Do we need to say anything about the complete and utter shitshow that was last year's Oscars?
Will Smith's slap aside, last year's Oscars felt strange and panicked for many reasons. The pandemic was still hovering close over the ceremony. Not many people watched it (what's new?). 'Coda' might have won Best Picture, but did anyone even watch it? Eight awards were taken off-screen, while Zack Snyder's legion of fans launched a blitzkrieg on a fan initiative and somehow got 'Army of the Dead' into the Oscars.
This time around, the lineup at this year's Oscars looks decidedly more like a normal one. Not only that, a lot of people have seen a lot of the nominated movies and it's entirely possible - dare we even think of it - that this year's Oscars might actually be worth following.
To that end, we've collated our predictions for this year's Oscars - specifically the Big Five. For those just joining us, the Big Five are Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay - Adapted/Original. Yes, that's six, but it's called the Big Five, and we don't make the rules.
Let's get to it.
BEST SCREENPLAY - ADAPTED / ORIGINAL
For these two categories, we're going to call Best Adapted for 'Women Talking' and Best Original for 'Banshees of Inisherin'. Both categories are fairly well stacked with exceptional screenplays, but both of these have a topicality that the screenplay Oscars always seem to favour. In other words, the Oscars generally tend to favour screenplays that speak to what's happening in Hollywood and, in a larger sense, the world right now.
'Women Talking' deals with women in the fallout of a sex scandal in a cloistered religious community. Some want to stay and fight, others want to leave and never come back. Consider how Hollywood has gone through a reckoning with similar topics in recent years and you can read 'Women Talking' as an allegory for the kinds of hushed conversations women actors have had with one another. 'Banshees of Inisherin', though it is set just a few miles off our coast, speaks to the deep divisions over the most trivial of things and the atomisation of our daily lives. America is, after all, a deeply divided country and while the Irish Civil War clatters away in the distance of 'Banshees of Inisherin', its sense of anger and distrust permeates the island. Americans feel this all too well because the pettiness of hatred is way too universal.
We'll keep this category short because this is a lock. This one has Lydia Tár written all over it, underlined in it, and just, yeah, she's got this. Cate Blanchett is going to walk off with an Oscar and if she doesn't, expect her to come flying out of the wings and tackle Michelle Yeoh to the ground. You know, just like in the movie. Michelle Yeoh is the next possible winner, but really, this feels like it's Cate Blanchett.
As we write this, Austin Butler has just leapt forward in a lot of the bookmaker's predictions, so much so that he's now directly under the current frontrunner - Brendan Fraser. We forget sometimes that the Oscars downright LOVE a good song-and-dance man and sure enough, Austin Butler's Elvis Presley was just that. As much as we might like to hope and pray for North Kildare's greatest export since Theobald Wolfe Tone or Mick Foster of Foster & Allen to win, Paul Mescal is unlikely to clinch it. So too is 'Ballykissangel' alum Colin Farrell.
No, the likelihood is that the Brendan Fraser-aissance will arrive at its natural conclusion with an Oscar win here, and then we'll start to see him in increasingly more noticeable roles in the future. If, by some miracle, Austin Butler takes the gong here, odds are he's going to hold on to that accent for dear life. He's a long way from 'Zooey 101', folks.
This one's a little tricky to call. Certainly, Senor Spielbergo did an incredible job on 'The Fabelmans', where he spun up a heartwrenching story pulled from his own memories and recollections. Bringing in David Lynch as a cameo at the end was a masterful touch. The way that 'The Fabelmans' was so true to life for anyone who lived through a messy family divorce at that age cannot be overstated. He's also long overdue an Oscar too.
Now, equally, what The Daniels did with 'Everything Everywhere All At Once' is equally worthy of inclusion. The way in which they so fully committed to the concept and so deftly moved between genres - yearning Wong Kar Wai-esque romance, slapstick physical comedy ala 'Kung Fu Hustle', sharp observational drama about immigrant families - all of it. They did it all on what would pass for the craft service budget for a Marvel movie. What's more, it was actually an entertaining movie. When was the last time a Best Picture nominee was fun, and actually in with a real chance of winning?
We're talking about Best Director however, so our heart is torn between these two. Most likely it's going to be The Daniels, and they'll also win for...
Yes, we are calling this one for 'Everything Everywhere All At Once'. Yes, we are betraying our nation and our audience by not predicting a sweep for 'Banshees of Inisherin' that would take in Best Picture. But, still, nevertheless, 'Everything Everywhere All At Once' is the winner and it deserves to be the winner. If nothing else, Weird needs a win. Bold and Weird needs a win. Bold, Entertaining and Weird never gets a win and damn it, 'Everything Everywhere All At Once' was all of these. If you haven't yet watched it, stop reading this crap this instant and go watch it. Come back afterwards, look us dead in the eye, and tell us it doesn't deserve to win Best Picture.
Oh, you're going to say it's too loud, too flashy, too crazy to win? Any other year, of course. No way the Oscars would get behind something like this. Yet, the year is 2023, the planet is on a death spiral, AI is going to replace everything creative in the next decade with multiple-fingered, bug-eyed performances, and that show you love is going to be cancelled. None of us will be here for very long. The law of the Oscars is that the bold, weird and entertaining movie almost never wins. To paraphrase the learned Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero, more laws mean less justice. 'Everything Everywhere All At Once' should win because it's the best movie in the category and if there's justice, it'll win.