When it comes to the Academy Awards (also known as The Oscars) it can feel overwhelming to get involved with the biggest night in Hollywood. With so many nominations and films, it can feel like there are too many things to watch to have a vested interest in Oscars night. And while that may be true the further down the ballot you go, when it comes to Best Picture nominees, there is no easier way to get a pulse on the current state of cinema than by watching the ten pictures up for the coveted award. Here is what you need to know about 2023 Oscars night and every Best Picture nominee to bring you up to speed before March 12!
The 2023 Oscars: When, Where, and How To Watch
The 2023 Academy Awards will be air live on ABC on March 12 at 8 p.m. EST. Jimmy Kimmel hosts the event for a third time from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. This will be the first time since 2018 that the Oscars will have a solo host after being hostless for several years. (The trio of Wanda Sykes, Regina Hall, and Amy Schumer hosted last year.) If you don't have direct access to ABC, you can also watch the awards live through the ABC app, and other livestreaming platforms such as YouTubeTV and Hulu Live TV.
The Best Picture nominees
The Academy has nominated ten movies for Best Picture this year. Consistent since 2009 (The Dark Knight year that forced the hand of the Academy to recognize ten nominees instead of the previous five), the ten up for nomination span the board with what they offer to audiences.
- All Quiet on the Western Front (Netflix)—Netflix's only horse in the Best Picture race, this movie is about a 17-year-old who enlists in World War 1 and the truly traumatic and treacherous events that transpire. Visually stunning with a punchy score and sharp dialogue, this could be the dark horse of the year's Academy Awards race.
- Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)—James “Big Jim” Cameron has once again changed the game with of what is possible on the silver screen. We head back to Pandora with Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his new family as they once again battle the sky people in this VFX masterpiece.
- The Banshees of Inisherin (Searchlight Pictures)—A quiet and quaint, yet startling, tale of two best friends that live off the coast of Ireland. Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell are able to tackle some truly poignant and powerful themes regarding friendship and legacy throughout this very beautiful film.
- Elvis (Warner Bros.)—Famed director Baz Luhrmann returns in extravagant fashion in this telling of iconic rock star Elvis Presley, and the dirty deeds his manager pulled to hamper his career. In what is sure to be a career-defining performance for Austin Butler, there are few doubts that he'll be saying “Thank you very much” to the Academy at the end of the night for an award (most likely in his seductive Elvis accent, too).
- Everything Everywhere All At Once (A24)—The front-runner to win Best Picture—along with the potential to take home several other statues—this multiversal story about familial trauma, starring Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, has a little something for everyone. Hot dog fingers, fighting with a fanny pack, and doing laundry and taxes may not make sense now, but they will be a core part of your life after viewing this movie.
- The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures)—Steven Spielberg and movies are a known staple in the world, just like peanut butter and jelly, or Green Eggs and Ham. This semi-autobiographical film follows a young Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle), a representation of Spielberg, as he grows through trials, tribulations, and the eternal battle of art vs. family. Paul Dano, Michelle Williams, and Seth Rogan also star.
- Tár (Focus Features)—Following Lydia Tár and her daily life as the greatest living composer-conductor and the first female director of a major German orchestra, Tár is a mystifying and mesmerizing film from Todd Field, his first project in 16 years. Cate Blanchett embodies the fictional (or is she?) character of Lydia Tár frighteningly well through her rise and fall in the search for her 3rd Academy Award.
- Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)—The movie that saved the box office, quite literally. Tom Cruise returns as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell alongside new recruits Miles Teller, Glen Powell, and Monica Barbaro to embark on a final flight that seems sure to fail. Until it doesn't…
- Triangle of Sadness (Neon)—In a year where the “eat the rich” motif has only grown more prominent, Triangle of Sadness escalates it to even loftier levels, following a couple that boards a luxurious cruise only to find themselves met with shifting tides on the reality they know. Harris Dickinson (look out for his incredible film out of Sundance titled Scrapper), Dolly De Leon, and Woody Harrelson captain this hilarious and disgusting film.
- Women Talking (United Artists Releasing)—Based on the famed 2018 novel by Miriam Toews, Sarah Polley directs this film in which a group of women devise a plan for what their future holds in their isolated religious community. While the movie is as the title says, and not inherently exciting, Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, along with several others, create a phenomenal piece of art with a razor-sharp script and awe-inspiring score.
What to expect at the 2023 Oscars
Since only a portion of the categories were aired live last year (most “below the line” categories were pre-taped and aired in between live winner announcements), it's a pleasure to say that every category will be announced live during the show—something many diehard Academy Award fans are very excited about.
2021's blockbuster Dune is a major casualty of the pre-taped categories, winning all six of its awards off-air. This means nobody got to experience the energy and joy of the project winning its many awards, so it's exhilarating to know that no film will suffer a similarly sad fate.
Both Lady Gaga and Rihanna are nominated for Best Original Song for their songs “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick and “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, respectively. It's safe to say there is a good chance we see some very flashy and prominent performances. That, along with the cultural sensation that is “Naatu Naatu” from RRR, the Academy Awards have all the ingredients it needs to produce a fun, entertaining show.
2023 Oscar favorites
Everything Everywhere All At Once, the multiversal indie film from the Daniels (Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan) leads the pack with 11 nominations. While it is certain to take home at least some statues, it is entirely possible for the film to walk away with nothing, which we've seen before from the likes of Netflix's The Irishman in 2020 (it was nominated for ten awards and went home at the empty-handed).
Next up, with 9 nominations each, are Martin McDonagh's dark comedy of a friendship falling apart, The Banshees of Inisherin, and Edward Berger's WW1 epic All Quiet on the Western Front. Fun Fact: Edward Berger is the first non-Oscar-nominated director to win a BAFTA (British Academy of Television and Arts) award since Ben Affleck with Argo in 2012, which went on to win Best Picture. It is entirely possible that win, along with the six other wins it picked up at the BAFTAs, pushes All Quiet on the Western Front across the finish line for multiple awards.
Both Ke Huy Quan (Everything Everywhere All At Once) and Angela Bassett (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) are heavily favored to win their supporting categories, with Austin Butler (Elvis) and Cate Blanchett (Tár) in tight races for their leading categories. And don't forget Avatar The Way of Water, an almost definite to take home Best Visual Effects.
The races to watch
Undoubtedly, the tightest race of this awards season has been and continues to be Best Actor. The comeback story of Brendan Fraser, the long overdue nod for Colin Farrell, and the young gun Austin Butler, have all staked their claim for the Best Actor statue. Who has an early lead, you might ask? It's too close to call. Maybe first-time nominee Paul Mescal can cause an upset! Okay, probably not, but a guy can dream (stop reading this article and go watch Aftersun right now. It'll change your life).
Best Original Screenplay remains another category in which the list of nominees is just too distinguished to choose a front-runner. Everything Everywhere All At Once vs. The Banshees of Inisherin vs. Tár gives us another close three-way race.
In a year where there are no women directors nominated (directly following two years in a row in which a woman won Best Director) and where Danielle Deadwyler (Till) and Viola Davis (The Woman King) get disastrously left off the ballot for Best Leading Actress, the real race to watch lies within the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences itself. Will it produce a good show? Heck, even a watchable show? How will it address the infamous slap from last year? And who will it crown as the Best Picture of 2022? All remains to be seen on March 12.