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.
All Quiet on the Western Front
In a repeat of the spring offensive of 1918, Netflix’s World War I epic is making a late charge for victory. (Don’t Google what happened next.) The German Oscar submission led the field at Thursday’s BAFTA nominations, and since the British membership boasts a significant overlap with the Academy, that overwhelming display of force could be repeated come Oscar-nomination morning. Even if All Quiet can’t match the 14 noms it earned at BAFTA — and it won’t, as the Oscars doesn’t have a Casting category — such widespread support from across the industry means its place in the Academy’s Best Picture lineup is all but booked. Just as Russia’s defeat supplied General Ludendorff with the divisions he needed to mount his offensive, so too is All Quiet benefiting from the unfortunate fates of Bardo and White Noise, which have allowed it to become the primary recipient of the streamer’s war chest.
While Women Talking wasn’t the only on-the-bubble contender to blank with BAFTA (see also: Glass Onion), it was the most notable, given that half the film’s stars hail from the U.K. or Ireland, and that the Brits recently overhauled their voting process in the hopes of giving female filmmakers more shine. Director Sarah Polley seems to have taken the news in good humor, but combined with last week’s poor showing at the guilds, a film that once appeared a top-level contender may have to content itself with a solitary Adapted Screenplay nod.
All Quiet on the Western Front, Avatar: The Way of Water, Babylon, The Banshees of Inisherin, Elvis, Everything Everywhere All at Once, The Fabelmans, Tár, Top Gun: Maverick, The Whale
Edward Berger, All Quiet on the Western Front
All season long we’ve played a game of Guess the International Auteur Who’ll Catch This Branch’s Fancy. Ruben Östlund? Park Chan-wook? S.S. Rajamouli? Now that his film has tied the BAFTA record for most nominations by a non-English-language film, the Deutschland 83 vet is getting his moment in the spotlight. While I personally wasn’t the biggest fan of All Quiet — it didn’t tell me anything about WWI that I didn’t already know — Berger’s re-creation of trench warfare’s effluvial horrors is earning all those craft noms for a reason. His intricately designed and extravagantly aestheticized set pieces fit the directors branch’s sweet spot like a leather glove (of course, stained with the blood of a French corporal).
Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Spielberg’s Best Director miss at BAFTA — he didn’t even make the long list — was just one insult in an overall dismal morning for The Fabelmans, which was left out of every category save Original Screenplay. You can argue that Spielberg’s personal narrative is such a quintessentially American story that it will naturally do worse with overseas voters. Even so, an across-the-board snubbing like this is a sign of the hurdles The Fabelmans faces with an increasingly international Academy. Spielberg is still the Best Director front-runner, I think, but whichever would-be usurper wins BAFTA will have a golden opportunity to press their claim.
Edward Berger, All Quiet on the Western Front; Todd Field, Tár; Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once; Martin McDonagh, The Banshees of Inisherin; Steven Spielberg, The Fabelmans
Paul Mescal, Aftersun
At the beginning of the season, Aftersun would have bitten your arm off for four BAFTA nominations. And yet, because the A24 drama had done so well in the Stateside precursors, fans hoped it might crack the Best Film or Best Director categories on its home turf. Though that didn’t happen, Mescal still managed his expected Best Actor nod. A few weeks ago, the up-and-coming hunk was being brought up as a possible nomination-morning surprise; now that other marginal contenders have faded, he’s the consensus pick for the fifth spot in this race. (Note to podcasters: It’s pronounced MESS-kul.)
Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick
The dream of a Cruise Best Actor bid was probably dead once he got left out of the SAG lineup last week. (Already dead … just like Maverick himself?) Maverick’s disappointing showing at the BAFTAs confirmed that the blockbuster sequel is likely a Picture and crafts play only.
Austin Butler, Elvis; Colin Farrell, The Banshees of Inisherin; Brendan Fraser, The Whale; Paul Mescal, Aftersun; Bill Nighy, Living
Cate Blanchett, Tár
That Blanchett won Best Actress at the Critics Choice Awards on a night Everything Everywhere All at Once otherwise dominated bodes well for her chances going head-to-head with Michelle Yeoh. However, those in the room reported some grumblings among the audience about the tenor of her speech, which in an alliteration worthy of Lydia Tár slammed the “patriarchal pyramid” of awards season itself. She wasn’t wrong, but when voters hand you a trophy, they tend to prefer you pretend it means something — particularly if you’ve been an active participant in the whole circus up to that moment.
Andrea Riseborough, To Leslie
The English actress’s turn as an alcoholic Texan in this “small film with a giant heart” got a last-minute boost from a star-led social-media campaign precisely timed for the Oscars voting window. While it’s probably too little, too late to make a dent with the Academy, at least Riseborough has earned a spot alongside Melissa Leo in the Self-Financed Oscar Campaign Hall of Fame.
Cate Blanchett, Tár; Viola Davis, The Woman King; Danielle Deadwyler, Till; Michelle Williams, The Fabelmans; Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Supporting Actor
Eddie Redmayne, The Good Nurse
The similarities to Jared Leto’s The Little Things campaign from two years ago are almost eerie: Just like Leto, Redmayne is a former winner playing a serial killer with a weird voice in a middlebrow streaming title that performs better than expected at the precursors. Redmayne’s BAFTA nomination means he’s officially gotten further than Leto did, but whether he can take it all the way to the Oscar lineup will probably depend on how many Fabelmans guys voters find room for.
Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Ultimately, no matter who grabs the final spots in this very thin year for Supporting Actor, they’ll all be playing second fiddle to Quan, whose near-flawless winning streak continued at the Critics Choice Awards last weekend.
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
Hong Chau, The Whale
Thar she blows! Once left for dead this awards season, The Whale has resurfaced over the closing stretch, earning a surprise PGA nomination and scoring a much-needed Best Actor win for Brendan Fraser at the Critics Choice Awards. Chau followed up last week’s SAG nomination by nabbing a BAFTA nom as well, and if her film can indeed land a Best Picture nomination, that’s only more ballast for the season’s most supporting actress.
Nina Hoss, Tár
Rewatching Tár over the weekend, I was struck by how often Todd Field uses Hoss’s silent reactions as an audience guide. Even if we’re unfamiliar with intra-orchestra politics, we can tell Tár is acting out-of-pocket by the look on her wife’s face. Hoss has barely shown up at the precursors, but she’s my pick for the most likely nomination-morning surprise: a coattail nominee from a Best Picture contender who should have strong support from the Academy’s international wing.
Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; Kerry Condon, The Banshees of Inisherin; Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once; Nina Hoss, Tár; Stephanie Hsu, Everything Everywhere All at Once
More on Awards Season
- Find Out Who’s an Actor’s Actor at the 2024 SAG Awards
- The Zone of Interest’s Final Moments Are a Nazi Workaholic’s Nightmare
- Before the Show, It’s the BAFTA Party