Predicting the 2023 Oscars

With the 95th Oscars coming up on Sunday, it’s time to make my final predictions on some of the night’s biggest categories. Everything Everywhere All at Once is on a roll right now and looks poised to take home a number of statues, but the only constant of the Oscars is chaos, so who’s to say what will actually win on Hollywood’s biggest night.

Best Picture

All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans
Top Gun: Maverick
Triangle of Sadness
Women Talking

Should Win: This is honestly a great set of Best Picture nominees. All but two of these are in my personal Top 20 of the year (Triangle of Sadness barely missed the cut at 22, and Elvis was a bit too messy for me, so it landed quite a bit lower). I would honestly be totally happy with five of these movies if they were to take home the top prize. The Fabelmans and Everything Everywhere All at Once are my two favorite movies of the year, so my heart goes with both of them.

Will Win: Given the trajectory it’s been on so far in awards season, this is Everything Everywhere All at Once’s to lose.

Best Director

Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Todd Field, Tár
Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness

Should Win: Again, my heart is split between The Fabelmans and Everything Everywhere All at Once. I would love for Steven Spielberg to take this simply for the power of directing his own story. And there’s one shot from The Fabelmans that I have yet to stop thinking about.

Will Win: I think the Daniels will come out on top here (and what a great win it will be for Birmingham native Daniel Scheinert!).

Best Lead Actor

Austin Butler, Elvis
Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
Brendan Fraser, The Whale
Paul Mescal, Aftersun
Bill Nighy, Living

Should Win: The Best Actor race has been a three-way tie between Austin Butler, Colin Farrell and Brendan Fraser. But Paul Mescal’s performance in Aftersun is so understated yet haunting that he should be as much in the conversation, if not win.

Will Win: Brendan Fraser has the heart of Hollywood right now, but the Oscars love a transformation, so I think Austin Butler will win for his complete dedication to becoming Elvis Presley.

Best Lead Actress

Cate Blanchett, Tár
Ana de Armas, Blonde
Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie
Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans
Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Should Win: Undoubtedly the most talked-about category of the year, with the inclusion of Andrea Riseborough and Ana de Armas (and the exclusion of Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler), Best Actress has really been a two-horse race between Cate Blanchett and Michelle Yeoh. Blanchett is sensational as Lydia Tar, so much so that nearly everyone thought she was based on a real person at first. This award should almost be guaranteed to be hers.

Will Win: Michelle Yeoh is everything and expertly carries the audience through the weird and chaotic understanding of the multiverse as she transforms from an unassuming laundromat owner to a hero to her family. She deserves this award and I fully expect her to win.

Best Supporting Actor

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

Should Win: This is probably the most locked-down category of the ceremony already. Ke Huy Quan should, will and deserves to win this award. I do want to shout out Barry Keoghan, who is equally hilarious and heartbreaking in Banshees.

Will Win: No one has had more fun on the awards show circuit this year than Ke Huy Quan. His comeback story is so heartwarming and he has such a winning personality you literally can’t root against him. From Short Round and Data to Oscar winner, here he comes.

Best Supporting Actress

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

Should Win: The way Stephanie Hsu has been mostly overlooked this awards season is truly baffling. In a movie starring Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis, Stephanie Hsu still finds a way to stand out and nearly steal the whole show. For her to win an Oscar would be extraordinary and I would be thrilled. Another Banshees shoutout to Kerry Condon, because she is wonderful in her role as well.

Will Win: Angela Bassett seems poised to win the first acting award for an MCU movie, and it would be well deserved. She has to grieve onscreen as a character and an actor and delivers some powerhouse scenes. (And I’m sure the MCU would love some positive recognition after a year of struggling to maintain momentum.)

Best Adapted Screenplay

All Quiet on the Western Front
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Top Gun: Maverick
Women Talking

Should Win: I’ve adored both of Rian Johnson’s Benoit Blanc mysteries – Knives Out is one of my favorite movies of all time and Glass Onion was another unique story with plenty of twists and turns. In my heart I would love for Rian Johnson to be recognized. And everything about Top Gun: Maverick is astonishing, especially how they continued the story from the original while introducing compelling new characters and building a thrilling conclusion.

Will Win: I’m going with Women Talking for this category. Based on a novel, it manages to present complex and contrasting perspectives in a way that’s easy to follow and mix in a number of difficult topics. It also does an excellent job of balancing that fine line between feeling like a stage play and a more cinematic experience.

Best Original Screenplay

The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans
Triangle of Sadness

Should Win: Not to sound like a broken record, but the way Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner were able to tell the story of Spielberg’s own childhood – the good and the bad – was outstanding. I’ll also give a shout out to Tar for tackling some complex issues like power and cancel culture in its script and doing so in a way that made it stick in your head long after the movie ended.

Will Win: As outlandish and complicated a concept like the multiverse can be, Everything Everywhere All at Once is surprisingly easy and engaging to follow. And in the center of all the wackiness, the movie is really a story about parents and children, relationships and learning to understand and respect each other.

Best Animated Feature Film

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Marcel the Shell With Shoes On
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
The Sea Beast
Turning Red

Should Win: This is an incredible lineup for Best Animated Film. Marcel the Shell is an icon and one of the most gentle, charming and heartfelt movies of the year. Puss in Boots shocked us all and breathed new life and energy into a franchise thought to be long dead. My pick for this though is Turning Red, an absolute joy of a film that creatively and delicately tackles puberty, the strain and growth in parent-child relationships, and early 2000s boy band mania.

Will Win: The Pixar brand still has a strong hold in this category, so Turning Red has a good shot, but I think the love for Guillermo del Toro will put his adaptation of Pinocchio – a beautiful, fascinating take on the well-known story – on top.

Best Original Score

All Quiet on the Western Front, Volker Bertelmann
Babylon, Justin Hurwitz
The Banshees of Inisherin, Carter Burwell
Everything Everywhere All at Once, Son Lux
The Fabelmans, John Williams

Should Win: Personally I think John Williams should always win when he’s nominated, and I do really love the quiet, longing nature of The Fabelmans score.

Will Win: Babylon is not the same movie without Justin Hurwitz’s loud, bombastic, pulse-raising score. It gives the movie life and amplifies the chaotic nature of the early days of cinema. Hurwitz is quickly becoming one of my favorite current film composers and I can’t wait to hear what he does next.

Top 10 movies of 2022

In my opinion, 2022 was a pretty great year for movies. I was able to see 77 movies released this year, and overall, I had a great time. From the highs of movies like Top Gun: Maverick and Avatar: The Way of Water to the confounding choices made in Morbius and Disney’s live-action Pinocchio, it certainly wasn’t boring, and there were more than a dozen movies I truly loved. 

So without further ado, here are my top 10 movies of 2022: 

  1. Glass Onion
Credit: Netflix

One of my favorite movies of all time is 2019’s Knives Out, so I had high expectations for this sequel. And I’m delighted to report that it lived up to those expectations. Glass Onion is bigger and bolder than Knives Out, with outlandish characters and even more twists and turns. And somehow it’s even more of an indictment of the uber rich than the first film was. I laughed out loud and was glued to the screen for the entire runtime. Daniel Craig is living his best life returning as Benoit Blanc, but Janelle Monae absolutely steals the show. 

Rian Johnson sure knows how to make a good movie and he has plans for at least one more mystery story, but I would watch 1,000 more Benoit Blanc movies. Glass Onion is an absolute blast from beginning to end. 

  1. Nope
Credit: Universal Pictures

Jordan Peele has become the premier director for high concept psychological thrillers, and Nope is certainly his most ambitious movie yet. He finds the perfect balance between not quite a horror movie but capturing the ability to keep you at the edge of your seat. 

It’s easy to see the connections to early thrillers and sci-fi stories like Spielberg’s Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but Nope updates the framework while finding time to investigate how society deals with trauma and our obsession with documenting every moment of our lives in a social media world. It’s truly a movie for our time and one you don’t want to miss.

  1. Aftersun
Credit: BBC Film/PASTEL

As I’ve gotten older, stories about the relationships between families, especially parents and kids, have started to hit me harder – and I’m just an uncle. Aftersun is told as the memory of a young girl going on vacation with her father. The movie doesn’t spell out too many specific details about the main characters, but it gives the audience enough glimpses to piece together the dynamics and history between them. 

The movie will certainly feel slow to many viewers, but once you reach the final 10-15 minutes and some of the major breadcrumbs finally fall into place, the full emotional weight just washes over you – and I walked out of the theater unable to think about anything besides this movie for hours afterward. 

  1. The Banshees of Inisherin
Credit: Searchlight Pictures/Film4 Productions

What do you do when a friendship has run its course and you’re no longer on the same page? The Banshees of Inisherin takes that question and shows how it can affect both sides of a broken relationship. At times hilarious, and at other times heartbreaking, Banshees transports you to 1920s Ireland and asks you to weigh the impacts of being nice for the sake of not hurting anyone’s feelings or bluntly breaking something that doesn’t work anymore. And on top of that, it asks you what is worth sacrificing in the name of legacy. It’s an interpersonal conflict that takes over a whole community, taking the story to a shocking place, but one worth taking. 

  1. Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Credit: A24

After becoming a viral YouTube sensation in the 2010s, Marcel the Shell’s feature film debut is 90 minutes of pure, wholesome joy. Marcel takes you on a journey where you learn to  overcome your fears, find where you belong, and be comfortable with who you are. Presented as a mockumentary, it’s literally impossible not to fall in love with Marcel and have a deep emotional investment in his search for his family. This tiny shell begs us to ask what is important to us, appreciate what we have in our lives, and give into the laughter and tears that life brings us all. Hilarious and heartfelt, you don’t want to miss this. 

  1. Tár 
Credit: Focus Features

In a lot of ways, Tár is the opposite of Marcel the Shell. Tár is a complex examination of power and its corruptive tendencies. At the top of the classical orchestra world, the morally gray Lydia Tár is confronted with accusations of misconduct that threaten to bring her world crashing down. It’s much more thoughtful and complicated character study than a straightforward #MeToo story could be, especially as it’s told from a female’s perspective. 

Cate Blanchett is truly sensational in the central role, making you root for and against her at different times throughout the story. She’ll almost certainly win Best Actress at the upcoming Oscars. Tár will certainly leave you thinking about it and how you process its events for hours after it ends. 

  1. RRR
Credit: Lyca Productions/DVV Entertainment

There’s still no movie like RRR that I’ve seen in a very long time. In its three-hour runtime, this historical fiction centered around two Indian revolutionaries during British rule in the early 1900s is an action epic, a musical, a buddy comedy, an inspirational revolution saga, and a myth-building masterpiece. 

It’ll pump you full of adrenaline and leave you emotionally and physically exhausted by the end of this marathon. The visuals are stunning, the action is unmatched, and the story transfixes you from beginning to end. 

  1. Top Gun: Maverick
Credit: Paramount Pictures/Skydance Media

Still the best movie theater experience of 2022, and probably the best since 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, Maverick is truly the winner of 2022 and the savior of the theatrical movie experience this year. Tom Cruise made us believe in the power of movies again and Maverick truly is a thrill ride burstin with outstanding action, enjoyable characters and a surprisingly strong emotional core. 

This is the movie I’ve rewatched more than any other this year, and every time I have to remind myself to release the tension in my neck and shoulders during every action sequence. And Maverick finally perfected the legacy sequel formula that expertly balanced nostalgia with a fresh story all on its own. And that main Top Gun theme still rips 30 years later. 

  1. The Fabelmans
Credit: Amblin Entertainment

It shouldn’t be shocking for me to have a Spielberg movie on my top 10 list, but I absolutely adored The Fabelmans with all my heart. It’s a slightly fictionalized retelling of Spielberg’s own childhood, how he fell in love with movies, and the story of his parents’ divorce. For someone as integral to the last half century of movies, it’s certainly a story worth telling.

The movie is so sincere and sentimental, but in a way that doesn’t feel sappy or like it’s beating you over the head. It shows us the power of film, how it can reveal truths we can’t see on our own, and how we can love our families even through the complicated relationships we have with them. John Williams delivers another emotional banger of a score in a film that feels so specifically personal to Spielberg yet with an ability to connect with anyone who loves movies.

  1. Everything Everywhere All at Once
Credit: A24

Still the best movie of the year. The most interesting, the most creative, the most visually stunning, and the most emotionally cathartic. 

Our world is an overwhelming place where we’re all trying our best to survive, so how chaotic and stressful must the multiverse be? And at what point does so much matter that nothing ends up mattering? At the end of the day, we have to be grateful for what we have and who we have in our lives and do what we can to make our piece of the multiverse a better place. These are the themes at the core of EEAAO, but told in a way that is accessible, thought-provoking, and reflective for everyone.

Honorable mentions:

  • Babylon
  • Avatar: The Way of Water
  • Cha Cha Real Smooth
  • Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
  • The Northman
  • Turning Red
  • The Batman
  • See How They Run

What were your favorite movies of 2022? Let me know what you think!

Top 6 movies of 2022 so far

It’s insane that we’re already halfway through 2022, yet here we are. It finally feels like movie theaters are climbing their way out of the pandemic hole and there are plenty of incredible movies to display. From franchise hits to original surprises, here are my top 6 movies of 2022 so far:

  1. Everything Everywhere All at Once

Move over, Doctor Strange, you’re not the only multiverse in town this year. Everything Everywhere All at Once follows Evelyn, a Chinese American laundromat owner and her family as they are swept away into an adventure to save the multiverse. Along the way, they discover the importance of family, love, acceptance, and a universe where everyone has hot dogs for fingers.

One of the most surprising movies in my recent memory, EEAAO really leans into the endless opportunities a multiversal story provides. The cast of this movie is spectacular, but Michelle Yeoh is a powerhouse, perfectly balancing the wackiness with the emotional core.

  1. RRR

A three-hour marathon of historical fiction centered around two Indian revolutionaries during British rule in the early 1900s, RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt) is an action epic, a musical, a buddy comedy, an inspirational saga, and a mythologic masterpiece.

It’s difficult to put into words what it’s like to watch this movie. I was transfixed. Movies like RRR make you fall in love with cinema all over again. The visuals are breathtaking, and it has so much adrenaline and emotion throughout – in some ways it’s exhausting, but it also revs you up and makes you want to fight a tiger after it’s over.

  1. Top Gun: Maverick

Leave it to Tom Cruise to save movie theaters and perfect the legacy sequel. I like the original Top Gun well enough, but Maverick is astonishingly good. It fully embodies the spirit of the original while catching up with the original cast, introducing likable new characters you can emotionally invest in, and telling a simple, self-contained story. And with more than a billion dollars at the box office already, it’s clearly the most crowd-pleasing movie of the year.

The advancements in camera technology easily elevate the action sequences in Maverick over the original film – well, that and Tom Cruise’s unquenchable thirst to find ways to potentially kill himself filming practical stunts and effects. The aerial sequences are stunning, and I had to consciously remind myself to relax and release the tension throughout my body because they were so gripping. The need for speed is alive!

  1. The Batman

I’ve already written at length about how this movie finally made me understand and love Batman and how he finally felt like the main character of his own movie. I love the vibe and tone of The Batman, and Robert Pattinson’s emo-style Bruce Wayne realistically feels like a guy who would put on a bat suit and fight crime at night. Zoe Kravitz’s captivating Catwoman and Paul Dano’s truly terrifying Riddler perfectly complement Pattinson’s energy and lend believability to the residents of Matt Reeves’s Gotham.

  1. The Northman

The first half of 2022 has delivered some fantastic new action movies, and The Northman is one of the best. The entire movie vibrates with a primal brutality through a story that feels elemental and mythic.

Based on the same Scandinavian legend that inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Northman is a story of revenge. Stunning visuals accompany our hero on his journey through love, horror, victory, and defeat. The action is loud, ruthless, and propulsive. It’s a visual feast and the core revenge plot is full of twists and surprises that makes for a thrilling watch.

  1. Cha Cha Real Smooth

Growing up is hard, and your 20s are an especially weird time. Writer, director, and star Cooper Raiff   perfectly portrays that awkwardness and what it’s like to learn some harsh truths about the real world in Cha Cha Real Smooth. Raiff plays Andrew, a recent college graduate who moves back home and navigates his way through friendships, family, and hopeless romance.

Normally I’d only do a top 5 list, but I loved this movie so much so I couldn’t leave it off. Andrew is clearly a dumb, often selfish, and undriven 22-year-old, but he has a compassionate heart for the people he grows to care about. Dakota Johnson is mysterious and captivating, but the real breakout is Vanessa Burghardt, who plays Johnson’s daughter with autism. The cast combined with Cooper Raiff’s style of dry humor that sits right in my sweet spot makes this an instant favorite.