My predictions for next year’s Best Picture nominees
Once again, we’re digging our fingers into chicken innards and predicting who the top 10 2023 Oscar nominees will be. We did well last year. Five of our 10s scored. This is a great result when all but one of the predictions had not yet been reviewed for anyone.
It lacked The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson, a reasonable punt, Annette by Leos Carax, a bit of a joker, Passing by Rebecca Hall, competitive throughout, In The Heights by John Chu, killed by a bad box office, and – a track we’ll be revisiting – Andrew Dominik’s as-yet-unreleased Blonde. We correctly guessed that the Academy would go for West Side Story, Dune, The Power of the Dog, and eventual winner CODA. Sian Heder’s sweet drama about life among New England’s deaf fishermen was the only film seen at the time. It had recently sold for a record sum at Sundance and won the Grand Jury Prize there in the American drama section. This snowy festival has served us well in these annual predictions, but, in 2023, there were no obvious hits to compare with CODA, Minari and Whiplash. We are therefore moving forward uncertainly in a list of entirely new versions.
If this game was easy, it wouldn’t be worth playing.
Blonde, an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ semi-fictional Marilyn Monroe novel, remains one of the most tempting releases of the year, but early reports of extreme content and elliptical storytelling suggest it may not be found. – not be in the wheelhouse of the academy. We reluctantly take it out of the frame. Cannes is sure to throw at least one surprise – Drive My Car debuted last year – that’s not on our radar yet, but the problem with surprises is that they’re impossible to predict. No one saw Belfast as a contender until it happily landed in Telluride. If this game was easy, it wouldn’t be worth playing.
In no particular order…
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Chazelle landed nominations for Whiplash and La La Land. First Man, arguably his best film, failed to make the best picture run. Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Tobey Maguire and Katherine Waterstone star in a study of early Hollywood. It opens at Christmas after an expected premiere at fall festivals. Do the math. This casting and this subject – Hollywood likes to gaze at its own navel – all point to the Dolby Theatre.
THE MOONFLOWER KILLERS
Directed by Martin Scorsese
If you’ll excuse our use of scholarly film theory… Well, duh! Seventy-five percent of Scorsese’s films in the 21st Century have been nominated for Best Picture. Nothing we hear about her adaptation of David Grann’s book about corruption in 1920s Oklahoma counts against her. Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemens star. After winning the first-ever best picture for a streaming service with CODA, could Apple TV once again overtake Netflix?
Directed by Maria Schrader
The German director of the acclaimed I’m Your Man moves on to a subject that is sure to catch the attention of juries. Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan play Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, respectively, the New York Times reporters who broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct. Plan B Entertainment, Brad Pitt’s Oscar-friendly company, is producing and a Cannes premiere appears to be on the cards. Talk of a November release suggests confidence in the awards action.
Directed by Steven Spielberg
We refer you to the words “Well, duh” above. Over the past decade, Lincoln, Bridge of Spies, The Post, and West Side Story have all earned top Spielberg nominations. Throughout his career, he’s told stories indirectly related to his upbringing, but The Fabelmans tackles memoir head-on. Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen play the parents of a brilliant child in Spielberg’s home state of Arizona in the 1950s. Well, the Cider with Rosie approach has recently scored nominations for Roma and Belfast. .
Directed by Sarah Polley
The Canadian director’s latest film seems absolutely perfect for an academy that has recently embraced more independent cinema and more stories about women. Frances McDormand, Rooney Mara and our very own Jessie Buckley – all Oscar nominees – star in an adaptation of Miriam Toews’ novel about women resisting abuse in a Mennonite community. Amazingly, this will be Polley’s first dramatic feature since 2011’s handsome Take This Waltz. Festivals will be fighting for it.
Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos
Dublin’s Element Pictures has several contenders this year, but surely the tastiest Oscar possibility is their fourth collaboration – after The Lobster, Killing of a Sacred Deer and The Favorite – with Lanthimos, the master of Greek weirdness. Emma Stone, Willem Dafoe and Mark Ruffalo star in an adaptation of Scottish genius Alasdair Gray’s brilliant Frankenstein-adjacent novel. I don’t think he will be ready for Cannes. Venice a cert otherwise.
Directed by Ari Aster
The academy has always been less supportive of horror than any other genre. So we shouldn’t be surprised that neither Aster’s Hereditary nor Midsommar are even in the conversation. Its latest features feature a cast moaning with class in the epic story of an entrepreneur making his way through the decades. Joaquin Phoenix, Nathan Lane, Patti LuPone, Amy Ryan and Parker Posey star in a release from the admired A24. Maybe it’s still too weird?
Directed by Noah Baumbach
We had to eventually come up with a Netflix title. Noah Baumbach takes it a step further into left field with an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s great post-modern novel about an academic’s interactions with an “airborne toxic event.” It will be interesting to see if DeLillo’s lofty literary style can successfully translate to film. Adam Driver stars alongside the director’s romantic partner, Greta Gerwig. Sounds like a “long-time project”. For the best or for the worst.
THE BANSHES OF INISHERIN
Directed by Martin McDonagh
McDonagh, who won an Oscar for a short film as early as 2004, became a serious actor at those awards when Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri picked up seven nominations in 2018. So we have to take him seriously as a contender with his latest dark comedy. . The title is very on brand. The cast too. McDonagh’s In Bruges stars Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell are back for a film that revolves around the breakdown of a long friendship.
Directed by David O Russell
Russell divides opinion, but he has an Oscar-starred record. The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle all earned multiple nominations, including, in each case, a best picture nod. Here we go again. Get this cast: Christian Bale, Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Zoe Saldaña, Andrea Risborough, Chris Rock, Taylor Swift, Michael Shannon, Mike Myers. It would be easier to note who is not in the mysterious “period drama”.