Today is the last day of voting. I thought it was a good time to check in on our frontrunners and challengers before our final week. We’ll be building our Big Bad Predictions Chart where you can see what everyone out there is predicting. But until then, let’s see where we are as voters lock in their final choices.
First, let’s start with our branches: who has the most voting power in the Academy?
Actors obviously have a huge slice of the pie at 14%. The only group that comes even remotely close to that is Animation + Shorts. For the shorts categories, you can see them as more or less a mini “International Feature” category as the majority of the filmmakers nominated come from around the world rather than the US.
The reason we don’t have sweeps anymore is that in the era of the preferential ballot we’ve seen a “decoupling” of Best Picture and Best Director. The screenplay has become a more important category to Best Picture for two reasons. The first is that directors are often attached to films that are more focused on visuals than they are just about anything else, and as a result they often make films strong on production design and visual effects (like Avatar: The Way of Water).
By contrast, actors tend to like the focus to be more on them, and for that they need a great script. The films that focus more on the actors and the writing are often the ones that take the top prize, with Best Director often going to the more technically oriented film (Gravity, Life of Pi, The Revenant, La La Land, Roma).
That idea of a director as visionary seems to have vacated the Best Picture race since 2009, which is kind of a bummer overall, for those of us who focus more on the director. Now, they sort of stand apart as someone whose vision is to be applauded but can’t unite people the way an actor-driven story can.
But this year, for the first time since 2009, we really do have a film that is strong on both ends. That is what makes Everything Everywhere All at Once a Category 5 Oscar contender — the strongest there is. It will put the preferential ballot to the test to see if it can break out of its streak of dividing the wins between one visually stunning film compared to the small character dramas.
So far, only The Hurt Locker seems to have united both voting blocs in the modern era of the preferential ballot, which might be where Everything Everywhere All at Once lands. The question is, does it have a challenger?
Here are the DraftKings odds right now on Best Picture:
But Pete Hammond over at Deadline is going out on a limb with the record-breaking BAFTA winner, All Quiet on the Western Front.
As you all know, the film I believe deserves to win Best Picture is Top Gun: Maverick. But it probably won’t win. Jaws didn’t win either in 1975, though it should have. And here we are again.
Frontrunner: Everything Everywhere All at Once (PGA / DGA / SAG / WGA / ACE)
Challengers: All Quiet on the Western Front (BAFTA); Top Gun Maverick (NBR / ACE / CAS)
In the era of the preferential ballot, the DGA has matched with Oscar 12/13 times. The only time it didn’t match was in 2019 when Sam Mendes won the Globe, the PGA, the DGA, and the BAFTA, but lost to Bong Joon-Ho for Parasite. The question now is have we ever had a year like this one where the Globe, the DGA, and BAFTA each have had a different winner? The answer: no – not since 2000.
Frontrunners: The Daniels, Everything Everywhere All at Once (DGA)
Challenger: Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans (Globe)
The best stat for Best Actor is still a Best Picture nomination. In 2009, Jeff Bridges won for Crazy Heart. That’s the only precedent for a Brendan Fraser win. But are they really going to nominate Elvis for that many categories where it’s going to win at least one Oscar (costumes, makeup, maybe production design, maybe cinematography) and then skip Austin Butler? It’s possible, but a tough call. Bridges, though, was “winning everything,” though not the BAFTA. Like that year, there were only two movies with Best Actor contenders in it. That makes it a toss-up:
Frontrunner: Austin Butler, Elvis (Globe / BAFTA)
Challenger: Brendan Fraser, The Whale (SAG)
The only thing that can give Cate Blanchett the win is the strength of BAFTA. There is some precedent for that, like 2011. That year, the BAFTA pushed Meryl Streep over the line, just as they did with Olivia Colman in 2018 and Anthony Hopkins in 2020. So of course it’s possible. But I feel Michelle Yeoh has the momentum.
Frontrunner: Michelle Yeoh, EEAAO (Globe / SAG)
Challenger: Cate Blanchett, TAR (Globe / BAFTA)
There have been years in the past where there were three different winners at the Globes, the BAFTA, and the SAG, but not many:
It’s only happened once in the era of the preferential ballot and that was the Green Book year (yes, Regina King won the same year the Academy was accused of racism by awarding Green Book — good times).
There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for these. One had Best Picture support, one was just the performance that people finally saw. In this case, your guess is as good as mine. I don’t think this category HAS a frontrunner. It could go to anyone.
Kerry Condon wins because she has a leading role in a beloved film that might only win one Oscar, if that. And she’s the best, IMO.
Jamie Lee Curtis wins because she’s a beloved veteran in a Best Picture contender (though Stephanie Hsu might cancel her votes) and she’s never been nominated before.
Angela Bassett wins because of her veteran status and she’s paid her dues and then some. She might have won in 1993 with What’s Love Got to Do With It, but Holly Hunter won for The Piano – a great performance. Bassett could also benefit from the ongoing conversations about DEI.
Challengers: Kerry Condon, Banshees (BAFTA); Jamie Lee Curtis, EEAAO (SAG); Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Globe)
Best Supporting Actor
If both Ke Huy Quan and Michelle Yeoh win, along with EEAAO winning Best Picture, they will have made history in the era of the preferential ballot as the first Best Picture winner with two acting awards.
Frontrunner: Ke Huy Quan, EEAAO (Globe / SAG / BAFTA)
There are essentially two ways to win Best Original or Adapted Screenplay, and that’s if you have the momentum behind you regardless of whether your film is winning Best Picture, OR you have Best Picture heat. For the first time ever, we have five Original Screenplay nominees that match five Best Director nominees. This has never happened. In the era of the expanded ballot, a film wins Screenplay OR Director, but rarely both.
When they have won both:
The Hurt Locker
The King’s Speech
Two of those times, the film also won the PGA / DGA / SAG. Birdman and The King’s Speech were not eligible for the WGA, but probably would have won that too.
Parasite won the SAG ensemble but not DGA or PGA. The Hurt Locker won PGA / DGA but didn’t win SAG.
This bodes very well for Everything Everywhere All at Once to win Picture, Director, and Screenplay. Then they would add perhaps two acting wins along with that, bringing their total to five. They might win more. It’s possible. But that seems like a fairly good baseline.
However, I would still say the frontrunner for original is The Banshees of Inisherin, because it has won both the Globe and the BAFTA, and it’s hard for me to imagine it going home empty handed.
Women Talking seems like a strong bet to win in Adapted, but will feel some heat from All Quiet on the Western Front. If, by chance, it takes Best Picture in a shocker, it will have to take Screenplay too.
Frontrunner (Original): The Banshees of Inisherin (Globe / BAFTA); Everything Everywhere All at Once (WGA)
Frontrunner (Adapted): Women Talking (WGA)
Challenger: All Quiet on the Western Front (BAFTA)
Here are the Screenplay charts. Thanks to Marshall for cleaning them up.