The Projectionist

What will be nominated? Our expert makes his predictions.

People in long gowns and tuxedos mill about as an Oscar statuette is neglected on a table cluttered with glasses and plates.
The Oscar is up for grabs (well, until its rightful owner reclaimed it at last year’s Governors Ball). Credit...Krista Schlueter for The New York Times

Expect the unexpected: This is an unusually fluid awards season, and most of the top categories still feel up for grabs.

When it comes to best picture, three films have been nominated by the producers, directors and actors guilds — “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “The Fabelmans” and “The Banshees of Inisherin” — and each has won a televised award for best film, too. Those are your front-runners in a category that recently expanded to 10 guaranteed slots, followed closely by “Tár,” the intellectual favorite, and “Top Gun: Maverick,” the popcorn pick.

The next two slots should go to two box-office success stories: “Elvis,” the rare adult drama to make a killing last year, and “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which put up eye-popping numbers all through the Oscar-voting period and is poised to pass $2 billion worldwide.

What about another huge sequel, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which made the producers’ lineup, and the epic-scaled “RRR” and “The Woman King,” both of which that guild snubbed? ABC executives would be thrilled if the telecast could tout those crowd-pleasers, but the expanded best picture lineup has never been dominated by so many action-driven blockbusters. (And I’d have more faith in “Wakanda Forever” if the Screen Actors Guild, which gave the first “Black Panther” its top film prize, had nominated this sequel in the same category.)

The best actor winner almost always hails from a film nominated for best picture, so if you think a resurgent Brendan Fraser could go all the way this year, then expect a nod here for “The Whale,” which cast him in a transformative role as a 600-pound recluse. And though Netflix has been pushing “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” it’s the streamer’s German-language “All Quiet on the Western Front” that most resonates with the voters I’ve spoken to.

There’s still a shot that the Sarah Polley-directed “Women Talking,” which received a SAG ensemble nomination, or the British fave “Aftersun” could show up here. But I’m predicting the final slot goes to the class-warfare comedy “Triangle of Sadness,” which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, just as another social satire, “Parasite,” did four years ago.

For my predictions for the nominees in the other top categories, read more here.