Oscar Predictions Everywhere All at Once

Musto tells us how the big night will go.


A big shock awaits viewers of the Academy Awards on March 12 — they will actually have seen some of the nominated movies. Sure, there will be the usual array of high-toned art-house films on display, but in addition to those, four Best Picture nominees — Top Gun: Maverick; Avatar: The Way of Water; Everything Everywhere All at Once; and Elvis — have cumulatively made close to 1.6 billion bucks at the domestic box office.

Pushing into the mix is a tiny indie: To Leslie, made in 19 days for under a million dollars. The little-seen film nabbed a Best Actress nomination for star Andrea Riseborough as a down-and-out Texas alcoholic, squeaking past some bigger films thanks to an “advocacy campaign” that urged major names to tout the performance. Gwyneth Paltrow, Susan Sarandon, and many others dutifully did so, and Riseborough made the cut, leading to an Academy investigation into whether the campaign broke any house rules. Fortunately, it got cleared, and future tiny films are free to try to get similarly noticed.

 So, the awards for ’22 should be a potent mix of the blockbusters and the ballbusters — though I suggest they lift the ban on Will Smith so he can break in and slap host Jimmy Kimmel if he gets too fresh. My predictions:



The nominees are …

All Quiet on the Western Front
A breathtakingly done German anti-war film based on the Erich Maria Remarque novel that spawned Oscar’s third Best Picture winner, in 1930. Lightning won’t strike twice, since foreign films rarely win, but still, it’s Remarque-able (and it just swept seven BAFTAs, including Best Picture).

Avatar: The Way of Water
James Cameron (Titanic) does well with water. His Avatar sequel is an epic ride featuring more underwater scenes than a 1950s Esther Williams musical. It’s the highest-grossing film (internationally) of the Covid era, but Cameron will have to wait for the third time out to cop Best Picture. Google The Lord of the Rings.

The Banshees of Inisherin
A very Irish tale examining the meaning of friendship — and success — in darkly intriguing ways. Two thumbs up. (See the film and you’ll get the joke.)

This biopic is not as headache-inducing as most other Baz Luhrmann films. In fact, it’s a sweepingly enjoyable ride through an icon’s ups and downs, and even Tom Hanks’s derided performance as the Colonel grows on you like a fungus.

The Fabelmans
Steven Spielberg’s glance at what drew him to moviemaking as a kid is so engrossing, it will make many others want to make films.

A lesbian conductor is revealed to be far from perfect, and begins to unravel. Tár was one of the year’s most enthralling art films. Fortunately, we have much more queer representation than in the past, so we don’t bristle as much when a creepy character fills the screen — and this one happens to be complicated and intense.

Top Gun: Maverick
Tom Cruise’s navy aviator character faces a new challenge after multiple decades. Could you even pay me to see what that challenge might be? No, but the film’s shiny metal things and sweaty armpits struck gold nonetheless.

Triangle of Sadness
An instant classic about hoity-toity types being gobsmacked by karma, as a storm hits a luxury cruise. It’s probably too good to win.

Women Talking
A bunch of broads (hanging with one sympathetic dude) in an oppressive Mennonite colony discuss whether they should escape, with stimulating results. But I’m sure the male-dominated system will only grant this film a Best Adapted Screenplay award. Men are pigs!

And the winner will be …

Everything Everywhere All at Once
Unlike last year’s winner — Coda, which was a crowd-pleasing movie that never actually found a crowd — this was a word-of-mouth hit. People breathlessly urged everyone they knew to catch the inventively told tale of a Chinese American laundromat owner spiraling through the metaverse. Oscar will add to its luster.



The nominees are …

Ana de Armas, Blonde
Even those who loathed this heavy-handed look at the exploitation of Marilyn Monroe didn’t fault de Armas, who was committed and even pulled off some stunning sequences. When she was made to blow JFK in closeup, I sincerely felt she had earned the nomination.

Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie
As mentioned, the long-admired Riseborough shocked the status quo with her successful “grassroots” campaign for a nomination. That in itself is her award.

Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans
Williams is terrific as a character based on Spielberg’s mom, a troubled free spirit who isn’t capable of performing familial duties as prescribed at that time but is sympathetic nonetheless. This is Williams’s fifth nomination, but she’s got nothing on Amy Adams (six) or Glenn Close (eight).

Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Malaysian Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) is tremendously game and is adored enough to have won the crucial SAG award, but you can’t really compare her lightheaded turn to …

And the winner will be …

Cate Blanchett, Tár
Blanchett gives a full-on diva performance and fills virtually every frame with her arm-flinging mastery. This will be her third Oscar.



The nominees are …

Austin Butler, Elvis
No one does “Aw, shucks” like Butler — both on screen and off — but this won’t be his Oscar. Too soon. Aw, shucks.

Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin
Colin basically has to run around for nearly two hours asking his former friend, “Why the feck don’t you like me anymore?” But he does it with considerable feckin’ charm.

Paul Mescal, Aftersun
The Irish actor gives a lovely performance in an achingly bittersweet memory film about a father-daughter relationship.

Bill Nighy, Living
The wonderfully craggy, deadpan character actor drops all mannerisms and inhabits the role of a dying man wanting to do one good thing before he goes — i.e., build a children’s playground — in this able remake of Kurosawa’s Ikiru.

And the winner will be …

Brendan Fraser, The Whale
Similarly, Fraser plays a not-long-for-this-world guy who wants to do good — in this case, make amends with his estranged daughter. Fraser is superbly empathetic as the bisexual writing coach aiming for redemption, thereby elevating the extremely contrived screenplay. He didn’t win the Golden Globe only because he boycotted the event, stating that a former Hollywood Foreign Press Association head had sexually assaulted him, in 2003. An Oscar validation will be a great way to repudiate the Globes and reward Fraser for a valiant comeback. And the actor is a big softie who cries a lot in public, so his watery speech might inspire James Cameron. 



The nominees are …

Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin
The Irish TV/film actor is wonderful as Colin Farrell’s no-nonsense sister. She helps peel away some of the film’s potential cutes.

Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once
The horror queen was always a comedy titan too (Trading Places, A Fish Called Wanda, Knives Out), and she is spectacularly fun as the IRS auditor sending Yeoh and family topsy-turvy. She won the SAG award!

Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Hsu (known for Broadway and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) is winning as Yeoh’s sassy lesbian daughter.

Hong Chau, The Whale
Two Asian American actors in the same category? That’s a first. Vietnamese American TV/movie actor Chau plays a sympathetic truth teller with secrets to unfurl.

And the winner will be …

Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
The Supporting categories have long been where the Oscars ghettoize their diversity. Eight Black women have won Best Supporting Actress, whereas only one (Halle Berry) has nabbed Best Actress. Bassett was up for that prize in ’94, but her fiery Tina Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It? took a back seat to Holly Hunter’s mute keyboard tinkler, in The Piano. Well, the Oscars don’t usually care much about make-up prizes, but in this case they do, because the sentiment is so strong. And Bassett got raves for her Ramonda, the Sovereign Queen Mother of Wakanda. She’s the ruling diva of presentational acting.



The nominees are …

Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin
The expert Irish actor doesn’t sugarcoat his gloomy character, but he’ll split votes with …

Barry Keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin
He twinkles as the cliched mentally challenged guy with lofty ideas, the kind of part that would have been played by Barry Fitzgerald in the 1930s.

Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans His painful lesson to the Spielberg kid fills just one scene, but it screams Oscar nomination. My face hurt (with admiration) after watching it.

Brian Tyree Henry, Causeway
Few will have heard of this small interpersonal drama, but Henry is now further anointed as someone to watch.

And the winner will be …

Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Chinese American actor was a familiar face as Short Round in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and as Data in The Goonies. But he stopped acting in the ’90s because the ops had completely dried up. Fortunately, he came back for this trip to the metaverse, playing three incarnations of his goofy husband character. Yes, Quan specializes in multiple lives, and that trajectory will prove irresistible to Oscar. Like Fraser, he’s a comeback kid showing us brave new textures.



The nominees are …

Todd Field, Tár
Absent since 2006’s Little Children, Field works sparingly, but brilliantly.

Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin
As usual, McDonagh brings a sure hand to his eerie tale.

Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness
A true auteur, the Swedish filmmaker always startles and amazes. This is his first English-language film.

Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
The most successful director of all time has won only three Oscars — for directing Saving Private Ryan and Best Director and Picture for Schindler’s List. You’d almost think they resent him or something.

And the winners will be …

Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert. Everything Everywhere All at Once
The year’s best film should also have the best directors. Yes, there are two of them, which adds to the fun novelty of it all!

Oh, and …

BEST SONG will be “Naatu Naatu,” from the rousing Indian epic RRR. I can’t stop singing it. But bear in mind, I still think La La Land won Best Picture!   


Michael Musto has written for the Voice since 1984, best known for his outspoken column “La Dolce Musto.” He has penned four books, and is streaming in docs on Netflix, Hulu, Vice, and Showtime.





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