Fall festival season is here, and you can tell because the trade reporters are carrying their stopwatches again. Was that standing ovation six minutes or seven minutes? Does the timer start with the first clap? Who’s to say? That’s the beautiful mystery of the trades.
You know what else is a beautiful mystery? The Oscars. It’s anyone’s guess what will connect with the New Academy these days, but something tells me that it won’t be Oppenheimer, which will be showered with nominations but come up short in terms of big wins. By default, I felt compelled to put Killers of the Flower Moon in my top spot, though I know that movie has been a little divisive, while reviews for Alexander Payne‘s throwback comedy The Holdovers from critics I respect have been downright ecstatic.
Likewise, I struggle to see Greta Gerwig as a shoo-in for a directing nomination for Barbie, which has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide… just like Top Gun: Maverick, which did not earn a nomination for director Joseph Kosinski. Of course, I haven’t seen Ferrari or Napoleon or The Killer, let alone Cannes sensations Anatomy of a Fall and The Zone of Interest, but sight unseen, I have a hard time believing that Gerwig is more deserving of a nomination than the directors behind those films.
On the acting front, Cillian Murphy is certainly a strong bet for a Best Actor nomination, but Paul Giamatti‘s reunion with his Sideways director Payne on The Holdovers is said to be well worth the wait, and his co-star Da’Vine Joy Randolph looks to be a major contender for Best Supporting Actress along with Killers of the Flower Moon star Lily Gladstone.
Elsewhere, the Anatomy of a Fall trailer has me frothing at the mouth, and Sandra Huller‘s Best Actress campaign will no doubt be bolstered by her turn in The Zone of Interest, but Emma Stone is said to be electric in Poor Things, so I’m putting my money on her for now.
Meanwhile, the supporting actor category is shaping up to be a battle of Roberts — Downey Jr. and De Niro, though there are still plenty of fall festival titles left to unfurl in which supporting actors could surprise, such as Arliss Howard in David Fincher‘s Netflix thriller The Killer, which looks amazing.
For now, this is how I see things… having not seen a whole lot of things. The only thing I can say for certain right now, besides the fact that these rankings will change, is that the Best Picture race is wide open.
- Killers of the Flower Moon
- The Holdovers
- Poor Things
- Past Lives
- Anatomy of a Fall
- All of Us Strangers
- The Killer
- The Zone of Interest
Analysis: While many pundits have already written off this race as Oppenheimer vs. Killers of the Flower Moon, I suspect it’ll be something smaller and simpler that will win Best Picture this year. That’s why I’m putting The Holdovers right behind those two, with the expectation that it will likely catapult over the other two films once I get a look at it.
I thought Saltburn would be a shoo-in for a nomination, but following its divisive premiere, I’m not so sure. Poor Things shot up the ranks once the reviews hit, and I remain confident that movies as big as Barbie and as small as Past Lives will also find their way into this race. Maestro is Netflix’s big awards pony, though based on its teaser trailer, I’m betting that The Killer will be the movie that the streamer’s audience embraces.
I’m not quite sure what to make of The Zone of Interest, and whether that will be too intense for some viewers, but it is starting to sound like All of Us Strangers touched a nerve with many and has a strong shot at a nomination. As for Air, Amazon will have to really put together a strong campaign to get voters to buy into the story and see it as more than Nike hagiography.
- Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer
- Martin Scorsese, Killers of the Flower Moon
- Yorgos Lanthimos, Poor Things
- Justine Triet, Anatomy of a Fall
- Alexander Payne, The Holdovers
- Jonathan Glazer, The Zone of Interest
- Emerald Fennell, Saltburn
- Greta Gerwig, Barbie
- David Fincher, The Killer
- Bradley Cooper, Maestro
Analysis: Everyone wants to know whether Greta Gerwig will be nominated for directing Barbie, but I have to say, I don’t think so. I just don’t see how Gerwig can come out on top when she’s competing with masters like Michael Mann (Ferrari) and Ridley Scott (Napoleon) as well as international filmmakers such as Justine Triet and Jonathan Glazer, plus presumed nominees Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorsese.
Barbie was a huge box office success that also happened to be a good movie, but was it truly great? That’ll be up to Academy voters to decide. We know they love Yorgos Lanthimos, whose Poor Things has been the toast of Twitter all day. Meanwhile, don’t sleep on Netflix’s filmmakers, from David Fincher and Bradley Cooper to J.A. Bayona, whose Society of the Snow will premiere in Venice.
- Paul Giamatti, The Holdovers
- Colman Domingo, Rustin
- Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer
- Bradley Cooper, Maestro
- Leonardo DiCaprio, Killers of the Flower Moon
- Michael Fassbender, The Killer
- Gael Garcia Bernal, Cassandro
- Barry Keoghan, Saltburn
- Austin Butler, The Bikeriders
- Andrew Scott, All of Us Strangers
Analysis: I think everyone can agree that Cillian Murphy was really, really good in Oppenheimer, but it’s not the kind of performance that typically stirs the hearts of Oscar voters. I think this race is shaping up to be between Paul Giamatti for The Holdovers, and Colman Domingo, who is said to deliver a lightning-rod performance in Netflix’s Rustin.
But clearly, when Adam Driver and Joaquin Phoenix aren’t even making this list for Ferrari and Napoleon, it’s a deep year, as A-listers like Leonardo DiCaprio and Bradley Cooper will be competing with rising stars Austin Butler and Barry Keoghan, both of whom were nominated just last year for Elvis and The Banshees of Inisherin, respectively. And don’t overlook Gael Garcia Bernal, who is said to give the best performance of his career as a gay wrestler in Cassandro.
- Emma Stone, Poor Things
- Sandra Huller, Anatomy of a Fall
- Carey Mulligan, Maestro
- Natalie Portman, May December
- Jodie Comer, The Bikeriders
- Margot Robbie, Barbie
- Saoirse Ronan, Foe
- Greta Lee, Past Lives
- Annette Bening, Nyad
- Vanessa Kirby, Napoleon
Analysis: I nearly had Sandra Huller in my top spot, but then Emma Stone came to Telluride like a force of nature, cementing her performance in pole position. Carey Mulligan is said to be the standout in Maestro, and you know Netflix will be pulling out all the stops for that film as well as its Cannes acquisition May December starring past Oscar winners Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore.
As for Margot Robbie, I suspect she’ll fall just short this year, as buzz is building surrounding Jodie Comer‘s turn in The Bikeriders, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Vanessa Kirby upstaged Joaquin Phoenix in Napoleon. Saoirse Ronan always delivers, and her turn in Foe looks interesting, and don’t sleep on Greta Lee, who does a great job while caught in something of a love triangle in the subtle drama Past Lives.
Best Supporting Actor
- Robert Downey Jr., Oppenheimer
- Robert De Niro, Killers of the Flower Moon
- Paul Mescal, All of Us Strangers
- Willem Dafoe, Poor Things
- Dominic Sessa, The Holdovers
- Ryan Gosling, Barbie
- Glenn Howerton, Blackberry
- Arliss Howard, The Killer
- Charles Melton, May December
- Matt Damon, Oppenheimer
Analysis: Glenn Howerton has given the best performance I’ve seen all year, to date, in Blackberry, though I suspect he’s looking at an uphill battle for a nomination. Paul Mescal is becoming a new Academy favorite, and All of Us Strangers has earned great reviews out of Telluride, while people are calling Poor Things a “masterpiece,” and Willem Dafoe sounds good for a nod based on the reviews.
Dominic Sessa also seems to have held his own against Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers, so we’ll see if he can hold off other young guys like Charles Melton this season. It still feels like Universal will mount a huge campaign for its Oppenheimer star Robert Downey Jr., and who knows how many Oscar-level roles Robert De Niro has left in him? Apple certainly won’t spare any expense for its Martin Scorsese movie or any of its stars.
Best Supporting Actress
- Da’Vine Joy Randolph, The Holdovers
- Lily Gladstone, Killers of the Flower Moon
- Penelope Cruz, Ferrari
- Viola Davis, Air
- Julianne Moore, May December
- Emily Blunt, Oppenheimer
- Rosamund Pike, Saltburn
- Jodie Foster, Nyad
- Danielle Brooks, The Color Purple
- Taraji P. Henson, The Color Purple
Analysis: Lily Gladstone has been the perceived frontrunner in this category ever since the Cannes Film Festival, but Da’Vine Joy Randolph has been coming on strong, with the buzz surrounding her performance in The Holdovers growing louder following the film’s debut in Telluride. Penelope Cruz emerged from Ferrari with the best reviews of the cast, and I don’t know anyone who didn’t enjoy Viola Davis’ fiery turn as Michael Jordan‘s mother in Air.
As for Emily Blunt, I’m not quite sure she does enough in Oppenheimer to merit a nomination outside of her one big scene toward the end, but her chances will, naturally, depend on how her competition performs. Rosamund Pike drew some strong reviews for Saltburn, but that movie seems to be divisive. Meanwhile, I haven’t been hearing great things about The Color Purple, nor do I think it looks particularly good, but it obviously can’t be written off, seeing as how it looks like catnip for Academy voters.