A Surprise Blitz – 95th Academy Awards Nominees

Today’s the big day, folks! It seems like only yesterday Will Smith was committing assault and battery on live television because of a G.I. Jane joke, but it’s already time to begin the 2023 Oscar Blitz! In a ceremony hosted by Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 95th Academy Awards.

The operative question for me this morning is, really, how much Blitzing will I really have to do? I saw 116 movies in 2022, and since the calendar’s turned over I’ve added 10 more to that tally. During the run-up to today’s reveal, there really haven’t been any standout films racking up nominations and hardware that I missed in the course of my regular viewing. Even when the shortlists were announced back in December, there weren’t all that many that I hadn’t seen to that point or that I was planning to skip once they were released. I took the gamble that the handful of one-off candidates (Thirteen Lives, Emancipation, Devotion, etc.) might miss the final cut, knowing I could always pick them up if they did break through.

So what do I still have left to see? Well, there are the shorts, obviously, because those are packaged together and released as one single block in each category. Those will be available on February 17. I also still have a few International, Documentary, and Animated Feature hopefuls that I’m still tracking down and waiting to see for the sake of my own obsession with thoroughness, but are any of them actually up for the grand prize? Well, let’s end the speculation and see what films will vie for cinema’s highest honor.

The nominees for the 95th Academy Awards are…

Best Actor
Austin Butler – Elvis
Colin Farrell – The Banshees of Inisherin
Brendan Fraser – The Whale
Paul Mescal – Aftersun
Bill Nighy – Living

Best Supporting Actor
Brendan Gleeson – The Banshees of Inisherin
Brian Tyree Henry – Causeway
Judd Hirsch – The Fabelmans
Barry Keoghan – The Banshees of Inisherin
Ke Huy Quan – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett – Tár
Ana de Armas – Blonde
Andrea Riseborough – To Leslie
Michelle Williams – The Fabelmans
Michelle Yeoh – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Best Supporting Actress
Angela Bassett – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Hong Chau – The Whale
Kerry Condon – The Banshees of Inisherin
Jamie Lee Curtis – Everything Everywhere All at Once
Stephanie Hsu – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Animated Feature
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
The Sea Beast
Turning Red

Cinematography
All Quiet on the Western Front
Bardo, False Chronicles of a Handful of Truths
Elvis
Empire of Light
Tár

Costume Design
Babylon
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Elvis
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris

Best Director
Martin McDonagh – The Banshees of Inisherin
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – Everything Everywhere All at Once
Steven Spielberg – The Fabelmans
Todd Field – Tár
Ruben Östlund – Triangle of Sadness

Documentary Feature
All That Breathes
All the Beauty and Bloodshed
Fire of Love
A House Made of Splinters
Navalny

Documentary Short
The Elephant Whisperers
Haulout
How Do You Measure a Year?
The Martha Mitchell Effect
Stranger at the Gate

Film Editing
The Banshees of Inisherin
Elvis
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Tár
Top Gun: Maverick

International Feature
All Quiet on the Western Front – Germany
Argentina, 1985 – Argentina
Close – Belgium
EO – Poland
The Quiet Girl – Ireland

Makeup and Hairstyling
All Quiet on the Western Front
The Batman
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Elvis
The Whale

Original Score
All Quiet on the Western Front
Babylon
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans

Original Song
“Applause” – Tell it Like a Woman
“Hold My Hand” – Top Gun: Maverick
“Lift Me Up” – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
“Naatu Naatu” – RRR
“This is a Life” – Everything Everywhere All at Once

Production Design
All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
Babylon
Elvis
The Fabelmans

Animated Short
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and the Horse
The Flying Sailor
Ice Merchants
My Year of Dicks
An Ostrich Told Me The World is Fake and I Think I Believe It

Live Action Short
An Irish Goodbye
Ivalu
Le Pupille
Night Ride
The Red Suitcase

Sound
All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Batman
Elvis
Top Gun: Maverick

Visual Effects
All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Batman
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
Top Gun: Maverick

Adapted Screenplay
All Quiet on the Western Front
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery
Living
Top Gun: Maverick
Women Talking

Original Screenplay
The Banshees of Inisherin
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans
Tár
Triangle of Sadness

Best Picture
All Quiet on the Western Front
Avatar: The Way of Water
The Banshees of Inisherin
Elvis
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Fabelmans
Tár
Top Gun: Maverick
Triangle of Sadness
Women Talking

So, what have we learned from this list of nominees? Well, for one thing, trying to see all the International Feature entries feels like a complete waste of time, as the Academy has fallen over itself to nominate All Quiet on the Western Front for basically everything, even though it’s not all that great of a film. It’s technically well done, I’ll give it that, but I was struck by how cheap it was in trying to wring the pathos of the original novel and film while straying so heavily from the slow progression of events that created it, opting for palace intrigue and a false sense of irony in having things end on Armistice Day. And yet, it stands at nine nominations, tied for second with the far superior Banshees of Inisherin.

Second, there are some truly surprising nominees in this set, and not necessarily for the best of reasons. We have three acting nominees that basically didn’t get any prestige to this point, except for the Independent Spirit Awards. Brian Tyree Henry, Paul Mescal, and Andrea Riseborough are all nominated there, but nowhere else. And these are really small films, all things considered. I wanted to see Aftersun, the only one of the three to get a wide release, but it fell by the wayside amongst all the other viewings this past fall, so that one’s on me. But Causeway? To Leslie? The former has a good Rotten Tomatoes rating, but I remember the trailer being so boring that I included it in the November edition of TFINYW, and the latter has a total box office take of… $27,000, meaning absolutely NO ONE saw it, but a social media campaign featuring lots of celebrities got the Acting Branch to put it over the line.

Meanwhile, the one film on the Documentary Feature shortlist that hasn’t had a public release (A House Made of Splinters) gets nominated, because of course, and one of the Original Song nominees comes from a short film collection that not only hasn’t seen the light of day, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. So why did it get nominated? Why else would it have been? Diane. Fucking. WARREN! The movie got a one-week qualifying run in October, and that’s it. No VOD information, no wide release, no streaming, no nothing, all so we could yet again placate Diane Warren’s ego when it’s obvious she won’t win, AND THE ACADEMY ALREADY GAVE HER AN HONORARY OSCAR AT THE GODDAMN GOVERNOR’S AWARDS! What more ransom must we pay to get this woman off the list? Seriously!

So yeah, there are some legit shocks in this field. I am genuinely surprised by who’s in and who’s not. Decision to Leave, Moonage Daydream, and Viola Davis for The Woman King are all inexplicably left out, Glass Onion is relegated to Screenplay only like its predecessor, and somehow despite inventing new types of cameras Top Gun isn’t up for Cinematography. Honestly, I’m also kind of pissed. I had genuine confidence going into today that I might have cleared the entire field, save for the Shorts. Now, not only do I have some fairly serious viewing to do, it may honestly not be possible to complete the Blitz because people who get free screeners decided to nominate films that the general public can’t see. Today was supposed to be a day where I celebrated a year’s work well done and Everything Everywhere getting the recognition it so richly deserves (and to be fair, it is the frontrunner with 11 nominations), but instead I’m left wondering if I’m just wasting my time. The Academy is at a crossroads after several down years thanks to subpar films, the pandemic, and the perception that they’re woefully out of touch with the movie-going public. If this is their response, I fear for the continued relevance of the Oscars.

Join the conversation in the comments below! How much of the field have you cleared? What’s the biggest surprise or snub in your eyes? Does the Music Branch consist entirely of Diane Warren and her friends? Let me know!

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