s runaway favorite film of 2022 to take home the Best Picture trophy this year. There’s not even really a clear second place, with the other nominees to score with the guilds – Top Gun: Maverick (Cinema Audio Society – Live Action; ACE Eddie – Dramatic), Elvis (Costume Designers Guild – Period; American Society of Cinematographers), and Women Talking (WGA – Adapted) – all far down the list, and the surprise big winner at the BAFTAs, All Quiet on the Western Front, not leaving a mark anywhere else. 

Similarly, it would be unusual to bet against DGA winners The Daniels in Best Director, with the only other real contender being Steven Spielberg for The Fabelmans, which has been a bit of a bust all season long. Ke Huy Quan is the biggest lock in the acting categories in Supporting Actor, and I simply don’t see anyone disrupting his run, with BAFTA winner for The Banshees of Inisherin Barry Keoghan the only other name that’s even come out of an announcer’s mouth this season. Supporting Actress is a much tighter race: Angela Bassett has long been considered the frontrunner from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, but big wins for Kerry Condon (Inisherin) and Jamie Lee Curtis (EEAAO) at BAFTA and SAG, respectively, have disrupted that narrative. In my mind it’s between Bassett and Curtis, two long-overdue Hollywood favorites, and while it may not be the popular opinion, I find myself leaning towards Curtis in a big, big night for EEAAO

The back and forth in Best Actress between Michelle Yeoh for EEAAO and Cate Blanchett for TÁR has been amazing to watch, and it’s really coming down to the wire. Blanchett swept for pretty much the entire season, taking the wins at NYFCC, LAFCA, NSFC, BFCA, BAFTA, and the Golden Globes (Drama), while Yeoh’s big wins were at the Golden Globes (Comedy/Musical) and the all-important SAG. I can’t fault either choice, but that SAG win shows support for Yeoh building at just the right time, and I think she ekes it out. Best Actor has similarly wheeled back and forth between two actors, Austin Butler (Elvis) and Brendan Fraser (The Whale), with Butler taking the BAFTA and Golden Globe (Drama) and Fraser taking the SAG. It’s hard to know who has the edge here, but Elvis clearly has more love overall based on its nomination and precursor tallies, and it’s unusual for the Oscars and SAG to match perfectly, so I’m giving the edge to Butler. 

EEAAO’s dominance should continue in the absolutely stacked Original Screenplay category, with Golden Globe and BAFTA winner Inisherin its closest competition. This is probably the best chance at a win for Inisherin, meaning that I’m predicting it to be this year’s most-nominated film to walk away with zero trophies. All Quiet’s BAFTA win makes Adapted Screenplay a bit more interesting, but Women Talking should still walk away with it after taking the WGA and USC Scripter wins. 

All Quiet on the Western Front, courtesy Netflix.

The Academy has leaned towards spreading the love amongst Picture nominees in recent years, and while I am predicting an absolutely dominant night for EEAAO above the line, the rest of the big nominees that aren’t Inisherin are likely to make their presence known in the technical categories. Cinematography is a tight race between BAFTA winner All Quiet and ASC winner Elvis; I don’t see another category where All Quiet is clearly in the top two, and so I’m predicting it here. Elvis, on the other hand, is the runaway favorite for Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling, capping off its BAFTA and guild wins (and the latter shutting out a fat suit award for The Whale, which I think we can all agree is a good thing). Film Editing has long been considered a strong predictor of Picture, so I’m picking EEAAO, especially after its ACE win. Fellow ACE winner Top Gun is the closest competition, but I won’t bet against a clear Picture frontrunner here. Top Gun is also likely to get edged out in Visual Effects – this time by Avatar: The Way of Water – but the CAS winner has to be considered the favorite in Sound, with only All Quiet coming close.

It may not be a Picture nominee, but as the only ADG winner (Period) nominated in Production Design, I’m predicting Babylon to take that win. Justin Hurwitz’s work on Babylon is also probably the frontrunner in the stacked Score category, with Volker Bertelmann’s score for All Quiet its closest competitor. If I were picking, it would go to Son Lux for EEAAO, as would Song (the “Apartment for Sale” erasure!), but the latter is almost definitely going to “Naatu Naatu” from RRR

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, courtesy Netflix.

The easy pick in Animated Feature is always the Pixar flick (that’s Turning Red this time around), but Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio is looking pretty undeniable this year after taking the CAS and ACE animated categories and winning the Annie for Animated Feature. Somewhat surprisingly (and very deservedly!), its closest competition is probably Annie (Independent) winner Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. Documentary Feature is unusually stacked with popular films, and the pedigree of Laura Poitras’s All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (it won the freaking Golden Lion!) should be making it more competitive, but if ever there were a year where the Academy is going to go for the more politically relevant choice – Navalny – it’s this one. International Feature is an easy one to predict for Picture nominee All Quiet, with none of the other nominees really standing out from the pack. 

And with that, let’s head down to the – – wait, what? The shorts categories? Well, I’ve never gotten them right before, so I was hoping we could just all forget about them! Oh, you all like seeing me look like a fool year after year? Ugh, fine, let’s see what the cards are telling me… The Annies gave their Special Production award to The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse (which also took the BAFTA for British Animated Short), and their Short award to Ice Merchants. These are the closest you’re getting to precursors here, so I’m going to trust Owen’s taste and predict Ice Merchants. The real question is who they’ve picked to announce My Year of Dicks! I’m hoping for Maggie Smith. The Elephant Whisperers seems favored in Documentary Short, and other than wanting to be an iconoclast I really have no good reason to bet against it. Similarly, An Irish Goodbye won the BAFTA for British Live Action Short, and short of any other precursors it seems like a good bet.

Okay, now with that, let’s head down to the comments and find out how very wrong you all think I am!