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A soldier wanders in the dark in this image from Netflix.
Paul Baumer (Felix Kammerer) walks through the woods. (Image: Netflix)

The Academy Awards are only a few short weeks away, but with the nominations revealed, it’s impossible not to wonder who will win each category. Guessing the winner for each category is part of the fun of watching the Oscars, and so are the surprise wins that shock everyone. If you’re planning to watch the Oscars, you’ll want to know which categories are in the bag.

While the Academy does like to pull the rug out from under the audience occasionally, some categories seem more set than others. For the 2023 Oscars, these are the categories with clear front-runners.

Best Visual Effects: ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’

A male Na’ Vi in this image from Lightstorm Entertainment
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is back for “Avatar: The Way of Water.” (Image: Lightstorm Entertainment)

James Cameron’s latest film reportedly cost $250 million, though other reports put that figure closer to $500 million. Regardless of the actual budget, “Avatar: The Way of Water” is a spectacle of a film. Similar to the original “Avatar,” the sequel has once again upped the VFX bar by implementing a variety of new techniques. Some film screenings are even available to watch with variable frame rates, which increases the frame rate for action sequences.

Other nominees include “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “The Batman,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and “Top Gun: Maverick.” While those films certainly have great visual effects, they don’t come close to what “Avatar: The Way of Water” offers.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Angela Bassett (‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’)

A woman makes a speech in this image from Disney Plus
Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) chastising other world leaders. (Image: Disney Plus )

The sudden passing of Chadwick Boseman put the “Black Panther” series on hiatus for several years. With the series’ hero gone, there was no easy way to make a sequel. However, four years after the original film, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” finally arrived in theaters. It’s been an enormous success, to say the least. Angela Bassett’s performance was one of the film's highlights, earning her a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Also nominated in this category are Hong Chau, Kerry Condon, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Stephanie Hsu. Bassett is the first actor from a Marvel movie to be nominated for an Academy Award, and it seems she’ll be the first Marvel actor to win an Academy Award.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Ke Huy Quan (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’)

A man chews bubble gum in this image from SHOWTIME
Waymong Wang (Ke Huy Quan) is seconds away from turning a hip pack into a weapon. (Image: SHOWTIME)

Ke Huy Quan, who made his acting debut in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” has made a full-on comeback after being away from the screen since the late ‘90s. He’s bagged numerous awards for his supporting role. This Oscar is Quan’s to win.

This year’s best actor in a supporting role category is stacked with fellow nominees consisting of  Brendan Gleeson, Brian Tyree Henry, Judd Hirsch, and Barry Keoghan.

Best Actress in a Leading Role: Cate Blanchett (‘Tár’)

A woman sits for an interview in this image from Peacock
Lydia Tár (Cate Blanchett) being interviewed (Image: Peacock)

While Tár has received praise from various critics groups and publications, it remains a dark horse to win Best Directing or Best Picture. That  said, Cate Blanchett is the front-runner for Best Actress in a Leading Role. As Lydia Tár, a famous composer at the height of her career, Blanchett’s devastating performance of her downfall is worthy of the Oscar.

Other actresses nominated in this category include Ana De Armas, Andrea Riseborough, Michelle Williams, and Michelle Yeoh.

Best International Feature Film: ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’

A soldier is covered in mud in this image from Netflix
Paul Baumer (Felix Kammerer) is just another German soldier. (Image: Netflix)

This sobering, anti-war war film directed by Edward Berger is by far the leading choice to win the Best International Feature Film. The German movie, which debuted on Netflix, looks at World War I through the eyes of a young soldier whose eagerness for war erodes with each atrocity witnessed. It’s a beautifully-filmed, subversive war movie that doesn’t glorify war. In other words, this film is pure Oscar bait.

This category seems weaker than it has been in recent years, positioning “All Quiet on the Western Front” as the front-runner to snatch the Oscar for Best International Feature Film. Other nominees include “Argentina,” “Close,” “EO,” and “The Quiet Girl.”

Best Directing: Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (‘Everything Everywhere all at Once’)

A rock with googly eyes on the ground in this image from SHOWTIME
There are no rules! (Image: SHOWTIME)

With 11 nominations for “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” the A24-produced indie has the potential to sweep the Oscars. Already, it seems the film is a favorite in several categories, including Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Picture. The director is the heart of the film, and we can thank both Daniels for this one.

Other directors up for the Best Directing Oscar include Steven Spielberg, Martin McDonagh, Todd Field, and Ruben Östlund.

Best Picture: ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’

A woman stands in an office in this image from SHOWTIME
Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh) unlocking her true potential (Image: SHOWTIME)

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is one of those films that surprised everyone, and it seems like a big favorite to take the Best Picture Oscar this year. While it’s not a traditional pick for the Academy, which often goes for more grounded films, the film’s sci-fi elements and wacky special effects (e.g., sausage fingers) don’t detract from the overall tone. It’s got strong performances and a moving story, which is all that matters to the Academy in the end. The film's cultural impact plays a significant role in our decision-making.

Other nominees in this category include: “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” “Elvis,” “The Fabelmans,” “Tár,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Triangle of Sadness,” and “Women Talking.” Though the Best Picture category is filled with absolute juggernauts, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is poised to take the Oscar.

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