Uniquely this year as opposed to years past, countless high-profile Oscar categories across the board are still far from being a sure thing. Far too often I sit down for the broadcast and already know how pretty much every single category is going to turn out. There may be just a couple of envelopes that stir surprise. That’s what makes tonight a unique night, and I anticipate this being one of the better Oscar nights in recent memory due to this unique anticipation and mystery.
The Dominant One
Of course, not every category is a mystery box. Everything Everywhere All at Once is the clear front runner across the board, and despite most of tonight’s categories being toss-ups, Best Picture will likely go to the A24 film that took the globe by storm in a rather unorthodox way for a modern theatrically released movie. It has taken home top honors at almost every single awards show thus far, and while I wouldn’t consider it a lock, it’s as much a front runner as most of the prior winners of the past decade. Ke Huy Quan’s incredible rebirth of stardom will almost surely get him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and the Daniels duo of Kwan and Scheinert are likely to win at least Director or Screenplay, and maybe even both!
The impressive trajectory of this film is a phenomenon in and of itself. A genuine word-of-mouth hit to mega box office success in the spring, all the way to a strong and historic awards season run. It will be quite satisfying to see this film get its flowers on Hollywood’s biggest stage this evening.
Pick Your Performance
The real tension and intrigue this evening has to be in the four acting categories. While Ke Huy Quan is pretty much a lock to win barring a genuine upset, the other three categories are going to be all equally as surprising when announced.
Legendary stars Cate Blanchett and Michelle Yeoh are truly neck and neck in what could be the most talked-about race of the season. It’s clear that both actresses greatly admire one another, and each would be equally well-deserving of an Academy Award. Blanchett is a force to be reckoned with in TÁR, and a win would further cement her status as one of the greatest actresses of all time. Yeoh, a trailblazer in her own right, has long been a prominent face in cinema all around the world. Both flexed very different aspects of their acting repertoire, with Yeoh showing a vulnerable and extremely emotional side, while still maintaining her signature of being a badass throughout the film, with Blanchett tapping into a deep and dark character in Lydia Tár. Both phenomenal, they’ve essentially equally divided the awards season with both the pair taking home major awards throughout the past few months.
The counterpart award is equally as competitive, and arguably even more so. Best Actor started as a genuine three-way race between Austin Butler, Brendan Fraser, and Colin Farrell. It has since emerged into a two-way race between Butler and Fraser, and it’s a true coin toss. There would be a historic significance behind both would be Oscar winners. Rarely are there years in which almost every single awards show sees a split decision in the top categories.
While Brendan Fraser may have emerged as the early front runner with his comeback narrative and dubbing as this year’s festival darling for The Whale, Austin Butler winning best actor awards at the Golden Globes and the British Film Academy has put him in a pretty strong position to claim his first Oscar; however, Brendan Fraser’s triumphs at the Critics Choice Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards puts him in an equally strong enough place to win. For Austin Butler to win it would mean becoming the fifth youngest person to win Best Actor at the age of only 31. The youngest winner in that category is Adrien Brody, who won for The Pianist at the age of 29. For Fraser to win he would need the Academy to reject their ever-so-strong bias against fictional characters. In the last ten years, only three Best Actor winners have been for roles not portraying real-life people (and one of them was for a little-known character named the Joker!). With only three winners in the last decade being for actors who portrayed fictional characters, Brendan Fraser would truly defy the odds with a win tonight. One thing Fraser has on his side is that 90 percent of the acting nominees tonight were for portrayals of fictional characters, which is well ahead of the average of 59 percent as seen over the past ten years. Maybe it’s the year to embrace the fictional character?
The Best Supporting Actress Question Mark
One of the most interesting categories of the night will surely be Best Supporting Actress, and when it comes to betting on it, I would rather not. While most other categories are between two clear front runners, this one, except for Hong Chau (The Whale), is building towards a genuine four-way photo finish. Jamie Lee Curtis (won SAG), Kerry Condon (won BAFTA), and Angela Bassett (won Critics Choice and Golden Globe) have all won their fair share of awards throughout the season, and the late surge of Everything Everywhere All at Once’s Stephanie Hsu begs the question, who will actually win this thing? With a clear argument to make for all four of these supporting actresses, it will be one of the most highly anticipated awards of the night, and wins for Hsu, Curtis, and Condon would clearly signal a strong level of support for each of their respective films in other categories to come throughout the evening.
And All the Rest…
The “below the line” categories are all pretty competitive as well, with no clear front runner throughout the awards season in most of these categories, there will be some real upsets and surprises this year. I am fully expecting my own Oscars ballot to be considerably worse than in years prior, with categories like Best Original Score and Best Cinematography practically being thrown back and forth between different films all awards season. One category to look out for will be Best Animated Feature. While Guillermo del Toro and Netflix’s Pinocchio has been the clear favorite all season, the recent surge and general love for the latest Puss in Boots sequel may make for a stunning and very possible upset. The buzz around the Oscars this year is a lot more refreshing than the past two. While it will be hard to top the Parasite Oscars night from three years ago, this evening does hold quite the potential for some very special all-time Oscars moments, and the uncertainty surrounding many of tonight’s categories plays right into the potential greatness of it all.
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