By having 10 best picture slots & only 5 noms in other categories, the Academy creates an imbalance that helps some films and hurts others.
All 10 best picture nominees can’t also land noms in key races like directing, lead acting & writing. Those that do have a big advantage in support from multiple Academy branches when final ballots are cast.
With October now underway, Oscar handicappers are naming the names they think most likely, at this early point, to land prime noms. Here’s an early alphabetical look at the films (some still unseen) getting the best picture buzz & some of the other top categories they seem likely to get into.
- BABYLON (Paramount) — Directing & Original Screenplay: Damien Chazelle. Also helps it’s about late 1920s Hollywood.
- THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN (Searchlight) — Directing & Original Screenplay: Martin McDonagh. Lead acting: Colin Farrell.
- EMPIRE OF LIGHT (Searchlight) — Directing: Sam Mendes. Lead acting: Olivia Colman. Also helps it’s about the magic of cinema.
- EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE (A24) — Directing & Original Screenplay: Daniel Scheinert & Daniel Kwan. Lead acting Michelle Yeoh.
- THE FABELMANS (Universal/Amblin) — Directing: Steven Spielberg. Original screenplay: Tony Kushner & Spielberg. Lead actress: Michelle Williams (pictured). Also helps it’s about Spielberg’s childhood discovery of movies.
- SHE SAID (Universal/Annapurna/Plan B) — Directing: Maria Schrader. Adapted Screenplay: Rebecca Lenkiewicz (based on the book by Jodi Kantor & Megan Twohey). Lead acting: Carey Mulligan & Zoe Kazan (pictured). Also helps it’s about a disgraced movie mogul.
- TÁR (Focus) — Directing & Original Screenplay: Todd Field. Lead acting: Cate Blanchett.
- TOP GUN: MAVERICK (Paramount/Skydance) — Adapted Screenplay: Ehren Kruger, Eric Warren Singer & Christopher McQuarrie. Lead acting: Tom Cruise.
- THE WOMAN KING (Sony/TriStar) — Directing: Gina Prince-Bythewood. Original Screenplay: Dana Stevens. Lead acting: Viola Davis.
- WOMEN TALKING (UAR/Orion/Plan B) — Directing & Adapted Screenplay: Sarah Polley (based on the book by Miriam Toews).
Of these 10 best-picture frontrunners, 9 also have a directing buzz. MAVERICK’s the exception, but as a blockbuster, it’s at a disadvantage to the small specialty dramas Academy members clearly prefer today.
Nine of the 10 seem likely to get screenplay noms, EMPIRE being the exception.
Six of the 10 appear on track for directing + screenplay + lead acting noms: BANSHEES, EVERYTHING, FABELMANS, SHE, TÁR & KING. They’re in the best position right now, but things typically change as the awards season drags on, so it’s not over ’till it’s over.