Photo Illustration: Vulture. Photos: Warner Bros.; Marvel
Every week between now and January 24, when the Academy Awards nominations are announced, Vulture will consult its crystal ball to determine the changing fortunes of this year’s Oscars race. In our Oscar Futures column, we’ll share insider gossip, parse brand-new developments, and track industry buzz to figure out who’s up, who’s down, and who’s leading the race for a coveted Oscars nomination.
Going into the Golden Globes, the status of Steven Spielberg’s cinematic origin story was up in the air: Was the film the major contender it appeared to be out of TIFF, or had underwhelming grosses and a dull reception from critics’ groups doomed its chances? Cut to Tuesday night, when The Fabelmans got its mojo back, earning the Globes’ two biggest prizes: Best Director and Best Picture — Drama. As if to prove that this wasn’t just the HFPA being the HFPA, Spielberg & Co. followed it up by earning top noms from SAG, the DGA, and the PGA this week. Bad news for those who’d dreamed of a blockbuster-friendly Oscars season, perhaps, but at least those people can coalesce around Everything Everywhere All at Oncewhich scored at the Globes and the Guilds.
The Banshees of Inisherin
banshees was the other notable winner of Globes night, taking home more trophies than any other movie. (There were so many jubilant Irish people in the Beverly Hilton that I half-expected the Brits to send in some Scottish Presbyterians.) SAG went even better, as banshees joined EEAAO in tying the record for most nominations by a single film: four individual nods plus a Best Cast honor. Alongside fabelmans, those two films were the only contenders to score with all three major guilds. If this is indeed our top tier, banshees feels well-positioned for future success. As the least polarizing member of that trio, the lyrical drama should play well on the preferential ballot.
All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Babylon, The Banshees of Inisherin, elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Tar, Top Gun: Maverick, Women Talking
Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Accepting his Best Director Globe, Spielberg pitched his work as a bracing act of self-exposure: “Nobody knows who we really are until we’re courageous enough to tell people who we are.” This branch tends to prefer overwhelming technical achievement, but just as The Fabelmans posits filmmaking as a marriage between technical know-how and overflowing emotion, it’s the personal angle that has made Spielberg the one to beat in this race.
james cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water
He toiled endlessly in his lab, searching for ways to make the Na’vi hotter. Although his labors were ultimately successful, Cameron’s achievement was destined to go unrecognized by his compatriots in the Directors Guild, who nominated top gun: maverick‘s Joseph Kosinski instead. There could be room for technically both impressive blockbusters in the Oscars lineup, but that may require this branch handling a spot that’s traditionally gone to an overseas auteur to an underseas one.
james cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water; ToddField, Tar; Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once; Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin; Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Austin Butler, elvis
Butler gave the most talked-about acceptance speech of the Globes, and though much of that talk was about the Anaheim native improbably retaining a Mississippi drawl, it still counts! There’s an electricity around Butler’s campaign right now that I don’t think a little public mockery hurts one bit. (Butler was the final nominee to walk the Globes red carpet — proof of how much his star has risen this season.) Initially discounted for being younger than Oscar typically prefers, the 31-year-old has shimmied his way into being a legitimate threat . One-time front-runner Brendan Fraser’s not out of the race either: The Whale‘s PGA nomination suggests that the controversial obesity drama retains pockets of support in the industry at large.
adam sandler, Hustle
Sandler doesn’t have a reputation as the most industrial awards campaigner, but he was all over the place this season promoting his winning turn as a Sixers scout in this Netflix sports dramedy. His reward: a surprise SAG nomination. Can he nail down the very open fifth spot in this race? While SAG’s past two Best Actor lineups have perfectly predicted Oscar’s, I suspect that this year’s academy voters will sooner reward performances with a little more dramatic heft. Anyway, if the Sandman really wanted a trophy, he should’ve taken a page out of Kate Winslet’s book and gone full DelCo.
Austin Butler, elvis; colin farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin; Brendan Fraser, The Whale; Paul Mescal, after sun; bill nighty, Living
Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans
One storm cloud on an otherwise sunny week for The Fabelmans was Williams missing the cut at SAG. Since her manic mom was universally considered the film’s strongest acting, it’s tempting to assume that some category confusion is to blame, but ballotologists say that the Guild’s voting system is designed to prevent that. team fabelmans will hope this is just a strange blip, but the snub is a sign of how much Williams has receded in what was once thought to be a three-woman race against Cate Blanchett and Michelle Yeoh — as well as inevitable grist for the “They should have run her in Supporting” camp (of which I happen to be a card-carrying member).
Ana de Armas, blonde
Williams’s miss ensured that, hey, would you look at that, de Armas is now a Globe and SAG nominee for a film most pundits wrote off within hours of its Venice premiere. Given how often Netflix projects overperform with SAG, it’s easy to keep writing her off. As with Sandler, smart money says she’ll drop off with Oscar. But it’s worth remembering the first rule of acting races: Never bet against a transformation. Like Butler, de Armas is probably being awarded some “degree of difficulty” points for inhabiting one of the most imitated figures of the 20th century.
Cate Blanchett, Tar; Viola Davis, The Woman King; Danielle Deadwyler, untill; Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans; Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Supporting Actor
Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Quan kicked off the Globes ceremony in rousing style with a tearful acceptance speech that should power him all the way to win an Oscars (if he wasn’t there already). He’s the surest bet of anyone associated with EEAAO, but does his lock boost the fortunes of co-star Michelle Yeoh or hurt them? I’m not sure, but at least Yeoh got the chance to make her case at the Globes on a night Blanchett was absent, delivering a spirited speech of her own.
paul dano, The Fabelmans
The Fabelmans earned a Best Cast nomination from SAG, but Williams missing out meant that Dano was the only cast member to earn individual recognition. While I’d pegged Judd Hirsch’s fiery cameo as the most likely supporting-actor bid in the film, so far Dano’s lower-key turn is the one scoring with precursors. Since his strongest scenes occur at the very end of the movie, that’s good news for The Fabelmansas it means voters are staying engaged throughout the episodic film.
paul dano, The Fabelmans; Brendan Gleeson, The Banshees of Inisherin; Judd Hirsch, The Fabelmans; barry keoghan, The Banshees of Inisherin; Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Supporting Actress
Angela Basset, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Before the Golden Globes, the supporting-actress category was so unsettled that no one could agree on the front-runner, but Bassett’s fittingly regal acceptance speech has seemed to thrust her into pole position. If you put the Marvel of it all aside, she fits the mold of past winners like Regina King and Allison Janney: an esteemed veteran who has worked with everybody. You can say the same about fellow contender Jamie Lee Curtis (whose character shares a cinematic universe with a talking raccoon), but while neither her nor Bassett’s bids can be chalked up purely to what’s onscreen, Queen Ramonda does pluck heartstrings in a way Curtis’s hot -dog fingers might not.
Jessie Buckley, Women Talking
Women Talking earned a Best Cast nomination from SAG, so its Best Picture dreams aren’t dead, but Sarah Polley’s film once again blanked in all of the individual acting categories. I’ve still got Buckley in my five, as Polley’s “act of female imagination” does feel like a film that could play better with Oscar than at the precursors. But that’s its own act of imagination: As it stands, the film blanked at the DGA and PGA too.
Angela Basset, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Jessie Buckley, Women Talking; Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin; Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once; Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once