Rotten Tomatoes Predicts the 2023 Oscars

It's nearly a wrap on awards season and some of the categories are up in the air, but here are our best, highly educated guesses as to who will take home the hardware on Sunday night.

by | March 8, 2023 | Comments

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Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick

(Photo by Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

While pondering this year’s Academy Awards predictions, we were struck by something inherent to the process that we don’t often appreciate: We’re trying to predict what people will do, say, and think, which is a daunting and arguably foolish endeavor. Still, this is our chance to peer into our crystal balls and attempt to forecast what will happen on Oscar night, and the best way to do that is to see what those balls have told us in the past.

What’s increasingly more difficult is that the precursor award shows and voting bodies that we have typically used to gauge the moods and sentiments of the various factions within the Academy have become less and less predictive as years pass. There will always be snubs and surprises, but increasingly, these snubs and surprises smack against tradition in a thunderous way, especially when we look beyond the lens of what most “American industry professionals” think is the best in moving motion pictures. As director Bong Joon-ho said, “The Oscars is a local show.” Or it was.

This year, more than any other year, we have to reckon with the fact that the Academy Awards are now global. For as much was made in recent years for the diversification of the Academy Awards, the diversification that did happen was transformative but not in the ways that you would think. Yes, the Academy reached out and increased its membership, particularly with those from marginalized groups. Still, the location of those marginalized individuals varied, and the new members came not from within American television, as many people had suspected, but from international spaces.

Again, if we look back to the early days of the season, we can see the tea leaves pointing in this direction. Academy President Bill Kramer made a huge whirlwind trip around the globe to the various film festivals, kicking off in Cannes, heading to Venice, TIFF, and several more minor stops in between, one of which was hosted by our very own Awards Editor, Jacqueline Coley. In every one of those meetings, he and the Academy’s president Janet Yang preached that the Academy Awards had gone global. Now, as we sit down to make predictions, we would be almost foolhardy not to use that to guide our decision-making process.

This is likely why Bardo defied odds to capture a Best Cinematography nomination. This is why Ruben Östlund’s Triangle of Sadness overperformed with Best Picture and Best Director nominations despite making little noise outside of the European Film Awards. And this is not a new phenomenon; we saw hints of it in Anthony Hopkins’ surprise win over Chadwick Boseman in 2020, which was apparent if you looked at the global precursor awards but was all but absent in the American ones. We saw it in Olivia Coleman’s win over Glenn Close and Lady Gaga for Best Actress in The Favourite, a decidedly European film with European sentiments and global appeal. And that was a litmus test for many of the close contests we decided on below: global appeal.

As you read on for our picks, if things seem slightly against the grain, please know that we relied heavily on this global audience theory, wins on our Awards Leaderboard, and industry buzz. If our bets are correct, our tally of wins this year will accurately represent just how much global influence has infiltrated the AMPAS ranks and whether all of our previous metrics are going to have to be severely adjusted in the future. Or, we could be completely wrong, and we’re just trying to cover our tracks preemptively. Only time will tell. 

Don’t forget to Download Rotten Tomatoes’ printable Oscar Ballot with Tomatometer and Audience Scores

Either way, buckle up. To help you with your Oscar ballots – and perhaps to clue in most of the world that the Oscars are still happening – the Rotten Tomatoes team has made some educated guesses on who will win come Sunday night. We polled our own staff, consulted our Awards Leaderboard, reviewed our notes from the season, and applied some historical perspectives.

Follow us on social all day Sunday, March 12 for reactions, and check back with Rotten Tomatoes after the ceremony to hear our take on the Oscars’ most memorable moments and the night’s biggest shocks.

Best Picture

Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh, and James Hong in Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

(Photo by Allyson Riggs/©A24)

Who will win?

At this point, it would require a near miracle for Everything Everywhere All At Once to defy the industry expectation and not secure a Best Picture win. But let’s look at possible contenders to play devil’s advocate.

All Quiet on the Western Front‘s impressive win at the BAFTA is one to watch. However, we cannot quantifiably argue with all of the indicative prizes at the local guilds, especially considering the preferential ballot system, which, although employed by AMPAS, is not used by BAFTA. Considering EEAAO’s wins at the SAG Awards, WGA Awards, DGA Awards, and Indie Spirits, we would be hard-pressed to even come up with an argument for a secondary contender.

If the impossible does happen, Top Gun: Maverick, All Quiet on the Western Front, and maybe even Elvis have the best shot to make history, but not even Rocky has that much fight in him. Given that EEAAO is the feel-good, likable family film that so many Oscar voters are raving about, it’s difficult to imagine even the devil would bet against it.

Best Actor In a Leading Role

Who will win?

Austin ButlerElvis

Best Actor is a little bit less decisive and, of all the contests, it’s the one that will likely keep us up every night from now until Sunday. Brendan Fraser’s wins at the Critics’ Choice Awards and the SAG Awards do signal that he has more support than his handful of wins on the Awards Leaderboard would indicate. However, we contend that the age of both of those voting bodies is a heavy factor in their choice to honor Fraser (The Whale), an actor many remember fondly from The Mummy series. That community goodwill is less often seen in the AMPAS, which is why we are leaning on the more established contender who was just in an Oscar-nominated film.

Moreover, dozens of actors have milked transformative performances for Oscar gold in the past — Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose), Renée Zellweger (Judy), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), and Jessica Chastain (The Eyes of Tammy Faye), to name a few. And while Fraser can boast the same, the Elvis crew had several actors transforming across decades of storytelling. Adding the special status of Elvis, not only within the Academy but literally around the world, is something that we cannot deny and one of the reasons why we have it tapped here for multiple honors.

Best Actress In A Leading Role

Who will win?

Michelle YeohEverything Everywhere All At Once

Everyone has known that this would be a two-woman race between Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett (TÁR) since nominations were announced, and likely long before — sorry, Andrea Riseborough, you had your time — and our Awards Leaderboard pretty much backs up that assertion. Blanchett is the more established pick as a repeat Oscar winner with huge global status and name recognition, and the Academy has recognized her year after year for everything she puts on screen. But Yeoh is also a global icon, and she has been on a tear recently, securing a decisive SAG win and a Golden Globe win earlier in the season.

Plus, the groundswell of support for Everything Everywhere All At Once is undeniable. As we have it picked as our Best Picture winner, we would be hard-pressed to assert that it did not also possess the best acting performance, as the entire film is built around Yeoh’s character and her family.

Ultimately, this one came down to a coin flip, and we led with our hearts — with a sprinkling of input from our minds. Cate Blanchett has made it abundantly clear that she is here mainly for Tár director Todd Field and to have a good time. She’s been shouting out every other actress nominee more than herself, and we think Oscar voters are going to take her at her word and do the same. The best way to honor Blanchett — and her ethos — would be to vote for Michelle Yeoh, and that is precisely what we are doing here.

Let’s face it, Lydia Tár has the hardware at home — Cate Blanchett also has a few of her own. And we saw those pictures at the Independent Spirit Awards. It’s going to be a love fest, no matter what happens.

Best Actor In a Supporting Role

Ke Huy Quan in Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

(Photo by Allyson Riggs/©A24)

Who will win?

Ke Huy QuanEverything Everywhere All at Once

It’s only fitting that Ke Huy Quan will likely have his Oscar handed to him by Troy Kotsur, as both men dominated their respective contests leading up to Oscar night. The adorable, guileless dad at the heart of a family drama is one that audiences and this AMPAS, the voting body, in particular, can’t seem to say no to.

Best Actress In A Supporting Role

Kerry Condon in The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

(Photo by ©Searchlight Pictures)

Who will win?

Kerry Condon –  The Banshees of Inisherin 

For this one, we will mostly go a bit off the beaten path because we feel that the cannibalization between Everything Everywhere’s Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu will be too much to surmount. It pains us to say that we cannot name Angela Bassett’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever performance as the likely winner. However, her consistent losses in contests coming up against Kerry Condon and Jamie Lee Curtis in recent weeks, including the SAG and BAFTA, lead us to believe she’s not likely to win. In that case, it comes down to the actress in the film that we think most people agree should receive some recognition and arguably delivered one of its best performances.

Best Animated Feature Film

Who will win?

Is it even a question? Although we do feel slightly bad for the more “traditional” animated features in this year’s lineup, Guillermo del Toro pretty much guaranteed his Oscar win the minute he put his name in front of the Pinocchio title, giving us the most vibrant and authentic adaptation of the original text we’ve ever seen.

It’s only a shame that he had to spend most of the year being confused with a film that resembled his in no way, shape, or form. The live-action Disney version, which also came out in 2022, likely haunts Tom Hanks to this day.

Best Cinematography

Who will win?

Top Gun: Maverick missing out on the Best Cinematography nod here was our most significant indication of the enormous influence of the global audience within the Academy ranks. The fact that a film like Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths could eclipse Top Gun in the nomination cycle proves how many within that branch are more tuned in to global cinema. This is why we chose Elvis as our winner for Best Cinematography. Yes, it lost at the BAFTAs to All Quiet on the Western Front, but it takes a little more information to make a decisive pick.

Best Costume Design 

Who will win?

It’s difficult to decide which collaboration of the incredibly and ridiculously talented partnership of Oscar-nominated director Baz Luhrmann and Oscar-winning production and costume designer Catherine Martin is the most impressive. Mulan Rouge, The Great Gatsby, and even Australia were all triumphs. Thus, we’re picking Martin to take home the costuming award for her work on Elvis. It was a challenging feat, as she had to recreate iconic costumes from Elvis‘ history, frequently imbuing color into what were originally black-and-white images.

In addition, she transformed Austin Butler into the living embodiment of a real-life superhero, complete with his secret weapon of ever-dripping sex appeal, courtesy of his electrifying costumes. Babylon and Everything Everywhere All At Once are possible spoilers here, but only if the former overperforms or the latter runs deeper with Academy love than we’ve anticipated.

Best Director

Who will win?

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert Everything Everywhere All At Once

This is another one that seems all but sewn up after winning the DGA and sweeping all the other primary director contests outside of the Golden Globes; we think it’s all coming up Daniels. That being said, of all of our votes outside of the acting prizes, this is the one that sits on the shakiest ground. Typically, with young directors, the Academy tends to give the Best Screenplay prize and award the director prize to a more established name. With Steven Spielberg and Todd Field in the mix, we would not be surprised if either pulled off an upset here.

Still, we think it unlikely, so we’re sticking with the farting corpse guys who will have the enviable honor of saying they won bragging rights over Steven Spielberg by filming a butt plug fight.

Best Documentary (Feature)

Who will win?

Navalny has come on late, but it pales in wins compared to Fire of Love and All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, which have accumulated several critic and guild precursor prizes. However, Navalny touches on one of the most significant threats to our globe: authoritarianism. With Vladimir Putin serving as the ever-present boogeyman that hovers over the worldwide audience, we picked the documentary that lionizes his most strident critic.

Best International Feature Film

Who will win?

For the Best International film, we will go with the most beloved film by international audiences by picking All Quiet on the Western Front, another film that echoes the rising tensions in Europe and around the world.

Best Music (Original Score)

Who will win?

Instead of adhering to conventional wisdom and picking Justin Hurwitz for Babylon, we’re going to go with All Quiet on the Western Front. Although both scores are lovely and brilliant, we’re leaning in on the German feature as the music in that film is often the only thing the audience can hear outside of the yells and epic sound production. The score of All Quiet on the Western Front is gorgeous and haunting, but more importantly, it drives the film’s action in an integral way that the AMPAS voters often reward, and we think this year will be no different.

Best Music (Original Song)

Who will win?

“Naatu Naatu” – RRR

Honestly, at this point, if they don’t pick “Naatu Naatu,” there will be rioting — and likely dancing — in the streets. Luckily for us — and anyone who’s seen the film — we know exactly how they’ll kick it off. Do you know how to Naatu Naatu?

Although we’re pretty confident in our pick, we’re going to gift you with this advice: Don’t miss this performance, as it is sure to be one of the best the Oscars have seen since “It’s Hard out Here for Pimp” or “Blame Canada.”

Best Visual Effects

Who will win?

If you’re going to make a CGI movie that takes a decade to complete, this is the award that it has to win. Arguably, there were some other great visual effects features this year, but none put the V in visual effects quite like Avatar. 

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Who will win?

Women Talking is the stunning product of a woman writing, which is our primary reason for picking Sarah Polley’s adaptation for the Adapted Screenplay award. The story, based on Miriam Toews’ eponymous 2018 novel, centers quite literally on a group of women talking in a room, and in anyone else’s hands, it might have felt wordy for wordy’s sake, but Polley and her bulletproof screenplay make the conversations riveting.

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

Who will win?

Wildly original is the most apt description of Everything Everywhere All at Once and one that has been used to speak of the project from the early days of the screenplay. From the little notes you find within the stage direction to the incredible details in each line of dialogue, you could tell this was a film that had to be mapped out meticulously from page to screen. The screenplay, therefore, is absolutely worthy of awards and our pick for this category. We’re fairly confident that the Academy will agree.

Best Sound 

Who will win?

There’s a reason why war movies end up winning Best Sound, considering the cacophony of noises, both immediate and in the distance, that allows the audience to feel like they’re on the battlefield. If our pick doesn’t come to fruition, we think another war movie, particularly a war games movie, will likely be the culprit: Top Gun: Maverick has won some decisive prizes in this category, which includes some excellent candidates this year.

That being said, now that the two films are going head-to-head, we’d be hard-pressed to see how the sequel to Tony Scott’s 1980s classic would be able to top a remake of the 1930 war epic, which itself was the recipient of a Best Sound nomination award, even way back then.

Best Editing

Who will win?

The one thing you can say when you watch Everything Everywhere All At Once is that its editor needs a break. Intercutting between the incredible visual effects and the sheer multiverse madness of it all was an exercise that would have been difficult for even the most experienced teams. The fact that they managed to do it and create a Best Picture-worthy feature is even more impressive, and that’s why we’re picking it to win here.

Best Production Design

Who will win?

Even though the production design in Elvis was impressive, we’re going with a last-minute switch and picking Babylon here. Reviews aside, it was a film with sentiment among Academy voters, and of all of its feats and flaws, the production design, without question, was the most impressive aspect of the filmmaking.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Who will win?

Judy, The Darkest Hour, The Hours, Monster, The Eyes of Tammy Faye. It’s not to say that a prosthetic performance will always garner you an Oscar, but it often does, and when it does, it often goes hand-in-hand with this prize. You saw our Best Actor pic. We’re sticking beside it here. 

Best Animated Short – My Year of Dicks

Best Live-Action Short – Le Pupille

Best Documentary Short – The Elephant Whisperers

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