Oscars 2023: Who will and who should win
The Academy Awards will not be here till March 12 (March 13 Singapore time), but there are already clear indicators of who the winners are going to be in the major categories.
All signs point to science-fiction comedy Everything Everywhere All At Once bagging several key awards – it is only a question of how many.
The film leads this year’s Oscars pack with 11 nominations, but other movies, such as black comedy The Banshees Of Inisherin, may upset its chances at the last second.
A factor of note in the contest is Andrea Riseborough-gate. The English actress’ name came out of nowhere in the Best Actress category after she starred in a spottily released drama To Leslie, which opens in Singapore cinemas on March 9. Since her shock inclusion, one that many say could have gone to a black actress, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has said it will look into changing rules to curb celebrity campaigning.
Nominees: Everything Everywhere All At Once, The Banshees Of Inisherin, The Fabelmans, Top Gun: Maverick, Tar, All Quiet On The Western Front, Elvis, Avatar: The Way Of Water, Triangle Of Sadness, Women Talking
Will win: Everything Everywhere All At Once
Should win: Everything Everywhere All At Once
The fight here will be between Everything and Banshees, but the consensus among critics and observers is that Everything will take home the prize. Of the 10 nominated films, it is the one with the right ingredients: Prestigious pedigree (including universal critical acclaim), the support of tastemaking distributor A24 and glorious personal stories attached to its Asian stars, Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan.
The film’s ambitious use of Stephen Chow-style action comedy melded to a dramatic immigrant story has already earned it Golden Globes (for Yeoh and Quan) and several Critics’ Choice Awards, including for Best Picture, Best Director (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert), Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Quan).
Nominees: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All At Once), Steven Spielberg (The Fabelmans), Martin McDonagh (The Banshees Of Inisherin), Todd Field (Tar), Ruben Ostlund (Triangle Of Sadness)
Will win: Kwan and Scheinert
Should win: Kwan and Scheinert
To say that Everything is a director-led film would be an understatement. The American duo of Kwan and Scheinert, both 35, have made every frame unmistakably theirs.
Sausage fingers. Talking rocks. Massed martial art battles. Outrageous bagel-based costumes worn by a multiverse-spanning entity. Slow-motion edits and jittery rapid-fire cuts.
This film has them all, and critics everywhere rewarded these young-ish men for taking artistic risks when it looked as if the 2022 movie slate would be dominated by silver-haired veterans.
Collectively known as The Daniels, who cut their teeth on viral music videos, they are the future of film-making, and the Academy voters will want them to have long careers in an industry looking to lure viewers back into cinemas.
Nominees: Austin Butler (Elvis), Colin Farrell (The Banshees Of Inisherin), Brendan Fraser (The Whale), Paul Mescal (Aftersun), Bill Nighy (Living)
Will win: Brendan Fraser
Should win: Paul Mescal
The sentimental vote is on Fraser, who combines a solid performance as the morbidly obese English teacher at the end of his emotional rope with a real-life personal comeback story. Fraser was a 1990s leading man with the rare combination of looks, comedic timing and likeability. He then faded from view, a fact that he has since attributed to getting blacklisted after he shot down a sexual approach by a Hollywood insider.
But his film, The Whale, while emotionally devastating, is an over-the-top melodrama. Aftersun, a drama about a woman’s memories of a long-ago holiday with her father, played by Irish actor Mescal, is the stronger movie. Mescal, 27, offers a beautifully restrained performance as a sensitive young dad grown old before his time.
Nominees: Cate Blanchett (Tar), Ana de Armas (Blonde), Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie), Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans), Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once)
Will win: Michelle Yeoh
Should win: Michelle Yeoh
This year, the focus should have been on the career of one of Asia’s leading talent. But since the Oscar nominations were announced in January, a storm has erupted over the out-of-nowhere naming of Riseborough in the category.
The event prompted investigations by the media and the Academy itself, not least because her inclusion takes a spot that could have gone to a black actress such as Viola Davis (period drama The Woman King) and Danielle Deadwyler (biographical drama Till). Both their films were given a wider release than Riseborough’s little-seen indie drama To Leslie.
Investigations showed no wrongdoing, though they did reveal that all it takes to cause a major swing in votes is a few well-placed celebrities holding viewing parties.
Yeoh is a lock to win. She is well-liked by the acting community in Hollywood, which has been waiting for a movie to come along to show its support for a veteran who has more than paid her dues in a career that began in 1980s Hong Kong action flicks.
In Everything, as the downtrodden immigrant laundry owner Evelyn Wang, the Malaysian star is in almost every scene, giving slapstick comedy, drama and gongfu – sometimes all three at once. It is a showstopping performance, and Hollywood is ready to reward her for it.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Brendan Gleeson (The Banshees Of Inisherin), Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway), Judd Hirsch (The Fabelmans), Barry Keoghan (The Banshees Of Inisherin), Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once)
Will win: Ke Huy Quan
Should win: Ke Huy Quan
Quan also heads into Oscars season with a lock on this award because it would be inconceivable for voters to ignore his sweep at nearly every contest in the United States and abroad, including the Golden Globes and, just to pick one of many, the Toronto Film Critics Association.
While his personal story about starting as a child actor in Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (1984), then waning from the scene as he grew older has touched many, the Vietnamese American’s performance as the meek husband Waymond trying to find the best version of himself to win back his wife Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh) is undeniably powerful. A supporting actor could not have asked for a better role to show off range – Waymond goes from meek to malevolent, dapper to drab.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever), Hong Chau (The Whale), Kerry Condon (The Banshees Of Inisherin), Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything Everywhere All At Once), Stephanie Hsu (Everything Everywhere All At Once)
Will win: Angela Bassett
Should win: Hong Chau
Bassett has the wind in her sails. For one thing, she already claimed the Golden Globe for playing the steely but distraught Queen Ramonda in the Marvel superhero sequel and looks set to be the first actor from a Marvel franchise to win at the Academy Awards.
Like Yeoh, she is riding on a wave of goodwill after a career spanning more than 30 years, for which she has earned a previous Oscar nomination, for her starring role in the Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It (1993).
However, Chau – born to Vietnamese parents – tends to be the best part in otherwise run-of-the-mill films. In The Whale, she is the nurse friend of protagonist Charlie (Brendan Fraser) and her character gets to say the things the audience wants to say to him. In fact, she delivers an emotionally devastating speech that will be remembered by many long after Fraser’s presence is forgotten.