The Golden Globes, the SAG Awards, and the Critics Choice Awards are now the biggest film awards in the lead-up to the Academy Awards. We can now begin to sketch in a timeline for the upcoming season that puts the Oscars in March but not late March.
So far, we only have the Oscars and the Producers Guild announcing their key dates.
Oscars — Preliminary voting begins, 9 a.m. PT, Monday, December 12, 2022
Oscars — Preliminary voting ends, 5 p.m. PT, Thursday, December 15, 2022
Oscars — Oscar Shortlists Announcement, Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Oscars — Eligibility period ends, Saturday, December 31, 2022
Producers Guild Nominations Announced, Thursday, January 12, 2023
Oscars — Nominations voting begins, 9 a.m. PT, Thursday, January 12, 2023
Oscars — Nominations voting ends, 5 p.m. PT, Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Producers Guild Polls Open, Monday, January 23, 2023
Oscars — Nominations Announcement, Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Oscars — Nominees Luncheon, Monday, February 13, 2023
Producers Guild Polls Close, Friday, February 17, 2023
Producers Guild Ceremony, Saturday, February 25, 2023
Oscars — Final voting begins, 9 a.m. PT, Thursday, March 2, 2023
Oscars — Final voting ends, 5 p.m. PT, Tuesday, March 7, 2023
95th Oscars, Sunday, March 12, 2023
Oscar ballots will be in the hands of voters for a span of 5 days for nominations (January 12-17) and for final voting (March 2-7). Prior to COVID, preliminary screening and voting took place during the holidays, from Christmas to New Year’s, more or less. This year, we’re pushing somewhat past that to mid-January.
The way things used to work in the old days — I am repeating myself here but for newer readers — movies would premiere soon enough for the public to see them and the whole year would come to an end. Those movies would be assessed by voters the following year, often factoring in whether the films made money or not. Reviews mattered but box-office and word of mouth mattered more. “Best Picture of the Year” meant something much more than just whatever the insular world of critics and industry voters thought was “best.” That has changed. There is more of a focus on what the critics think is good versus what the public thinks.
At the moment, I feel like, with a few exceptions, not only are some storytellers fearful and hesitant, but they are also being monitored constantly by the scolds of Twitter. That is probably the part of it I’m least looking forward to. I think what we need is freedom for storytellers, and disregard for potential judgment. Let the greatest directors make the greatest movies.
At the moment, real life events seems to be overshadowing the films. The January 6th Congressional hearings, for instance, carries as weighty drama than most television shows or movies can hope to have. Ditto the Depp/Heard trial and the scandalous incidents like the Oscar slap. That’s because human behavior is complex, imperfect, contradictory, and often tragic. Also, these spontaneous real-life stories don’t follow the formulas we see being adhered to in the way movies should written and cast, by dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” to make sure each element is somehow “correct.” That makes many Hollywood films seem boring. International filmmakers don’t care. They just tell good stories and obviously, real life events can simply be judged for the truth of what they are, and everyone has their own idea of what that truth is.
Johnny Depp’s testimony on the stand was so moving and compelling that his words and demeanor mostly won him his case, or at least changed a lot of minds as so many became involved in his story. Can it be that just telling the truth like that is what people actually want to see? YES. The more artists tell the raw, unvarnished truth about humanity, not a preferred or pre-approved truth, the better their movies will always be.
When I start every Oscar year I take a look at the slate of upcoming movies to see which titles stand out. No, I could not have seen a CODA coming, or even a Parasite. Nomadland was a little easier to predict. Out of long habit, a lot of us tend to still seek guideposts that marked the old model, the one we’ve been conditioned over many years to look for when it comes to “Oscar movies.” We look for period films, prestige source material, or “important” movies. We look for the high profile films backed by studios we know will push hard. We look for star directors. Although now, that has been fudged somewhat because there is a bit of a side-eye toward some of the best legendary directors who are almost exclusively male. We haven’t seen a male director win in the past two years.
Here are the top gets, per Jeff Wells at Hollywood-Elsewhere, written in January of 2022. I’m going to take his list and re-order it according to what I sort of sense has the stuff to be a contender, even if I know we can’t possibly know this early out.
I’ll come clean at the outset: four of my favorite directors potentially have movies coming out this year:
Killers of the Flower Moon, Martin Scorsese
Babylon, Damien Chazelle
The Fablemans, Steven Spielberg
The Killer, David Fincher (though I’m not sure if this will be released this year)
Just the anticipation of these four movies coming out this year gives me a reason to wake up this morning. These are going to be brilliantly made films no matter what their ultimate Oscar fate. Spielberg’s film will be released theatrically, where Killers and Killer will be featured on streaming platforms, though will get theatrical releases as well. With a shortened theatrical becoming the norm, all four of the films, along with every other Oscar movie that comes out, are probably going to be seen by more people on streaming than in a movie theater. But you never know.
So off the bat those would get priority in my view. I would then add:
Bardo, Alejandro González Iñárritu
Nope, Jordan Peele
Till, Chinonye Chukwu
Avatar 2, James Cameron
White Noise, Noah Baumbach
Napoleon, Ridley Scott (not sure it will be ready)
Canterbury Glass, David O. Russell
She Said, Maria Schrader
The Banshees of Inseherin, Martin McDonagh
Women Talking, Sarah Polley
Next Goal Wins, Taika Waititi
Don’t Worry Darling, Olivia Wilde
Armageddon Time, James Gray
I would also absolutely add Top Gun Maverick and Everything Everywhere All At Once, though these have both premiered early in the year, so we know what that trajectory can do to movies that don’t run the traditional Fall gauntlet. Coming out of Cannes, the only thing that really pops for me at the moment is Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. But there again, it will need a bigger bump when it opens here in theaters for American voters and moviegoers. As usual, this season starts with the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals. That is the beginning of Oscar season, which then carries through to Toronto, New York, and eventually AFI.
Indiewire gives, I think, a much more sophisticated look at the Best Picture slate.