It's Oscars Week '23! Here is Part 4 of our preview.
Hopster: It is extremely likely (and yes, exciting!) that Ke Huy Quan may just run away with this one. He currently sits with a 95% chance of winning according to odds-makers1. He's been on absolute tear as of late, and I certainly wouldn't bet on that trend ending come Sunday. And it is worth discussing how he's in good company with this slate of nominees. It is great to see Brian Tyree Henry get some recognition for his performance in Causeway; while I might've preferred to see Paul Dano take Judd Hirsch's spot on this list for The Fabelmans, Hirsch commandeers the movie in his limited screen time; and of course, both Barry Keoghan and Brendan Gleeson are marvelous in The Banshees of Inisherin. Unfortunately for the former two actors, there is a serious risk of vote splitting that can occur when two performances from one movie are stuffed into a single category. If I had to award a consolation prize to any of these other nominees, I would absolutely give it to Gleeson. Though his fellow nominees and co-stars may have the flashier parts, it is his gruff humanity and internalized anguish that keeps Banshees grounded and levels off the heightened absurdity with the kind careful nuance only our best performers can channel. Colm's sacrificial fortitude is uncompromsing, and through Gleeson's wry humor and resolute sincerity it is clear that his pathos is earned despite the heartbreak and bloodshed. Quan will and should win, but I'll be thinking about the tragedy of Colm Doherty long after this Oscars is over.
Isaac: I'll never forget seeing classics like The Goonies and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for the first time. Being young and seeing the magic unfold on the screen sticks with you for your entire life. Now almost 40 years later, Ke Huy Quan who starred in both of those films, has his first big acting role after leaving acting and becoming an assistant director and stunt coordinator. The lack of roles, even opportunities for Asian actors was his reasoning for stepping away, and now so long after, he has the quintessential comeback story. To be such an integral part of the cinematic world at such a young age, and be exposed to the dark side of Hollywood that still has so much room for improvement is crushing. Being forced to quit acting due to a lack of opportunity not for his acting skills but because of his appearance and ethnicity is an atrocity. Now, to have a role in a movie like Everything Everywhere All at Once after all of what he's gone through, and to crush it in every sense of the word and be nominated for an Oscar, is more poetic than one could even fathom. With his win at the Screen Actors' Guild (SAG) Awards Quan became the first ever Asian man to win the Supporting Actor award. His success has become a testament to his journey, his steadfast belief in himself, and passion for his craft. A win for Quan in this category doesn't fix everything, but it is well deserved, will probably cause the building to crumble from how loud the cheers will be, and will mean so much to so many people who have been in Quan's shoes and are still fighting to have these opportunities.
On top of all of that, Quan has won the Best Supporting Actor award at the SAG's, Golden Globes, Critics' Choice, Satellite Awards, Independent Spirit Awards, National Society of Film Critics, Gotham Film Awards, New York Film Critics and probably a million others I can't put on this list. So yeah, he's bringing this home and it's gonna be awesome.
Hopster: As a tidbit, the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting a Role is extremely predictive of who might win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor -- it is notable that 15 out of the last 20 SAG winners went on to win at the Oscars. No need to thank me for supplying sage advice that will help you win your office Oscars pool!
Isaac: I'm going full wild conspiracy here. Nothing bat-shit crazy, but I think this category is one of the biggest tossups in the history of the award! If you had asked me a few months ago who was going to win I would say Angela Bassett for her powerful performance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. If you asked me after the BAFTA's I'd say Kerry Condon for her incredible role in The Banshees of Inisherin. But now after the wild SAG awards, which saw a stunning win for Jamie Lee Curtis, I have to throw my weight behind her and say she's going to win it all! Here's where my thinking is at. The SAG has often been considered a gateway award to the Oscar, mostly due to a sort of recency bias, with the SAG being one of the closest acting award precursors to the Oscars. Looking at past winners of the SAG award for Best Supporting Actress, over the past let's say 10 years the SAG to Oscar consistency is sitting at 90%. The only supporting actress to win the SAG and not win the Oscar in the past 10 years is Emily Blunt for A Quiet Place who lost the Oscar to Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk. So there's a strong correlation between the two awards but there's a little trickery this year. Curtis has only won the SAG, Condon only has the BAFTA and Bassett has the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice. No Supporting Actress has won the Oscar after only winning the SAG, so this year is sort of a defining moment on if the SAG's matter on their own or if they just amplify prior precursor awards. Now I'm not conflating the importance of the SAG's but I think the Academy is pretty entrenched in their ways and, again there's recency bias, will pick the SAG winner. Therefore I predict another acting win for Everything Everywhere All at Once and Curtis' first Oscar win!
Hopster: That was an incredible summary of this category, which I agree is maybe the hardest to predict across the board! In addition to the three favorites, both Stephanie Hsu and Hong Chau are both deserving of awards recognition even if they are somewhat out of the mix to win. Even though I laid out the case for why Quan will win Best Supporting Actor, an argument that was solely established based on a correlation between the SAG Awards and the Oscars, I'm going to buck the trend here. Angela Bassett is one of the best parts of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and I'm starting to think she'll be deservingly awarded. There is meta-component to her commanding presence as Queen Ramonda -- she is not only the mother of the late King T'Challa, but Bassett has to embody the pain that comes with carrying on the Black Panther franchise without the late Chadwick Boseman. While his spirit and legacy inevitably hangs over the movie, there is a centrifugal force swirling around Queen Ramonda and gravitas from Bassett during every line reading. Though I'm not sure who will win this category, I'm convinced that Bassett is more than deserving.
Hopster: Can we just collectively agree to give Austin Butler Best Actor in the hopes that a win at the Oscars will help rid him of his Elvis-impersonator accent and mannerisms? He's one of our brightest stars under 35, and I don't want him to get stuck in the molasses of this part any longer. Don't get me wrong, Elvis was fine (wait, nevermind, no it wasn't), and his performance is certainly one of the better biopic embodiments seen in years. This is not the most competitive slate of nominees for Best Actor -- in fact, prior to this year, none of these performers had been nominated for an Academy Award. Now that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that voters could go in a variety of directions here. A win for Brendan Fraser would be one of the night's best feel-good moments -- though the jury is still out on how much I can root for the movie beyond the man at the center of it. I'd also be happy for Colin Farrell if he could sneak out a victory here, though I think he might be the odd-man out of the race. Here's to Butler getting an Oscar now to save his career before it's too late, though he may already be past saving:
"There's people out there that say ever since I played Elvis, my voice has changed. That it got deeper, more Elvis-y, but that's not true. I've always sounded like this!" Oh, Austin Butler, you're too far into the Elvis-rabbit hole to see daylight anymore. I'll be so disappointed if he shows up in Dune: Part Two and starts saying shit like, "Oh pretty mama, don't you worry 'bout that nonsense on Arrakis -- ooh, hot damn tamale baby! I'm all shook up on spice."
Isaac: This is another fragmented award, resulting in a three horse race between Butler, Fraser, and Farrell. A lot of what I said about the SAG applies here in terms of the recency of it but the correlation between the two is a little weaker for Best Actor, but just barely. There's also been some pretty big shocks in the recent years for this one, with Chadwick Boseman the heavy front runner to win his first Oscar posthumously but Anthony Hopkins ended up winning for The Father. Not to mention a few years before that Denzel Washington won for Fences but the Oscar went to Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea. Of course these are small sample sizes but what helps Fraser's case here is he also has the Critics Choice award under his belt which puts him in the same category of Sean Penn winning for Milk if he's able to win the Oscar. There are also no actors that had that combination of CCA and SAG wins that lost the Oscar, since usually these precursors aren't so split. But there are plenty of instances where in Butler's case, winning the BAFTA and the Globe, resulted in a loss such as Bill Murray for Lost in Translation or Mickey Rourke for The Wrestler. The same goes for Farrell's case where he won the Globe (remember they have two acting Globes because the Globes are, well the Globes) and there are numerous scenarios where the Globe alone results in a loss. Overall this is rather unprecedented in its fractious state but I think Brendan Fraser is able to win here and give the world another uplifting comeback story, one that I would love to see. Similar to my story with Ke Huy Quan, Fraser was an integral part of my growing love for movies with The Mummy franchise, George of the Jungle, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Dudley Do-Right and others. I don't think I've rooted for anyone more throughout the year then Fraser here, a win would be monumental and I for one would welcome it with open arms.
Hopster: LOL how great would it be if I just spent the next five minutes raving about Andrea Riseborough and how she absolutely deserves to win Best Actress? With all due respect to her (and she is a great actress, there's no doubt), I have a hard time believing her performance in To Leslie is as trascendant as Edward Norton made it out to be on Twitter. Don't worry, I'm putting my time and attention elsewhere. Though Michelle Yeoh is undeniably great in Everything Everywhere All at Once, there's another standout performance waiting to snatch some glory from the runaway EEAAO Oscar train. Cate Blanchett is nothing short of sensational in Tár, a film that we haven't paid enough attention to in our Oscars coverage to this point. While I think there is a good chance it gets frozen out on Sunday, this might be the one premiere category it wins in. I'm not sure I have the requisite vocabulary to fully understand and appreciate what Blanchett is up to over the course of this perverse character study, but I can recognize greatness when I see it. I briefly mentioned this in our Beer in Review, but I still feel like her performance in Tár will be remembered as a vintage Blanchett 'throwing down the gauntlet moment,' a reaffirmation that she measures amongst our most important cinematic performers.
Isaac: I think I've spent all of the words I have in my vocabulary for describing how much I loved Everything Everywhere All at Once and everyone in it. Trying to not repeat myself over and over again is difficult but one last time I'll say, Michelle Yeoh gives her best performance in one of if not the best movies of the year. Winning both the Globe and the SAG award for Best Actress puts her probably in a slight favored position but its still sort of a toss up. Yeoh's work in this film, her victories in the precursors, and the Academy's obvious appreciation of the film as a whole make it tough to think she can't pull this off. I'm hoping, come Oscar Sunday, we'll be celebrating one of the greatest feats in the modern cinematic age, and one of the greatest working actresses with Michelle Yeoh's win here!