By Maia Venuti
Every year, the Oscar nominations are highly anticipated and considered one of the highest honors for film in the western world. The 95th Academy Awards were revealed on Jan. 24. The Academy Awards consist of 23 categories that are each meant to highlight, recognize and appreciate all of the people who work on screen and behind the scenes with the shared goal of creating something great. The most prominent of these categories, dubbed the “Big Five,” are Best Actor and Actress, Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay. Since the Oscars are not until March 12, here are my predictions for the winners of the Big Five.
Best Actor: Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”
“The Whale,” starring Brendan Fraser, Hong Chau and Sadie Sink, chronicles the story of Charlie, a morbidly obese recluse English professor who is trying to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. Fraser’s role in “The Whale” marked his comeback to film after being sexually assaulted by a Hollywood executive in 2003 and subsequently blacklisted. I believe that this film was the best comeback for any actor in film history. Fraser’s performance was convincing, deeply emotional and extremely harrowing. The way he took on such a complicated character and addresses issues ranging from morbid obesity to struggles with sexuality, to religious trauma, Fraser hits the nail on the head every time. There are not enough words to describe how perfect Fraser’s performance was, to say his performance was perfect is still a gross understatement.
Best Actress: Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is an adventure science fiction movie that stars Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu and Jamie Lee Curtis. The film follows a laundromat owner who finds the fate of the universe in her hands and must then travel throughout the multiverse to save humanity. Yeoh gave one of the best and most powerful performances of her career in this film. When I saw this film a year ago, I knew in my gut that she would receive an Oscar nomination. One of Yeoh’s many strong suits has always been her work in action films, like “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997) and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), so it should be no surprise that her performance was anything but flawless in “Everything Everywhere.”
Best Director: Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
“The Banshees of Inisherin,” stars Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson and Barry Keoghan. It tells the story of a man who is devastated that his lifelong best buddy abruptly ends their friendship with no explanation and desperately wants to resolve their issues. Everything about this movie was beautifully executed — you can see how much care and thought was put into every scene. The world that McDonagh created in The Banshees is tense, sad, humorous and crazy all at appropriate times. The story takes place during the Irish Civil War in the early twentieth century, but it feels like something that could have occurred yesterday. While the events of the film are not current, the story of a lifelong friendship ending between two middle-aged men in Ireland is one that anybody can relate to, including myself. I found myself after the film texting my best friend to promise I would never do this to him and vice versa, despite us having very little in common with the film’s characters. McDonagh’s directorial brilliance managed to make this story resonate with all viewers.
Best Writing (Original Screenplay): Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin”
Martin McDonagh both wrote and directed “The Banshees of Inisherin,” and he did an outstanding job in both departments. I have never seen a film like this, and while the premise is so simple, the one-sided ending to a decades long friendship, the writing is what makes this movie. It’s so subtly funny, with small little lines here and there that helped in keeping the viewer from outright sobbing the whole time at this tragic end to what was seemingly a lovely friendship. The characters are all so well structured and their personalities would have not been half of what they are had it not been for McDonagh’s writing. The characters feel like they could be you and your best friend, trying to navigate what happened and why your best friend does not want to speak to you anymore. The writing for this film is absolutely brilliant, and McDonagh is so deserving of this award.
Best Picture: “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
This year’s nominees for best picture are a really great overview of the films that have been released this year and are a pretty good display of the wide range of films to come from 2022. With that being said, I feel like the best picture is going to go to “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” This film was the most impactful film to come from this year in its reception, which was immediately positive. It became A24’s highest grossing film, rejuvenated the career of lifelong actor Ke Huy Quan and was overall a phenomenal film in all aspects. This film had the same excitement of a Marvel movie, but the characters are actually relatable — they are just a normal family who unlock the key to the multiverse. Everything Everywhere is one of the most unique stories ever. There was nothing like it before, and there will not be anything else like it without feeling like a cheap imitation.
Overall, 2022 was a fantastic year for cinema, and this year's Oscar nominees are a clear reflection of that.