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by Kyle Sanders
Have you ever seen the 1927 film Wings? Probably not, and no, unlike MASH, it was not a movie that spawned a long-running TV sitcom of the same name.
Wings is a romantic action-war motion picture from the Silent Era, about two World War I rival combat pilots who fall in love with the same woman. Notable for its realistic air combat sequences, risque use of nudity, and a hotly debated onscreen kiss between two men, it also won the very first Oscar for Best Picture at the inaugural Academy Awards ceremony.
Smash-cut to ninety-five years later, and who among us could say they're familiar with this movie? Unless you're a film aficionado (like yours truly), you're more likely unaware of its existence. Hell, there are other titles from that year that have resounded a lot longer than Wings' Best Picture win, such as The Jazz Singer, Metropolis, and Sunrise (another Academy Award winner that year, receiving the now-defunct award for "Unique and Artistic Picture").
I guess you could say winning an Oscar doesn't always guarantee a film's greatness--only time can determine a film's longevity in the cinematic canon of artistic merit.
At least that's been my theory for a while now. But as a kid, the Academy Awards ceremony was one of the most anticipated events I looked forward to every year. The glitz and glamor of filmmakers and movie stars handing out little golden statues was just about the classiest thing my small town upbringing had ever experienced. I would even print out checklists of all the major categories, highlighting certain nominees I hoped would win. And if my choice lost, my whole day would be ruined.
These days though, being a little older and wiser, I don't place as much importance on the Oscars. While I still take the initiative of seeing all nominated films, I know such awards really don't matter regarding an actor's talent or a film's importance.
I've learned that Oscars can be won based on how much money a studio invests in campaigning for its films (is there no sacred space that remains untouched by politics?!). That realization alone is enough of a buzzkill to ruin my love of rooting for my favorite nominated films. I no longer vote with my heart--I only vote with my brain.
With that being said, here's my strategically-minded breakdown of predictions of who has the best chances of winning Oscars at this year's 95th Annual Academy Awards ceremony:
Best International Film
A Sure Thing: All Quiet on the Western Front (Germany)
Happy Just to Be Here: Argentina, 1985 (Argentina), Close (Belgium), EO (Poland), The Quiet Girl (Ireland)
There's no contest. With nine Oscar nominations including Best Picture and a recent sweep at the BAFTAs, All Quiet on the Western Front will win in this category. Most international films who also score a Best Pic nod tend to do so (see recent winners Drive My Car, Roma, and Amour), and despite a Golden Globes loss to Argentina, 1985, Germany's adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's WWI novel (which was previously adapted into an American Best Picture winner back in 1930) will claim victory.
Best Supporting Actor
A Sure Thing: Ke Huy Quan (Everything, Everywhere, All at Once)
Happy Just to Be Here: Brendan Gleeson (The Banshees of Inisherin), Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway), Judd Hirsch (The Fablemans), Barry Keoghan (The Banshees of Inisherin)
When Awards Season kicked off with this year's Golden Globe nominations, I assumed critically-acclaimed character actor Brendan Gleeson would be the name consistently announced in the Best Supporting Actor race. Boy was I wrong! That honor has gone to Ke Huy Quan, the former child star better known for roles in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies.
Quan has been on a comeback trail, winning EVERY. SINGLE. AWARD in this category (except for the lone BAFTA win for Keoghan) and giving some incredibly touching speeches, which I doubt the Academy would deny him on Oscar night. If anyone else from this category wins, it would be the biggest upset of the night.
Best Supporting Actress
The Safe Bet: Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever)
Could Pull an Upset: Kerry Condon (The Banshees of Inisherin), Jamie Lee Curtis (Everything, Everywhere, All at Once)
Happy Just to Be Here: Hong Chau (The Whale), Stephanie Hsu (Everything, Everywhere, All at Once)
Rest assured that whoever wins Best Supporting Actress, it'll be a win for "career achievement." That's why I think Bassett, a talented actress who "did the thing" and has gotten better with every performance since her first Oscar-nominated role in What's Love Got to Do With It?
She broke ahead of the pack earlier this year winning the Golden Globe and Critic's Choice awards, and to see her conclude the season as a newly-minted Oscar winner would be the icing on the cake.
Her only other competition comes from another enduring actress: Jamie Lee Curtis. A self-proclaimed "nepo baby" born into Hollywood Royalty, Curtis has always been a reliable performer in varied genres, such as horror (her "Scream Queen" debut in Halloween), comedy (Trading Places, A Fish Called Wanda), action (True Lies) and mystery (Knives Out).
Her recent win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards could be enough last minute momentum to seal the deal (a lot of SAG voters are Academy members too, after all), but she also might split votes with her EEAAO co-star Hsu.
And hey, sometimes this category goes to a fresh face, like recent BAFTA winner Condon. With so many possible winners, it's safe to say this category is this year's biggest crapshoot.
A Toss-Up: Austin Butler (Elvis), Brendan Fraser (The Whale)
Could Pull an Upset: Colin Farrell (The Banshees of Inisherin)
Happy Just to Be Here: Paul Mescal (Aftersun), Bill Nighy (Living)
At this point during Awards Season, we have a pretty good idea of who will win acting Oscars. But this year's race for Best Actor seems to be split between breakout Austin Butler and Comeback Kid Brendan Fraser.
Both actors got lost under prosthetics (coincidentally, both of their films are nominated for Best Makeup) but portray two completely different characters, one being a shining star of early Rock 'n Roll, the other a morbidly obese recluse.
Both are neck-in-neck, with Butler nabbing the Golden Globe and the BAFTA, while Fraser claimed the Critic's Choice and Screen Actors Guild awards. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Oscar voters are so split between the two they instead vote for Farrell's understated performance in Banshees.
One things' for sure, this is merely recognition for Mescal and Nighy; one who is a rising star, the other a consistently good actor well overdue for Oscar attention.
A Toss-Up: Cate Blanchett (Tár), Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once)
Happy Just to Be Here: Ana de Armas (Blonde), Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie), Michelle Williams (The Fablemans)
Here's another close race! In recent years, the Best Actress Oscar has been lacking in a frontrunner, and at first, I would've thought the same would happen this year. But as we've gotten closer to Oscar's big night, two actresses have prevailed as true contenders: the "Modern Meryl" of Hollywood (Blanchett) and an international star finally getting attention from American audiences (Yeoh).
Both took home Golden Globes. Blanchett nabbed the Critic's Choice and BAFTA trophies, while Yeoh won the Screen Actors Guild and Independent Spirit awards.
If Blanchett wins, she will match her predecessor, Meryl Streep, in Oscar wins (two Best Actress and one Best Supporting), but if Yeoh wins, she will become the first Asian woman to win Best Actress in a Leading Role.
It would be difficult and downright cruel for the Academy to refuse Yeoh that distinction, but to see Blanchett triumph for portraying one of the most divisive characters in film this year would not be undeserving.
All the other actresses (including controversial, out-of-the-blue nominated Riseborough) will just have to chalk up their nomination as a consolation prize--it's either Blanchett or Yeoh who will win.
A Safe Bet: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (Everything, Everywhere, All at Once)
Could Pull an Upset: Steven Spielberg (The Fablemans)
Happy Just to Be Here: Todd Field (Tár), Martin McDonagh (The Banshees of Inisherin), Ruben Ostlund (Triangle of Sadness)
After securing Best Director award from the Director's Guild (which has predicted the Best Director 67 times out of its 75 year history), "The Daniels," as they're collectively known, should win for this twisty sci-fi adventure across the Multiverse.
But don't count out Spielberg, who won the Golden Globe for directing the semi-autobiographical The Fablemans, which critics considered to be his most personal film since ET. The Academy sometimes goes the nostalgic route and awards a legendary filmmaker, like that time they ignored DGA winner Rob Marshall (Chicago) for Roman Polanski's Holocaust drama The Pianist.
The other nominees all provided solid directorial work, but The Daniels should pull through, making them only the third co-directing duo to win Best Director.
A Safe Bet: Everything Everywhere All at Once
Could Pull an Upset: All Quiet on the Western Front, The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis
Happy Just to Be Here: Avatar: The Way of Water, The Fablemans, Tár, Top Gun: Maverick, Triangle of Sadness, Women Talking
After taking the big prizes from the Director's Guild, the Screen Actors Guild, the Writer's Guild, and the Producer's Guild, it's pretty much guaranteed that Everything, Everywhere, All at Once will win in this category.
A wildly inventive story about an Asian-American family reconnecting in a vast multiverse of hot dog fingers, butt-plug trophies, and googly eyes is exactly the sort of original story the Academy loves to vote for.
It wasn't a franchise-minded sequel like Avatar 2 or Top Gun, performed better at the box office than The Fablemans and Tár combined, and managed to get its talented cast recognized for standout performances unlike the ensembles from Triangle of Sadness and Women Talking.
Its only competition could be the international war epic All Quiet on the Western Front (which won at the BAFTAs), the character study The Banshees of Inisherin (which won at the Golden Globes), or audience favorite Elvis (which could pull sympathy votes after Elvis' daughter, Lisa Marie, passed away earlier this year).
But as I previously mentioned, its major wins from the guilds would suggest this film will win Best Picture.
What do you think? Will my predictions sync up with Academy voters or will they prove my my theories wrong? Like the previous ninety-four ceremonies, anything could happen on Oscar night (other than another "slap," which the Academy promised will NOT be happening)!
Tune in this Sunday at 8:00/7:00 PM Central on ABC (or the ABC app for a livestream) to find out!
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