Bold predictions for six top Oscar categories

We’re still a few months away from the Oscar nominations, but apart from “Avatar: The Way of Water” and its glorious space whales, all the contenders have landed. Now it’s just a matter of convincing voters to take a look.

With academics and critics still in the discovery phase, let’s put formal predictions aside for now and make a few bold guesses about what might happen if the planets align and a single butterfly’s wings flap just right. Again, these are big hits, the kind of flails Dodgers batters take when a playoff game is at stake. (And you know how to do that.) I don’t even say them should go. But they could. Who knows? We haven’t even thawed the Thanksgiving turkey.

BEST PICTURE: “Guillermo del Toros Pinocchio” receives a nomination

Toy Story 3 was the last animated film to receive a Best Picture nomination, and that was 12 years ago. “Up,” another Pixar classic, had accomplished the feat the year before, and “Beauty and the Beast” a few decades earlier. But that’s it. And it’s not like there weren’t worthy contenders – Inside Out, Coco, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I’d even go back and swap in Frozen for the posh crowd favorite Philomena if it makes you happy.” It’s classic Disney that’s aged well.

So why now, why “Pinocchio”? For starters, Del Toro has given the classic folk tale a wildly inventive twist, leading to some of the strongest reviews of the year. And the fact that the Oscars have returned to a solid list of 10 nominees should work in their favor. “Up” and “Toy Story 3” earned their nominations during that two-year window, when the film academy mandated a field of 10. Also, it’s not a particularly deep year for the best picture contenders. Why not reward greatness—even if Pinocchio is also recognized in the animated features category?

Then there’s this: At the film’s AFI Fest premiere earlier this month, many viewers could be heard crying during the film’s poignant conclusion. “There’s a lot of snooping going on in this theater,” remarked one Oscar voter. crying is good. Crying wins hearts. Crying wins votes.

Director Park Chan-wook sits at a rustic table for a portrait

Park Chan-wook, director of the thriller Decision to Leave.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

DIRECTOR: Park Chan-wook will deserve a nomination even if his film doesn’t have one

The Academy has grown in recent years with its membership worldwide, particularly in the directors field, who have strengthened their ranks with dozens of filmmakers from around the world. Industry nominations reflect this shift, with Pawel Pawlikowski (“Cold War”), Bong Joon-ho (“Parasite”), Thomas Vinterberg (“Another Round”) and Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (“Drive My Car”) in the past Four years got recognition, even if her films (“Cold War” and “Another Round”) didn’t.

Look out for Park Chan-wook to break the series to five for his ravishing thriller Decision to Leave. A gripping tale of obsession and longing, laced with tongue-in-cheek humour, it’s easily one of the best films of the year. And Park, who was recently honored at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Art + Film Gala, has a lengthy resume that includes the iconic “Oldboy” and “The Handmaiden” and really too many notables to mention. The South Korean champions appear primed for their Oscars moment.

Michelle Yeoh poses for a portrait with her arms crossed over her chest.

Michelle Yeoh stars in Everything, Everywhere at Once.

(Jay L Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Leading actress: Michelle Yeoh will win the Oscar

From the moment Todd Field’s provocative “Tár” premiered in Venice, it felt like everyone was ready to call that race over and Cate Blanchett, a magnificent, monstrous maestro and veteran cinematographer, the Oscar for to hand over her role as the title character. (Just look at the accented “a” in her name, an embellishment crafted to add a touch of sophistication. Her real name: Linda Tarr.)

And Blanchett could well win her third Oscar, although voters gave Frances McDormand a third award just a few years ago, tying her alongside Katharine Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman and Meryl Streep as women to have won at least three Oscars. (Hepburn has four.)

Blanchett definitely belongs in her company. But it might be a little too soon for voters to settle on another threesome, especially in a race that will involve Michelle Yeoh, who bounces between tones and multiverses in Everything Everywhere All at Once , without missing a beat. “Tár” is a great film, but it’s cold. And after the “CODA” winner for best picture of the feel-good weeple, we may still be in an era where people want to feel their emotions deep and don’t have to puzzle their way through a movie so aggressively demanding that they (moan) Pay attention.

Tom Cruise leans into a jet cockpit in one scene "Top Gun: Maverick."

Tom Cruise returns as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick.

(Scott Garfield / Paramount Pictures)

STARRING: Tom Cruise Receives a Nomination for ‘Top Gun: Maverick’

OK, admittedly, this looks a bit crazy at first glance. Doesn’t Tom Cruise just play Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick? Can you name three ways that Pete Mitchell is different from, say, Ethan Hunt or Jack Reacher or any other character Cruise has played in the last decade or so? Maybe. Probably not. But what other actor could take a roughly 30-year hiatus between blockbuster action films and still convincingly play a compelling, arrogant fighter pilot capable of saving the world without making audiences roll their eyes?

Is that great acting? Maybe. Probably not. But it’s as impressive a performance as, perhaps, Brendan Fraser donning a prosthetic limb to portray a depressed, massively overweight English teacher in Darren Aronofsky’s upcoming drama The Whale. But where is she feeling in Cruise’s performance “Top Gun: Maverick,” you ask. Come on: didn’t you shed a tear during that reunion scene between Maverick and Val Kilmer’s Iceman? No? Who are you? Lydia Tar?

A scene out "women speak" in which the women gather in a barn to make an important decision.

Michelle McLeod, Sheila McCarthy, Liv McNeil, Jessie Buckley, Claire Foy, Kate Hallett, Rooney Mara and Judith Ivey in Women Talking.

(Michael Gibson/Orion Pictures)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: “Everything Everywhere All at Once” deserves as many nominations as “Women Talking” here

There are so many great women in Sarah Polley’s sensitive, powerful drama, Women Talking, and that excess quality might work against it at the Oscars. Who do you single out from this outstanding ensemble? With Rooney Mara in the main category, the focus will likely be on the actors the voters know – Claire Foy and Jessie Buckley, who were nominated for their brilliant work in last year’s The Lost Daughter.

Both Foy and Buckley could be nominated, or just one, as could the supporting cast in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Stephanie Hsu, as a distraught daughter, carries much of the film’s emotional weight, while Jamie Lee Curtis makes a strong case for her first Oscar nomination with an impeccable comedy twist. Too bad these aren’t the Emmys as this category could certainly use a few more slots this year.

Brian Tyree Henry wears a pale green suit for a portrait.

Brian Tyree Henry stars in Causeway.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

SUPPORTING ACTORS: Brian Tyree Henry Receives a Nomination for “Causeway”

That prediction is only bold in that the Apple TV+ movie is a small, subtle film that might struggle to grab voters’ attention, even if Jennifer Lawrence and Henry star in the lead roles. The actors share a tender bond, and Henry, as always, is nothing short of phenomenal as a garage owner trying his best to come to terms with a tragic past. Henry has an Emmy nomination for “Atlanta” as well as a Tony nomination. The Oscars would do well to increase recognition.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/awards/story/2022-11-16/bold-oscar-predictions-pinocchio-tom-cruise-michelle-yeoh Bold predictions for six top Oscar categories

Sarah Ridley

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