The Academy Awards are upon us once again. The biggest night for movies that rolls around each year, when the best the industry has to offer are honored and films are celebrated, is here. The big question is, though, who will be chosen to take home the prestigious award for each category? All of this year’s nominees can be seen here.
Below are Nonstop Nerd’s predictions as to who will win for each category during the 95th Academy Awards.
Actor in a Leading Role
Brendan Fraser – “The Whale”
The Whale is a brilliant and emotional film, but it’s also a small one. Because of this, it relies on excellent performances to elevate it. Brendan Fraser’s performance as Charlie in this movie is exceptional. He allows the audience to see and feel his pain, as well as the slew of other complicated emotions he goes through throughout the movie. Each of the performances in The Whale are fantastic, and they all play perfectly off of Fraser’s lead. Fraser has spent a good amount of time away from acting, and he may very well be returning to it to win an Oscar.
Actress in a Leading Role
Michelle Yeoh – “Everything Everywhere All At Once”
Michelle Yeoh does it all in Everything Everywhere All At Once. She excels with emotional moments and humorous ones, and even kicks some butt in the process. Despite the movie being a grand-scale science fiction epic, Yeoh’s performance shines most during the grounded moments like when she’s having a heart-to-heart with her daughter or preparing for the realization that her marriage might be in trouble. Her character feels real and relatable throughout the whimsical and mind-bending adventure, and that’s heavily due to her incredible performance.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Ke Huy Quan – “Everything Everywhere All At Once”
Ke Huy Quan has been away from acting for decades, and he gives one heck of a performance upon his return. His character of Waymond in Everything Everywhere All At Once carries a lot of the heart of the movie, and his acting skill plays a big role in conveying that. He plays different versions of the same character without skipping a beat, which is extremely impressive.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Angela Bassett – “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
Angela Bassett gives an emotional and memorable performance as Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. This is especially seen in her heartfelt speech about the loss of her family and the issues her country has been facing. Hong Chau is a clear runner-up for this category, but Bassett’s performance is positively jaw-dropping. She’s definitely deserving of being the first actor to win for a performance in a Marvel film.
Animated Feature Film
“Puss In Boots: The Last Wish” – Joel Crawford and Mark Swift
This one’s an extremely tough choice, especially with the likes of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio and Marcel the Shell the Shoes On are also nominated. Despite there being a few nominees in this category who actually tried something new and unique with their animation, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish stands out. The movie creatively blends 3D and 2D animation to make a fascinating style unlike what we’ve seen before. It’s also an imaginative story perfect for audiences young and old with shocking moments, big heart, and a beautiful message. This award could go either way, but Puss In Boots: The Last Wish may be the strongest choice.
“All Quiet on the Western Front” – James Friend
It would be surprising to see something other than All Quiet on the Western Front win for Cinematography this year. Every shot is set up to convey the exact emotions the characters on screen are experiencing. The shots are framed and lit in a way to showcase how somber war is, and it works. It’s all visually powerful and extremely impressive.
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” – Ruth Carter
Ruth Carter won in this same category for the first Black Panther film, and she’s struck gold once again with her work on Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. She brilliantly blends traditional African garb with science fiction elements to make something unique. Plus, this time around, she adds inspiration from indigenous Latin American cultures for a whole new nation within the Marvel universe. The costume design for Elvis comes close but recreates costumes that have already been made while Carter made a point of doing something brand new.
Steven Spielberg – “The Fabelmans”
The Fabelmans is beautifully shot throughout, but a lot of how it’s shot also holds a lot of meaning. The movie is a semi-autobiographical story based on Spielberg’s childhood as he gains an interest in filmmaking and copes with the divorce of his parents. There are scenes in which the parents are the ones doing all the speaking but the camera lingers on their son, Sammy, watching them to show the impact it has on him. The ending shot has Spielberg intentionally use a piece of advice that he (and Sammy) received regarding how the horizon is framed. There are also moments when the shots change between what Sammy is filming and what’s happening around him. Everything is so deeply thought-out that The Fabelmans has to take this one.
Documentary Feature Film
“Fire of Love” – Sara Dosa, Shane Boris and Ina Fichman
Not only is Fire of Love an informative documentary, but it both honors and tells the story of a married couple who studied volcanoes and whose films literally saved lives. Their films taught people the true dangers of volcanic eruptions and even convinced entire cities to evacuate. They perished doing what they loved and providing important information for others which adds a lot of emotional weight to the film. Rounding up their past footage to release it now is the perfect way to honor them.
Documentary Short Film
“The Elephant Whisperers” – Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga
The Elephant Whisperers excels at everything that makes a great documentary. It’s especially well-shot, informative, educational, entertaining, and heartfelt. It’s meant to shed some light on a topic that many may not be aware of or know much about, and it succeeds at doing so, but it also gets the audience to care about the animals and the central human couple. This film is a truly special piece that should be seen by all.
“Everything Everywhere All At Once” – Paul Rogers
The way the story is told in Everything Everywhere All At Once is truly fascinating and unique from other movies. Multiple timelines are explored while telling one singular coherent story. The only way that’s successful while still being easy enough to follow is by having great editing. The movie’s focus jumps between different versions of the same characters, but it’s always understandable because of how cleverly thought out the editing is.
International Feature Film
“All Quiet on the Western Front” – Germany
One of the most obvious wins this year is All Quiet on the Western Front for Best International Feature Film. It’s nominated for a total of nine awards this year including Best Picture, and for good reason. Its anti-war themes are extremely powerful. Plus, it’s especially well-shot. The film succeeds in getting the audience to feel the same fear and depression the soldiers experience throughout. This movie is a true work of art that easily deserves the award.
Makeup and Hairstyling
“The Batman” – Naomi Donne, Mike Marino, and Mike Fontaine
Both The Whale and The Batman feature makeup that’s so great that actors are unrecognizable, but it’s the latter that has the makeup and hairstyling stand out with multiple characters. Colin Farrell looks like an entirely different person thanks to the outstanding makeup team. The makeup and styled wigs worn by Zoe Kravitz as Salina Kyle are also creative feats. Brendan Fraser’s makeup in The Whale is just as excellent, but it’s just on him. The stunning makeup and hairstyling is seen throughout all of The Batman.
Music (Original Score)
“The Fabelmans” – John Williams
John Williams is probably the most famous composer for film scores of all time, and his work on The Fabelmans further proves why. For one, it sounds beautiful. It matches the complex emotions the characters feel. There are moments when Mitzi’s piano playing blends with the score, making the music feel more like it’s part of the movie. There are a few extraordinarily strong scores nominated this year, but the one for The Fabelmans stands out the most.
Music (Original Song)
“LIFT ME UP” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Music by Tems, Rihanna, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Goransson; Lyric by Tems and Ryan Coogler
What should be the clear winner for Best Original Song is “Lift Me Up” by Rihanna. It’s an extremely powerful song filled with emotion. It was written to honor the life of the late Chadwick Boseman, but it’s also evergreen enough to allow listeners to relate it to those they miss from their own lives. It’s both sorrowful and beautiful at the same time. It’s the perfect song to cry to.
“All Quiet on the Western Front” – Christian M. Goldbeck; Set Decoration: Ernestine Hipper
The set pieces built for All Quiet on the Western Front allow the audience to truly feel as if they time traveled back to World War I. The bunkers and trenches look great. They fit the tone of the movie perfectly. They feel like they were actually put together by pawns who didn’t want to be there, but needed to in order to survive. They’re haphazardly put together, but hold together enough for survival. On top of that, and what allows the production design to stand above the other nominees, is that the sets during scenes that focus on the bigwigs instead of the soldiers are extravagant. There’s a clear duality to the types of sets used. These set pieces play well into the message the film is attempting to get across.
Short Film (Animated)
“The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse” – Charles Mackesy and Matthew Freud
If you’re looking to watch a short film that makes you feel sad, hopeful, and loved, look no further than The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse. It’s a truly emotional experience that shares similarities to the writing of A.A. Milne. It’s wholesome yet impactful. It also features hand-drawn animation that is absolutely beautiful. Ice Merchants might be a close runner-up due to how surprisingly meaningful certain elements are, and My Year of Dicks is certainly entertaining, but none of them hold a candle to The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse.
Short Film (Live Action)
Cyrus Neshvad – “The Red Suitcase”
The Red Suitcase is one of the most powerful short films out there. It sheds light on an important and very real issue. It’s also extremely suspenseful at times and very emotional throughout. On top of that, the short is well-shot with fantastic editing. The storytelling mechanics is what allows it to stand out the most, though. Without actually saying anything, the audience is able to learn what the protagonist’s passions are, what her worst nightmare is, and how clever she is. Everything about this film is brilliant.
“Top Gun: Maverick” – Mark Weingarten, James H. Mather, Al Nelson, Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor
Top Gun: Maverick has got to take home the award for Best in Sound. While planes are soaring through the air and dodging missiles, characters are able to speak with each other without it ever being hard to hear. The sound is very well-mixed, as it’s always easy to tell which plane is making a certain noise. Plus, it’s evident when the source of a sound, like an engine, is moving around the screen or even away from it. Top Gun: Maverick should take this win easily.
“Avatar: The Way of Water” – Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon and Daniel Barrett
For Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron developed a new form of motion capture that can work well underwater, and it was more than worth it. The environments, characters, and creatures all look incredible. The colors throughout the film are bright and vivid. Even the most fantastical science fiction elements look completely real and lifelike. Just like the original Avatar, this movie is a major accomplishment in visual effects.
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
“Women Talking” – Sarah Polley
Women Talking is almost entirely told through dialogue in just a couple of locations like a stage play. The script is so strong that the dialogue alone keeps the audience captivated. The writing covers a deeply emotional and powerful subject and handles it all exceptionally well. This screenplay is bold, compelling, and begging to be seen and understood.
Writing (Original Screenplay)
“The Banshees of Inisherin” – Martin McDonagh
The story of The Banshees of Inisherin is fascinating. It plays out like such a simple, grounded tale, as if nothing is happening, which makes the more over-the-top events seem even moreso. It’s quite brilliant, really. Certain extreme events happening in such a small story add to the dark humor of it all. It’s all held together with especially witty dialogue, which is exactly why The Banshees of Inisherin will likely take this award home.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” – Daniel Kwan, Daniel Scheinert and Jonathan Wang, Producers
Everything Everywhere All At Once has plenty to offer the crowd looking for a fun action movie, but is also thought-provoking and features multiple important messages. It may be a thrill-ride, but it offers a lot of meaning. It’s an ideal film for multiple kinds of audiences. Where the story jumps between timelines and universes to tell a single coherent story, it succeeded in an almost impossible feat. It’s especially well written, shot, acted, and edited. It’s exciting, emotional, funny, heartbreaking, and wholesome all in the same movie. It’ll probably forever be looked at as one of the greats, and easily deserves Best Picture.