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March 30, 2023

2023 Oscars predictions: Overcoming controversy by appeasing viewers

By JOHN D'CRUZ | February 23, 2023



Many newcomers lead the nominations of the 95th Academy Awards, which will take place on March 12, 2023.

After a series of contentious years, many wonder whether the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ new leadership — namely, President Janet Yang and CEO Bill Kramer — can draw viewers and positive reviews for the upcoming 95th Academy Awards (Oscars). Due to the uncertainty surrounding the value of awards shows, my predictions on who will take home this year’s Oscars will weigh both public opinion and the merit of the nominees themselves. 

Last March’s Oscars ceremony was overshadowed by controversy before, during and after the event. About a month beforehand, the Academy revealed the decision to remove eight behind-the-scenes categories — including Best Animated Short Film, Best Original Score and Best Production Design — from the Oscars’ live broadcast. Industry professionals immediately criticized this slight towards already-overlooked creatives in favor of celebrity-laden performances that officials hoped would boost their declining ratings and viewership. 

Ironically, their hopes were granted in the least attractive way when Will Smith’s slapping Chris Rock stole the public’s attention and generated intense debates surrounding both the incident itself and the Academy’s strict response, which some criticized as harsh compared to mellower penalties for less public violations. The “slap” joined a slew of other missteps, ranging from the Academy’s sidelining of women and people of color to the Moonlight/La La Land Best Picture mix-up in 2017, suggesting that the public opinion’s dependence on award shows and critical reviews had waned in favor of personal taste and social media attention. 

Given this intense controversy, it is no surprise that the Academy has made considerable changes for the upcoming ceremony. After the last four shows’ lack of a traditional host, the 95th Oscars will be led by veteran presenter Jimmy Kimmel. Every single nominated category will be presented live, and the nominations themselves feature a wealth of firsts.

Michelle Yeoh is the first ever Asian to be nominated for Best Actress, and the Everything Everywhere All At Once cast as a whole seems poised to make history with remarkable nominations for Asian and LGBTQ+ representation on screen. John Williams broke his own record for the most Oscar nominations for a living person, with a remarkable 53 nominations after this year. Every Best Actor nominee received their first-ever nod this year. And Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water are blockbuster films included in Best Picture considerations, suggesting that judges took both public response and artistic merit into consideration.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the nominations have already generated controversy. Andrea Riseborough’s Best Actress nomination prompted an investigation regarding direct juror lobbying by prominent friends of Riseborough and the To Leslie team. Even though the Academy concluded no wrongdoing on Riseborough’s part, allegations of corruption tarnished the jury’s already shaky reputation furthered by the all-male Best Director nominee list despite the plethora of acclaimed women-led films.

Given the downward trend of audience engagement, the decisions this year must take the climate surrounding nominees into consideration to maintain (or re-establish) the Oscars’ dominant role in Hollywood awards shows. Using these criteria, I have compiled the following list of my Oscar predictions for some of the most discussed categories.

Best Picture: Everything Everywhere All At Once

Best Director: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Actor: Brendan Fraser (The Whale)

Best Actress: Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once)

Best Supporting Actress: Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)

Best Original Screenplay: Banshees of Inisherin

Best Adapted Screenplay: All Quiet on the Western Front

Best Cinematography: Florian Hoffmeister (Tàr)

Best Original Score: John Williams (The Fabelmans)

Best Original Song: “Naatu Naatu” (RRR)

Best Animated Feature Film: Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio

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