The Last Minute Best Picture Race Entries from Avatar: The Way of Water

The Last Minute Best Picture Race Entries from Avatar: The Way of Water ...

IndieWire's previous Best Picture predictions for the 2023 Oscars are updated throughout the awards season, and we republish previous versions (such as this one) to keep readers updated on changes in the Oscar race. For the latest information on the frontrunners for the 95th Academy Awards, see our 2023 Oscars predictions hub.

The final voting for the 95th Oscars will be broadcast on Sunday, March 12 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT.

Marcus Jones, our Awards Editor for TV & Film, gives us a heads-up on the latest Oscar predictions from Anne Thompson. See their previous thoughts on what to expect at the 95th Academy Awards here.

The dominant narrative that is forming in the 2023 Oscars Best Picture race is honoring films that have remained relevant.

With 'Top Gun: Maverick' both a critical and commercial success, the film was able to position itself as the film that saved the global box office in 2022 ($1.5 billion), followed by Ryan Coogler's Marvel sensation 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' (Disney, November 11), which has earned $734 million worldwide.

After 13 years of breath-holding anticipation, James Cameron's long-awaited "Avatar: The Way of Water" (December 16, Disney) will rip through cinemas like a holiday season tsunami.

The hugely entertaining VFX-heavy E-ride to "Avatar" sequel, which favored only two craft nominations, might be a watershed moment for Marvel Studios' only Best Picture nominee. Angela Bassett (Supporting Actress) seems to be in the mix as well.

"The Way of Water" and "Wakanda Forever" will now go head to head in the craft categories. Back in 2010, the film won nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Director, and three other awards in the sequel: Picture, Director, Costumes, Editing, Production Design, and Sound.

The Weeknd has provided an uninteresting closing credit song titled "Nothing is Lost (You Give Me Strength)" for never-nominated composer Simon Franglen.

"Everything Everything at One Time"

A24/Allyson Riggs

Original screenplays such as "Elvis," "Everything All at Once," and "The Woman King," benefit from unexpected box office successes. And they also feature their strong leads, from Best Actor Austin Butler to Best Actress Michelle Yeoh and Viola Davis.

"TR," "Triangle of Sadness," and "The Banshees of Inisherin," festival favorites, were unable to sustain their theatrical runs and went to PVOD, but the new box office reality may not harm their Oscar hopes.

Steven Spielberg's most personal film is doing well for Academy audiences after winning the coveted Oscar-predictive People's Choice Award at AFI FEST and TIFF, and may still be the heart-tugging frontrunner for Best Picture.

The profane epic about Hollywood's shift to sound images, “Babylon,” may enrage other Academy viewers with its sleeveless set pieces. Although many describe it as a stunning mess, it also has a lesser screenplay than one would expect from the young Oscar-winning author. (Margot Robbie is unlikely to break into this year's extremely competitive Best Actress contest).

The Academy (which, despite inclusion efforts, remains 66 percent male and 81 percent white) will support this year's raft of female-oriented films, or the powerful women in "TR," "The Woman King," and "She Said," which features recent Best Actress winner Olivia Colman in one of her most challenging roles.

Cate Blanchett, TAR, 2022. Focus Features /Courtesy Everett Collection

Courtesy Everett Collection/Focus Features

Another avenue that is being promoted by campaigners is the addition of international films such as Oscar regular Alejandro G. Iárritu (“Bardo”) or documentary contender Laura Poitras (“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”). Those films usually stay in their lane, unless they become hugely popular, like “Parasite” and “Drive My Car,” although animated films sometimes make it to Best Picture contention.

The one that might land this year is from Oscar perennial Guillermo del Toro's 'Pinocchio,' which has become Netflix's greatest hope for a Best Picture nomination, winning raves out of its premiere at the 2022 AFI Fest.

"Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery," a twisted Agatha Christie-inspired sci-fi thriller from Netflix, has been viewed by millions for a one-week Thanksgiving holiday run in preparation for its eventual Netflix streaming release on December 23. The original received an original screenplay nomination, but not Best Picture. This time, the Adapted Screenplay seems to be the most likely slot for the popular sequel.

What else might fill out those last Best Picture slots? Watch out for Sony Pictures Classics' "Living," adapted by well-known novelist Kazuo Ishiguru from the Kurosawa classic "Ikiru," about an executive (Bill Nighy) who rises from his office cubicle to see the world around him in a new light when he receives a terminal diagnosis.

Contenders are listed in alphabetical order, below. Only films we have seen will be considered frontrunners.

"Avatar: The Way of Water" "The Banshees of Inisherin" "Elvis" "Everything Everywhere All at Once" "The Fabelmans" "Living" "TR" "Top Gun: Maverick" "The Woman King" "Women Talking"

Contenders: "All Quiet on the Western Front" "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" "Empire of Light" "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" "Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio" "RRR" "She Said" "Triangle of Sadness"

Long Shots: "Aftersun" "Armageddon Time" "Bardo" "Bones & All" "Close" "Decision to Leave" "Emancipation" "Till" "The Whale"