Oscars 2023: Are we headed for a landslide ceremony??
If the Academy Awards producers want to ensure audiences will forget all about that misbehaving nonsense at last year’s affair, here’s an option: Open the darn ceremony with an ultimate showstopper, like re-creating the outrageous “Naatu Naatu” dance-and-song performance from the Indian epic “RRR.”
That’ll pep things up and set the tone for an upbeat ceremony where people presumably won’t be inclined to slap each other.
If that doesn’t happen, fear not. We have a hunch people will be on their best behavior this year. Host Jimmy Kimmel should serve up some laughs and, perhaps mandated by Oscar higher-ups, can be expected to rib the celebrities a bit less than usual, so as not to get anyone overly riled up (at least not while the cameras are rolling).
Regardless of all the drama that went down last year, it’s time to move on to what really matters: Who and what will be the big winners Sunday night.
Here are our predictions and preferences.
The nominees: “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “Elvis,” “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “The Fabelmans,” “Tár,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Triangle of Sadness,” “Women Talking.”
What will win: What once seemed to be a tight race has turned into one contender galloping away from the pack. Here’s how the biggest prize shakes down. “All Quiet on the Western Front” refurbished a piece of classic lit and made it eerily relevant for these turbulent international times. It’s a technical marvel and would make a safe choice, but it gives off a been-there, seen-that scent, and this year’s Oscar wants to be hip. “Avatar: The Way of Water” continues to make cannonball splashes at the box office, but the blue-people FX extravaganza won’t float too many Oscar voters’ boats. Critics went on and on about “Banshees” but there’s no way that dark, dark tragicomedy about Irish frenemies will grab the top prize.
“Elvis,” meanwhile, was splashy and trashy, but had as many issues — including Tom Hanks’ cartoonish performance — as its protagonist. Few will love it tender. “The Fabelmans” is a sentimental ode to the craft of filmmaking, and since Hollywood adores itself ever so, Spielberg’s film could sneak in for the win, but we doubt it. As for the fiercely independent come-undone saga “Tár,” there’s hardly a chord of support being sounded for this one. While Tom Cruise and company pulled off a mission impossible at the summer box office and made “Top Gun” soar again, it is not a best-picture winner. Too many rich folks tossing their cookies makes “Triangle of Sadness’s” chances for victory go belly up. And “Women Talking” has been greeted with the kiss of Oscar death — the stony sound of silence. Nobody, but nobody, is talking about this film.
That leaves one of 2022’s most unusual and outlandish genre benders, “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Some might think it too edgy, too outside-of-the-box for the staid Oscars. I think the awards show has a new day dawning and this multiversing tale, which celebrates diversity and the re-opening of a person’s eyes to everything worth cherishing surrounding them, will win, sausage fingers and all.
What should win: “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” What might seem like a silly, crackpot creation is anything but. It’s a beautiful tale about the sometimes crushing reality that we live 24/7 and ignore the worlds we imagine and perhaps want to escape to. It’s a multi-layered, daring and original look at the vibrancy, issues and the bonds of one Asian American family. It’s the kind of movie Hollywood needs more of.
The nominees: Martin McDonagh for “The Banshees of Inisherin”; Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka The Daniels) for “Everything Everywhere All at Once”; Steven Spielberg for “The Fabelmans”; Todd Field for “Tár”; Ruben Östlund for “Triangle of Sadness.”
Who will win: Welcome to the Boys Club, a testosterone-only roadhouse where some outstanding female filmmakers — Sarah Polley (“Women Talking”), Gina Prince-Bythewood (“The Woman King”), among others — don’t even receive a deserved invitation. As it stands, this race looks like it’s shaping up as a slam-dunk. McDonagh’s cynical black comedy wasn’t really his finest hour. Spielberg’s remembrance of things past had its share of remarkable moments, but also some lackluster ones. Field conducted a clinical study into the unsteady mind of a manipulative genius, but “Tár” left too many of us baffled at its end. Östlund stated his view over and over and over again — that the wealthy are vapid and horrible and in need of a comeuppance. This will be The Daniels’ win. The innovative duo managed somehow to embed emotion and compassion into a loony, out-there epic. And they did it with an itty-bitty budget. Try that James Cameron!
Who should win: The Daniels. They did give us everything in the movie. And more.
The nominees: Austin Butler for “Elvis,” Colin Farrell for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Brendan Fraser for “The Whale,” Paul Mescal for “Aftersun,” Bill Nighy for “Living.”
Who will win: Farrell’s crestfallen demeanor stole our hearts and made us want to give him a big hug, but he was even better in the little-seen “After Yang.” Mescal is astonishing (again), but he faces a clear disadvantage, with his subtle performance that quietly hits you with a right hook at the end. Subtle does not win a trophy. Nighy showcases his impeccable thespian skills in playing an uptight fussbudget whose terminal diagnosis encourages him to live more caringly in the present. Not gonna happen. This race comes down to two: The New Kid on the Block vs. The Comeback King. It’s a tough call since Butler’s passionate interpretation of a rock legend was anything but a rote impersonation. He made that film, and Oscar does love to reward actors who play icons. But while “The Whale” has its fair share of haters, one consensus that can be reached is Fraser’s tragic, tender and all-out beautiful performance more than triumphed over the perceived deficiencies of Darren Aronofsky’s film. (I say “perceived” since I really liked that film.) Buoyed by other wins, Fraser’s likely got this one in the bag, and we will cry as he cries to accept the honor.
Who should win: Fraser. The performance is a gut puncher and just a smidgen better than Mescal’s — my second choice.
The nominees: Cate Blanchett for “Tár,” Ana de Armas for “Blonde,” Andrea Riseborough for “To Leslie,” Michelle Williams for “The Fabelmans,” Michelle Yeoh for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
Who will win: Blanchett spoke four different languages in “Tár” and gave us one of 2022’s most disturbed yet brilliant characters, but she showed shades of her previous performances in “Carol” and “Blue Jasmine,” and that will work against her. If de Armas takes home the statue for the very-much-hated “Blonde,” frogs will fall from the sky and the locusts will soon descend. Riseborough is a volcanic force as an alcoholic bad momma who is one bender away from dying on the streets. But Oscar doesn’t like it when a grassroots campaign goes outside of the rules box and successfully lobbies to get someone on the ballot. While I love Williams, her work in “Fabelmans” was not one of her best performances. She seemed unsure at times. Maybe voters will feel the same. This will be Yeoh’s year and she’s been picking up one trophy after another. She deserves it, and the fact that no Asian actor has ever won in this category will aid her cause.
Who should win: Yeoh. As the unraveling Evelyn, co-owner of a laundromat with too much work, too many tax receipts and a life that’s caught in an endless spin cycle, Yeoh tapped into the desperation and the rebirth of a person who learns to see her world in a new light. It’s such an elegant and wise performance.
Best Supporting Actor
The nominees: Brendan Gleeson for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Brian Tyree Henry for “Causeway,” Judd Hirsch for “The Fabelmans,” Barry Keoghan for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Ke Huy Quan for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
Who will win: This is a lock. Gleeson did a fine job portraying a cantankerous Irish bloke who decides to sever more than a close relationship. But it’s really his co-star Keoghan who gave the best performance in “Banshees” as a recklessly besotted outcast. Neither stand a chance here. Brian Tyree Henry was ever so sweet as a mechanic who sees something special in a wounded war veteran. But he’s the longest shot in a movie few people saw. Judd Hirsch bursts in for eight colorful minutes in “The Fabelmans,” and while he’s hilarious and a needed pick-me-up just as the film threatens to stall, the performance did feel like a one-note cameo. So it’s the year’s most appealing, big-hearted performance from Ke Huy Quan that will receive the love. The former teen star (“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” “The Goonies”) made our hearts melt as a family guy desperately trying to get his groove back with his fed-up wife Evelyn. After years of being overlooked and stuck on the sidelines, Quan can finally rest assured that he IS indeed good enough to land that Oscar. And hurrah for that.
Who should win: My heart wants Quan to win, but my brain says it should be Keoghan for his naturalistic performance that still haunts as I type this.
Best Supporting Actress
The nominees: Angela Bassett for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Hong Chau for “The Whale,” Kerry Condon for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Jamie Lee Curtis for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Stephanie Hsu for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
Who will win: Bassett elevated the “Black Panther” sequel to Shakespearean levels, but she has no momentum. Chou’s exchanges with Fraser led to the most heart wrenching moments in “The Whale,” but her performance was good enough for a nomination, not a win. Condon was the most sensible character in the “Banshee” bunch. But rationality doesn’t win, histrionics do. Hsu whipped through a tsunami of emotions as a daughter at odds with her mom in “Everything,” but she’ll get a win later in her career. So it’ll finally be Jamie Lee Curtis’ day. Her hilarious performance as an annoyed IRS agent evolves into something ever more complex, even tender. She took a caricature and turned her into a multi-dimensional person. Curtis played it to the hilt.
Who should win: Curtis. She’s unforgettable in an unforgettable role.
Contact Randy Myers at [email protected]
95th ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS
When: 5 p.m. March 12
Host: Jimmy Kimmel
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