Oscars predictions 2023: who will win at this Sunday’s ceremony - and who should

It’s Everything Oscar All At Once as we look at the runners and riders in the main categories for this Sunday’s Academy Awards.

Prognosticating on the Academy Awards is a nuanced art, requiring not simply an assessment of the films in question, but an ability to read the runes of the film industry and their ever-shifting obsessions.

The Oscars are emphatically not a meritocracy, except for when they are, and people can get their hands on the statuette thanks to canny campaigning, being well-liked in the industry, or even a received collective understanding that it is ‘their time’. The Oscars are a show, and attendees - who also make up much of the voting body - want to see good speeches and ideally a heart-warming story.

Prevailing tailwinds that can help a film start out as frontrunner can then shift to ‘frontrunner fatigue’ and ensure a different film ascends to pole position. This year, early on, The Banshees of Inisherin seems poised to dominate the ceremony, but for the past few weeks Everything Everywhere All At Once has emerged as the likely victor in many of the main categories.

This Sunday 12 March, at the 95th Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the victors will be revealed to us. Here’s who is likely to win - and who really should.

Best picture

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

Will win: Everything Everywhere All at Once

It’s cleaned up at the Director’s Guild Awards, the Writer’s Guild Awards, the Producers’ Guild Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. So here we are, staring down the barrel of an Oscar ceremony in which a dimension-hopping, mid-budget comedy sci-fi with a predominantly Asian cast, directed by a pair of Hollywood wunderkinds whose prior credit of note featured Daniel Radcliffe as a flatulent corpse, is now the odds-on favourite for Best Picture.

A film that features people with hotdog fingers, butt-plug warfare and emotionally sentient rocks. Whatever you think of the film (I’m a fan), you can’t claim it was crafted as Oscar Bait. What a fun prospect.

Should win: Tár

I will be delighted for Everything… when it emerges victorious, a film with anarchic, boundless creativity, an effervescent cast, and a huge, goofy heart.

But Tár burrowed its way into my consciousness like a pernicious, darkly comic tick and has remained there since my first watch. Expertly crafted, Tár is cerebral yet sensual, dreamlike yet moored in the all-too-real concerns of the Me Too movement. The tale of an emotionally remote Maestro who exploits her position of power, it’s too slippery and clever for pat moralising or easy conclusions. This sinewy insistence on viewing issues of control, cancel culture and consent from myriad angles makes it an impossible film to shake off, and the best picture of 2022.

Might throw a spanner in the works: All Quiet on the Western Front

The preferential ballot nature of voting for Best Picture allows the space for A Serious Upset. If that happens here, then All Quiet on the Western Front, which swept the boards at BAFTA and is extremely well regarded, might pull a ‘Moonlight beats La La Land’ and unseat the crowd favourite.

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

Will win: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka the Daniels)

The Daniels are adorable, gracious, excitable winners who give charming speeches. They’re the odds-on favourites and will make for delightful victors, I suspect.

Should win: Todd Field

There’s not a frame in Tár that’s accidental. From the opening shot, of Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) sleeping, to the fabulous punchline (or rather straight out gut-punch) ending shot, the mise en scene, performances, script, production design - it is all meticulously planned by Field and expertly executed.

As Paul Thomas Anderson (arguably the best director of his generation, and ungarlanded by Oscar himself) observed of Tár: “Every detail matters in this film... Nothing is not deliberate or full of intention. This creates an incredibly suspenseful film.”

Should’ve been a contender: Sarah Polley, Women Talking.

Polley takes the potentially staid, stagey story of devout Mennonite women discussing how to deal with the abuse they’ve suffered at the hands of the men in their community and breathes it to lyrical, almost-Malickian life through her deft direction. It’s ludicrous that she wasn’t nominated but the Academy still isn’t that sold on the idea that women can direct.

Best actor

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

Will win: Austin Butler

Ok, the bookies are still calling this for Brendon Fraser’s morbidly obese, closeted teacher on the precipice of death. And Fraser is very very good in a fairly risible film: The Whale is mawkish and sentimental, but his performance is tender and touching.

But Austin Butler has been working the awards season circuit in Hollywood; and that doesn’t go unnoticed. The ingenue of the season, he’s portraying arguably the most beloved singer in American history. The Academy Awards may be evolving, but they are still obsessed with portrayals of real life figures - ideally tragic ones, even more ideally involved in show business. Butler hits the trifecta. I think he’s getting gold.

Should win: Colin Farrell

As Pádraic, a man struggling to understand why his best friend doesn’t want to be see him any more, Colin Farrell puts in an ever-so touching performance: if his perfectly perpendicular furrowed brow doesn’t break your heart, there’s no hope for you. It’s awards-worthy alone that a white-hot cutie with Farrell’s blazing charisma manages to convince you he’s a hapless, slow-witted sad sack.

Think on it, though: Paul Mescal

The tenderness of Paul Mescal’s portrayal of a depressive yet-doting dad in Charlotte Wells’ aching Aftersun needs a small shout-out, though almost certainly Mescal is just at the start of an astonishing career. Images of him struggling to be fun and strong for his daughter still float, unbidden, into my mind from time to time. Please see the film if you haven’t.

Best actress

Cate Blanchett poses on the red carpet for German premiere of the film “Tar” at the Berlinale film festival
Cate Blanchett poses on the red carpet for German premiere of the film “Tar” at the Berlinale film festival
Cate Blanchett poses on the red carpet for German premiere of the film “Tar” at the Berlinale film festival
  • Cate Blanchett, Tár
  • Ana de Armas, Blonde
  • Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie
  • Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans
  • Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once

Will win: Michelle Yeoh

While the 60-year-old Yeoh has been an electric screen presence for over 30 years, she herself has elegantly pointed out that Hollywood has not often given her the opportunity to exhibit her extraordinary range. Indeed, her nomination marks the first time an Asian actress has been nominated in the Best Actress category in 85 years.

Everything… is a fabulous showcase for Yeoh: allowing her to demonstrate her dramatic chops, flawless comic timing and her legendary martial art bona fides. The victor at the Screen Actors’ Guild awards, Yeoh now seems a lock for Sunday.

She more than deserves the gong, but it also provides a convenient way for Hollywood to alleviate some of their guilt at being quite, quite consistently racist.

Should win: Cate Blanchett

If you were of a mind to criticise Cate Blanchett as an actress (why you’d want to come for that goddess is lost on me, but still) then you could level the accusation that her performances are too mannered and cerebral.

Which could not be more ideal for the creation of Lydia Tár, the meticulously put-together, imperious classical conductor who delights in intimidating those around her (cf. her threatening a school child in flawless German for bullying her daughter). Blanchett is barn-storming, electric and charismatic as the monstrous maestro. She deserves the gong, but as a twice-gilded industry stalwart, the Academy likely doesn’t feel an urgent need to award her further just now.

Best supporting actor

Ke Huy Quan picks up Best Supporting Actor at the Film Independent Spirit Awards
Ke Huy Quan picks up Best Supporting Actor at the Film Independent Spirit Awards
Ke Huy Quan picks up Best Supporting Actor at the Film Independent Spirit Awards
  • 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

Will win: Ke Huy Quan

The man is charm personified, an icon of 80s mainstays such as Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies, and was forced out of his chosen profession due to a lack of opportunity for Asian actors. Back with his first role in nearly 30 years, using a bum-bag as a weapon, and he’s now Academy nominated. Quan has been picking up industry awards all over town and giving speeches so gracious they could make a statue cry. I have no notes. Give Short Round an Oscar.

Should win: Barry Keoghan

For one scene, by a lakeside, where his line-reading is so vulnerable I wanted to scoop the poor chap up and give him a cuddle. But Keoghan will, with any luck, get his in years to come.

Best supporting actress

Kerry Condon picked up Best Supporting Actress at the EE BAFTAs 2023
Kerry Condon picked up Best Supporting Actress at the EE BAFTAs 2023
Kerry Condon picked up Best Supporting Actress at the EE BAFTAs 2023
  • 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

Will win: Angela Bassett

Angela Bassett was spec-tac-ular - spectacular. Unquestionably Oscar worthy. As Tina Turner, that is, in What’s Love Got to Do with It, in 1992. But she did not win then, so this can be considered a belated corrective to a beloved industry veteran. She’s good in Wakanda Forever - she’s always good - but this is Oscar as apologia, rather than for the specific film.

Should win: Kerry Condon

Yes, Banshees of Inisherin is about men’s foolishness, but that is all thrown into stark relief by the strong, quiet dignity of the most prominent female role, Kerry Condon’s Siobhán, sister to Colin Farrell’s Pádraic. “You’re all feckin’ boring!” she exclaims with barely contained exasperation, offering an intelligent voice of reason amid a storm of masculine silliness. Just a gorgeously well judged performance.

Best original screenplay

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

Will win: Everything Everywhere All at Once

It is written: that which wins at the Writers Guild Awards, wins at the Oscars. And so it is with Everything

Should win: The Banshees of Inisherin

No one can turn a phrase like Martin McDonagh, and this expert piece of writing does a wonderful job of interrogating existential angst and toxic masculinity while simultaneously being funny and enthralling as hell.

Best adapted screenplay

Sarah Polley picked up Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2023 Writers Guild Awards
Sarah Polley picked up Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2023 Writers Guild Awards
Sarah Polley picked up Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2023 Writers Guild Awards
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
  • Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
  • Living
  • Top Gun: Maverick
  • Women Talking

Will win: Women Talking

Should win: Women Talking

Based on Miriam Toews’s novel, Women Talking follows the women of an oppressed Mennonite community as they discover their voice and, in turn, perhaps, their power. Sarah Polley’s adaptation is a vibrant piece of writing: it shimmers with rage but never gives itself over to it, tempered by a sense of compassion and humanity in the face of unspeakable horror. It’s also a fine, moving meditation on faith, a tricky subject to lend contemporary relevance.

For more Oscars coverage, visit our dedicated Academy Awards page.