Who Will Get Slapped With an Oscar This Year?

Don't worry, a crisis team is standing by.

Quick, without Googling, what film won Best Picture last year? If you can’t remember, don’t feel too badly—I recently had to look it up myself. (It was CODA, for what it’s worth.)

Now, on the other hand, what do you remember about last year’s ceremony?

Yes, the slap heard round the world.

The Academy was mortified by that outburst from eventual Best Actor winner (awkward!) Will Smith—going so far as to hire a “crisis team” for this year’s ceremony (there’s never a crisis team around when you need one). No, no one is going to get slapped at this year’s ceremony, but something weird will occur. A name will be absurdly mispronounced, a presenter will violate someone’s personal space, the wrong winner will be announced, or someone will streak across the stage.

I suggested on Twitter that the Oscars lean into the unpredictability, the screw-ups, the live-ness of it all. That, to me, more than nominating box office hits—a strategy that has wielded mixed results, at best—will bring viewers to the show. Of course, I will watch—and root on my favorites. But it’s good to get a perspective check.

Yes, the Oscars matter—especially to the people who win them—but what’s more important are the films and performances you loved this year, the ones that will stay with you, that moved you, inspired you—that were, to quote a famous line from this year’s nominees, were like “dreams that you never forget.”

And next year at this time, we might not remember what won Best Picture, but we’ll definitely remember if someone face plants on their way onto the stage.

That said, here are my predictions for how the big night will go down.


What will win: Everything, Everywhere All At Once.
I resisted this for a long time. Like, I honestly couldn’t believe that this eye-popping, overstuffed, dizzyingly funny and aggressively clever art house/comic book mashup was going to stir the voters, a traditionally conservative bunch. But it cannot be denied. This film struck a chord with viewers and voters alike (it has cleaned up at most of the “pre-season” award shows) and has a nearly unstoppable path to victory.

What could win: The Fabelmans.
This is the one I thought would win before I stopped resisting EEAAO. After all, there is nothing Hollywood likes more than a movie about Hollywood. And made by one of its most beloved directors? Seemed like a can’t miss! But not enough people really loved The Fabelmans (I did)—some found it self indulgent or a even a little pedestrian. And honestly, EEAAO cannot be stopped.

What should win: Tár.
It was my favorite film of the year and it…might get shut out? Oh, the humanity!

Who will win: Brendan Fraser, The Whale
This is almost a coin toss between Fraser and my “who could win” guy below, but I think Hollywood has a lot of love for this particular underdog. Fraser was a big star in the ’90s, who faded from public view as result of some personal traumas (including an alleged 2003 sexual assault by Philip Berk, the then-president of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association). He is, in fact, great in The Whale, a film I otherwise pretty much hated—I found it exploitative and miserabilist (and somehow corny at the same time, an Aronofsky specialty). He’s the sentimental fave and a lovely man and I think he will ride that good will all the way to the Oscar.

Who could win: Austin Butler, Elvis
The thing the Oscars like as much as (or possibly even more than) comebacks: actors doing uncanny impressions. They rewarded Rami Malek for his Freddie Mercury. They rewarded Renee Zellweger for her Judy Garland. Heck, they nominated Ana de Armas for her Marilyn Monroe, for a film most people hated.
Honestly, Austin Butler is the best of the bunch. He has a very big chance of winning this year—and announcing himself as a major movie star in the process (he already has, to be honest, as long as he can shake that Method-Gone-Wrong Elvis accent he’s been sporting for a year). But I still have a hunch that the Brendan Lovefest will prevail.

Who should win: Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inersherin
Playing a simple man who couldn’t understand his friend’s betrayal, Farrell broke my heart and made me laugh—sometimes in the same line reading. Also, Farrell is fast joining my man Ralph Fiennes as the best actor who has yet to win a little gold guy.

Who will win: Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All At Once
My apologies to the listeners of Midday with Tom Hall and the attendees of a talk I gave at the Edenwald retirement community last week. To both audiences, I suggested checking Cate Blanchett on their ballots. I’ve since changed my mind. Simply put: I’m feeling the Yeoh-mentum. She won both the most recent awards (SAG, Indie Spirit) and seems to be on a roll. And you know what? Good for her. She’s great in EEAAO—a film that serves as a kind of audition reel for its entire cast (thus explaining all its nominations). We get to see Yeoh in a quiet, indie drama; Yeoh in a martial arts film; Yeoh in a love story; Yeoh in a spy thriller, etc.—all in the same film! Plus, a 60-year-old female Asian action heroine winning Best Actress? Sign me up.

Who could win: Cate Blanchett
Don’t lose hope, those I inadvertently led astray with my Cate pick. She still has a real shot. She gives an absolutely towering performance in this remarkable, complex character study. And Oscar voters love Cate.

Who should win: Cate Blanchett
Sorry it’s my movie—and performance—of the year.

Who will win: The Daniels (Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert)
If they win, it will be only the third time that a directing duo has snagged this award. The other two were the Coen Bros. for No Country for Old Men and Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins for 1961’s West Side Story.

Who could win: Steven Spielberg
One of our greatest American directors made a deeply personal film about childhood, divorce, and Hollywood? I’m still lowkey shocked he’s not the frontrunner, but he’s not. The Daniels definitely have the edge.

Who should win: Todd Field, Tár.
I make no apologies for my Tár devotion!


Best Supporting Actor: Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once (this one’s a lock, by the way).
Best Supporting Actress: Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Best Original Screenplay: Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Adapted Screenplay: Women Talking
Best Cinematography: All Quiet on the Western Front
Best Documentary Feature: Navalny
Best International Feature: All Quiet on the Western Front
Best Animated Feature: Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio