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Oscars 101: Trying to pick the Academy Awards is a fool’s errand, but we’ll try anyway

March 8, 2023 Updated Fri., March 10, 2023 at 10:11 a.m.

“Everything Everywhere All At Once” has a good shot of winning the Academy Award for best picture, says former Spokesman-Review staff writer and current “Movies 101” co-host Dan Webster.  (A24)
“Everything Everywhere All At Once” has a good shot of winning the Academy Award for best picture, says former Spokesman-Review staff writer and current “Movies 101” co-host Dan Webster. (A24)
By Dan Webster For The Spokesman-Review

Trying to figure out who will win an Academy Award in any given year is easier than, say, predicting who will win the NCAA men’s or women’s basketball tournaments.

That said, predicting how the 9,500-odd voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will cast their ballots is never a sure thing. Even the Oscar experts who rely on complicated mathematical formulas will tell you that.

Yet each year millions of movie fans think of the annual Oscar broadcast as their version of the Super Bowl. And when this year’s show is broadcast today, many no doubt will enjoy trying to guess who’s going to win.

I’ve never been a particularly good Oscar prognosticator. In the 28 years that I worked for the print edition of The Spokesman-Review, 25 years of which I was the paper’s film reviewer, I won the in-house contest once. Say again, once.

I know sports writers, some of whom didn’t see a single one of the nominated films, who won more times than that.

Whatever. I always gave it a try, and I continue to do so. I mostly base my choices on who or what the other major trade associations reward: the British Film Institute (the BAFTAs), the Screen Actors Guild, Critics Choice Association, the Golden Globes and the Producers and Directors guilds.

And then I flip a coin. In any event, take my predictions of the top six categories with a bushel bucket of salt.

Best Supporting Actress

The nominees:

Angela Bassett, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Hong Chau, “The Whale”

Kerry Condon, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Jamie Lee Curtis, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Stephanie Hsu, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

The winner: Angela Bassett

Bassett won the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice awards, while Condon won the BAFTA and Curtis the Screen Actors Guild. A 1994 nominee for “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” Bassett would seem to have the best chance here, though don’t count out Curtis.

Best Supporting Actor

The nominees:

Brendan Gleeson, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Brian Tyree Henry, “Causeway”

Judd Hirsch, “The Fabelmans”

Barry Keoghan, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

The winner: Ke Huy Quan

Quan is as sure a favorite in this category as there is. He has taken every award save for the BAFTA, which went to the Irish actor Keoghan. A former child star who gave up on acting for two decades because there weren’t a lot of parts for Asian actors, his is one of two great comeback stories this Oscars season.

Best Actress

The nominees:

Cate Blanchett, “Tár”

Ana de Armas, “Blonde”

Andrea Riseborough, “To Leslie”

Michelle Williams, “The Fabelmans”

Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

The winner: Michelle Yeoh

Blanchett took home the BAFTA and Critics Choice awards, she split the Golden Globes with Yeoh, and Yeoh was the SAG winner. Coasting on the energy of the film she stars in, not to mention the goodwill she’s earned over her long career, Yeoh should edge out Blanchett, if only barely.

Best Actor

The nominees:

Austin Butler, “Elvis”

Colin Farrell, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”

Paul Mescal, “Aftersun”

Bill Nighy, “Living”

The winner: Brendan Fraser

Newcomer Butler won the Golden Globe and the BAFTA, but the SAG and Critics Choice awards went to the veteran Fraser. Farrell could benefit from a split vote. But Fraser fits that favorite Hollywood staple: the comeback story.

Best Director

The nominees:

Todd Field, “Tár”

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Ruben Östlund, “Triangle of Sadness”

Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans”

The winner: The Daniels

The Daniels is the shorthand for Daniels Kwan and Scheinert. Spielberg should get a lot of sympathy, but the Daniels were the choice of the Directors Guild, and their film won the Producers Guild award. So, they would seem to be the favorites.

Best Picture

The nominees:

“All Quiet on the Western Front”

“Avatar: The Way of Water”

“The Banshees of Inisherin”


“Everything Everywhere All at Once

“The Fabelmans”


“Top Gun: Maverick”

“Triangle of Sadness”

“Women Talking”

The winner: “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” leads the field with 11 nominations. That’s no guarantee of anything. But the film won the comedy-music category of the Golden Globes, the Critics Choice and the Producers Guild. That’s as good an indication as any.

Dan Webster is a former staff writer for The Spokesman-Review and co-host of “Movies 101” on Spokane Public Radio.

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