2023 Oscars: What to watch for at the Academy Awards
▶ Watch Video: Oscar-nominated duo “The Daniels” on the success of “Everything Everywhere All At Once”
The 95th Academy Awards this Sunday bring distinguished stars and behind-the-scenes players from across the film industry to Los Angeles for Hollywood’s biggest night of the year.
Hosted for a third time by late-night personality Jimmy Kimmel, the ceremony is set to begin at 8 p.m. ET at L.A.’s Dolby Theatre. ABC will broadcast the show live, with options to livestream the event on its app or website (with a verified cable or satellite provider).
In addition to the nominees, expected attendees at the Oscars include a stacked roster of presenters, like Riz Ahmed, Emily Blunt, Glenn Close, Jennifer Connelly, Ariana DeBose, Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael B. Jordan, Troy Kotsur, Jonathan Majors, Melissa McCarthy, Janelle Monáe and more.
The show will also feature musical sets by Rihanna, who is due to perform “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”; Rahul Sipligunj and Kala Bhairava, who will sing MM Keeravaani’s “Naatu Naatu” from “RRR”; and Lenny Kravitz, who will deliver the night’s “In Memoriam.” Lady Gaga was originally scheduled to perform “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick,” but later canceled due to scheduling conflicts, an Oscars producer confirmed this week.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s universe-jumping sci-fi knockout, leads this year’s Oscar nominations with 11 nods from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, with at least one in every major category. Trailing closely behind are Martin McDonagh’s “The Banshees of Inisherin” and Netflix’s German-language film “All Quiet on the Western Front,” from director Edward Berger, with nine nominations each.
The spread of contenders for this year’s most prestigious accolades looks different than those at the last couple of Oscars ceremonies. Where projects backed by streaming services took many of the highest honors in 2022, the tides turned in 2023 to recognize a number of larger-than-life movies that performed well at the box office and pulled audiences back to theaters. They are accompanied by hard-hitting dramas and semi-nonfiction films, and, as usual, the prize in several leading Oscars categories could be anyone’s game. Here is what to expect from the award ceremony’s top contests.
Arguably the most coveted award of the night, the Oscar for best picture will be chosen from a competitive pool of 10 nominees. This year’s entrants span a broad range of genres, styles and subject matters, with popcorn picks like “Top Gun: Maverick” up against multiple critically acclaimed films, many of which are darker in tone, even the satires.
Clear frontrunners in the race for best picture are: “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” the chaotic sensation from creators Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert whose genre-bending plot delivered to audiences exactly what its title promised; “Tár,” the psychological drama by Todd Field that had a strong start in the festival circuit and became an instant favorite in critics’ circles; “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Martin McDonagh’s deadpan tragic comedy that hearkened back to his roots as a playwright and was praised as a clever allegory for the Irish Civil War; and “The Fabelmans,” Steven Spielberg’s semi-autobiographical family drama that charmed cinephiles and reviewers alike.
Each film has already won recognition this awards season, with “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” “Tár,” “The Banshees of Inisherin” and “The Fabelmans” taking top spots at the Critics Choice Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Golden Globes, potentially foreshadowing how they will fare at the Oscars.
Buzz surrounding Sunday’s ceremony mainly places “Everything Everywhere All At Once” as the obvious choice for best picture, given its impressive track record of nominations and previous wins. In addition to leading the Oscars roster, it won the top titles at the SAG, Producers Guild, Directors Guild and Writers Guild Awards, tying a record only met by four previous Oscar winners for best picture: “American Beauty,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Argo.” But because “Everything Everywhere All At Once” rebels against structural and narrative conventions, an analogous predecessor has not been seen before in this Oscars category and some argue it could be too offbeat to earn a majority of votes from AMPAS.
The German antiwar film “All Quiet on the Western Front” may be the dark horse of the Oscars’ best picture race, although critics disagree on whether the film is as powerful as it intends. Edward Berger’s remake of the American World War I epic of the same name — which won the Oscar for best picture in 1930, alongside several other accolades — took home the highest honors at this year’s British Academy Film Awards and earned widespread critical acclaim despite a relative lack of publicity in the U.S. The success of Alfonso Cuarón’s 2019 best picture nominee “Roma” and Bong Joon Ho’s 2020 winner “Parasite” have paved the way for other foreign-language films to be taken seriously in this category. Plus, history shows war stories tend to perform well at the Oscars.
But arguments could be made for any one of this year’s best picture nominees as plausible candidates to win. Rounding out the category are the blockbusters “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Avatar: The Way of Water,” the biopic “Elvis,” which was also a huge commercial success, the social satire “Triangle of Sadness” and the sobering drama “Women Talking.”
The Oscar category for best actress was steeped in controversy when nominations were unveiled at the end of January. In an unusual turn, Andrea Riseborough, who starred as an addict attempting recovery in the small independent film “To Leslie,” earned a nomination after a relatively brief but fervent grassroots campaign driven by celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett, who is also nominated for “Tár.”
Riseborough’s nod drew public backlash since neither Viola Davis nor Danielle Deadwyler were nominated, as anticipated, for their roles in “The Woman King” and “Till,” despite both reaping acclaim in the pre-Oscars awards circuit. Omitting Davis and Deadwyler meant that no Black women would contend for this year’s best actress prize, and the allegations of corruption that ensued prompted the Academy to open an investigation into Riseborough’s nomination and whether it was fair. Her nomination was not revoked after the probe.
That aside, the best actress competition has shaped up to be a fairly tight race between Blanchett, whose portrayal of a renowned conductor’s downfall in the character study “Tár” has been called a career performance for the two-time Oscar winner and eight-time nominee, and Michelle Yeoh, whose leading role as a laundromat owner thrust into the multiverse in “Everything Everywhere All at Once” has garnered comparable praise.
Both Blanchett and Yeoh have already won honors at major award shows this season, with Blanchett winning at the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice Awards and the BAFTAs, and Yeoh at the Golden Globes and the SAG Awards. The latter star’s chances of winning the Oscar for best actress are bolstered by the momentum of her film, which is unrivaled.
This is Yeoh’s first Oscar nomination, and she became the first Asian actor to earn a nod in this category when she landed it. Yeoh would become the second woman of color, after Halle Berry, to take home the prize should she win.
Joining them in the category for best actress are Ana de Armas, who earned critical acclaim for her cerebral take on Marilyn Monroe in Andrew Dominik’s divisive drama “Blonde,” and Michelle Williams, a five-time Oscar nominee whose performance in “The Fabelmans” was hailed as the highlight of the film.
Who wins the best actor prize at this year’s Oscars ceremony could prove to be one of the night’s biggest surprises, as four of the five nominees have been neck-and-neck for every major acting award given out since the current season began. Austin Butler, for “Elvis”; Brendan Fraser, for “The Whale”; Colin Farrell, for “The Banshees of Inisherin” and Bill Nighy, for “Living,” all received nominations at the Critics Choice, Golden Globe and SAG Awards before securing their spots in this Oscars race.
Fraser’s comeback performance as a reclusive English teacher in Darren Aronofsky’s psychological drama won top honors at the Critics Choice and SAG Awards, while Butler’s lauded portrayal of Elvis Presley, which was celebrated by the rock-and-roll icon’s family as well as critics, won the Golden Globe for best actor in a drama.
Farrell won the corresponding comedy award at the Globes for his leading performance in McDonagh’s film — which, for what it is worth, marks the director’s return to the Oscars after 2018’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” gave Frances McDormand her first best actress win in two decades. In “Banshees,” Farrell’s performance was hailed as one of the greatest of 2022. But the rousing response to Fraser, who for “The Whale” earned standing ovations at the Venice Film Festival and the London Film Festival that lasted so long they made headlines, may tip the scales in his favor.
Paul Mescal finishes off the best actor category this year as its final nominee, for his performance in “Aftersun,” the critically-adored independent film by Charlotte Wells in her feature directorial debut.
Best Supporting Actress
At the outset of award season, Angela Bassett’s seemed to have a future Oscar win for best supporting actress all but locked up, after the longtime Hollywood legend won the equivalent title at the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice Awards, plus a nod from the Screen Actors Guild, for her performance in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
While her ties to “Wakanda Forever” — the second installment in beloved franchise and another box office smash from Marvel Studios — likely make Bassett the fan favorite to take home the Academy Award, she is vying for it among a drove of tough competitors, many of whom moved to the front of the pack as the season progressed.
Kerry Condon, who is nominated for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” won best supporting actress at the BAFTAs, before Jamie Lee Curtis, who is nominated for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” took the corresponding title at the SAG Awards in a victory that was perhaps underestimated. Curtis’ co-star Stephanie Hsu is also nominated in this category for her breakout role in “Everything Everywhere,” as is Hong Chau for a standout performance in “The Whale.”
The outcome in this category is still a toss-up. But Curtis’ win at the SAG Awards, which have predicted best supporting actress at the Oscars every year but one since 2010, could be a reliable indicator of how things shake out.
Best Supporting Actor
Among the contenders for best supporting actor this year, Ke Huy Quan may have the edge. He won the hearts of guild voters, critics and viewers with his emotional performance in “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” returning to acting to play the role decades after stepping away from the profession. (He’d once been a child star in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and “The Goonies.”)
Quan received the Golden Globe, the Critics Choice Award and, in a historic win, the SAG Award for his work in the film. Like Yeoh, the fact that Quan is one of the faces of a movie at the helm of the awards circuit can only boost his chances of seeing that sweep through at the Oscars.
Joining Quan in the category for best supporting actor are Brian Tyree Henry, who gave a transformative performance opposite Jennifer Lawrence in “Causeway” that also earned a nod at the Critics Choice Awards; Barry Keoghan, whose role in “The Banshees of Inisherin” won him the BAFTA for best supporting actor; Brendan Gleeson, also for “The Banshees of Inisherin”; and Judd Hirsch, for “The Fabelmans.”
At one time it did not seem inconceivable that Hirsch would win. Now 87, he has been acting for almost 60 years. “The Fabelmans” is Hirsch’s second Oscar nomination since he received a nod in the same category for “Ordinary People” in 1980, and it recognizes his fleeting portrayal of an irascible relative in just a few memorable minutes of Spielberg’s nominated film.
After two consecutive wins by women directors — Chloé Zhao for “Nomadland” and Jane Campion for “The Power of the Dog” — and although a number of this year’s qualifying films, including “Aftersun,” “The Woman King” and “Women Talking,” were directed by women, only men are nominated for the Oscar for best director this year.
The nominees are Martin McDonagh, for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” Daniel Kwan and Daniel Schienert, for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Steven Spielberg, for “The Fabelmans,” Todd Field, for “Tár,” and Ruben Östlund, for “Triangle of Sadness.” Spielberg, an nine-time nominee in this category who last won in 1999 for “Saving Private Ryan,” initially seemed like a shoo-in for the Oscar for best director for “The Fabelmans,” his most personal work to date. But Kwan and Scheinert, having earned directing accolades over the powerhouse filmmaker at the Critics Choice and Directors Guild Awards, are probably more likely to win.