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Oscar nominations drop Jan. 24. Here’s who we think will get lucky.

Oscar statues are pictured at the 2020 Governors Ball Press Preview for the 92nd Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/file

My friend Danny was the first person I ever met who loved movies as much as I did. We met online in a film discussion forum on the long-defunct platform Prodigy. Our friendship has lasted 30 years, as has our rivalry for bragging rights in Oscars contests. We have a point system for picks and dark horse choices for our nominations contest, and a $30 bet for getting the most winners correct on Oscars night. In both instances, he has won more times than I have. I hate that.

Since the days of watching the show with my mom, I’ve loved Oscars season, if only so I can complain when the Academy does the wrong thing. Which it does — often. I also like to gamble, and not just on Oscars contests. Danny’s better at that than I am, too.


This year, the stakes are higher for me, as my part of our annual Oscars nomination prediction contest is going public! There’s some help, with the Academy providing shortlists for some categories. Nominations for other honors like the Screen Actors Guild Awards also provide insight into what Academy voters might be thinking.

Danny is eager to see me embarrass myself in print, so let’s not keep him waiting. Here are my predictions for best picture, directing, acting, and writing, as well as animated, international, and documentary feature nominees.

Gabriel LaBelle in a scene from "The Fabelmans." Merie Weismiller Wallace/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment via AP

Best picture

“Avatar: The Way of Water”


“The Banshees of Inisherin”

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”


“Everything Everywhere All at Once”

“The Fabelmans”

“Top Gun: Maverick”


“Women Talking”

The Academy has returned to putting forward 10 nominees in the hopes that more popular films will make the cut and the show will draw more ratings on Oscars night. I predict 2022′s two biggest box-office hits, “Avatar” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” will make the cut, as will the audience pleaser “Everywhere Everything All at Once.” Prestige pictures are stock in trade, so there’s TÁR. The Academy’s infatuation with director Damien Chazelle will put “Babylon” in contention here as well.


Kate Winslet, as Ronal, left, and Cliff Curtis, as Tonowari, in a scene from "Avatar: The Way of Water." 20th Century Studios via AP

Best director

Martin McDonagh, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (a.k.a. the Daniels), “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Steven Spielberg, “The Fabelmans”

Todd Field, “TÁR”

Sarah Polley, “Women Talking”

Predicting this category boils down to guessing which Directors Guild of America Awards nominee doesn’t get an Oscar nomination. The DGA has been a good prognosticator for this category. My top four choices match the guild’s nominees, but I think “Top Gun: Maverick” director Joseph Kosinski will lose his slot to Sarah Polley come Oscar time.

Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Judith Ivey, Sheila McCarthy, Michelle McLeod, and Jessie Buckley in "Women Talking."Michael Gibson/Orion Pictures

Best actor

Austin Butler, “Elvis”

Tom Cruise, “Top Gun: Maverick”

Colin Farrell, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Brendan Fraser, “The Whale”

Bill Nighy, “Living”

I may have the wrong Tom here — Tom Hanks has been sneaking up in the odds for “A Man Called Otto.” Hoping “Aftersun”’s Paul Mescal makes the cut instead.

Tom Cruise as Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in "Top Gun: Maverick."Paramount Pictures via AP

Best actress

Cate Blanchett, “TÁR”

Viola Davis, “The Woman King”

Danielle Deadwyler, “Till”

Michelle Williams, “The Fabelmans”

Michelle Yeoh, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

Nothing would make me happier than to see Deadwyler get nominated, so I may be betting with my heart instead of my head here. The clear frontrunner is Cate Blanchett, who already has two Oscars for “The Aviator” and “Blue Jasmine” and was once nominated for playing Bob Dylan while looking like Harpo Marx in “I’m Not There.”


Cate Blanchett in a scene from “TÁR."Focus Features via AP

Best supporting actor

Paul Dano, “The Fabelmans”

Brendan Gleeson, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Judd Hirsch, “The Fabelmans”

Barry Keoghan, “The Banshees of Inisherin”

Ke Huy Quan, “Everything Everywhere All at Once”

I’m calling it now: Ke Huy Quan will not only get nominated, he’ll win the Oscar. Hirsch’s larger-than-life role in “The Fabelmans” makes him a good “$2 bet at the racetrack” choice.

Ke Huy Quan in "Everything Everywhere All at Once."Allyson Riggs/A24

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”

I’m not confident in my choices here. Bassett’s in for sure for her fiery yet melancholy turn as Queen Ramonda, but things get iffy from there. One of the “Women Talking” actors, “Triangle of Sadness” actor Dolly De Leon, or my favorite, Janelle Monáe in “Glass Onion,” could make the cut. Monáe’s scene-stealing movie star turn deserves to be here.

From left, Dorothy Steel, Florence Kasumba, Angela Bassett, and Danai Gurira in a scene from "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."Marvel Studios via AP

Best original screenplay

“The Banshees of Inisherin”

“Everything Everywhere All at Once”

“The Fabelmans”


“Triangle of Sadness”

Throwing “Triangle of Sadness” in here because it might get more Oscars love than I’m predicting (like a best picture nod). With my luck, the Academy will nominate “Armageddon Time.”

Brendan Gleeson in "The Banshees of Inisherin."Searchlight Pictures via AP

Best adapted screenplay

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”


“She Said”

“The Whale”

“Women Talking”


Please, Lord, don’t let them nominate “The Whale.” I’ll start going back to church if they don’t.

Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan in a scene from "She Said."JoJo Whilden/Universal Pictures via AP

Best animated feature

“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”

“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”

“Turning Red”

“Wendell & Wild”

Had “Strange World” made any money, I would have picked it instead of “Wendell & Wild.” Disney’s lack of confidence probably didn’t go unnoticed by voters.

Marcel in "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On."A24

Best international film

“All Quiet on the Western Front”

“Argentina, 1985″


“Decision to Leave”


I get to cheat a bit here, as the Academy provides a 15-film shortlist for this category. “EO,” “All Quiet,” and “Decision” are definites.

Park Hae-il, left, and Tang Wei in a scene from "Decision to Leave."Mubi via AP

Best documentary feature

“All That Breathes”

“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”


“Fire of Love”

“The Janes”

The Academy also provides a 15-film shortlist for this category. Based on their reviews, their other award nominations, and their subject matter, the first two are shoo-ins.

Nan Goldin, left, in the bathroom with Bea Boston in an image used for the documentary “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed.” 1970sNEON

One final note: The best original song category could become a showdown between Lady Gaga, Rihanna, LCD Soundsystem, and Taylor Swift for their songs in “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “White Noise,” and “Where the Crawdads Sing” respectively. No matter what big celebrity winds up in this category, they’re going to lose if “Naatu Naatu” from “RRR” gets nominated.

Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 24 at 8:30 a.m. Oscars night is March 12.

Odie Henderson is the Boston Globe's film critic.