Awards season is starting to kick into gear, and we're anticipating the 95th Academy Awards ceremony.
The big night gets underway on March 12, 2023, and over the coming months, we're presenting our predictions for the key categories.
This week: our five hot tips for the top prize, Best Picture. Scroll down and see if you agree with our choices.
1. The Fabelmans
Steven Spielberg invites us inside his childhood memories, thereby making The Fabelmans a sure-fire candidate for Best Picture. As one of the most commercially and artistically successful directors in the history of cinema, with two Best Director Oscars to his name (for Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan), Spielberg's name has become a byword for big-screen magic.
So, you'd better believe that the sheer prestige of Spielberg's reputation and the self-reflexive qualities of his latest drama has boosted its chances. (Oscar voters do, indeed, love rewarding films that reflect on the medium of cinema – just look at the relatively recent likes of The Artist.)
Combine all that with the movie's laudatory reviews from the Toronto Film Festival, and it's clear The Fabelmans has thrown down the Oscar gauntlet to the competition. In the film, Spielberg invents avatars or surrogates drawn from his own youthful experiences, whether it's young Sammy Fabelman being bedazzled by the cinematic experience of watching The Greatest Show on Earth, or the contrasting depiction of the on-screen parents.
Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play the variously loving and pragmatic adults attempting to guide the escalatingly ambitious Sammy through his dreams and into adolescence. It's a well-worn Spielberg trope, the notion of a parental schism subconsciously informing an artist's work, but it's yielded enormous, and often Oscar-winning, success in the past. Spielberg's masterful E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) acts as an allegory for absentee parents and childhood loneliness, after all.
Spielberg has claimed Best Picture before, in 1993 for Schindler's List, and has been nominated on multiple other occasions. (E.T. was nominated, as was The Color Purple, Saving Private Ryan, Munich, Letters from Iwo Jima, which he produced, War Horse, Lincoln, Bridge of Spies, The Post and West Side Story.) This may well grease the wheels with the Academy.
It would be historic if The Fabelmans marked Spielberg's first Best Picture win in over 20 years. Consider this one the clear frontrunner at the moment.
The Fabelmans is released in the UK on January 27, 2023.
We've already explained how TÁR star Cate Blanchett is a dead-cert for a Best Actress nomination. But can the movie resonate enough on an emotional level to be nominated for the top prize, Best Picture?
Reviews of TÁR would appear to play in its favour. Directed by Todd Field, who makes his directorial comeback after nearly 20 years (the Oscar voters do love a comeback story – see Mickey Rourke and The Wrestler), the drama recaps the rise and fall of a fiercely committed and tempestuous Berlin orchestra conductor.
Blanchett plays said conductor, the Lydia Tár of the title, and critics say she consumes the movie. However, praise has also been reserved for Field's visual scope and arrestingly fragmentary storytelling that puts us inside a profoundly brilliant yet narcissistic mind.
Of all this year's Best Picture frontrunners, this may well be the darkest and most challenging. It's not unheard of for Oscar voters to acknowledge something difficult and angular, although the far more comforting and conservative The Fabelmans would appear to fit more easily within the Oscar Best Picture wheelhouse.
Nevertheless, it may well be TÁR's unique and somewhat anti-commercial properties that give it the advantage. If one judges a Best Picture contender's chances on the sheer strength of reviews alone, then TÁR has a very strong chance at the top trophy.
TÁR is released in the UK on January 20, 2023.
3. The Banshees of Inisherin
Having an Oscar, or several Oscars, in the back pocket can often give filmmakers an advantage when the next Academy Awards race rolls around. In that instance, writer-director Martin McDonagh is poised to do well with The Banshees of Inisherin, potentially capitalising on the success of his scabrously brilliant Best Picture winner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
McDonagh is infamous for his richly sweary dialogue and complex moral conundrums, whether it's the warring, purgatorial hitmen of In Bruges or Frances McDormand's vengeful mother on the warpath in Three Billboards. His latest, Banshees, finds him at a somewhat more elegiac, although no less hard-hitting, register, detailing the catastrophic fall-out from a seemingly rock-solid friendship.
Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson (both clear candidates for Best Actor) portray Padraic and Colm, former BFFs and Ireland islanders now at loggerheads after the latter calls time on their bromance. McDonagh's assured ability to vacillate between caustic humour, savage shock and deep-seated compassion, often all within the same scene, has never been better displayed, sneaking up on the viewer in the manner of the encroaching Irish tide.
There's a deep-seated seam of blackly humorous entertainment in Banshees (it is, after all, a McDonagh movie), but the film has the emotional substance to resonate as something much more than that. It ultimately possesses a message (non-sanctimonious) about the importance of clear communication and the perils of apathy. If the Oscar voters are capable of perceiving these philosophical depths, Banshees could well attain a Best Picture nod.
The Banshees of Inisherin is released in the UK on October 21.
Director Damien Chazelle has already offered one self-reflexive ode to the magic of the movie industry, and that film was La La Land. The movie's pastel-coloured homage to the Golden Age of the big-screen musical saw it awarded numerous plaudits, including all-important wins for Best Director and Best Actress (for Emma Stone). Notoriously, the movie didn't win Best Picture as announced on stage, all part of the mix-up with rival Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins.
It looks like Chazelle has shifted from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg to The Wolf of Wall Street with his latest movie, Babylon. The director's latest Hollywood opus ditches the extraordinary musical numbers to depict a level of Bacchanalian excess in the all-important industrial switchover from silent cinema to talking pictures.
Babylon looks like a profoundly cynical, if sinfully entertaining, ode to the most appalling qualities of the jazz age, although since when did bad behaviour prove anything less than riotously entertaining? The presence of a starry cast surely won't hurt the movie's Best Picture chances (although its rampant scenes of debauchery may make conservative Oscar voters uncomfortable).
Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, both recipients of Oscar attention in their own right, lead the ensemble. They're joined by a crazed-looking Tobey Maguire as Charlie Chaplin (yes, that one), and if it all sounds a bit much, well, that seems to be the aesthetic the movie is going for. Chazelle has the chops and the history with the Oscars (including wins for his earlier, savage Whiplash) to maybe punch through the movie's excesses and land a Best Picture nomination.
It's likely that the Oscars hype for this one may well hinge on the reviews, which are yet to break. Babylon is released in the UK on January 20, 2023.
5. Everything Everywhere All at Once
This A24-distributed multiverse marvel is one of 2022's greatest success stories. On a relatively meagre $20 million budget, Everything Everywhere, directed by filmmaking duo Daniels, throws everything but the kitchen sink at us, all the while remaining grounded in a beautifully human story of connection and redemption.
The movie's astute mixture of Chinese-American cultural observation, metaphorical character odyssey, breathtaking martial arts sequences and big heart saw it awarded with laudatory reviews. Everything Everywhere was also a significant profitable hit, grossing close to $90 million against its budget – not bad going for a movie that is near-indescribable in casual conversation.
Most of the Oscars chat is, inevitably, going to hinge on Michelle Yeoh's superb central performance as Evelyn. She's the conflicted laundromat owner whose inability to connect with her estranged daughter Joy (Stephanie Hsu) threatens to blow apart the space-time continuum. The film also sports the funniest, most outrageous use of a desk toy in movie history.
The film's sheer ambition, and its success in threading together an astonishing amount of complex material in a coherent fashion, may well land it a Best Picture nomination. It's a defiantly strange film for the most part but, come the end, a very relatable one regardless of the culture one hails from. The movie's magnanimity and ability to cross boundaries in an audience-friendly fashion makes it a dark horse in this year's Best Picture race.
6. Top Gun Maverick
Is it a pipe dream to imagine a Best Picture nod for Top Gun: Maverick? The Oscars are notoriously snooty towards blockbuster and genre fare, only occasionally poking their head above the parapet (Black Panther's historic Best Picture nom being a rare exception).
However, Top Gun: Maverick drew the global community together under the umbrella of cinema, validating and emboldening the big-screen medium during a difficult time when its supremacy has been challenged again and again. Surely, surely, that makes it worthy of consideration for the top prize?
Again, this is the Oscars, so don't hold your breath. However, few films this year have so successfully fused an outsized cinematic aesthetic with well-rendered characters and genuine tension and emotion. Top Gun: Maverick has emerged as a rare sequel that's exponentially better than its predecessor, no mere collective of Naval hardware set-pieces but a satisfying story about learning to live with the past.
With Tom Cruise as the binding element, the movie is well-positioned to draw on a visceral well-spring of physical action. Yet Cruise's likeable screen presence, and the subtle poignancy of his steadily ageing features, help ensure that the movie sticks the landing to linger in the mind.
In his capacity as producer, Cruise has carefully sculpted Top Gun: Maverick's journey to crowd-pleasing success; as an actor, Cruise makes us care more deeply about a loud blockbuster property than we ever thought possible.
In case you haven't seen it on the big screen (seriously?), you can still book your tickets for Top Gun: Maverick.
Which of these movies are you tipping for Oscar success? Tweet us your tips @Cineworld.
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