Like that rash you have, awards season is back! It is time to boil down works of art to their likelihoods at getting little golden trophies because that’s what we like doing once a year. And I do like doing it! Genuinely! It’s fun and I like feeling validated when I get stuff right, but then also I get stuff wrong a lot and that’s fun too. And if nothing else, good to get the numbers up, right? So lets get right into it. Just five categories for these predictions, then the final predictions will be way more in depth because I’ll have done more prep. So it goes and all that. Then after this post I’ll finally get to my best of 2022 posts. They are coming, I promise. Before that though, wild prediction time, with three bets that will prove I can guess things and one bet that shows I think I have taste.
Best Supporting Actor
Ke Huy Quan for Everything Everywhere All At Once
Brendan Gleeson for The Banshees of Inisherin
Paul Dano for The Fabelmans
Unlikely But Worthy:
Mark Rylance for Bones and All
We’re starting by celebrating the men whose performances aren’t always designed to be showy, but elevate their films when delivered as well as these three are. I’ll start by predicting the actor who, amazingly, seems to be the frontrunner. That is of course the man above us, Ke Huy Quan. When Everything Everywhere All At Once released way back in the spring of last year, many (myself included) went wild for Huy Quan’s performance. He is at the heart of a scene which is one of the very greatest in this very great film full of very great scenes, in which he professes his love for Evelyn, across every universe. Plus, he has charmed on every stage he has appeared on this year, of course you want him at your ceremony. Also likely to be seen is Brendan Gleeson for The Banshees of Inisherin. That’s one of those films we’ll hear from a lot, but it’s because its sparse cast and crew are all at the top of their game. This includes Gleeson, who turns his typical gruffness into something complexly layered. It’s a great part that he never takes for granted. And finally, we’ll probably see a nomination for Paul Dano in The Fabelmans, another highly nominated film. Dano has had a great year, having earlier played The Riddler in The Batman, but I’m told he’s great here too. The UK release is later this month, but Dano has never let me down before, I don’t expect it now. As a little choice for me though, I am picking Mark Rylance for Bones and All. I can’t believe I just wrote that. Rylance has never been a screen presence I’ve been a fan of, always playing weird little guys with weird little accents. Sure, that’s what he does here too, but here it’s with an unpredictable energy that powers the film even when he isn’t on screen. It is an actor taking something that should feel stale but creating a freshness in it and that’s what I love about acting. However, Bones and All will be completely shut out because it is far too weird for anything close to the mainstream. Their loss.
Best Supporting Actress
Angela Bassett for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Kerry Condon for The Banshees of Inisherin
Hong Chau for The Whale
Unlikely But Worthy:
Jessie Buckley for Women Talking
I find myself interested by this category which, for so much of the year, appeared to have no strong frontrunner and not even really more than a few fringe possibilities. That’s why I think the current frontrunner feels like such a rogue choice. Don’t get me wrong, Angela Bassett is sensational in pretty much everything she’s in, and is by no means below that bar in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. I just feel that by being the strongest part of a mediocre film, it makes her performance seem mightier than it is. Perhaps it’s the narrative of this being “her time”. Bassett has only been nominated once before for an Oscar and seems the kind of actress who should have one. In lieu of a more obvious answer, here she is. As far as less obvious choices though, I think Kerry Condon is a fantastic choice for her work in The Banshees of Inisherin. It’s such a masculine film, heavy with the weight of male conflict, but she adds something different to the film. It’s not merely that she is a female presence, it’s the versatility of her presence. She is gentle and furious and ultimately willing to do what she hopes is for the best. Condon has the least showy role of the three leads, but it’s still a strong one. I am also reliably told that Hong Chau’s work in The Whale falls into this too. I’m yet to see the film but it is a film that is so strongly focussed on performances that rewarding them feels a clear choice. Plus, I know she was great in The Menu, I trust her strength as an actress. Speaking of trusting an actresses’ strength, Jessie Buckley! Last year she secured her first (of many, I assume) Oscar nomination and while the hype on Women Talking has muted, she is my favourite part of it. Her nomination isn’t likely, but it would be recognition for an actress who is yet to put a foot wrong and who is consistently underpraised. I just think she’s neat.
Colin Farrell for The Banshees of Inisherin
Brendan Fraser for The Whale
Austin Butler for Elvis
Unlikely But Worthy:
Paul Mescal for Aftersun
Predicting this category was the easiest of the bunch, because three frontrunners have emerged and that’s all my format requires me to predict. Colin Farrell is slowly carving a very impressive winning streak this season and I have a sneaking suspicion that he may end up taking the trophy at the end of this all (but we can check back on that in March). For the time being, his work in The Banshees of Inisherin is brilliant and subtle work, well deserving of all its praise. He goes on a subtle emotional journey and it is credit to Farrell’s acting that we’re not entirely sure where we find ourselves by the end of the film. Also in an apparently equal ball park in Brendan Fraser for The Whale. He has been a fan favourite for this award since well before anyone had actually seen the film, because it’s a success story. Fraser was unofficially blacklisted from Hollywood and this marks a grand return for him. Hollywood rewarding themselves for welcoming him back after kicking him out? Sure, it’s hypocritical, but it’s the Oscars, we expect nothing less. What we also expect is Austin Butler to be nominated for his work in Elvis. I did not care for Elvis, but it certainly ticks the box for Best Actor contention. For two and a half hours, Butler is in almost every scene and transforms himself into a well known persona. That is pure awards catnip. We saw how Bohemian Rhapsody went, some of us even remember Judy. Butler is all but guaranteed a nomination, and we’ll track the rest from there. As I said at the start of this paragraph, there is ambiguity mainly around the two other places in this category. One who stands an outside chance is Paul Mescal for Aftersun. Aftersun is a very delicate film that says a lot without really talking about the things it says. As a film, it can get away with that because of the performances, chiefly the work of Mescal. His quiet collapse powers the film and gives a sense of dread whose origin we can barely place. Though Aftersun is a smaller film than others in competition, it is one whose power could (and should) see recognition.
Cate Blanchett for Tár
Danielle Deadwyler for Till
Michelle Yeoh for Everything Everywhere All At Once
Unlikely But Worthy:
Rebecca Hall for Resurrection
Cate Blanchett for Tár. That’s it. Everyone else go home. That diagnosis maybe doesn’t feel fair in a category with plenty of other worthy winners, but awards season has never been about fair. However, awards season also usually doesn’t recognise performances as good as Blanchett’s. She doesn’t play an existing character, she is largely subdued and the film itself is one that many have bounced right off. But holy hell, she is incredible. Nuance isn’t a nuanced enough word for what she is capable of in Tár. Admittedly, she isn’t the only powerhouse vying for attention. I hadn’t heard of Danielle Deadwyler before I watched Till, but she made me remember her name after watching it. It is a more obviously powerful performance, in which she has to portray the rawest kind of grief any human can ever experience. But also, Mamie is not a character who makes the obvious move and because of Deadwyler’s attention to emotional detail, we get to understand her decisions. A weaker actress would have made this a role that, while moving, could feel surface level, but that is not what Deadwyler is here for. My final choice of this bunch is Michelle Yeoh, the beating heart of Everything Everywhere All At Once. I don’t actually know how to describe what she does in this film, other than commit herself to its silliness. If any frame of EEAAO lacked sincerity, the audience would reject it. We didn’t though, did we? Yeoh is physically dominating the screen, pulling off the action moves that made her famous almost two decades ago and doing so with what seems to be a complete ease. She’s awesome. But if I may, let me push a complete wild card, who has no chance of a nomination. I talk of Rebecca Hall for Resurrection. To start, Resurrection is not a well known film and even many of the people who know about it haven’t seen it. What a shame. Horror is always on the back foot at the Oscars, which means a performance like the one Hall gives goes totally ignored. There is a monologue at the heart of this film, which exposes all the craziness to come and reliably lets audiences know where we’re going. The monologue is one unbroken shot of Hall talking. A single slip up would ruin the moment and she doesn’t dare. Were she terrible in the rest of the film and amazing here, she would deserve the nomination. The fact that she is this good for the whole film is criminal, which maybe explains why no awards jury have paid her the slightest bit of attention.
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All At Once
Top Gun: Maverick
Unlikely But Worthy:
Bones and All
We have made it to the biggie! Did you skim read the other categories to get here? Probably, but that’s none of my business. It’s nice to have you around even just a little. This is also the biggest predictions list, because there will be twice as many nominations, so I need to predict twice as many champions. I’ll get straight into it, The Fabelmans feels a dead cert for a nomination. It is Spielberg talking about his childhood and the magic of the movies. Even having not seen it, that feels like a slam dunk for a nomination. Everyone is also expecting The Banshees of Inisherin to do well. It hit big out of the autumn film festivals and Martin McDonagh’s last film was very handsomely rewarded back in 2018. Good for it, weirder films deserve recognition. Speaking of, the prince of 2022 weirdness, let’s give it up for Everything Everywhere All At Once. Back when it came out, it was the box office story that could, a little miracle whose mere existence was cause for celebration. Now, all these months later, something bigger seems to be in its future. It was the film that everyone kept talking about and buzz is currency for the Oscars, which I hope A24 cash in on big time. Then, expect to see a showing from Tár. From the outside, it seems exactly the kind of awards-baity nonsense that is destined to get an Oscar, but it is far better than that. Sure, it is an almost three hour film about a composer who becomes embroiled in cancel culture, though it isn’t until you watch the film that you realise how much grander it is than that. And even then, it isn’t until the second viewing that it opens up even further.
These next two predictions are slightly less certain, but I think their odds are still good. Despite my disbelief in it as a possibility on its release, there seems to be a genuine chance that Top Gun: Maverick could get nominated for Best Picture. I thought that it was an outside chance because broadly speaking, the way you reward blockbusters is with huge box office returns. As the famous Mad Men quote goes “That’s what the money is for!” However, it has been such a crossover hit for every demographic and one that has endured in the public consciousness. If the Academy want to get public interest, nominating this will draw people in. What may not draw people in is Women Talking. Despite a positive response from every festival it played at, it has bombed at the US box office and has been fairly quiet at other awards shows. So where does it stand with the Oscars? I think it’s too impressive a piece to not garner interest, even if it won’t win anything. And, in a year when women aren’t going to be very present in the creative categories, it would look especially bad if Women Talking gets shut out of a category that had ten spots up for the taking.
My turn now though, to be wild and crazy. Crazy enough to suggest something like, maybe the Academy should nominate a horror film for Best Picture? I know, wild. Bones and All is bonkers and another knockout from Luca Guadagnino, who was once upon a time a contender for Best Picture. Maybe the difference is that with Call Me By Your Name, he cast a cannibal and didn’t make a film about them. Don’t blame me, I needed to get that joke out one more time before this film disappears from public consciousness. Anyway, the point is, this is a lush and sensual horror film that is about love and otherness and learning how to truly find yourself. I fully loved it, from my marrow to my nails. What I also loved was The Northman. We’ll chat more about it on the best of 2022 list but damn, what a feat of moviemaking. It is a muscular epic and the Oscars have never been shy of those before. But I think there is this weird edge to The Northman that will stop people quite digging into it. Not me though. It was technically the most impressive film I saw all year but also has the thematic and emotional depth to back it up. Words cannot describe how special this film is and apparently awards won’t describe it either.