If you want to know how I feel about the nominated films I’ve seen, here is a tier list (made with Tiermaker).
If you cannot recognize the films from their posters, here are the titles written out (Best Picture nominees are bolded):
A+ (THE BEST): Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Banshees of Inisherin, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, To Leslie, Aftersun, Living
A/A- (EXCELLENT): All Quiet on the Western Front, Tár, Women Talking, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, Turning Red, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, The Sea Beast, Top Gun: Maverick, Triangle of Sadness
B+/B (SOLID): The Fabelmans, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, Causeway
B-/C+ (FAIRLY DECENT): Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis
C/C- (MEDICORE): The Whale, Babylon
F (ABYSMAL): Blonde
This Is My Super Bowl (Sorta…)
Once again, folks, it is time for the Oscars! To be honest, I only tune in to see if my predictions are correct, and that’s really it. I might not even watch it live because I am not looking forward to all the unfunny jokes about The Slap™ that they’re going to make. Though, I would be satisfied if we get another “Adele Dazeem” moment, which I still find humorous to this day, so something like that would be cool.
Anyways, this is my third year of making these predictions for this blog, so I’m not going into much detail about what the ceremony is all about. Instead, I’m going to talk about the nominees in general for a bit before discussing the Best Picture nominees and then going through my predictions.
First and foremost, it is abundantly clear that most of these movies were conceptualized, written, and produced after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike the nominees for the previous two Oscars, which were more likely written and produced before the pandemic, this year’s nominees have notable similarities in themes and subject matter. Specifically, the two topics that immediately come to mind when thinking about these movies are “existentialism” and “mortality”.
COVID-19, a potentially fatal virus, led to a period of global disruption that forced people to more closely confront their lives’ purpose, relationships with others, and the inevitability of death, and I think filmmakers used their skills to show their own such confrontations. Of course, film (or really, art in general) has always done this, but what I find most fascinating these more recent movies is that they deal with existentialism and mortality more obviously and in a wide variety of ways. From dark comedies like The Banshees of Inisherin to animated children’s movies like Puss in Boots: The Last Wish to major Hollywood blockbusters like Top Gun: Maverick, there is quite a lot of thematic and stylistic diversity in how these filmmakers’ approached such deep topics.
Because of this, I am excited to see where cinema goes this decade, and I hope this year’s nominees help to set a standard for what we may see in the years ahead.
Oh, and a few more things:
- Not every movie needs to be over two hours long.
- I’m especially looking at you, Babylon.
- We were treated to some amazing, animated films this past year! They were all so awesome in their own unique ways.
- This year, I had the hardest time predicting winners for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Supporting Actress (by the way, Janelle Monae deserved a nomination for her role in Glass Onion).
- As I said in my Razzies post, Ana de Armas absolutely deserves that Best Actress nomination, even if I still think Blonde was awful.
- I got sidetracked quite a bit throughout these past several weeks, so I was not able to watch every movie that got a nomination. Because of this, I will not be predicting the following categories:
- Best International Feature Film
- Best Documentary Feature
- Best Documentary Short Subject
- Best Original Song
- Best Live Action Short Film
- Best Animated Short Film
(It also doesn’t help that many of these movies and short films haven’t gotten wide releases yet. I was looking forward to An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It.)
The Best of 2022 (According to the Academy)
Elvis’s epic, extravagant visuals, over-the-top sequences and montages, and brilliant cinematography are all elements we can expect from a Baz Luhrmann film, and Austin Butler easily matches that energy in an incredible performance as the late King of Rock and Roll. However, despite these great aspects, this movie suffers from “style over substance” and the uncanny and unintentionally creepy presence of Tom Hanks as Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker. In fact, I wonder if there is a version of the film in which Presley actually feels like the main character, as this movie instead gives Parker too much space and focus.
Nonetheless, I think Butler deserves his Best Actor nomination, and if it weren’t Brendan Fraser’s stellar performance in The Whale, it would have been much easier to predict him as the winner.
My Grade: C+
Avatar: The Way of Water
When I watched the original Avatar over a decade ago, I, along with most people who saw it, was amazed at how great the visual effects were, and I was already happy to hear that the sequel would be even more visually impressive, given all the technological advancements since 2009. That was absolutely correct, as watching it in theaters made for a visually stunning experience, but unfortunately, that’s the only element of Avatar: The Way of Water that stands out the most. It’s even more unfortunate that the visuals can only do so much to distract us from the weak, predictable, and overlong mess that is the movie’s plot.
This movie will definitely win the Visual Effects award, but this was easily the least deserved Best Picture nomination.
My Grade: B-
Steven Spielberg finds himself again in the Oscars ballot, but unlike his dazzling spectacle that was last year’s West Side Story, The Fabelmans is a semi-autobiographical drama about his early life and start of his legendary career, primarily presented as a love letter to cinema. However, because of its subject matter and celebration of movies, it is the most “Oscar Bait” of the nominees – for better or worse. There story is solid, and the actors, especially Michelle Williams (not to be confused with Michelle Williams), were amazing.
If this were released in a different year, or with a more “old-school” voting body in the Academy, then this probably would have swept the awards. Who knows? It still could.
My Grade: B+
Triangle of Sadness
First off, Rest in Peace Charlbi Dean. It’s a shame that she’s gone because based on her performance as the lead actress in Triangle of Sadness, she could have had a fruitful, long-term acting career. I wouldn’t say, though, that her performance, while great, is what makes this movie excellent; rather, it is the sharp writing and direction from Ruben Östlund. While not as meticulously crafted as Parasite, this movie is a fun and insightful piece of class commentary.
My Grade: A-
Top Gun: Maverick
Folks, I have a confession. I’ve never seen the original Top Gun, but I don’t think I needed to see that to enjoy one of the strongest Hollywood blockbusters in a long time. In addition to its outstanding visuals, Top Gun: Maverick does great work exploring themes of aging, identify, mortality, and generational trauma, which are also themes that a lot of the other nominees have explored. Because of the storytelling and action sequences, along with its 80s-themed soundtrack, we are treated to an experience that is a fine balance of nostalgia and freshness.
My Grade: A-
At its surface, Women Talking may appear to be an all-female 12 Angry Men remake but in a completely different setting, but truthfully, it is its own thing – a story of a collective response by victims of rampant abuse. Specifically, the victims are women in a 2010 Mennonite colony who have undergone sexual violence perpetuated by their male counterparts, and this powerful movie carefully explores multiple perspectives of the women’s trauma and how they wish to move forward. Throughout the film, which primarily emphasizes its dialogue over its more low-key and subtle visuals (i.e. – the faded coloring that reminds us of the story’s recency), we examine various viewpoints of the characters: how they were formed, and more importantly, how they interact with one another, which could not have been done without the strong writing or powerful performances of the lead actresses.
My Grade: A
Continuing on movies that deal with intense subject matter, we have Tár, a story of a successful female conductor who is accused of sexual abuse, and Cate Blanchett delivers one of her best performances in the lead role, driving the well-crafted plot of the movie. There were quite a few interestingly clever directorial choices, like starting with the end credits, that change our impression Blanchett’s character, something that gradually gets deeper and increasingly complex, even to the final scene.
The only reason why I can’t speak more highly of this movie is that (1) the pacing felt a bit uneven at times, and (2) I think the final season of BoJack Horseman handles this type of story, specifically the “downfall” more strongly.
My Grade: A
All Quiet on the Western Front
It seems that the Best Picture category can only limit itself to one foreign-language film each year. However, just like all the other non-English language films to be nominated here, All Quiet on the Western Front was great. Like Top Gun: Maverick, this German film is a war piece, but unlike the more personal exploration of a soldier’s career in Maverick, we deal with a brutally honest critique of the less-than-stellar aspects of war from a wider lens. In Western society, we have historically regarded those in the military as brave, strong, and heroic, but All Quiet on the Western Front is a painful reminder that soldiers have also been treated like dispensable pawns who sacrifice their well-beings and lives for the diplomatic conflicts of their political leaders.
My Grade: A
The Banshees of Inisherin
The Banshees of Inisherin, for the most part, is dark and depressing, and it is also incredibly insightful and timely, making for one of the most engaging movies of 2022. Taking place in a fictional Irish island, we witness the sudden falling out of a friendship and everything that follows it, and we get a deep exploration of loneliness, mortality, depression, despair, and fulfillment – themes that have become more relevant to many since the pandemic started. Led by remarkable performances from its cast, along with strong writing filled with quirky dialogue and dark humor, The Banshees of Inisherin makes us ponder if there is more to our existence than “entertaining [ourselves] to stave off the inevitable.”
My Grade: A+
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Everything Everywhere All at Once might just be the greatest movie of the 2020s. If there are movies that surpass the quality of this absurdist action-comedy-drama[-insert-other-genres-here-because-it-is-a-lot-of-things-as-the-title-suggests], then we may be in the midst of a cinematic revolution. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that (1) engages with deep, philosophical subject matter, (2) presents a very specific exploration of identity and relationships in a way that is relatable to all types of audiences, and (3) does (1) and (2) and is also really, really FUN.
In a masterful acting performance, Michelle Yeoh portrays Evelyn Wang, a middle-aged Chinese American immigrant who runs a laundromat and is being audited by the IRS amid a failing marriage and strained relationship with her daughter. That description alone can suffice for a decent movie, but the filmmaking duo of the Daniels increase the plot’s intensity and impact by thrusting the protagonist into a mission to save the multiverse. The journey of this mission is constantly thrilling, and it is resolved in a warming, tender, life-affirming fashion.
It is not enough that this work of art should win every award it’s been nominated for, but Everything Everywhere All at Once must be embraced as a true testament to unhinged creativity.
My Grade: A+
“And the Oscar Goes To…”
- Should Win: Everything Everywhere All at Once
- Second Choice: The Banshees of Inisherin
- Will Win: Everything Everywhere All at Once
- Second Guess: All Quiet on the Western Front
- Also Nominated: Avatar: The Way of Water, Elvis, The Fabelmans, Tár, Top Gun: Maverick, Triangle of Sadness, Women Talking
- Should Win: Brendan Fraser (The Whale as Charlie)
- Second Choice: Austin Butler (Elvis as Elvis Presley)
- Will Win: Brendan Fraser
- Second Guess: Austin Butler
- Also Nominated: Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin as Pádraic Súilleabháin), Paul Mescal (Aftersun as Calum Paterson), Bill Nighy (Living as Mr. Williams)
- Should Win: Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once as Evelyn Wang)
- Second Choice: Cate Blanchett (Tár as Lydia Tár)
- Will Win: Michelle Yeoh
- Second Guess: Cate Blanchett
- Also Nominated: Ana de Armas (Blonde as Marilyn Monroe), Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie as Leslie Rowlands), Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans as Mitzi Schildkraut-Fabelman)
Best Supporting Actor
- Should Win: Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All at Once as Waymond Wang)
- Second Choice: Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway as James Aucoin)
- Will Win: Ke Huy Quan
- Second Guess: Brendan Gleeson (The Banshees of Inisherin as Colm Doherty)
- Also Nominated: Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans as Boris Schildkraut), Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin as Dominic Kearney)
Best Supporting Actress
- Should Win: Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All at Once as Joy Wang/Jobu Tupaki)
- Second Choice: Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as Queen Ramonda)
- Will Win: Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin as Siobhán Súilleabháin)
- Second Guess: Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All at Once as Deirdre Beaubeirdre)
- Also Nominated: Hong Chau (The Whale as Liz)
Best Original Screenplay
- Should Win: Everything Everywhere All at Once (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert)
- Second Choice: The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh)
- Will Win: Everything Everywhere All at Once
- Second Guess: Tár (Todd Field)
- Also Nominated: The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner), Triangle of Sadness (Ruben Östlund)
Best Adapted Screenplay
- Should Win: Living (Kazuo Ishiguro; based on the original motion picture screenplay Ikiru by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, and Hideo Oguni)
- Second Choice: Women Talking (Sarah Polley; based on the novel by Miriam Toews)
- Will Win: Women Talking
- Second Guess: All Quiet on the Western Front (Edward Berger, Lesley Paterson, and Ian Stokell; based on the novel by Erich Maria Remarque)
- Also Nominated: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Rian Johnson; based on characters created by Johnson and the film Knives Out), Top Gun: Maverick (Screenplay by Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer, and Christopher McQuarrie; Story by Peter Craig and Justin Marks; based on the film Top Gun written by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr.)
Best Animated Feature Film
- Should Win: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
- Second Choice: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
- Will Win: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
- Second Guess: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
- Also Nominated: Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, The Sea Beast, Turning Red
Best Original Score
- Should Win: Babylon (Justin Hurwitz)
- Second Choice: The Banshees of Inisherin (Carter Burwell)
- Will Win: Babylon
- Second Guess: All Quiet on the Western Front (Volker Bertelmann)
- Also Nominated: The Fabelmans (John Williams), Everything Everywhere All at Once (Son Lux)
- Should Win: All Quiet on the Western Front (Viktor Prášil, Frank Kruse, Markus Stemler, Lars Ginzel, and Stefan Korte)
- Second Choice: Elvis (David Lee, Wayne Pashley, Andy Nelson, and Michael Keller)
- Will Win: All Quiet on the Western Front
- Second Guess: Elvis
- Also Nominated: Avatar: The Way of Water (Julian Howarth, Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Dick Bernstein, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, and Michael Hedges), The Batman (Stuart Wilson, William Files, Douglas Murray, and Andy Nelson), Top Gun: Maverick (Mark Weingarten, James H. Mather, Al Nelson, Chris Burdon, and Mark Taylor)
Best Production Design
- Should Win: Babylon (Production Design: Florencia Martin; Set Decoration: Anthony Carlino)
- Second Choice: Avatar: The Way of Water (Production Design: Dylan Cole and Ben Procter; Set Decoration: Vanessa Cole)
- Will Win: Avatar: The Way of Water
- Second Guess: Babylon
- Also Nominated: All Quiet on the Western Front (Production Design: Christian M. Goldbeck; Set Decoration: Ernestine Hipper), Elvis (Production Design: Christian M. Goldbeck; Set Decoration: Ernestine Hipper), The Fabelmans (Production Design: Christian M. Goldbeck; Set Decoration: Ernestine Hipper)
- Should Win: Tár (Florian Hoffmeister)
- Second Choice: All Quiet on the Western Front (James Friend)
- Will Win: All Quiet on the Western Front
- Second Guess: Elvis (Mandy Walker)
- Also Nominated: Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths (Darius Khondji), Empire of Light (Roger Deakins)
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
- Should Win: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Camille Friend and Joel Harlow)
- Second Choice: All Quiet on the Western Front (Heike Merker and Linda Eisenhamerová)
- Will Win: The Whale (Adrien Morot, Judy Chin, and Anne Marie Bradley)
- Second Guess: Elvis (Mark Coulier, Jason Baird, and Aldo Signoretti)
- Also Nominated: The Batman (Naomi Donne, Mike Marino, and Mike Fontaine)
Best Costume Design
- Should Win: Everything Everywhere All at Once (Shirley Kurata)
- Second Choice: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Ruth Carter)
- Will Win: Elvis (Catherine Martin)
- Second Guess: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
- Also Nominated: Babylon (Mary Zophres), Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris (Jenny Beavan)
Best Film Editing
- Should Win: Tár (Monika Willi)
- Second Choice: Everything Everywhere All at Once (Paul Rogers)
- Will Win: Tár
- Second Guess: Everything Everywhere All at Once
- Also Nominated: The Banshees of Inisherin (Mikkel E. G. Nielsen), Elvis (Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond), Top Gun: Maverick (Eddie Hamilton)
Best Visual Effects
- Should Win: Avatar: The Way of Water (Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon, and Daniel Barrett)
- Second Choice: Top Gun: Maverick (Ryan Tudhope, Seth Hill, Bryan Litson, and Scott R. Fisher)
- Will Win: Avatar: The Way of Water
- Second Guess: All Quiet on the Western Front (Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller, Markus Frank, and Kamil Jafar)
- Also Nominated: The Batman (Dan Lemmon, Russell Earl, Anders Langlands, and Dominic Tuohy), Top Gun: Maverick (Ryan Tudhope, Seth Hill, Bryan Litson, and Scott R. Fisher)